UNESCO Artist for Peace|
UNESCO director-general Koichiro Matsuura will designate Dominican musician Juan Luis Guerra as a "UNESCO Artist for Peace" during a ceremony today, 15 September at 6pm at the organization's headquarters in Paris.
Juan Luis Guerra will receive this designation "in recognition of his efforts for the benefit of children with disabilities and children in need, and his dedication to the ideals and aims of the Organization."
Songwriter and performer Juan Luis Guerra is a world famous Latin music star. His group, 4.40, is one of the most successful proponents of Caribbean popular music and has received several Grammy and Latin Grammy Awards. Juan Luis Guerra has lent his talent to several causes, namely the association La Ventana de los Cielos (Window to Heaven) and the foundation America Latina en Accion Solidaria (Latin America in action for solidarity, "ALAS" is a Spanish acronym meaning "wings").
Appointed for two years, Guerra will lend his support to UNESCO's work on youth violence prevention.
UNESCO Artists for Peace are world famous personalities who use their influence, charisma and prestige to help promote UNESCO's message and programs. They include musician Manu Dibango (Cameroon), actress Patricia Velasquez (Venezuela), musician Gilberto Gil (Brazil), dancer Miyako Yoshida (Japan), soprano Sumi Jo (South Korea), singer and founder of the musical group Gipsy Kings Chico Bouchikhi (France) and conductor Valery Gergiev (Russian Federation).
Chevron case up to courts|
Vice President Rafael Alburquerque, who sought conciliation between tanker trucks owners and drivers and Chevron-Texaco says that that the mediation efforts had not been successful, as reported on Saturday in Diario Libre. "The case will have to be resolved in the courts," said Alburquerque. Chevron-Texaco is insisting on its right to transport their fuel with their own fleet of carriers and drivers of their choice, arguing that this is guaranteed in the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement. Alburquerque explained that the government is a signatory of the World Trade Organization that establishes freedom of doing business.
The cartels have sought to impose their services on Chevron-Texaco, by using violent methods, such as impeding free flow of truckers into the Dominican Petroleum Refinery installations.
Quisqueya Verde program back|
Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal re-launched the Green Quisqueya reforestation plan in Santiago yesterday. Fernandez implemented the program very successfully when he was Vice President during President Leonel Fernandez's first term of office (1996-2000). With the participation of the Sociedad Ecologica del Cibao (SOECI) and the Santiago community, 3,000 native and endemic species were planted - including mahogany and oak. The plan was timidly restarted last year, but now with Fernandez Mirabal at the helm of the Ministry of Environment, more resources are expected to be available for reforestation. During the first push (1996-2000), an estimated 30 million trees were planted, making it the most successful reforestation program in the Caribbean and Central America.
Borrowing heavily with PetroCaribe|
Almost half of the subsidy the Fernandez administration has granted on electricity billings has been charged to PetroCaribe agreement, which allows the government to postpone payments for 25 years. According to statistics from the Ministry of Hacienda, between 2005 and July 2008, the government subsidized the electricity sector with RD$62.5 billion. Of that amount, RD$30.4 billion has been charged to the PetroCaribe agreement, as El Caribe reports. The PetroCaribe agreement allows for credits to up to 50% of the total petroleum bill, when the price of petroleum is more than US$52 on international markets.
The newspaper reports that in 2007, the government had used up 73.6% of the budget allotment for the subsidy in 2008 as of the half year mark, or RD$15.5 billion of RD$21 billion.
Haydee Rainieri at Asonahores|
The new president of the National Hotel & Restaurant Association, Haydee Kuret de Rainieri said, "Tourism is a game in which we all win, or we all lose", in her inaugural speech. First Lady Margarita Cedeno represented President Leonel Fernandez at the event. Also present was the new Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia.
The new board of the Asonahores for 2008-2010 is made up by Mrs. Rainieri, Ventura Serra, first vice president; Roberto Casoni, second vice president, Francisco Castillo, fourth vice president, Julio Llibre, treasurer, Jose (Pepe) Bonet, vice treasurer, Luis Jose Cabral, secretary and Omar Estevez, vice secretary. Others are Felix Felipe of Sanctuary Cap Cana, Francisco Perez of Oasis Hotels & Resorts, Ellis Perez, Cap Cana, Jesus Almanzar of Emi Resorts, Rafael Lopez of Bahia Principe, Eduardo Reple of Jaragua, Augusto Sanchez of Buen Provecho Restaurant and Herbert Schoderboek of Lifestyle Hacienda Resorts.
In an earlier interview with the Listin Diario, Kuret pointed out that one of the leading problems to resolve is the lack of adequate highways leading to tourist destinations. The eastern coastline has been neglected by the government in recent years, despite it being the country's leading destination for tourist arrivals. She said that another priority is to implement urban renewal projects around tourism destinations to counteract the slums that have developed along with the hotel and vacation property construction boom. She also favors the "single window" facility so that all documentation related to a tourism project can be dealt with at a single office expediting permits.
