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Daily News - Thursday, 29 May 2008

Fernandez receives certificate
President Leonel Fernandez and Vice President Rafael Alburquerque received their election certificates yesterday during a ceremony at the Central Electoral Board (JCE). The certificates declare them the official winners of the 16 May presidential election, in which Fernandez obtained 53.83% of the vote. Fernandez commented that his win is proof of the existence of democracy in the DR. "Re-election is the legitimate expression of the will of the people," he said, as quoted in El Caribe. Fernandez said that his government would lead the DR to meet the challenges of the world crisis. President Fernandez later traveled to El Salvador for a meeting of the Central American Integration System (SICA).

Barrick Gold meeting at Palace
Key executives, investors and supporters of Barrick Gold, the largest pure gold mining company in the world, met President Leonel Fernandez at the Presidential Palace yesterday. The Toronto-based Canadian company has the concession to exploit the gold mine in Pueblo Viejo, Cotui. Former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Venezuelan businessman Gustavo Cisneros, former advisor to President Bill Clinton Vernon Jordan, former US Ambassador to the DR Hans Hertell, Barrick general chairman Peter Munk, and former president of the German Bundesbank, Karl-Otto Pohl, were among those present at the meeting. Barrick Gold has plans to invest an initial US$700 million in the Pueblo Viejo project and US$2.5 billion over a 12-year period. Part of the investment in the project will go to clean up the pollution left behind by the government mining company operation. The project is expected to create 3,500 new jobs.

Ending child labor
The Dominican Republic is taking additional steps to abolish child labor. Vice President Rafael Albuerquerque, renowned for his work in the labor sector, signed an agreement with the International Labor Union (ILO) under which the DR would receive advice and help in reducing child labor. Virgilio Levaggi signed for ILO while Labor Minister Jose Ramon Fadul and First Lady Margarita Cedeno signed on behalf of the DR. With the agreement, the DR makes a further commitment to fight child labor, with the launch of a campaign to educate families about the adverse physical and mental health effects of child labor.

Doctors strike yet again
Once again Dominican Medical Association (CMD) president Waldo Ariel Suero is warning that doctors will not give the government any more breaks. He told reporters that they feel the government has deceived them. Doctors are going on strike at public hospitals in the eastern region today. Another strike is planned for 5 June. Doctors have been striking since February to no avail. Suero has been fighting for a pay increase for doctors who currently make RD$23,000 per month. The CMD wants wages increased across the board to RD$58,000. The Ministry of Health is in favor of the wage increases, but only if these are pegged to actual productivity and to physicians keeping working hours at the hospitals.

UN Report: Empower the People
The United Nations Human Development Report 2008, under the title 'Human Development, It's a Matter of Power', was saved for release until after the presidential elections and accuses Dominican politicians of perpetuating the lack of equity that restricts human development in the DR. The effort features examples of best practices in attaining equity at the local level as proof that Dominicans can empower themselves for the common good.
In his presentation of the report, United Nations Development Program Representative in the DR, economist Miguel Ceara-Hatton, said that access to opportunities in the DR is not a problem of capacity to generate wealth, but rather one of equity. "The level of access to opportunities does not correspond to the level of wealth generated in a province," he said. He highlighted the case of La Altagracia province (that generates the most tourism dollars) as the most drastic example of this inequity. According to the report, people residing in the east of the DR have the worst level of empowerments. This is measured according to access to education, health, technology and information. The highest empowerment levels were found in metropolitan areas in Santo Domingo and in Santiago.
"Historically, power structures have failed in the construction and opportunities are limited by the group you belong to." He stressed that without social cohesion it is unlikely that institutions and political parties will change. The way they stand with the prevalence of clientelism, the parties perpetuate the lack of equity, and will continue to deepen exclusion, said Ceara-Hatton. He said the report's findings indicate that 90% of Dominicans feel that the political parties only defend their group or individual interests, not the interests of the people.
The UN report advises Dominicans to mobilize, empower themselves and pressure politicians, with a view to forcing the state to abide by its own laws. He highlighted that what currently prevails is the "Ley del Tigueraje", which he describes as justifying wrongdoings by past wrongdoings.
The UN published a 519-page report including statistical CD, a 100-page summary and four 150+-page books on discussions that took place leading up to the report. A compilation of in-depth statistical studies at the provincial level, funded by Spanish Cooperation Agency, is also in the pipeline.
In his presentation, Ceara explained the UNHDR 2008 is "the biggest effort ever to understand the construction of the space we inhabit."
"We invite our society to analyze these statistics". He stated their hope that the analysis will result in society demanding more responsible leadership.
Ceara said that the biggest challenge they had in carrying out the report was the lack of reliable statistics, mentioning that only the Census data is available. He mentioned the urgent need for provincial Gross Domestic Product statistics, which should be possible because the country has been analyzing the National Accounts for 40 years.
He said that there is a "schizophrenic regionalization" in the country, where individual government ministries decide how to divide the the country. "But none know what they spend in a province. This is evidence of the low importance the government gives the provinces," stated the UNDP rep.
The UNDP Human Development Report took two years to complete. The first was compiled in 2000 with subsequent reports being released in 2005 and 2007. In 2007 the DR placed 79th on the Human Development Index.
The report is available from the UNDP office in the Dominican Republic.
For more information, visit www.pnud.org.do

