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Daily News - 14 June 1999

Delays in issuing new license plates
Listín Diario newspaper reported today that the government does not have a date to start issuing driving permit renewals for vehicles. According to the report, the American Bank Note Company has not delivered on time the contracted 800,000 stickers. The government contracted the company in November. The permit renewal process should have begun in April, but delays pushed the date up to 27 May. Once the stickers arrive, the DRII, the government department in charge of issuing the tax, will begin the process. Trucks and jeeps pay RD$500 a year; public transport and private vehicles from year 1991+ pay RD$250; and vehicles from 1990 and older pay RD$150 per year.
The process of issuing the permits is expected to go fast, as most commercial banks are participating as well as postal offices around the country. The permits may be paid in cash or by credit card and can be ordered by mail.

700 computers for government program
Western Union International donated 700 computers, 165 CPUs, 100 keyboards and 100 printers to the Presidency of the Republic. The computers will be used in the Ministry of Education's computer lab installation program. The president of First Data Corporation, Charles Fote visited to make the donation. Western Union's representative in the DR, Remesas Vimenca, lobbied the donation. President Leonel Fernández, who has personally spearheaded the computer training programs, received the donation at the National Palace.

Expedite license renewals starts today
The government announces that it has implemented the fast track process for issuing driver's license renewals located at the Casa Haché of the Av. John F. Kennedy, Supermercado Nacional, of Avenida 27 de Febrero, Farmacia Carol of the Avenida Bolivar, La Sirena of the Avenida Mella and Winston Churchill and Americana Departamentos of the Av. John F. Kennedy. Renewals are also possible at the offices located in Guaricanos and Km. 10-1/2 Avenida Independencia.

Paint industry booms in DR
The Listín Diario newspaper reports that the paint industry in the DR is booming. The industry generated more than RD$1,200 million in sales last year, and is expected to grow 23% this year. Some 6,000 people are employed in the industry. 40% of paint sales in the DR occur in the final two months of the year. December is the peak month. More Dominicans are programming themselves to spruce up their homes prior to the peak months to avoid higher charges made by painters. Dominicans used 10 million gallons of paint last year. There are 10 local brands on the market, and four international brands. The foreign brands have only 0.5% of the market. White is the leading paint sold, making up for 50% of all sales.

Farm produce prices drop
Farm products continue to drop in price as abundant crops hit the markets. The country suffered a shortage of farm produce last September when several farm regions were affected by the waters and winds of Hurricane Georges. The scarcity brought high prices, and a basic staple such as the plantain, peaked at RD$8 the unit. Today plantains are on the market for RD$1.50-RD$3, depending on the size.
Yucca prices are down from RD$6 to RD$4 the lb. Potatoes are selling for RD$4-RD$5; the lb. of okra goes for RD$5. Barceló-type tomatoes are selling for RD$3-RD$5, salad tomatoes, RD$5-RD$6. You can purchase beets for RD$2-RD$3 the lb; eggplants for RD$1 the lb; cucumbers for RD$2-RD$3 the unit, and onions for RD$4-RD$5, the lb. Garlic sells for RD$20 the lb. and cabbage for RD$10-RD$15. Banilejo mangos are going for RD$0.50; pineapples for RD$10-RD$15, oranges for RD$1.60 the unit; grapefruits, RD$1.20-RD$2. Avocados are selling for RD$5-RD$10, and papayas for RD$15-RD$20.

US trade show opens this week
Expo USA 1999 opens at the Hotel V Centenario Intercontinental Wednesday, 16 June. The exhibition of US products and services will remain open through Friday, 19 June. This is the eighth Expo USA organized by the commercial section of the US Embassy to showcase US company products and services sold in the DR and new-to-market companies. More than 20,000 visitors are expected to attend.

Causes for delinquency
Lack of job opportunities for unskilled youth, extreme poverty, the lack of regulation on the possession of guns, and high consumption of alcohol and drugs are considered key factors for the increase in violent crimes in the DR. Other factors mentioned during a conference on the subject promoted by Foro Ciudadano were a lack of respect for women, indifference of political leaders towards the real problems that affect Dominicans, the large number of illegal activities carried out and the lack of regulation regarding violence on TV. The conclusions were mentioned during the conference chaired by Carmen Amelia Cedeño, Acción contra la Corrupción; Eduardo Jorge Pratts, FINJUS; Ana Isabel Acosta Columna, Asociación de Empresas e Industriales de Herrera (AEIH); Padre Jorge Cela, del Centro de Estudios Padre Juan Montalvo, and Isidoro Santana, of the Movimiento Cívico Participación Ciudadana. Police sectors also attribute the increase in the violence to the deportations of Dominicans who participated in criminal activities in the US.

PRD convention set for 20 June
The president of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero said that all is ready for holding of that party's convention on 20 June. Major power pulls within the party's factions have been making headlines, as those that polls show rank less like to win the presidential nomination strive desperately to get a piece of the cake. Esquea Guerrero said that despite the differences, all candidates to presidential nomination will be participating. He spoke on the Aeromundo talk show on Sunday.
Leading contenders to win the presidential nomination on 20 June are, in order of ranking by polls, Hipólito Mejía, Rafael Suberví Bonilla, Milagros Ortiz Bosch, Hatuey de Camps and José Rafael Abinader.
The convention is slated to cost RD$5 million. Some 1.3 million people may vote in the primaries. Some 5,000 voting centers are being set up.
Esquea also said that the PRD would not pass new taxes proposed by the government and the Dominican Medical Association to increase physicians salaries.

