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Daily News - 03 August 1999

High tech is the way to go
President Leonel Fernández gave the keynote speech yesterday at the opening of the post graduate studies of the International Relations and Foreign Service at the new School of Diplomacy of the Ministry of Foreign Relations. He spoke of what the DR should concentrate during the next 20-25 years. He said that he will visit Sillicon Valley upon his return from his official trip to Asia next month to speak to high tech investors about the advantages of doing business in the DR. He spoke of the Cyber City project, a high tech free zone the government is promoting for Santo Domingo. President Fernández explained that the present capital intensive model of Dominican free zones will have to evolve. He warned that the DR will not be able to compete with the low prices Asian countries will offer to the apparel industry and should intensify efforts and diversify production into knowledge intensive industries, such as electronics and informatics. He said this long term approach means a quantum leap for the future development of the country. The President has been a strong advocate of computer learning for all Dominicans, and has implemented a program that has opened computer labs in public schools all around the country.

Haiti needs to develop, or migration to DR will increase
President Leonel Fernández, speaking at the School of Diplomacy event, warned that the DR could suffer the results of massive Haitian migration if that nation does not achieve levels of social and economic development similar to those reached in the DR. He urged that the same way the international community intervened to restore democracy, efforts are needed to promote social and economic development in Haiti. "We share the same island and the same territory, so it is logical that what happens in Haiti has an effect on the DR," said President Fernández, when addressing a group of 22 young people chosen to train to be the new diplomats of the DR.

400% increase in Ministry of Tourism budget since 1996
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez says that this government has increased fourfold the funds available in previous goverments for the Ministry of Tourism. He said that the Ministry of Tourism has received RD$80 million of an allocated budget of RD$255 million. This sum is 400% more than that received in 1996. He said this government has been the most supportive of the industry of any other administration. He says that the Ministry by the year's end will have available US$9 million budget for tourism advertising. He said this is insufficient as their marketing plan calls for US$18 million.
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez said that the drop in occupancy in Dominican hotels is due to a surge in the number of hotel rooms now available. He pointed out that hotel rooms have increased from 33,000 in 1996 to 43,000 today and that another 4,000 would go into operation by year's end. Jiménez, though, is not an advocate of impeding the continuation of the boom in hotel construction.
Felix Jiménez stated that 2.5 million tourists will visit this year. He said that tourism has grown 10% this year, when compared to the same period last year.

It's very hot
Record temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius were registered yesterday in Santo Domingo, and noon time temperatures have averaged 33-35 for the past two weeks. The Weather Department reported that Jimaní, a town that is on the frontier with Haiti, registered a record 39.2 degrees Celsisus on 29 July. Monte Cristi, a northwestern province, also registered highs of 38-39 degrees last week. La Vega reported temperatures of 38 degrees. Other cities affected by high temperatures were the usually cool Santiago, San Francisco de Macorís and Puerto Plata, where thermometers showed peaks of 34 degrees.
The Weather Department said that the high temperatures are here to stay, at least for the next week. The hot temperatures and 70% humidity is accompanied by sporadic short rain showers.

Talks among politicians could resume
Secretary General of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) Hatuey de Camps met with President Leonel Fernández yesterday for two hours and a half at the National Palace. De Camps said that the President would like the PRD's support for the renewal of the National Dialogue talks among the three leading political parties and for the passing by the National Congress of several bills.
De Camps said that the President promised that government resources would not be used in favor of the presidential campaign for the ruling party candidate, Danilo Medina.

Peggy Cabral takes leave of absence from job in City Hall
The widow of former PRD leader, José Francisco Peña Gómez, Mrs. Peggy Cabral has taken an indefinite leave of absence from her job as vice mayor of Santo Domingo. According to municipal law, she replaces the mayor when he is absent, but in the practice this has not occurred.
News reports indicate that her relations with Mayor Johnny Ventura have deteriorated to such a point that her decision-taking capability and use of muncipality facilities has been limited. News reports say that her phone was changed to impede her from calling cellular phone calls or long distance phone calls. Likewise, documents she has been requested have been denied to her by officers loyal to Ventura. Other news reports say that she will now dedicate herself to promote the candidacy of PRD presidential candidate, Hipólito Mejía.

