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Daily News - Monday, 07 April 2008

Ventura to campaign for PLD
President Leonel Fernandez has enlisted the support of former PRD legislator and Mayor of Santo Domingo, merengue legend Johnny Ventura. As reported in Diario Libre, at the event, President Fernandez announced that he would win with 72% of the vote.
Ventura himself announced his support for the President's reelection at the United Palace congregation event in New York City. He said that Fernandez represented wellbeing and progress for Dominicans, while the PRD candidate has no proposals and is only interested in power for his own personal benefit.
At the end of his term as mayor of Santo Domingo, Ventura authorized the Santo Domingo municipality to provide funds to guarantee the purchase of a new fleet of vehicles for transport association Fenatrano. Several of the beneficiaries have defaulted on the loans, and the municipality now wants taxpayers to foot the bill.
Fenatrano leader Juan Hubieres recently announced his support for PRD candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado.
Fernandez is expected to return to the country today after his weeklong re-election tour of Miami, Boston, New Jersey and New York in the company of First Lady Margarita Cedeno.

Hipolito campaigns for Miguel
A month and a half to go for the 16 May Election Day, and former President Hipolito Mejia and his PPH faction of the PRD announced over the weekend that they would campaign for Miguel Vargas Maldonado, the PRD candidate. Vargas served as minister of Public Works during the 2000-2004 Mejia administration.
Up to this moment, Vargas has campaigned using his name, in order to distance the PRD from Mejia and the PPH, whose reputation was tainted by the fallout from the Mejia administration. Mejia's decision to campaign for Vargas a complete change from the previous strategy of distancing the candidate from his former boss.
However, Hipolito Mejia did not show up at the huge rally that the PRD staged in Santo Domingo on Sunday. Participating were Angel Miolan, former Vice President Milagros Ortiz Bosch, Rafael Subervi Bonilla and Orlando Jorge Mera, secretary general, among others.

Public debt is 26% GDP
Currently at US$8.57 billion, the DR's public debt represents 26% of the country's Gross Domestic Product. As reported in the Listin Diario, US$4.5 billion was contracted at a fixed interest rate, and US$4.01 billion at a variable interest rate. A Ministry of Hacienda report says that the debt increased by US$191.6 million in the last quarter of 2007. In 2006, the debt was US$8.37 billion. 81.6% of the debt is contracted in US dollars. The Ministry of Hacienda indicates that 88.3% of the public debt is foreign debt, or US$7.55 billion. Of this, 23% is in sovereign and Brady bonds.
See www.hacienda.gov.do

Mega powers for Minister of Tourism
Chamber of Deputies president Julio Cesar Valentin says that this week the PLD-majority chamber is due to approve an Executive Power bill, creating the National Tourism Development Institute (Indetur). Diario Libre describes the bill as controversial, saying that it includes articles that violate the Constitution. For example, the bill gives the institute roles that are exclusive to the National Congress, such as taking on foreign debt. The minister of Tourism would have decision-making powers over how the funding would be used. The minister of Tourism would head the Indetur board and would only have to report decisions already made to the new institute's board.
Tourism Minister Felix Jimenez says that foreign loans will continue to require Congressional approval.
The bill has been already approved in the PLD-majority Senate.
Tourism Minister Felix Jimenez told Listin Diario that the bill would open the way for tourism development in 19 provinces. He stressed that it would permit the construction of the Miches highway, in order to link Samana and Punta Cana. He said the bill would also provide financing for building the Puerto Plata-Montecristi highway, and the Moncion-San Jose de las Matas, Janico-Juncalito-Jarabacoa-Constanza-Ocoa and Padre de las Casas highways.
The funds would also be used for improvements in Las Terrenas, Samana, where an underwater marine park, butterfly park and botanical garden are planned.

Car park fire hazard
Santo Domingo's fire chief General Oscar Guillermo Garcia is warning condominiums of the fire hazards in their underground parking areas, as reported in Listin Diario. Garcia said that residents should check to ensure that safety measures are in place in case of a fire in the parking lot. He said that as more vehicles are using propane gas as fuel, the risk of a potential explosion increases. He warned that underground parking areas should have smoke detectors to warn of a fire at all times, and that condominiums should have fire extinguishers. He also recommended that security personnel in buildings should have communications equipment to report any emergency.
He said that the most frequent cause of fire is the incorrect placement of gas tanks beside stoves in low-income households because of the lack of space.

