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Daily News - Thursday, 24 April 2008

Fernandez inaugurates works
President Leonel Fernandez inaugurated 15 water supply systems in Santo Domingo East, including the Barrera de Salinidad aqueduct, which is expected to benefit 800,000 people. The 15 public works projects by the Santo Domingo Water Works Corporation (CAASD) were built at a cost of RD$1.6 billion and will benefit 254 sectors and 1,654,000 citizens. Fernandez also inaugurated the Linea Express, the construction work on the circuits for the Sabana Perdida wells, a water supply system for Las Caobas and the expansion of the water distribution network for Santo Domingo East.

Plantain theft clampdown
Agriculture Minister Salvador Jimenez says that the government will take measures to protect plantain farmers in the Cibao region whose crops are being targeted by thieves. One leading farmer, Santiago Espaillat, said that plantains are easy to steal. Jimenez plans to meet with Chief of Police Rafael Guillermo Guzman to discuss a plan for protecting the crops. Jimenez's comments come in response to recent reports that as much as 50% of the plantain harvest has been stolen in some areas.

Earning peanuts is utopian
Education Minister Alejandrina German says that in the light of the country's economic difficulties, the idea of raising teacher wages to RD$20,000 per shift would be utopian. She commented that the present administration has already authorized wage increases of 76%, according to a report in the Listin Diario.
However, the Minister also said that teachers should be among the country's best-paid professionals considering the work they do and the sacrifices they make. German made her comments in response to the Dominican Teachers' Association (ADP) demand that the government should allocate 4% of the GDP towards education.

CB money not enough
Businessman Jose Luis Corripio Estrada says today in the Listin Diario that the US$100 million that the Central Bank is injecting into the Dominican markets in order to counteract rising food prices won't do much to ease the crunch. Corripio says that the problem needs to be tackled by increasing national production of basic foods. He said that by increasing availability prices would go down and the country wouldn't have to depend on imported products. He added that the Bank's move will only aid the problem in the short term.

Taiwan on DR ties
Taiwanese Ambassador Isaac Tsai has expressed his interest in supporting the Dominican private sector as well as continuing work with the government to form strategic alliances. He mentioned that Taiwan companies can install themselves here in order to access the US market under the DR-CAFTA agreement. Tsai said that agriculture requires technological advances and Taiwanese companies are in the DR providing advice on how to improve the cultivation of rice, greens and bamboo, as well as shrimps and other seafood. Tsai said that small and medium-sized business need to be strengthened because they sustain economies. He gave the example of Taiwan that has 23 million citizens and 1.3 million small and medium-sized businesses representing 98% of jobs and 77% of production revenues. Tsai also touted Taiwan's record as being a technological haven, which has earned it the top spot for technological advances in eleven products. In 2006 alone Taiwan registered 6,300 patents. Taiwan is also a possible tourist market for the DR. He commented 8.9 million of Taiwan's 23 million inhabitants traveled abroad last year.

Taiwanese warships here
Three Taiwanese warships, with a crew of 739 on board, have arrived in the DR on a promotional tour as part of military cooperation between both countries. Taiwanese Rear Admiral Chen Shin-Fa says that the goal of this mission is for Taiwanese naval students to put classroom theories to practice. The warships arrived at Santo Domingo's Don Diego dock yesterday and will remain there until tomorrow. The ships will be open to the public from 10:30am until 4:30pm today. As part of the cooperation events, a series of activities will be held including meetings with Dominican doctors to discuss topics like surgery, internal medicine and pediatrics. There will also be a performance by the crew's band and a martial arts demonstration on Plaza Espana. Shin-fa revealed that two Dominicans, Amable Arias and Victor Soriano, are on board the Taiwanese ships completing internships.

JCE says prove it
Many claims are made during election times, but rarely is proof asked for, except for this time. The Central Electoral Board (JCE) is asking PRI presidential candidate Trajano Santana to back up his claim that the major political parties in the DR are funded by drug money. Santana made this statement during a special breakfast meeting with journalists at Listin Diario. JCE president Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman said that the claim is alarming in itself, and added that it would then require a set of rules on campaign financing and controls on financing the parties. The JCE president said that he has no proof of this happening in the DR, and that this type of accusation must be accompanied by proof. Administrative Chamber president Roberto Rosario said that if there is proof Santana would be serving his country by providing details. Rumors of ties between politics and drug rings are common in the DR with the late former PRD leader Jose Francisco Pena Gomez being the target of such allegations. In more recent times all three major political parties and their members have been subject to allegations, including presidential candidates. Quirino Paulino, the ex-military captain caught with over 2,000 kilos of cocaine was alleged to have political ties, but these allegations have remained just that as no proof has ever surfaced.

