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Daily News - 16 December 1999

Strategic vision of where the DR is headed
Monsignor Agripino Núñez Collado, rector of the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra, the largest private university, has invited the presidential candidates to be present on the releasing of a what could become the strategic vision for development in the DR. The document compiles development strategies and points in which technicians of the three principal political parties (PLD, PRD, PRSC) and the civic society coincide. "Towards a national development agenda," is the name of the document that will be presented on Monday, 20 December at 11 am at the university's Santo Tomas de Aquino campus in Santo Domingo.

Peña Gómez daughters want to get involved in politics
Arlene Peña del Orbe and Angela Peña Pichardo, two daughters of the late political leader, Dr. Jose Francisco Peña Gomez explained yesterday in an interview with El Siglo newspaper that they have decided to become involved in politics. They said their interest in politics found little space in the party of their father, the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, and thus they, together with their sister Lourdes Peña Guaba, chose to form the Luces del Milenio political movement. The movement went public offering its support to Partido de la Liberación presidential candidate, Danilo Medina. The three are daughters of different former spouses of Peña Gómez. The PRD has accused the daughters of having sold out for material goods to the PLD.

Renowned physician says Balaguer is in good health
Dr. Huberto Bogaert, one of the nation's leading physicians, told El Siglo newspaper that former President Joaquín Balaguer is in good health. The 93-year old former statesman has conditioned his decision of running for President on the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano ticket to the state of his health as the deadline for registering his candidacy nears. Balaguer does not have to campaign, as he is probably the best known Dominican politician of all times, and thus is likely to leave the announcement of his decision to run for President for the last minute. Dr. Bogaert, who has treated the President's skin problems, said he visited Balaguer 15-20 days ago and found him in very good health, with the exception of skin and leg problems that are normal at his age. "His mental lucidity is exceptional," said Bogaert. He believes Balaguer will chose to run and his pole ratings will increase immediately. He said only a physical impediment could stop him from running, and that, he says, could happen to anyone, and much more likely to a 93-year old man.

RD$50 million collected at fund-raising dinner
RD$50 million were generated by the RD$100,000 the plate fund-raising dinner held at the Hotel Jaragua's Salon Anacaona last night. The dinner was presided over by President Leonel Fernández and Vice President Jaime David Fernández who spoke in support to Partido de la Liberación Dominicana candidate, Danilo Medina.

Seven military arrested for missing prisoner
Chief of the Police Candelier appointed a high level committee to investigate the escape of prisoner Rafael Suárez Holguín from the Penal Chamber of the Appeals Court of Santo Domingo. The Police arrested six police agents and a lieutenant for investigations. Suárez Holguín disappeared after he was allowed to take a lunch break with his custodians in the Appeals Court of Santo Domingo. He has been in jail since 1996 for the murder of Miguel Antonio Abreu Cordero, owner of a Winston Churchill gas station. Abreu was murdered at gunshot when traveling in his jeep along Manuel de Jesús Troncoso street in Piantini. Others are also arrested charged with the crime. The Homicide Department report says that behind the crime is US$5 million that one of the implicated in the crime had in savings. Súarez Holguín is also sought in extradition by the US judiciary for drug trafficking charges.

Lack of medicine in public hospitals results in 4 deaths
Four minors have died from November to December after being affected by diphtheria in an outbreak in the slum areas of Cienfuegos and Gurabo in the province of Santiago. The children had been interned at the Arturo Grullón Hospital but died because the hospital did not have the necessary anti-toxin drugs. Dr. Pedro Valenzuela Liranzo, director of the hospital said that 100% of the diphtheria cases reported affect children that had not been vaccinated. Had they been, they would not have suffered the disease. He said that one of the most frustrating deaths was that of a little girl who lived only meters away from the Public Health vaccination center in Cienfuegos where she could have been vaccinated at no cost to the parents. Dr. Valenzuela said that while there is not sufficient anti-toxin in the country to treat diptheria cases, there are sufficient vaccinations. He said that many mothers do not visit the vaccination centers, and when visited by Public Health vaccination crews at their houses, out of ignore they hide their children to avoid these the pain of being inoculated.

Put those guns away for Christmas
The National Police announced that from 24 December through 7 January 2000, it will retain any guns visibly ported by persons, regardless of whether they have permission or not. The guns will be returned after 7 January. The National Police also announced that 5,000 police agents have been assigned to patrol Santo Domingo to contribute to a safe Christmas.

Senate president concerned over finances of UASD
The president of the Senate, Ramón Alburquerque warned that the Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo cannot become a bottomless barrel and should justify the investments made to prepare professionals. He said that the university cannot boast having 120,000 students, which makes it the largest in the DR, when its graduating classes are small relative to total number of students.
"We have to break the vice of mediocrity and jump towards excellence, because we are competing and with mediocrity one does not go anywhere," said Alburquerque.
The UASD authorities submitted a budget for RD$1,300 million, of which the Executive Branch approved RD$850 million. The Senate later increased this amount to RD$900 million. This is more than the RD$730 million budget of the city of Santo Domingo, a city of about three million inhabitants. The UASD says it will suffer a deficit of RD$252 million in 2000. The UASD has a monthly payroll of RD$71.2 million. The university is said to be run by politicians, with hundreds on its payroll.

Central Bank governor forecasts near 8% growth
Governor of the Central Bank forecast that the Dominican economy will end the year with a growth near 8% and a 6.5% inflation. This would be the highest growth rate in the world. Central Bank governor Hector Valdez Albizu said, "The perspective is that if the reforms are passed, the DR may sustain this growth, which in turn will enable it to confront the flagellum of poverty into the next decade."

