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Daily News - 23 August 1999

Changes in the Fernández cabinet
President Leonel Fernández made changes in his cabinet over the weekend. News reports say that most of the new cabinet members are strong supporters of Vice President Jaime David Fernández who lost the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana primaries to Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina. President Fernández appointed Ana Silvia Reynoso, president of the Consejo Nacional de Educación Superior (CONES), the body in charge of supervising universities. She is a former deputy Minister of Education and member of the central committee of the PLD.
Juan Octavio Ceballos is the new Minister of Public Health, replacing Altagracia Guzmán. Guzmán is the new public health advisor to the President. Ceballos is a former director of the IDSS, the social security institute. He is a
former PLD senator for the province of Duarte, and also a member of the Central Committee of the PLD.
Sabino Báez is the new director of the Instituto Dominicano de Seguros Sociales.
Feliz Alcántara is the new director of the Consejo Estatal del Azúcar, the state sugar council that is at present undergoing privatization.
Radhamés Jiménez, is the new director of the Departamento Aeroportuario, in charge of airports. He is a member of the PLD's central committee.
Armando Castillo Peña, is the new director of Junta de Aeronautica Civil, the local civil aviation board. He replaces lawyer Vitelio Mejía Ortiz who will continue on as the Comisionado para el Seguimiento e Implementación de la Concesión Aeroportuaria, the organization that is following up with the privatization of Dominican airports.
President Fernández appointed José Medrano Volquez as his new advisor on educational affairs.
Isidro Cáceres is the new deputy director of Instituto Nacional de Recursos Hidraúlicos (INDRHI), the government department in charge of river resources.
Other appointees are Iván Peña, deputy director of the Department of Migration; and Freddy Paulino, Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Tourism.
Abel Rodríguez del Orbe, first Attorney General of the Fernández government, was appointed judicial consultant of the Executive Branch. He had been working as judicial consultant to the Executive Branch.

Challenges ahead for new Attorney General
El Siglo newspaper highlights the new challenges ahead for new Attorney General Cesar Pina Toribio, who was only recently appointed. Pina Toribio previously was judicial consultant to the Executive Branch. He faces lots of work and a low budget, the overpopulation of Dominican prisons (12,000 of 15,000 inmates do not have sentences), some 70 requests for extradition of Dominicans by the US authorities, and corruption cases in this and previous governments. He replaces Mariano Germán Mejía who resigned. Germán had been a year in the post.

122 megawatt barge could come in February
Seaboard Corporation announced it may bring a barge-power plant with capacity for 122 megawatts in February 2000. The US company won the tender to become the owner of 50% of the shares of the Haina-Itabo power plant park. Several of the plants in this park need major maintenance work and the company will be bringing in the power plant to supply the deficit of power while these works take place.

PRD candidate against privatization of Barahona sugar mill
The president of the Commission for the Reform of Public Enterprises (CREP), Antonio Isa Conde said Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD) presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía would be violating the law if he does not respect the privatization of the Barahona sugar mill. Mejía was on campaign in the southwestern province on Saturday, and said that he would not respect the concession of the Barahona sugar mill. He said that he has a commitment to make the southern region one of the most productive and that the recovery and operation of the sugar mill is part of that plan. In his opinion, instead of privatizing the mill, the government should come up with the needed resources to turn it into a productive operation again.
The CREP is leasing government-owned sugar mills that for years had been losing millions of pesos. Isa Conde said that the privatizing is taking place under statutes passed by Law 141-97, which had the approval of the PRD congressmen.

National Police closes 60 entertainment centers
The National Police closed down 60 entertainment centers, rescuing 114 minors. The parents of these and the proprietors of the places illicitly employing the minors will be sent to justice, according to a note from the Police.
Billiards centers, whorehouses, bars, car washes, cabarets, and sports gambling centers were closed down over the weekend in the National District (Santo Domingo), San Cristobal, El Seibo, Juan Dolio, San Pedro de Macoris, Higuey, Miches and La Romana. In the bars and whorehouses in Santo Domingo and San Cristobal, 25 minors were found working. In the East (San Pedro de Macoris, Hato Mayor, El Seibo, Juan Dolio, Higuey, Miches and La Romana), 54 minors were released, including 39 found in La Romana. The move follows the appointment of new regional commanders, see http://www.dr1.com/daily/news082099.shtml

A naive Dominican hopes that at least by telling her story publicly, she may avoid that others become unknowing victims like herself. Miguelina Gómez is suffering the consequences of having signed as guarantor for a Tunisian-French woman, Carmeline Laure Calo de Nettune, who she had befriended at the Casa de Francia, the former cultural center of the French Embassy in the DR. Calo, an accountant at the Casa de Francia, had asked Gómez to serve as guarantor for a loan of RD$70,000. When the bank called to confirm that she was the guarantor, she learned the loan was for RD$300,000 not for RD$70,000. But Calo talked her into it, and Gómez trusted her 57-year old friend blindly. Calo left the country, and Gómez now has to pay the loan and the accrued interest. Calo is no longer employed by the French government, and the Embassy, while sympathetic to Gómez's predicament, says it was a personal matter, in which they have no responsibility.