Vargas at AmCham
During a speech at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) PRD presidential candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado stated that the DR needs more direct investment from the US private sector. Vargas said that the DR should make the most of the fact that it produces tomatoes and should increase exports to the US, which consumes 175 tons of tomatoes per month on average. As for free trade zones (FTZ) Vargas said that he would remove the US$100 fee charged on shipments that arrive at Dominican ports.
Vargas said he would appoint an "inclusive cabinet" inviting the country's best men and women to participate. He promised to create conditions that would give businesspeople more time to use their energies to create wealth and jobs. "They currently have to spend this time overcoming the obstacles of government red tape and to pay taxes, that are devoured by this insatiable and wasteful government, instead of being spent on taxpayers priority works that would help solve the country's problems," he said, as reported in Listin Diario. He promised to work towards a competitive, foreign trade oriented economy, with efficiency, transparency, and protection for the environment and natural resources.

Women doctors march
Dozens of doctors took to the streets once again to demand a wage increase and other benefits. A group of women doctors walked from the Women's Hospital on Ave. Bolivar in Santo Domingo and made their way to the National Police Department where they were met by a line of mostly female police officers. The women marched down Doctor Delgado Street to the Presidential Palace, and were met by Presidency health advisor Alberto Fiallo for an hour-long meeting. Fiallo promised to take their list of demands to President Fernandez. They seek wages of physicians be increased to RD$59,000. The government wants to peg wages to productivity. Speaking for the doctors, Ines Brayam said that the meeting had been very friendly and cordial. The doctors say that they will continue to support the protests and strikes by the Dominican Medical Association (CMD). The CMD has scheduled another national public hospital doctor strike for Friday, 25 April. Hoy writes that as the doctors passed by the Plaza de la Cultura, students who were attending the Feria del Libro cheered the doctors as they passed by.

DR 4th for overseas prostitution
The DR has the unwanted distinction of being ranked fourth in the world in terms of the number of women working abroad in the sex trade. According to the Aquelarre Support Center (CEAPA), 50,000 Dominican women work as prostitutes abroad. The sex trade is usually tied in with human rights violations and involves large sums of money, international organized crime and drug trafficking. Hoy illustrates the reality of the issue through the story of "Fatima", a young women who was conned into the sex trade. The young woman says she was tricked into going abroad thinking she was going to get a better life, but ended up being forced to work in the sex industry for three months. She says that as part of her work schedule she slept with up to nine men a day and was drugged by the runners.

Florian still in jail
Convicted drug trafficker Rolando Florian Feliz is still in jail and is likely to stay there for a while. El Caribe is reporting that Judge Leydi Esther Ciriaco Montilla granted him parole in a hearing on 15 April, but in an interesting twist it emerges that Ciriaco was removed from duty on 9 April, which nullifies her ruling. El Caribe says that the judge was removed because of suspected bias in the case. Florian, one the DR's most notorious drug dealers, was originally sentenced to up to 20 years in jail and has served 14 years of his sentence so far.

Remembering history
On this day in 1965 a group of Army officers overthrew the de-facto government led by Donald Reid Cabral. Reid was part of a triumvirate government that was set up in 1963, after a coup d'etat that saw the ousting of President Juan Bosch. Bosch had been fairly elected after the assassination of dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, but his left-leaning policies led to the derailment of his government. Although the triumvirate government was supposed to share power, Reid gained considerable control. It was during this time that Francisco Alberto Caamano Deno came to light as one of the leading figures of the "April Revolution" and leader of the Constitutionalists, who wanted to re-establish the Juan Bosch government. The pro-Bosch rebels took to the streets and went on to seize control of the Presidential Palace, leading to US military intervention and an eventual truce.

Horford good; not a magician
In two games against the mighty Boston Celtics we have found out that rookie power forward Al Horford is great talent and a future perennial All-Star, but he doesn't have the chops to cut it as a magician. Horford scored nine points and grabbed nine rebounds, with three assists in a 19-point shellacking at the hands of the once again revitalized and powerful Shamrocks from Beantown. Horford, the only consistent player for the Atlanta Hawks, has carried much of the weight in Atlanta's first playoff series in nine years, but the Dominican-born player can only do so much for the Hawks. The series moves to Atlanta for game three on Saturday, where the Hawks will try to overcome the stifling defense of NBA Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Garnet and the Leprechauns from the Hub. From the looks of it Horford had better work on his magic skills to come up with a victory or expect to see him shortly at a beach near you.

Thursday sales!
Nueva Dimension at Roberto Pastoriza 456 and Costa del Sol 1 in Juan Dolio furniture stores are advertising 50% off new merchandise.
Majorca Joyas y Perlas has 15-25% off its jewelry selection, on the occasion of Secretary's Day, this 26 April.
Viva.com.do telecom company is introducing the Samsung F250 with a RD$3,990 plan.
La Nacional furniture store is advertising bedroom furniture sets for RD$59,999 at their Gustavo Mejia Ricart 105 store.
Sealy Mattress Center is advertising 30% off Sapphire Unicased and Aspen Unicased mattresses through 30 April at their Plaza Las Americas and Bella Vista Mall stores.
La Americana Departamentos has a 10-20% sale on a new line of decorative fans through 30 April.
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