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Daily News - Thursday, 13 November 2008

UAE and Dominican Republic
The governments of the United Arab Emirates and the Dominican Republic have established diplomatic relations and their respective foreign ministers signed the documents with promised bilateral cooperation and consolidation of world peace. Carlos Morales Troncoso for the Dominican Republic and Sheikh Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the UAE did the honors, the Presidency announced.
The protocol between the two nations took place at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Morales Troncoso said that it was an honor for his country to have signed the documents establishing diplomatic relations in such a short time, adding that he also instructions from President Leonel Fernandez to ensure that a diplomatic legation should be set up in Abu Dhabi in the shortest time possible.
The Dominican Foreign Minister said that the conversation between President Fernandez and the Prime Minister of the UAE produced a perfect chemistry that secured the relations between the two nations. DR Trade Attache at the UN Enriquillo Rosario and DR consul in NY Eduardo Selman were also present at the event.
Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan said that the UAE's new relationship with the Dominican Republic would lead to a trade flow between the two countries.
See http://www.presidencia.gob.do/app/article.aspx?id=10074

Cambodia and the DR
The Kingdom of Cambodia and the Dominican Republic have signed a protocol establishing bilateral diplomatic relations during an official ceremony at the headquarters of the Cambodian Embassy in Hanoi, during a visit to Vietnam by DR Minister and Special Envoy to Asia, Miguel Mejia.
The agreement was signed by Mejia and Cambodian Ambassador Van Phal. Hans Dannenberg Castellanos, Dominican Ambassador in India whose remit also includes Vietnam also attended. The Kingdom of Cambodia and the Dominican Republic are full members of the Forum for Eastern Asia-Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC) and also of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries. President Leonel Fernandez and Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso are backing a drive to diversify diplomatic relations with African and Asian countries, in order to boost opportunities for economic and trade ties. In particular, there is growing interest in cooperation in the fields of tourism, agriculture, culture and science and technology.
Cambodia is now opening up as a tourist destination, attractive for its historical relics and beautiful scenery. Cambodia is famous for the ruins at Angkor Wat, the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire, which was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 1992. Cambodia also has a rich textile industry and is concentrating on developing its agricultural production.

Montas favors IMF agreement
Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas revealed last night that the government could sign an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for monitoring the Dominican economy next year, but he excluded the possibility, for the time being at least, of a meeting between President Fernandez and the representatives of the international financial organization.
The official left open the possibility of signing an agreement with the IMF in support of an "economic evaluation that the IMF mission is doing now and which should throw some light on things."
He explained that an eventual agreement to "monitor" the situation would be based on government obligations to a certain economic policy that the IMF would validate, but it does not imply conditions or obligations to act in a specific direction. "This is obviously a permit for the government to establish a policy that the IMF validates and provides follow-up, but in no way does this imply any disbursements." Montas said, "A monitoring agreement might be signed at the end of the meetings between government officials and the IMF team that is in the country."

Changes for 2009 Budget
Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa has told reporters from Listin Diario that the budget for 2009 has not been sent to Congress because it was based on a set of circumstances and macroeconomic conditions that have changed due to the global financial crisis. Bengoa explained that the project is being reformulated based on new analysis of the macroeconomic situation that take into account the fiscal variations that are "altered downwards, which is significant."
Bengoa added that the Central Bank and the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development, the institutions responsible for this task had made some variations to the macroeconomic conditions last Friday, and this was followed by a three-day weekend.
The Minister of the Hacienda cited as an example that the estimated economic growth in the GDP that was placed at 4% was reduced to 3%. Bengoa said that his ministry still had time to submit the budget.

