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Daily News - Wednesday, 03 September 2008

Rainstorms nationwide
Tropical Storm Hanna turned stationary over the Dominican Republic, after taking a southeastern turn to bring buckets of water throughout the island. The storm brought wind gusts and intense rains over Santo Domingo, where weather bands seemed to concentrate throughout the evening.
The Center for Emergency Operations (COE) issued a Red Alert and a tropical storm watch for the northern coast from Samana in the east, to Manzanillo Bay in the northwestern corner. 13 provinces are now on red alert -- Dajabon, Montecristi, Espaillat, Sanchez Ramirez, Santiago, Monte Plata, Santo Domingo, Duarte Samana, La Vega, Monsignor Nouel (Bonao), Puerto Plata and the National District.
A Yellow Alert was issued for San Pedro de Macoris, El Seibo, La Altagracia, Hato Mayor, Salcedo and Valverde. Green Alerts were issued for Pedernales, Independencia, Barahona, Elias Pina, San Juan de la Maguana and Azua.
The Weather Department reports that the rain clouds and rains have blanketed an area from the Mona Channel between Puerto Rico and the DR, the DR, Haiti all the way to the eastern portion of Cuba.
The Ministry of Education suspended classes in those provinces that are under red alert, according to a bulletin issued by the Center for Emergency Operations.
The explanation for the change in direction is that there is a bottleneck caused by the remnants of Hurricane Gustav in the area. The effects of Hanna on the next storm coming to the area, Ike, are yet to be seen.
AA flights to the New York, Miami and Puerto Rico were cancelled yesterday. Domestic flights between Las Americas and Samana were also affected. And Spirit Airlines flight suffered a major delay.
To follow developments, see http://www.dr1.com/forums/weather-beyond/79124-hey-chris-theyre-lining-up.html

Senate moves on bills
The Senate passed several bills yesterday including a loan for US$20 million to complete the aqueduct in the eastern Santo Domingo (Barrera de Salinidad de la Zona Oriental aqueduct), as reported in El Nuevo Diario. The Senate also gave first readings on the National Archives Bill, the International Free Zones Bill, the Law for Prevention of Excess Consumption of Alcohol, and the Company formation bill. A second reading passed the Book and Library Bill, the Bankruptcy Law (Proyecto de Ley de Reestructuracion Mercantil y Liquidacion Judicial), the film-making bill, the law that which creates the National Institute of Forensic Sciences, the one that which Regulates the Transit and Construction highway medians. This latter bill was submitted by Francisco Dominguez Brito (PLD-Santiago) who alerted Congress that the authorities are permitting major violations along the Duarte Highway.

Evaluating Dominican hotels
Inspectors from the Ministry of Tourism and the ECA-Quality Institute of Spain traveled nationwide, throughout August, to visit 54 hotels in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, Sosua, Las Terrenas (Samana) and Rio San Juan for the first round of implementing the National Hotel Qualification System (SNCH), as reported in El Nuevo Diario. The work is guided by Technical Deputy Minister of Tourism, Radhames Martinez Aponte.
ECA-QI was chosen in a tender with the endorsement of the National Association of Hotels & Restaurantes (Asonahores) and the National Competitiveness Council (CNC). The project has partially financed by the Inter-American Development Bank.
Hotels that were evaluated were:
Santo Domingo: Hilton, Jaragua, V Centenario, Lina Barcelo, Melia and Dominican Fiesta.
Santiago: Hodelpa Centro Plaza, Hodelpa Gran Almirante, Platino, Colonial Deluxe, Los Jardines and Courtyard.
Puerto Plata: Occidental On The Green, Puerto Plata Village, Occidental Flamenco, Gran Ventana, Casa Colonial, Fun Royal Tropical, Tropical Playa Dorada, Holiday Village Golden Beach, Occidental Allegro Playa, Villas Doradas, Viva Wyndham, Lifestyle Hacienda Tropical, Oasis Marien, Hotel Riu Mambo, Iberostar Costa Dorada, Riu Merengue, Riu Bachata, Victoria Resort.
Sosua: Apartahotel Romanoff, Piergiogio, Sosua By The Sea, Sosua Bay Club, Casa Marina Beach Sosua, Casa Marina Reef, Casa Tropical Laguna, Breezes, Viva Wyndham, Don Antonio, Waterfront, Don Andres.
Las Terrenas: Gran Bahia, Residence Colibri, Las Cayenas, Aligio, Bahia Estela, y del Hotel Atlantis
Samana: Cayo Levantado, Casa Marina Bay, Plaza Lucitania, Palococo and Cayacoa.
Rio San Juan: Eden Bay and Bahia Principe.

