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Daily News - 17 May 1999

New bus route for Santo Domingo
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) began operating its newest corridor, the 32 kilometer southern route that will transverse the city from Haina, on the west of the city, to the V Centenario Horse Race Track on the east of the city. This is the longest bus route operated by the city transport authority. It primarily transits along the Av. Independencia, but also transits along Av. Bolívar, Av. México, Av. Pedro Henríquez Ureña. It crosses the Ozama River using along the Ramón Matías Mella Bridge. President Leonel Fernández himself rode on the first bus that inaugurated the route on Sunday. AMET also announced it is extending the 27 de Febrero bus route on to the V Centenario Race Track.

Transport unions promote 48 hour strike
Minibus union directors that make up the Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares, Sindicales y de Choferes are calling for a 48 hour nationwide strike on Tuesday and Wednesday. The strike does not have popular support. The organizers are demanding a 100% salary increase, declines in basic food product prices and in fuel prices to call off the strike. The union members that have called the strike previously controlled several bus routes in the city by charging independent minibus operators up to RD$50,000 for the permission to transit. Their control of the public transport system has been broken by Metropolitan Transport Authority efforts to organize transport and offer improved bus service.
The call to strike seeks to pressure the government to accept the demands of the unionized minibus owners. The Secretary of Interior and Police, Norge Botello warned that the National Police and the Armed Forces are prepared to confront any public disorders. AMET/OMSA has said that it has 400 buses that will be running as usual, and an additional 200 that can be used if necessary. The strike mostly affects intercity service.
Celso Marranzini, president of the National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP) and the rector of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, Miguel Rosado, recognized the right to strike as a legitimate right of citizens, but rejected any protest movement that may affect the development of the country. Marranzini said that strikes as a protest statement have fallen in discredit and urged the groups to sit down to talks with the government. The spokesman for the largest opposition party, Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero, president of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, said that that organization will support protest movements that take place in a peaceful manner.

Mega project started in Samana
President Leonel Fernandez traveled to Samana to be present at the start of construction of the Samana Tourism Project. The project consists of areas for several hotels with a total of 1,500 rooms, a 200-meter pier with capacity for 600 yachts, new area for cruise ship docking, and an artificial lake with a 1,600 meter perimeter and 2.5 meter depth. Juan Bancalari is the spokesperson for the Bancalari Delgado group that is promoting the project. The development is going up 16 kilometers from the Arroyo Barril airport in the city of Samaná facing Cayo Vigía.
President traveled with the Chief of the Navy Victor Garcia Alecont, Chief of the Armed Forces Manuel de Jesus Florentino and Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña
The project calls for an investment of more than RD$4,000 million. Most of the investment is from Spanish and Arabian sources.
Minister of Public Works Diandino Peña said that the government sees this as a landmark project and will be supporting the investment with the construction of infrastructure works in the area.

Calle Paris closed, buildings to be demolished
The Ministry of Public Works has ordered the closing of Calle Paris to facilitate the demolition of several buildings and stretches of an overpass already located in the area. The works are part of the construction of an overpass that climbs over the 27 de Febrero Avenue starting near the vicinity of Calle Leopoldo Navarro and linking into the Duarte Bridge over the Ozama River. Traffic coming in the West-East direction from 27 de Febrero Avenue is being detoured to Calle Francisco Henríquez y Carvajal for the duration of the construction works.

Gypsum, salt and marble mines to be privatized
Preparations are underway for the holding of a tender for the partial privatization of the government's marble,. gypsum and salt mines, now operating under the umbrella of the Corporation of State Enterprises (CORDE). The winner of the tender receives the right to operate the mines, as well as ownership of 50% of the stock. One project calls for the installation of a plant to process pre-fabricated housing components from the gypsum to be sold in the DR. Also contemplated is the construction of a port for the export of the gypsum and salt, leaving the present Port of Barahona for tourism uses. The tender is being organized by the Commission for the Reform of State Enterprises (CREP).

Prices of liquor imports to increase
The Customs Department adjusted the base on which the Selective Consumption Tax is calculated. As a result, whisky will cost considerably more. Wine prices will go up slightly. The base had not been adjusted since 1995.

New Puerto Plata Port by end of 1999?
Government works continue on the dredging of the Port of Puerto Plata. The Listin Diario newspaper reports that the port is scheduled to be completed in six months time. RD$116 million is being invested in the dredging and other complementary works to rehabilitate the principal port on the North Coast.

Jail population increases
According to a report in the Listín Diario, there are 13,846 persons in jail in the DR. Most are in prison at the National District's La Victoria, that has an inmate population of 3,156. Najayo jail, in San Cristóbal, follows with 1,942 and Santiago-Rafey, in Santiago, is the third largest jail with 1,076. The newspaper carries observations by experts that advocate the implementation of house arrest, conditional pardon and community work sentences in order to reduce the jail population. The number of inmates has increased since General Pedro de Jesús Candelier was appointed chief of the Police.

