Daily News

Daily News - Friday, 24 April 2015 (Archived Daily News)

International Book Fair opens
(Image courtesy of presidencia.gob.do)

International Book Fair opens

This year's Santo Domingo International Book Fair, now in its 18th year, is dedicated to writer Manuel Rueda. Peru is the guest country, and a range of cultural awareness events marking the 50th anniversary of the 1965 Civil War will be held. President Danilo Medina cut the ribbon to formally open the fair at a ceremony at the National Theater yesterday evening, Thursday 23 April 2015. The full schedule of cultural events at the grounds of the Plaza de la Cultura Juan Pablo Duarte continues until 4 May 2015. This year, nearly 430 international publishing houses, 209 bookstores and book-related companies. 630 Dominican authors will be taking part and 41 new Dominican books will be launched at the fair, whose theme this year is "Reinventing Reading."

The government announced that RD$4.5 million has been distributed to public school children to purchase books at the book fair.

Peruvian ambassador Enrique Palacios said that his country has sent a large delegation of 15 writers and "a ton of books" from 41 publishing houses The 11-day event also includes theater, music, cinema and gastronomical treats.

However, Peru's most famous author, Nobel prize for literature laureate Mario Vargas Llosa will not be attending "due to other commitments." Vargas Llosa's article, "The Pariah of the Caribbean" criticized the Dominican Constitutional Court for ruling that not everyone born in the Dominican Republic was Dominican. The writer described the ruling as "an aberration" and compared it to the Nuremberg Laws that stripped German Jews of their nationality in 1935.



Municipalities to be monitored

To coincide with the celebration of the National City Governments Day today, Friday 24 April 2015, the Medina administration launched a new Municipal Public Administration Monitoring System during a ceremony at the Presidential Palace attended by President Danilo Medina.

The software monitors city governments in order to improve municipal management. It created a coordination space between the main government ministries and public institutions that support the city governments and help with the preparation of joint plans.

As well as ensuring transparency and accountability, a key objective is to contribute comprehensive solutions to municipal problems by professionalizing the human resources, planning and the social participation. Dominican Municipalities Federation (FEDOMU) president, Mayor Juan de los Santos, spoke during the event and advocated for a national policy and mechanisms aimed at reaching the stage where local governments can achieve quality management targets. "We need tools that help us to understand and make evident this reality, that allow us to better diagnose where we are in the management of our city governments," he said.


Botanical Gardens calls for protection of endangered species

The director general of the National Botanical Gardens, Ricardo Garcia, is appealing to the general public to protect the more than 6,000 species of plants, many of which are threatened with extinction as a result of improper conduct by past and present generations.

Garcia reiterated the Botanical Gardens commitment to the preservation and protection of the country's flora in order to ensure sustainability. Speaking on the occasion of International Earth Day, Wednesday 22 April 2015, Garcia said: "if we protect and take care of our flora, we will ensure that present and future generations of Dominicans will be able living in harmony with the environment without the degradation of our home, planet Earth."

The Earth Day event was attended by hundreds of students from public and private schools who went on guided walks through the forests of the natural reserve, where they were able to see for themselves the great impact of this large protected space.

Minimum salaries would be lower under reclassification

The minimum salary of a large number of companies that are currently defined as large, would be reduced to RD$7,763 or RD$6,880 from the current RD$11,292, if the business sector proposal to reclassify companies according to size goes through. The proposal was made through the Dominican Republic Management Confederation (COPARDOM), as a starting point for a salary increase for non-sector private employees on a minimum wage. Those minimum salaries, according to the reclassification suggested by the business sector, which is supported by Law 488-08 on the regulation of the Mipymes, would be enacted in these companies for the new employees, but not for those who already receive the minimum salary of RD$11,292.

The proposal has met with opposition from labor representatives on the grounds that very few companies would have to pay the current minimum wage of RD$11,292, affecting the welfare of future employees. In the DR a company is defined as big if its installations are equal to or greater than RD$4 million. The business sector proposes to reclassify big companies based on assets of RD$40 million.

According to Law 488-08, a company is considered small when it has assets of between RD$3 million and RD$12 million, which means that with this patrimony they used to have to pay the highest minimum wage, and now they would pay the lowest minimum wage, of RD$6,880. Given the possibility that the companies that classify for a minimum wage, which is less than the current level, might fire personnel in order to contract employees with the new and lower minimum wage, the business sector representative said that this would be unlikely because one of the main problems for the companies is having to meet the cost of severance payments.


ANJE calls on unions to continue talks

The president of the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE), Angelina Biviana Riveiro, issued a call to the unions on Thursday, 23 April 2015 to continue talks aimed at reaching an agreement with management. Her comments came after the union representatives walked out of the meeting of the National Committee on Salaries that was discussing the issue of a general salary increase for most private sector employees. After walking out of the meeting, CNTD union leader Jacobo Ramos described management as "unfeeling" and said that they would soon begin a series of actions against the position taken by the employers. The unions are asking for an overall 30% salary increase in the minimum wage. According to the management sector the only viable way for this to take place is to reclassify businesses according to Law 488-08 that covers the micro, small business and medium-sized business.

AIRD wants government to purchase locally

The Dominican Republic Association of Industries (AIRD) has called on government entities to comply with the commitment made by President Danilo Medina to give preference to locally manufactured products for government procurement. The executive vice president of the AIRD, Circe Almanzar, regretted that some public institutions, under pressure from importers, have recently eliminated the preference for sourcing goods locally.

