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Daily News - Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Not even Leonel gets agreement
A three-hour discussion took place last night at the Presidential Palace and no agreement to show for it. Last night, President Leonel Fernandez tried to help find a solution to the on going troubles of the Seguro Familiar Social (SFS), a general health plan that would replace medical insurance as it has been issued previously. The worries surrounding the SFS are mounting considering that it is supposed to go into effect on 1 June. Companies have begun to make the additional discounts for the service, while there are still too many loose ends for the plan to provide services on schedule.
In response to the ineffectiveness of yesterday's meetings, the President announced that the government's health sector would meet today to find a solution to the problem.
The Listin Diario writes that the President is leading all discussions in order to try to get the health plan in place for the 1 June scheduled start. Hoy explains that if an agreement is not reached, Fernandez would have final say as to the future of the SFS.
Enriquillo Matos, president of the Colegio Medico Dominicano, expressed his frustrations by saying that during the meetings a lot of people were talking without knowing what they were saying and lamented the fact that the government made no concrete proposal for a solution during the meeting.
Vice President Rafael Alburquerque says that three issues are standing in the way of any progress. First is the issue of retribution for medical services, second is the fund for traffic accidents treatment, and third is the ability of patients to choose the doctor and clinic.

IMF mission on the economy
According to Andy Wolfe, chief of the IMF mission in the Dominican Republic, the country has reached its main economic goals for the first quarter of the year, with growth continuing and inflation below guidelines set by the Central Bank. But Diario Libre reports that Treasury Minister Vicente Bengoa will ask the IMF for a special dispensation in passing monetary and energy laws requested by the IMF. The bills deal with the issuing of internal bonds for the capitalization of the Central bank and the modification of the General Electricity Law. Bengoa said that those bills have been in Congress for months. Bengoa said that if these do not pass, they will be seen as the DR not fulfilling preset objectives.

Voting abroad could be suspended
Central Electoral Board (JCE) judge Jose Angel Aquino said that voting abroad in the 2008 presidential elections could be cancelled because of budgetary constrainments. Aquino said the cedula process could be suspended in New York, New Jersey, Miami, Puerto Rico, Canada, Spain, Venezuela, Panama and other locations. Aquino says that the JCE doesn't have the money to operate those offices and prepare for the election. Aquino pointed to the RD$9 million budget deficit. Matters are made worse by pressures from political parties that object that the JCE offices abroad secure additional funds issuing voting and ID registration cards (known as cedulas) for US$45. In the DR, the first cedulas and duplicate are free.

Sans Souci Ports loan
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), has approved a US$21 million for the Sans Souci Ports. The funds will be used to expand and better manage the Santo Domingo cruise ship port. Salem Rohana, manger of the IFC, expressed his pleasure at participating in a project that contributes to the infrastructure and tourism in the country. The IFC, which is part of the World Bank, is the world's largest multilateral source of finance for private sector projects in developing countries.

Venezuela helps Dominicans
A group of Dominicans is on their way to Venezuela to have cataract surgery thanks to a program sponsored by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. The program, Mision Milagrosa, will provide care for 100 Dominicans. This is the third group of Dominicans treated under the program that is funded by the Venezuelan government. The program dates back to the cooperation agreement of 5 July 2004. Dominican ambassador to Venezuela, Belisario Landis, speaking in Hoy, says that the program will cover transport, hospital and pre-operational expenses over a 10 day period. Landis said that the mission is of humanitarian nature. Landis also said cataracts are increasing among Dominicans. Another 80 persons are wait-listed for the next eye surgery mission. In all 280 Dominicans have received treatment through the initiative.

Domingo Abreu recognized for Pomier Caves
Domingo Abreu was recognized during the Counterpart International10th Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) for his persistent fight for the environment. The event took place in Puerto Rico, 17-20 May. Abreu, a speleologist, geologist and ecological editor for the national Dominican newspaper Hoy, was recognized for his efforts in saving the Pomier Caves - "an example of the impossible being made possible". The caves were being destroyed by companies digging for construction material in the area. Through his efforts he demonstrated the caves were worth more as an ecological attraction than as construction material. The cave system is the largest in the Caribbean. The Pomier Caves fight continues, but through his efforts large sections of the monumental underground system are still there.
Puerto Rico's TV reporter, Sylvia Gomez of Telemundo (Canal 2) also won a CMEx Media Award for a documental on global warming, and Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), the Caribbean's major provider of internet and satellite distribution services, which includes live sports and news events, was recognised for unifying the Caribbean region and for contributing to the development of the Caribbean spirit.

Iraqis detained at AILA
Diario Libre is reporting that state security agents as well as security agents from the US Embassy in Santo Domingo are investigating the arrival of 11 Iraqis to Santo Domingo's Las Americas International Airport. The Iraqis flew from Haiti. Of the 11 Iraqis, there are two pregnant women and a three-year old child. Diario Libre also writes that the group was detained for security concerns and the travelers could be deported within the next hours. The suspicion arose when the group arrived to the DR, without visas, with plans to continue on to Venezuela, Colombia, Curacao and Argentina though none had the proper visas to enter those countries. Officials said that they would be returned to Haiti, the country they originated from, as soon as possible.

