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Daily News - 02 August 1999

Lazy PRD members urged to get to work
The presidential candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, engineer Hipólito Mejía warned that the party would displace from leadership positions all who do not integrate to party efforts to secure the presidency in the year 2000 election. Mejía spoke up against those that feel the party will win easily, urging all party members to get to work.

PLD vice president to be chosen in February or March
Secretary General of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD), José Tomás Pérez announced that the ruling party would announce its vice presidential candidate in February or March of next year. During the internal presidential campaign, Vice President Jaime David Fernández had proposed that whoever didn't win the presidential candidacy be offered the vice presidency. Secretary of the Presidency, Danilo Medina, who won the presidential candidacy, did not accept the proposition at the time. Hoy newspaper speculates that the leading contenders for the vice presidential post are Eduardo Selman (director of CORDE, that gathers state corporations at present being privatized); engineer Radhamés Segura (director of the state electricity corporation); Alejandrina Germán (director of CONES, the state body in charge of university supervision); and Altagracia Guzmán (Minister of Health).
Medina's leading contender, Hipólito Mejía of the PRD, has already announced his running mate will be Milagros Ortiz, Santo Domingo's senator.

Next government to benefit from sale of state companies
Minister of Finance Daniel Toribio told the Listín Diario that the next government, and not this one, will benefit from moneys to be generated by the capitalization of state enterprises. He explained that the government will not be receiving money now because it chose to capitalize these entities and not sell them outright. He said that the Fernández Administration is having to invest large sums to make severance payments to employees of these entities. The government paid RD$80 million to Molinos flour mill personnel; RD$154 million to the state electricity corporation (CDE) personnel and RD$720 million to the state sugar council (CEA) personnel.
The government, nevertheless, will have larger savings by not having to continue to subsidize these deficit-ridden organizations.
He also said the capitalization law establishes that the National Congress set how profits generated by these companies will be used. The state is 50% owner of these companies. The National Congress has yet to rule on this issue.
The Minister of Finance commented that private investors have already injected RD$254 million in the privatized Molinos Dominicanos, today Molinos del Ozama. He commented that that organization is already making social security payments and paying taxes.
He mentioned that private power companies that are taking over generating and distributing power will be investing some RD$10,445 million.

UASD closed for summer
The governing council of the state university (UASD) decided to expel the three students who were found to be responsible for the Tuesday aggression to director of Forestry, Rear Admiral Cesar Batista Valdespina. The Rear Admiral was locked in together with the Rector and several Vice Rectors, when the latter visited to sign a cooperation agreement.
The expelled students are Diego Polo, Guarionex Moya and Luis Eduardo. They were accused of repeat disorder. They had been expelled previously when Roberto Santana was rector, accused of vandalism.
The university summer session was closed, and only administrative offices are open.
The university is suffering from financial difficulties. Studies have shown that it would be almost cheaper for the government to pay UASD students to study in private universities than to continue subsidizing the university. Tax payers contribute over RD$800 million a year to the state university, more than the budget of the city of Santo Domingo municipality.
The free state university is said to be heavily politicized.

Filing taxes by Internet
The director of the income tax department (Dirección General de Impuestos Internos), Juan Hernández announced that soon taxpayers will be able to pay their taxes online. He expects that the automation of tax paying will reduce tax evasion.

President Fernández to open 1999 Miami Conference
President Fernández will deliver the keynote address at the December 7-10, 1999 Miami Conference on the Caribbean and Latin
America. A press release from the Caribbean/Latin American Action that organizes the event says that "President Fernández characterizes the new, democratic leadership that is sweeping the Hemisphere."
"The Dominican Republic stands out as a small country whose economy demonstrates that the Fernandez Administration is doing many things right", added Peter Johnson, Acting Executive Director of C/LAA.
President Fernández' presence at the 1999 Miami Conference also was chosen because it "characterizes a fresh, new look for the Conference itself". According to organizers, the Miami Conference this year will be "more market driven, more participant interactive, fewer heads of government, and fewer sessions".
The several heads of state invited to speak at the conference will fit more precisely into the content of the conference and the sessions themselves are being designed to overlap to better define business opportunities for the participants", confirmed Johnson.
The 1999 Miami Conference on the Caribbean & Latin America will be held at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Miami, Florida. The Keynote Address by President Fernández is scheduled for the Plenary Dinner of Thursday, December 9.
For more information contact CLAA at Tel 202-466-7464, fax 202-822-0075, [email protected], or Home Page www.claa.org

