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Daily News - 19 October 1999

Jose's track would take it to bypass the DR
Tropical Storm Jose became Hurricane Jose today, the seventh hurricane of the season. At present it is bearing down on the Lesser Antilles, and gaining strength. Maximum sustained winds are now up to 75 mph or 120 km/hr.
As of the 11 am report of the United States National Weather Service Miami office reported that Jose was centered 200 miles (325 kilometers) east-southeast of Dominica at latitude 14.3 north, longitude 58.5 west.
The hurricane maintains a movement west-northwest at 13 miles an hour which if sustained would take it to pass north of the Dominican Republic. The good news is that forecasters say a continued west-northwest track is the most likely path in the short term. A large upper-level trough should induce a northerly track beyond a three-day limit. As a result, the DR would only receive about a day of heavy rains, if anything.
Notwithstanding, the Weather Service says that interests in the Dominican Republic should closely monitor the progress of Jose, which is still three days away.
Hurricane warnings have been issued for Dominica, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, Saba, Dutch St. Maarten and Anguilla. Hurricane watch has also been issued for as far north as the British Virgin Islands, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. A hurricane watch has been issued for Martinique, Guadaloupe and surrounding islands. Also for French St. Martin and St. Barts. Tropical storm warnings are in place for Barbados and St. Lucia.
Jose is the 10th tropical storm of the 1999 Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from 1 June 1 through 30 November.
A hurricane threatening the Caribbean this late in the season is unusual.
To follow the storm, go to http://www.intellicast.com/Tropical/World/UnitedStates/HurTrack2/
http://www.wunderground.com/tropical/tracking/at199914.html

CDE gets worse part of privatization deal
El Siglo newspaper points out today that the Dominican Electricity Corporation, the government power utility, got a bad deal when it signed contracts with private companies (AES Distribuidora and Unión Fenosa) for the distribution of power. The contract obliges the CDE to pay for the counters that the new companies will install. The counters are estimated to cost RD$100 million.
The situation for the state will improve once the "Organismo Coordinador" is created and the counters are installed.
Moreover, the government power utility is obliged to sell power to the distributors for much less than it buys it from the private generators. The CDE purchases power from private generators from more than US$0.07 the kilowatt/hour. It must sell it to the private companies for distribution in the capital city at US$0.063 cents and US$0.65 cents in the interior. The same contract establishes annual reductions in the sales price, down to US$0.05 by 2003.

Businessmen leave exchange commission meeting empty-handed
The Central Bank and the National Council of Private Business (CONEP) met yesterday to discuss the increase in the exchange rate commission from 1.75% to 5%. The businessmen feel the exchange rate is inflationary, contrary to free trade and increases production and retail costs in the DR. The Monetary Junta set the increase to help pay for the foreign debt.
During the meeting, the private sector was not able to convince the monetary authorities to come up with other alternatives. All they were able to get out of the government was the appointment of a work commission to seek alternatives. But the attitude of the government monetary authorities hinted that they weren't going to achieve much with the commission.
"Something similar to what happened to the strike organizers has happened to us," said Celso Marranzini, president of CONEP. "We both walked away empty-handed."
Central Bank governor Hector Valdez Albizu does not believe the exchange commission will have an upwards effect on inflation this year. He said the government expects inflation to end at 7.19%, down from last year's 7.82%, and the previous year's 8.37% inflation. He said that while the measures impacted national finances in October, the exchange rate situation will soon level out.
Marranzini told the press that all they now hope for is that the Central Bank may stick to its words of making the exchange rate commission increase a "temporary" measure.

Central Bank injects market to stop run on the peso
The peso began to strengthen against the dollar as a result of the US$30 million injection of monetary reserves into the banking exchange market yesterday. Today, the Central Bank said it would inject another US$15 million, bringing the total to US$45 million in two days, apparently sufficient to stop the run on the peso. After the government increased the exchange rate commission to 5% up from 1.75%, the dollar gained RD$0.50 against the peso. The trend now is to regain the previous level, when banks were buying dollars for RD$15.60 and selling these for RD$16.15.

