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Daily News - 19 August 1999

80% of tourists say they will return
80% of tourists visiting the Dominican Republic told Central Bank pollsters that they would return. Many said they would choose a different destination within the island, though. El Siglo today carries results of the most recent Central Bank survey. 71% of those surveyed found the prices they paid to be either reasonable, low or very low. 68% described hotel services as excellent or very good. Food service was rated as good to excellent by 80% of the visitors, with 24% rating it as excellent. To enjoy the warm weather was the principal reason of the visits (37%), followed by the beaches (24%). Other leading motivations were the price (10%) and Dominican hospitality (8%). What tourists least liked was the deficient garbage collection services, and services at the airport.
Most tourists (65%) visiting the DR came here referred by a travel agent. 26% visited motivated by advice from friends and relatives, and 11% said they had seen a TV ad or a print ad. 1.8% said their trip was motivated by their research on the Internet.
Central Bank stats show that 1,094,247 foreign tourists arrived from January to June 1999. This is up from 1,013,917 foreign tourists for the same period in 1998.

Cabinet reshuffling
President Leonel Fernández appointed Alejandrina Germán as Secretary of the Presidency. She replaces Danilo Medina, who will be running for President on the ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) ticket next May. At the time of her designation, Germán was director of the Consejo Nacional de Educación Superior (CONES), the government body that is in charge of regulating university level education. She was one of the key organizers of the PLD primary.
The President appointed Melanio Paredes to replace Francisco Javier García at the Dominican Port Authority. Francisco Javier García is Danilo Medina's campaign director. Javier García had clashed with businessmen for his decisions to favor truck union monopolies at Dominican ports. Prior to the appointment, Melanio Paredes served as director of the Departamento Aeroportuario, the body that rules over the operation of Dominican airports.
Hoy newspaper in its page two political analysis comments that Germán and Paredes were partial to Vice President Jaime David Fernández, who lost the primaries to Medina. The columnist says that more appointments in government of the Vice President's supporters are to be expected, as the government seeks to motivate the Vice President's followers to support Medina for President.
Medina needs all the support he can get as he was elected because of strong support within the party, despite most independent polls showing that the most saleable candidate was the Vice President.

Another overpass over Duarte/JFK
The Ministry of Public Works announced it would build another overpass at the intersection of Avenida Duarte with Manoguayabo on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. This would be the fifth overpass that announced for the Autopista Duarte-John F. Kennedy stretch. The others are located at the intersection with Winston Churchill (already in operation), Máximo Gómez, Abraham Lincoln and Tiradentes avenues.

A stop to the invasion of government lands
The president of the Comisión de Reforma de la Empresa Pública (CREP), the government body in charge of privatizing state companies, said that he has received instructions from President Leonel Fernández to act with the full force of law to impede invaders from taking over property belonging to the Consejo Estatal del Azucar (CEA). The CEA is the state sugar council that groups sugar mills and government-owned sugar plantations. It is in the process of awarding 30-year concessions to its lands, and has found many to be threatened by opportunists. Several of the invaders port brand new barbed wire and wood, and apparently are being financed.
Attorney General Mariano Germán Mejía said he would defend proprietors right to their land. He said that the nation's security forces would be called in as necessary. He urged those who feel their property is being threatened to contact his office. "Property needs to be respected and we cannot permit that bandits take over the land. If the CEA or any other institution in any jurisdiction of the country requests our support, the Attorney General's Office is willing to provide it because nobody has the right to touch what belongs to the state; no individual can pretend to occupy the lands of the Dominican state."

Halt to contamination of Santo Domingo's rivers
The director of the Corporación del Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Santo Domingo (CAASD), the Santo Domingo potable water body, and the chief of the National Police, Major General Pedro de Jesús Candelier jointly announced that industries, hog and poultry farms and individuals that are contaminating the Ozama, Haina, Isabela and Higüero rivers have 30 days to implement preservation and conservation methods. The CAASD and the National Police, in coordination with the Ministry of Public Works and the Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidráulicos (INDRHI), the government body in charge of river resources, announced they will drastically begin to implement Decree 296-96 that prohibits the contaminating of rivers with toxic wastes and the extraction of construction materials.

Balaguer gains in political flirtations
El Siglo newspaper political commentator, Orlando Gil points out that the PRSC has been taking full advantage of the fact that the PLD and the PRD both seek the favor of party leader, former President Joaquín Balaguer. Balaguer's support is seen as crucial to winning the 2000 presidential election, and thus both parties are courting the 92-year old former statesman.
Gil points out that the PRD directly offered Balaguer the presidency and board of the Chamber of Deputies, which the PRSC had lost three years ago to the PRD. But the PRSC also flirted with the PLD and obtained the presidency of city governments in 43 municipalities. Gil says that with the exception of those in Santiago and Jánico, the dealings were negotiated by the city's PRSC men, and not by the PRSC hierarchy. While the PRD and PLD debate the presidency, he explains that the PRSC is grabbing all that it is being offered.

Two companies to bid for tobacco firm
The governmental CREP commission in charge of privatization of state enterprises says that two companies have presented their credentials to participate in the bid for the Compañía Anónima Tabacalera. The CAT produces cigarettes and cigars and has consistently lost market share. British American Tobacco (BAT), represented by Guillermo Hepburn and Cita, from the Canaries (Spain) represented by Alvaro Quezada presented their credentials to opt for the tender. Once privatized (investors purchase 50% of the shares and get managerial control), the firm will be known as La Tabacalera. CAT assets are estimated at US$19 million.