Election could be held to choose new president of deputies
After the PRD said they would support whomever Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) leader, former President Balaguer chose to preside the Chamber of Deputies, each of the party's 17 legislators feel they should be the one. The Listin Diario reported that the 17 PRSC deputies could resolve the matter by holding an internal vote call to choose the candidate. The support of the PRD and the PRSC is sufficient to win the coveted post. Secretary general of the PLD, Jose Tomás Pérez has said the PLD will also support whomever Balaguer choses. Balaguer had spoken of choosing a "president by consensus", but the Listin Diario newspaper specualated whether by that he meant the consensus of the deputies in the Chamber or the consensus of the other leading political parties, the PLD and the PRD.

Employees are employees not diplomats
The Ministry of Foreign Relations denied the New York Consulate is violating the Convention of Viena by registering before the State Department only 17 of its 88 employees. Nani Martínez, press spokesperson for the Ministry, said that the 24 April 1963 treaty establishes distinctions between consular officers and consular employees. The Ministry of Foreign Relations says that it is a common practice of consulates all around the world to hire employees that are not given diplomatic status. A news story in the Daily News recently denounced that the DR New York Consulate was operating illegally. For the Daily News story, see http://www.nydailynews.com/1999-07-30/News_and_Views/City_Beat/a-36295.asp?last6days=1
New York Consul Bienvenido Perez says that the Daily News reports are part of a campaign to discredit the consulate funded by the PRD, the leading opposition party. An earlier news story criticized that the cost of Dominican passports at the New York Consulate is the highest in the world. The Consul General visited President Leonel Fernández at the National Palace yesterday.

Who has the contract to collect garbage in Santo Domingo?
Which company will replace Dixi Sanitary Services as responsible for garbage collection in Santo Domingo? Will it be Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas or Urbaser? The two Spanish companies have been mentioned as new owner of the contract to pick up 1,700 tons per day of garbage in Santo Domingo as stipulated by the contract with the central Dominican government. This contract reportedly will be passed over to the Municipality of Santo Domingo. The contract expires on May 2003, as it was signed for a 10 year period in May 1993.
Hoy newspaper says that FCC had offered US$5 million for the rights to the contract, but Urbaser bought it out by paying US$8 million.
News stories have said there is also confusion as FCC broke up into Dragados S.A. and Urbaser.
Earlier stories of the buyout had been good news for Santo Domingo. As FCC was prompt to promise that it would be importing new equipment, including large cistern trucks, to clean up Santo Domingo.

UN sponsors regional trade seminars in DR
Two important international trade-related seminars are taking place in the DR during the first week of August.
The Seminario Inter-regional sobre Agenda Positiva de los Países en Desarrollo (Inter-regional seminar on positive agenda of developing countries) is taking place 2-4 August at the Coral Hamaca Resort in Boca Chica. It is sponsored by the Conference of the United Nations for Trade and Development. An estimated 40 ambassadors from Latin America, Asia and Africa, as well as international experts from 25 developed countries will be participating. The event is serving as a think tank in which representatives of developing countries will discuss their position in the forthcoming multilateral negotiations that will take place, especially those during the Third Ministerial World Conference of the World Trade Organization, that is scheduled for November 1999 in Seattle, Washington.
Following this event, the ministers and ambassadors will participate in the Meeting for Consult and Coordination of Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) set for 5-August. This meeting will take place at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo. There the regional position before the UNCTAD meeting set for February 2000 in Thailand will be discussed. Those attending will review policies and institutional frameworks for trade and world finance as well as international economic events and how they affect the region.
Secretary General of the UNCTAD, Rubens Ricupero is heading the discussions.

UNESCO donates 70,000 books for mobile libraries
UNESCO donated 70,000 books to be made available to Dominicans through a mobile libraries program implemented by the National Council of Culture of the Presidency. The project seeks to bring library services to 25 low income barrios in Santo Domingo. So far, five mobile libraries are available, including one donated by the UNESCO and another by the government of France.

