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Daily News - 07 December 1999

DR hotels not hurting because of Y2K
Minister of Tourism Felix Jiménez said he does not feel the Y2K phenomenon will affect tourism to the DR. He said that all flights to the DR are full, and European tour operators are reporting the sale of more holiday packages this year than last. Furthermore, he said that the banking and tourism sector have taken the adequate precautions. He did not feel hotels in the DR will have to lower their rates to attract clients this winter, as regional tourism directors have said hotels in other Caribbean destinations are having to do. This is in reference to hotels that increased their prices expecting to benefit from a boom in tourism brought about by the wish to spend the first day of the next millennium on a beach. Minister Jiménez said that tourism to the DR is up 13% in the first 10 months of 1999. He said that the country's international airports are all Y2K ready.
Yesterday, Hoy newspaper interviewed Arturo Villanueva, executive vice president of the Hotel & Restaurant Association who said that there could be a lull in traffic on 31 December, as travelers avoid that day, just in case.

Managerial problems said to be main problem of JCE
The Partido de la Liberación Dominicana and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano insist that the main problems affecting the Junta Central Electoral, the government body in charge of organizing the presidential election, are managerial. They said that the JCE accepting the suggestion of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano and offering an extension of the period in which citizens can get their voting and identification cards will not resolve the problem.
Meanwhile the JCE insists that it will complete the process on time. It has pending to deliver about 1,000,000 voting and ID cards to persons who have not initiated the process, as well as 1,150,000 cards to persons who have registered but have not received their document for multiple reasons.

New computerized programs at power distributors
Edenorte and Edesur, the Unión Fenosa affiliates that have the contract for the distribution of electricity in most of the DR, announced the start of a new computerized collection system. The new bills will provide comprehensive information on power consumption that will assist individuals to implement energy savings programs. The new system will enable clients both from these companies as well as from AES, which is in charge of distribution and collection of power in the east of the country, to pay at any of the commercial offices of the three companies. Likewise, the Sistema de Gestión Comercial is being promoted as a system that will detect variations of 40% in the average consumption of the client. Up to now, the companies had been using the old computer system inherited from the Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad. With the new system the power supply companies are Y2K ready.

Haiti government sets up tents for deported Haitians
The government of Haiti, with the funding of the European Union, is setting up tents to lodge along the frontier Haitians deported from the Dominican Republic. The tents are going up besides the Dominican city of Elías Piña. Hoy reported that the camps will be set up at the frontier crosses of Ouanaminthe-Dajabon, Anses-a-Pitre-Pedernales and Malpasse-Jimaní. The Dominican government agreed with Haiti recently that the deportations could only be made through those points.
Most of the deported Haitians will eventually return to the DR, as Dominican frontier authorities say the problem of the large number of Haitian migrants will not be stopped until living conditions are improved in Haiti.

Hipólito would revamp tourism industry
Presidential candidate Hipólito Mejía said on campaign over the weekend that he is proposing the creation of a Tourism Development Council made up by members of the private and public sectors. The role of the council would be to relaunch the tourism industry and revise the industry-related legislation as well as implement a national tourism territorial order plan. He is proposing to eliminate all fiscal distortions that make the tourism product more expensive, and affects its competitiveness. He also promised to confront the problems that affect the aviation industry.
He presented his program to tourism organization leaders gathered at the Hotel Embajador on Sunday. Present at the event was his vice presidential candidate, Milagros Ortiz Bosch.
Mejía spoke of the need to build and maintain due infrastructure in tourism areas, tackle the environmental issues, reorganize the public institutions, modernize the legislation and rulings of the industry as a sine qua non condition to achieving real development in the sector.
He said that if he wins the elections, he proposes to promote investment in the many travel-related activities, and put into place an effective tourism promotion campaign.
He says that because he believes in tourism, he commits to promote a sustained process of consolidation and expansion of the industry which he says plays a strategic role in the economic and social development of the country.
He said he would strengthen and modernize the Ministry of Tourism, as well as the institutions of the private sector.
He says his government program calls for building basic infrastructure, health centers, schools, housing, rural roads, urban reorganization, signposting and for the modernization of transport.

