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Daily News - 7 February 2002

New York Governor to visit
New York State Governor George Pataki will visit on Sunday, 17 February, reports El Caribe newspaper. President Hipolito Mejia invited him to Santo Domingo when the Dominican statesman visited New York City following the 11 September and 12 November AA587 events. 

Supreme Court rules on electoral dispute
The Supreme Court of Justice has ruled that the new electoral districts established by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) do not violate the constitution. Deputies Jose Rijo, Victor Garcia Sued and Ramon Emilio Fernandez had contested the JCE’s division of the city into electoral districts. The Supreme Court also ruled that the JCE’s Resolution 5-2001 violates the constitution. That resolution establishes that a person has to be a resident of a district to run for deputy of that district. This court decision gives greater flexibility to the parties when choosing their candidates. 
Commenting on the ruling, the President of the JCE Ramon Morel Cerda said that it does not affect the organization of the upcoming municipal and congressional elections. He said the campaign will be formally opened on 14 February. 

City Hall seeks loan to pay garbage debt
Diario Libre reports that the Sala Capitular, a city hall financial board that has only met on one previous occasion, is scheduled to hold a session on Thursday to approve a RD$290 million loan from the Banco de Reservas. The money would be used to pay the OMB Company that sold garbage containers to the municipality. 
The newspaper says the Municipality of Santo Domingo had budgeted RD$300 million to pay for the containers, but the funds were used elsewhere. According to Diario Libre, the Municipality of Santo Domingo under Mayor Johnny Ventura has managed a record high budget of RD$1 billion in addition to receiving support from the central government, which has also been paying garbage collection companies. Ventura hopes to run for re-election on his party’s ticket.

Sovereign bonds commission has yet to meet
The commission that supervises the use of the sovereign bonds money does not know how the sovereign bonds money has been allocated. Two members of the Commission, Marino Ginebra, president of the National Council of Businesses (CONEP), and Rafael Abreu, president of the National Council of Unions (Consejo Nacional de la Unidad Sindical), said the commission has only met twice since it was formed in August. President Mejia is in charge of calling the meetings. 
Ginebra said that all they know about the use of the funds is what has appeared in newspaper reports on the National Budget allocations. But the budget publication does not specify which works the money was used for.
The government has reported that from October-December, RD$2.8 billion of the RD$8 billion sovereign bond placement was allocated to public institutions for the financing of 255 public works nationwide. 

Lessons in how to avoid bottlenecks
The Metropolitan Transport Authority has recruited the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Santo Domingo Rotary Club and 20 to 30 other clubs to participate in a citywide drivers education campaign to reduce the number of traffic jams and make driving less stressful in the city. 
The first 18-24 March blitz will focus on three critical intersections: Ave. 27 de Febrero at Ave. Isabel Aguilar; Duarte Highway at the entrance to Manoguayabo; and the corner of Mercedes and Palo Hincado streets in the Colonial City. 
As reported in the Listin Diario, the campaign will focus on getting the following messages across to drivers:
1) Be courteous. Yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing on the white lines of the intersection. Treat others the way you would like them to treat you.
2) When approaching a corner, do not block the intersection. Allow traffic from the cross street to pass through. 
3) When turning or changing lanes, use your signal lights, or your hand, to indicate your turn. 
4) When turning to the left, occupy the correct lane, and respect those who were first at the intersection. 
5) At a corner with no traffic light or traffic agent, stop and yield to the first vehicle. 
6) Are you aware that noise is harmful to your health? Use your horn sparingly. 
7) Imprudent driving can put your life and others in danger. 
8) If you eat or drink while driving, deposit the waste in a bag until you reach your destination, don’t litter. 
9) If you will be driving slower than the flow, use the right lane. 
10) When there are difficult situations on the road, be part of the solution.

Wear your seat belt
Nelson Rosario of the Metropolitan Transport Authority has announced that AMET agents have instructions to arrest all drivers not wearing seatbelts as of next week. It’s part of a new effort to get Dominican drivers to obey the traffic laws. AMET also announced the arrest of those drivers found talking on hand held cell phones. So far, those detained for these violations in Santo Domingo have only been obliged to listen to a 15-minute talk before their drivers’ licenses are returned. But Rosario says that starting next week, drivers will be arrested for the violations.

PRD rejects Nazir Atallah as senator 
The PRD elections organizing committee has rejected the candidacy of Nazir Atallah for PRD candidate to the senate for the National District. Atallah is in charge of the government’s nationwide computer education program. His brother is Superintendent of Banks and his family was a strong supporter of Hipolito Mejia when he ran for President. Atallah, previously unknown, is now a familiar face around Santo Domingo. He has put up large election posters at key intersections in the National District. 
But the committee objected to his candidacy, saying he doesn’t have the minimum number of years required as a party member. 
Nevertheless, Rafael Gamundi Cordero, secretary of the PRD organization, said that President Hipolito Mejia and PRD president Hatuey de Camps will have the final word. Atallah is said to be President Mejia’s first choice for senator for the National District. The leading contender is Senator Jose Antonio Najri, who seeks to be re-elected.

