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Daily News - 29 May 2002

DR1 takes a break tomorrow
DR1 daily news will not be updated tomorrow as Dominicans celebrate Corpus Christi Day, a Catholic holiday. Thursday’s news will be compiled for the Friday, 31 May edition.

A railroad for the DR?
The Senate has approved a contract for the construction of a railroad system for US$300 million. The railroad would link the provinces of Santiago, La Vega, Monseñor Nouel, San Cristobal, Santo Domingo and the National District. 
The contract passed by the Senate yesterday includes a 50-year concession to a previously unknown company. No other details were made public. 
The US Trade and Development Agency is currently reviewing a request for their assistance on a final feasibility study for the proposed project.

Marinas bill moves ahead in Senate
The Senate passed a first reading on the marina incentives bill yesterday. The Listin Diario reports that the senators expect the second reading to take place next week. Ramiro Espino (PRD-Samana) of the commission in charge of studying the bill said only minor modifications were made to it. The bill provides the framework for the development of marinas to attract maritime tourism to the country, primarily small sailboats and yachts.

New change to money laundering bill
The Minister of Finance Jose Lois Malkum has asked the Chamber of Deputies to revise the section of the money laundering bill in which tax evasion is considered a criminal offense. 
Diario Libre reports that the bill could turn all Dominicans into criminals under the bill’s broad scope of activities that would be considered illegal, such as tax evasion. Diario Libre says in its back page commentary that tax evasion is one of the favorite “sports” that Dominicans practice. 
In addition to drug dealing, money laundering and tax evasion, Law 55-02 also establishes that revenues from confiscated goods from corruption and fraud against the state will be distributed to drug control and prevention institutions and social security services. The long list of illegal activities under the bill includes organized crime, terrorism, trafficking in firearms, human trafficking, theft of vehicles, prostitution, counterfeiting, administrative corruption, and fraud against the state. 
Malkum met yesterday with the Chamber of Deputies committee headed by Chamber president Rafaela Alburquerque to make the request. Hours earlier, she had received a visit from foreign diplomats who urged the Chamber to approve the bill as received from the Senate. 
The bill has been surrounded by controversy that climaxed when it was altered after being passed in the Senate last December. The modified bill was then sent to the Chamber of Deputies with the error, then to President Mejia who signed it even though he knew of the irregularity. He subsequently returned the bill to the Senate, which made the correction before sending it to the Chamber of Deputies.
Now the Deputies either have to pass it as is or send it back to the Senate again if more changes are required. 
Diario Libre reports that Alburquerque and Senate president Andres Bautista will meet with President Hipolito Mejia to decide on the change.

10 deputies got more than 10,000 votes
Diario Libre names the deputies who were re-elected with the most votes, revealing that only 10 returning deputies received more than 10,000:
Rafaela (Lila) Alburquerque (PRSC-San Pedro de Macoris) 14,595 votes. 
Felix Vasquez (PRSC-Sanchez Ramirez) 13,553.
Pelegrin Castillo (PLD-National District) 11,578.
Alfredo Pacheco (PRD-National District) 11,385.
Ramon Pimentel (PRD-Monte Cristi) 11,012.
Salomon Garcia (PRD-Maria Trinidad Sanchez) 10,955.
Cristian Paredes (PRD-Sanchez Ramirez) 10,836.
Juan (Juancito Sport) de los Santos (PLD-Santo Domingo) 10,358 votes.
Ramon Rogelio Genao (PRSC-La Vega) 10,206 votes.
Graciela Fermin (PRD-Puerto Plata) 10,206 votes.

See list of deputies and senators names at: http://www.dr1.com/news/2002/congress_2002.shtml

Opposition gets majority in lower house
El Caribe newspaper reports that the Central Electoral Board (JCE) has determined that the ruling PRD will have 73 seats in the Chamber of Deputies (of a total of 150 seats). The PLD will have 41 and the PRSC 36. 
This means the PRD will have a somewhat smaller majority in the Chamber than it won in the 1998 elections. Then, the PRD won an absolute majority with 83 deputies versus 49 of the PLD and 17 of the PRSC. 
During the first two years of the PRD government, the PRSC deputies voted in favor of bills sent by the PRD Executive Branch. 
This election also gives the PRD an absolute majority in the Senate with 29 seats to the PRSC's two and the PLD's one.