Growth projections
Economist Bernardo Vega writes in Clave newspaper this week on the national growth forecasts. He mentions that in 2007, the Gross Domestic Product grew 7.9%. During the first quarter of 2008, the DR posted a 6.2% growth, and in the second, "due to excess spending in the re-election campaign", we grew 8.9%. He explains that an "inevitable hangover" has come next, which means a tightening during the third quarter when a bare 1.3% has been posted. He forecasts that growth for the last quarter will be 3.9%, for a 5% accumulated GDP for the entire 2008. For 2009, 3% is forecast, at a time the IMF expects Latin America on average to grow 2.5%, with the forecast for Mexico barely 0.9%. Likewise, he comments that the economies of the US and Europe are forecast to enter into a recession, and those are the source markets for our exports and services.

CDEEE pays US$10 million
The Dominican Corporation of State-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) reported that yesterday afternoon it paid the sum of US$10 million as part of the payment plan worked out with the generators, and the vice-president of the CDEEE emphasized how important the expansion projects were for the country's future development.
Radhames Segura reminded reporters from El Nuevo Diario that in 2006 the CDEEE worked on an Integrated Development Plan that prioritized different areas of the sector. He said, "and this plan is part of a critical workup of the characteristics and functional circumstances of the whole electricity sector in the Dominican Republic and measures its urgencies and projections until the year 2012."
He continued, "Over the next few days we are going to continue these payments, just as promised, and we will continue to promote and push for these projects that were conceived by the institution in order to solve the generation problems and this will guarantee an efficient coverage of the energy demand for the public."
He said that the 345-Kilovolt Electricity Highway, a transmission line from the south to the north, would be completely ready in June 2009. The substations will be ready in 2010 as part of the system's expansion. Also included in the plans is a secondary ring of 138 KV to reinforce the transmission lines in the major production areas of the country.
Segura also said that the hydroelectric dam at Pinalito is in its final stages and will bring 50 Megawatts on line. He also mentioned the projects at Palomino, Las Placetas, Las Barias, PRYN Brazo Derecho, Magueyal and the expansion of Hatillo that will bring 200 megawatts on line at low cost.

World Bank will support DR electricity
The World Bank (WB) will renew its support for the Dominican Republic over the next four years with the aim of helping the government resolve the electricity problems that affect all Dominicans. The Bank's new representative in the DR, Roby Senderowitsch said that the energy issue was a top priority for the international organization, and for this reason they will renew the strategies that support the government for the next four years, according to a report in El Nuevo Diario.
After visiting Chamber of Deputies president Julio Cesar Valentin, Senderowitsch said that the WB has not defined the economic support that it will provide over the next year, because first it has to evaluate the government's needs and the amount of resources required.
Senderowitsch said that the organization has a great many projects aimed at tackling the country's electricity problems.
He added that the WB has extra funds for the neediest countries in Latin America in the context of the current global economic crisis.
He pointed out that his visit to the Chamber of Deputies was part of the process of getting to know the different Dominican entities and that this would continue with further visits.
Senderowitsch took on the role of WB sub-regional director in the Dominican Republic in September of this year and he will be officially installed in the country next January.
On Monday the vice-president of the State-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE), Radhames Segura, reported that the government is waiting for a third US$50 million disbursement from the World Bank, from a US$150 million loan to cover its debts with the electricity generators.

Limiting fireworks
The Ministers of Public Health and of the Interior and the Police met with the president of the Chamber of Deputies yesterday and asked for his support to a bill that would, once and for all, ban the use of fireworks by private citizens.
Bautista Rojas Gomez and Franklin Almeyda Rancier urged the approval of the bill before December in order to prevent people, especially children, from getting harmed by the careless use of fireworks during the holiday season.
Almeyda Rancier told Hoy reporters that the proposal suggests that the market for fireworks should be handled by well-established Pyrotechnic businesses so that when a show is put on it is done correctly and not by inexperienced persons.
Julio Cesar Valentin, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, promised to put the proposal on the agenda for next Tuesday's session. The bill has already been approved by the Senate.
Earlier, Interior & Police Minister Franklin Almeyda Rancier had maintained that this year sales to the general public of fireworks are again banned. The ban was put into place in 2006 by presidential decree. Almeyda told the Listin Diario that only specialized fireworks technicians are authorized to set off the fireworks. The ban was put into place at the request of physicians that protested the large number of victims, including children that were injured at Christmas time. He said that in 2006 there were 27 cases of serious burns because of fireworks, but last year there were only four cases. Almeyda said that the ministry would confiscate any fireworks sold by vendors to the general public. He said last year they incinerated over RD$1 million in fireworks that were confiscated from illegal vendors.

