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Daily News - Monday, 22 September 2008

Facilities for low-cost carriers
Dominican Airport Department director Andres Vanderhorst, himself a former tourism minister, said that the government plans to offer incentives for new to market low-cost carriers to begin travel to the DR and for others that are already here to increase their frequencies and flights. He said that they were following the example of Panama, which has been successful with its open skies policy.
Southwest has announced an interest in flying to the Caribbean. JetBlue and Spirit already fly to the DR. Air Europa is regarded as a low-cost airline from Europe that has helped lower fares to the DR.
He said this strategy would reduce the impact of the seat capacity cuts recently made by legacy carriers. He attributed the decline in legacy carrier flights from main destinations, such as New York, Miami and Puerto Rico to rising fuel costs, adding that this has led to an increase in fares, as there are fewer seats available. He said that for instance, there is currently only one flight to New York from Santiago's Cibao Airport, compared to three earlier this year.
He also announced the construction of new airfields in San Juan de la Maguana and San Francisco de Macoris.

US should sign with IMF
Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa said that the American Chamber of Commerce in Santo Domingo should advise the US government to sign an agreement with the International Monetary Fund, as reported in Hoy. He said that this year the United States has doubled it fiscal deficit compared to last year and its public debt now stands at around US$8.4 trillion, and could reach US$9 trillion by the end of the year, or 64% of the Gross Domestic Product. He said the US should sign with the IMF because the deficit of the current account of the balance of payments is more than US$700 billion. "And in the past 13 months the financial crisis has led to the bankruptcy or merger of 16 banks or mortgage institutions, of the category of Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch and Bear Sterns," he said. That is in addition to 15 financial institutions that have suffered major losses.
Bengoa attributed many of the DR's financial difficulties to the US economic crisis. He said that for this reason, the Dominican business sector should call for the US to sign an agreement with the IMF so that this financial overseer can intervene in the US economy.
The recommendation was made after several spokesmen for Dominican banks suggested that the Dominican government should sign a monitoring agreement with the IMF, while others have suggested a broader type of agreement. Business leaders claim that the Dominican government has not been able to control its superfluous spending alone. In a press release, the Commercial Banks Association (ABA) said that the country requires measures that contribute to strengthen the confidence in macroeconomic policy. They indicate that the most appropriate step would be to sign a program for the IMF to monitor governmental decisions on taxation and monetary policy.
The International Monetary Fund Executive Board has reported that Dominican authorities have expressed willingness to engage in post-program monitoring with the Fund, following the completion of the three-year Stand-by Arrangement for RD$437.8 million (about US$688.6 million) in January 2008.

ADOZONA on US economic woes
The president of the Dominican Free Trade Zones Association, Fernando Capellan has expressed his concern about the effects the US economic and monetary crisis will have on the Dominican Republic and Europe. He said the effects on the country are yet to be felt. Capellan said that 95% of all exports from Dominican free zones are to the United States. He said that meanwhile, the sector has stabilized and currently employs 125,000 employees, despite the 1.9% decline in manufacturing exports it suffered in the first half of the year.

