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Daily News - 11 October 1999

PRD: fuel tax to be used for Fernández's 2004 presidential campaign
Hatuey de Camps, president of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), the leading opposition party, said that the windfall of revenues to be generated by the increase in the tax on fuel and the exchange rate commission will be used to finance the year 2004 presidential campaign of Leonel Fernández. Fernández cannot run for President in the next election, since re-election is banned by the Constitution, but he is considered a strong contender for the 2004 election.
De Camps said that the government has penalized individuals and business so that it can enjoy a windfall of revenues that will give it a free hand during the electoral period that officially opens in January. Presidential elections in the DR are slated for 16 May 2000. The PLD presidential candidate, Danilo Medina, is considered the underdog.
El Siglo newspaper estimated the measures will bring the government an additional RD$4,300 million for year 2000, as they have a domino effect on other tax collections. The moneys are expected to be used by the government to pay its debts with contractors, suppliers and complete important public works, in addition to making scheduled payments on the public debt, and maintaining macroeconomic stability.

Private transport up, union calls for strike on Tuesday
Private transporters (conchos) increased their rates from RD$2 on short routes to RD$3, and from RD$4 to RD$6 on long routes, reflecting the increase in the price of fuel. Propane gas for vehicles increased from RD$10 to RD$13. Several drivers have access to buying cooking gas which did not go up, but rates went up to reflect the official price for propane gas for vehicles. Likewise, minibus transport from the interior increased. The route from San Cristóbal to Santo Domingo now goes for RD$9, up from RD$7. The express buses went up to RD$15 from RD$10.
The Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares, Sindicales y Choferiles, a union that specializes in the organization of strikes, has called a general strike for Tuesday. Their latest strikes did not meet with expected support and have had to be suspended. It is expected that few organizations will heed this call to strike and the government public transport system (OMSA and AMET) are guaranteeing public transport.

Business complains government only penalizes private sector
Celso Marranzini, the president of the National Council of Businesses (CONEP), and an advocate of an increase in the price of petroleum, complained that the government only put the burden for paying for fuel on the private sector and did not announce a reduction in government expenditures. Celso Marranzini also said the business community was surprised by the increase of the exchange rate commission from 1.75% to 5%. He said the President should have internalized his own words of the need to go under an umbrella to weather the rain storm and order a 1 to 2% reduction in public expenditures. He said the announced measures will result in an inflation of 10-12% this year, up from 7%.
Former Central Bank governor Hugo Guilliani Cury said that the measures were taken with a tax-collecting mind set. He said the government knew the reduction in the price of petroleum was forthcoming, which would have made the increase in fuel prices unnecessary. Nevertheless, he said the increase in the exchange rate commission will bring relief to the balance of payments as it discourages imports, that had been growing at a fast pace.
The government also guarantees macroeconomic stability.
Ignacio Méndez, president of the Association of Industries of Herrera feels that the US$-RD$ relationship will soon stabilize, as remittances peak at Christmas time, and millions are expected as a result of the privatization of state entities. The dollar is temporarily reaping more pesos on the street (vendors were offering RD$16 in Boca Chica to the dollar) where the transactions are exempt from the 5% exchange rate commission, but banks continue to pay about RD$15.63 to the dollar.

Foundation says fuel is still cheap in DR
The Economy and Development Foundation, presided by economist Andres Dauhajre, feels that despite the recent increase, fuel prices are still very low in the DR. His Foundation's weekly commentary page lists prices for different fuel categories in Latin America, showing the many countries that have higher prices than those set in the DR. The prices are in DR peso equivalences (and are as of August 1999).