Blackout at Las Americas International
Las Americas International Airport, the nation's main airport, suffered a blackout at the runway that started at 6:35 pm and ended shortly before 7 pm. An American Eagle flight had to land in La Romana, a TWA flight had to wait out the blackout in the San Juan, Puerto Rico airport and a private flight was detoured to San Isidro military airport. Flights that were scheduled to land had to remain in the air, awaiting clearance. The authorities said they will investigate the causes of the blackout.

Juan Luís Guerra expects a daughter in January
Juan Luis Guerra announced his wife Nora is expecting a daughter, their first, in early January. The couple already has a son, Jean Gabriel. The legendary contemporary popular music performer said in a press conference that he will tour several US cities in 2000, and will launch a CD with romantic hits, and two or three new songs. The oldies will have new arrangements.
Juan Luís Guerra is scheduled to perform Saturday, 19 December in Altos de Chavón. Tickets to the concert are sold out, but some may still be obtained from tour operators that are selling a RD$850 package including bus transport. Guerra explained 4-40s most popular songs will be performed on Saturday. The concert is sponsored by Baninter, a leading Dominican bank, and is a benefit for the Hogar del Niño children's home in La Romana.
He told local press that his favorite Dominican musicians are Chichí Peralta, Rubby Pérez, Sergio Vargas, Hector Acosta, Milly Quezada and Fernando Villalona. When asked who in his opinion are the three leading Dominican vocalists of the millennium, he mentioned Johnny Ventura (the mayor of Santo Domingo), but said he would have to think of the other two.
When asked if he is concerned with the technological problems of the change of year 2000, he said he is a cautious person and prefers not to fly on 31 December. "I have great faith in God, but I am not going to provoke things, and if there can be problems, I am not going to be looking for what I have not lost," he said.

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).
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).
To plan ahead, note the schedule through the weekend:

Thursday, 16 December
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Superintendency of Banks Christmas Concert. Directed by Edgar Martínez. Parque Colón.
8 pm. National Symphony Orchestra Concert. Directed by Amaury Sánchez. Sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism. Arcades of the Borgellá Palace.
9 pm. Christmas Festival. Marianela Sánchez's Children's Choir.
Palacio Consistorial.
9 pm. Christmas partying. Juan Pablo Duarte neighborhood. From Parque Colón to the Convento de Santo Domingo (Padre Billini corner Duarte)

Friday, 17 December
5 pm. Opening Handicraft exhibition (through 19 December). Parque San José (19 de Marzo corner José Gabriel García), sponsored by the San José/Montesinos neighborhood.
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Christmas Concert by the Choir of the Banco Popular. Directed by Prof. Ramón E. Restituyo. Parque Colón.
8 pm. Christmas Cinema, A Christmas Nightmare, starring Tim Burton. Plazoleta de Regina (Padre Billini corner José Reyes).
8 pm. Christmas Concert. Municipal Chamber Orchestra. Directed by Prof. Rodolfo Manzano. Parque Colón.
9 pm. Christmas Festival: Concert by flutist Luis Ruiz, accompanied by violinist Jazmina Gavrilovich. Palacio Consistorial.
9:30 pm. Christmas partying. Santa Clara/Cathedral neighborhood. From Parque Colón to Parque Pellerano Castro (Isabel la Católica corner José Gabriel García).

Saturday, 18 December
6 am. "Mañanitas," early morning caroling. Carmen neighborhood, leaving from Calle Sánchez 112.
5:30 pm. Puppet show: "Christmas Tree". Teatro Papalote. Parque Colón.
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Christmas Concert by the choir of the National Army. Directed by First Lieutenant Medina Cuevas.
8 pm. Luchy Vicioso in Concert. Accompanied by Maestro Tito Delgado, sponsored by the Municipality of Santo Domingo. Parque Colón.
9 pm. Christmas Festival: Concert of the Vocal Ensemble Group of Santo Domingo. Accompanied at the piano by Maestro Ramón Díaz. Palacio Consistorial.
9 pm. Christmas partying. San Antón neighborhood. Groups leave from Parque Colón to the Plazoleta de San Antón (Restauración corner Hostos).

Sunday, 19 December
3 pm. Tour of the nativity scenes in the Colonial City. Organized by the Conde/Mercedes neighborhood. Leaving from Atrio de las Mercedes, Calle Mercedes.
6 pm. Christmas Sunsets. Men's Choir of the Instituto Cultural Dominico-Americano. Directed by Prof. Ramón E. Restituyo. Parque Colón.
8 pm. Fernando Casado in Concert. Accompanied by Maestro Tito Delgado. Sponsored by the Municipality of Santo Domingo. Parque Colón.
9 pm. Christmas Festival. Concert by the Ars Nova Chamber Orchestra. Directed by François Bahuad. Palacio Consistorial.
9 pm. Christmas partying. San José/Montesinos neighborhood. Leaving from Parque Colón to Parque San José (19 de Marzo corner José Gabriel García).

Winter baseball games and standing
Thursday, 16 December 1999
Santo Domingo: Pollos vs. Licey
Santiago: Estrellas vs. Aguilas

Team standing as of Wednesday, 15 December 1999:
Leones del Escogido 23-13 (.657)
Aguilas Cibaeñas 22-14 (.611) 0.5 games
Estrellas Orientales 18-20 (.462) ­6 games
Tigres del Licey 16-20 (.444), -6.5 games
Pollos del Cibao 13-23 (.361) ­9.5 games

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