Motorcyclists responsible for 49% of traffic accidents
El Siglo reports that statistics from the Darío Contreras and Francisco Moscoso Puello public hospitals show that 49% of the 3,280 traffic accidents reported at their emergency rooms involved motorcycle riders. Accident reports show that the imprudence of the drivers, lack of sign posting on streets and highways, and the low level of knowledge of traffic rules and laws, as well as low level of education of the drivers in general are main causes of the accidents. Furthermore, hundreds of Dominicans would not have died if they had been wearing their protective helmets, as established by law. In the DR, hundreds of motorcycle drivers will only use the helmets if it is known that the police is arresting those without it. The Darío Contreras Hospital reported 1,549 motorcycle accidents from January to June 1999.

Line repairs bring about eight hour blackouts
The AES Empresa Distribuidora de Electricidad del Este (responsible for an area of 11,485 Kms2), and Union Fenosa's Distribuidora Sur (16,475 Kms2) and Distribuidora Norte (19,060 Kms2) say that long eight hour power outages are because they are repairing transmission lines. AES published its schedule of outages, not so the Unión Fenosa distributors. AES says that power service will be back to normal next week in their territory, which goes from East of Máximo Gómez Avenue in Santo Domingo through to the east coastline.

Order issued for return of abducted Italian boy
Judge Leonora Martínez sent a request for the arrest and extradition of Italian architect Antonio Baio to the Attorney General's Office. Baio is accused of abducting his four year old son, Ricardo Baio Mejía. The boy's mother, Dominican Indhira Mejía filed the complaint. The next step is for the Attorney General to send the documentation to the Ministry of Foreign Relations, requesting the extradition of Baio. The Santo Domingo District Attorney's office had already empowered the Juzgado de Instrucción de la Sexta Circunscripción to prepare the case. Judge Martínez explained that the order of arrest was addressed to the Interpol, the International Police. Baio is regarded as a fugitive from Dominican justice after he abducted his son with whom he was vacationing in the DR. As per the divorce settlement agreement, he was allowed vacation time with his son in the DR, but not allowed to travel abroad with the boy.
President Leonel Fernández will receive a copy of the documentation and will decide whether he will request the extradition. If he decides to do so, a copy of the documentation in Italian will be sent to the Dominican embassy in Italy.

New life for the San Felipe Fort in Puerto Plata?
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez and César José de los Santos met with native Puerto Plata tourist investors to discuss the possibility of allowing businesses to open in the area of the Fortaleza San Felipe. The Ministry would like to build a small colonial city in the area of the fort, granting concessions to the private sector. Restaurants, bars, gift shops, and amphitheater and other facilities would be built to attract tourists from the all-inclusive hotels in the area to the city. San Felipe Fort is the main historic attraction of the city.
The Minister met with Juan Luis Monagas, Carlos Monagas, William Redondo, Lupo de Lemos, Michelli and Pablo Costa, Roger Mariotti, and Jose Silverio among others.
The Ministry of Tourism is coordinating this plan with the Comisión de Monumentos de Santo Domingo, the government entity in charge of historical monuments in the city of Santo Domingo and the Oficina de Patrimonio Cultural, the government office in charge of Dominican historic monuments in general.
Mayor Ramón Ortiz, and Puerto Plata senator Ginette Bournigal oppose the motion, fearing it would limit the access of Dominicans to the area.

Plaza to be built for Sosua Beach vendors
Minister of Tourism Felix Jimenez announced plans to build a plaza for Sosua beach vendors. Cesar de los Santos, director of tourism for the North Coast, announced the Minister met with the Asociación de Objetos Artesanales de la Playa de Sosua, which groups souvenir vendors of Sosua Beach, to present the architectural drawing of the project. The Minister's plan is to guarantee loans to the vendors so that these can acquire booths in the new plaza. The new plaza would be located on Sosua Beach, and is intended to better organize these. The government would lease the land within 60 meters from high tide, as established by the law. Some 200 vendors operate out of shacks at Sosua Beach.

Dominican hired by Latin MTV
Dominican Lisbeth Santos was hired by New York based corporation Viacom to star on MTV Latino. She will present the MTV Top Ten Latin Hits. These are televised by Telemundo. She signed a two year contract that will oblige her to leave the Colorvisión TV programs, Punto Joven (Freddy Beras Goico) and Con los Famosos (with Carlos Batista Matos). Her contract establishes that she will also be host to several leading Latin music presentations produced by MTV Latino and during the second year she will participate in the US MTV production.

Oriental dances at Casa de Teatro
If you enjoy oriental dances, Dominican ballet dancer Soraya Franco will be performing the sacred traditional dances of India at the Casa de Teatro, from 20-21 August at 9 pm. The presentation is sponsored by the UNESCO. Franco resides in Paris. She not too long ago won a UNESCO scholarship to study oriental dances in India.

"Aida" at the National Theater
Giuseppe Verdi's opera, "Aida" will go on stage at the National Theater, 25, 27 and 29 August. It is a presentation of the Opera de las Americas group. The performers include Evangelina Colon and Teresa Pérez de Frangie, mezzo soprano Marianne Cornetti, Ondina Matos, Antonio Barasorda and Francisco Casanova, Noel Ramírez, Janusz Monarcha, Frank Lendor, Carlos Alfredo Fatule and Juan Tomás Reyes. The National Choir, National Symphony Orchestra and Ballet Concierto Dominicano are also performing. The National Symphony will be directed by Jan Jozef Wnek. The New Orleans Opera Association is in charge of the stage design, and Malabar Limited, are providing the costumes. This opera is a production by Teresa Pérez de Frangie, Eduardo Villanueva and Luis Carlos López.

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