Dominican Week in the US
A panel discussion on Perspectives for the DR after the US presidential election is part of the Dominican Week events. The group of Dominican professionals in Washington has organized the conference at the Inter-American Development Bank's Enrique Iglesias Conference Center at 1330 New York Avenue, NW in Washington, D.C. Presenting are Dan Erikson, Inter-American Dialogue; Dominican Ambassador Flavio Dario Espinal; US Ambassador in the DR Robert Fannin; Otto Reigh, advisor to the McCain campaign; Dan Restrepo, advisor to the Obama campaign and Marcela Sanchez for the Washington Post. To attend, email [email protected]
The next day from 6 to 10pm in New York City, Dominican Week participants will meet at the Faculty Dining Room of the City College of New York at 160 Convent Avenue to honor Dominican teachers in New York. For reservations, write to [email protected]
That same evening, concurrently a panel discussion on The Dominican Economy and the Current Credit Crunch: Challenges and Opportunities, sponsored by Dominicans on Wall Street (DOWS) will take place at the Hispanic Federation Inc of 55 Exchange Place, 5th floor. Moderator is Emmanuel Martinez, president of Dominicans on Wall Street Inc. Panelists are Franco Uccelli, vice president Emerging Markets Research for JP Morgan Chase & Co. Also participating are Georgina Gatsiopoulos, Latin America Reporter, Debtwire and Jose Maldonado Stark, associate of Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti. For reservations, contact [email protected]. UNAPEC university and DOWS will come together to honor Dominicans who have played an outstanding role in business in the US. This event is scheduled to follow the panel on the economy. On Friday, 26 September, from 2 to 4pm, Dominican Week will honor outstanding Dominicans in New York. This event is programmed for the New York County Civil Court, 111 Centre St., New York.
Dominican Week is organized by the Russin, Vecchi & Heredia Bonetti law firm in Santo Domingo.

Solidarity with Ocoa
A convoy of 106 goods-laden vehicles traveled to San Jose de Ocoa on Sunday to distribute aid to victims of the recent heavy rainstorms. Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike are estimated to have caused RD$1 billion worth of damage in the region, as reported in Hoy. The convoy, which set out from Santo Domingo, brought RD$26 million worth of aid. The activity was organized by former UASD rector Roberto Santana on behalf of Ocoa residents in Santo Domingo.
Ocoa is a major farming center and farmers are being affected by damaged bridges, which impede the transportation of goods to the usual city markets.

Red alert at border with Haiti
Border forces have been reinforcing the scant security on the border with Haiti. The Armed Forces have launched Operation Gavion, a maximum alert in an attempt to monitor an increased exodus of Haitians crossing the border, especially after major flooding following recent storms that have hit the Caribbean. The storms have affected food supplies and housing in the area, and the after-effects are keeping dozens of schools closed as these are still being used as shelters for families that have lost their makeshift homes.
The senator from Elias Pina Adriano Sanchez Roa called for France, Canada and United States to send aid. "We have many social and economic problems, and so we are limited in what we can do to aid the Haitians," he said, as reported in Hoy.

Conjunctivitis alert
The Dominican Ophthalmology Society is warning of a dramatic increase in conjunctivitis cases nationwide. The medical society also warns members of the public to avoid using medication that has not been prescribed by a doctor, as well as popular remedies such as washing eyes with soap, aloe vera or lime because this could burn the cornea. They advise that once a burning sensation is felt, the patient should refrain from touching their eyes, despite the discomfort. Touching one's eyes will only make a simple infection become serious," says the society.
Both the current president of the Ophthalmology Society Cynthia Cunillera Batlle and her predecessor Herbert Stern recommend strict hygiene measures; avoid the use of cloth handkerchiefs, makeup and contact lenses.
The governor of Santiago could not attend the launch of Expo Cibao because he was suffering from conjunctivitis.

Drug plane crashes with four on board
A small plane carrying four people and a drugs consignment crashed into the mountains of southwestern Pedernales (Pica Cafe, Jaisa) on Saturday. According to initial reports, the four died in the crash. Roberto Lebron, spokesman for the DNCD said that four packages of cocaine of an undetermined value and weight were found on board, but other packages were said to have burned after the crash. News reports suggest that several men who were waiting for the cargo on the ground had fled the scene. The sparsely populated southwestern coastline is a popular area for planes to dump their drug cargo for retrieval by accomplices on the ground.
Armed Forces Minister Lieutenant General Pedro Rafael Pena, Police Chief Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin and director of the National Drug Control Department Gilberto Delgado Valdez traveled to Pedernales by helicopter this morning to personally oversee investigations into the plane crash. A commission was appointed to determine the nationality of the deceased and the amount of kilos that the plane was carrying. The crash is attributed to bad weather. The authorities were tracking the plane when it disappeared from their radar. The DNCD speculates that plane had come from South America.

