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Daily News - 30 July 1999

Hipólito Mejía meets with Balaguer
Hipólito Mejía, Hatuey de Camps and former President Joaquín Balaguer were all smiles as the press shot photos of their meeting yesterday at the home of Balaguer. The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano presidential candidate and party secretary general visited the nonagenarian former statesman to formally offer his party the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies.
"We reaffirmed to President Balaguer that we would like him to choose the president and other members of the Chamber of Deputies and that we will support him without conditions and we extended the offer to the municipalities and he accepted," Mejía told the press after the one and half hour visit with Balaguer.
With the acceptance of Balaguer, the PRD practically eliminates present president of the Chamber of Deputies Hector Peguero Méndez's chances at being re-elected. Peguero Méndez is a PRD-dissident who won the appointment in 1998 when the PRSC allied with the PLD to vote against the PRD candidate.
At the same time, it is seen as a step forward to a possible alliance between the PRD and the PRSC. The PRD and the PLD, the two leading contenders for the presidency in 2000 election, need the support of Balaguer to win the election.
After the meeting was held, Partido de la Liberación Dominicana secretary general José Tomás Pérez said that if Balaguer chooses a PRSC man to preside the Chamber of Deputies, the PLD would vote in his favor. Balaguer has offered to choose a candidate that would have the support of the three leading political parties. The PRSC has only 17 deputies in Congress, but its vote is sufficient to decide who will be the next president of the Chamber of Deputies. Prior to his death, the PRD late leader José Francisco Peña Gómez had recommended that the PRD elect a PRSC man to the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies after that party supported PRD men that went on to win in the 1998 municipal and congressional elections. In 1998, the PRD did not do so, and eventually lost the presidency when the PLD allied with the PRSC to defeat their candidate.

Who has the missing 37 JCE equipment?
The spokesman for the Junta Central Electoral, the body in charge of organizing the presidential election in the DR, says that the missing equipment will not have an effect on the transparency and legality of the 2000 presidential election. Wilfredo Alemany, said that the procedures in place will not allow individuals to vote more than once.
Outspoken lawyer, Marino "Vincho" Castillo says that the missing 37 equipment (the missing equipment were detected by an OAS-affiliated organization audit) are in the hands of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano. The original five judges of the JCE board were unilaterally chosen by the PRD-majority Senate and many have been criticized for their PRD affiliation. He has legally appealed to Datocentro to establish the whereabouts of the equipment.
Castillo denounced that the equipment are being used to issue voting cards for thousands of Haitians and minors, as well as duplicate copies for PRD members. Castillo said there is still time to make appropriate corrections to avoid fraud in the 2000 election.
PRSC delegate before the JCE, Esteban Olivero Feliz criticized that neither the JCE nor Datocentro (the contractor) have explained the whereabouts of the missing equipment. "They have not said if these equipment were purchased, if the JCE received them, if they were installed or what happened, or if the ship sunk with them," he said.

Hipólito Mejía shows off his lovely family
PRD presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía has been promoting his lovely family with interviews in the daily newspapers. This is in contrast to his leading contender, PLD's Danilo Medina who has not yet released a photo of his own family to the press.
Hipólito Mejía has released a lovely photograph of his family - wife Rosa, sons Ramon (33 years), Felipe (32 years), Carolina (28 years), Lisa (25 Years), and William (14 years). William was adopted when his mother (a housekeeper of many years at the Mejía family died). The Mejía's have five grandchildren. Mejía has been married to his wife for 35 years.
The presidential candidate of the PRD was born 22 February 1941 in Santiago to María Josefa Domínguez and Hipólito Mejía Díaz.
He graduated in agronomy from the Instituto Politécnico Loyola, in San Cristóbal in 1963. He carried out graduate studies at the State University of North Carolina, specializing in the agroindustrial processing of blond tobacco and burley.
Upon returning to the DR, he was appointed deputy director of the Experimental Station of the Institute of Tobacco, in Pontón, La Vega. Shortly after he was appointed director of the Experimental Station of the Institute of Tobacco in Azua.
Then President Balaguer appointed him director of Intabaco in 1966, a position he shortly after resigned citing technical and economic incongruities.
In 1967, he became the technical representative of the Rohn & Haas Co. in the DR. In 1973 he was appointed vice president in charge of planning and development of Compañía Industrial Portela, C. por A., a leading agribusiness company. He resigned when he was appointed Minister of Agriculture in 1978 during the government of President Antonio Guzmán.
As of that appointment, he became fully involved in political activities, and was chosen that organization's vice presidential candidate in the 1990 election.

