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Daily News - 20 July 1999

Datocentro delivers missing machines
A recent audit of the procedures for the issuing of voting and identification cards showed 37 equipment were missing. Now, the Junta Central Electoral, the body in charge of organizing the presidential, municipal and congressional elections in the DR, announced that Datocentro, the company that won the bid to issue the voting and identification cards, has delivered the missing 37 equipment. This brings total equipment in use to 144 and this should contribute to accelerate the process. The equipment was delivered when Datocentro could not present proof that the equipment had been delivered on schedule.

Repaving streets by August 2000
President Leonel Fernández says that the government will soon begin a massive plan for the repaving streets in the provinces and the capital city. He said that President Chavez of Venezuela approved facilitating three times the usual amount of asphalt imported from that country. The paving will begin in August of this year and should be completed in time for the end of the presidential term of President Fernández, in August of 2000.

Debate over airport privatization contract
President Leonel Fernández and the Association of Hotels & Restaurants have urged Congress to pass the contract that grants a concession for the management of the Las Americas (Santo Domingo), Gregorio Luperón (Puerto Plata) María Montez (Barahona) and Arroyo Barril (Samaná) airports to an Italian, a US and an American company. Allegations of potential future problems with the contract, due to unfavorable terms, were disputed by the firms winning the bid — Aeropuertos Dominicanos Siglo 21, Operadora de Aeropuertos del Caribe and YVR Airport Services, Ogden Central and South America and Impreglio. Lawyer Jottin Cury, who participated in the commission that supervised the bidding for the privatization, questioned that the holding company, Aerodom had a capital of barely RD$20,000. But the companies say that the holding company has a capital of RD$10 million that will be increased to RD$200 million in a first phase and RD$650 million in a second phase. By Dominican law, a company’s responsibility is only limited to its capital. Cury feels that the participating foreign companies should also be liable. Cury is also concerned that the improvements made in the airports would not become property of the state, as per the contract, and could be transferred to third parties. He also expressed his concern that debts accrued would be passed on to the state at the end of the 20-year lease period. The companies, in a full-page advertisement in the Listin Diario today, dispute these charges saying that the contract establishes the companies need to pass on a debt-free balance.
Cury urges that the contract in full be published for public awareness and additional legal opinions prior to its being passed by Congress.
The winning consortium expects to make investments for a total of US$417 million during the 20-year duration of the contract. The contract grants the right to the management of the principal airports serving Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata, as well as to the airports of Barahona and Samaná.

DR is not asking for more time to implement TRIPs rules
Contrary to what was reported yesterday, the Dominican Republic will not join Cuba, Egypt and Honduras in their formal request that the World Trade Organization (WTO) grant them a delay of five years to implement their Uruguay Round trade commitments regarding Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPs). Under the 1996 TRIPs agreement, all nations belonging to the WTO need to upgrade by January 1, 2000 their intellectual property laws and regulations to match the level of protection provided under generally accepted international treaties on patents, trademarks, copyrights, geographic indications, software, microchips and trade secrets.
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre said that a "communications error" led the DR to be included along with Cuba, Egypt and Honduras. These nations insisted that the changes necessitated by the trade commitments are simply beyond their institutional capacity to meet by next January, and that countries that are less advanced technologically such as they should be allowed more time to make the transition. The petition will be examined at the next meeting of the WTO’s TRIPs Council, and probably will end up being discussed at the WTO Ministerial scheduled for Seattle. Developed nations, led by the United States and European Union (EU), are likely to strongly oppose the request, since it would lead to a flood of similar delays by other developing nations.
Minister Latorre said, "The Dominican government has taken firm steps to advance in the prompt institutionalization and ruling of these matters, considering this agreement is a guarantee for the protection of intellectual property rights and reflects the search for common standards with developed countries."

Major public hospital in the East inaugurated
President Leonel Fernández inaugurated the Dr. Antonio Musa public hospital, the largest in the East. The hospital was begun 20 years ago during the administration of the late President Antonio Guzman. President Fernández says that the center has been equipped with the latest medical technology. Furnishings and equipment alone cost RD$94 million. The 18,000 square meter building went up at a cost of RD$125 million. It has 250 beds.

Free email for Dominican farmers
The government signed an agreement with the University of Rochester, the Massachusetts Institute Technology and the Instituto Tecnológico de Costa Rica to develop "Intelligent Electronic Communities." This program will bring free email, medical teleconferencing and other high tech benefits to far away Dominican rural communities. The state university, UASD, will be the local educational partner. "I think this will bring about an extraordinary revolution as farmers in remote rural communities will be able to communicate by email with their relatives in Europe and the United States," said President Leonel Fernández upon making the announcement. "It will give the poor people of our country permanent access to the most sophisticated levels of technology. The President spoke on the TV program, "Milenio: Agenda Nacional" produced by Yaqui Nuñez del Risco and Miledys de Cabral on Channel 4.

