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Daily News - Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Commission invites three major parties
Preparations for the summit meeting between the leading representatives of the industrial, commercial and banking sectors being convened by President Leonel Fernandez began to gather pace yesterday when the organizing commission visited the headquarters of the three main political parties to request their participation and ask them to prepare proposals on what they consider to be the country's main priorities.
The summit has two goals, and one of them is to sign a pact for a national development strategy in order to fulfill the law that obliges the Executive Power to submit a long-term plan to Congress, according to organizing commission member Temistocles Montas, the Minister of Economy, Planning and Development. The other objective, and first on the program, is to agree on short-term measures aimed at dealing with the world economic crisis and the most pressing national issues.
Diario Libre reports that Montas, Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado, president of the Economic, Social and Institutional Council (CESI), businessman Antonio Isa Conde and sociologist Jose del Castillo visited the headquarters of the PRSC party at 10:30, the PRD party at 11:30 and the PLD at 1:00 in the afternoon yesterday. The letter, signed by Montas and Nunez Collado asked the party leaderships to send their five priority discussion points by the 20th at the latest.
The PRSC's Rafaela Alburquerque and Victor Gomez Casanova headed the group of reformists who received the delegation and told them that the highest levels of the party had designated a commission to take part in the dialogue, although the Political Commission will not make it findings known until the 20th.
The PRSC representatives will be the top ten members plus Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso.
At the PRD, the commission was met by secretary general Orlando Jorge Mera, Tomas Hernandez Alberto, Anibal Garcia Duverge, Peggy Cabral and Julio Marinez. Jorge Mera announced that this party would respond to the invitation after the Political Commission, which meets on Thursday, has taken its decision. "An event such as the one that is being convened would be lopsided if the PRD were not to attend," said Montas, in an effort to motivate the PRD.
PLD secretary general Reinaldo Pared Perez headed the commission from the Political Committee that received the organizers of the dialogue. He said that he had received instructions from President Leonel Fernandez, who is also the head of the PLD, to convene the Political Committee for Wednesday at 8pm with the aim of choosing the representation that the party will send and the issues that it will propose for the Summit.
The contact schedule is as follows:
11:00am: The CESI will meet with business, union and non-governmental associations.
1pm: The group will receive the Dominican Federation of Municipalities. At 5pm they will visit the PRSD, according to Montas, who promised to find a moment in the week to visit the smaller parties.
On Wednesday at 11am the meetings will continue with a visit to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Jorge Subero Isa. The commission will visit Congress at 12 noon.

Quirino's family starts to leave
Family members of former army captain Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo began their exodus from the Dominican Republic after money-laundering charges against them were dropped. They are being protected under the US Federal Witness Protection Program
Diosmaris Marmolejos Feliz and her four children by the extradited former officer left for the United States yesterday.
Meanwhile, the seven Marmolejos brothers are awaiting the return of their passports in order to leave the country.
Their departure comes after they filed a complaint to the District Attorney for the National District against a car dealer that seized a luxury BMW belonging to Marmolejos.
According to Diario Libre, assistant prosecutor Catalina Arriaga delayed the process until the 20th of this month in order for the car dealer to prepare his defense.
Marmolejos Feliz's lawyer Dorca Medina said that the prosecutor's office handed over RD$40 million in cash that belonged to the Quirino family and will begin to ask the people who are occupying the farms and other properties to get out and hand over the assets.
The lawyer said that the state institutions and non-governmental organizations that are currently occupying the properties will be sent notifications to leave. Marmolejos Feliz is calling for the return of five residences and a farm in the Paya section of Peravia province. The other assets are located on Abraham Lincoln Avenue in the Quisqueya neighborhood of Santo Domingo, another in the Fernandez residential area, a lot with a gasoline station on Charles Sumner Street in Los Prados, and others.
Lawyer Medina also requested the return of a herd of cows, which she says are in Bonao. She said that she is preparing the documents necessary to oblige anyone who has assets belonging to Quirino or his family to return them, or face the consequences.
She said, "We are going to notify the sentence emitted by the First Collegiate Tribunal of the Court of the First Instance for the National District that has the list of the assets that will stay under state control." Medina warned that the assets that are being required now, as part of the returns that have to be made, have been placed in the hands of third parties that are being pressed to return them. She claims that the authorities are in possession of 21 properties that are part of the assets that were returned after the withdrawal of the charges on money laundering assets of more than RD$400,000,000 against Quirino's family.

Colombia helps fight drug trafficking
As well as having to deal with a drug related guerilla war within its own territory, Colombia is also willing to help other countries in the region in the fight against these two problems.
In a special interview with El Caribe journalist Fernando Marte in Casa de Campo, La Romana, Colombian Foreign Minister Jaime Bermudez outlined a series of exchange programs with the Dominican Republic, mainly in the areas of trade and investment, food security, bilingualism, technical-professional training and handling of natural disasters.
The diplomat said that Colombia has "interesting things to offer the Dominican Republic and vice-versa." Bermudez met President Leonel Fernandez yesterday to review bilateral relations. Bermudez said that Colombia wants to become more and more involved in the Caribbean.
The Colombian diplomat said that his country would provide help in combating the twin evils of drug trafficking and guerrilla insurgency formally and effectively from its role in the presidency of the Council of Ministers of the Association of Caribbean States that Colombia will hold as of 30 January. Bermudez also talked about other points on the Dominican agenda.
He said, "We have important issues for the two countries with regards to security, money laundering, and the struggle against drug trafficking."
Bermudez said that his country is interested in discussing the possibility of certain projects, such as the installation of an underwater electric cable that would help connect the Dominican Republic with other nations.

