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Daily News - 23 June 1999

PRD renegade joins party's cause
Barahona deputy Rafael Suberví Bonilla, who aspired to be chosen the presidential candidate for the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) in the next election, recognized Hipólito Mejía's win yesterday. Hipólito Mejía visited Suberví Mejía at his home yesterday, accompanied by the other contending three presidential nomination aspirants -- Milagros Ortiz, Hatuey de Camps, and José Rafael Abinader. The winner and four contenders vowed to work for the unity of the party and to win the presidency in the 16 May 2000 election.
Suberví had threatened to impugn the results, alleging a major fraud had been committed. Suberví came in a faraway second with 14% of the vote. El Siglo newspaper says that to get Suberví to join the unified front of the PRD, he was offered the post of secretary general of the party, a position that is occupied by Hatuey de Camps. Hatuey de Camps seeks the presidency of the party, now in the hands of lawyer Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero. Esquea has said he has no interest in staying in the post, if party members vote for another person.

Felix Jiménez retires from PLD candidacy race
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez retired from the race for the presidential candidacy of the ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD). The PLD presidential candidate will be chosen in the closed primary scheduled for Sunday, 27 June. Only 14,000 PLD members can vote, representing an estimated 350,000 party voters.
Polls show Jiménez as a faraway third from the two leading contenders, Vice President Jaime David Fernández and Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina.
Upon retiring, Jiménez said his followers were free to vote for whomever they chose. Nevertheless, because of comments he made during his campaign days, he is seen to be closer to Vice President Fernández than to Medina.
In an interview in Hoy newspaper, Jiménez describes himself as a practical man, not a pragmatic man. He comments that a pragmatic man will do anything possible to achieve a goal, and states that Danilo Medina has described himself as a pragmatic. In the same interview, Jiménez says that important changes are needed in government structure to reduce poverty and unemployment. Medina, because of his government post, is more identified with the present government than the Vice President.

Survey shows Danilo Medina leads in general preferences
The Listín Diario published results of a survey carried out 14-17 June by Sigma Dos showing that Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina leads in the general preference of PLD voters, 51.3% to Jaime David Fernández's 42.3%. Those polled were responding to the question, "Which is your preferred precandidate for the presidential candidacy?" The PLD vote is held by a reduced circle of 14,000 PLD members, and not in an open primary of all PLD members.

New Police Crimes and Robberies Department in Puerto Plata
The National Police inaugurated a new Superintendence for Crimes and Robberies in Puerto Plata. Police Chief Pedro de Jesus Candelier was there to receive the facility built by the Playa Dorada Association of Hotels and Condominiums with contributions from the business community of Sosúa as a contribution to the enforcement of law and order in the North Coast. Speaking during the ceremony, Police chief Candelier said, "Our goal in this century that is about to end is to make up a National Police that meets society's demands for a professional force."

Apparel exports grow
The Listín Diario newspaper reports that Dominican apparel exports grew 7.3% in value and 4% in volume during the first four months of the year. This rate of increase is similar to the world average for the period. This is a faster pace of growth than that achieved during the same period last year, when exports (volume) increased 3%. Forecasts are for a 10% increase this year, more than last year's 7% increase.
Statistics provided by the Consejo Nacional de Zonas Francas, the government organization that oversees the operation of free zones in the DR, show that up to the first week of June, 33 new free zone plants have been approved representing an investment of RD$687.3 million. These will employ 6,128 persons.
Of the 33 new companies, 17 are not apparel industries, continuing with the diversification trend of the national free zone sector. The new plants include footwear, cigar production, plastics and services industries.
Textile exports, nevertheless, continue to make up the greater share of Dominican free zone exports. This year they are expected to reach US$2,800-US$3,000 million, up from US$2,400 million in 1998.
Despite being affected by the NAFTA agreement that allows quota free exports from Mexico to the United States and Canada, the DR has kept its own. The DR is the fifth largest exporter of apparel to the US behind Mexico, Korea, India and Canada. Mexican exports grew 20.64% during the first four months of the year.

