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Daily News - 27 September 1999

23 foreigners arrested on illegal boat trip to Puerto Rico
The Dominican Navy and the US Coast Guard arrested 27 illegal travelers, including 22 Chinese, one Pakistani and four Dominicans that had attempted to make the crossing from the east coast of the DR to Puerto Rico on board an 18 foot boat. The boat was intercepted at dawn of Saturday, 25 September near Isla Mona. The four Dominicans, including one woman, had traveled from Puerto Rico to pick up the Chinese in San Pedro de Macorís, on the southeastern coast of the DR. Reportedly, they left on Thursday from Playa Sardinas. The Dominicans will be tried for violating of Law 344-98; the foreigners will eventually be deported.

President Fernández says governing DR is difficult
President Leonel Fernández said in Boston that governing the DR is difficult. He said that traditionally the President is seen as the person who has to resolve all problems, even the personal problems of citizens. He advocated for carrying out an institutional reform that will better define the role and functions of the President. Fernández answered questions after being honored by the Harvard Foundation of the University of Harvard. He received an award for being a modern symbol of support to democracy, social reform and the promotion of relations between his country and the Caribbean and regional integration.

President Fernández in Taiwan
President Fernandez has returned to his original scheduled plan for a three day visit to Taiwan, and news reports indicate he is staying at the Gran Hotel Taipei. This is the first time a Dominican President visits Asia. His trip to Taiwan is a mid-stop of the 12-day tour that has taken him to Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, Taipei, Taiwan and then to San Francisco, California and St. Louis, Missouri. He traveled from New York City to Anchorage arriving to Taipei on a China Airlines flight from Anchorage, Alaska. He was received at the airport by Taiwanese Minister of Foreign Relations Jason Hu.
He will be officially received by President Lee Teng-Hui today at the Plaza Chiang Kaishek at 3 pm. An hour later, the heads of state will exchange decorations at the government seat. In the evening, President Fernández will be guest of honor at a dinner hosted by the Taiwan President. On Tuesday, President Fernandez is scheduled to visit Hshinsu Industrial Scientific Park, which was considerably affected by the series of earthquakes that have shaken Taiwan. There he is set to visit the plants of Acer, Grand Biotechnology and the technology research firm, Avison Incorporated.
On Wednesday, President Fernandez will give a closing talk at the 9 to 2 pm investment seminar to which over 100 Taiwan and DR businessmen have been invited. President Fernández is also scheduled to visit the National Museum of the presidential palace, where news reports say there are 600,000 Chinese works of art. In Taiwan, he is scheduled to sign three cooperation agreements with the government.
President Fernandez is traveling with Minister of Education Ligia Amada Melo; Technical Secretary of the Presidency, Temístocles Montás; Minister of Agriculture Almicar Romero, Minister of Foreign Relations, Eduardo Latorre and Minister of Sports Juan Marichal. News reports have said the President and cabinet ministers are guests of the Taiwan government.
Also accompanying the President are businessmen Fernando Capellan, president of the Association of Free Zones of the DR; Elena Villeya de Paliza, vice president of the National Council of Private Enterprise (CONEP); Eddy Martinez, director of the foreign investment office (OPI), and Gabriel Castro, executive director of the National Council of Free Zones.
Others traveling with the chief of state are Miguel Rosado of the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo (the state university); Monsignor Agripino Nuñez Collado of the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra; and Rafael Toribio, rector of the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo.
The purpose of the visit is to promote Dominican investments in Taiwan as well as seek support for the development of a high tech park in the DR. The visit is also a statement of support to the Taiwan government from the Dominican Republic, regarding claims from China that Taiwan is but a renegade province.
President Fernández is scheduled to fly from Taipei to San Francisco, California on Wednesday, 29 September for meetings with Silicon Valley high tech industry executives. He has appointments scheduled to visit Redwood Shores Industrial Park, AT&T Labs and Forbes Magazine. He will also make stops at Stanford University, Hoover Institution, American Electronic Association, Livermore Labs.
In San Francisco, President Fernández 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.
On 3 October, President Fernández will be present at the last game of the regular Major League season between the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals in St. Louis, Missouri. 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. President Fernández is scheduled to return to Santo Domingo on 4 October 1999.

31 year old woman panics and jumps from 12th floor
Elizabeth Angelina Escoto de Labourt, a 31 year old native of Santiago, panicked when smoke filled several floors of the Hotel Plaza Naco. She jumped from the 12th floor of the hotel. Her target was the pool. She didn't make it. She had studied hotel administration and had been married to Manuel Alberto Labourt, with whom she had a 2 year old daughter. She worked in the Hotel Plaza Naco offices of the Comisión de Reforma del Sector Salud (CERSS), a project sponsored by the Interamerican Development Bank. She panicked when a smoke cloud surged from spark that ignited the acetylene being used to repair one of the hotel's elevators in the fifth floor. The fire was quickly put out and caused no damage to the hotel. A Codetel contractor was also injured when he broke a 12th floor window to let out the smoke.