Sammy Sosa to lobby for textile parity in Washington, D.C.
Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, and baseball greats Sammy Sosa and maybe even Pedro Martínez will be traveling to Washington, D.C. to lobby for the passing of the "Central America and Caribbean Relief Act." The bill includes a provision for CBI-parity, which would enhance trade. The so-called CBI-party would permit Caribbean and Central American nations to enjoy the same trade benefits afforded to Mexico in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The famous Dominicans have been invited by the White House to team up to convince US Congressmen of the convenience for both the US and the DR to pass the bill. Dominican textile assembly plants use US materials, contrary to companies that assembly apparel in the Far East, and thus contribute to keeping US jobs.
Former Dominican ambassador in Washington, D.C. Bernardo Vega says helping Caribbean industry is good for the US:
"Textile assembly is the third greatest source of exchange for the Dominican Republic and 93% of this assembly is done using North American components...140,000 Dominicans convert North American cloth into clothing." Giving Dominican textile goods the same market access conditions as Mexico now enjoys under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is critical to the economic stability of the DR.
"The United States has had a trade surplus with the Caribbean Basin Initiative (CBI) region for 12 years. This excess is the eighth largest in the world."
Furthermore, Vega says that the bill would not only help several nations recover from Hurricanes Georges and Mitch, but should aid the economic position of Haiti, one of the poorest nations in the world.
Senator Bob Graham has been one of the leading advocates of passing CBI parity. He explained, upon introducing the bill, that without CBI parity, the region's manufacturing base will not have the incentives it needs to grow during this period of reconstruction. That could result in massive refugee flows to the United States and a decades-long dependence on U.S. food and medical aid, he said.
Graham explained that by lowering trade barriers on all sides of the Caribbean Sea, CBI has spurred exports, investments, and employment creation for both the United States and its trading partners. When Congress passed the first CBI in 1983, the United States had a $700 million trade deficit with the Caribbean nations. By 1993, that deficit had become a $2,000 million surplus, Graham said.
The bill faces its most fierce opposition from Senators Jesse Helms, R-N.C., and Fritz Hollings, D-S.C.

Preparing for summit of 71 heads of government
Delegations from 37 countries that will be participating in the II Summit of Heads of State and Government of Africa, Caribbean and the Pacific are in Santo Domingo to visit the sites where the summit activities will take place and make arrangements for the lodging of their heads of state and delegations. Seventy-one heads of state from African, Caribbean and Pacific countries are expected to visit Santo Domingo for the meeting that will take place 25-27 November. This could become the largest summit ever held in Latin America.
The advance group of about 150 persons visited the Club of Officers of the Armed Forces, where the main work sessions of the chiefs of state and government will be held. They also toured the National Palace, the National Theater (where the inaugural event will take place) and the convention hall of the Hotel Dominican Fiesta. On their agenda are visits to the San Isidro Air Base and the Las Americas International Airport, as well as to several of the hotels where the heads of government will be lodged.
The advance delegations came from Belize, Guyana, Ghana, Kenya, Botswana, Gabon, Lesotho, Guinea Ecuatorial, Cameroon, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname, Cuba, Antigua, Barbuda, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, Haiti and Gambia. Representatives from the UN, IICA, IDB, UNESCO, OAS and FAO are also part of the group.
The Santo Domingo summit will be held to discuss a joint position of the Lomé Convention signatories as to relations with the European Union once the trade and assistance agreement expires next year. Also on the agenda, is a joint position before the World Trade Organization talks that begin shortly after in Seattle, Washington (USA).

French military help train Dominicans
A contingent of 90 French soldiers are participating in a three-day Dominican military training course in the Las Calderas, Baní naval military base. The Frenchmen arrived on board the "Francis Garnier" ship and will remain until Thursday. Some 60 members of the Dominican military and navy are receiving the weapons training course as part of the Regional Bilateral Military Cooperation Exchange Program that has been ongoing for the past five years, said Captain Felipe Cano, commander of the Las Calderas Base. The visiting troops are based in Martinique.
French Ambassador Francois Xavier Deniau said that the general public will be able to visit the "Francis Garnier" boarding from the Port of Santo Domingo on 22, 23, 24 October from 2 to 5 pm.