Hipólito may sign pact with sectors within PRSC
Hipolito Mejia, the leading contender for the PRD presidential nomination, said that he sees well reaching an agreement with the "honest and moral sectors" within the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC), for their support in the second round of the presidential elections. All polls show that a second round (scheduled for 1 July 2000) will be necessary as none of the candidates have posted the more than 50% level of support needed to win in the first round, set for 16 May 2000. "He who thinks that the PLD and PRSC will join forces is wrong, there is a divorce between those two political forces," he said.
Political analysts say that whoever attracts the PRSC voter will win the election.
Sources say that Hipólito Mejía has held talks with Jacinto Peynado, the alternate candidate in the PRSC. Both are agriculture produce businessmen - Mejía is a major exporter of red peppers and other farm produce and Peynado is a major producer of orange and orange pulp for juice. Peynado is seen as the party's strongest contender if Balaguer did not run. It is expected that Balaguer will run for President in 2000. Balaguer has been rejuvenated and launched as a candidate. He will be 93 in September of this year.
The PRSC support to PLD candidate, Dr. Leonel Fernández, was crucial to his winning the presidency in 1996.

Infertility affects 1 million Dominicans
One million Dominicans of both sexes suffer from infertility. Dr. Hector Elías Rosario, chief of obstetrics and gynecology service at the Luis Eduardo Aybar public hospital said that public hospitals are not prepared to assist couples that cannot afford private medical help. He said that 15-18% of Dominican couples have trouble conceiving. Dr. Rosario is head of the Centro de Fertilidad y Reproducción Humana, a private fertility clinic with a good track record of success.

Rains forecast, but sunny morning in Santo Domingo
Tropical Storm Arlene, which is thrashing through Atlantic Ocean waters on its way to Bermuda, is expected to bring rains to the DR. During the morning of Monday, 14 June, at least in Santo Domingo, though, the rains didn't fall, but the cloudy skies make the forecast of rains very probable. Arlene is located 630 kilometers East/Southeast of Bermuda. It is not on a path that could affect the Dominican Republic. Weather forecasts are for an active hurricane season this year.

Teaching half million Dominican adults to read
The Ministry of Education said it will be teaching 500,000 Dominicans to read and write before the end of the year. According to the last census 1993, in the DR 1,307,421 adults cannot read, or 21% of the population.

Mark McGwire could come in November
Mark McGwire, the holder of the all-time home run record of the Major Leagues, is expected to visit in November of this year to attend Sammy Sosa's birthday. This would not be McGwire's first visit to the DR. He played here with the Licey Tigers.

Great year for Dominican ball players
1999 has been a great year for Dominican ball players. Promotion contracts signed by Sammy Sosa are producing more revenue for him than the US$12 million stipulated by his contract with the Chicago Cubs. Sosa leads the National League in home runs, with 21. He is also the player to beat for the Most Valuable Player award of the National League. Manny Ramírez of the Cleveland Indians is the leading candidate for Most Valuable Player of the American League.
José Lima, of the Houston Astros, is the leading contender for the National League's Cy Young award. He has the most wins of any pitcher in the National League with 11. Pedro Martínez, who plays for the Boston Red Sox of the American League, is the leading contender for the Cy Young of the American League, with 11 wins.

Manny Ramírez bats 16th homer
Dominican Manny Ramírez was a key player in the 7-3 victory of the Cleveland Indians over the Cincinnati Reds over the weekend. In the game, Ramírez pushed ahead his chances of becoming the Most Valuable Player of the American League when he batted his 16th home run. He leads the Majors with 72 RBIs. The Cleveland Indians swept the three-game series with Cincinnati. Ramírez hit a two-run homer in the third inning that put the Indians in the lead.

Lima ties Pedro Martínez 11 win lead
Baseball's new showman, Dominican José Lima tied with his countryman, Pedro Martínez of the Boston Red Sox for the lead in games won this season in Major League baseball. Pitching against the Padres, José Lima on Saturday became only the second pitcher in Major Leagues to win 11 games. He allowed six hits over eight innings, in the Houston Astros 3-2 victory over the San Diego Padres. In the game he struck out 10, a season-high.
Lima has a record of 11 victories and 2 losses.

Tony Fernández batting for .401
Tony Fernández is having a heck of a good season. In his 17th season in the Major Leagues (11 with the Toronto Blue Jays), Fernández yesterday batted for .401 average in the game the Blue Jays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 on Sunday. Fernández is the league's leading batter. Fernández has 2,168 hits in his career. He is only nine hits behind the all time record for a Dominican in the Majors. In the Major Leagues, only four Dominicans have hit more than 2,000 hits in their career. These are: Franco 2,177, Fernández, 2168; Felipe Rojas Alou, 2,101; and César Cedeño, 2,087. Fernández has a life batting average of .288.

Dominican Republic wins important judo meet
An important qualifying round for the Pan American Sports Games set for July in Winnipeg, Canada was held in Santo Domingo over the weekend. The Dominican Republic won the Central American and Caribbean Judo Championships, men's division and placed second in the women's division. Ten regional countries participated in the tournament that is stage two of the Panamerican Judo Circuit. The Circuit continues in Mexico. The event was held at the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center's judo pavilion.
The DR team won 10 gold, three silver and two bronze medals. Big winners for the DR were Jose Vicbart Geraldino, Juan Carlos J

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