Tourism needs to benefit community
New Tourism Minister Francisco Javier, on a tour of Puerto Plata commented, "A region cannot develop its tourism industry without the community benefiting from this development." He said. He announced that he would work on that to see that the benefits trickle down to the community," as reported in El Nuevo Diario. He announced that Ceiztur funds would be allotted to repair the provincial hospital Ricardo Limardo. And funds would be available to help the owners of 55 arts and crafts shops that burned down in Pueblito, Playa Dorada, and for the construction and installation of bathrooms at the Malecon area.
Furthermore, he said the Ministry would subsidize educational programs to train youth so that they could take better advantage of the Puerto Plata tourism development. He made the statement after visiting the Center for Techno-Professional Training, Integracion Juvenil. Because of lack of funds, the center, where 350 poor children and teenagers study, had to close its orphanage that housed 12 children. Javier Garcia guaranteed a subsidy of RD$500,000 for the operation of the center.
Javier said he visited the area not only to get a first hand knowledge of the problems that affect the sector and the investments the government has made in the province, but "to see the things that are basic and still pending and that can contribute to develop tourism and also integrate tourists and community."
He also met with hoteliers and real estate developers and committed to meet with tour operators, ground transporters and taxi unions, and all the players in the tourism business.

Government on electricity situation
The Fernandez administration announced it would sign for US$130 million in new foreign loans to finance power distribution. The government agreed with electricity providers to invest US$460 million over the next four years to finance the electricity companies. President Leonel Fernandez met yesterday with electricity companies at the CDEEE club installations. Radhames Segura, vice president of the CDEEE, promised at the meeting a solution to the blackouts.
The government would be funding the sector with US$100 million in 2009, US$100 in 2010, US$130 million in 2011 and US$130 million in 2012. The World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) would participate in the financing.
At the meeting, Fernandez spoke of other negotiations with the Korean Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) for coal-fired generation that are advanced.
As reported in the Listin, the government is optimistic that wind energy farms will make available 350 megawatts of power, while another plant would generate power by using garbage.
The Fernandez administration announced agreements have been signed with Palamara, La Vega (Union Fenosa), Ege-Haina, Ege-Itabo, Dominican Power Partners, Compania Electrica Puerto Plata.
As reported in El Nuevo Diario, the government is optimistic blackouts will diminish with the imminent entry of the San Felipe generator with 170 megawatts, Puerto Plata II with 36 megawatts, and Mitsubishi with 30 megawatts.

Radhames Suero Milano, executive vice president of the Empresa de Generacion Hidroelectrica Dominicana (Egeih), the government entity that groups hydroelectric power producers, says that this year three dams will begin to produce 54.1 megawatts, bringing low cost energy to the power network. Suero made the announcement following the meeting yesterday with the private and public electricity sector.
Pinalito Dam will be the first to integrate 50 megawatts by December. Others are Magueyal (3.20) and Las Barias (0.9 megawatts).
Suero said that the cost of hydroelectric production is the lowest, at US$0.03 kw/h, compared to US$0.04 kw/h for coal-fired production and US$0.15-US$0.21 kw/h for generators using oil as fuel.
Other hydroelectric projects are the expansion of Hatillo with 15.1 megawatts (expected to enter into operation in 2009), the Pryn Brazo Derecho (2009) with 30,000 kilowatts, Saltos de Pryn-Jicome-Guayacanes (2009) and Las Placetas (2011) with 285,000 kilowatts, as reported in the Listin Diario.

Propane gas supplies restored
Propane gas supplies were restored in the National District and the province of Santo Domingo after three days of scarcities. A Coastal-consigned ship delivered 40,000 gallons. Another ship with 110,000 gallons is expected to disembark at San Pedro Port today.

Ladom sues Huchi and Nuria
Investigative journalists Huchi Lora and Nuria Piera said they will not retract their statements that school breakfast drinks produced by Ladom, the milk producer that was allotted 40% of all Ministry of Education contracts, did not meet nutritional standards of the Ministry of Education. In a press conference on CDN La Radio, the two said that the legal suit levied against them is an attempt to stifle the free press. They expressed their hope that the justice would not rule to stifle free press.
"We will be more than satisfied if as a result of all this Ladom will improve the protein content of its products," said Piera.
Lora and Piera say that Ladom has to prove that they were wrong when they demonstrated in May that the samples did not have the required nutrients.

New appointments and confirmations
President Leonel Fernandez appointed former New York consul Bienvenido Perez, general director of the Hotel Corporation of the Ministry of Tourism that manages government hotel property. The President confirmed Aristides Fernandez Zucco at the head of the National Energy Commission and Victor Manuel Crispin Zorilla, as deputy director of the National Department of Investigations.
Also confirmed were Modesto Guzman, as director of the post office, and Adalberto Rosa as executive director of the National Tobacco Institute.
Carlos Dore Cabral, was appointed director of the Department of Information, Analysis and Strategic Programming (Diape).