Booze sales greenlight for Xmas
Interior & Police Minister Franklin Almeyda announced the lifting of the ban on sales of alcoholic beverages in time for the Xmas season. This would be from 22 December through 1 January. At present, sales of alcoholic beverages at city establishments outside of hotels is restricted to midnight from Sunday to Thursday and to 2am on Fridays, Saturdays and holidays. In an interview with Listin Diario, Almeyda admitted that the "colmadones", the mom-and-pop barrio grocery stores that turned into bars and that open up to the street are noisy and affect quiet life in the neighborhoods. He said there are about 65,000 nationwide.

JCE voids PRSC assembly
The Contentious Chamber of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) accepted the suit for an annulment of the assembly that the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC) has called for next 23 November in an attempt to renew its board of directors.
The suit was submitted by a group of PRSC leaders who claim that the call for an assembly violates the organization's statutes, due to the fact that the current leadership does not finish its term in office until next year.
By means of Resolutions 40-2008, the Contentious Chamber that is led by magistrate Mariano Rodriguez, annulled the convocation for the assembly that had been originally set for 12 October and then put off to give time for the elections court to supervise the process, as had been requested by the Organizing Committee.
The request to suspend the assembly was made by suit filed by Mario Jose Fernandez Savinon, Mercedes Osorio, Jose Tatis Gomez, Ramon Feliz Madera, Carmen Uceta and Mercedes Bobadilla.
Yesterday, before the court's decision was announced, PRSC leaders continued their efforts to make up a unified leadership team with the hope of preventing internal conflicts.
The resignations of Amable Aristy Castro and Victor Bisono as aspiring candidates for the party presidency were part of the issues under discussion.

Attorney General wants clean-up
The Attorney General of the Dominican Republic, Radhames Jimenez Pena, said that he feels that a clean up of the Armed Forces and the National Police was needed. "But supervision mechanisms must be strengthened first, because, if you notice that in this case (Paya) they are all members of the same institution." The AG was clear in pointing out that while the question of the drugs and the money in the Paya case was still unsolved, the part relating to the persons involved has been concluded. Speaking during the weekly breakfast meeting with the Corripio Group and its journalists, Jimenez Pena said that a preliminary look at the Paya case shows that all the suspects are in jail for the seven murders that took place in Ojo de Agua in Paya, in Bani (Peravia) province on 4 August. Nonetheless, he did say that the case involves the framework of a criminal investigation which still has a lot of loose ends to tie up on the issue of the drugs and money involved. Jimenez said that, "the case will remain open for each one of the loose ends not tied up." Ever since the Paya case became public knowledge, a rumor that the whole thing was a "takeover" involving 1,200 kilograms of cocaine and US$200,000 has been circulating. The Attorney General did reveal some interesting details about the case. In particular, he said that the 80 kilos of cocaine that were seized in a stolen vehicle driven by an accomplice who was accompanied by the wife of Ricardo Rafael Guzman Perez was just part of 300 kilos that the former naval officer had taken from the house in Paya. He had stored in a house in Santo Domingo East where it was guarded by some Haitians who later began to steal it. The AG said that, "when he found out that the Haitians were stealing the cocaine, he took off after one of them and someone saw the incident and called the police." He said that Eduard Mayobanex Rodriguez Montero's unsuccessful escape bid had been engineered by Jose Luis Montas Vargas (owner of El Duro Motors) from jail, and that this was possible due to the lax controls in the old-style prisons. He commented that the appointment of Major General Manuel de Jesus Perez Sanchez as the Director General of Prisons could be a step in the right direction.

