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Daily News - 15 November 1999

Hurricane Lenny forecast to pass south of DR
The bad news is that Hurricane Lenny is strengthening. The good news is that it is a compact hurricane and is turning slightly southward which would bring it to pass further south of the DR than originally forecast. At 10 am, US time, the Hurricane was already a category two (moderate) hurricane. It had a east south-east course as it is making it way past Jamaica on to pass south of Haiti, and then the DR.
Torrential rains are forecast and a hurricane watch could be issued for the DR later in the afternoon. The local Civil Defense authorities already notified the population issuing a red alert on television last night and volunteers are preparing the population for flooding and mudslides as torrential rains are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday. School was suspended for Tuesday preparations and Wednesday. While Lenny may affect travel to the southeastern and eastern coasts of the DR, the North Coast would only be affected if the hurricane drastically changed course.
Lenny is the eighth hurricane of the Atlantic Hurricane Season. It is very unusual for a storm to develop so late in the season that starts in June and ends in November. Lenny was precocious. Only a few hours after becoming a named tropical storm, it escalated to hurricane strength.
To monitor the hurricane, good links are:

President Fernández proposal to the Circle of Montevideo
President Leonel Fernández proposed during his keynote opening speech at the Circle of Montevideo the creation of a tax on money transfers in Latin America. The tax would be used to create a fund that would mitigate the disparity between wealthy nation economies and developing nation economies. President Fernández says that globalization has increased the flow of capitals in international financial markets, to the point US$1 trillion a day is transfered. The fund would help governments respond to the economic and social needs of the region and better position Latin American nations to participate in the regional integration process.
The City of Santo Domingo hosted from 11-13 November the Sixth Plenary Session of the Circle of Montevideo (http://circulomvd.mailcom.net/). Among VIP participants were the Presidents of Uruguay and Brazil, Julio Maria Sanguinetti and Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Former Latin American statesmen and directors of multilateral organizations, such as the Interamerican Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean also attended the event.

DR and Cuba agree to fight drug trafficking and guarantee investments
The Dominican and Cuban government signed bilateral agreements to combat drug trafficking and guarantee investments yesterday on occasion of the visit of President Leonel Fernández to Havana. President Fernández traveled a day earlier on an official visit, prior to attending the Iberoamerican Summit taking place in the Cuban capital. It is the first time a Dominican statesman visits Cuba. President Fernández was the only visiting statesman to be received at the airport by Cuban statesman, Fidel Castro. Fidel Castro has visited the Dominican Republic twice during the Fernández administration. Likewise, the DR restored its diplomatic relations with Cuba during this government.

US Ambassador to the DR could arrive before Christmas
The United States Senate approved, with a favorable 96-2 vote, the nomination of Charles Taylor Manatt as ambassador of the United States in the Dominican Republic. Manatt is a partner in the legal firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, LLP. Linda Watts, charge d'affairs of the US Embassy, and who has been acting ambassador since the departure of Ambassador Donna Hrinak two years ago, said that Manatt would like to be in the DR prior to Christmas.

There's lots of poverty in the DR
El Nacional newspaper reported in its Sunday issue that only 16 of 325 public schools in San Cristóbal have bathrooms. Most of the children go to the bathroom in the bushes, according to the report. Some 134,125 students are enrolled in public schools in that southern province. Only six of the schools have libraries, and only nine have potable water installations. The data is part of a report, Diagnóstico de la Situación de la Educación en la Provincia de San Cristóbal, prepared by the provincial bureau of the Dominican Association of Professors. Of the 325 schools, 14 have computer learning facilities. 1,400 professors are employed at the public schools.

Special legal office for expatriate Dominicans
The District Attorney announced it has opened a temporary office where Dominicans who reside abroad can come for free legal advice. Francisco Domínguez Brito said the office was opened to reduce the number of returning Dominicans who become victims of bad legal advice. Thousands of Dominicans who live abroad traditionally come home for Christmas. The new office, Oficina de Orientación Judicial Ciudadana will be open from 1 December to 10 January. It is located at Door 55, of the third floor of the Palacio de Justicia in Ciudad Nueva. For more information, call Tel. 221-6400, ext. 2210 and 2301.

Fissure closes Máximo Gómez tunnel
The north side of the 27 de Febrero Expressway crossing Máximo Gómez was closed to traffic on Friday after drainage problems caused a meter-wide fissure between the expressway and its intersecting tunnel. In a rare occurrence, the builders, Modesto Constructora published a half page advertisement in the local newspapers apologizing for the problem and the inconveniences and explaining that they take full responsibility and would work immediately to correct the problem that affects the prefabricated lining of the tunnel. Traffic is being detoured until the problem is corrected. Engineer José Modesto and Reginald García, structural engineer of the company, sign the advertisement.

46 policemen fired for positive drug tests
The Executive Branch ordered that 46 police agents be cancelled after they tested positive in drug tests. The fired agents include two majors, a captain, a lieutenant and 38 corporals. The National Police released the names of those that were cancelled and these were published in local dailies.

Vagabond Haitians targeted for deportation
Minister of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General Manuel de Jesus Florentino said that the military and migration authorities are rounding up vagabond Haitians, "those that cannot justify their stay, for deportation. Beggars found on city streets are the principal target of the military. Large number of Haitians had found "jobs" as beggars on major intersections and in tourist areas, such as Puerto Plata. He said they are not deporting those employed by local companies that can vouch for the Haitians.

