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Daily News - 24 January 2002

Candelier gives in to influential unions?
The former police chief who now heads the Metropolitan Transport Authority, Major General Pedro de Jesus Candelier, may have given in to the influential transport unions. El Caribe reports today that his agents have been instructed not to order thousands of unroadworthy cars owned by union members taken off the road. El Caribe reports that these cars, many more fit for scrap yards, will be allowed to remain in service regardless of whether they have their inspection stickers or revistas. As long as they have their stickers from AMET or the Technical Ground Transport Office (OTTT), they can be driven. The owners of these vehicles were previously identified as having preference to get new cars under the US$500 million Plan Renove. The program calls for thousands of public transport vehicles to be sold at special rates to the union members. The start date of the costly program is unknown. 

US$181 million to build new dam
The government will borrow US$181 million to build the Yuna River hydroelectric dam. The dam will have the capacity to generate 300 megawatts per hour. A Norwegian firm will finance its construction.

Contradictions over new highway deal
El Caribe newspaper reports on what it calls contradictory statements by the Minister of Public Work Miguel Vargas Maldonado regarding the government's obligations to Consorcio Vial Dominicano. This previously unknown private company received a concession to expand the San Cristobal-Bani highway. The company was also granted the tolls from an existing highway, the RD$1 billion 6 de Noviembre highway from Santo Domingo to San Cristobal. The newspaper says that the Minister said the state would not have to spend any money on the project, but the contract establishes that the government is responsible for compensating the owners of land that will be expropriated for the highway. Meanwhile, the contract also grants the Dominican-Colombian company the right to exploit the lands beside the new highway, leasing them to shopping centers, gas stations, restaurants, and other commercial operations. 

San Pedro port gets a start
The San Pedro International Terminal is now under construction at the port of San Pedro de Macoris. Secretary of the Presidency Sergio Grullon attended the ground- breaking ceremony for the US$160 million project yesterday. Minister of Environment Frank Moya Pons recently said that the approval of the environmental impact study is pending for the ministry to give the green light for construction. 
The president of the port company, Teddy Heinsen explained in an interview with Diario Libre that while it is true that the environmental impact study has not yet been approved, he foresees no problems. He said the port is located in an area where there are no live coral reefs, there already is an established port and no industry is opposing its construction. The plan is to complete the port in 18 months time.

Suspect in Senator's death could be in US
Senator Celeste Gomez (PRD-Santiago Rodriguez), who replaced her brother Dario Gomez in the Senate, confirmed that FBI agents are on the trail in the US of the supposed author of her brother's murder. Reportedly, the suspect had threatened to kill Dario Gomez. She said her family asked President Mejia to allow international crime investigators to work with local investigators. The police accused five men of the murder but the family did not accept that the motive was robbery.

French fugitive left DR for Bahamas
El Caribe reports that French fugitive Didier Schuller left by boat on Tuesday to the Bahamas. On Monday, the French press reported that he was living in the DR. He rented a villa at the Sea Horse Ranch near Sosua, in Puerto Plata. Reportedly, he left on the same day President Mejia gave instructions to security forces to find him. 
Didier is accused of corruption while in office in France. He lived in the DR under the false identity of Jean Wiser. Migration documents show he entered in 1995. El Nacional newspaper reported that Schuller had obtained residency papers under his real name. The French government knew of his
whereabouts for about a month before his son, Antoine Schuller, revealed the case to the media.

Challenge to new police chief
The killing of 17-year-old Javier Quezada at the hands of a police agent could be the first case of police brutality under new Chief Jaime Marte Martinez. The case is deemed to be the first major challenge to Marte who is expected to be more respectful of citizen's rights than his predecessor. A police agent known as Rompehuesos (bone breaker) from the Cayetano Germosen police station is said to be responsible. The shooting sparked protests in Barrio Enriquillo of the Km. 8 of the Prolongacion Independencia where Quezada lived with his grandmother. 
There are contradictory reports in the media about why he was shot. Marte has ordered an investigation. 
Police agent Francisco Reyes (Tyson) is in jail for a similar incident. The Supreme Court ruled that his case will be studied by a civilian penal court and not by a police court, setting a new precedent. 