More than 160 women killed so far
Attorney General Radhames Jimenez Pena has revealed that so far this year over 160 women have been killed compared to 128 for the same period last year. The official highlighted the issue of gender violence as he announced a march against this crime set for 19 November. As he looked back, the Attorney General said that there had been 140 gender-related murders in 2006 and 149 in 2005. Women who were killed by their partners so far in 2008 number 102. Among the victims there are 18 cases of foreign women, including12 Haitians. During the same period, 12 women were killed by members of the police and the armed forces. A report from the Attorney General's office says that 40% of the men implicated in these crimes were subject to court orders, while 10% had even had sentences passed against them. According to the report: "In the studies carried out from 2006 to 2008, between 60% and 80% of the cases received in the prosecutors' offices were linked to gender violence, either domestic or intra-family." At least 27 women report gender violence in the National District each day, according to Lourdes Contreras, a spokesperson for the Action Network for Life without Violence (REDVI), and who criticized the lack of coordination between Law 24-97 that penalizes domestic and gender violence and the Democratic Security Plan. Contreras pointed out the need to review the way in which power imbalances between men and women are manifested in the home and on the street, and how this translates into threats and risks to women's safety. The March Against Gender Violence will take place in Santo Domingo. Jimenez Pena said that the walk would start at 4 in the afternoon, departing from Kilometer 0 on Mirador Sur (Avenida de la Salud), going down Jimenez Moya (Winston Churchill) Avenue, and ending with a rally at the new Palace of Justice in the Centro de los Heroes. The First Lady will take part, together with other public figures. Women's Minister Alejandrina German expressed her support for the walk, as did the Commissioner for Support of the Reform and Modernization of the Justice System, Lino Vasquez and assistant prosecutor Roxanna Reyes.

Revenge suspected in murder case
The officers investigating the shooting of Major Paula Mercedes are looking at several possible motives for her murder, including vengeance for a case that the police officer was investigating.
The Chief of Police, Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin, said yesterday that so far no one has been detained in the case, which has shaken up the entire force, but he reassured reporters from Diario Libre that the investigations were ongoing.
The officer was the Assistant Manager of AMET's Internal Affairs department, and assistant to the director, General Rafael Bencosme Candelier.
A funeral service for Major Paula Mercedes was held yesterday at the Altagracia Funeral Home on Bolivar Avenue and she will be buried in her hometown of La Romana today.
Paula Mercedes was murdered in front of her home by two men on a motorcycle, and shot three times at close range.
Marino Vinicio Castillo, the President's advisor on drug matters, told reporters that "this is a killing that must be dealt with," and he described the killing as an example of organized crime.
Castillo pointed out that the killers traveled on a motorcycle and had no interest in committing a robbery.
Major Mercedes was described as General Bencosme Candelier's "right hand" when the general was head of the Criminal Investigation Department in the National Police.

Baseball update
Defending champions the Aguilas Cibaenas returned to first place in the local tournament last night, defeating the Tigres del Licey 11-5 by getting 18 hits, led by Michael Bourn who hit a triple, double and two singles and Luis Polonia who got three hits. The Aguilas are now at 14-9 and in first place.
In Santo Domingo, the Leones de Escogido defeated the Estrellas Orientales 8-3, winning their seventh game in the last eleven. The Leones were led by the sensational Fernando Martinez, who hit a triple and a single and drove in two runs. Dustin Hughes pitched five good innings to get the victory.
Over in La Romana's Francisco Micheli Stadium, the Gigantes del Cibao defeated the hometown Toros 9-0, as Aquilino Lopez pitched five innings to get the victory, and Kendry Morales went 4 for 5, as did Wilson Valdez.
Team W-L Avg. Games Behind
AGUILAS 14 - 9 .609 --
GIGANTES 13 - 9 .591 0.5
TOROS 13 - 10 .565 1.0
LICEY 12 - 10 .545 1.5
ESCOGIDO 11 - 11 .500 2.5
ESTRELLAS 4 - 18 .182 9.5

Tonight's games
No games scheduled for tonight.
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