Competitivity guru meets with President Fernández
President Fernandez met yesterday for three hours with competitiveness experts, Felipe Larrain and Michael Fairbanks. Edward L. Kundac, director of USAID, accompanied them in their visit to the National Palace. They spoke with President Fernandez on the competitiveness status of the countries in the region, and on the challenges ahead for the DR in a competitive world.
Larrain, is professor of Latin American Studies at the University of Harvard. He has been an economic advisor to several Latin American countries. Fairbanks is the leader of Monitor Group and has advised leaders of governments in South America, Africa and the Middle East.
The visitors had been scheduled to meet later with Dominican businessmen, but that meeting had to be cancelled when the President became enthralled in conversatoin with Larrain and Fairbanks.

New garbage system being implemented in SD
The Mayor of Santo Domingo, Johnny Ventura inaugurated a new garbage collection system yesterday. The new technology was purchased in Italy. Some 2,300 closed trash bins are being placed in key areas in the city. Some six compactor trucks will pick up the garbage bins. Another two trucks are in charge of cleaning and fumigating them. Ventura said it is a pilot plan that will reach out to the entire city. He said the system will help eliminate the small garbage dumps that form around the city. The city government gave a demonstration of how the bins work at the Expreso V Centenario yesterday. The Mayor said that the containers are closed and easy to open.

New polls show Mejía maintains big lead
Hoy and Listín Diario newspapers released today the results of political surveys carried out in late November.
The Hoy survey shows Hipólito Mejía, the PRD candidate, leads with 49% of the preference of the voters, followed by 26% that favor Danilo Medina of the PLD, and 19% who say they would vote for Joaquín Balaguer, who is the most likely candidate of the PRSC. This survey took place 22-28 November.
The Listín Diario survey shows Mejía has 40% of the preference, followed by Medina with 30% and Balaguer with 16%. This survey was carried out 27-30 November.

Fernández says electing Mejía would be going back to 19th century
President Leonel Fernández said it would be sad that a country that is promoting and inserting itself effectively in international markets and is in an initial phase of high technology fell in the hands of people that speak of "grabbing the chicken by the tail". He was referring to Hipólito Mejía, the presidential candidate of the PRD, who is known as a very colorful speaker. Mejía, according to most all the leading polls, is the man to beat in the next election. Fernández feels that by electing Mejía, the Dominican people would be returning to the 19th Century. Fernández believes Mejía's mentality cannot adapt to the modern times. He responded to questions posted to him by CBS journalist Raul Peimbert at the National Palace regarding a comment by Mejía in the sense that he had his opponent, Danilo Medina, of the PLD, "agarrado por el pichirrí."

Leading US golfers come for benefit tournament
Some of the best golfers of the USA were in the DR last weekend to participate in the First Annual Benefit Montecristo Cup, a benefit sponsored by Consolidated Cigar Corporation and Cigar Aficionado magazine. It was held at the Teeth of the Dog course of Casa de Campo in La Romana. Among the celebrities were Dana Quigley, Jim Thorpe, Tom Wargo, Larry Ziegler, Frank Conner, Ed Dougherty, Harold Henning, Larry Laoretti, Jerry McGee, Walter Morgan, and Larry Ziegler. Also actors Seymour Cassel, David Falk, Clark Gilles, George Hamilton, Rush Limbaugh, Mike Lupica, Ahmad Rashad, Peter Weller and Dave Zepowitz. Each paid US$5,000 to participate in the fun rounds of golf. Some RD$6.4 million was collected. The moneys will be used to benefit persons in the DR and Honduras that were affected by Hurricane Georges.

Christmas in the Colonial City
"Navidad 99" is the celebration of Christmas organized by the Ayuntamiento de Santo Domingo (city municipality), Secretaría de Turismo (ministry of tourism), Comisión de Monumentos (historic monuments commission), Oficina de Patrimonio Cultural (office of cultural heritage), and the Patronato de la Ciudad Colonial (board of the colonial city).
Activities start today, Wednesday, 1 December and continue all month long. Most of the events take place at the Parque Colón (Isabel la Católica corner Conde), the Patronato de la Ciudad Colonial (Isabel la Católica 103) or the Palacio Consistorial (Arz. Meriño corner Conde), Cathedral of Santo Domingo (Arz. Meriño corner Arz. Nouel), Capilla de los Remedios (Calle Las Damas corner Mercedes).
The schedule for the next 10 days is as follows:

Tuesday, 7 December.
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. La Salle School Choir, directed by Jose Cueli. Parque Colón.
8 pm. Xiomara Fortuna in Concert presented by the Municipality of Santo Domingo. Parque Colón.
9 pm. Concert for piano and violin. Olga Voigt and Zvedana de Tavar, Palacio Consistorial.
9 pm. Christmas caroling. Board of neighbors
from San Lázaro. Singers leave from Parque Colón.