Blackouts to be over by Christmas
President Leonel Fernández promised in New York City that black outs would again be behind us in four months time. He said the private companies that have taken over the distribution of power have committed to have complete repairs to distribution lines in time for Christmas. After two years of relatively stable service, the first days of the privatization of power have brought eight hour blackouts to cities all over the nation as the companies repair the distribution lines. Two companies, Unión Fenosa (Spain) and AES (US) have taken over the distribution of power and collection of bills in the DR.
In response to complaints about the privatization process, the Commission for the Reform of Public Enterprise (CREP), which has been in charge of the process, sent the contracts signed with the private firms to Congress. These include the contracts for the state flour mill, Molinos del Ozama, which has not been debated, and the now controversial contracts signed with the Distribuidora del Norte, Distribuidora del Sur (Unión Fenosa) and Distribuidora del Este (AES).
Congress is also studying the contracts for the privatization of the two leading government-owned airports, Puerto Plata and Las Americas. Critics of the privatization of the airports say that while the foreign companies that make up the consortium that won the 30-year concessions are very reputable and prestigious companies, there is nothing in the contract that impedes the Dominican company that won the bid from rescinding its commitments with these companies and continuing on its own. In addition to Puerto Plata and Las Americas, the companies have also committed to make investments in the Barahona and Samaná international airports.

Two policemen arrested for brutality
The National Police canceled the agents that shot to death 30-year old Rafael Melo Mancebo, porter at the Hospital Infantil Robert Reid Cabral and 29-year old Gerson Elías Núñez, a Banco Popular employee. The policeman shot the porter when denied him entrance to the hospital. The agent was arrested by a fellow policeman on service at the children's hospital. Elías was shot when attempting to stop a fight involving his brother in the Cristo Rey neighborhood. The Police had arrived to stop the fight. The National Police ordered an investigation into what happened in both cases.
District Attorney Francisco Domínguez promised to investigate the increase in cases of police brutality. Former District Attorney Guillermo Moreno criticized that in the past year there have been 300 cases of deaths in police shoot outs.

For info and financial preparations for year 2000
The Interinstitutional Commission created by the Monetary Junta to prepare the Dominican financial system for year 2000, reports that anyone interested in the status of Dominican banking regarding the year 2000 problem can call telephones 809 221-9240 and 1-200-4092 (domestic calls without charge) in addition to 809 688-8707 and 809 686-8414 from 9 am to 5:30, Monday to Friday. Related information can also be found on government websites: Central Bank at www.bancentral.gov.do and Bank Superintendency at www.presidencia.gov.do/finanzas/supbanco. Inquiries can also be addressed by email to [email protected]

State no longer has to pay for non supplied energy
The state electricity corporation, Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad will sign today a new contract with the Smith and Enron company that operates a 170 megawatt power plant in Puerto Plata. The agreement ends a long dispute over what the Fernández administration considered unfair contract terms. The firm agreed to lower the kilowatt/hour price and eliminate the clause based on which it was charging per installed capacity, not per power supplied. The power plant suffered several defects that consistently impeded it from supplying its full installed capacity, but the contract permitted it to bill regardless of whether it was supplying power or not. The government utility agreed to pay US$26 million of a demanded US$60 million debt. The conflict had gone to two-year long international arbitrage. Kevin Manning will sign for Smith Enron.
The CDE also announced it has signed a contract with the French firm Alstom to construct seven substations and a 138,000 volt transmission line, for RD$150 million.

Balaguer is a presidential candidate
The Partido Liberal La Estructura chose Dr. Joaquin Balaguer as its presidential candidate in the 16 May 2000 elections. 93-year old Joaquín Balaguer was chosen by 300 delegates in the party convention held at the Centro de Convenciones y Exposiciones in Santo Domingo. Present were several leading politicians from Balaguer's Partido Reformista Social Cristiano party, including Donald Reid Cabral, Federico Antún Batlle, Joaquín Ricardo, Ramon Rogelio Genao, Jose Hazim Frappier and José Osvaldo Leger.
The president of La Estructura Andrés Vanderhorst said the party chose Balaguer as their presidential candidate because of his contributions to the welfare of the country. The party left the appointment of their vice presidential candidate up to Dr. Balaguer.
Balaguer's own party, the PRSC, has not yet announced its presidential candidate. Balaguer is the party's most likely choice, but he has preferred to wait to ascertain whether his health will let him again run for President.
The Partido Liberal La Estructura was founded in 1982. In 1986 it supported Jacobo Majluta, a former Vice President in the PRD government of Antonio Guzmán, who was President for 45 days when President Guzmán committed suicide in 1986. Majluta later died of lung cancer. In the elections of 1990, 1994 and 1996, La Estructura backed the candidacy of Balaguer. Andrés Vanderhorst was minister of sports in one of the Balaguer governments.

Occidental Flamenco Bavaro opening in November
Occidental Flamenco Bavaro is slated for a 1 November 1999 opening, after 14 months of construction. The property copies the design of the Playa Dorada Flamenco resort. It has 300 meters beach front and 64,000 gardens and construction. It will mostly feature all-inclusive packages, but an area has been reserved for those paying a premium at the Club Miguel Angel. The hotel will have eight restaurants.
Ventura Serra, spokesman for the chain, says that Occidental has also invested US$10 million in the construction of 150 new rooms at the Occidental Playa Dorada, that has been totally renovated and reopens 15 October. The hotel completed last year the remodeling of the Hotel embajador, at a cost of US$10 million, and recently took over the Reina Cumayasa Hotel in La Romana, as per a report that appeared in El Siglo newspaper.

French market continues strong
According to the Ministry of Tourism, the French market continues to grow, with French tourists increasing from 57,000 in 1997 to an estimated 140,000 this year. Traffic is already up 35% compared to the first six months of this year. Nevertheless, Arturo Villanueva of the Hotel & Restaurant Association said that Air France has had to cancel 12 flights in September and October because of the concern of French tourists about visiting the Caribbean in the hurricane season. He said that for next year, hotels will be offering special rates and packages during these two months to encourage French tourists to not put off their vacations. Air France has a daily flight to the DR and has plans to add flights to Punta Cana, Puerto Plata and Barahona next year.

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