Bad smell of justice in Santiago
The Santiago business community is asking the Supreme Court of Justice and the Dominican Lawyers Association to look into alleged irregularities that are affecting decisions by judges in labor courts. A Hoy newspaper editorial is being published as a paid advertisement to highlight the case of friendly settlements by employees and companies that have been turned around for profit by unscrupulous lawyers.

Campaign against teen pregnancies
The leading maternity hospital in the country, the Hospital de la Mujer y la Maternidad de la Altagracia is launching a nationwide advertising and educational campaign to encourage adolescents to avoid getting pregnant. The campaign, sponsored by pharmaceutical company Sanofi Aventis, is entitled "Don't skip life" (No te saltes la vida). Raysa Castillo of Sanofi said that the critical situation, where 41% of teenagers aged 15-18 is pregnant or has been pregnant at least once, had motivated the campaign. The Dominican Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology is also participating in the campaign, which will take place in June and includes a series of educational talks.

Mark Wiebe wins PGA
American golfer Mark Wiebe has won the PGA Champions Tour at Cap Cana. He takes home a US$300,000 check and the trophy. Wiebe had been ranked 34th in the Championship tour, with earnings of US$130,773 after seven events. His average scoring was 71.3. Runners-up were Argentina's Vicente Fernandez and American Jay Haas, who won US$176,000 and US$144,000 respectively. The Championship Tour is in its 29th year. This year's Cap Cana Championship was the first tour-sanctioned event ever held in the DR and marked the Champions Tour's return to the Caribbean since 1993 when it was played in Puerto Rico. The 2008 Cap Cana Championship is expected to have a significant impact on the DR in terms of tourism, media exposure and promotional benefits. The Golf Channel carried eight hours of live TV over three days, which would be re-aired for a minimum of eight additional hours. The organizers have agreed to hold three tournaments at the Jack Nicklaus Punta Espada golf course.
For a full report, see www.dr1.com/forums/east-coast/73867-cap-cana-pro-am-report.html

Latin American table tennis
The DR placed first in the Latin American Olympic Qualification Tournament and Latin American Championship held in Santo Domingo from 30 March to 6 April. Players from 18 countries were competing. The DR won three gold medals and one silver. Brazil placed second, and Cuba third.
Twenty-eight year old Wu Xue beat her teammate, twenty-five year old Lian Qian to secure the Women's Singles title at the Latin American Championships on the final day of competition.
The competition followed the Women's Singles event at the Latin American Olympic Qualification tournament held earlier in the week, where six players qualified, plus two reserves. The two reserves were the two losing finalists on the third day of play. These eight players competed in the event, bringing eight days of play in Santo Domingo to a close.

Monday sales
Malaquias is advertising 40-60% off in its women's and men's clothing departments.
La Iberica on Av. Nunez de Caceres is advertising spring sales from 7-20 April on ceramics, from RD$269 per meter, and kitchen equipment for RD$39,000 (stove, oven and extractor).
Palo Rosa at Av. Roberto Pastoriza 102, Naco also has sales on Spanish ceramics, toilets and sinks.
Arbaje Soni is advertising its big spring sale on furniture. Calle Paseo de los Locutores 27, Piantini.
Ilumel is advertising 70% off at the Av. Abraham Lincoln furniture store.
Bravo Supermarket is advertising Parmalat 2% milk for RD$41.95liter, Ballester extra virgin olive oil for RD$249.95liter, Niagara starch for RD$39.95/22oz, Clorox for RD$79.95 per gallon, Fab for RD$89.95/1000grs and Trapiche wine for RD$219.95.
Walid Attias Comercial at Lope de Vega 82, Naco has a sale on sofas and tables, with sofas from RD$5,795.
Anthony's clothing store is advertising 50% off sales, and 70% off Oscar de la Renta shirts (down to RD$795ea).
La Cadena supermarket is promoting its Baronia pasta range for RD$49.95.
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