Nurses faked broken arms
An investigation of the alleged forceful eviction of nurses from the Ministry of Labor showed that the nurses were unharmed and the casts they wore were medically uncalled for. The nurses voluntarily accepted to undergo x-rays at the Centro Médico Honduras after the Police ordered an investigation after they alleged police brutality resulted in broken bones during the eviction that took place at 3 am. The investigation showed the nurses left voluntarily and there was no such Police brutality. The investigation revealed that the Police that participated in the eviction were unarmed.

Minister of Tourism says tourism grew 10% this year
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez said that tourism grew 10% in the first seven months of 1999 compared to the same period in 1998. The number of travelers had increased 4.7% during the same period from 1997 to 1998. Jiménez said that the celebration of a National Tourism Convention will have little effect on the problems confronting the sector. Sectors have called for the celebration of the convention, but Jiménez seems to feel it is a waste of time.
Jiménez has said that his department has only received 30% of moneys allocated in the 1999 Budget. For example, he says that the Ministry marketing plan stipulates the country should be spending US$18 million on promotion, and only US$3 million in funds have been available.
One of the major problems affecting the profitability of the tourism industry is the constant increase in the supply of hotel rooms. This year alone, some 6,000 rooms are expected to be added to the hotel room inventory that already is the largest in the Caribbean, with some 45,000 rooms.

Skylift in operation by August
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez promised the Puerto Plata skylift would be in operation no later than this coming August. He said that repairs and remodeling have been completed, and only pending is the passing of the operation of the skylift from the Ministry of Public Works to the Ministry of Tourism. In fact, the skylift has been ready since January of this year, but bureaucratic delays have impeded its opening to the general public.

DR and US departments of agriculture sign agreement
The leading government officers of Agriculture from the US and the DR signed an agreement that seeks to increase farm produce trade between both countries. Amilcar Romero, Minister of Agriculture of the DR, and Richard Romiger, Secretary of Agriculture of the US, signed an agreement that will foster large scale marketing of farm products and an improvement of the handling and preservation of farm products the DR exports to the US.
The agreements establish the development and improvement of local markets, development and cooperation programs for agriculture and strengthening of marketing chains. Special emphasis will be placed on the development of grain productexports to the DR, as well as on the cold chains for the export of DR products to the US.
Minister of Agriculture Amilcar Romero toured New York, Albany, Washington, and Boston on his official visit to the United States.

Salary increase for medics is law
The salary increase much sought by the Dominican Medical Association (AMD) is now effective as per the passing of law 80-99 by President Leonel Fernández. The salary increase benefits physicians, nurses, lab technicians, dentists and veterinarians that work in public health centers and at the Ministry of Agriculture.
The law calls for an immediate 35% increase to be followed by an additional 30% increase in January.
The AMD said that it will lobby so that health insurance organizations agree to grant higher fees for private medical services.

Public hospital back into operation
The century-old Padre Billini Hospital has been remodeled and is now open to serve low income Dominicans. The government refurbished the 210-bed Colonial City hospital with the latest medical equipment at a cost of RD$119 million. During the re-inauguration of the center, Minister of Public Health Altagracia Guzmán said that the Fernández administration has built 300 rural clinics, as well as rehabilitated and equipped 30 large public hospitals.