Will the DR lose its only Pan Am gold medal?
Today's news carries hope that Juana Arrendel, who placed first in the 400 meter high jump competition at the Winnipeg Pan Am Games, may not be disqualified. While a first doping test showed traces of steroids in her blood, this could not be confirmed by a second test done on Monday. Dr. José Joaquín Puello, chief of the Dominican delegation, said that a third test would be carried out today. Arrendel's medal is the only gold won by the DR in the Pan Am Games. Karate competitor Katia Acevedo won a silver earlier. The DR is ranked 11th in the games, but if Arrendel is disqualified, the team drops to 22nd place.
21 year old Arrendel had won with 1.93 followed by silver medalist Solange Witteveen (Argentina) with 1.88 and Brazilian Luciana Dambacher, third with 1.85. Last year, Arrendel had won gold in the Central American and Caribbean Games with 1.91, passing the doping test.
Arrendel returned to the DR at 1 am on Sunday, but she has not been available for comment to the press.

DR wins bronze in judo at the Pan Am Games
Juan Jacinto Jiménez, competing in judo, won a bronze medal yesterday, becoming the team's only third medalist. Cuban Manolo Poulot won the gold, and Brazilian Denilson Lourenjo the silver. Jiménez tied with Argentinean Jorge Lencina for the bronze medal.
Yesterday, the DR's basketball team also won a surprising victory against Cuba, 81-76. The Dominican basketball team was put together at last minute, when team stars, that play in US and Puerto Rican leagues, could not make it. Cuba won the first half of the game 35-42. By losing to the Dominican team, the Cuban basketball team lost all chances of making it to the finals.
The DR team has not done well in the games. Its volleyball, baseball and boxing contenders failed to win medals. There are still chances the country could win more medals in judo, tae kwon do, tennis, bowling, weight lifting. Sports analysts say the Winnipeg performance will be below that of the previous Pan Ams that took place in Argentina, and the best performance of the DR in a Pan American Games, which occurred in the Puerto Rico 1979 Games. The Dominican Olympic Committee officers had said the DR had a good chance of winning 15 medals.

Gastronomy Festival set for 3-4 August
25th National Gastronomy Festival will take place this evening, at the V Centenario Inter Continental Hotel. The event will continue tomorrow, Wednesday, 4 August. The most important gastronomic event held in the DR, this festival is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism, the National Association of Hotels & Restaurants, the Hotels Association of Santo Domingo, the Association of Chefs of the DR and the Caribbean Traveling Network, a travel television channel.
Judges will be choosing the best in soups, appetizers, salted dishes, meats, Dominican cuisine, rices, and pastries tonight.
Tomorrow, they will judge the salads, pastas, poultry, fish, seafood, vegetable, sweet dishes and Dominican sweets.
An admission fee of RD$500 per person is charged. This year the festival is a benefit for the Hogar de Niños Nuestra Señora de la Altagracia, and Father Luis Rosario's Casa de la Acogida.

Bird watchers meet in DR
The Caribbean Society of Ornithology is holding its 12th annual meeting in Santo Domingo 29 July through 5 August. The organization carries out research on birds and their conservation in the region. Vice President Jaime David Fernandez, one of the nation's leading ecologists, gave the welcome speech. As part of the post convention program, delegates may participate in excursions to the Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve, the Baní salt mines, the Santo Domingo Botanical Gardens and the Bahoruco mountain range.

"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.

Santo Domingo marathon set for 7 August
More than 300 runners will participate in the 4th Hispaniola Marathon, set for 7 August in Santo Domingo. Organized by the Club de Maratonistas de Santo Domingo, the 21 kilometer race along the Avenida de la Salud of the Mirador Park will offer cash prizes for RD$100,000.
The competitors will compete in 18-29 years men and women, 30-34 years men and women, 35-39 years men and women, 40-45 years men and women and 45 years+ men.
Organizers are charging a RD$50 inscription fee that can be paid from 2-6 August from 6-8 pm at the Mirador Park.

Presidente Summer Games
Presidente Beer is sponsoring what is being called its Summer Games. Sumo fights (with contenders inside inflated balloon sumo costumes), races, roulette, beach volleyball and other games scheduled. There will also be live music with some of the top rock groups, including Al Jadaqui and Toque Profundo, as well as the participation of leading DJs.
The locations are as follows:
8 August: Playa Salinas, Baní
22 August: Cabarete, Puerto Plata
5 September: Boca Chica, Santo Domingo

Michael Camilo at the National Theater
Michael Camilo, one of the most talented Dominican musicians and performers of all times, will perform his Concert for Piano at the National Theater. He will perform accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra that will be conducted by Carlos Piantini. The performance is slated for Wednesday, 11 August at 8:30 pm. Tickets are for sale at the National Theater box office.

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