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Daily News - Wednesday, 20 August 2008

More changes in government
Air Force Major General Gilberto Delgado is the new president of the National Drug Control Department. The former president, General Rafael Ramirez Ferreira is the new Inspector General of the Armed Forces. Other appointments include Alejandro Moscoso Segarra, new National District prosecutor, replacing Jose Manuel Hernandez Peguero. Lino Vasquez Samuel was appointed new coordinator of the Commission for Reform and Modernization of Justice, a position previously held by Moscoso. Former Minister of the Armed Forces, General Ramon Antonio Aquino Garcia was sent to the National Investigations Department, the local FBI. He replaces Sigfrido Pared Perez, brother of Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez.
General Miguel Angel Alvarez was appointed director of the Specialized Port Security Corps (CESEP). General Carlos Robles Diaz will replace General Juan Bautista Rojas Tabar as head of the Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESA). General Santo Domingo Guerrero Clase will replace General Gustavo Jorge Garcia as director of the Specialized Border Security Corps (CESFRONT). General Henry Gomez Bueno was appointed new chief of the Tourism Police.
Yesterday, President Fernandez also appointed 66 generals to new positions in the Armed Forces and the Police. General Hilario Gonzalez Gonzalez, who was in charge of police forces in the south of the country where recently a six-person drug-related murder occurred, was replaced by General Francisco Abreu Montes de Oca.
These changes come in the wake of accusations by Senator Wilton Guerrero of law enforcement authorities complicity with drug dealers. Wilton Guerrero asked for a "poor general" to be sent to Peravia province. He said that many generals are very wealthy despite the fact that none of them are businessmen or have won the lottery.
President Fernandez on the same day confirmed Simon Lizardo in his post as controller general of the country.

What's with Jaime David?
While very well received in environmental groups and circles, the appointment of former Vice President Jaime David Fernandez is shrouded in mystery. Fernandez did not attend the swearing-in event at the Presidential Palace and has not been available for comment, and hasn't yet been to the Ministry of Environment. There is speculation that he had sought to be appointed as Minister of Agriculture. It is rumored that he will not accept the Environment post. The Ministry of Environment is known to be a controversial and under-funded hot seat. Fernandez is highly respected for the excellent work he did with the Quisqueya Verde Plan, which led to considerable progress in reforestation. He implemented the plan during his term as Vice President of the Republic during President Fernandez's 1996-2000 administration.

New Minister of Tourism
Former presidential campaign manager Francisco Javier Garcia took office as the country's new Minister of Tourism yesterday. He replaces Felix Jimenez who was in the post for two terms (1996-2000 and 2004-2008). Jimenez, a leading real estate developer, says that he will now be concentrating on his private business.
Upon being sworn in by Secretary of the Presidency Cesar Pina Toribio, Javier Garcia said he would consolidate past achievements. He said he was well aware of the industry's importance for the country and the challenges for keeping the industry strong. "Overall, we plan to maintain the investment climate for tourism, and work to increase number of tourist arrivals because we are aware of the importance that this ministry has for the country and the challenges ahead so that it may contribute to improving the level of economic stability in the country," said the new minister.

Feminists don't want German
Eight women's organizations have expressed their objection to the appointment of former Education Minister Alejandrina German as new Minister of Women. German leaves the Ministry of Education after a press scandal alleging low nutritional standards in the RD$18 million a month school breakfast drink purchases by the Ministry.
In an open letter, the Nucleo de Apoyo a la Mujer (Women's Support Nucleus); Centro de Investigacion para la Accion Femenina (Women's Action Research Center - CIPAF), Colectiva Mujer y Salud (Women and Health Collective), Centro de Apoyo Aquelarre (Aquelarre Support Center - CEAPA), Centro de Estudios del Genero del Movimiento de Mujeres Dominico Haitianas (Dominican-Haitian Women's Movement - MUDHA - Gender Studies Center), Confederacion Ncional de Mujeres del Campo, (National Rural Women's Confederation - Conamuca) and Asociacion Tu Mujer (Tu Mujer Association) say that German's appointment and the lack of women in the 2008-2012 Fernandez cabinet confirms the "traditional disdain" for gender equity issues during the last three governments. The organizations ask, "Are there no qualified women in the PLD? Or is our majority vote in the election worth less than that of men?"

Ruling on health plans
A Santo Domingo court has overruled a Health Superintendence (Sisalril) resolution 159-08 that obliged government employees to affiliate with SENASA, a health plan administrator (ARS). The ruling grants public employees the freedom to choose their own health plans. Private health plan companies ARS Humano, ARS Colonial and ARS Monumental opposed the Sisalril resolution. Sisralril says it will appeal to the Supreme Court of Justice. The ruling means that government employees affiliated to private ARSs may continue in these plans or switch to the company of their choice.

