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Daily News - Thursday, 14 May 2009

Fernandez + Miguel Vargas
President Leonel Fernandez and former PRD presidential candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado have sealed a political agreement that goes beyond the re-election issue. As reported in the Listin Diario, they agreed that the Constitution would be modified to allow that Fernandez can again be a presidential candidate in 2012. But also part of the deal, Fernandez accepted to instruct his legislators to reinstate the wording of the 1994 Constitution that banned consecutive re-election. There were also agreements regarding the Dominican nationality, a freeze on the number of Deputies in Congress, on expatriate legislators, and measures to improve the military and National Police. It was also agreed that in the 2010 municipal and congressional election, legislators would be elected for 6 years so that by 2016 both presidential and congressional elections can be held in the same year.
Earlier this week, a lengthy meeting between the President and ten PRSC legislators and the revelation that Fernandez also met with his 2008 presidential election rival Miguel Vargas Maldonado of the PRD and agreed on some issues, had stoked up the political fires. So much so, in fact, that because of the rumors that were going around, Tuesday's Constitutional Revisory Assembly session was cancelled. Yesterday legislators and political leaders from the ruling PLD party and both main opposition parties were exchanging statements, accusations, insinuations and expressions of disgust.
Senator Mario Torres (PRD-Dajabon) had confirmed yesterday that President Leonel Fernandez and Miguel Vargas Maldonado had negotiated an agreement that would eliminate the ban on re-election after a candidate runs in two consecutive presidential elections. Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez was called to the Presidential Palace and was informed of the agreement.
Torres said that legislators from Vargas's PRD faction are aware of the agreement, which is based on Fernandez not running for office in 2012. In yesterday afternoon's edition, El Nacional newspaper leaked the news that Fernandez and Vargas had agreed to eliminate the words "never again" from the Constitution.
The present Constitution already bans Fernandez from running in the 2012 presidential election, but as sought in the Constitution rewrite Fernandez sent to the legislators for review, he could run again in 2016. Miguel Vargas ran against Fernandez in the 2008 presidential election, garnering 40% of the vote, despite strong feelings against PRD's then President Hipolito Mejia. Vargas could keep the possibility of being chosen by the party to run again in 2012 against a yet unknown PLD candidate. But former President Mejia would also be able to be a candidate again. The formula brings all the politicians back into the arena.
Torres accused the PRSC party spokesman in Congress, Ramon Rogelio Genao of "being disrespectful and telling lies" about the accusations that he made against Vargas Maldonado for trying to entice PRSC legislators. "The Reformists do not have the moral or political standing to criticize the agreement between Vargas and Fernandez," he concluded.
Hoy newspaper says that PLD deputy Alejandro Montas has confirmed that there is unrest among the ruling party legislators because of all the negotiations rumored to be taking place.
PRSC secretary general Victor Gomez Casanova earlier revealed that Fernandez had offered the party ten senatorial seats for provinces currently held by PLD politicians. Montas said that this is what is bothering the PLD legislators.

Constitution rewrite moves forward
Following the political agreements between members of the PRSC and the PRD earlier this week, legislators got back to work on the rewrite of the Constitution submitted by President Leonel Fernandez.
The Constitutional Revisory Assembly approved yesterday the articles relating to the suspension of citizen's rights, regulations for foreigners, the international relations and international law, the official language and national symbols and the political divisions of the country.
28 senators and 110 deputies were present.
Article 22 establishes that the rights of citizens are suspended in cases of definitive sentencing in a criminal case, until the end of the prison sentence; in cases of judicial intervention legally pronounced, as long as this shall last; and when accepting, while in the national territory functions or employment of a foreign government without previous authorization from the Executive Branch and the violations of the conditions that naturalization imposed.
Article 23 prohibits the participation of foreigners in political activity in the national territory, except for the exercise of the right to vote in their homeland's elections. It also says that the state will promote the planned immigration of highly qualified technicians and scientists in areas where these skills are lacking. Likewise, the article says that it is the obligation of all foreigners to register births in the Book of Foreigners, according to the law.
Article 24 establishes: "The Dominican Republic is a member state of the international community open to international cooperation and law."
Article 25 and 26 cover the national symbols. Article 25 was approved without further debate, converting its numerals into articles. These make Spanish the official language of the Dominican Republic. Article 26 says that "the patriotic symbols are the National Flag, the National Coat of Arms and the National Anthem." Numeral three, which will become an Article, was modified and now says: "the National Anthem is the score by Jose Reyes, with lyrics written by Emilio Prud'homme, as consecrated by Law 700 of 30 May 1934, and is unique and unalterable."
The national territory was also defined. The legislators accepted the entire proposal of the Executive Branch regarding the makeup of the national territory, as described in Chapter III, Section 1. Article eight says that "the territory of the Dominican Republic is inalienable." Article 12 also says, "for the government and administration of the State, the territory of the Republic is divided politically into a National District, in which is found the capital, and in the provinces and municipalities that the Organic Law shall determine." The provinces, for their part, are divided into municipalities and article 13, that remains as it is in the current Constitution regarding the name of the capital, "the city of Santo Domingo de Guzman is the capital of the Dominican Republic and the seat of the national government."

