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Daily News - 20 September 1999

World Bank opens offices in Santo Domingo
The World Bank chose the Dominican Republic as one of 12 nations, for the implementation of a long term strategic development program. The program will enable the DR to have access every year to more than US$100 million in credit. The announcement was made during the formal opening of the World Bank offices in Santo Domingo. The new offices are located at Calle Gustavo Mejía Ricart corner Calle Virgilio Ordoñez, in Julieta neighborhood.
President Leonel Fernández visited the new offices for the formal opening ceremony. World Bank officers Marisela Montoliu and Orsalia Kalanzopoulous, resident representatives for the Caribbean, hosted the statesman at the new office.
During the opening, President Fernández spoke by video conference with the president of the organization, James. D. Wolfensohn. Wolfensohn praised the Dominican statesman for his government's macroeconomic policies that have permitted a sustained growth of about 7% for the past three years.
Also present at the event were Technical Secretary of the Presidency, Temístocles Montás; Minister of Finances Daniel Toribio; Governor of the Central Bank Hector Valdez Albizu; the director of the Department of Planning Rafael Camilo; and Secretary of the Presidency Alejandrina Guzmán.
The DR has contracted loans for about US$280 million with the World Bank.

Caucedo Multimodal Port construction set
Investors and officers of the Dominican Port Authority announced that construction of the Caucedo Multimodal Port will start in six months time. The new industrial port complex will go up on an 800,000 square meter lot in Punta Caucedo, west of the Las Americas International Airport. The new industrial sector is envisioned to complement Dominican free zones. Major manufacturing processes, such as vehicle assembly, are contemplated for this new industrial park.
The Caucedo Port is known as a multimodal port because it offers manufacturers the option of transporting goods by air, sea or land. The US$150 million project includes the construction of a major port facility with the latest technology to be used for trans-shipment of goods.
Dominican Port Authority director, Melanio Paredes signed an agreement with project promoters Manuel Enrique Tavares, Samuel Conde and Jaak Rannik so that the port can be functioning in two years time. The port will offer competitive tariffs, and these will be paid according to the volume of the cargo.
The government had authorized the free zone in February of last year, when it issued Decree 29-98.

AMET now operating in Santiago
President Leonel Fernández rode the first bus of a fleet of 30 buses that are now offering services in Santiago de los Caballeros, the second largest city in the DR. The new fleet is under the administration of the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) that has significantly improved transportation service and traffic flows in the capital city of Santo Domingo, where AMET first began to operate. The new buses will provide lower cost and more comfortable transport services to thousands of workers making their way to the Santiago free zone park.

German judiciary closes case against Birgen Air
The Frankfurt district attorney stopped the case against Birgen Air, the Turkish airline that offered air service to Puerto Plata from Germany. The German judiciary has lifted restrictions against Birgen Air, attributing responsibility for the crash solely to the pilot. Although confusion about operation of computer-assisted systems (autopilot, warning annunciations) played a role (the pitot tube was blocked), this confusion would not have arisen but for inappropriate pilot decisions and actions.
Some 189 people, including many German tourists died, when the B757 airliner crashed shortly after takeoff from Puerto Plata International Airport on 9 February 1996. The Birgen Air flight, complete with its crew, had been leased to the Dominican airline, Alas Nacionales.

Hipólito Mejía says he will not debate PLD contender for now
Hipólito Mejía, presidential candidate of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, told his contender Danilo Medina, of the ruling Partido de la Liberación Dominicana, to not despair. In response to the later's multiple requests for a public debate, Mejía said he would publicly debate Medina when the latter is better positioned. He said that he will also wait for the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano to announce its presidential candidate. He also highlighted the fact that "The Economist", the British news magazine, has forecast that Medina will finish third in the presidential race. None of the candidates are expected to win the presidency in the first round of the election. Thus finishing second is crucial to staying in the run for the presidency. The presidential campaign season officially opens in January 2000.


Blitz against child farm labor
The Ministry of Labor and Pro-joven Dominicano, a non-governmental organization, have carried out field work that has resulted in sending 150 children, ages seven to 14 back to school. The children had been working full time in Constanza farms. Minister of Labor Rafael Alburquerque said that they have plans to send back to school about 300 children in the Constanza mountain valley area. It is estimated that 75% of the nation's vegetables come from Constanza. Pro-Joven Dominicano is implementing the Program for the Eradication and Prevention of Child Labor (IPEC), with the support of the International Labor Organization. The program calls for the detecting of child laborers and follow-through to make their parents aware of benefits of sending their children to school. Listín Diario journalists interviewed one seven year old boy, Pedrito, who expressed his concern that if he goes to school he will not be able to help his mother. But when the mother was interviewed, she said she is now aware that her son will be more productive if he gets an education. She explained that she herself worked the fields and took her children with her, and that's how they got started in the work. The children that were sent to school live in the areas of Chorro, Arroyo Arriba and El Cercado. The program also makes available small loans to the parents of the children so they can set up their own small businesses and increase their resources, not having to resort to sending their children to work on the fields. The farm children were provided with school uniforms and school books.

New US consul arrives
Joan V. Smith is the new consul general of the United States in the Dominican Republic. Linda Watts, charge d'affairs of the US Embassy (the US government has not appointed an ambassador), presented her last week. Smith replaces Edwin Cubbinson who has been the consul general since August 1997. This is Smith's second appointment in the DR. From 1980-1982 she was in charge of the visas section of the Santo Domingo consulate. She is a native of North Carolina, and grew up in Washington, D.C. She has served in France, Turkey, Ireland, Singapour, Korea, Canada, Haiti and in Washington, D.C. She has been a senior member of the US foreign service since 1996. She studied at the Catholic University of America, Columbia University, Université Sorbonne, and Chapman University.
She has a 17-year old son.

Sosa hits his 60th and 61st home runs
Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs again made history becoming the first Major League player to hit 60 home runs in two consecutive seasons. The 60-home run mark had seemed unbeatable last year when Sosa and Mark McGwire toppled it, with the latter setting a new mark of 70 home runs. Sosa batted his 60th home run against the Milwaukee Brewers, meriting a call from his friend President Leonel Fernández. Luckily, a security guard retrieved the 60th ball delivering it to Sosa who said he would frame it and put it in his trophy room to show to guests to his house. Fernández is slated to be present on the day of Sosa's last game this season.
On Sunday, Sosa batted his 61st home run against the Milwaukee Brewers also at Wrigley Field in the first inning. He then score the winning run in the 10th.
Sosa has only 12 games to go this season, so it is unlikely he will be able to beat McGwire's home run record.

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