Four-year old abducted by his Italian father
Dominican authorities sought the help of International Police (INTERPOL) agents to ascertain the whereabouts of four-year old Ricardo Baio Mejía and his father. It is believed his father, Italian Antonio Baio who had come to vacation with the boy, as established in the divorce papers, abducted him. Ricardo is the son of Antonio Baio and Dominican Indhira Mejía who requested the help of national authorities after receiving a phone call from her son who she says is in Italy. The boy had a ban on leaving the country without the permission of the mother, who had custody. The District Attorney requested the assistance of the Interpol to locate Antonio Baio and his son. Investigations carried out by the Migration Department show that it is likely the four-year old left the country under another name.

Don't try to bribe an AMET policeman
The Listín Diario carries testimony of persons who have gone to jail for attempting to bribe a Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) agent. While it was customary to hand over some pesos to police agents when committing minor infractions, word is getting out that the green-attired transit police agents do not accept bribes and will take you to jail for attempted extortion.
The report explains that most of the 400 AMET agents are university students and are paid three times the amount paid the gray-suited normal National Police agents.
National Police traffic cops are paid a max of RD$1,800, while the starting AMET agents make RD$5,000.

INSTRAW to stay in the DR
The Assembly of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations approved by consensus a resolution that demands that the United Nations International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (INSTRAW) be reorganized. INSTRAW operates in the DR since 1979, but there was a movement to close it. The Ministry of Foreign Relations had implemented an active offensive to keep the site of the UN organization, and says the resolution is a win for these efforts.

Jails cannot handle more inmates
Jails are bursting at their seams and cannot handle more inmates, news reports say. The jail population in the DR increased by 15% after General Pedro de Jesus Candelier was appointed in March. He has sent 2,000 Dominicans to jail in an attempt to stop a recent crime wave. To give an idea of the overpopulation in Dominican jails, note that La Victoria, the country's largest jail, was built in 1952 to house 354 inmates and today houses 3,299. Najayo was built in 1994 for 400 inmates and houses 2,290. The Listín Diario newspaper estimates there are more than 15,000 persons in jail. Official records show 14,814.

Two minors caught trying to transport 52 kilos of cocaine
The Drug Control Department (DNCD) arrested a woman and is looking for her two daughters, ages 16 and 17, who were caught with two suitcases loaded with 52 kilos of cocaine at the Las Americas International Airport over the weekend. The drug authorities believe they are part of a gang of drug traffickers with connections in Colombia. The airport drug authorities suspected the suitcases of the two girls, who when asked to open these said they had left the keys in the car and never returned. Their 42-year old mother Maria Medina was detained. The name on her passport is Maria Ludovina Mateo Salado. DNCD agents say she had been released from jail in December 1998 after serving five years for attempting to transport one kilo of cocaine.

Zoila Luna leaves Show del Mediodía
After 14 years of being one of the leading entertainers on the Show del Mediodía (Noon time Show), Zoila Luna resigned on air on Friday, 31 August. She justified leaving saying she couldn't stand the psychological pressures she was being subject to. Company executives wanted her to leave voluntarily. Luna explained the differences started when she began her own TV program, Close Up. Luna wanted the company to fire her so she could receive the generous severance payments established by Dominican labor law. Luna said that she decided to resign as the fight with Televisa, the producers of the Show del Mediodía, was affecting her health.