Unleaded premium gasoline:
Argentina $55.39
Uruguay $50.71
Bolivia $42.15
Barbados $40.70
Haiti $35.30
Peru $35.20
Suriname $34.08
El Salvador $32.78
Grenada $32.78
DR $32.50

Unleaded regular gasoline:
Argentina $45.06
Uruguay $44.41
Haiti $31.98
El Salvador $28.42
Honduras $27.94
DR $27.90

Regular gasoil:
Barbados $36.50
Suriname $25.03
Mexico $24.87
Grenada $24.71
Argentina $24.39
Bolivia $23.74
Uruguay $21.48
Haiti $20.03
Costa Rica $20.03
Nicaragua $19.86
Peru $19.22
Jamaica $18.90
Honduras $18.41
El Salvador $18.25
Panama $17.60
Guatemala $16.96
DR $16.95

No more blackouts by March
The government announced that from now to March some 360,000 kilowatts will be added to the electricity grid. Of the total, 240,000 will go on line this year. The new units are expected to bring relief from the blackouts that are affecting the country. The spokes people for the government say that an increase in demand of 20%, plus the repairs to lines being carried out by private electricity companies, are behind the long power outages that started in August. Dominicans had gotten accustomed in the past two years to few blackouts, due to successful efforts on behalf of the CDE.
The announcement was made by members of the Unidad para el Seguimiento del Sector Energético, a body head by the administrator of the Dominican Electricity Corporation (CDE), Radhames Segura and the Secretary of the Presidency Alejandrina German.
The Unidad para el Seguimiento said that next week Haina II would enter into production adding 35,000 kilowatts. In the next two months another six units with a total capacity of 205,000 kilowatts would go on line in Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macorís, Barahona, Pimentel and La Vega.
The power plants are located as follows:
Barahona, 50,000 kilowatts (Cayman Power)
Barahona, 40,000 kilowatts
Pimentel, 35,000 kilowatts (Laesa)
La Vega, 30,000 kilowatts (Laesa)
Boca Chica, 25,000 kilowatts (Maison)
Haina II, 35,000 kilowatts
San Pedro de Macoris, 25,000 kilowatts
Santo Domingo-Ozama River, 120,000 kilowatts

Catholic Church denies request to nationalize Haitian children
The Conferencia del Episcopado Dominicano, the ruling body of the Roman Catholic Church in the DR, denied it was behind the request of Pastoral Juvenil Catholic Church group that requested the Dominican government give Dominican birth certificates to hundreds of Haitians that are born in the DR to Haitian parents, most of which do not have birth certificates themselves and live in extreme poverty in the DR.
Monsignor Francisco José Arnaiz, secretary general of the Episcopado, and spokesman for the religious group said that in 1996 the Dominican and Haitian Catholic churches established a joint position on the issue when in a joint declaration on 12 October 1996 they stated: "We are concerned that so many people lack an ID document, as having one in today's modern world is a fundamental right. We make an urgent call to governments of both countries so that to each it be demanded that they facilitate the procuring of the document."
The church spokesman said they maintain the same position. In the opinion of the Church, it is evident that one has to distinguish between the case of Dominican children and the case of the children born to Haitians that are illegal residents. He said that the cases need to be resolved following the legislation of each nation.
The Dominican Constitution does not grant Dominican nationality to the children born of Haitian parents. If one of the parents is a Dominican, than the child can acquire the nationality of the mother, but extensive paperwork has to be completed. The Haitian Constitution recognizes the children of Haitians as Haitians down to the third generation, regardless of where they are born.
Monsignor Arnaiz clarified that the position of the Pastoral Juvenil, spurred by Padre Luis Rosario, is not that of the Catholic Church. He denied that Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez had placed a calling to urge National Congress act on the matter, as reported in the Dominican press and picked up by this daily news service.