Balaguer chooses his candidates
The Executive Board of the PRSC, headed by former President Joaquin Balaguer, chose its candidates for mayor and senator for the National District and the Province of Santo Domingo yesterday. Johnny Jones, secretary general of the PRSC, was chosen as senatorial candidate for the National District. 
For the Province of Santo Domingo, the executive board chose Victor Gomez Berges, a former Minister of Foreign Relations. 
The PRSC’s mayoral candidate will be Ramon Perez Martinez. Miguel Sanz will be the PRSC candidate to the secretary of the Dominican Municipal League. 
The mayoral candidates for the new municipalities are: Alexis Joaquin Castillo, Santo Domingo West; Belkis Contreras, Santo Domingo North; Juan Bautista Rojas Tabar (former Minister of the Armed Forces), Santo Domingo East; Joselin Peña, Boca Chica. 
The candidates for deputy are Licelot Marte, Manolo Alsina (electoral district No. 1), Alexandra Izquierdo, Ito Bisono (electoral district No. 2), Hector Marte, Milagros Diaz and TV news commentator Consuelo Despradel (electoral district No. 3)
Deputy candidates for the Province of Santo Domingo are Joaquin Ricardo, Anibal Paez, Luis Emilio Reyes, Julian Elias Nolasco, Elsa de Jesus and Julio Subero. 
The party will choose its remaining candidates in primaries on Sunday, 17 February.

Helping Dominican children
Heart Care International and the Plaza de la Salud children’s hospital and advanced medicine center (Cedimat) has announced that a mission of Heart Care International physicians will treat 80 children. 127 doctors and nurses have come from the United States to operate on the children at the Plaza de la Salud’s advanced medicine center. The operations would normally cost upwards of US$30,000 each if performed in the United States. 
For more information on Heart Care International, see http://www.heartcareintl.org/

Falconbridge resumes production
Falconbridge Dominicana resumes operations this month. The largest Dominican mining company expects to produce 25,000 metric tons of nickel this year. This is up from 21,700 metric tons produced in 2001. The company had closed its production on 21 October due to the low world market prices for nickel. 

Mother wins suit against Edesur
Alicia Rodriguez Albino sued Edesur, the Spanish power distributor, won her case and was awarded RD$400,000 by a Dominican court. The court ruled that Edesur was negligent in the case of Rodriguez’s six-year-old daughter who suffered burns to 16% of her body. She was injured chasing a ball that rolled into an electricity facility left open by Edesur technicians.
The court also ruled that Edesur should pay the legal costs, which amount to about RD$100,000, as reported in El Caribe.
This is said to be the first time a claim of this type has been won by a Dominican consumer. Traditionally, consumers have been powerless before the power companies in the DR. This decision could change that. 
Rodriguez, a student of business administration, told the press that she decided to go ahead with the suit despite the pessimism of most of her friends. “Some friends told me I was wasting my time, that no one could fight those people, to leave things as is. But I always found the support of some friends and my family,” she said. She said the power company offered to pay the child’s hospital bills if the case could be settled out of court.
Lawyers Roman Harold Jaquez Liranzo, Francisco Rafael Arroyo Maldonado and Alfredo Ramirez Pegueron prosecuted the case. 
Rodriguez lives in the Residencial La Fe in Ensanche La Fe in Santo Domingo. 

Ten new free zone industries
Ten new free zone industries were approved by the National Council of Free Zones to operate in industrial parks nationwide. The new companies could create some 12,000 light manufacturing jobs. An investment of RD$50 million is being made in the plants. The free zone sector has been especially affected by the recession in the United States, which is the main market for Dominican free zone exports.

Forum to discuss future of free zones
The National Council of Free Zones (CNZF) and the Dominican Association of Free Zones (Adozona) announced that the DR will host the II Central American and Caribbean Free Zone Forum. The “Free Zones in the Context of Today’s World” forum is described as one of “transcendent importance” for the sector, given the new international challenges and growing competition. The forum is co-sponsored by the Committee of Free Zones of the Americas and will take place 13-15 March at the Hotel Coral Hamaca in Boca Chica. 
Jeannette Dominguez, executive director of CNZF and Jose Manuel Torres, executive director of Adozona, explained that at the event new trends and opportunities will be analyzed. The goal is for participants to develop strategies to face the new challenges. 
For more information, contact the CNZF at 686-8077 ext 253, or Adozona at 472-0251 or visit http://www.forozf.com 

Sell out expected for Luis Miguel concert
Hoy newspaper reports that almost all seats costing RD$5,000, RD$3,000 and RD$2,000 for the Luis Miguel concert at the Quisqueya Ball Park have been sold out. The newspaper says the remaining tickets to see one of Latin America’s favorite singers are going fast. The show is one stop on the Luis Miguel Mis Romances Tours 2002 of Latin America and is the first time he will perform in Santo Domingo. The concert is scheduled for 20 February. 
The ballpark has capacity for over 20,000 fans.

Last chance for DR in Caribbean Series
The Dominican Republic (Tigres del Licey) lost to Puerto Rico (Vaqueros de Bayamon) yesterday 8-4 in the Caracas, Venezuela Caribbean Baseball Series. This was the DR’s second defeat. The team previously won two games and lost one. Meanwhile, Mexico defeated Venezuela 13-9 to maintain its leadership in the series. Mexico is now in first place (4-0), followed by the DR (2-2), Venezuela (1-3) and Puerto Rico (1-3). The Dominican Republic plays the Mexican team today. This game is the DR’s last chance to stay in the series. It needs to defeat Mexico and win two more games to force a tiebreaker to determine the champion in the final game on Saturday. 
If Mexico wins today, it wins the series. The Tomateros were the underdog of the series and least expected to win. This would be the first time Mexico wins the Caribbean Series.
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