Endesa: DR social snapshot
The Center for Social and Demographic Studies for Social and Demographic Studies (ENDESA) presented the results of the nationwide social survey indicating problem areas where major efforts need to be focused. The survey results reveal that 36% of Dominican Republic residents above the age of 18 do not have ID cards (cedulas). Approximately 5% of the population does not have a birth certificate. Endesa is sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Richard Gougnour, director of USAID in the DR, presented the findings yesterday. The survey results were held until after the presidential election.
The study also found that 11% of the population above the age of ten is illiterate, although this is down from 13% in 2002. The report looks into literacy disparities depending on location. In the National District there is a 5% illiteracy rate, but this number jumps to 24% in Bahoruco and 31% in Elias Pina, on the border with Haiti.
According to ENDESA, 35% of households are headed by women, a 7% jump from 2002. Some 50% of homes have two parents, 15% of children do not live with either of their parents, and 4% lives with the father alone.
The details reveal that 85% of households use propane gas while 10% burn wood as their main fuel. Eighty three percent of households have stoves and 83% have televisions, 71% have refrigerators, 69% have washing machines and cellular phones, 27% have home phone lines, 13% have computers and 6% have Internet access at home. A total of 96% of the population is connected to the public grid.
Another finding is that 0.8% of the population is HIV positive while women between the ages of 30 and 34 have a 1.4% infection rate. This figure jumps to 1.6% for men between the ages of 30 and 39.

Women want rights
The Women and Health Collective and the Women's Forum for Constitutional Reform are proposing that women's reproductive rights should be included in the next constitutional reform. This is a sensitive issue in the DR with religious groups and social conservatives wanting to limit reproductive rights. The proposals by the women's groups, which also include to right to live without violence and the right to social equality, were presented during the "Gender and Citizenship in the Constitutional Reform" forum. The women's groups are arguing that women should have reproductive rights and that the State should provide the proper conditions for women to exercise these rights, including implementing educational, health and legal frameworks.
In related news, according the Center for Social and Demographic Studies (ENDESA) showed that 73% of married women use some form of contraception, which is 3% higher than in 2002. The use of contraception is higher in rural areas than in urban areas.

ECLAC to meet in DR
The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) will hold its 32nd session in Santo Domingo from 9-13 June. The session will open on Monday, 9 June at 6pm at the Santo Domingo Hilton Hotel with President Leonel Fernandez and executive secretary Jose Luis Machinea leading the ceremony.
The session, which guides the work of this United Nations regional commission, brings together ECLAC's 44 member States and eight associate members, who meet every two years to discuss issues related to the region's economic, social and environmental development, examine the activities carried out by ECLAC in the preceding two-year period, and set the priorities of its work program for the following two years. Delegations from over 50 countries and special guests are expected to attend.
The work document that ECLAC will submit for discussion at this year's meeting is Structural Change and Productivity Growth, 20 Years Later: Old problems, new opportunities. In it, ECLAC proposes a medium and long-term strategy to strengthen development in Latin America and the Caribbean through productive diversification, innovation and public and private sector alliances.
For more information, see: www.eclac.org/cgi-bin/getProd.asp?...