DR and Haiti advance on bilateral talks
Negotiators for the Dominican and Haitian governments made important advances during the most recent round of bilateral talks. The fourth round of meetings of the Bilateral Commission ended in Santo Domingo on Friday. Minister of Foreign Relations of Haiti Fritz Longchamp told the press that he is pleased with the progress. On Friday, agreements to deal with vandalism, drug trafficking and contraband along the frontier lines were signed. There were also advances on agreements regarding farming, education, culture, health, sports and tourism. The most difficult issue of all is that of migration, but Longchamps said that far from discouraging them, they are stimulated to double efforts to resolve this rapidly. The parties agreed to meet every six months until an agreement is reached. He called out for increasing joint efforts to confront poverty in both countries at the start of a new century, in these days of a modern dependent and solidarian world. He said they would be giving priority to continuing the talks and concertation. He announced that completion of the agreements for the protection and promotion of reciprocal investments, sports cooperation, and youth cooperation.
Major progress was made on the agreement regarding the circulation of vehicles through the frontier, restitution of stolen or retained vehicles, with a timetable set for three months to complete it.
The parties agreed to continue working on a tourism cooperation agreement to promote the development of a hotel industry in Haiti, train personnel, and exchange experiences. This will be a joint effort of the local association of hotels (Asonahores) and the Tourism Association of Haiti.
The countries will increase cultural and educational activities, and progress was made towards the installing of a Dominican culture house in Port au Prince and a Haitian culture house in Santo Domingo. The parties agreed on preparing a compilation of Haitian and Dominican authors.
Discussions also advanced on environmental issues, focusing on biodiversity, and the struggle to confront the turning of the land into a desert. Haiti committed to complete the draft of the plan for the managing of the borderline Artibonito River so that cooperation can be secured from international organizations. Likewise, the parties agreed to work together for the creation of a bi-national fund for the conservation of the environment, with emphasis on marine-coastal areas and frontier areas.
Both parties agreed to increase sanitary control programs, seek financing for swine cholera eradication program, and modernizing of the farm sanitation programs, as well as farm plague controls.
Other joint projects focus on frontier infrastructure, bilateral trade talks.

Vice President travels to Africa to invite to November Summit
Vice President Jaime David Fernández traveled to Africa to meet with the statesmen of Gabon, Senegal, Kenya, Cameroon and Benin, and personally invite these to attend the Santo Domingo ACP Summit of Heads of State and Government. The event, slated for 25-26 November, is the most important international meeting ever held in Santo Domingo or the Caribbean. Never before had so many heads of state gathered in Latin America, either.
The summit gathers chiefs of government of 72 Africa, Caribbean and Pacific nations that are former European colonies. They will be attending to discuss the post-Lomé agreement and establish a joint position prior to attending the start of negotiations at the Seattle Conference of the World Trade Organization.
Minister of Foreign Relations Eduardo Latorre, and Dominican ambassador to Lomé in Brussels, Clara Quiñones are also on the committee.

Dominicans not interested in political parties
Results from the 17-22 September Hamilton-Hoy survey, 17-22 September, show that 43% of Dominicans cares more than a little about politics. 56% of those polled said they have no interest whatsoever in any political party. The interest in the political parties is less in Santiago, the East and the North.

US donates US$20 million for slum area housing
The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation donated US$20 million to the Municipality of Santo Domingo to finance low cost housing for dwellers of barrios of the capital that were affected by Hurricane Georges last year. City Mayor Juan de Dios Ventura Soriano said that the investment is enough to build 5,000 homes at a cost of RD$64,000 each. Ventura traveled to Washington, D.C. on Friday to sign the agreement. He said this will help finance the most important relocation project of the Municipality.

Japanese immigrants to get land titles
It took 43 years, but President Leonel Fernández is finally coming through for the Dominican state. 72 Japanese migrant families, or the descendants of those families, will receive land titles as promised back in 1956. The Japanese migrated to the DR after Dictator Rafael Trujillo offered them free land for a commitment to farm. He did not fulfill his promise nor did subsequent governments until now. The agreement was signed by the Dominican Agrarian Institute (IAD) and the State Sugar Council (CEA). The CEA will transfer 12,143.93 tareas (about 7.6 million square meters) to the IAD for subsequent transfer to the Japanese families. The lands are located in the province of Monte Plata. The families will receive their clear titles. The agreement was signed in the presence of Tosio Watanabe, charge d'affairs of the Japanese Embassy in the DR. Quilvio Cabrera said that the government of President Fernández had a special interest in resolving the matter given the many donations the Japanese government has been making.