Almanzar said that both the Government Procurement Law as well as DR CAFTA (the free trade agreement with the United States and Central America) establish the possibility of favoring and privileging national products in the procedures for the acquisition of food products for state assistance programs. She noted that the dispositions and requirements of nondiscrimination stipulated in the chapter that refers to public contracts in DR CAFTA (chapter 9) do not have to be applied to the purchasing programs of governments in order to promote poverty relief for protection of women, disabled people, or children and adolescents, especially in rural areas and along the border with Haiti.


PRM primary this Sunday

The PRM, an opposition party made up of dissidents from the PRD under Miguel Vargas Maldonado, will be holding its primary this Sunday, 26 April 2015. The event matches former President Hipolito Mejia against his vice presidential candidate in the 2012 presidential election. Yesterday, Thursday 23 April 2015, former Vice President Milagros Ortiz Bosch, who is coordinating the event, announced that a pact had been signed between the pre-candidates, Hipolito Mejia, Luis Abinader, Amaury Justo Duarte and Geanilda Vasquez. The agreement establishes that the winning candidate commits to sharing the leadership of the campaign proportionally with the other pre-candidates' teams. The candidates also agreed to share government decisions with the other pre-candidates.

The PRM convention has set up 2,500 voting centers located in public schools nationwide. The party's voting list consists of 2.4 million people and 17,000 will take part in Sunday's event, which is said to have cost RD$18 million and not the RD$30 million that had initially been budgeted. The funds have been contributed by the pre-candidates and a bank loan.

The PRM does not receive any funds from the JCE, as it is a splinter party from the PRD, which receives all the funds.

Ortiz Bosch said that the pre-candidates' campaigns would end at midnight tonight Friday, 24 April 2015. Voting will take place from 8am to 5pm on Sunday. The first bulletin on the ballot counting is scheduled for Sunday at 6pm, the second at 10:30pm, a third at midnight. The results will be announced at the PRM headquarters on Calle Cesar Nicolas Penson near the intersection with Av. Maximo Gomez in Santo Domingo.


Leonel's followers are entrenched

The atmosphere within the PLD remains tense, with rumors that Leonel Fernandez's followers plan to take to the streets this weekend, 25-26 April 2015 to inform the PLD rank and file about their rejection of the decision by the Political Committee to launch a constitutional reform in order to permit President Danilo Medina to run for re-election. However, a spokesman for former President Leonel Fernandez, Domingo Jimenez, denied that they were planning assemblies or to engage in any actions that might be considered a "rebellion" against the Political Committee's authority. Jimenez stated that no speech by Fernandez is planned for the moment, but he did not exclude the possibility of this happening in the next few days.

"Nobody is going to act rebelliously, we want party unity and we are calling on them to reconsider this decision, which is undoubtedly a mistake. The future of the reform is not determined; the PLD does not have the majority and this is going to depend on many factors," he declared. San Cristobal senator Tommy Galan called for the acceptance of the decision by the PLD leadership bodies because later on they would not respect the authority of the decisions that come from the highest levels. "I am recommending patience more than agitation," said the legislator, after pointing out that the PLD president, the general secretary and the party authorities are the ones responsible for validating the decisions by the authorized bodies. He said there was no need to engage in any type of action that contributes to the agitation within the PLD, and expressed confidence that an agreement would be reached between the sectors.


Brewster confronts Mejia over anti-gay comments

The United States ambassador in the country, James W Brewster, has confronted former President Hipolito Mejia over his recent comments in New York on homosexuality and gay marriage, which he described as derogatory. "I am particularly shocked and disheartened at your recent disrespect and insensitive comments about people who have a different sexual orientation than yours, because we have been together in our respective homes," he said in a letter sent to the former President. He said that the term "little queer" used by Mejia is pejorative and perpetuates bullying, discrimination against minorities and promotes abuse at all levels of society. He says that although Mejia's words were not intended as an insult, they had that effect.

"As the former President of the Dominican Republic and a public figure, your comments reflect a negative image of your nation's dignity. Many Dominicans here and overseas are fighting for equality between everyone created by God, a struggle that I hope you appreciate and lead," he stated. Brewster said that his husband, Bob Satawake, was willing to meet with Mejia to discuss the issue. He said that the former President's arguments against gay marriage, concerning procreation, as well as discriminating against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community, also insult the significant number of people who are unable to have children or who choose not to procreate.


Victor Estrella defeats 9th world ranked tennis player in Barcelona

For the first time, the 34-year old Dominican tennis player Victor Estrella has defeated one of the 10 top tennis players in the world. Playing in the Barcelona Open, part of the ATP World Tour, yesterday, Thursday 23 April 2015, he defeated 26-year old Marin Cilic of Croatia, ranked 9th in the world, 6/4, 6,4. In the next round, nevertheless, he lost to Martin Klizan of Slovakia, 6/4, 6/3.

Tourism Ministry to commemorate 24 April at Plaza Espana

The Ministry of Tourism (Mitur) is marking the 50th anniversary of the April 1965 Civil War at the Plaza de Espana in Santo Domingo's Colonial City. The Ministry has prepared a memorable evening of events commemorating the experiences of the Dominican people when they took up arms to restore Juan Bosch's democratically elected government to power. The revolt against the military coup was successful when the OAS authorized US troops to invade and put a stop to the government restoration effort. At the time the US feared Juan Bosch would create a Communist state.

According to the Ministry's Cultural Tourism director, the evening will consist of performances of music and poetry on the theme of the events of 1965. All of this is part of the "Santo Domingo Fiesta" program that is celebrated on a regular basis throughout the Colonial City. Several well-known singers, including Claudio Cohen and Sonia Alfonso, will be joined onstage by musicians Maria Morell and Camille Berroa. The event starts at 8:30 pm this Saturday 25 April, at the Plaza Espana.

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