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Daily News - 17 August 1999

President Fernández highlights achievements of his administration
President Leonel Fernandez highlighted the economic achievements of his government on Monday. Speaking at the Gran Teatro Cibao on occasion of 16 August, national historic holiday that also marks the his third year in government, President Fernández pinpointed the sustained growth with low inflation during the past three years. He spoke of the increases in tax collections, spending by consumers, domestic and foreign investment, urban and rural infrastructure construction, regardless of the damages caused by Hurricane Georges.
"Never before, in the Republican history of the nation, a government had done so much in such a short time. Never had things been better than now," said Fernández. He said that citizens today consume eight pounds more of rice, six more pounds of beans, four more pounds of chicken, and 10 liters more of milk than in 1996, when he took office. He said that the minimum wage has gone from RD$2,010 in 1996 to RD$2,895 in 1999, together with an increase in the buying power of the population. He highlighted how the price of a plantain, one of the main staples of the Dominican diet, is at the lowest levels in the past ten years. He said that prices of rice, beans, garlic, onions, potatoes, yucca, sweet potatoes are at levels lower than when his party, the PLD, reached power in 1996.

Report highlights DR as Latin American success story
The Center for Strategic and International Studies released a report (July 1999) on the DR which highlights how the DR has gone from being an isolated nation to being one of the leading success stories of Latin America. The report, part of the CSIS Hemisphere 2000 series, was written by Howard J. Wiarda, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a researcher at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
In the report, Wiarda highlights how the DR now leads the world in economic growth, having accomplished this with a democratic government. "the Dominican Republic has surpassed South Korea, Taiwan, and the other high-flying "tigers" of economic growth to reach the position of Numero Uno."
The main engines of the DR's self-sustained growth are tourism, remittances, construction, telecommunications and the free zone assembly plants.
The report can be viewed at
http://www.csis.org/Americas/pubs/hemvii4.html

Woman elected to preside Chamber of Deputies
Rafaela Alburquerque (PRSC-San Pedro de Macoris) was elected on 16 August president of the Chamber of Deputies. She was elected by consensus of the three leading political parties. She is the first woman to preside the Chamber of Deputies.
Despite the PRSC being minority in the Chamber of Deputies, leaders of the leading opposition party, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano told former President Joaquín Balaguer that they would back whomever he chose for president of the Chamber. The PRD did not want PRD-dissident Hector Peguero Mendez to be re-elected and wanted to please Balaguer, whose endorsement is said to be necessary for a party to win the presidential election of 2000.
Balaguer said he would choose with the consensus of the parties, which he did. His first candidate was objected by the PRD.
Alburquerque called for deputies to get back to work on Tuesday, 24 August. She announced she would meet with Ramón Alburquerque of the Senate to discuss ways both houses of Congress could improve relations with the Executive Branch.
Note that despite sharing common surnames, the heads of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate are not related.
Other newly elected members of the Chamber of Deputies are Alfonso Fermín Balcacer, vice president and secretaries Rafael Franjul and Ambrosina Saviñón.

Ramón Alburquerque repeats at helm of National Senate
Engineer Ramón Alburquerque (PRD-Monte Plata) was re-elected president of the National Senate. Jesús Vásquez will be the new vice president; Ginette Bournigal, and Angel D. Pérez, secretaries. The Senate returns to work today, Tuesday, 17 August at 3 pm. The PRD is majority in the Senate.

Crisis at the Santo Domingo city hall
News reports say the city government of Santo Domingo is now suspended in "institutional limbo." The Mayor of Santo Domingo felt slighted that the hierarchy of his political party, the PRD called for the election of the PRD candidate to preside the city hall when he was in Winnipeg, Canada officially receiving the symbols of the Pan Am Games from his Winnipeg colleague. He has allied with the president of the city government, Fabio Ruiz and they postponed the actual election of the new president for the period 16 August 1999-16 August 2000. The PRD is majority in the city government, so whomever is the candidate for the PRD, will be chosen president of the city government. Of course, the actual election needs to be held. The PRD elected candidate, Rafael Díaz Filpo has the support of the president of the party, Hatuey De Camps, and former mayor of Santo Domingo, Rafael Suberví. He was chosen candidate in an election on 10 August in which 28 aldermen voted for him, and 24 to re-elect Fabio Ruiz. The city government has 88 aldermen.

Director of Customs Department hospitalized in Miami
Miguel Cocco, director of Customs Department, was interned at the Baptist Hospital of Miami on Sunday. He suffers from a kidney-related problem. Press reports said that he was recovering satisfactorily. Tests were being performed for an accurate diagnosis of his ailment.

Theft is leading cause of jailing
Dirección General de Prisiones statistics show that 80% of those in jail in the Dominican are there for theft, homicide or drug trafficking or consumption. An estimated 15,000 persons are kept in jail in the DR. The breakdown of reasons for being in jail is as follows: theft 31.5%; drug trafficking 26%; homicide 25%; fraud, association with criminals 8%; rape 6%; serious brawls 5%; illegal possession of weapons 2.5%. Of the total in jail, 577 are women, mostly in jail on drug trafficking charges.