U of Cornell botanical research center under construction
The University of Cornell of Ithaca, New York and the Punta Cana Group began the construction of a botanical research center in Punta Cana last week. The new facility, to go up at a cost of RD$9 million donated by the Punta Cana Group, is part of the ecology preservation programs implemented by the Punta Cana Group in the East Coast. The new facility is going up on a 10 million square meter land plot located adjacent to the Punta Cana Beach Resort and the Punta Cana Marina.
The Punta Cana Group already operates a Fruit Tree Garden and Ecological Trail in the area. Tourists can visit the ecological reserve and its virgin forests and trpical fruit garden area to see up front banana, pineapple, orange, sugar cane, cherry, guava, papaya watermelon, avocado, mango, lemon, pomegranate and other exotic fruit trees. Eleven fresh water springs of crystalline waters surruonded by tropical humid forest are located in the area.
As part of the University of Cornell program, the potential of tropcial plants to produce medicinal products will be studied. Modern laboratories will be installed to research marine life, animals, plants and microbes found in the area. There will be rooms for students and faculty, classrooms with sophisticated telecommunication equipment, including a satellite uplink/downlink, interactive video and Internet communication. The University of Cornell will lease the facility from the Punta Cana Ecological Foundation for US$1. The project should be completed by January 2000. The DR facility will link into other Cornell centers located in Sweden, Australia, Holland, Costa Rica and Honduras that are part of the University's Global Classroom program.
Frank Rainieri, president of the Punta Cana Group; William Crepet, who will be in charge of the laboratory; Daryl Lund, dean of the School of Agriculture of Cornell University; and Theodore Kheel, former student of Cornell and president of the board of directors of Punta Cana Group traveled to Punta Cana for the ground-breaking ceremony.

US$69 round trip to Puerto Rico
Aeromar is offering the cheapest fare on the San Juan/Santo Domingo route. The airline is advertising a US$69 round trip on the route it inaugurated last week. Aeromar flights are daily, with the exception of Tuesdays. The flight departs Las Americas International in Santo Domingo at 8 pm. On Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays it runs an additional flight departing Las Americas at 7 pm. Puerto Rico is a popular link for those seeking to access cheaper fares to the US and Europe than those that may be available from the DR.

New car imports up
El Siglo newspaper reports that new car imports have increased 5 to 7% in the past two months as a result of a the passing of Norm 2-99 that reduced taxes on new vehicles. The measure reduces taxes on new cars, not those on old cars. In the first five months of the year, Customs statistics show that 8,816 vehicles of different categories were imported.
The Dirección General de Impuestos Internos has 1,334,109 vehicles in the DR registered. Of this amount, 689,959 are motorcycles; 359,900 are private cars; 177,775 are cargo vehicles; 35,729 are jeeps; 27,073 are private buses; 5,515 are interurban taxis and 861 are tourism transport vehicles. Likewise, 1,632 are public urban transport buses; 6,706 are tow vehicles; 400 are ambulances; 128 freight elevators; 78 funeral cars; 1,004 buses for the transport of tourists; 8,313 dump trucks; and 8,908 heavy machinery vehicles. New vehicle imports in the DR average 16,000 units a year for a population of 8 million inhabitants, or two new vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants. Puerto Rico imports 3.4 vehicles per 100 persons a year.

Autopsy results awaited to prove intent of murder of stowaway murders
The District Attorney Francisco Domínguez Brito said that he is awaiting the results of the autopsy's performed on young men who died after being discovered trying to stowaway on board a Philippine registration ship departing for the US. Two families of young men who died shortly after they were rescued from the ship's deposits said their relatives were poisoned by the Philippine crew and did not die of asphyxiation. The ship and crew has been retained in port by the local authorities until investigations conclude.
The Association of Shippers urged the port authorities to enforce greater security to avoid future stowaways as well as the robberies of merchandise on ships in port.

Carmen, for opera lovers
"Carmen," the Georges Bizet opera, opens tonight at the National Theater 23, 25, 27 June. The production is the most important artistic presentation of the National Theater so far this year, and is sponsored by Texaco. Carlos Piantini is in charge of the production that brings together the best of local talent and foreign guest performers. Angela Horn will be Carmen; Armando Mora, don José; Christina Fontanelli, Micaela; Moisés Franco, Escamillo; Eduardo Villanueva, Captain Zúñiga. Maestro Piantini will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra. José Delmonte will direct the choirs Polifonía and Infantil. Carlos Veitía is in charge of the choreography of the Ballet Concierto Dominicano. Tickets are sold out for Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, but still may be available for the Sunday performance at the National Theater.

Sammy Sosa leads in home runs in the American League
Sammy Sosa continues to be the leader in home runs in the National League. He hit his 24th home run yesterday. Mark McGwire is second with 22 home runs, tied with Jeff Bagwell. Sammy Sosa is keeping a slower pace than last year, when he hit 66 home runs, four less than all time home run record breaker, Mark McGwire. Last year, by this time Sosa had 30 home runs. The leader of home runs in the Major Leagues is José Canseco, with 27. Ken Griffey Jr. follows with 26.

DR delegation to Pan Am Games to cost US$750,000
The president of the Dominican Olympic Committee, Dr. José Joaquín Puello said that the Dominican delegation to the Pan American Games in Winnipeg, Canada will cost RD$12 million pesos or US$750,000. The delegation will be made up of 230 persons, including athletes, coaches and delegates. It will be the largest Dominican delegation to a Pan American Games.

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