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Daily News - 18 May 1999

Minibus drivers protest being pushed out of Independencia Av.
San Cristóbal chauffeurs protested violently yesterday when Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) agents banned them from picking up passengers along the Prolongación Independencia, following the inauguration of a new AMET/OMSA bus route. Police agents were stationed along the key points of entry to avoid further protesting. The minibuses have been instructed to establish alternate West-East routes along Avenida Cayetano Germosen or along the Autopista 30 de Mayo (Malecón). The bus drivers feel they have been left without a way to earn a living because most of the people who use public transport prefer the Independencia. While on Monday, activities were normal within San Cristóbal, commuters to Santo Domingo from that southwestern city were affected. Large AMET buses has displaced the "voladoras" from other city avenues.

Day One of 48-hour strike is uneventful
Secretary of Interior and Police, Norge Botello said he has information that at least three PRD senators contributed money to finance the organizers of the two-day shutdown of businesses in support of their demands. They are demanding a 100% increase in wages, declines in food prices and fuel prices. He said that the strike does not have popular support, but the organizers try to frighten Dominicans into staying home. Public schools and most private school children attended their classes on Tuesday. Traffic was 50% less, making for a very pleasant city of Santo Domingo. The Collective of Popular Organizations and the Coordinating Committee of Popular Organizations was more successful in the barrios. Those that didn't have to go to work, took the day off, enjoying a good excuse. All is expected to be back to normal tomorrow.
The organizers of the strike are primarily minibus owners that are protesting their being displaced by the more comfortable AMET buses from main city routes. The minibus unions had for years maintained a stronghold over the city routes, charging anyone who wanted to pick up passengers on those routes fees of about RD$50,000. If these weren't paid, the union members could get violent.
The strike has had little effect on tourists that do not depend on public transport.
While "conchos" are not operating, city residents are served by the radio-taxis and AMET buses.

Business and labor unions to work together on new wage policy
The presidents of the National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP), the leading business organization, and the Nacional Council of Unions (CNUS), the leading union organization, yesterday signed an agreement whereby they will work together to reach a consensus on a wage increase for this year. The agreement of the business and labor communities coincides with the call for strike by a labor union that represents primarily public transport unit owners. The organizations rejected the call to strike.

New School of Diplomacy
President Leonel Fernández will inaugurate today the new building of the School of Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The building was first used last month for the closing event of the II Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Association of Caribbean States. It is located within the grounds of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The School of Diplomacy was built at a cost of RD$93 million.

135,000 "mistakes" on PRD list
Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero, president of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, said that according to an audit on the list of voters registered to vote for the presidential candidate of that party, 9% show irregularities. This adds up to 135,000 mistakes on the voting list of the largest opposition party. The list is being questioned by former Rafael Suberví Bonilla, a former mayor of Santo Domingo, and Hatuey Decamps, a former Secretary of the Presidency in the government of PRD President Salvador Jorge Blanco. Both of these presidential candidate hopefuls are way behind the top-ranked Hipólito Mejía and Milagros Ortiz Bosch. Political analysts say that Suberví and Decamps have questioned the list seeking to negotiate advantageous positions in the party, given their weak individual positions. Both have the highest rejection rates among PRD voters.

Here comes the hurricane season
Luis Rodríguez, No. 2 man at the Weather Department, said that forecasters expect the 1999 Atlantic Basin hurricane season to be more active than the one last year. Rodríguez said it is very likely that at least one hurricane of category 3 or 4 will sweep through the Caribbean from June to November. This year's hurricanes are to be called: Arlene, Bret, Cindy, Dennis, Emily, Floyd, Gert, Hervey, Irene, Jose, Katrina, Lenny, Maria, Nate, Ophelia, Philippe, Rita, Stan, Tammy, Vince and Wilma. The hurricane season opens 1 June. August and September are the months in which most hurricanes have hit the DR. The last major hurricanes to affect the DR were David (August 1979) and Georges (September 1999).

