Cuba to work with ITLA|
During his visit to Cuba, President Leonel Fernandez reached an agreement with his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro for cooperation between several governmental educational centers. During his five-day trip, Fernandez visited Havana's Information Technology University and announced plans for collaboration with the Las Americas Institute of Technology (ITLA) and CyberPark in Santo Domingo.
In Cuba, Fernandez praised the country's educational models, and also proposed that the Enrique Jose Varona Higher Education Institute sign agreements with the Dominican Teachers Association that consists of teachers working at public schools. The proposal was welcomed by center director Alfredo Mateo Diaz Fuentes.
Accompanying his on his trip to Cuba were Education Minister Melanio Paredes and Eddy Martinez, director of the Center for Exports and Investments (CEI-RD).
In Cuba, the President attended the XI International Meeting of Economists. On his last day in Cuba, Fernandez also visited the Cuban Film Institute (InCaic), and Santiago de Cuba, where he visited the Granjita Siboney museum. He is expected back in Santo Domingo today.
More money for Rehabilitation|
President Leonel Fernandez has authorized a RD$20 million disbursement to the Dominican Rehabilitation Association to help the disability charity tackle its RD$40 million deficit. The information was provided by the association's president, Mery Perez de Marranzini. The non-profit organization will receive the money in monthly payments. El Nuevo Diario reports that the President also instructed Administrative Minister Luis Manuel Bonetti to finish the construction of the rehabilitation center in Bani. The association was trying to work on a monthly budget of just RD$2 million. The new disbursement came after Mery Perez de Marranzini made public complaints about having to work with such difficult economic constraints.
Deputies sell out to Italians?|
Leading environmental organizations are calling for the "absolute rejection" of an "urgent" bill approved yesterday in a first reading by the Chamber of Deputies that affects the limits of the National Park of the East as established under Law 202-04. In a press release, the organizations say the intent is to exclude areas of the park that have been sold to Italian investors in violation of Dominican laws. The release criticizes these being sold at the "price of a dead cat" to the would-be developers. The release calls it "new evidence of the moral failure of Dominican institutions, whose representatives seem to act in defense of interests that are divorced from those of the national interest and are instead at the service of capitals of dubious origin."
The organizations say that purchasers of lots Nos. 92-H, 92-N, 92-P, 92-Z in the municipality of Boca de Yuma, companies Fulcasa S.A and Playa Verde del Caribe C por A and subsequently Stratstone Real Estates S.A., violated local laws in the expectation that Congress would change the legislation to validate and legalize their investments.
"By legalizing the illegal appropriation of national assets, the honorable Chamber of Deputies contributes to the ethical setback, loss of values and promotion of criminal activity in Dominican society. What a paradox, to treat as urgent the sale of national assets that then leads to the conclusion that other urgent social priorities such as health, education, citizens safety and housing are insignificant and can be postponed by the illustrious deputies," states the press release.
It stresses that it is a myth that a national asset can only be developed if privatized, and that protected areas bring poverty.
The organizations call for prudence, and ask the legislators who may be confused or surprised in their good faith to act decisively to guarantee the integrity of the National Park of the East and denounce as an unsustainable lie the argument that the protected area is an obstacle to investments and development.
The document concludes by expressing concern "that the changes of the Constitution are in the same hands of those who have found arguments and reasons to pass a travesty of this kind".
The document is signed by the UASD Environmental Committee, the Academy of Sciences Environmental Team, the Coalition for the Defense of Protected Areas, the National Environmental Assembly, the Dominican Environmental Consortium, the Protected Areas Forum, the Jaragua Group, Mangroves of the East, the Tinglar Ecological Group and the Higuey Ecological Society.