Poor dredging job in Puerto Plata denounced
Former Puerto Plata senator and former minister of Public Works, engineer Miguel Angel Jiménez Messón (who is married to Ginette Bournigal, present senator for Puerto Plata) denounced that the Dutch company, Boscalis International did not fulfill contractual obligations to dredge the Port of Puerto Plata. News reports said that the government invested RD$55 million in the dredging, but many areas of the port do not yet have the sufficient depth for the docking of large ships. Some port areas still are only 20 feet deep, when 34-36 feet depth had been stipulated. Engineer Jiménez said that the company bid under its cost and thus was not able to complete the job of removing 1,300,000 cubic meters of sediment. President Fernández was scheduled to visit Puerto Plata on Thursday to receive the dredged port but suspended his visit.

PRD presidential candidate meets with Balaguer
Technical Secretary of the Presidency, Temístocles Montás, who is a leading member of the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD) political committee, said that the presidential candidate of the PRD met last week with former president Joaquin Balaguer. Balaguer is the leading of the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC) and surveys say he controls enough votes to make the difference in a first or second round of the presidential election. Montás said that Hipólito Mejía, the PRD presidential candidate, entered the Máximo Gómez home of the 93-year old former statesman camouflaged and by the back door to go undetected. Nothing concrete has been reported about the outcome of the meeting. But the press has been speculating that they discussed a PRSC man replacing PRD vice presidential candidate Milagros Ortíz Bosch. The names of Luis Toral, former governor of the Central Bank, and José Hazim, present senator for San Pedro de Macorís are mentioned as two possible options.
Political analysts say that Balaguer could be interested in an alliance with the PRD in order to prevent that party from taking former PRSC government officers to court for corruption in office. When Balaguer returned to office in 1986, after eight years of PRD government, he fostered the taking to court of former President Salvador Jorge Blanco and several PRD government officers. In 1996, Balaguer pacted with the PLD to avoid the PRD returning to power. Most polls show that the PRD will win the presidency in the year 2000 election.
Hipólito Mejía has not commented on the visit. But acting president of the PRD,Tony Raful told the press that the PRD presidential candidate is authorized to visit the former statesman whenever he pleases.

Fellow inmate kills murderer of three-year old
The confessed assassin of three-year old girl Elaine Yamile Reyes, 24 year old shoe shiner Daniel Antonio Martinez Rodriguez was stabbed to death 15 times by a convict murderer in the north central Cotuí jail. The Cotuí jail was the fifth jail where he was sent after his life was threatened in four other jails. Martínez confessed to the murder of three-year old Elaine, after kidnapping her and violating her. He described himself as "the worst of animals" and said he wished to die. She was his neighbor in a impoverished Santo Domingo barrio. He had been relocated from the Police headquarters, to the District Attorney jail, to Najayo jail, and San Francisco jail prior to being sent to the Cotuí jail where he was to be confined in a solitary cell. Elaine's mother and grandmother said they were pleased that he had died suffering similar pain as he inflicted their daughter. His twelve year old brother said that the family had lost all their feelings for him, and couldn't care less that he had died.

Michael Camilo had to bring his own piano
Michael Camilo, one of the leading jazz and concert pianists of Latin America today, had to import his own Steinway piano from New York City to play at the 52nd anniversary of the Central Bank. Camilo will play a concert for piano and orchestra accompanying the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Carlos Piantini. The pianos at the National Theater, the National Music Conservatory nor the Fundación Sinfonia were available. All argued that in the DR there are not the appropriate personnel to relocate the piano safely. The president of Fundación Sinfonía, Margarita Copello said that she would take advantage of the visit of the expert piano handlers to train local personnel. Michael Camilo said that it is the first time he is denied the use of a piano.

Iberoamerican Theater Festival continues
The II Iberoamerican Theater Festival continues with multiple performances in the Plaza de la Cultura. 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.

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:

"Algún Día Trabajaremos Juntas," EuroEscena, Spain
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:
"Infimo" Titiritran, Spain (for children)
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:

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


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