Big projects to bring progress to Santiago
El Caribe reports on several costly projects going up in Santiago, the Dominican Republicís second largest city. In addition to the new airport, a mega hospital and a large deluxe hotel are in advanced stages of construction. Together the projects amount to over RD$1 billion.
The Hospital Metropolitano de Santiago is luring Dominican health practitioners in the United States to come home to practice. The center promises to offer the most sophisticated medical services. The 11-floor/200-bed hospital is scheduled for completion in December. It has space for 195 doctors' offices and a commercial area for 25 stores. 
The Gran Hotel Cibao, a luxury establishment that hopes to compete with the Gran Almirante, will have 400 rooms, a casino, discotheque, four restaurants, night club and parking for 1,200 vehicles. It will also feature a convention center that seats 2,000. A spa will be incorporated, as well as
courts for tennis, volleyball and basketball. A golf course is also in the plans. The hotel is expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2003. 

Tourism stats for Punta Cana
El Caribe reports that 921,444 foreign travelers arrived at Punta Cana International Airport in 2001. This is 3.6% or 32,601 more tourists than in 2000. This growth is noteworthy in light of the downward effect on travel resulting from the tragic events of 11 September and the AA587 flight crash
of 12 November.
The newspaper says air arrival statistics in general show that foreign arrivals through Punta Cana made up 40% of the total foreign arrivals to the DR.
The newspaper says that hotel occupancy in the area has averaged around 70%. March was a peak month for travel to Punta Cana last year, with 111,009 arrivals, up 25% over the previous year.
Air arrival stats show that Germany, US, Canada, Spain, France, Puerto Rico, and Argentina are the main sources of Punta Cana tourists.

Handicraft Center for Bayahibe-Dominicus
The Association of Hotels of La Romana-Bayahibe (ASAVEBA) will build an arts and crafts commercial area for La Romana vendors. The plaza is expected to become a main attraction in the area. The Association has set aside a 4,000 square meter lot for the plaza and has agreed to offer bus transportation to the site from area hotels. Meanwhile, arts and crafts vendors agree to only sell their wares in tents provided by the Ministry of Tourism.

Hertell advocates alternatives to all-inclusives
US Ambassador Hans Hertell, speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce January luncheon, said that all-inclusive resorts are an obstacle to the development of US tourism in the country. He said that US tourists prefer the freedom of choosing where to eat and spend their time. "Individual tourists like their independence, they like being able to eat at different restaurants every night, renting a vehicle and visiting area attractions," he explained.
Punta Cana, an area where all-inclusive resorts prevail, is one of the top Caribbean destinations for US travelers. 

Taiwan ambassador decorated
The Dominican government decorated Ambassador Adolfo Sun at the Ministry of Foreign Relations yesterday. The soon-to-depart Taiwanese ambassador was recognized for his contributions to bilateral relations and development in
the DR. Sun said that Taiwanese investments in the country are more than US$150 million. While he was the ambassador, two Dominican statesmen visited Taiwan (Presidents Fernandez and Mejia).

Mexicana offers great fares to Miami
Mexicana is advertising low fares to Miami from Santo Domingo. The company is offering a US$199 round trip, considerably lower than American Airlines fares on the route. AA is the dominant carrier on that route. 
The flight leaves Santo Domingo at 7:20 am, arriving in Miami at 8:35 am.
The departure flight leaves Miami at 8:30 pm, arriving in Santo Domingo at 11:40 pm.

Floor nearly sold out in Pavarotti concert
The RD$10,000 and RD$7,000 first floor seats to the Luciano Pavarotti concert at the National Theater on 15 February are almost all sold out, according to Diario Libre. Pavarotti will be accompanied by pianist Leoni Magiera. Reportedly, Pavarotti will sing operatic arias. In announcing the show, Minister of Culture Tony Raful, National Theater director Carmen Heredia and entertainment promoter George Nader said the tickets are going for less than usual because it is a benefit. 
Total ticket sales will reach RD$7 million, of which RD$800,000 will go to several Dominican foundations. The Muchachos con Don Bosco, MIR, Heart Care and First Lady Rosa Gomez's foundation will each get RD$200,000. 
Balcony seats are going for RD$4,000, RD$3,000 and RD$2,000. Tickets are on sale at the National Theater.

Baseball finals calendar
Thursday, 24 January. 8 pm. Cibao Ball Park (Santiago)
Friday, 25 January. 8 pm. Quisqueya Ball Park (Santo Domingo)
Saturday, 26 January. 4 pm. Cibao Ball Park (Santiago)
Sunday, 27 January. 4 pm. Quisqueya Ball Park (Santo Domingo)
Monday, 28 January. 8 pm. Cibao Ball Park (Santiago)
Tuesday, 29 January. 8 pm. Quisqueya Ball Park (Santo Domingo)
Wednesday, 30 January. 8 pm. Cibao Ball Park (Santiago)
(only if necessary)
Tickets at the ballparks cost $350, $200, $150 and $20 for the bleachers. The
Baseball Page
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