Hipólito says he is exception to rule of political corruption
Hipolito Mejia's statements when interviewed by "El Mundo" newspaper during his recent visit to Madrid, Spain have caused an upheaval among politicians, both of his party and of the opposition. Mejía, who according to most polls is by a comfortable margin the most likely next president of the DR, said when interviewed on why he is doing so well in the polls:
"What is most important is that I have three very special characteristics that Latin American politicians, and much less Dominican politicians don't have: that I work hard (18 hours a day); and I know how to handle personal finances and those of the state; and I am honest. 99.9% of Latin American and Dominican politicians are corrupt. I am not corrupt and the Dominican people have understood that."
"I would like to distance myself from the present Latin American leaders. I am an atypical politician and I would like to start a new era in Latin America. Nobody has the right to rob the money of the people nor to create poverty. If I am president, I would like to leave an indelible mark in the hearts of Dominicans that there can be and there should be politicians with morals."

45% approve Johnny Ventura's first year as Mayor
The city government of Johnny Ventura (PRD), received only 45% approval from Santo Domingo residents polled by El Siglo newspaper/Penn, Schoen & Berland. 55% say they are unsatisfied with his first year as mayor. The national government of Leonel Fernández received a 53% approval rate. 63% of the population feels the garbage problem is the same or has gotten worse. Only 31% say the Ventura city administration has improved the garbage situation.
Over the weekend, the Listín Diario pointed out how under the Ventura administration most of the funds of the Municipality of Santo Domingo are now paying for salaries. The city hall has been criticized for its hiring of hundreds of PRD partisans, many with no apparent real purpose of being paid by the city. The report says that while RD$129.5 million were used to pay for wages during the first six months of the year, the city government only invested RD$45.7 million in municipal services.

ASIEX asks President to veto Monetary Code
The leading association of foreign investment companies in the DR, ASIEX says that it will recommend that the Executive Branch veto the Financial and Monetary Code as the National Congress passed it. ASIEX says that the bill is a step backwards, as it discriminates against foreign financial entities. This discrimination had been eliminated in the Foreign Investment Law. The Code as passed by Congress contemplates limitations on the transfer of profits by international banks. The observation was also made by Michael Contreras, a former general manager of Citibank in the DR, today vice president of Citibank for Latin America who visited recently. ASIEX says that the version passed by the National Congress contains inclusions and omissions that are contrary to its spirit of modernizing the financial sector.

Profitable year for Dominican banks
The El Siglo newspaper says that 1999 was an extraordinary year for banks in the DR. Up to September, banks had reported profits of RD$1,417.6 million, or a 31.6% growth compared to results of last year. The growth rate is more extraordinary when compared to the 6% growth of banking from 1997 to 1998. The newspaper says that banks reported that earnings were 18.2% of the capital and reserves that totaled RD$7,780.2 million. Banks operating in the DR are Reservas, Intercontinental, Fiduciario, Popular, Nacional de Credito, BHD, del Progreso, Mercantil, Metropolitano, Osaka, Global, Exterior and two foreign banks - Scotiabank and Citibank.

Power supply comes to Bayahibe and Dominicus towns
Compañía de Electricidad de Bayahibe (CEB), a subsidiary of the Consorcio Energetico Punta Cana-Macao, the company that provides most of the power in the Punta Cana resort area, inaugurated its facilities last week. The company invested US$8 million in the facility that has capacity to generate 8 megawatts. The company will be supplying power to the resorts in the area that in the past had depended on their own generators. The town of Bayahibe also benefits as the company is making available its surplus power, raising the living standards of the near 200 families that live there. Rolando González Bunster, president of the company, in a company press release states that the company will be donating power to the town public school, the Navy detachment, the medical dispensary and the town Catholic Church. So far, the Club Viva Dominicus, Dominicus Palace, Gran Dominicus, and Coral Canoa operate in the area.

Two rescued of traffic boat capsizing
Only two of 24 persons on board a motorized boat (40 horse power motor) that set out to reach Puerto Rico on Friday afternoon have been rescued. José Antonio Molina was rescued at 7:30 am on Saturday by a Panamanian flag ship, and Osiris Morales by a Hong Kong flag ship. Their ship had capsized in front of Saona Island due to bad weather. They said those on the trip had paid organizers RD$8,000 to RD$9,000 to try to make the illegal crossing to Puerto Rico. Rear Admiral Victor García Alecont said that they will not be sent to justice as the psychological trauma of their near death is sufficient punishment. The Dominican Navy under García Alecont has been very successful in stopping boat crossing traffic.

Rando Camasta to represent DR in OTI Festival
Rando Camasta will represent the Dominican Republic in the important Festival OTI of Veracruz, Mexico. Camasta will participate with "Que nos pasa", a song he composed himself. Rando Camasta is the author of the very successful "Derroche" song. Manuel Tejada wrote the musical score.

Sammy Sosa's birthday party
Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez blessed Sammy Sosa's new US$5 million home facing the Mirador del Sur Park. President Leonel Fernández attended Sosa's birthday party with visiting Uruguayan President Julio Sanguinetti. And Donald Trump and his wife came, as well as top ranking executives of the Chicago Cubs, and Bud Selig, Major Leagues Baseball Commissioner. Bud Selig told Dominican press, "Sammy is worth whatever he asks for. He saved the sport." Sammy Sosa said he enjoyed his party that he would like to celebrate it every year.

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