Sustainable planning for Cabarete|
Today's Listin Diario comments on how lack of planning is threatening the sustainability of Cabarete, the DR's leading wind and ocean destination. Hector Lopez writes that real estate development in the area has followed the closure of several hotels, resulting in fewer visitors to the area. He comments that from 11 windsurfing and kite surfing schools in the area some eight years ago, today there are only five windsurfing schools left. Zoning legislation establishes a maximum height of 11.5 meters for buildings, or three floors. But he says that builders have violated the zoning and built four and more floors, affecting the wind speeds in the area. "It is recommended that construction of more than three floors on both sides of the highway, from La Rinconada to Playa El Encuentro should not be allowed, to ensure that Cabarete remains one of the leading windsurfing capitals of the world, he writes. "Even though the country needs large investments of hard currency because of the current economic situation, it is not fair that unique places such as Bahia de las Aguilas, National Park of the East and Cabarete should be sold out. That is not going forward, that is going backwards," he warns.
Foreign debt up US$1.82 billion in 2008|
The Central Bank annual report indicates that the public foreign debt increased US$1.817.1 million in 2008. As of 31 December 2007, the foreign debt was US$8.549.6 million, increasing to US$10,366.7 million in 2008. This is 22.5% of the Gross Domestic Product. The debt is made up by US$9.283 million of the non financial public sector and US$1.083.7 million of the financial public sector. The financial public sector covers monetary and non-monetary institutions and the non-financial public sector covers the central government, states/provinces and local government authorities and non-financial state enterprises.
According to the report, 28.8% of the debt is with multilateral organizations and 44.7% with bilateral financing organizations, 26.5% is with private financial organizations, and 6.89% with commercial banks, 19.5% with bond financiers (sovereign and Brady bonds) and 0.1% with suppliers.
US, GB & Caribbean anti-drug exercise|
An initiative aimed at boosting capacity among Central and South American security forces is being put to test as 18 countries come together for a national security exercise in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic. The United States and Great Britain join 16 Caribbean countries during the 25th annual Tradewinds exercise that is taking place 4 March through 18 March.
US Marine Corps Forces South leads in the US Southern Command-sponsored exercise focused on maritime interdiction and search-and-rescue operations with an emphasis on command and control. Representatives of every military service, the Coast Guard, Joint Inter-agency Task Force South and the Drug Enforcement Agency are among the about 500 participants in Tradewinds 2009.
During the exercise, they will conduct boarding party operations training, evidence processing and hazardous material identification and handling during realistic scenarios in Nassau and the Dominican Republic, Marine Corps Staff Sgt. David Hercher of Marine Corps Forces South said.
In the first and second phases, classes are held at the Melia Santo Domingo hotel, and deal with topics such as "Exchange of information about illegal appearances", "Command and control," "Search and Rescue". The final phase of the training will take place at the San Souci Naval Base. During the inaugural ceremony of the Tradewinds exercise, the Chief of Staff of the Dominican Navy, Vice-Admiral Homero Lajara Solis, accepted three "Justice" fast launches worth half a million dollars from the United States government. The boats are capable of speeds of up to 50 knots and are designed to pursue illegal shipping in coastal waters.
"The goals of Tradewinds 2009 are to better coordinate partner nations' search-and-rescue and maritime interdiction operations, increase maritime domain awareness, and better coordinate end-game seizure of illicit-trafficking vessels that can be used to smuggle terrorists, weapons, explosives or narcotics," said Marine Corps Maj. Landon Hutchens, exercise coordinator for U.S. Marine Corps Forces South.
"The US and the Caribbean share common interests, and regional challenges require cooperative solutions," Hutchens said. "Illicit trafficking is a threat faced by all nations in the region. We are all committed to building lasting partnerships that will enhance our ability to work effectively together."
In addition to the United States and Great Britain, participants in the exercise are the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad-Tobago.
Recently, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Admiral Mike Mullen said: "The main threat to the region is narco-trafficking and the insidious problem of drug money." He stresses: "The US government must engage with the leaders of Latin America across the spectrum, and military-to-military relationships can be the catalyst for much of this engagement."