Canadian ambassador calls for more security
Canadian ambassador in the DR, Patricia Fortier, is asking Dominican officials to increase the security in tourist areas. Fortier says that last year, 600,000 Canadians visited the DR, mostly the northern part of the country. She said that Canadians continue to be a driving force in the development of that region. She says that more than half a million entered by way of Puerto Plata, proof that Canadians feel that Puerto Plata is the home of Canadians in the DR.

Violence against women
Roxanna Reyes, prosecutor for women's affairs, said that in the first three months of the year, 30 women had died, victims of partner violence. She said that last year, 200 women were violently killed. She commented that in Spain, that has 40 million inhabitants, there were only 60 cases of violence against women in the year.

Slain drug dealer was out on bail
Hoy reports that slain drug trafficker, Jaime Alonso Calle Munoz, was out on RD$10 million bail when he was shot last Saturday in the parking lot of the Bakkus liquor store. Calle had gotten out on 11 May but had been in jail after being caught with 442 kilos of pure cocaine. National Drug Control Department president Rafael Ramirez said that he has no idea how an international drug trafficker like Calle would be allowed out on bail. Diario Libre reports that the bail against Calle was gradually reduced as it made its way through the Dominican court system. The bail started at RD$50 million in cash, and then the Penal Chamber of the Court of Appeals reduced it to a bail contract of RD$10 million. As reported in Hoy, Calle paid RD$360,000 of the bail set by Judge Natividad de los Santos. Calle was murdered barely 48 hours after leaving jail.

Vanessa's killers get sentenced
Angelo Ventura Herrera has been sentenced to 30 years in jail and Ricardo Reyes Martinez and Amaury German Tavares have been sentenced to 20 years in jail each for the murder of the youth Vanessa Ramirez Fana almost one year ago. A fourth suspect, Francis de Jesus Garcia has been sentenced to 5 years in jail for renting the motorbike used the night Vanessa was killed. Juan Ramirez and Rosaida Fana, parents of the slain youth were in the court room to hear the verdict. Vanessa was shot and killed on 9 June 2006 and all the assailants took was her cell phone. The senseless murder caused pain and heartbreak among many Dominicans

Mr. Cool not a hot commodity
The Customs Department (DGA) announced that yesterday it has taken 90,000 units of Mr. Cool and Excel toothpastes out of circulation. The toothpastes, imported from China through Panama, contain the toxic chemical Diethylene Glycol. In Panama, 100 deaths were reported due to the use of the toothpaste. The toothpaste was imported as animal feed, as reported in the Listin Diario. Intelligence officials at Customs say they managed to get toothpastes that were being sold at the market in Villa Consuelo, in Pequeno Haiti, and the Avenida Duarte, shopping areas primarily frequented by the poorest consumers. Listin Diario writes that Customs has collected shipments in various provinces and has warned the Haitian government about the dangers of the toothpastes.

Tropico in the DR
"Tropico," the first soap opera filmed in the DR, is preparing to premiere on 28 May. It is a Venevision International (Grupo Cisneros of Venezuela) production, and Luis Llosa was the director. Hoy writes that the DR was chosen because of the country's nature sites, local talent and manpower, plus the competitive advantages of the capital city. Tropico is a love story starring Scarlett Ortiz and Victor Gonzalez. It marks the return of Jose Luis "El Puma" Rodriguez to television. The soap, filmed with a US$4 million investment, displays beautiful beaches in Las Terrenas and La Romana.
In the DR, the soap opera will be shown on Antena Latina.

Alejandro Sanz concert postponed
The highly anticipated concert featuring the participation of Wisin y Yandel, Alejandro Sanz and Ricardo Arjona is postponed until 3 July. The concert had been scheduled for 3 June. Show promoter Raymond Diaz explained, through a press release, Alejandro Sanz. Sanz has been ordered by his doctors to take a break for a few weeks. Diario Libre writes that tickets to the show which have already been bought will still be valid when the show takes place in a month.

Huchi Lora & Nuria on radio
News commentator Huchi Lora and TV investigative journalist Nuria Piera have joined forces to present "Nuria y Huchi en CDN," an interactive news talk show Monday to Friday, from 5 to 7pm. The first show airs Monday, 28 May. Lora has been in the limelight recently for winning a court ruling that calls for Metro director, Diandino Pena to release metro plans approved by the Ministry of Public Works and geological studies. Both Lora and Piera have their highly ranked TV shows. During the announcement of the show, Piera committed to maintain high journalistic standards.

Bronze in world tae kwon do event
Dominican Yajaira Peguero tied for bronze with a Kazakhstan athlete in the 2007 Beijing WTF World Taekwondo Championships, a qualifying event for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Peguero won in the female flyweight (under 51kg) category. She lost to a Spaniard and a Croatian. South Korea dominated the championships. This is the first time that a Dominican wins a medal in a tae kwon do world championship.
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