Highways and streets in tourist areas
The government has announced that it will invite public bids for the construction of highways between Samana and La Galeras, and Sanchez and Las Terrenas and will continue street repairs in the major tourist areas across the country. Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia made the announcement after meeting with President Leonel Fernandez and leaders of the National Hotels and Restaurants Association (Asonahores) at the Presidential Palace yesterday. Garcia reported that street repair works would resume in the tourist areas of the east over the next few days.
Diario Libre says that during the meeting, Asonahores, led by president Haydee Kuret de Rainieri put forward proposals and recommendations for continued improvements of the sector. Presidential Minister Luis Manuel Bonetti and Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa were also at the meeting.
President Fernandez also set up a commission made up of Bonetti, Garcia and Bengoa, which will follow up on the hotel issues concerned with economic aspects. Garcia said, "All sectors of the Dominican economy always require government support in certain areas and in aspects linked with the Ministry of Tourism... we are providing help, such as this help with the infrastructure."

Protocol discussion on flu
University rectors, health professionals and health sector specialists will analyze and discuss the national response to the attention given the A(H1N1) virus that as of 14 May 2009 has registered 6,497 cases in 33 countries. Public Health minister Bautista Rojas Gomez convened the meeting for this morning, with the aim of reviewing the global aspects of the A(H1N1) virus with an emphasis on the national situation and the response, in coordination with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
The Health Minister said that the Clinical Treatment Protocol for A(H1N1) that is being used around the world would be distributed at the event. The meeting is being held at the Pedro Mir Library at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD). Participants include university rectors, the Dominican Medical Association (CMD), specialists, deans of medical faculties at all the schools and Medical School directors. Also invited are the coordinators of the Masters programs in Public Health, hospital directors and the heads of private clinics.
See: www.who.int/en

38 minors rescued from shelter
Thirty-eight children found to have suffered physical and sexual abuse have been rescued from a children's home run by a Christian ministry. The Permanent Attention Jurisdiction for the province of Santo Domingo ordered a year's preventive custody for Jose Antonio Dionisio, the owner of the children's home, while the case is heard in court.
The minors are between the ages of 11 and 17 and were sheltered at Hogar Casa Cueva de Adulon in the Lucerna sector. They were rescued following an operation by the Attorney General, the District Attorney for the province of Santo Domingo and the National Police.
Assistant prosecutor Marisol Tobal, director of the Department of Boys, Girls and Adolescents reported that investigations were continuing. Likewise, she assured the reporters that the minors were being questioned in order to establish how many people were involved in the abuse.
Tobal said that they are investigating the case together with the National Children's Council (CONANI), and that the victims are now under the care of Conani, which has secured shelter for them in other homes.
Tobal reported that the cases of sexual violations of minors have been confirmed.
She said that adults lived in the shelter and investigations would establish whether any other people were involved in the case. She said that many of the children attended private schools and wore fashionable clothes, despite the fact that the shelter supposedly catered to poor children.

Country needs 10,000 specialists
Hoy newspaper is reporting that the DR needs 10,000 Family Practice specialists and that the Francisco Moscoso Puello Hospital is offering a residency in this field. This comes at a time when the new Social Security model requires better primary care, yet specialists in this field have not reached 10% of demand.
The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) is planning a congress to discuss this very issue and others that are at the heart of the Social Security process. CMD representatives Sense Caba and Mauro Canario say that while there has been progress in training family doctors, as reflected by the offer of new residency programs in this area, there is still a huge unsatisfied demand for these specialists.
The new public health model, which is contained in the General Health Law, the Social Security Law and the new constitutional reforms, stipulates that doctors who specialize in family medicine should be the first caregivers assigned to provide primary medical services to patients.
Dr. Caba also announced the XVII Medical Congress of the National District, to be held this coming weekend.

45% population is overweight
Endocrinologist Felix Escano estimates that 45% of the Dominican population is overweight, and that 17% of people who are overweight are obese, as reported in Listin Diario. This compares to 65% overweight population in the US, of which half he said is obese.
Escano attributed this level of obesity to overeating and a diet rich in fats and sugars. He said the increased high cholesterol and fat levels in blood are causing health problems. He urged Dominicans to adopt a more active lifestyle, and to improve their diet.

