Daily News

Daily News - Friday, 03 July 2015 (Archived Daily News)

Internet Society hosts regional meeting in Santo Domingo
(Image courtesy of internetsociety.org)

31,275 Haitians leave voluntarily

As of Thursday, 2 July 2015, 31,275 Haitian immigrants are known to have left through legal exit points. The media reports that most of the people crossing the border have not completed the paperwork to legalize their status in the Dominican Republic under the National Foreigner Legalization Plan (PNRE). Of the total, around 2,000 have taken advantage of free transport offered by the Dominican government.

The grace period under the PNRE ends on 6 July 2015, after which those that have not registered or legalized their status are subject to deportation.

As reported in Diario Libre, the Dajabon border checkpoint is the busiest crossing site, with 23,541 persons reported to have left, followed by Elias Pina with 4,295, Jimani with 2,519 and Pedernales with 920. Of those that have left, 15,777 are men, 8,371 are women and 7,127 are minors.

The Dominican government has said that those who voluntarily leave the country can apply in the future for residency by completing the required paperwork.

Canadian diplomat says DR is putting its house in order

The senior trade commissioner of the Canadian Embassy in the Dominican Republic Aladin Legault d`Auteuil, commented at the celebration of Canada Day in Santo Domingo on 1 July 2015, that the Dominican Republic is putting its house in order in a prudent manner, as reported in Hoy.

He commented that there have been clear improvements in the country and he sees the future of the nation with optimism and a strengthening of relations between the Dominican Republic and Canada. He said that around 800,000 Canadian tourists visit the Dominican Republic every year, and the country is the largest commercial partner with Canada in the region.


New York Times Magazine publishes piece that blasts DR

A New York Times Magazine opinion piece by Jonathan Katz writes that the National Foreigner Legalization Plan is a "time bomb " and accuses Dominicans of racism and xenophobia for implementing the National Foreigner Legalization Plan. The author criticizes that the Dominican government has offered free trucking service to transport the belongings of families that want to voluntarily leave after not being able to complete the regularization process.

The Dominican government gave foreigners 18 months to regularize their status and accepted essential documents such as a birth certificate and proof of having lived in the country prior to 2011. The article, however, does not point out that a large number of Haitians were not able to complete their paperwork when the government of Haiti was negligent in providing basic documents such as birth certificate.

The New York Times Magazine joins other media outlets that have practiced selective journalism when reporting about the Plan, as the former Dominican ambassador to the US, Flavio Dario Espinal has pointed out.

The article fails to discuss the normalization effort to regularize the status of all foreigners from dozens of countries who lived here and had to just pay fines to leave through airports and seaports after having overstayed the time allowed on a tourist card.

The international media have apparently not reported stories that highlight the benefits afforded to Haitians who, for the first time, have been granted documents that legalize their status. While, in most cases, persons from other nationalities already have essential documents such as passports or birth certificates, many Haitian immigrants do not possess these documents. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians who have lived here for several generations without any formal identification documents are now benefitting from the Dominican government's efforts to resolve these long-standing immigration and naturalization issues.

Haitians living in the country to find work have been informally integrated into the social services network, although thousands had never legalized their status.

The Medina government sought to give legal status to all living in the country, and this program also has benefitted Haitian immigrants. In most cases, the Dominican government's efforts to normalize the immigration status for Haitian residents has been derailed because of the Haitian government's inability to issue legal papers, such as birth certificates, to Haitians who desire to complete the immigration application process in the Dominican Republic. It is estimated that more than half the population in Haiti does not possess documents that establish their legal status which is an essential element of human rights in today's world.

In 2007, the Dominican government began to organize its civil registry, uncovering irregularities as a result of decades of Dominican government negligence in dealing with the massive immigration of undocumented people from Haiti. The civil registry had become essentially a "marketplace" that permitted individuals to modify records, including changes in age for aspiring Major League Baseball prospects, and the issuing of forged Dominican identity documents for drug dealers and other criminals.

The Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 ordered the implementation of the National Migration Plan that was drafted in 2004, but had not been implemented. The Medina administration accepted the challenge of overcoming decades of immigration and civil identity chaos by implementing the Plan. The government went a step further by nationalizing around 60,000 people that had been born in the Dominican Republic or had obtained an identity document that was issued in an irregular manner by the civil registry. In addition, approximately 300,000 other persons were registered in the system.



Caution and courtesy to OAS inspectors

Diario Libre comments today in an editorial that the announcement that the Organization of American States will send staff from its Haitian office to investigate the implementation of the immigration plan is but yet another attempt to plant doubts about the integrity of the National Foreigner Legalization Plan. The editorial urges Dominicans to treat the representatives in a courteous manner. "It is known that the intention of this visit is to provoke the Dominican people, there can be no other explanation for the human rights organization to send representatives from its Haitian office to investigate our country," writes the newspaper's editors.

The Diario Libre editor observes that there is nothing to hide and Dominicans should be hospitable to the commission, but understand that the commission's motives may be nefarious.

The editorialist urges people to be aware that there are accusations that government personnel are trying to unduly influence how the Plan is being evaluated, when members of the official government communications staff participate in press conferences. The newspaper speculates that leaves open the opportunity of the visitors to say that persons paid by the government 'ganged up' on them.

"If we believe in the integrity of the implementation of the Plan, despite the inevitable errors and omissions that must be addressed, let us leave the provocateurs alone. The truth will float to the surface and as Duarte said, "We do not have to lose faith in the justice of our cause."


Historians appeal for OAS to ask for pardon for military intervention

Three leading historians in the Dominican Republic, Roberto Cassa, Juan Daniel Balcacer and Jesus de la Rosa backed a proposal by the director of El Dia, Rafael Molina Morillo that the Organization of American States go on record asking the Dominican people for pardon for having endorsed and legalized the US military invasion of 1965. The invasion sought to impede that the democratically elected ousted government of former President Juan Bosch of being reinstated by the populace.

In a letter to Molina, historian Juan Daniel Balccer says that the institutional mea culpa would allow the OAS to demonstrate it is capable of reflection and amending errors committed in the past."

Molina Morillo proposes that this recognition and apology for past acts by the OAS be a condition for the country to be host of the General Assembly in 2016. The assembly will coincide with the 100th year of the first Dominican military occupation that began in 1916 and ended in 1924.

Historian De la Rosa says that the OAS should apologize for two incidences: not only did the OAS legalize or approve the invasion in 1965, but this agency also assisted in the coercion that Bonilla Artiles, a Dominican diplomat who did not legally represent the country, vote in favor of the invasion.

The director of the National Historic Archives, Robrto Cassa says that it is time that the OAS would vindicate itself, not only with the Dominican people, but with all peoples of the Americas, for having backed the military intervention. He said that decision represented a blow to Dominican democracy and that opened a path for the installation of a semi-dictatorship process of governance in the country.

"The responsibility of the fall-out of this intervention lies squarely on the shoulders of the Organization of American States, so I fully agree with Dr. Molina Morillo," said Cassa.



Icomos protests new construction proposed for San Francisco Ruins

The Dominican chapter of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (Icomos) protests plans to create an entertainment center at the San Francisco Ruins

The new plan calls for the construction of several new structures and the elimination of the green area at the San Francisco Ruins. The San Francisco Ruins are considered, along with the Cathedral of Santo Domingo one of the most emblematic areas of the Colonial City.

In a letter to Minister of Culture Jose Antonio Rodriguez, architect Risoris Silvestre of Icomos said that if the government decides to go ahead with the new project, the Dominican chapter of Icomos would request that the ruins of San Francisco be included in the UNESCO Endangered List of World Heritage Sites.

Icomos says that the project designed to transform the San Francisco Ruins into an entertainment center for tourists does not have the approval of the National Department of Monument Heritage of the Ministry of Culture, nor was it approved by the Cultural Assets Department of the City of Santo Domingo. Recently, the government transferred administrative oversight of monuments from the Ministry of Culture to the Ministry of Tourism that is carrying out a major urban renewal project with funds from the InterAmerican Development Bank.

