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Daily News - 28 June 1999

Danilo Medina to be PLD candidate in 2000 election
With 86% of the votes in, Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina had received 52.5% of the vote versus his closest contender, Vice President Jaime David Fernández Mirabal's 39.2%. Bulletin No. 1 showed results of 1,638 voters of a total 1,905. The final outcome is not expected to change once all votes are counted. In his first speech as apparent candidate-elect, Danilo Medina called out for the unity of all PLD members. Minutes after he spoke, Vice President Fernández congratulated him and said he would work for a triumph of the PLD in the upcoming presidential election.

US business lobby for intellectual property rights
A US business lobby pressure group, International Intellectual Property Alliance requested that the US suspend benefits provided by the Caribbean Basin Initiative and the Generalized System of Preferences because of violation of intellectual property. The US lobby group is appealing to the US government to pressure the Dominican government into action against irregular users of computer software and other intellectual property infringements. The major gripe is that US companies located in the DR are guilty of intellectual property violations, when they use illegal copies of software in their affiliates in the DR. The US companies have preferred to jump Dominican judiciary channels and appeal to the US government to seek enforcement by way of canceling trade preferences.

US$70 million for buses and sports
Listin Diario newspaper reported the DR has requested US$70 million in low cost loans from the Fondo de Inversiones de Venezuela. The moneys will be used to purchase 150 buses for the Santiago public transport system and to pave streets in Santo Domingo and several interior cities.
Of the total, US$27.5 million will be used to prepare the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center to host the 2003 Pan American Games. The moneys will also finance the construction of multi-sport pavilions in interior cities, as well as a National Sports Health Center in Santo Domingo.

Slum dwellers to be relocated
The Municipality of Santo Domingo announced it has plans to relocate the dwellers of slums Los Praditos (Los Prados and Urbanización Fernández), La Yuca (Naco), La Puya (Arroyo Hondo) and El Manguito (Winston Churchill and José Contreras). These slum areas are located in the midst of otherwise prime real estate, adjacent to middle class and upper middle class neighborhoods in Santo Domingo. The municipality has reached agreements with private firms that will build low cost housing for these families in lands that will be donated by the municipality. On the prime real estate, private builders will construct towers to be sold to middle class and upper middle class families.

President Fernández is in Rio de Janeiro
President Leonel Fernandez left on Sunday, 27 June for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to participate in the European Union, Latin America and Caribbean Summit to be held in 28 and 29 June. In the meeting, future relations and agreements between Latin America and Europe will be discussed, as well as the integration of the Caribbean with South America. This will be President Fernández's 24th trip abroad. Some 48 countries are participating in the summit.
President Fernández is traveling with Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre, Minister of Finances Danilo Toribio and Lomé representative, Max Puig. Also, Abel Rodríguez del Orbe, special legal advisor; Natasha Despotevic, presidential assistant for international affairs; and military aide Major General Hilden Disla González.

Military to watch over sugar lands
President Leonel Fernández instructed the Armed Forces to maintain special supervision and avoid illegal takeover of the State Sugar Council (CEA) by individuals. The government is about to carry out a tender for the long-term lease of the lands to the private sector. By calling in the military, the government seeks to avoid that individuals take advantage of the transition period, to seize the lands in order to force new companies to negotiate with them or acknowledge the squatters as tenants of the lands.
Advancing on the preparation for the tender, on Friday, 25 June, President Fernández announced that the government would make severance payments to CEA workers for RD$700 million as part of the process to cease operations under the State and pass the assets to the private sector for exploitation.
In the DR, private sugar production is profitable, not so government sugar production. In effect, the single Central Romana sugar mill produces much more than the total of 12 state sugar mills.
The Pringamosa sugar mill is under construction in the northeast of Santo Domingo. A US$26 million joint venture of several sugar plantation owners, it is expected to produce refined sugar as of January 2000. Once a major sugar producer, today the DR is an importer of sugar.