Dominican crocodile no longer to become extinct
Hoy newspaper reports that preservation efforts to save the American Crocodile from extinction in the DR have been fruitful. The crocodile, which was bred at the National Zoo and then released and has multiplied at Enriquillo Lake, is no longer considered an endangered species. Cocodrylus Acutus has been subject of national and international efforts. Previously it was abundant along all Dominican coasts, and existed in large numbers in Monte Cristi and Samana Bay some 50 years ago. Today, the only existing population, some 400, is concentrated in the Enriquillo Lake and its Cabritos Island. Efforts to save the crocodile were enacted by the Ministry of Agriculture's Wildlife Program with the assistance of the International Migration Service of Germany and the Helvetas, a Swiss agency.
The crocodiles have made their own Enriquillo Lake that is located between the mountain ranges of Neiba and Bahoruco, in the Southwest of the DR. The 200 square kilometer lake has an altitude of two meters below sea level. It measures 35 kilometers long and 12 kilometers wide and has a maximum depth of 24 meters.
The olive green and brown-colored crocodiles coexist with a population of flamencos and iguanas at the lake and Cabritos island, the 12 kilometer by 2.5 kilometer inner island. They have a 50 year life span and measure about 2.5 meters long. The crocodiles breed in November and December, but only 10% of the babies survive. They eat insects, fish and animals, such as goat meat. Some 24 guards assigned to the Department of Parks and the Ministry of Agriculture Wildlife Program watch over their preservation. The article also attributes to an increase ecological awareness the success of the program to save the crocodiles.

Shakira is highest paid Presidente Festival performer
Twenty-one year old Colombian Latin pop star Shakira is the highest paid performer to participate in the upcoming Festival Presidente. Press reports said she will be paid US$150,000 for her performance. Ricky Martin is still the best paid performer, since the organizers of the festival paid him US$225,000 last year. Her albums, "Pies Descalzos" and "Dónde están los ladrones" are major hits in the DR. According to a press report, Chayanne and Marc Anthony will be paid US$125,000. Enrique Iglesias has a price tag of US$100,000; Elvis Crespo US$75,000; Carlos Ponce US$50,000; Tito Rojas and Victor Manuel, US$15,000-US$20,000. The Dominican performers and their price tags are as follows:
Los Ilegales RD$500,000; Fernando Villalona RD$250,000; Toño Rosario RD$175,000; Toros Band RD$150,000; Tribu del Sol, RD$50,000.
Tickets to the three nights of superb Latin American music sponsored by the Dominican brewery, Cervecería Nacional Dominicana are for sale at Banco Popular branches. Tickets are selling for RD$175 stands, and green areas RD$250, at the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center Stadium. From last year's experience, the stand seats are to be preferred. The company is giving out a free t-shirt and cap with the purchase of three nights.
The schedule is as follows:
Thursday 3, June at 6 pm. Shakira, Carlos Ponce, Victor Manuel, Toño Rosario, Tribu del Sol.
Friday, 4 June at 6 pm. Chayanne, Elvis Crespo, Nek, Fernando Villalona, Tito Rojas.
Saturday, 5 June at 6 pm. Enrique Iglesias, Marc Anthony, Los Ilegales, Toros Band, Raulín Rodríguez.

Star Wars opens in SD in July
Star War, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace is scheduled to open in Santo Domingo on 1 July. The film's premiere is scheduled for 19 May in the US.

Sammy Sosa: one of 50 leading Latin Americans
Time Magazine and CNN have included Dominican home run king Sammy Sosa as one of the 50 leading Latin Americans of the century.

Dominicans do well in Cuban track meet
Dominican track and field athletes had an outstanding performance in the Memorial Barrientos, the prestigious Cuban track and field competition held in Havana, Cuba. The event, in which 15 Latin American and Caribbean countries participated, is a preparatory event for the track and field competitions of the Pan Am Games that start in July in Winnipeg, Canada. The Dominican Republic team won 13 medals in the tournament. Medal winners were:
Juana Arrendel, gold in the high jump with 1.85 meters.
Francisco Cornelio silver and bronze in the 200 and 100 meters dash.
Elisa Pérez, silver in the long jump, with 1.99 meters.
Julio Luciano, silver, 2.23 meters in the high jump.
Bronze in the 4 x 400 relay and bronze in the 4 x 100 relay.

Green defeats Jerry Williams
Dominican Julio Cesar Green, world champion medium weight, defeated Jerry Williams in a bout organized by Don King in Miami yesterday. Williams was 15 pounds heavier than Green. Green is scheduled to fight William Joppy to defend his World Boxing Association title. The event could take place in Santo Domingo on 15 August if the government can fund the event.

Luis Felipe López could play for DR in Pan American Games
Luis Felipe Lopez could be a member of the Dominican basketball team to the Olympic Games. He said this is possible but the Dominican basketball federation still has to request permission from the National Basketball Association, that later has to notify his team, the Vancouver Grizzlies, and then an agreement has to be reached with the Federation. He said there is a big risk that he may be injured while playing, which could affect his future with the NBA. He said that he would like to represent the DR in the Olympics. He will be in the DR to participate in basketball clinics and in a benefit golf touranment.

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