Bishop calls for East highway
The Bishop of La Altagracia province, Monsignor Nicanor Pena Rodriguez, has urged the government to delay no longer in investing in the road infrastructure needed in the eastern region. As reported in Listin Diario, he said that the highway is a nightmare, demonstrated by the numerous traffic accidents as a result of its narrowness, abundance of potholes, lack of signage and overgrowth to the sides of the highway. "We hope that the government completes the Autovia del Este and repairs the highways during this new period. He stressed that this demand was being made constantly by transport organizations and tourism business groups. Monsignor Pena Rodriguez expressed his regret about the most recent accident in which 4 Italian tourists and 16 Dominicans died and attributed it to the poor condition of the roads. Despite the fact that the east generates most funds for the Ministry of Tourism's CEIZTUR infrastructure plans, the Ministry has diverted the funds to road construction in other parts of the country, including areas where tourism development was just starting.

The high cost of illegal Haitians
Haitian Ambassador in the DR Fritz Cineas visited the Dario Contreras Public Hospital to meet with director Hector Quezada after the latter complained that 14% of admissions to the hospital are destitute Haitians, as reported in Listin Diario. Quezada said that each case costs the Dominican state an average RD$22,000. Quezada reports that last year 4,067 Haitians were treated at the Santo Domingo hospital, and so far this year, they have treated 1,721. Quezada says that providing services for Haitian patients is complicated because they need interpreters, and that they stay longer because they live in precarious conditions. He complained that in many cases, people who have been injured in Haiti come to the hospital to receive the free services.
Cineas visited a Haitian patient who suffered injuries in last week's tragic bus crash on the La Romana-Higuey highway, and who needs a femur operation.

High-rises could affect Cabarete
The community of Cabarete is about to kill the goose that lays the golden egg if it continues to tolerate high-rise condos, says architect Omar Bros of the Dominican Sailing Federation. The sailing expert warns that the planned condos can create nightmarish wind tunnels and downstream turbulence that will affect the smooth wind patterns that have made the area the world Mecca for windsurf, kite boarding and Laser sailors that it is today.
Cabarete community groups highlight the fact that there are hundreds of islands in the Caribbean with beaches, but Cabarete's success is based on people coming for its winds and to enjoy the multicolor spectacle of dozens of sails in the ocean and air. The sea views and active sporting atmosphere would not be the same once the sailors go elsewhere, if conditions were changed by the high rises planned for the area.
The community warns of the possible consequences that more four-story buildings would have on Cabarete's ecosystem. Several have already been built, despite zoning rules in the north coast that limit construction to three floors. Other high-rise condos are planned for the beach area. Thermal winds in Cabarete are created by the temperature difference between land and sea. Bare land cools quickly at nighttime, while cement buildings conserve the heat well into the night. The less cement, the less heat and therefore more natural wind flow.
The boom in the construction of seafront condos over three floors high and real estate speculation are not compatible with the sustainable and long-term development of this community that is the pride and joy of Puerto Plata province due to its attractiveness to domestic and international tourism.
Cabarete's natural sailing conditions attract many windsurf, kiteboarding and Laser sailors.
The new proposed density for high rises is also a matter of concern because of the limited ability of the Cabarete lagoon to handle the waste that would be generated by the new occupants. There is also concern that the beach sands could be eroded due to disruption in the wind flow, which could cause Cabarete to lose its entire beach.
The third concern is that the increase in density would generate even more traffic on the only road that runs through Cabarete as traffic moves east from Puerto Plata or west from Samana.
A petition has been submitted to the Ministry of Environment to study the effect of the high rises on the ecology and to evaluate the consequences of continuing to allow these constructions, despite the ban that exists in the zoning law for the north coast.

Lost airplane
Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC) suspects that the C500 jet that took off from Las Americas International on a flight to Isla Grande International Airport in Puerto Rico crashed into the sea approximately three miles from the airport. Jose Tomas Perez of IDAC said that US Coast Guard and local salvage brigades have combed the area near the airport. US national Antonio Armando Fernandez was the only person on board. As reported in Listin Diario, the pilot landed in Las Americas to refuel before continuing towards Puerto Rico. Controllers at the airport say they lost communication with the pilot shortly after take-off. The Cessna disappeared at 8:15am, after flying six kilometers to the southwest.

Cesfront arrests Haitian fishermen
Specialized Border Security Corps agents have repatriated 12 Haitians who were arrested for violating Dominican territorial waters near Estero Balsa, Punta Presidente and Los Cayos Siete Hermanos, part of the protected national park area in Montecristi province. The soldiers also confiscated a 10lb marijuana package that was abandoned by one of the Haitians when their detention was imminent. Cesfront destroyed the boats. The repatriation took place in the presence of the Haitian consular authorities. Former chief of Cesfront, Major General Gustavo Jorge Garcia expressed his concern about the fact that the Haitians were overfishing in the coastal area of Montecristi, causing major damage to the environment.

Winning at taekwondo at the Olympics
Dominican Gabriel Mercedes defeated Pedro Povoa of Portugal in his first bout at the Beijing Olympics. Boxer Felix Manuel Diaz is the only Dominican medalist so far. He goes for silver on Friday. The Dominican 4 x 400 relay team has yet to run. The Dominican delegation was made up of 57 people, including 25 athletes.
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