Nurses evicted from Ministry of Labor
Police agents forcefully evicted the nurses from the Ministry of Labor after giving them five minutes to abandon the building. The unionized nurses had occupied the Ministry for 12 days to pressure for the approval of their demands for a salary increase. In the clash, which occurred at 3 am on Monday, three nurses broke their legs, another an arm, and another ended with two broken ribs. The police forces took advantage that several of the striking nurses had gone to their home towns for the weekend and would be returning on Monday morning.
The Ministry of Labor had suspended services last week due to the occupation. The nurses moved into the locale of the Confederación Autónoma Sindical Clasista.
Minister of Labor Rafael Alburquerque justified the eviction saying that the state cannot allow its services to be disrupted because the common interest is above the interest of a particular group. Police vigilance was set up at that public building as well as others to impede a future takeover by the striking nurses.

Traffic jams on way to Las Americas International Airport
Commuters making their way east across the Ozama River should allow an additional hour travel time and do all possible to avoid peak travel times. Major bottlenecks are occurring now that the government has annulled transit over the south side of the Mella Bridge. Those making it to the Las Americas International Airport from Santo Domingo should allow for the additional hour in order to get to the airport on time. The traffic jams are expected to continue for several months, as when the south side is repaired, the government will close down the Duarte Bridge where major repair works are to take place.

PRD proclaims Mejía and Ortiz
The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) officially proclaimed on Saturday, 17 July Hipolito Mejia and Milagros Ortiz Bosch as presidential and vice presidential candidate in the 2000 election.

Spain and France/Belgium films win in festival
A Spanish film, "Amigo-amado", produced by Ventura Pons of Barcelona won the award as best long-length film at the International Movie Festival of Santo Domingo. "Maaz", a French-Belgium production by Christian Volkman, won the best short film award. More than 50 films from Argentina, France, Spain, Puerto Rico, and Cuba competed in the festival.

New airline promises to fly to Haiti
Tropical Airways is announcing upcoming flights to Haiti starting 9 August. Flights will depart from Herrera Airport at 8 am Monday to Saturday and at 4:30 pm on Sunday. Flight times are approximately 50 minutes, but there is an hour different between Haiti and the DR. In Haiti it is an hour earlier.
The return flights Monday to Saturday are at 5 pm, arriving in Santo Domingo at 6:50 pm. On Sunday, the return flight is planned for 5:30 pm arriving in Santo Domingo at 7:20 pm.
For more information, contact the firm at 541-5306 or 541-5307. They are located at Edificio Caribe, Calle Gustavo Mejia Ricart 54. Email: [email protected]

Poor showing for DR basketball team in Puerto Rico
Things did not go well for the Dominican basketball team that lost all except one of its games in the first round of the Pre-Olympic Basketball Tournament taking place in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Team star Luis Felipe López later admitted he was out of shape and the team did not have enough time to train together for the high level of competition that took place at the event. The DR lost to Brazil 70-64, to Venezuela 70-66 and to Puerto Rico 103-95. It only defeated Panama 77-73. In the second round, the team lost to the US team, 107-71.
Given the poor results in Puerto Rico, there is mounting skepticism that the DR basketball team will be included in the Dominican delegation to the Winnipeg Pan American Games.
Despite its poor showing in the first round, the DR advanced to the second round, where it lost to the US team, 107-71. It has yet to play the other three teams from Group B. The rules state that the four teams with the best records after two rounds advance to the medal round, with head-to-head matchups used to break ties.
The semifinals are scheduled for Saturday, with the winners earning an Olympic berth and playing for the gold medal one day later.

DR team to Pan Am Games
THE DR delegation to the 13th Pan American Games that start this week in Winnipeg, Canada has hopes of bringing back several medals. Top hopes are in the weight lifting athletes — Wanda Rijo, Miosotis Heredia, Frank Cepeda and Playter Reyes. Wanda Rijo will bear the flag in the opening parade.
There are also hopes for medals in boxing. The best Dominican boxers are Jairo David Gonel, Luis Virgilio Hodge and Geovanny Lorenzo.
Tae Kwon Do athletes Danny Vizcaino, Luis Benitez and Yina Ruiz have won medals in regional competitions and are among the leading contenders to win medals in Winnipeg.
The team is focusing on Jose Vicbart Geraldino, Juan Carlos Jacinto and Eleucadia Vargas, that are strong in judo.
In track and field, watch Juana Arrendel and Julio Luciano in the high jump.
Wrestling athletes Faustino Ozuna, Angelo Brea, Holguin Sabuá and Gamaliel Coat have chances at medals.
The DR has strong athletes in skeet — Felix Domínguez and Orlando Hermida.
The country is placing its hopes in bringing back a medal in bowling. Father and son Sebelén team, and Arnaldo Mercado are the leading contenders in this sport.

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