The new president of Asonahores stresses the need for everyone to back the sector as a national priority. "Despite tourism motorizing economic development and benefiting almost all the country, people continue thinking it is but about hotels and now real estate developers," she said. She added that people have to understand that what happens to the industry affects everybody in some way, as the trickle-down effect from the industry is the broadest of any sector. "We compete on a global level, with the world," she explained. "When a traveler plans a stayover at a hotel, they have already decided on the continent, the region, the country, the area within the country, and finally on the hotel," she explained. She said she would use her presidency to spur more coordination between national sectors.
She said that that tourism in the country is evolving, from the first days of total dependency on the tour operators and all-inclusive resorts, to new niches such as luxury hotels and longer vacations at second homes. Kuret says better highways, services and the elimination of slums need to be priorities now for tourism to continue to develop.
Haydee Kuret de Rainieri is married to Frank Rainieri, who is responsible for the development of the east coast as a leading Caribbean tourism destination. Rainieri is a past president of Asonahores. Of the total 64,868 hotel room count (Asonahores), 29,318 are located in the East.
US crisis not over|
During a conference sponsored by the Organization for Shopping Malls (ONEC), economist Carlos Asilis said that the government needed to adjust its spending so that the economy may evolve given the impact of the world global crisis that he forecast will worsen this year and next. He spoke of maintaining a surplus equal to 2.5% of the Gross Domestic Product above levels of previous years, as reported in Hoy. He said that the financial problem is not just one of sub-prime loans in the real estate market, but rather, the greater problem is that investment banks borrowed more and more money in recent years and used that to accumulate assets. Now there is pressure for less leverage and more liquidity.
He said that this would lead the US economy to decline 1 or 1.5%. Furthermore, he forecast recession periods for Europe and Japan. He said the effect would also be reflected in fewer remittances.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal reports on the export boom and how it is benefiting farming and is just beginning to benefit the manufacturing sector, too. US exports of goods and services in the first half of the year rose at a US$52 billion annual rate, adjusted for inflation, up 7.1%. Of the total, commodities accounted for 41% and manufactured products 12%. The difference is that US manufacturers outsource a large amount of their production overseas.
The Dominican government agreed to a new distribution of the 100 homes in Bonao that were built with Venezuelan donations after Tropical Storms Noel and Olga. The homes had been prematurely distributed by the Governor of Bonao, leading to a protest from the Venezuelan Embassy through diplomatic channels. The homes were built for people who lost their homes in the storms. Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso and Venezuelan Ambassador Francisco Belisario Landis will supervise the new distribution so that it may benefit the original selection of homeless families.
Ocoa still hurting|
The executive director of the Association Pro Development of Ocoa, priest Domingo Sobejko protested to journalists from Listin Diario that President Leonel Fernandez' staff did not allow people he described as community representatives to explain the community's problems to the President during his visit to Ocoa last week. Father Domingo said that unfortunately the way he was received, and the access to the President were an offense to his role as President. He said he was only able to say a few words to the President when he had just landed by helicopter, prior to his boarding a SUV. "In that short time we were able to outline the problems, because I think he did not come to play dominos but to resolve the problems, and a different space should have been provided," he said, as quoted in Listin Diario. Ocoa suffered major damages that have cut off several small towns in the province and affected agriculture. As reported, 1,143 persons are in shelters, 54 aqueducts are out of service, 300 houses were destroyed and 12,224 tareas of farmland were damaged. The newspaper reports that the community is skeptical, even after the President's visit, that the government will assist them return to normal. They told the newspaper that the government's offer to rent homes for those left homeless is not realistic because there are not that many homes vacant in Ocoa and furthermore, those with homes available do not trust the government will pay for the rentals.
Gonzalez vs. Guerrero?|
Former Bani police chief, General Hilario Gonzalez wants a "face to face" confrontation with Senator Wilton Guerrero (PLD-Peravia). The senator has accused Gonzalez of being a leading protector of drug dealers in the province of Peravia. The officer has sued the senator and the case will be heard in the Supreme Court of Justice.
Senator Guerrero, upon being sued, said this would be a good opportunity to present more evidence of Gonzalez's links to drug dealers.
"Let him take them [the evidence], I want a face to face with him. Pound by pound, I am more honest than that man," he said, as reported in El Caribe. He said he is mostly concerned for his dignity.
For background on the confrontation, see http://www.dr1.com/forums/government/78530-senator-wrong.html
Testimony by massacre survivor|
According to statements made by Bani massacre survivor, 38-year old Nicaraguan Orin Clinton Gomez Halford and watchman Emilio Basilio Victoria to Peravia province prosecutors, the killers arrived in white and black SUVs and came looking for a missing drug shipment. In the statement compiled by the prosecutors, Gomez identifies former police major Frederick Medina Abud as one of the murderers. In the case, Jose Abel Damian Soto, Andres Berroa Mercedes (Frank/Capi), Alvin Sanchez Suazo and former police mayor Frederick Medina Abud have been arrested for investigations.