Florentino reinstated to government
President Fernandez reinstated Major General Manuel Florentino Florentino, this time as military advisor to the Executive Branch. In 2005, Florentino had been replaced by Major General Luis Damian Castro Cruz in midst of rumors of the alleged ties to Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo, who was expected to stand trial for cocaine smuggling yesterday in a New York City court. At the time Florentino was director of the National Department of Investigations (DNI).
On a TV program on 21 April 2005, TV commentator Cesar Medina, later to be appointed ambassador in Chile, had sent a dramatic message to the President alerting him that General Florentino had celebrated on 17 May the 2004 presidential win with Quirino.
Lawyers handling the case in NY have complained that important recordings were tampered with by the local authorities.

Quirino strikes a deal?
News reports indicate that Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo did not go before Judge Kimba Woods yesterday as expected. El Caribe reports that Quirino could have joined the group that has negotiated lesser sentences in exchange for cooperating with the judicial authorities. Press reports speculate that Quirino could have accepted a guilty plea to avoid a possible life sentence. The fact that many of the accused have struck deals with the court means the case could be shorter than initially expected, says El Dia. News reports indicate that Fatima Henriquez Diaz is one of the very few remaining to stand trial and is accused of money laundering, not drug dealing.

Guerrero links high-ups to drugs
Peravia senator Wilton Guerrero (PLD-Peravia) raised the level of his accusations of complicity with drug dealing and accused the governor of Peravia, Bienvenido Montero of being the godfather of crime in the province and of protecting former police commander in Bani, General Hilario Gonzalez, former prosecutor Victor Cordero and the chief of the Drug Enforcement department (DNCD) in the province. Guerrero has also brought up the personal relationship of General Hilario Gonzalez and attorney general Radhames Jimenez Pena, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.
Yesterday at the Senate, Guerrero presented photographs, videos, and quoted sections of government security organization confidential reports and other facts to conclude that in Bani there was a threesome between the governor's office, police and DNCD.
Guerrero accuses Gonzalez of being completely at the service of crime, prostitution and drug dealing.
He said that the threesome of Gonzalez, Cordero and the chief of the DNCD granted protection in exchange for bribes. He commented that governor Bienvenido Montero arrived to the post on a bicycle, and now can boast a considerable fortune. He mentioned that the governor hired Omega at a RD$200,000 cost to entertain his guests at a party, and has just recently purchased a 130 tarea avocado farm for RD$600,000.
Guerrero said that when General Gonzalez was in charge, more than 15 drug sales points were opened in the province. Guerrero, as reported in El Nuevo Diario, mentioned the names of police captain Ramiro Mercedes Delgado, Junior Felix Rivas, police sergeants Wilson Bautista Sierra, Ferdali Montero and Miguel Angel Carmona. He said these receive RD$10,000-RD$17,000 for the service of looking the other way regarding drug sales.
Guerrero mentioned the names and cases of Dominicans that have been deported from NY and today exhibit large fortunes, properties and businesses in Peravia under the support of the police group that General Gonzalez directed. In one of the photos, Guerrero showed Gonzalez at a party with persons he linked to drug dealing.
He showed a video regarding the inaugural bash for the Liquor Store Plaza, of Dominican Carlos Miguel Santana Brito, a former NY resident, attended by General Gonzalez, provincial governor Bienvenido Montero and others that the senator links to drug dealing in the province.
Guerrero says that General Gonzalez has a policemen assigned to the business of Franco Cuesta, and for this service he receives RD$15,000.

Commission was comedy
Peravia Senator Wilton Guerrero Dume complained that the commission appointed by the President to investigate the suspected drug-related murder of six in Bani did not consult with organizations that he deems are truly representative of Bani, nor did it go about the investigation in a scientific way. The Presidential commission, that former district attorney Guillermo Moreno said was illegal, was composed of attorney general Radhames Jimenez Pena, the minister of Armed Forces Lieutenant General Ramon Antonio Garcia Aquino, and the chief of the Police, Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin.
El Nuevo Diario reports that Guerrero accused attorney general Radhames Jimenez Pena of having close ties (vinculo de compadreo) with General Gonzalez.
He complained that the attorney general had received information that linked General Gonzalez to crime, but he ignored the information leads provided by Guerrero.
He called the commission "comedy", and said that those appointed by the President pre-selected those who would comment on the General and sought pre-stated answers to clear the conduct of General Gonzalez. Guerrero urged that President Fernandez not be misled by the document.
The commission concluded that there were no ties of Hilario Gonzalez to organized crime and recommended the transfer to another location of Hilario Gonzalez y Gonzalez and rear admirals Gustavo Rojas Vera y Juan Victor Sosa Ruiz.
"The problem is not Bani, where social decomposition has exploded. There are other provinces that are worse than Bani, where drug trafficking has taken over society. Persons that we think are lambs are tied to drug trafficking. And if we continue without combating drug trafficking, nothing of what we do will be any good, because we will have handed the country to drug dealers on a silver platter," he said.
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