Iberoamerican Theater Festival starts today
The II Iberoamerican Theater Festival opens in Santo Domingo today, 11 October. The festival brings to Santo Domingo leading performers from Spain, Colombia, Cuba, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Chile, Haiti, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and New York City. The three halls of the National Theater and the nearby halls of the Museum of National History and Geography and Museum of Modern Art will be used to present over 112 activities, including 26 plays during the 15 day event.
The Festival opens with a free outdoor very colorful performance celebrating Dominican carnival at 6 pm in the gardens of the National Theater. Most performances go for RD$100-RD$75, but the opening theatrical performance, "Arsa y Toma" by Cristina Hoyos has ticket prices of RD$1,000, RD$600 and RD$400. In addition to theatrical presentations, several workshops have been scheduled.
A parallel Dominican Theater Festival has been set up at the Palacio of Bellas Artes for 9-20 October.
Schedules for the main performances for both are as follows:

National Theater (Main Hall)
"Arza y Toma," Ballet Cristina Hoyos
Monday, 11 October and Tuesday, 12 October at 9 pm

"Barataria", Teatroz, Spain
Wednesday, 13 October at 9 pm and
Thursday, 14 October at 10:30 am and 9 pm

"El Quijote," La Candelaria, Colombia
Friday, 15 October and Saturday, 16 October at 9 pm

"El Nombre del Mundo es Bosque," Teatro Tierra, Colombia.
Sunday, 17 October at 9 pm

"Algún Día Trabajaremos Juntas," EuroEscena, Spain
Monday, 18 October at 9 pm
Tuesday 19 October at 9 pm

"Heavy Nopal", Astrid Hadad y sus Tarzanes, Mexico
Wednesday, 20 October at 9 pm

"Amanda" Giovanny Cruz, Dominican Republic
Thursday, 21 October at 9 pm

"El Célebre Especialista en el Gran Hotel Europa," Río Caribe-Ecuador/Venezuela
Friday, 22 October at 9 pm

"Bolívar", Rajatablas, Venezuela
Saturday, 23 October and Sunday, 24 October at 10:30 am and 9 pm

National Theater, Sala Ravelo:
"Humbolt and Bomplant ppp", Actoral 80, Venezuela
Tuesday, 12 October and Wednesday, 13 October at 7 pm

"El Ombligo del Mundo," Teatro Quetzal, Costa Rica
Thursday, 14 October and Friday, 15 October at 7 pm

"Sombras y Sombrillas", Hilos Mágicos puppets group, Colombia
Thursday 14 October and Sunday 17 October at 10:30 am

"El Quijote," Gayumba, Dominican Republic
Saturday, 16 October at 10:30 am and 7 pm

"Cómeme Cruda," La Sal Teatro, Spain
Sunday, 17 October and Monday, 18 October at 7 pm

"Infimo" Titiritran, Spain
Tuesday, 19 October, Wedneday 20 October at 10:30 am and 7 pm

"El Enano," La Tierra, Colombia
Thursday, 21 October and Friday 22 October at 7 pm

"Danzas Sagradas de la India," Soraya Franco, Dominican Republic
Sunday, 24 October at 7 pm

Dominican Theater Festival at Bellas Artes:
"El Divino Conflicto" (Isidro Alejo Núñez)
Monday, 11 October at 7 and 9 pm.
Tuesday, 12 October at 10 am

"Despues del Carnaval" (Juan María Almonte)
Tuesday, 12 October at 7 and 9 pm
Wednesday, 13 October at 10 am

"Bochinche" (Angel Concepción)
Wednesday, 13 October at 9 pm
Thursday, 14 October at 10 am, 7 pm

"Hágase la Mujer"
Friday, 15 October at 10 am, 7 and 9 pm

"Por Hora" (Elizabeth Ovalle)
Saturday, 16 October at 7 and 9 pm

"La Fila" (Carlos Castro)
Sunday, 17 October ­ 7 pm,
Monday, 18 October at 10 and 7 pm

"De Lorca" (Elvira Taveras)
Tuesday, 19 October at 7 pm
Wednesday, 20 October at 10 am and 7 pm

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