He told the prosecutors that four or five (men) came in the SUVs, one was called El Comando, and others were younger "moreno" men, with ages estimated at 28, 30 or 32 years. He said El Comando is Frederick Medina Abud, describing him as a white man, good looking, with "smooth hair." "He was the one who opened the door to the SUV, shoved me in and then the firing began, we all fell dead to the ground, and I remember when they said, this one is not dead, and there were more shots. He said he could recognize the driver and the person when he was unloaded from the SUV. Those who accompanied El Comando were heavily armed.
Another survivor of the massacre, house watchman Emilio Basilio Victoria confirmed that the late night visitors came asking for a truck and where it had been taken. Initial press reports on the case indicate that a 1,200kg shipment of cocaine is missing.
On 5 August, seven men were killed in the Ojo de Agua massacre. Gomez Halford saved his own life by playing dead.
It was the Spaniard|
National Police Chief Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin admitted that Spaniard Adolfo Cervantes Arroyo Arrellana (Waikiki), who was murdered in San Cristobal on 10 September, is a "known" drug trafficker in the province who had disputed the control of the drug points.
The Spaniard had been arrested for questioning by the Police months ago after the death of Tejada Kranwinkel who was in charge of the Department for Drug Control in Jarabacoa. Charges were not levied and he was released at the time, "Everyone in San Cristobal knows that [Cervantes] was one of the larger drug dealers in San Cristobal," Guzman told journalists. A journalist on site commented that many believe the Spaniard had operations nationwide, as reported in Hoy.
The Police chief says, nevertheless, that the deceased Spaniard is the leading suspect in the death of Officer Guillermo Antonio Tejada Kranwinkel.
According to the Police Chief, last week Arroyo survived a shooting that was not reported.
Cervantes Arroyo died from bullet wounds he received when unknown persons fired at him when he was arriving at his residence at Calle Desiderio del Pozo No. 38, Ensanche Olimpico, in Madre Viaje Sur, San Cristobal.
Cervantes rented the house in San Cristobal. His wife and two children who lived with him have left the house.
Arroyo Arrellana was the owner of the Waikiki restaurant-car wash in San Cristobal. One of Arroyo's business partners, Miguel Antonio Ceballos, is also being investigated in connection with Tejada Kranwinkel's murder.
Drug bombardment from Venezuela|
The US Office of National Drug Control Policy indicates that over the past five years there has been a four-fold increase in the amount of cocaine flowing out of Venezuela. ONDCP director, Walters complained of lack of anti-drug cooperation from the Venezuela authorities. The report in El Nuevo Herald indicates that the number of non-commercial illicit flights increased from 21 in 2002 to 220 last year, and a new record is expected for 2008. Most of these fly to Hispaniola, and then Mexico.
Three to jail for murder|
Judge Keila Perez Santana has sent Elvin Acosta Berroa (Mabi), Jose Miguel Alcangel Ramirez (Kikito) and Jayson Batista de la Cruz (Jejey) to preventive custody in La Victoria for a year as the case prepares for trial. They are accused in the murder of 24-year old Marcos Leonidas Fernando Guerrero Pena opposite his home in La Castellana during an attempted robbery. The assailants used a SUV belonging to Jose Arcangel Serrano, father of Jose Miguel Arcangel Ramirez (Kikito) around midnight in the robbery of two i-phones.
Quick check for dengue|
Microbiologist Janneth Pinzon encourages anyone who suspects that they have dengue fever to visit the Centro de Estudios Moleculares for a quick blood test. Otherwise, the other labs need five to seven days to determine whether a patient could have the disease. The new technology determines the genetic content of the four serotypes of dengue that affect the DR.
The technique is also used in Brazil, Cuba, India and the Philippines for quick detection of the disease. The center is located at Calle Pasteur 51 in Santo Domingo (Tel 809 688 0641) and in Santiago at Tel 809 582 2136.
Guzman-Campbell bout called off|
Joan Guzman failed to make weight for the bout against Nate Campbell. He missed the lightweight weight category by 3.5 pounds. He had tried to move up from junior lightweight. Guzman's doctor determined that he wasn't physically fit for fighting after suffering from dehydration when trying to make weight. The bout that would have been televised on Showtime had been booked for the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi. The hotel could seek damages. Campbell would have defended his WBA, WBO and IBLF lightweight world crowns. Guzman could have proceeded with the match, even though it would have been a non-title fight when he failed to make the 135lb (61kg) weight limit. Guzman is a WBO junior lightweight champion.
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