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Daily News - 09 August 1999

Will physicians strike against insurance companies?
More than a million Dominicans would be affected if private physicians accept the Dominican Medical Association's call to strike. Dr. Rafael Mena, pesident of the Association of Clinics and Private Hospitals (Andeclip) said that the paralization of medical services at private clinics and hospitals, set for this week, would affect about 1,200,000 Dominicans that are affiliated to private insurance plans in the DR.
The private clinics and many physicians have frequently demanded that medical insurance companies increase the moneys paid to them for their services. These, they say, have not been increased in the past eight years.
There are three tiers of medical service in the DR. These are: the public hospital system (used by indigent Dominicans and those seeking the least costly of medical services); the medical insurance system (which makes most private medical services accessible at low cost to those employed or individuals purchasing these plans); or the relatively expensive private medical services (these vary in prices going from less expensive at private clinics in low income areas to very expensive (RD$400-RD$1,200 per visit) at private clinics and hospitals.
Recently, the Dominican Medical Association sponsored a series of strikes at public hospitals that resulted in Congress passing a bill providing the moneys to fund a 75% salary increase for government-employed medics in a six months time period. Now the same association seeks to get better pay conditions for medics that receive patients affiliated to private medical insurance plans.
The medics complain that they are paid only RD$60-RD$80 per patient seen, and that many insurance plans delay up to four months in paying these moneys that the insurance companies collect in advance from companies and individuals. The insurance companies say that they guarantee a large volume of patients to the physicians. Accepting to be part of an insurance plan is voluntary. Several well established and high reputed physicians do not accept patients that want to pay using their insurance plans.
In an editorial, the Listin Diario points out this is an option that private physicians have. The newspaper says that if the physician is not satisfied with the service, it does not have to stay affiliated to the plan. The insurance companies offer a service that they do not necessarily have to purchase. The newspaper criticizes the AMD's decision to lobby for the physicians. The newspaper said the strike would be inhumane and of crime-like nature. It urges the clinics, physicians and AMD to sit down to talks.

Surprise raid on motels
The National Police and the District Attorney's office surprisingly raided motels in Santo Domingo on Saturday, 7 August. The Police had received a tip that the assassins of a professor and a basketball player would be frequenting the motels. Motels in the DR are used primarly for short sexual outings. Four-hour stays cost RD$175 in regular cabañas, and RD$250 in suites. The proprietors of the motels said that the raid was an arbitrary violation of their clients' private lives. The Police didn't find who they were looking for, but they said they arrested several persons that were found porting guns without permission. El Siglo reported that business was back to normal later in the evening at the motels.

Presidente beer president to lead NY Dominican Parade
Rafael Menicucci, president of the Cervecería Nacional Dominicana, the Presidente beer brewery, will be the International Grand Marshall of the Dominican Parade scheduled for next Sunday, 15 August in New York City. Menicucci will ride with leading New York City authorities. Presidente Beer sales are growing in export markets, primarily in the US. Menicucci said the company is working hard so that all Latin Americans can be proud of Presidente Beer in the same way Dominicans are proud of the savory and refreshing beer.

Private company now in charge of big chunk of power supply
The supply of power and collecting of in Santo Domingo east of Máximo Gómez Avenue and in southeastern and eastern provinces is now responsibility of AES Distribuidora del Este. Privatization is in and the state's electricity utility Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad is now delegating the supply and distribution of power to private companies. As of Friday, CDE moved out and AES Distribuidora del Este is in, the first of two companies that will be in charge of power distribution. The headquarters of AES Distribuidora are located at Avenida Venezuela, in Los Minas. The company has opened 18 other offices in cities and towns.