Spanish firm to collect Santo Domingo garbage
The Listín Diario newspaper reported that Urbaser, of the Grupo Dragados from Spain was the company that purchased the Dixi Sanitary Services garbage collection contract in Santo Domingo. The same story reports that the government is passing this contract on to the Municipality of Santo Domingo, as per the latter's request. Technicians of the Spanish company have programmed an investment that is greater than the total investment of Dixi in equipment, and promise to improve garbage collection in Santo Domingo. The new equipment include large cistern trucks that will be used to wash city streets.

Export of pharmaceutics grows
The Listín Diario reports that pharmaceutical product exports were the second fastest growing export item in 1998. Pharmaceutical exports grew 167% in 1999 compared to the export total in 1998. Some US$5,072,182 in products was exported, compared to US$1,900,051 in 1998. Dominican companies lead in the exports and local market share. Of the ten largest pharmaceutical laboratories, the first five are Dominican companies. The leading companies are Ethical, Alfa, Feltrex, Magnachem, Rowe, Mk(foreign), Acromax, American M, Menarini (foreign), and Collado. Exports are expected to continue to increase. Dominican companies have 44% of the share of pharmaceuticals on the Dominican market, followed by a 10% market share by US companies, 7% market share by German companies, 5% market share by Spanish companies, and 4% market share by Swiss companies.

Homosexual scandal in Santiago
Patricia Pereyra, a renowned singer of blues, told the Listín Diario newspaper that her 15-year-old son had been drugged and raped. Three men and a woman, ages 30-32 years, are the suspects in the case. They include two employees of a Santiago TV channel that broadcasts her performances.
She complained to the Police on Tuesday that her son was drugged, and obliged to have sex. She said he was intimidated and threatened with death if he denounced what was going on. General Miguel Mateo López, of the northern command of the Police, ordered an investigation to ascertain if other young men were being victimized. The men were fired from the TV station where they were employed.
Patricia Pereyra placed a complaint with the Police after noticing her son had changed, becoming violent, helpless and sad. One of the suspects, who is fugitive from the Police, was their neighbor.

Casa Teatro celebrates 25th anniversary
Casa de Teatro, the grassroots culture house of Santo Domingo, a place where many today renowned artists got their start, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. A big bash will take place tonight with the performance of more than 10 leading artists. Niní Caffaro, Danny Rivera, Fernando Casado, Claudio Cohén, José Antonio Rodríguez, Grupo Tre, Luchy Vicioso, Sonia Silvestre, José Roldán, Frank Ceara, Lenny Abreu, Manuel Tejada, Mariela Mercado, Patricia Pereyra and Audrey Campos will render tribute to the cultural center. The anniversary concert will be tonight, 30 July. Tickets are RD$500 per person (there will be an open bar). Tickets are for sale at Casa de Teatro, Tel. 689-3430.

"Cartas" at the National Theater
The best of Dominican ballet will go on stage at the National Theater on 6-7 August. "Cartas", gathers talented Dominican dancers. Mercedes Morales, Michele Jiménez, Soraya Franco, Silvia Crespo, Victor Ramirez, Raul Valdez, Edwin Silfa, Armando Gonzalez, and Monika Despradel. Choreograhy is by Alberto Méndez (Cuba), Juan Fidel Mieses, Lourdes Ramírez, Antonio Gómez, Carlos Veitía, Mercedes Morales, and Victor Ramírez.
The ballet is a drama and the script is based on legendary letters written by Gabriela Mistral, Manuel Magallanes, Pablo Neruda, Rodolfo Boulanger, Gustave Flauber, Minerva Mirabal, Manolo Tavárez, Virginia Woolf, Van Gogh, Frank Kafka and Juan Pablo Duarte. Co-starring is actress Monina Solá and pianist María de Fátima Geraldes.
Mariasela Alvarez, Nuria Piera, Milagros Germán, Mariela Mercado, Jesus Torres Tejeda, Jose Antonio Rodríguez and Felix Germán read the letters.

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