Silvestre adds that the company that won the tender for the construction of the entertainment center has not been vetted by Center of World Heritage of Unesco, as per guidelines for World Heritage Sites, such as the Colonial City. The Icomos spokesperson says this project threatens to compromise the integrity of the declaration that names the Colonial City as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The winning project bid includes building a modern concrete ceiling above the centuries old structures, as well as a new wall treatment that contrasts with the antiquity of the old walls. The green area around the ruins would be eliminated to build a parking lot, an amphitheater and other new structures.

Icomos concludes that the new project affects the authenticity of the monument and its surroundings and thus would be a flagrant violation of the norms that the Unesco requires to maintain the declaration of the Colonial City as World Heritage Site.


Bosch wouldn't have approved of so many public places in his honor

Diario Libre editorialist Adriano Miguel Tejada comments today that founder of the ruling PLD, the late writer and politician Juan Bosch would not have approved the naming of so many public works in his honor. Tejada equates what the Medina administration is doing to the days of Dictator Trujillo when everything was named for the dictator.

He writes: "Now everything is Juan Bosch, who is rendered a thousand honors, and one wonders if the 'love' that the PLD shows to the founder of their party is not a way to cover up the ways in the party has made a mockery of Bosch's honest actions.

There seems to be no major state works that do not bear his name. Party leaders are soiling his reputation by putting his name on buildings where millions of pesos of public funds have been stolen.

"Thus, dozens of schools, polytechnics, bridges, hospitals, libraries, a Metro station, countless streets and avenues, and government housing project all bear his name, ignoring that fact that so many notable public servants also deserve recognition.

Tejada also criticizes that in the proposed provincial trilogy, the result of the ruling PLD party agreement with the PRD opposition party for the votes to pass the re-election constitutional amendment, one of the provinces would also carry Bosch's name.

Tejada concludes: "It is that the PLD cannot be a little more original to not be so similar to Trujillo's megalomania? Please. Bosch would not approve of that."


Three political alliance proposals

Guillermo Moreno of the Country Alliance (Alianza Pais) political party explains that there are three electoral coalitions being proposed to the Dominican people for the 2016 presidential election. These include the block organized by the Dominican government, which he called the Partido Revolucionario de la Liberacion Reformista, noting the alliances with the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC) and the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). While the PRSC is a long-time ally with the PLD, the alliance with the PRD is new and was forged so that the ruling party could secure a sufficient number of votes in Congress for the passing of the amendment to the 2010 Constitution, that now allows for President Danilo Medina to run for President in 2016.

Moreno explained that the opposition consists of two blocks: one block that is headed by the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), the political party that was founded by dissidents who objected to actions of PRD President Miguel Vargas Maldonado; and the block lead by Alianza Pais.

Guillermo Moreno explained that Alianza Pais's alliance offers a clear alternative model of governance from what the ruling PLD party has established. "


Yellow alert for increased government borrowing

Economic Ernesto Selman of the Regional Center for Sustainable Economic Strategies (CREES) echoed the concern of the Association of Industries of the Dominican Republic regarding the excessive taking-on of debt by the Dominican government. "The concern of the directors of the Association of Industries is valid," he stated. He says that the payment obligations of the public debt are increasing and there will be problems if the current pace of the accumulation of debt continues. He said the financial situation in the Dominican Republic could soon mirror those fiscal problems that Puerto Rico and Greece are facing. Selman proposed that the Congress pass legislation that limits public spending, public indebtedness and the fiscal debt, while supporting financial responsibility and fiscal transparency


Blackouts at the Metro

Officials of the Metro Office in Santo Domingo (OPRET) announced that, together with French company Siemens, they are investigating the causes of the power interruptions that have affected the operation of the Santo Domingo Metro lines. Leonel Carrasco said that commuters do not risk being stuck in the trains or in the tunnels, because the system has sensors that can move the trains by gravity.

He apologized to the users for the inconveniences, and said that those who present proof they were on one of the affected trains can request a refund.

On Monday through Thursday there were power failures at the Maria Montez, Pedro Franco Bono, Dr. Defillo, Freddy Beras Goico and Pedro Mir stations.