Privatization of Dominicana airlines imminent
The Listín Diario reported that President Leonel Fernández is very interested in the privatization of Dominicana Airlines, the state airline. The newspaper reports that the President met with members of the state commission for privatization (CREP), the corporation of state enterprises (CORDE) and the former president of the Civil Aeronautics Board to discuss measures needed to advance on this privatization. The newspaper reports that the government has agreed to absorb large debts in order to move ahead with the privatization. At present, Dominicana Airlines derives revenues by leasing its frequencies to other airlines.
The tender is expected to take place in October of this year.

Construction to begin soon on Pan Am Games village
The president of the Olympic Committee, Dr. José Joaquín Puello said that the Ministry of Public Works will soon announce the tender for the construction of the village for athletes coming for the 2003 Pan American Games. Eight towers of 23 floors and 88 apartments each are planned. Work has advanced on the demolition of the industrial plant where the village will be built. This site is diagonally across from the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center, where most of the Pan Am sports events will take place. The plan calls for building four towers facing the John F. Kennedy Avenue and four towers facing the San Martín Avenue. The tender to construct the towers is expected to take place in October.

Cargo barge missing
Seven persons are missing since Wednesday evening when they departed from the Port of Puerto Plata on their routine twice a month trip to bring food and other supplies to Turks Island. The cargo barge should have arrived the next morning. Carlos Herrera says the ship had been servicing Turks Island for 20 years without a problem. Several aboard the ship, including a Navy man, had cellular phones. He requested the assistance of the Dominican Navy and the US Coast Guard service to help establish the whereabouts of the ship and crew.

Government is breaking the law with sugar tax
Economist Jaime Aristy Escuder, lawyer Hugo Ramirez, and importer spokesmen Domingo Espinal Collado and Tomás Pascual, as well as businessmen Antonio Cruz Rojas, Gilberto Luna and Emilio Hernández concur that the government is breaking the law by charging 94% tax on sugar imports. More so, they say that the governmental decision violates agreements that the country has signed with the World Trade Organization. The measure benefits two private sugar producers, Central Romana and Vicini group, but is contrary to the interests of hundreds of small businessmen that use sugar as an ingredient in their production. Dominican consumers are affected, too, as they have to pay much higher prices for sugar than if sugar could be imported freely. The measure was instated in the spirit of protecting local producers, and the tax was to be applied on sugar imported in excess of the deficit. But the government is administratively applying the tax on all imports. Hugo Ramírez also explained that the producers are importing a lower grade of sugar. Reportedly, the two private sugar producers advanced the government the moneys to pay off sugar plantation owners and state sugar council workers now that the CEA is being privatized.

Power hotlines
The three power supply companies now servicing the Dominican Republic recently posted their hotline telephone numbers for reporting problems or emergencies. These are:
AES (servicing areas east of Av. Máximo Gómez in Santo Domingo and eastern provinces): Tel. 686-4041 in Santo Domingo and 1-200-0041 for the provinces. This company announces bills can be paid by credit card by calling 535-1122 or 1-200-0233.
EDESUR (servicing the rest of Santo Domingo and the southwest): 535-1111, 535-5453 and 530-2247.
EDENORTE (servicing the central and northern parts of the island); 226-1111.

CTO Statistics
The Caribbean Tourism Organization's recent statistics shows that in the first six months of the year, the DR has received the most visitors in the Caribbean. A total of 1,181,921 tourists are reported up to May of this year. Bahamas is listed second, with 679,098 visitors through May. Cuba received 501,866 visitors through March. Cuba showed the largest relative increase in visitors ­ 33% over the same period in 1998.

Hotel & Restaurant Association exhibition
The Hotel & Restaurant Association announces its annual exhibition will be held 8-11 September at the Dominican Fiesta. This is its 13th exhibition and it will be inaugurated by President Leonel Fernandez. Some 170 booths where 100 companies will exhibit.

Cindy does not pose a threat to the Caribbean
On Saturday it was Hurricane Cindy. But by today, Monday, it had been downgraded to Tropical Storm Cindy and maintains a northwesterly course away from the Caribbean. Mid August to the end of September is the peak hurricane season for the Dominican Republic. The two worst hurricanes to hit the Dominican Republic in the past 25 years were David in 1979 and Georges in 1998, both occurring during the above mentioned time period. The DR1 News and Information Service keeps a close watch on these atmospheric phenomenons to report them to the traveling public as soon as they may pose a threat to travel in the region. For the position of the storm, see http://www.intellicast.com/Tropical/World/UnitedStates/HurTrack2/

The Sammy Sosa-Mark McGwire race
Dominican Sammy Sosa hit three home runs over the weekend, passing Mark McGwire and again becoming the leader in the home run competition of the Major Leagues. McGwire, quickly caught up, and batted two home runs on Sunday to reach 50 this season. McGwire's 50 make him only one of four baseball players to hit 50 home runs in four consecutive years. Sosa has batted more than 50 home runs in two consecutive seasons, and is the only Latin American players to have done so.

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