IMF to approve monitoring letter
The Board of Directors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has read the Policy Letter sent by the Dominican government as part of the process of obtaining a post-program monitoring agreement.
According to information from the Dominican representative at the IMF, Julio Estrella, the international organization will issue a statement confirming their approval of the letter by Wednesday, 14 January, at the latest.
Last 7 January, the Dominican government sent the IMF a Policy Letter, signed by the Ministers of Hacienda, and Economy, Planning and Development, Vicente Bengoa and Temistocles Montas, as well as Central Bank governor Hector Valdez Albizu in which they promise to maintain the country's economic stability.
According to El Nuevo Diario and Diario Libre, the letter also includes promises to create structural reforms that guarantee sustained growth of the economy, an increase in employment and a reduction of poverty and inequality.
"For 2009, we are committed to fulfilling the actions that are needed to successfully implement the intensive monitoring by the Fund under the post-program monitoring scheme," said the ministers.

Cedula renewals extended
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) met today and agreed to extend the renewal period for personal identification cards, or "cedulas," that expired at the end of last year until 31 July 2009. The idea is to give the JCE time to get things organized and listen to opinions about the new document.
The president of the board, Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman pointed out that all the technical aspects of the new process would be heard during this period and "taken on board, because not all the cedulas have expired." The document is valid for ten years.
Castanos Guzman told reporters from most of today's newspapers, that meanwhile JCE staff would continue obtaining biometric data from people, information that includes fingerprints, signature and a photograph.
Castanos also announced that during the recent session it was decided to send 65 fake identification and voting cards (cedulas) that had been fraudulently obtained by foreigners to the commission on disqualified and cancelled cards.
The session also decided to postpone discussions on the planned regulations for the accounting system and submission of accounts by the political parties. The commission in charge of studying the Reformed Civil Code of the Dominican Republic was also enlarged.
Diario Libre reported that a proposal aimed at granting Dominican citizenship to any woman who marries a Dominican was put to one side and a proposal by magistrate Eddy Olivares Ortega that focuses on Internal Regulations for the Application of the General Law of Free Public Access to Public Information was put on the agenda of the next session.
The JCE also decided that the implementation of the program of emitting birth certificates based on late declarations in order to allow children to go to school and "cedulas" so that people could belong to the National Health Insurance Program (SENASA) would have to await budgetary assignments.

Free Zones summit hopes
The president of the Dominican Association of Free Zones (ADOZONA), Fernando Capellan is hoping that the national summit conference planned for the end of the month will allow the adjustments necessary for the free zones to survive these difficult times.
The top executives of the nation's free zone companies are preparing their plan for presentation at the summit. They hope that the 53 industrial free zones and their 530 companies and 130,000 employees will get the needed boost for the sector that exported US$4.5 billion last year. Lower demand has slowed down their activity significantly.
Capellan told Hoy reporter Angela Rosso that the sector is working on a plan that will be presented to the summit called by the government with the idea of emerging successfully from the current crises. Capellan said that in spite of what he called a "calamitous situation" in all sectors, caused by the international economic crisis, his sector is hopeful that this is an opportunity to re-launch the Dominican export sector.
He said that as with other sectors, the sector he represents has been hit by the lower demand for production orders from the United States.
The businessman said that Adozona has been meeting to present a detailed plan of the aspects and adjustments that need to be implemented in order to survive the difficult current situation.
Capellan's comments come just days after the executive director of the National Council of Free Zones, Luisa Fernandez Duran said that the country has been one of the least affected by the world economic crisis due to the macro-economic stability and low inflation rate.

Birth certificates to be issued at hospitals
The Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance (SESPAS) has initiated via Resolution 0000018, a program to issue Certificates of Live Birth to all Dominicans and foreigners at public and private health centers all over the country.
Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez announced that this system produces the official document certifying that a live birth occurred in the Dominican Republic.
He added that the numbered certificate is the official form that includes the parents' identification data and details of the newborn as well as administrative data of the facility where the birth took place and these certificates are the basic document required for registering a birth at the Civil Registry Office.
Minister Rojas Gomez underlined the fact that in order to guarantee the availability of the forms for the Certificates of Live Birth in public and private hospitals, SESPAS has ordered the managers of the Provincial Health Departments' IT offices to make sure the forms were properly distributed.
Rojas Gomez said that Article 34 of the General Health Law authorized the institution to create a computerized National System of General Health Information that guarantees the analysis, design and implementation of databases distributed and decentralized for research purposes and management of the system.
The official program also makes reference to the fact that Law 659 on Certificates of the Civil State, dated 17 July 1944 establishes the need to present a certificate of birth or of live birth, issued by the doctor, clinic, hospital, midwife or rural magistrate in order to register a birth at a Civil Registry office.
Rojas Gomez said that the Declaration of Children's Rights by the United Nations General Assembly, Resolution 1386 of 20 November 1959 establishes that a child has the right to a name and a nationality, a right that is also guaranteed by the Dominican Constitution.