US tourists preferred by tour guides
According to a report in the El Siglo, German and Spanish tourists are the least prone to tip and the most prone to bargain. Santo Domingo Colonial City guide Eudes Sención and others interviewed by the newspaper explained the guides offer a four-hour tour of the colonial city for RD$250-RD$300 per group or individual. He says that the guides have to be careful when accepting food or drink from the tourists. He recalled the time when a German offered him two beers during the tour, and then deducted the cost of the beers from the amount paid for the tour. In his opinion, US tourists are the best because they value the services of guides and are prompt to tip. Sención was quick to say, though, that not all German and Spanish tourists are "tight". He recalls when a Spanish tourist helped him fund the repair of his home after the effects of Hurricane David in 1979.

Sweep of judicial officers in provinces
Attorney General Mariano Germán ordered the cancellation of district attorneys in Puerto Plata, Mao, Barahona and Monte Cristi for supposed irregularities on the job. Several lawyers at the service of these departments were also suspended. Changes were also made in the judiciary at Jimaní, Neyba and Independencia.

UNCTAD president urges taking advantage of trade pacts
The president of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Rubens Ricupero, who visited for regional trade talks, urged the DR to take more advantage of the trade agreements signed with Europe, Central America and the Caribbean. He said that in his post, he seeks to make European nations more aware of benefits of importing products from the region. Ricupero praised the investment climate in the DR, pointing to its political, macroeconomic and price stability. He emphasized the role of small and medium-size businesses in development. "Development needs to come through trade and investment," he said. He told businessmen gathered for a meeting with the Council of Businesses (CONEP) that the DR is as well off as any other nation in the world to integrate into the new economic and cultural order.

UASD to the rescue of 14 year old leukemia victim
The Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo passed a resolution to discount RD$300 from the August salaries of professors and RD$50 from that of employees in order to contribute to the fund to save 14-year old leukemia victim. Ilianov de León is the son of a UASD professor. He is interned at the New York City Presbyterian Medical Center. He needs a bone marrow transplant. The medical center has said US$450,000 (RD$7.2 million) are needed for the operation and subsequent medical treatment. The UASD effort, that also includes a charge of RD$10 to every student that registers for the next semester, would gather RD$2 million for the cause.

Unemployment declines in DR
CEPAL, the Economic Commission for Latin America, estimates that the urban unemployment rate in the DR dropped 1.1% in 1998 compared to 1997. According to data, the urban unemployment rate declined from 15.9% to 14.3 %. This is down from the high of 20.3% registered in 1992.

Malecón Avenue expansion inaugurated
The Minister of Public Works inaugurated the completion of the government reconstruction and expansion of the Autopista 30 de Mayo (west end of the Av. George Washington, better known as Santo Domingo's Malecon). The panoramic highway, turned into an expressway, was expanded from four lanes to six lanes. A system of overpasses at the intersections with Luperon and Haina avenues was added. New lighting and landscaping works were also part of the reconstruction works. The avenue borders the west end of the Caribbean Sea from Abraham Lincoln Avenue to Km. 12 of the Carretera Sánchez.

PRSC appoints candidates to Chamber of Deputies board
Partido Reformista Social Cristiano deputies chose the vice president and two secretaries of the board of the lower house of Congress, as well as the spokesman and vice spokesman for the 1999-2000 term.
Five of the 17 PRSC deputies aspire to preside the Chamber, replacing Hector Peguero Méndez. These are: Hector Marte, Ramon Rogelio Genao, Emigdio Mercedes, Alfonso Fermín Balcacer, and Miguel Sanz Jiminián. The Partido Revolucionario Dominicano and Partido de la Liberación Dominicana are also supporting that former President Joaquin Balaguer choose the candidate to preside the Chamber of Deputies.