Haiti still big partner
Haiti imports 20% of non-traditional exports from the DR, second only to the US, which is the destination for 25% of Dominican exports, according to a report by economist Roberto Despradel published in Hoy. Puerto Rico is the third largest Dominican market, with 17%. Economist Roberto Despradel says that 80% of non- traditional exports remain in the Americas, with 18% going to Europe and 2% to the rest of the world.

Man kidnapped in Cabrera to pay loan
A young man who had been held captive for over a week is now free after a police raid in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Cabrera, on the north coast. Hoy reports that Alanny Ortiz Acosta had been kidnapped after he returned from New York without repaying a US$25,000 loan. He had been back in the DR for just a few days. According to reports, the young man was at an Internet center when five armed men walked in and marched him out. Police say that a call had been made to collect on the debt he had taken out in NY. Police seized a .380 caliber revolver and a 2008 Toyota 4-Runner.

Dominicans lead All-Star voting
Dominicans Alfonso Soriano and Hanley Ramirez are leading the first round of voting for this year's All-Star Game festivities. Ramirez is having a spectacular year for the Florida Marlins while Soriano, who recently came back from injuries, is catching his groove with the Chicago Cubs. The 79th All-Star will be held at Yankee Stadium on 15 July and Soriano and Ramirez are sure to be joined by other Dominican stars like David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Vladimir Guerrero who have all come to represent the best of Dominican baseball.

Ramirez hits 499
Big bopper Manny Ramirez hit a three-run shot to right field in the sixth inning against the Seattle Mariners. The big shot by the big slugger tied the score at 3-3 and moved Ramirez within one homer of 500 for his career. The Red Sox won the game 4-3. Ramirez hadn't homered since May 12 at Minnesota and anxiety among fans began to set in as many wondered when the next dinger would come. Ramirez is now is one swing away from the 500 HR club and with it begins his march towards his next milestone: the 600 homerun club.

US vs DR in boxing
The US and DR olympic boxing teams are due to face off at the Chattanooga Convention Center in Tennessee on May 31. This is the final training dual for both teams before the 2008 Olympic Games, which open in July in Beijing, China. The top boxers in the DR and the top US boxers will be competing. The US boxers include heavyweight Olympian Deontay Wilder (2007 Golden Globes title holder), two-time Olympian and 2007 World champion, flyweight Rau-shee Warren, flyweight Olympian Malcolm Franklin, 2007 US Championships bantamweight silver medalist David Clark, and 2008 national featherweight champion Robert Rodriguez, among others.
The six Dominican Olympians who will take the ring in the Tennessee event are light flyweight Jhonny Winston Montero, flyweight Juan Carlos Payano, featherweight Roberto Navarro Gonzalez, light welterweight Felix Manuel Diaz Guzman, welterweight Gilbert Lenin Castillo Rivera, and middleweight Argenis Casimiro Nunez.
See www.eastsideboxing.com/news.php?p=15854&more=1

Thursday sales!
Penny's shoe store at Plaza Central, Diamond Mall, Centro Plaza (Santiago), Bella Vista Mall and Megacentro is advertising a three day sale (29-31 May) with a buy one pair, and get the second free (same price or cheaper one).
Pola supermarket has sales in its meat department. Imported pork chops are RD$74.95lb, beef stew meat sells for RD$42.95, and chicken breasts for RD$53.95lb.
Nacional is selling "boquerones" from Spain at RD$64.95lb, Cordon Bleu chicken for RD$124.95lb, imported fresh pork loin for RD$109.95lb, Urmeneta wines for RD$219.95/75cl, Brugal Anejo for RD$199.95/70cl, Jack Daniels Whisky for RD$969.95/75cl, Mott's Apple juice for RD$74.95/32oz, and Lider detergent for RD$144.95/2000gr.
Americana Departamentos has 20% off on selected items for Preferencia cardholders.
Avianca is advertising its new US$325 (plus taxes) fare from Santo Domingo to Bogota.
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