One-way street clarification
Diario Libre reports today that the traffic direction changes on Tiradentes, Lope de Vega and Aguiar Avenues will not take place in June as announced yesterday. Jose Ceballos of the city government clarified that the changes are still being studied by the Metropolitan Transport Authority, the Ministry of Public Works and City Hall prior to being implemented.

Drug revenge behind murder?
39-year old Martin Abreu Pimentel, the man shot to death in his Mercedes Benz outside Trio Café on Abraham Lincoln Street, was considered a fugitive by the National Drug Control Department. Abreu Pimentel’s car was fired on 20 times by gunmen in a white 4 x 4 vehicle. He was sought along with a group of suspects from whom 163 kilos of cocaine had been confiscated. 
El Caribe reports that Abreu Pimentel was an unpaid honorary assistant to the President (in other words, he was appointed but probably was not assigned work for the government) -- since February 2001, according to Decree 287-01 published in Official Gazette 10073. Both Police Chief Jaime Marte Martinez and District Attorney Maximo Aristy Caraballo denied that Abreu had ties to the government. 
The police suspect the motive for his murder was revenge for past drug dealing operations.

18% of Dominicans go to private schools
According to the latest census carried out by the Ministry of Education’s Department of Private Schools, only 18.2% of Dominican children attend private schools. That amounts to 482,404 students of a total student body of 2,647,404 registered with the Ministry of Education. Private schools charge between RD$2000 and RD$120,000 for a 10-month school year while public school education is free in the Dominican Republic. 
The census also revealed there are 2,189 private schools with 22,367 teachers. The attendance is broken down into: 109,731 students in pre-school, 288,277 in grade school, and 84,396 in middle and high school. Of the private schools, 183 are Catholic, 400 are Christian and 80 Seventh Day Adventist.

Where hotels can be built in Pedernales
El Caribe editorial today explains that Congress would have to pass a new law to permit the building of hotels in the Bahia de las Aguilas area. But to build hotels on the beaches between Cabo Rojo and Pedernales, where ecologists suggest they go up, does not require any new law or change to the Environment Law. 
President Mejia has backed the construction of hotels in the Bahia de las Aguilas area. But ecologists suggest putting them elsewhere, leaving the 15-kilometer Bahia de las Aguilas strip as an ecological reserve. 
Minister of Environment Frank Moya Pons clarifies that a vague clause in the tourism development law (Law 158-01) does not allow modifications to the environmental law, which establishes protected areas. He says only the publishing of the Sectoral Law ordered by the Environment Law 64-00 could allow for the construction of hotels in the Bahia de las Aguilas reserve. The sectoral law will review the status of protected areas as per international norms.

Competition for Telecable?
The Aster company of the Baninter financial and media group has signed an agreement to work closely with Codetel, which has the largest share of the Dominican telecommunications market. Tricom, the second largest in the market, recently announced its purchase of Telecable, Santo Domingo’s largest Cable TV company. Aster plans to offer telephone, internet, data, and TV services.

World Cup games to be seen in DR
The World Cup of Soccer will be televised from Korea and Japan to the Dominican Republic on channel Digital 15, according to Diario Libre. The telecasts begin at dawn 31 May and will continue through 30 June. Jorge Rolando Bauger, Felix Disla Gomez and Jorge Allen Bauger will be the TV hosts for the Dominican transmission. The games will be televised at 1 am, 5 am and 7 am with a summary at 10 pm.

Miss DR is among Miss Universe favorites
Miss Dominican Republic Ruth Ocumarez is on the list of 10 favorites for the Miss Universe title, according to a poll by El Nuevo Dia, the leading Puerto Rican daily. Others are the representatives from Russia, South Africa, Venezuela, Colombia, China, Puerto Rico, Germany, the United States and Nigeria. The event will be telecast this evening. In the Dominican Republic, it can be seen on 
Channel 5.
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