Alert to taxing flour and printing inputs

The Federation of Industrial Associations (FAI) alerted that an omission in the amendment of Art. 20 of the Law 392-07 on Competitiveness and Industrial Innovation managed by Pro Industria leaves out many imports that had benefitted with zero taxes as covered by Law 557-05 on Tax Reform. If the amendment is approved, a long list of items would now be taxed, including wheat flour, newsprint, paper used for publishing books, and print inputs, inputs for the production of pharmaceuticals, fertilizers and plastic packaging. Ramon Porfirio Baez said that these raw materials are critical to a wide range of industries and businesses. He noted that even before the entry of the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement these items were not taxed. Baez commented that authorizing the taxation of these items will cause a windfall of price increases as a result in increases in direct costs for products manufactured by the baking industry, graphics industry, newspapers, apparel and agribusiness, among others.

He said the director of Pro Industria, Alexandra Izquierdo, the Vice Minister for Industrial Development of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Vinicio Mella, among other government officials have been alerted of the situation.


The new baseball millionaires

19 Dominicans that will turn 16 years old in 2015 became instant millionaire yesterday after obtaining record bonuses totaling more than US$45 million. Outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz who was signed by the Phillies of Philadelphia received the best contract estimated at US$4.2 million. Other prospects receiving high bonuses were Wander Javier, signed by the Minnesota Twins for US$4 million; Vladimir Guerrero, son of Montreal's former player, Vladimir Guerrero, who was signed for US$3.9 million; Starling Heredia signed by the Dodgers for US$2.6 million and Yonathan Sierra, signed for US$2.5 million with the Chicago Cubs.


DR makes finals in Men's World Softball Championship

The Dominican Republic has made it to the finals of the 14th Men's World Softball Championship taking place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan in Canada. The DR finished first in Pool B with 6 wins and 1 loss (to the United States). The DR defeated Australia, Venezuela, Japan, Mexico, Denmark and the Netherlands.



Internet Society hosts regional meeting in Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is host to a major Internet conference on Tuesday, 7 July 2015, at the Santo Domingo Sheraton. The InterCommunity 2015 regional event is organized by The Internet Society community (ISOC Global) to promote its vision: "the Internet is for everyone." Discussions are scheduled at the Santo Domingo Sheraton from 8:30am to 4pm with a dialogue on the governance of the Internet in the Dominican Republic.

The InterCommunity event is a platform to advance the global conversation on concerns of the Internet.

The Santo Domingo meetings are part of an international gathering. Those interested can join online or go in-person to the regional event held in Santo Domingo.

Speakers include Sally Shipman Wentworth, Vice President of Development of Global Policies of the Internet Society (ISOC); Aitor Martinez of the Fundacion Internacional BAltazar Garzon (Fibgar) and Clara Collado of Network Information Center (NIC.DO).

The event has the local support of the Dominican Institute of Telecommunications.




Greatest Merengue Hits of the 1980s and 90s at Hard Rock Cafe

Golden Years All Star on Friday, 3 July 2015 will be an evening for lovers of good merengue. Starting at 10pm, Carlos David, Aramis Camilo, July Mateo (Rasputin), Henry Hierro, Ray Polanco, Tito y Gaby (Los Kenton), Benny Sadel, Ramon Orlando, Diomedes, Pochy Familia and Sergio Vargas, accompanied by an all-star orchestra will bring back the greatest merengue hits of the 1980s and 90s at the Hard Rock Cafe in Santo Domingo's Blue Mall. Tickets are RD$1,500 general admission, RD$2,000 VIP.

Expo Taiwan 2015

Expo Republic of China (Taiwan) opens at the Salon Ambar of the Dominican Fiesta Hotel on 8 July 2015 and continues through 11 July 2015 from 10am to 8pm.

Admission is free. The event is organized by the Taiwan embassy in the Dominican Republic. For more information, call 809 533-4272 or email emb.taiwanrd@gmail.com

For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar

To read more news, see the DR1 News Archives at: http://dr1.com/premium/news/2015/index.shtml