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Daily News - 22 September 1999

Consumer Price Index up 0.28% in August
The Consumer Price Index increased 0.28% in August, according to the Central Bank. Accumulated inflation for January-August of this year August is ­0.050%. The Central Bank reports that this year's inflation is 2.18% less than last year's for the same period. Inflation from August 1998 to August 1999 is 5.51%.

European money to rehabilitate northwestern port
The European Union will invest US$5.3 million to rehabilitate the Port of Manzanillo in the northwestern province of Monte Cristi. The port is near Haiti and could serve both nations. This is part of the Lome IV Convention aid package to help developing countries that were former European colonies. A French firm won the bid to rehabilitate the port. The Lome IV assistance program also contemplates the construction of a highway from Cap Haitien, Haiti to Dajabón in the DR, in addition to the construction of a modern customs department.

When there's a will, there's a way
When the hospital administration told the parents of 14-year old Ilianov de León Albino that he needed an operation that would cost US$450,000, it was like a death sentence. The family didn't have the money. But where there is a will there is a way, and they began a campaign to gather the money, turning it into a national crusade.
Yesterday, the Committee for the Life of Ilianov de León Albino announced that RD$7 million has been collected. The money is only RD$200,000 or US$12,500 short of the US$7.2 million (US$450,000) needed to try and save the life of the 14-year old interned in New York's Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Of the total, RD$1.6 million was contributed by a Dominican businessman. The campaign has reached out to Dominicans on city streets, supermarkets and malls, and throughout the school system.

Hotel Association urges passing of airport privatization contracts
The Hotel & Restaurant Association urged that the National Congress passed the privatization contracts that grant the administration and expansion of four national airports to the private sector. Executive Vice President Arturo Villanueva executive requested that the contracts be passed by Congress.
Aerodom, Aeropuertos Dominicanos Siglo 21, won the bid for the takeover of the Puerto Plata, Las Americas, Barahona and Arroyo Barril airports. The Las Americas and Puerto Plata and Las Americas are two of the nation's leading airports. Barahona is a white elephant (a large airport that was built in an area without the hotel inventory), and Arroyo Barril has capacity to handle small airplanes.

82,500 illegal abortions a year in DR
Red de Salud de la Mujer Dominicana estimates that in the DR some 82,500 clandestine abortions are performed every year among a population of 3.9 million women. Abortion is penalized by law in the DR. Abortions are considered the third major cause of maternal deaths. The Red de la Salud is a network that advocates privatizing abortions. They argue that since they are illegal, poor women cannot get adequate medical assistance and perform these in unsanitary conditions. The DR has one of the highest numbers of abortions per woman population in Latin America. Only six countries in Latin America penalize the performing of abortions. The request to make abortions legal is not likely to move as the DR is a country where the Catholic Church has very strong influence.

From deficit to surplus in farming
Dominican farmers suffer the consequences of the lack of national farm produce planning. Cyclical surpluses are followed by deficits, reflecting the lack of policies that counsel farmers on what and how much to plant. The case of the present surplus of plantains, planted by the thousands after Hurricane Georges devastated most plantations, is just another in a long string of ups and downs of agriculture. The lack of planning also has affected tobacco, garlic, onion and even poultry production. Meanwhile, plantains can be bought for RD$0.25 the unit, down from RD$8.00 shortly after the hurricane. Farmers need to find export markets for their produce. They say a unit of plantain costs RD$0.70 to produce.

Santiago Internet fraud
The Santiago district attorney and the first hearing court judge carried out eight arraignments and ordered the arrest of 20 persons linked to a electronic commerce credit card fraud. The interesting note is that among those arrested are many from prominent and wealthy Santiago families. They arrived at the courthouse with their faces covered by towels and sheets. The arrested 18-23 year olders are suspect of having used stolen credit card numbers to carry out purchases over the internet of items as varied as computers and vehicle spare parts.

Dominican Week 1999
The eighth version of the Dominican Week is underway. Spearheaded by lawyer Luis Heredia Bonetti, Dominican Week in the United States is an annual event held to promote academic, cultural, business and political aspects of the Dominican Republic. The activities focus on positive aspects of Dominican society. For a schedule of the events see http://www.rvhb.com/dominican_99.htm
Events will take place this year in Miami, Florida; San Juan, Puerto Rico; New York City; Washington, D.C.; Jacksonville, Florida and South Orange, New Jersey.