RD$100,000 collected to save 14-year old boy
Dozens participated in a campaign on Saturday to collect money to save the life of Dominican Ilianov de León Albino, interned at the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. He needs a bone marrow transplant. Volunteers collected RD$100,000 in the Saturday blitz. State university rector, Miguel Rosado presides the campaign to gather the RD$7.5 million that are needed to save the 14-year old boy. Organizers of the effort are optimistic given the Saturday results that the money can be collected.

New bookstore-café in Santo Domingo
Thesaurus recently opened in Santo Domingo. This is the first time that the concept of music store, book store and café is opened in the DR. Thesaurus will be open from 9 to 9 pm daily, and on Sundays from 9 to 2 pm, at Sarasota and Abraham Lincoln. The bookstore has programmed story time for children in the afternoon, art exhibitions, book review talks, and other activities. Proprietor Jenny Pérez did a marketing study that showed that Dominicans frequently travel abroad to buy books, and that there is a thirst for books they hope to fill. President Leonel Fernández, an avid book-buyer and reader, attended the formal opening ceremony.

Deepak Chopra to speak in Santo Domingo
Deepak Chopra, one of the most influential health and mind gurus of recent years, will visit the DR to give a conference at the Hotel Lina. The conference, which will be given in English, is "Crisis Infinite Opportunities." He was invited to the DR by the Círculo de Educación Integral and Wise Mark Marketing (psychologist Rosa Mariana Brea Franco). Simultaneous translation will be available. Some 2,000 persons may attend the conference. Tickets costing RD$900 will go on sale next week.
Chopra's books have been translated into 25 languages. His "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind" was a No. 1 New York Times Bestseller when first published in 1993.
Chopra was born and raised in New Delhi, India. He taught at Tufts University ad Boston University Schools of medicine and became chief of staff at New England Memorial Hospital. He is the director of the Institute for Mind/Body Medicine and Human Potential at Sharp HealthCare in San Diego.
He is best known for applying East/West healing practices for the rejuvenating of body and mind. He preaches it is possible to grow younger.

60-year old housewife wins new composer award
"Celina", "La India Maria" and "Al Compás de las Palmeras" are the names of the three unpublished merengue compositions that won the II Unpublished Merengue Grand Gala held on Friday, 31 August as part of the Merengue Festival. During the grand gala, Rubby Pérez, Raffy Matías, Milagros Hernández, Miriam Cruz and Eddy Herrera, all high-rated merengue singers, performed 15 pre-selected compositions.
The first place winner, Sonia Valeriano is a 60-year old housewife who had never composed a merengue before. She won RD$100,000 in prize money. Her winning "Celina" was interpreted by Rubby Pérez. Raffy Matías performed second place winner "La India María" (RD$50,000 in prize money), and Milagros Hernández performed third place winner "Al Compás de las Palmeras" (RD$25,000 in prize money).

DR could lose its only Pan Am gold medal
Juana Arrendel, who placed first in the 400 meter hurdle competition at the Winnipeg Pan Am Games, may be disqualified tomorrow. Her blood showed traces of Etanozolol, a steroid hormone that is banned in Olympic competitions. Final results of Test B to verify the first test results will be released this afternoon or on Tuesday. Test B will be carried out today at 3 pm in a Montreal laboratory. Arrendel's medal is the only gold won by the DR in the Pan Am Games. Karate competitor Katia Acevedo won a silver earlier.

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire are at it again
Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa and St. Louis Cardinal's Mark McGwire are at it again. Sosa has taken the lead in home runs, but McGwire is right on his tail. When Sosa batted two home runs on Saturday, 31 August, bringing himself two over McGwire, McGwire was quick to catch up, batting two home runs on Sunday. The two are now tied for the lead in home runs in Major League baseball with 40 home runs. The home run race is again driving thousands of fans to the stadiums. McGwire has hit 497 home runs in his career.

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