Narco leads in Tejeda case|
Journalist Guillermo Tejeda claims that complicity between the authorities and drug dealers has prevented his son's murder from being resolved. As reported in Hoy, he said that the influence of drug money has swayed the will of many. He denounced complicity with drug dealers that he says has taken hold of the police, the judicial and military authorities, and even the body in charge of fighting drug trafficking.
His son Guillermo Tejeda Kranwinkel was murdered on 3 March 2008 and his father maintains that he was killed by the drug dealers he had been pursuing.
Tejeda says that from the outset he has said that cops and military personnel are closely linked to the murder and that the investigations so far have shown that police will erase evidence from the scene of a crime in return for multi-million peso sums. At the time of his murder, Tejeda Kranwinkel was in charge of the National Drug Control Department in Jarabacoa, La Vega.
Tejeda senior said that Prosecutor General Radhames Jimenez and chief of the Police Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin had appointed a commission whose work is at a standstill. The Police and the DNCD had initially promised Tejeda that the case would be resolved in hours.
Tejeda went on to say that until the Police, Army, Justice and the National Drug Control Department are purged from the networks of drug traffickers the country will continue to see the deaths of more agents who refuse to be corrupted by money from organized crime. "Drug trafficking has proven to be above the authorities' response capacity, and the power of money has won over the complicity of important elements that are responsible for keeping my son's murder shrouded in mystery," he said. He added that after his son was murdered at least one superior officer was fired, but that otherwise the authorities have kept silent. "Check what is happening in San Cristobal with one of Quirino's nephews who is a paid murderer and who it is said to have ties to the murder and see who is behind the decision to free him," said Tejeda, quoted by Diario Libre in its coverage of a father's fight to resolve the case of his son's murder.
21 for extradition in Quirino case|
El Dia reports that the US judicial authorities have requested 21 people in extradition in relation to the drug case involving ex-Army captain Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo being heard in the New York South District Court. The requests were made after it was reported that the Dominican and US judicial authorities had reached a plea bargain agreement. The first person requested in extradition, Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara Diaz (Maconi) was issued on 11 February by US judge Gabriel Gorenstein. The local judicial authorities have yet to authorize his extradition.
10 years for Pedro Castillo|
The former president of the board of the Banco de Progreso, Pedro Castillo has been sentenced to serve 10 years in Najayo Jail and to pay a RD$2.5 million fine and RD$12.2 billion in compensation to the Grupo Progreso and the Banco Dominicano del Progreso. He was found guilty of fraud totaling RD$14 billion against the bank, asset laundering and hiding information. Castillo was president of the board of the bank from 20 November 1999 to 30 October 2005, when he was removed and investigations began. Last November the Eleventh Circuit Court in Dade County, Miami, Florida, ordered Castillo to pay nearly US$80 million to the Banco del Progreso for having appropriated the banking entity's resources for his own personal use.
Vote for Casandra awards online|
The Show Business Writers Association (Acrocarte) has opened the vote for the winners of several categories in the show business awards ceremony, the Casandra to the general public. The categories are "Street Merengue," "Bachata of the Year", "Bachata Performer of the Year," "Comedy Show," "Discovery of the Year" and "Weekly Variety Program." To vote for these, just call 809 220-2200 (from fixed line phones) or 809 200-0002 from cell phones. The initiative is sponsored by Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana (Presidente beer) and the Codetel telecom company.