Dominican parade big success
An estimated 800,000-person crowd showed up to wave Dominican flags and move to Dominican merengue in Manhattan on Sunday, 15 August. The annual Dominican Parade is the leading event of the Dominican community in New York. Mayor Rudolph Guiliani presided over the celebrations of the parade that went from 28th Street to 60th Street along Avenue Las Americas (Sixth Avenue). Other important congressional figures participating were Adriano Espaillat, Guillermo Linares and Charles Rangel. Some 50 floats paraded. This was the most attended parade since the event began in 1983. It is organized by Nelson Peña for the past seven years.
Recent census bureau stats show that the Dominican community is the biggest immigrant population in New York City. Remittances sent primarily from Dominican residents in the US make up 20% of the total foreign exchange that enters the DR every year.

Proliferous cattle rancher kidnapped
Police is on the trail of a cattle rancher who was kidnapped last Friday in La Romana. News reports say that he was visiting a lover in Reparto Benjamín of La Romana, and with him in his jeep was his one year and a half son. The boy was recovered unharmed inside the vehicle. News reports say that 45-year old Ezequiel Ruiz was intercepted by several men traveling in a wine-colored Honda Accord. Reportedly, he had collected a payment of RD$350,000 for the sale of cattle. Ruiz spent most of the time in his El Seibo ranch and traveled to his Alma Rosa neighborhood home in Santo Domingo once or twice a week. News reports say he had 10 children outside of wedlock. The kidnappers have yet to call relatives.

National Police to be computerized
El Siglo reports that the plan being implemented to modernize the National Police calls for the installation of an AFIS automated digital finger print identification system, such as is in use in the US. The RD$150 million modernization program calls for the entire computerization of the National Police to make it more effective at combating crime. A Miami-based group, Consulting Group is assisting the police in this effort.

Mella Bridge reopened
Traffic across the Ozama River is again flowing, after the Ministry of Public Works completed the repair of a 42 meter stretch of the Mella Bridge. For the 26 days the bridge was closed, crossing the river was a driver's nightmare, with gridlock and bottlenecks causing delays of whomever was headed east or west. Relief is not expected to last too long, as Duarte Bridge will soon be closed off to all traffic so the overhauling of the oldest bridge of the three that cross the Ozama River can take place.

2,179 drug cases processed in 1999
The Dirección Nacional de Control de Drogas sent to justice 2,179 persons for drug charges in the fist six months of the year, 25% more than in 1998 for violations to Law 50-88 on Narcotic Drugs and Controlled Substances. Of the total processed, 972 persons were arrested in Santo Domingo and 1,207 in the rest of the country. Of the total sent to justice, 143 are women and 2,036 men. The breakdown of those sent to justice includes 584 drug traffickers, 520 drug peddlers, four money launderers and 1,071 accomplices.
During the first semester of the year, the US deported 611 persons that had been convicted for drug charges in the US.

Privatization of power supply distribution complete
The Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad formally handed over the responsibility for providing electricity to the Spanish firm, Unión Fenosa's two distribution companies that won the privatization bid. These are Empresa Distribuidora de Electricidad del Norte S.A. (Edenorte) and Empresa Distribuidora de Electricidad del Sur (Edesur).
Edenorte will have responsibility for Monte Cristi, Dajabon, Santiago Rodriguez, Valverde, Puerto Plata, La Vega, Espaillat, Salcedo, Monseñor Nouel, Duarte, Sánchez Ramírez, Martia Trinidad Sanchez and Samana.
Edesur is responsible for the western side of Santo Domingo (the Av. Maximo Gomez is the dividing line), San Cristóbal, Peravia, Azua, Barahona, Bahoruco, San Juan, Elías Piña, Independencia and Pedernales.
Edenorte's emergency line is 226-1111, Edesur's emergency line is 537-1111.
These two companies will be serving 600,000 users. They will be making capital investments of US$212 million to improve the service.
Earlier in the month, the government handed the responsibility for servicing the eastern portion of the country (east of Maximo Gómez Avenue) to AES Dominicana Distribuidora del Este. AES has said it will be investing US$109 million to better serve its designated 400,000 users.

Ministry of Women created by law
The government passed Law 86-99 that creates the Ministry of Women. This upgrades programs available to women provided by the Dirección de Promoción de la Mujer. Gladys Gutiérrez, who is expected to be the designated Minister of Women, explained that the new government ministry is responsible for establishing norms and executing policies to promote gender equity and full exercise of women's rights, as well as programs in favor of the development and progress of women.

Sammy Sosa ties with Mark McGwire
Sammy Sosa batted three home runs to tie with St. Louis Cardinals Mark McGwire as leaders of the home run competition. Coincidentally, last year Sosa also hit his 47th run on 16 August. He's ahead, though, of the pace that lead him to bat 66 home runs. But this year, he's smiling less as his team is not a contender to make the playoffs. Sosa hit his 47th home run on Monday night in the game the Chicago Cubs lost 10-3 to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
For more information on Sosa, see http://full coverage.yahoo.com/fc/Sports/Baseball_Home_Run_Race/

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