President Fernández goes on 12-day international tour
President Leonel Fernández arrived in Washington, D.C. today, 22 September, starting a a 12-day international tour that is taking him to Washington, D.C., New York, San Francisco, California, St. Louis, Missouri and Taipei, Taiwan. The tour is described as having social, political and economic importance for the country. President Fernández will return 4 October.

22 September, Washington,D.C.
President Fernández flies into Dulles Airport by private plane. On his agenda is a visit to the US Congress to lobby for the passing of the Caribbean Basin Enhancement Bill. The bill would include provisions so that apparel assembly plants and other local industries can compete with Mexico, that is a signatory of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The bill has the support of Central America. Central American presidents who are also in Washington, D.C. to lobby for the bill and for a stop to the repatriations of persons that have been sentenced to jail. President Fernández will meet with his colleagues Mireya Moscoso, Panama; Arnoldo Alemán, Nicaragua; Miguel Angel Rodríguez, Costa Rica; Carlos Flores, Honduras; Alvaro Arzu, Guatemala; Francisco Flores, El Salvador.
The DR is in a worse off competitive position than Central American apparel producers, because these can import cheaper Asian materials, thus reducing costs. The DR is limited to using the higher priced US textiles in its apparel production lines. Producers fear they will continue to lose contracts due to the resulting higher production costs.
In Washington, President Fernández will meet with the Interamerican Dialogue members to discuss regional topics. He is also scheduled to meet with the president of the Interamerican Development Bank, Enrique Iglesias, who will host a dinner attended by ambassadors, international organization leaders and political and economic figures based in Washington,D.C..
Also on his Washington agenda is a meeting with the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States.

23-24 September, New York City
President Fernández will travel to New York City to participate in activities on occasion of the celebrating of the 54th United Nations General Assembly. President Leonel Fernández will address statesmen and foreign ministers on 24 September during the 54th General Assembly of the United Nations. He will address issues he considers crucial for humanity in the next millennium, specifically the role the UN will play to reduce the gap between wealthy and poor countries.
In New York he will offer a reception in honor of the representatives of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific nations signatories of Lomé Convention. Santo Domingo will host the II ACP Summit of Heads of State and Government in November 1999.

25 September, Boston
President Fernández will travel to the University of Harvard, in Boston, where he will be recognized for his government's efforts to strengthen Dominican democracy, intercultural relations as well as his regional leadership. He will receive the Harvard Foundation Award.

25 September, Taipei, Taiwan
He will travel to Taiwan to sign agreements and cooperation projects in education, environment and health. In Taipei he will meet with President Lee Teng-hui and other high ranking officers. The object of the meeting is to present the DR as an excellent place for investment, emphasizing high tech industries. On his original agenda was to visit the Hshinsu Industrial Scientific Park and the Industrial Technology Research Institute. Fernández envisions setting up a high-tech industrial park in the DR. News reports, though, say that the park was affected by the recent earthquake and there may be changes in the President's schedule.

29 September, San Francisco, California
Meetings are scheduled with executives of high tech US firms, most located in the Silicon Valley. President Fernández will present investment opportunities in the DR.
He will be honored at the Candlestick Stadium, home of the San Francisco Giants. This will take place during the last game (Dodgers and Giants) held at the historic stadium that will soon be demolished. Minister of Sports Juan Marichal, member of the US Hall of Fame, will be honored at that event.
The event is organized by Manuel Mota, coach of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and players Raúl Mondesí, Adrián Beltré, José Vizcaíno, and Robinson Pérez Checo.

3 October, St. Louis, Missouri
President Fernández will be present at the last game between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. His presence is a token of solidarity on behalf of Dominicans to Sammy Sosa, who has written baseball history. In the game Sosa hit his 60th home run he raised a sign where he expressed his pride in being from the Dominican Republic. News reports say that President Bill Clinton may also be present at that game.

Pedro Martínez sets new record for Boston Red Sox
Pedro Martínez pitched a three-hitter and struck out 12 last night to set a new record of 300 strike outs in a season. He broke Roger Clemens' team record in the Boston Red Sox 3-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays in Boston. The Major League leader in wins and ERA, Martínez (22-4, 2.11 ERA) has won five straight games. This is the second season, Martínez strikes out 300 or more batters. In 1997, with the Montreal Expos he struck out 305, a record for a Latin in the Major Leagues. He is only the fourth pitcher in the 90s to win 22 or more victories. Others were Bob Welch, Oakland Aas, with 27 victories, Dave Stewart with the Oakland As, 22, and Jack McDowell of the Chicago White Sox, in 1993 with 22 wins. Pedro Martínez is expected to win the Cy Young of the American League, and is a contender for the Most Valuable Player title.

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