Family insists Moline serve his sentence
The mother of Jose Rafael Llenas Aybar, a 12-year old boy who was murdered by his first cousin in May 1996, has asked a judge to reject the request for parole made by the accomplice of her son's killer. Iliana Aybar argued that Juan Manuel Moline Rodriguez should remain behind bars until he serves his full 20-year sentence for the murder of Llenas Aybar. Mario Jose Redondo Llenas was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The mother of the victim said, "I want Moline to get out, but after he serves the full 20 years. I am not in agreement with his parole."
The family lawyer, Luis Miguel Pereyra, also asked judge Francisco Mejia Angomas to reject the parole request because "Moline Rodriguez is still a dangerous person and is not fit to live in society according to professionals."
The judge reserved his final decision for 20 May after the prosecutors, the civil part and the defense presented their conclusions. The first request for parole, which was rejected, was made in June 2007, when Moline had served half of his sentence. At the time, the Prisons Department recommended against parole. During the hearing, Moline Rodriguez told the court that he wanted to get out on parole in order to work, to prove that he was capable of learning from his mistakes and to begin a new life and become a new person.

Mob lynches thief in San Cristobal
A mob killed a suspected criminal with sticks, stones and machetes after he stole a small moped from a local woman in Hato Damas, San Cristobal last night. The deceased, who was not carrying any personal identification, stole a moped from Sofia Aguero, 32 after threatening her with a machete. Aguero raised the alarm and dozens of motorcyclists and local residents chased the thief to Mata Paloma where they caught him and beat him to death. The dead man, thought to be about 25 years old, had a RD$200 receipt in his pocket for a tennis racquet in a woman's name from the Constitution Pawn Shop in San Cristobal.

Prisoner escapes DA headquarters
A man accused of murdering an architect in the Bella Vista sector of the capital escaped from the new District Attorney's office building in the National District where he had been taken from Police headquarters for a hearing on preventive custody. Julio Angel Feliz Santana (Angelo) tricked his guards when he was in the Department of Homicide and asked to go to the bathroom. He was accused of killing architect Rafael Francisco Diaz Vasquez and hiding his body in a box, where it was found at his home in Bella Vista last Sunday. The prisoner disappeared as if "by magic" and his guards could not convince the Santo Domingo prosecutor with his explanation of the escape. District Attorney Alejandro Moscoso Segarra said that the escort, who removed Feliz's handcuffs and let him go to the bathroom without them, is now under arrest and will be held responsible.

Made & Arias not on list
Diario Libre reports that Arias Motors and Made Auto Import were mistakenly included in a Police report indicating that stolen cars had been purchased at those dealerships. Arias Motors explained they sell vehicle spare parts, and not vehicles, and they are located in Santo Domingo and not La Vega. Made Auto Import says that when the news story was published they met with the Plan Piloto Colonel Almanzar who apologized for what he described as a typographical error.

Rains will continue
A low-pressure area will continue to cause rains over much of the country. The rains are classified as light to moderate with some strong winds and thunder. This is because the low-pressure ridge continues to affect local conditions, and the rains will become more frequent and intense towards the northeast, east, southeast, the Cibao Valley and the central mountains. The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) is advising people living near rivers or streams in La Vega, Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua), Monsignor Nouel (Bonao), Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui), Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris), Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo), San Cristobal and Monte Plata to be especially aware of the risk of flash flooding and landslides. The forecast is for cloudy skies with moderate to heavy rains over a large part of the country. For Santo Domingo and the National District, cloudy skies with light to moderate rains are expected. The rains are expected to continue into tomorrow.

Mother's Day sales
Mother's Day in the Dominican Republic falls on the last Sunday of May. This means that leading up to that date, several stores advertise clearance sales. Simmons is offering a 25% sale on mattresses at Americana de Departamentos. Malaquias department store is advertising 40-70% reductions in its women's and men's departments, Gold's Gym has a 50% sale from 11-31 May for those who sign up, and the Liz Claiborne store at Acropolis Center is advertising 50% off select merchandise. Sealy Mattress Center also has 25% off mattresses. Sales continue at the new Jumbo Luperon and expect big sales also at the new La Sirena Luperon that opens tomorrow.

Brazilian Carnival
The Brazilian community is together in presenting a costume mascarading party and a sampling of Brazilian carnival at the Club Libanes Sirio-Palestino. The social club is located at Av. 30 de Mayo corner Herman Suarez No. 3, between Presidente Beer Brewery and the Winston Churchill. The entrance is by the Malecon (30 de Mayo). Starting 9pm, expect a night of samba show, contests and lots of Brazilian music allegoric to the Brazilian carnival. General admission is RD$1,000. Tickets for sale at the Cafeteria of the Centro de Cultura Brasil-RD, Tel 809 682-1592. For more information, call 829 616-7128.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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