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Daily News - 27 May 1999

Abundance of low cost plantains forecast
Frank Tejada, executive secretary of the Presidency's Commission for the Reform and Modernization of Agriculture forecasts an abundance of plantains by the end of this year. Plantains, a variety of green banana, were scarce early this year as a result of Hurricane George's wiping out entire plantations. Plantains sold in January for RD$8.00 each. Prices are now down to RD$2-RD$3 each.
Tejada explained that farm yield is up. He estimated a production of 1,035,788,000 units this year, a 1.73% decline over last year. Nevertheless, he said farm productivity is up. 169,193 tareas (tarea=626.67 square meters) have been planted. Last year some 1,053,969,000 units were produced, over an area of 222,383 tareas. This is a 24% increase in yield per planted tarea. Tejada attributed this to the technical support the government is giving to producers, as well as millionaire fund injections in irrigation resources also made by the government.

Renewing and getting a license now easy
Renewing and getting a license in the DR will be easy as of next Monday, 31 May. According to the Dirección General de Tránsito Terrestre, the operation of driver's license department branches has been tested and these will be offering their computerized services to the public as of Monday. New branches have been set up in Haché Departamentos (Av. John F. Kennedy), Americana Departamentos (Av. John F. Kennedy), Supermercado Nacional (Av. 27 de Febrero), Farmacia Carol (Avenida Bolívar), Multicentro (Av. Winston Churchill). Also in Post Offices located in Guaricano and Km. 10-1/2 of Independencia Avenue. One of the handiest for the renewal of the licenses is the Multicentro, where a Banco de Reservas is located. Taxes to renew the document need to be paid at the Banco de Reservas. Also, a Red Cross blood type certificate need to be presented, and an eye test taken.

Armed Forces to join National Police to fight crime
President Leonel Fernández instructed the Armed Forces to join efforts with the National Police to put a stop to the crime wave that has affected the DR over the past weeks. Minister of the Armed Forces Manuel de Jesús Florentino said that the crime wave is not an exclusive problem of the Police and the Armed Forces, but one that needs to be combatted with the collaboration of all sectors of society.

92 and blind, but he will be running for President
He's 92 years old and blind, but at the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, Joaquín Balaguer is revving up the party to prepare for his launching as that party's presidential candidacy. His followers are painting signs reading "Balaguer, una vez más por necesidad" (Balaguer, once more because we need him) all over. The combat slogan is now, "vuelve para triunfar" (he's back to win). Balaguer has been President of the Dominican Republic for 22 years since he was elected in 1966.
Like always, Balaguer's political antics and capacity to spring back, like Lazarus, mesmerizes Dominicans. Balaguer has survived the three caudillos that have led the nation's politics after Dictator Trujillo was killed in 1961 - Juan Bosch (who's health is delicate and retired after delegating his party to Leonel Fernández) and José Francisco Peña Gómez (who died of cancer last year).
Meanwhile, Balaguer is receiving party leaders and ordering about budget allotments to spruce up the PRSC locales as he maneuvers into positions of gain and prepares for 2000.
Political analysts say that even if his party doesn't have the strength to win these elections, Balaguer, the politician, will decide who wins the 2000 presidential elections. In 1996, today President Leonel Fernández gained the Presidency, when Balaguer instructed his followers to vote for Fernández, and not for his party's presidential candidate, Jacinto Peynado.
Polls show Peynado would be the party's strongest candidate if Balaguer did not run. But Peynado is keeping a low profile. Balaguer continues to call the shots in his party.

Penn, Schoen poll shows Jaime David is preferred PLD candidate
A Penn, Schoen & Berland poll shows Vice President Jaime David Fernández is the leading contender for the presidential nomination of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana. The poll was funded by a group of the Vice President's supporters. The poll shows that Fernández is favored by 58% of voters versus 30% of his closest contender, Secretary of the Presidency, Danilo Medina. Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez is a far away 6%. The survey took place 8-13 May. 961 Dominicans were polled, of which 361 said they were PLD voters.

Princess Margaret of Holland coming next week
Princess Margaret of Holland will make her first visit to the DR to attend the XVI InterAmerican Red Cross Conference. The event opens in Santo Domingo on 1 June. It will last through 4 June. Some 150 delegates from the Americas and Europe will attend. The event is organized every four years.

Mother's Day Concerts
Capilla de los Remedios, Palacio de Bellas Artes and Teatro Nacional are advertising special Mother's Day classic music concerts. The Capilla de los Remedios (8:30 pm, 27 June, RD$75) concert features the Ars Nova sextet and soprano Ivonne Haza. At the Palacio de Bellas Artes (8 pm, 28 June, free admission), the Juan Pablo Duarte National Symphony and the National Choir will be performing. National Theater's Sala de la Cultura, Sinfoneta Chamber music group conducted by Caonex Peguero-Camilo (8:30 pm, 28 June, RD$250). In the Dominican Republic, Mother's Day falls on the last Sunday in May. This year, it falls on 30 May.

Le Jeune Ballet de France in Santo Domingo
Le Jeune Ballet de France, a French ballet troupe that presents how classic ballet has evolved, will be on stage at the National Theater in June. Robert Berthier created the troupe in 1983, with the help of renowned dancer Roselia Hightower. Le Jeune Ballet de France has performed for more than one million spectators in 50 countries and 700 cities.

Sammy Sosa hits his 16th home run
Sammy Sosa, the DR's most famous athlete, hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth inning, that led the Chicago Cubs to a 6-4 victory over the Florida Marlins Wednesday in Chicago.
This was Sosa's 16th home run in the season. He is keeping a faster pace than last year, when he made baseball history by hitting 66 home runs and a Major League best 158 RBI to earn the National League's Most Valuable Player Award. Sosa has hit 12 home runs and 24 RBIs in his last 21 games.
With Sosa on a roll, expect all the sports media to focus on him as Chicago begins a three-game series with Mark McGwire and the St. Louis Cardinals this Friday. McGwire finished last season with a Major League record of 70 homers.
Sosa is one run behind the National League home run record leader, fellow Dominican Raul Mondesí. Mondesí hit his 17th home run yesterday, in the game the Los Angeles Dodgers won over the Cincinnati Reds, 9-3.

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