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Daily News - 06 July 1999

Government to freeze expenditures through 2000
Minister of Finances Daniel Toribio told El Siglo newspaper that the government will freeze current salary expenditures from now through the presidential election in order to avoid distortions in the economy. He clarified that this does not mean there cannot be salary increases during this period. Visiting economist Jeffrey Sachs, of the University of Harvard, met with the director of the National Office of Planning, Rafael Camilo in Santo Domingo. They concur that fiscal discipline and equilibrium in government spending during the electoral year is very important. Presidential elections are scheduled for May 2000.

DR invites 72 heads of state to visit
The Dominican Republic sent out formal invitations yesterday to 72 countries to participate in the Santo Domingo Summit of African, Caribbean and Pacific states that are signatories of the Lomé IV agreement with the European Union. The event will be held 25 to 26 November and is considered the most important convention ever held in the Dominican Republic. During the November meeting, the visiting statesmen will consolidate their joint position on trade liberalization and globalization prior to participating in the Seattle, Washington Summit to be held in December. Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations Minou Tavarez Mirabal traveled to Brussels to present the formal invitation on behalf of the Dominican government.

President meets with Supreme Court judges
President Leonel Fernández invited a commission of Supreme Court of Justice judges over for lunch at the National Palace yesterday. Judicial consultant, Cesar Pina Toribio, accompanied President Fernández. Present were the president of the Supreme Court, Jorge Subero Isa and judges Hugo Alvarez Valencia, Luperón Vasquez and Luciano Pichardo. After the meeting, no official statements were issued, nor did the judges have anything to comment. The President of the Supreme Court of Justice has been confrontational constantly speaking to the press on several issues. He recently clashed with the Presidency over the charging of US$10 departure tax to Dominicans. The Presidency ruled that Dominicans can now pay US$10 or RD$160 to leave. Analysts say that behind the decision of the Supreme Court there are more important implications, such as that contracts in foreign currency may not stand up when legally disputed.

PRD presidential candidate belittles Historical Pact
The presidential candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), Hipólito Mejía said he would not sign the Pacto Histórico promoted by the Fernández Government. The pact would be the conclusion of the many weeks of talks held by representatives of the leading political parties at the National Palace. The talks were called to eliminate the constant political bickering that was a bottleneck to progress in the DR. The Presidency seeks to conclude the talks with the signing of agreements to pass several bills that are considered necessary for national development, regardless of who is in power.
Mejía was critical of President Fernández, whom he says has shown lack of respect for the Constitution. Mejía said he would visit the National Palace to greet the President, but not to sign the pact. "I do not believe in that pact; they do not come through with what they promise. I believe in dialogue, but not in signing an agreement with people that are all talk and no fulfillment."
Mejía also criticized that President Fernández, on a state visit in Brazil, told the Dominican press covering the event that he would put heart and soul to work for a win of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana in the next presidential election. Mejía said that President Fernández is the president of all Dominicans, not only of the PLD.

President of Senate favors voting with two cedulas
President of the Senate, Ramón Alburquerque favored that Dominicans be allowed to vote with either the new or old voting card. Technical and administrative problems have delayed the issuing of the new voting cards to most Dominicans. There is concern that time is running out. Alburquerque feels Dominicans should be allowed to vote with the old card. He also encouraged all political parties to work for the success of the election. "Let’s get to work helping the electoral board, and let’s stop looking for spiders and centipedes where there are none," he said.

Abraham Lincoln to be eight lane avenue
The Fernández government has begun the expansion of the Avenida Abraham Lincoln in Santo Domingo. The avenue is one of four leading North-South connections within the city of Santo Domingo. The six-lane avenue will be converted into an eight-lane avenue. To build the additional lane, the central green area will be used. The expansion of this avenue is part of the government’s mega plan to improve transport in Santo Domingo.