Affordable food for the poor?
The Price Stabilization Institute (Inespre) is aiming to reach many more people and provide affordable foods to nearly 100% of the poorest households by the end of the year through of a series of programs geared to local food markets.
This goal will have to be attained with a budget that is close to RD$29,000,000 a month (nearly RD$400,000,000 per year) and a difficult operational process that overcomes difficulties left by the former administration that left the accounts frozen and several questions hanging in the air.
The organization expects that the Ministry of Agriculture budget for handling these farmer's markets will be transferred to them, together with the program.
Yesterday, Inespre executive director Ricardo Jacobo gave a broad outline of the plans he wants to follow in order to restore some of the institution's credibility in order to handle these farmer's outlets and mobile distribution units ceded by the Ministry of Agriculture on 1 January and become a real price-based option in a country where traders refuse to lower prices.
As of yesterday, Inespre was operating 22 farmer's markets in the poorer areas of Santo Domingo province and the National District, and others are in the process of being set up.
According to Jacobo, this week another 15 or 20 market sites will be prepared, with the goal for January set at 100 sites serving the public. He told El Caribe reporters during their Economic Breakfast meeting with Multimedios del Caribe that he was aiming to have 600 of these low-cost food markets set up around the country by year's end.
According to his calculations, for every RD$100 million invested in farmers' markets, as many as 350,000 families can be helped with lower cost foodstuffs, or a total of 1.8 million people on a monthly basis.
While Inespre received these markets without debt entanglements, the organization is also waiting for the Agriculture Ministry to transfer the funds for managing the markets.
Inespre is also remodeling their premises on Isabel Aguilar Avenue where a huge new supermarket will be open to the public. New or remodeled supermarkets are also planned for San Francisco de Macoris and La Vega.

Samana whale song to be taped
The official start of the whale watching season is this Thursday, 15 January, and as a new way of welcoming back these huge visitors, five buoys have been installed to record the whales' sounds or "songs", in order to determine the type and number of species that visit Dominican waters.
According to Hoy newspaper, the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarena) and six organizations signed the traditional memorandum of understanding that establishes the rules for whale watching in a clear and precise manner.
Minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal told reporters that he would act with the full weight of the law against any illegal boat that enters the Marine Mammal Sanctuary, located in the northeast of the Dominican Republic. According to Osvaldo Vasquez of Environmental Consulting and Maritime Techniques, the sanctuary is visited by as many as 14,000 whales each year.
Some whales will be monitored with satellite tracking systems inserted by darts.

Dominicans prepare for baseball classic
There were only two newsworthy baseball stories in today's papers. The first was that Felipe Alou, the former major league manager and all-star player, announced that "The world is waiting for us to win the World Baseball Classic."
Alou, speaking to the press after a photo-op with Minister of Sports Jay Payano, said that he wanted the players to know how much everyone was expecting of them. "We are a fearsome team," he said, "any other result other than the championship will be considered a failure." With 55 years of experience in baseball Alou is one of the most respected managers in the game, and he has traveled to Miami, Las Vegas, New York, Puerto Rico and Venezuela to talk with the Dominicans who are expected to play for the national colors in the classic. Alou and his general manager Stanley Javier revealed that the national team will play exhibition games against the Florida Marlins on 3 March, the Baltimore Orioles on 4 March, and the St. Louis Cardinals on 5 March in West Palm Beach, Florida. Due to some of the rules on players injured the previous seasons, Rafael Furcal and David Ortiz may not be eligible for the Classic, and the same is true for left-hander Francisco Liriano who missed the 2008 season.

Tigres devour Aguilas
The second story of the day was the horrendous defeat of the once high-flying Aguilas Cibaenas, last year's champions, at the hands of the Tigres del Licey by a score of 11-1. The Aguilas have won only two of 13 games during the round robin section of the Dominican Winter League and are not, officially, eliminated from the final playoffs.
As things now stand, the Gigantes del Cibao, from San Francisco de Macoris and the Tigres del Licey are the front-runners to meet in one of the first final rounds that does not include the almighty Aguilas.
The Standings
Team W-L Avg. Games Behind
GIGANTES 9 - 4 .692 --
LICEY 9 - 5 .642 0.5
TOROS 7 - 7 .500 2.5
AGUILAS 2 - 11 .167 7.0
Today's games:
Estadio Cibao, Santiago de los Caballeros : 8pm, Licey (D. Cabrera) vs. Aguilas (C.Vargas)
Julian Javier Stadium, San Francisco de Macoris : 7:30pm, Toros (R. Tejeda) vs Gigantes (P. Viola)
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