DR places 14th in Pan Am Games
The Dominican Republic finished in the 14th place at the close of the Winnipeg, Canada Pan American Games. To the tune of merengue and other Caribbean beats, the DR delegation paraded through the full Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremonies carrying a banner that read in Spanish and English, "see you all in 2003."
The DR's troupe of 158 athletes (107 men and 51 women) won nine medals, falling below optimistic forecasts of 14-20 medals. The DR's best performance in a Pan American Games was in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1979 when the country won 19 medals. Some sports analysts say that the mediocre results of Dominican athletes reinforce sports authorities' view that hosting the Pan Am Games in the DR is the best way to boost sports here.
The DR only won medals in weightlifting, karate, tae kwon do and judo. The list of Dominican medal winners was as follows:
Wanda Rijo, gold, weightlifting
Miosotis Heredia, silver, weightlifting
Sención Quezada, bronze, weightlifting
Guillermina Candelario, bronze, weightlifting
Katty Acevedo, silver, karate
Luis Benitez , silver, tae kwon do
Danny Vizcaino, bronze, tae kwon do
Juan C. Jacinto, bronze, judo
Eleucadia Vargas, bronze, judo
Wanda Rijo won the DR's only gold on Friday, 6 August, the second to last day of competitions. Juana Arrendel, a Dominican high jumper, had won a gold medal earlier, but lost the medal when she tested positive in a doping test. (The incident has yet to be explained, with Arrendel citing she doesn't know what she took that caused her to fail the test. Arrendel had jumped high enough to win the Pan Am gold in the Central American and Caribbean Games held last year in Venezuela, and then passed the doping test.) 20-year old Juana Arrendel has promised to make a comeback, regardless of the length of the sanction she may receive from the International Track and Field Federation.
Rijo won her gold medal in the up to 75 kilogram category. She lifted 100 kilograms in the squat-style snatch and 120 in clean jerk for a total 220 kilograms. The silver medal went to Cara Heads of the US with 217.5, and the bronze to Canadian Jea Lassen with 210.
Rijo dedicated the medal to her family and her town, San Pedro de Macorís (home of baseball slugger Sammy Sosa and many other reknown Dominican athletes). She also dedicated the medal to the government program for top competition athletes, PARNI, and to the Dominican Republic in general.
Reportedly, the president of the Dominican Olympic Committee, Dr. José Joaquín Puello made it to the weightlifting arena only two minutes before Rijo competed. (Wanda Rijo was the weight lifter that made news recently when the US Consulate in Santo Domingo twice denied her a visa to travel to a sports competition in the US.)
The Dominican weightlifting team turned in the best performance for the DR, winning four of the nine medals. Rijo's teammate, Miosotis Heredia (up to 69 kgs), lifted 205 kilograms for the silver medal. She was defeated by US's Lea Foreman. The bronze medal went to Emilia Dimas of El Salvador. Weightlifters Sención Quezada (up to 63 kgs.) and Guillermina Candelario (up to 48 kgs.) also won bronze medals.
Finally, in tae kwon do, Luis Benítez won silver in the 68 kilogram category and Danny Vizcaino, 58 kilograms, won bronze.
At the close of the event, there were cheers for the athletes from the DR, site of the next Games. The most solemn moment of the Games came when the cauldron was extinguished and the flame symbolically passed to Santo Domingo. Mayor of Santo Domingo, Johnny Ventura travelled to Winnipeg to receive the city's biggest challenge from the Mayor of Winnipeg.
The DR has a big task ahead. The Winnipeg games were described as "the best Pan Am Games in history", by Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) president, Mario Vazquez Rana. Athletes, officials and media concurred that the Games were infinitely better run than the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.
For more information on the Winnipeg Pan Am Games, see http://www.panamgames.org/e_gameon/frameset_live.htm

Pedro Martínez wins his 100th game
Pedro Martínez, made a great comeback winning the 100th game of his big-league career on Sunday evening. He was back returned on Tuesday, 3 August when he allowed three his and one run in five innings against Cleveland.
Martínez hadn't won a game since he won the All-Star Game, where he said he was injured. Martínez pitched five innings in the game the Boston Red Sox beat the Anaheim Angels 9-3. Martínez has a record of 16-3. He became the first pitcher of the Major Leagues to win 16 games. Despite being away for more than a month, Martínez continues to lead the AL in ERA (2.45) and strikeouts (199). He has a 100-49 career record.

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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