There will be Go-Kart action at the Kartodromo Don Julian Barcelo off the Ciudad Ganadera fairground on the western side of the Malecon. A total of 65 competitors are expected to race in the start of the national go-karting competition. Rafael Luciano, spokesman for the Dominican Club of Go-Kart Competitors (CDCK) said that this year the championship includes six races in two four-day championships. Competitions begin Saturday, 7 March at 10am and will last through 6pm. They continue all day on Sunday, 8 March. The categories are Baby Kart, Mini Kart, Mini Max and Rotas Max Jr.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
Carlos Santana: Live Your Light|
Carlos Santana returns to the Altos de Chavon Amphitheater on Saturday 7th March. For many old-timers, he will be picking up where he left off. As it happened, on 22 August 1982, as part of the inaugural concert series for the Amphitheater, Carlos Santana opened a legendary full-house concert that had to be suspended due to a torrential rain storm to the loud protest of all. The crowds had enjoyed the start of the concert under the rain so much that thousands stayed on in the hope that the rain would subside. The concert had to be canceled, nevertheless. Santana acknowledges that his fans have been eagerly awaiting a new opportunity to be inspired by his music. Carlos Santana will perform in La Romana as part of his tour Live Your Light 2009. A Latin music living legend and member of the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame, Santana's sales surpass 100 million records. He is the winner of 10 Grammy Awards, 3 Latin Grammy Awards and has been named Person of the Year by the Latin Recording Academy. With a career spanning four decades, he is considered one of the best of guitarists of all time. Tickets are on sale at Casa de Campo Concierge desk, and at Soloticket in Santo Domingo (Tel 809 565-0030). General admission is RD$3,500 and VIP tickets are RD$7,000.
Carnival in Punta Cana|
Punta Cana is picking up carnival, after it has dazzles crowds in Bonao, La Vega, Santiago and Santo Domingo. Punta Cana has set Saturday, 7 March as the date for its 2009 Carnival. The event will take place on Boulevard 1 de Noviembre at Puntacana Village as of 4pm. This is the second year that Punta Cana has celebrated its own Carnival. More than 15 provinces from all around the country, with an expected 1,000 costumed participants, will parade to show off their folkloric traditions. The event is sponsored by the Puntacana Resort & Club and the Union Carnavalesca Vega, with the support of Presidente, Brugal, Tropigas and Codetel.
Sergio Vargas at Jet Set|
One of the best traditional merengue bands in the country, led by Sergio Vargas, is booked for Jet Set in Santo Domingo on Monday, 9 March. Tickets are RD$800 at the door.
For more calendar events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
Manny on his Dodgers contract|
Manny Ramirez has agreed to play with the Los Angeles Dodgers for two years. He will get $45 million ($25 million in 2009, $20 million in '10) with a player option after the first year and a no-trade clause.
Ramirez had come to the Dodgers last summer from the Red Sox after forcing a trade that tore up $20 million options for 2009 and '10. As reported in MLB.com, Ramirez, 37 in May, had originally sought a contract length of six years at a salary in the Alex Rodriguez neighborhood ($27.5 million a year).
But he says he is not disappointed. He told MLB.com: "I won. I got out of [Boston]," he said. "I already make my money [$162 million in career earnings]. I'm in a great place, where I want to play. I am happy, my teammates love me, the fans love me. Sometimes it's better to have a two-year deal in a place you're happy than an eight-year deal in a place you suffer."
DR loses warm up to Cardinals|
The Dominican Republic team to the World Baseball Classic ended its warm-up games with one win and two losses in Jupiter, Florida. Yesterday, in the game against the St. Louis Cardinals, the DR lost 4-1. Interestingly, Dominican Albert Pujols chose not to play for the Cardinals out of respect for the Dominican team. He was not able to get clearance of the Cardinals to play for the DR in the WBC.
The Dominican team now flies to San Juan, Puerto Rico where it will play its first match in the World Baseball Classic on Saturday, 7 March against the Netherlands team at 11amET (12 noon Dominican time). The DR plays in Group D (Panama, Puerto Rico, Netherlands and the DR). The Pool D winner and runner-up advance to Round 2 in Miami, Florida.
Other teams vying for the 2009 World Baseball Championship are Pool A (China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea), Pool B (Canada, Mexico, South Africa, US), Pool C (Cuba, Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico), Pool D (Australia, Dominican Republic, Italy, Venezuela).
The Dominican roster is http://web.worldbaseballclassic.com/rosters/
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