Italian travel group to invest US$70 million in DR
The Grupo Viaggi del Ventaglio will be investing nearly US$70 million in the expansion of the Hotel Gran Dominicus in Bayahibe, in the Southeast Coast, half an hour from La Romana. The company also has plans for the construction of a 1,000 room resort in Pedernales, on the Southwest Coast of the DR. Jaime Lladó, general manager of the Gran Dominicus hotel, said that the second phase of the hotel calls for the construction of 250 rooms and two new restaurants. Construction is slated to begin within 60 days so rooms can be fully operational by spring 2000.
Bayahibe is an area that is booming. New infrastructure in the area includes a private power company that will sell energy to area hotels (one of the owners of the company is Ernest Burri, former president of Codetel in the DR), as well as the construction of a highway that will link the picturesque town of Bayahibe to the resorts. Other resorts in the area are the Club Viva Dominicus and Casa del Mar, operated by Amhsa. A second Viva resort and a Coral resort are slated to open this winter. Private investors have plans for the construction of a golf course and a casino to service Bayahibe area guests.

Air Santo Domingo to close down
Fernando Rainieri, spokesman for Air Santo Domingo, told the Listín Diario that if the Herrera Airport is closed and traffic moved to Higuero, where a new airport is being built in the northeast of Santo Domingo, the domestic airline will cease operations. He said the Higuero Airport will be big enough for the operation of American Airlines and American Eagle flights. But he said it is too far away from the center of the city of Santo Domingo to be attractive to tourists and businessmen who use Air Santo Domingo to travel to Puerto Plata, Punta Cana and Samana.

1999 Dominican parade to be biggest ever
Hoy newspaper reports that the organizers of the Manhattan-based Dominican Parade feel that some 1/2 million Dominicans will show up for this year's parade, the 17th and last of the century. The parade is seen as a demonstration of the strength of the Dominican community in New York City. Just recently, it was announced by the city of New York that the Dominican community is now the largest ethnic minority group in that city. Nelson Peña, president of the Organizing Committee, said that they are expecting Dominicans from all around the US to travel to New York to participate in the Sixth Avenue parade. Delegations from Houston, Philadelphia, Washington, Connecticut, Boston, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Canada, Puerto Rico, Miami will participate in the parade on 15 August 1999.

National Symphony Orchestra concert
The final concert of the National Symphony Orchestra will be performed this Wednesday, 19 May at the National Theater's main hall. Julio de Windt, the Symphony's conductor, will direct this final concert. Special performers are Victor Mitrov, trumpet and Sergei Babayan, piano.
To be performed are: Enrique de Marchena's, "Amanecer", and "Scherzo de Luz"; Arutunian,'s "Concert for trumpet and orchestra", Rachmaninoff's "Concert No. 2 for piano and orchestra" and Inocencio Carreño's "Margariteña."
Tickets to the 8:30 pm performance are for sale at the National Theater.

Sammy Sosa homers twice in a game
Chicago blasted the Florida Marlins 8-1 on Monday. In the game, Dominican Sammy Sosa hit a two-run homer in a three-run first and added a solo shot in the eighth. This is the first game in which he bats two home runs so far this season. So far, he has 11 home runs, including seven this month. This base puts him ahead of his start last year. Sammy Sosa ended the 1998 season with 66 home runs and became one of the most popular US celebrity's of the year.

Luis Felipe López comes home
The Dominican Republic's NBA player, Luis Felipe López of the Vancouver Grizzlies, is in town preparing for basketball clinics and a benefit golf tournament. Fellow NBA players, Mike Bibby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Anlawn Jamison, Gary Payton, Jayson Williams, Alan Houston, Grant Hill, Jayson Williams, Charles Oakley and Rasheed Wallace will be playing in the Luis Felipe López Golf Tournament. While vacationing in the DR, López will offer a day of basketball clinics on 20 June sponsored by Codetel and the Dominican Basketball Federation.

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