Police resolves kidnapping case
The National Police reported that a Dominican resident in the US, identified with the nickname "El Viejo" was who ordered the kidnapping of Eliana Hortensia Rodríguez Alemar. The motive: her half brother owned money to El Viejo. The Police said Santo Santana has been arrested in Santo Domingo. He is believed to been one of the actual kidnappers who was following orders from El Viejo. He is supposedly one of four men that abducted the 33-year old woman from in front of her home in the Alma Rosa neighborhood. She was taken to a house in the western industrial and port suburb of Haina and held. She was able to escape when her custodians fell asleep.
The police tracked down the house and found a telephone number and message sent to a person in New York by El Viejo to Rodriguez Alemar’s half brother, Marcos Vinicio Martínez Alemar. The message read: "You know you have a debt pending, and since you are not concerned about paying, I will collect the debt and I am doing so."
The police are looking for Rafael Almanzar, who had been arrested and convicted for the death of Israeli diplomat Aviv Cohen in October 1996 and who escaped from jail.
The victim of the kidnapping, Eliana Hortensia Rodríguez Alemar, is half sister to Marcos Martínez Alemar and Josefina Martínez de Corporán. The later took her story to the press. The Martínez’s are children of retired general José Isidoro Martínez, who is implicated in the crime of journalist Orlando Martínez, and who is terminally ill with cancer and is hospitalized in the Hospital Central de las Fuerzas Armadas y la Policia Nacional.

National eighth grade tests today
Thousands of eighth grade students from all around the country are undergoing the so-called "national tests" that seek to determine their level of schooling regardless of where they study. Eighth graders are tested in Spanish, Mathematics, Social Sciences and Natural Sciences. Results will be known in two weeks, according to the Ministry of Education’s schedule. The tests are expected to show off skills and weaknesses of Dominican school children.

June and November are unlikely hurricane months for DR
The former director of the Weather Department says that in the past 125 years the DR has never been hit by a hurricane in June, the first month of the hurricane season. The earliest recorded hurricane hit on 7 July 1901. Records show that since records were kept, in 1873, only four tropical storms or hurricanes have affected the nation in July. These include two tropical storms, and two hurricanes, one of category one and another of category two. He concludes, then that hurricane season for the DR is from 7 July to 12 November. Some 60 tropical storms or hurricanes have hit the DR since 1873. August and September are the months in which most hurricanes have hit. The Caribbean hurricane season lasts from 1 June to 30 November.

Police finds car-dismantling shop
It is popular hearsay that the National Police can resolve any case it cares to resolve. So occurred when bandits stole a Toyota Corolla belonging to none less than a police lieutenant from the Intec university parking lot.
Inside the car the bandits found a pair of military boots, bullet cartridges, two handcuffs, an ID card and other personal items. Apparently, they chose to dismantle the car, so that all traces would be gone. But they should have known better than to steal a policeman’s car.
The car was apparently taken to a workshop set up at a dilapidated dwelling in the Invivienda neighborhood. But dozens of agents of the Robbery Department were alerted to work on the case. Indeed, the police was able to locate the car, or what was left of it, when two vendors were caught selling the car’s front seats. The vendors led them to the workshop where a stock of hundreds of spare parts, for sale to spare parts shops, was found. Most were of Toyota vehicles. Previous victims apparently did not have the right police connections.
Press reports say that after the Police arrived at the Invivienda home-spare parts shop, they had to wait three hours for the arrival of the District Attorney official to establish the base for the opening of a legal case against those found on scene. In the past, the lack of the correct instrumentation of a case at the start as led to lenient sentences or no sentences at all. As part of the renewal of justice, a DA representative has to be present at the site of the detention.

Pedro Martínez: triple crown in pitching
Bienvenido Rojas, sports editor of El Siglo, says that Pedro Martínez could end the 20th century winning the triple crown of pitching. The legendary Cy Young did so for his Boston team at the start of the century, in 1901. He won 33 games, struck out 158 batters, and had a pitching average of 1.62. In 1999, at the half season mark, Pedro Martínez has won 15 games, struck out 170 batters and has averages 2.02, to lead the American League. Only eight pitchers have won the triple crown In the American League. In all of the Major Leagues, only 16 have done so. A Latin American pitcher has yet to accomplish this feat.

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