Wednesday, 8 December
5:30 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Concert by the Music Band of the Army.
8 pm. Carlos Alfredo Fatule in Concert sponsored by the Municipality of Santo Domingo. Parque Colón.
8 pm. "Gloria a Dios", presentation of the choir of the Estudio Diná music school. Convent of Santo Domingo. Padre Billini corner Hostos street.
9 pm. Concert of the Marianela Sánchez children's choir. Palacio Consistorial.
9 pm. Christmas caroling by the neighbors of Regina. Leaving from the Parque Colón.

Thursday, 9 December.
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Concert of the Children's Choir of La Salle. Parque Colón.
8 pm Roberto del Castillo in Concert sponsored by the Municipality of Santo Domingo. Parque Colon.

Friday, 10 December 1999
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Hogar de los Niños Choir. Parque Colón.
8 pm. José Lacay in Concert. Parque Colón.

Saturday, 11 December
5:30 pm. Puppet Show, "La Navidad de Leo y el Raton," Teatro Capuchín. Parque Colón.
6:30 pm. Festival del Ponche Tradicional. Parque Colón.
8 pm Revista Musical del Grupo Sentimientos. Parque Colón.
9 pm. Christmas partying and caroling organized by the neighbors of the El Conde neighborhood board. Parque Colón to the Mercedes Church.

Sunday, 12 December
8 pm. Rhina Ramírez in Concierto. Parque Colón.
9 pm. Christmas partying and caroling, with groups leaving from the Parque Colón.

Monday, 13 December
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Christmas music concert by the Choir of the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo.
8 pm. Grupo Afro Tambú. Parque Colón.

Tuesday, 14 December
8 pm. Vinicio Franco in concert sponsored by the Municipality of Santo Domingo. Parque Colon.
9 pm. Christmas Festival. Soprano Ivonne Haza concert. Palacio Consistorial.

Wednesday, 15 December
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Christmas Music Concert by the choir of the Central Bank. Parque Colón.
8 pm. Performance of the Folklore Ballet of the Municipality of Santo Domingo. Parque Colón.
8 pm. Convento de los Dominicos. Christmas music concer by the National Choir.
9 pm. Concert for piano and violin. Olga Voigt and Zvedana de Tavar, Palacio Consistorial.

Show people vs. baseball greats in benefit
Manny Mota, the former star Los Angeles Dodgers player, is bringing together popular music figures and baseball stars for a benefit softball game. First Manny Mota Celebrities Classic will take place Wednesday, 8 December at the Quisqueya Ball Park. Among the expected players are Fernando Villalona, Kinito Mendez, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, Pedro Martinez, Andrew Jones, Todd Hundley and others. Canseco and Hundley have already confirmed their participation.
The mascots of the Florida Marlins (Billy the Marlin), the Colorado Rockies (Colorado Dinger), and Seattle Mariners (Mariners Moose) are coming for the event.
Manny Mota says that it is probable that leading Dominican politicians may also participate, including President Leonel Fernández and the presidential candidates.
Tickets are for sale at the Plaza Lama stores and at the Quisqueya Ball park.

Winter baseball weekend games and standing
Tuesday, 7 December 1999
Santo Domingo: Estrellas vs. Escogido
San Francisco de Macorís: Licey vs. Pollos

Team standing as of Monday, 6 December 1999:
Leones del Escogido 20-10 (.667)
Aguilas Cibaeñas 20-11 (.645) ­0.5 game
Estrellas Orientales 15-16 (.484) ­5.5 games
Tigres del Licey 12-19 (.387), -8.5 games
Pollos del Cibao 9-20 (.310) ­10.5 games

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