Why the silence?
Hoy newspaper's El Personaje commentary wonders:
"Many Dominicans continue to find it strange that the investigators, especially from the National Drug Control Department, have not been able to locate the drugs and money that was up for grabs on the night of the massacre of seven suspected drug dealers in Paya, Bani." As has been said, it is known who was there, who was waiting for the shipment that came by sea, who participated in the murder, the vehicles that were used, etc. Then how is it possible that the authorities remain silent about the whereabouts of the drug shipment or the money? Or could it be that they do not want to reveal what was found out in the investigation to the general public?"

Boxing coach gets DR nationality
Cuban Pedro Diaz, who coached the Dominican Republic's Beijing Olympics gold medalist, boxer Felix Diaz, has been granted Dominican nationality. He has also accepted a contract to continue training the Dominican team and has presented a work plan leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games. Diaz has a PhD in education, has served as president of the Scientific Commission of the International Boxing Association for the Americas, and is a former teacher at the Cuban Sports Institute.

24 Dominicans to MLB playoffs
Twenty-four Dominicans ball players and two coaches are on the rosters of Major League Baseball playoff teams, as reported in Diario Libre. Dominican players are:
California Angels: Coach Alfredo Griffin, Vladimir Guerrero, Erick Aybar, Ervin Santana, Jose Arredondo
Dodgers: Coach Mariano Duncan, Manny Ramirez, Angel Berroa, Pablo Ozuna, Ramon Troncoso.
Red Sox: David Ortiz.
Tampa Rays: Carlos Pena, Willy Aybar, Juan Salas
White Sox: Juan Uribe, Octavio Dotel
Cubs: Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez, Felix Pie, Carlos Marmol
Mets: Jose Reyes, Argenis Reyes, Luis Castillo, Pedro Martinez, Duaner Sanchez
Phillies: Pedro Felix.
Possibly, if Milwaukee make the playoffs: Salomon Torres, Carlos Villanueva and Guillermo Mota.

The Merengue Social Club?
Five legends of Dominican popular music - Joseito Mateo, Frank Cruz, Francis Santana, Vinicio Franco and Cuco Valoy - accompanied by the Super Orquestra San Jose conducted by another legendary musician, Papa Molina are booked for the United Palace Theater in Manhattan, New York. Diario Libre speculates this could be the birth of a Merengue version of the Buena Vista Social Club. Journalist Alfonso Quinones says that all that is missing is a Ry Cooder to become the promoter who would send this group of classic merengue musicians to stages such as the Olympia in Paris, Festival Latino in Milan, the Mexican Auditorio and Madison Square Garden, to just mention a few. In this way they would fill the space left by the original Buena Vista Social Club members, the late Cuban son stars Compay Segundo, Ibrahim Ferrer, Eliades Ochoa and Omara Portuondo who rose to international fame late in life as part of Ry Cooder's Buena Vista Social Club in the late 1990s.
Diario Libre reports that they represent history, myths and legends. The show "The Story of Merengue" is produced by Radhy Montero. After its premiere at the United Palace, the show will move on to Lawrence and Revere in Massachusetts, Providence in Rhode Island, Newark, Bronx and Queens, and close on 26 October in what is hoped to be just the promotional start of a continued tour.

Rains forecast
It was sunny in Santo Domingo into the afternoon on Monday, but the Weather Department is forecasting heavy rains over the next 48 hours as a tropical wave moves over from Puerto Rico. The neighboring island has already reported flooding following torrential rains of up to four inches per hour, and rainfall amounts have exceeded 20 to 30 inches in parts of southeastern Puerto Rico. More rains are expected in Puerto Rico today, before the storm moves across the Mona Channel.
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) has declared a yellow alert for 13 provinces, mainly in the east, and a green alert for the rest of the country. Heavy rainstorms are expected in the provinces of La Altagracia, La Romana, San Pedro de Macoris, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, Samana, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Santo Domingo, Duarte, Puerto Plata, Sanchez Ramirez, Espaillat and the National District.
For discussion and updates, see www.dr1.com/forums/weather-beyond/...
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