Drug sales increase in slum areas
Rear Admiral Luis Alberto Humeau was quoted in Hoy newspaper saying that drug sales have increased in uptown slum areas. He said that the government drug control department, the Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas (DNCD arrests about 100 vendors per week, or about 14 a day, but these are replaced by others at new points.

Two Air Force pilots die in crash
An Air Force captain and a lieutenant, both pilots of the Dominican Air Force, died over the weekend when their airplane, an old T-34 apparently stalled upon takeoff of a training flight. Twenty-eight year old Captain Dionis Randolfo Perez and twenty-six year old first lieutenant Jose Castillo died when their plane fell less than 500 meters from the airbase runway. Chief of the Air Force, Major General Hugo Rafael González Borrell said a committee was appointed to determine the causes of the accident. He advanced the crash was apparently due to mechanical failure of the aging aircraft. President Leonel Fernández attended the funeral services of the pilots. Captain Perez leaves a wife and a two-year and10 month old boy. Castillo leaves his wife, and a newborn baby.
President Fernández commented that to avoid more accidents, the government is equipping the Air Force with a fleet of eight airplanes that are expected to arrive shortly from Chile.

Limiting political propaganda on streets
The Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, Partido Revolucionario Dominicano and Partido Reformista Social Cristiano, the three leading political parties, support the Municipality of Santo Domingo's decision to limit political propaganda on city streets. The ruling went into effect as of 26 June of this year. The municipality and the parties removed propaganda from trees and stoplights following the new rulings.

Obesity affects Dominicans
El Siglo newspaper reports that obesity is becoming a major health problem in the DR. The problem is accentuated by the invasion of fast food restaurants. Health specialists Luis Carlos Ramirez and Sonia Cerdas estimate 800,000 to 2 million Dominicans suffer from obesity. This is 10 to 25% of the population of eight million people. In the United States, an estimated 61 million people suffer from obesity of a population of 225 million, or almost 30%.

New long distance swimming record set
Marcos Díaz is the new record holder of the longest uninterrupted swim in the DR. He established the long distance record of 52 kilometers on Saturday morning during the Body Shop gym's swimathon. He set the new record at 15:03:27. He broke Victor Massalles record, set in 1980, of 50 kilometers in 15:52 minutes. Díaz passed the 50-kilometer mark in 14:23 minutes. He completed the last 100 meters of the competition swimming butterfly. His physician, Benjamín Payano said Díaz was shivering at the end of the swim and had lost 5.5 pounds. The swimathon was held to gather funds for the national swimming team.

Caribbean Series set for Santo Domingo next year
The XXX Caribbean Series is set to take place in Santo Domingo, 2-7 February 2000. In the series, the best baseball teams from the winter baseball leagues of Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Dominican Republic will be playing. Several Major League ball players join the teams, so expect to see big name players on the rosters. The action is set for the city's Quisqueya Ball Park. The Dominican Republic won the last championship.

Dominican rookie throws a no-hitter
Twenty-five year old Dominican pitcher José Jiménez (4-7) pitched a no-hitter on Friday, 25 June to the surprise of the thousands of fans that had filled the stadium to watch Mark McGwire bat a home run. The Cardinal batters came through for Jiménez, batting a run in the ninth inning. St. Louis defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 1-0. Associated Press described the game as "an old-fashioned pitching duel as good as any you'll find." Jiménez struck out eight players and walked two. Randy Johnson (9-4) was pitching for the Diamondbacks. He struck out 14 and permitted only five hits. Jiménez is only the third Dominican to achieve this feat in a nine-inning game in the Major Leagues. Juan Marichal did so on 15 June 1963, and Ramón Martínez (Pedro Martínez's brother) on 14 July 1995.

Sammy Sosa bats hits 28th home run
Sammy Sosa batted his 28th home run on Sunday in the 13-7 game the Chicago Cubs defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 13-7 in Chicago. In the same game, fellow Dominican Henry Rodríguez batted a two-run homer. Sosa is now tied with Tampa Bay's José Canseco for the most home runs in the Major Leagues.

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