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Daily News - Monday, 29 June 2009

Fernandez goes to Nicaragua
President Leonel Fernandez travels to Managua, Nicaragua today to take part in an urgent meeting of the Central American and Caribbean Integration System (SICA), as reported in Diario Libre.
The meeting was called in the wake of the unrest in Honduras, which developed over the weekend and forced Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to fly to San Jose, Costa Rica. His ousting was explained as a move to thwart an attempt to rewrite the Honduran constitution.
Zelaya supported a referendum to seek popular support to extend his term beyond a single four-year presidency.
Fernandez leaves for the meeting, which was called by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, at 11am. Zelaya is an ally of the Venezuelan President.

Fernandez rejects Honduran coup
Dominican President Leonel Fernandez has firmly condemned the coup d'etat that took place in Honduras over the weekend. "This coup represents a step backwards because it violates the charter of the Organization of American States (OAS)".
Fernandez is calling for Honduran President Manuel Zelaya Rosales to be reinstated as the legitimate president of Honduras. Fernandez said, "This coup affects us all, given that for 30 years the region has been experiencing a process of transition and democratic consolidation."
Joining Fernandez in his condemnation of the coup was former presidential candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado. Vargas said that a coup was not the proper solution for conflicts that affect the country.
Over the weekend military forces detained Zelaya and put him on a plane to Costa Rica. The Honduran military was refusing to cooperate in organizing a referendum aimed at amending the country's constitution.

President Chavez in DR tomorrow?
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is expected in the DR tomorrow, 30 June. On his agenda is signing of the letter of intent for the drafting of the purchase contract for 49% of the shares of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery (Refidomsa). Chavez will also be attending celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the birth of ruling PLD party founder, Juan Bosch.
With the developing situation in Central America, it is not known whether the events in Santo Domingo with President Chavez and Fernandez will take place as scheduled.

Fuel prices drop after 8 weeks
After eight consecutive weeks of fuel price increases, the Ministry of Industry & Commerce announced that it would give consumers a break. It announced a reduction of RD$6.90 in the price of premium gasoline (now costing RD$153.30 a gallon and RD$6.10 for regular gasoline (now selling for RD$143.70 a gallon).
Propane gas was reduced by RD$1.20 and is now selling for RD$61.34 a gallon.
Diesel was subject to a RD$1 drop, and will sell for RD$115.80 regular and RD$120.80 premium.
Avtur gets a reduction of RD$2.60 to sell for RD$91.94.

Dominicans await energy costs
The Superintendence of Energy (SIE) will decide either today or tomorrow whether or not Dominicans will have to suffer a second rate increase in two months.
With the decline in government tax collections, the government is seeking new sources of revenue. The Superintendence of Energy now says the electricity rate will be indexed to cost variations. Electricity tariffs in the DR are already among the highest in the region, for what is probably the most deficient service.
In June rates jumped on average 6%, which was reflected in cost increases of up to 22% for households in middle-income consumer brackets. Electricity rates had been frozen for two years.

Blackouts hit small business hardest
Small and medium-sized businesses are worst affected by long blackouts that are once again affecting the DR, despite a considerable rate increase. Small companies also bear the brunt of the high cost of having to run backup power generators.
Coinciding with the blackouts and rate increase, TV investigative journalist Nuria Piera has just released another report on bloated payrolls at the government owned electricity companies.
Nuria exposed widespread nepotism and bloated payrolls at the Dominican Corporation of State-Run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) under executive vice president Radhames Segura, who has led electricity policy throughout the three Fernandez administrations. She pointed out how the payroll went from RD$84 million in 2004 to RD$400 million, with a total of 8,862 employees, while efficiency has been notoriously on the decline and the cost of the service to consumers rising.
Segura declined to respond to any inquiries about the payroll of the companies under his supervision. He did however describe the investigative report as "nothing more than a media frenzy", as reported in Diario Libre.
http://grupomillenium.blogspot.com/2009/06/blog-post.html and http://grupomillenium.blogspot.com/2009/06/segunda-parte-informe-de-nuria-piera.html

Informal sector grows
According to the 2007 National Survey on Income and Spending (ENIGH 2007) 27.7% of people in employment, or 1,055,000 million people, are employed in the informal sector, defined as economic activity that is neither taxed nor monitored by a government department. Of these, 21.8% work in services, trade and marketing.
The same survey reveals that there are more machine operators (345,000) in the country than self-described intellectual work (277,000).
The number of office workers in the DR totals 207,500, or 7.1% of employed people, while the military make up 0.9% of people in employment. Farmers and fishermen make up 5.9% of the working population, while 6.55 of workers are technical professionals.
Members of the Executive and Legislative branches of government make up 1.7% of the working class of 3,818,381 employed workers.
The study found that for the first time the number of women looking for work exceeds that of men, with a 40,693 for women to 19,745 for men.
For the study, 9,600 people were polled in 31 provinces and the National District.

Los Haitises debate at UNPHU
The Pedro Henriquez Urena University (UNPHU) and its school of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are hosting what promises to be the most complete debate on the pros and cons of building a cement plant on the edge of the country's leading water source, Los Haitises National Park.
Invited to today's event are defenders of the planned construction, including company representatives, and its opponents. The program starts at 6pm with an address by UNPHU rector Arch. Miguel Fiallo Calderon.
The first talk will be by Amparo Chantada of the UASD, who will speak on Los Haitises, the DR's Fundamental Ecosystem. Next follow Daneri Santana and Marisol Castillo representing the Ministry of Environment on the process of obtaining an environmental permit. Osiris de Leon of the Academy of Sciences will speak about the effects of an industrial installation on the Los Haitises ecosystem. Dr. Rafael Paz of the Senate will speak on the vision from the Monte Plata development plan. Marcos Perez, Mayra Sanchez and Jose Gomez will speak for the Dominican Mining Consortium on the technical aspects of the plant. Then Fatima Portorreal, a professor at the UNPHU will speak on socio-economic aspects to be taken into account in Los Haitises. These presentations will be followed by a question and answer session at 7:35 pm.
The event, which takes place on Monday, 29 June at the Horacio Alvarez Savinon Auditorium of UNPHU at 6pm, is open to the general public.

Guillermo Moreno calls for opposition
Former presidential candidate and former attorney general Guillermo Moreno says that now is the time for a new political opposition to emerge, to displace politicians who have bought most of the leaders of the country's larger political parties and who are now their "masters". As reported in El Caribe, Moreno said that the agreements signed between President Leonel Fernandez and the PRD's Miguel Vargas Maldonado, and another with PRSC president Federico Antun Batlle reveal "the understanding and the interests that are moving the groups that have taken over and control the boards of the three traditional political parties."
"When signing these pacts those groups seek to maintain the control they have over the state and guarantee impunity for each other, which makes them act like a single three-color party", said the former National District prosecutor in a press release. He said that now is the time to put a stop to this situation.

JCE rules on PRSC primary
PRSC party president Federico Antun's faction, which has allied with the ruling PLD party, voted on Sunday to hold a delegates' assembly on 9 August to choose the new party authorities. The faction had been given clearance by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) to change the bylaws to apply the modality of a delegates' assembly for electing the party's board.
Last Friday, the JCE Disputes Chamber annulled another PRSC faction's right to call a primary to choose the party's candidates in the 2010 congressional and municipal elections and other party leaders, as ruled by party bylaws. The primary had been convened by secretary of organization of that party, Jose Osvaldo Leger Aquino and was scheduled for Sunday, 28 June.
The JCE instead ruled that Leger was not the corresponding authority to call for the primary. Leger had adhered to the existing PRSC party bylaws. Other members supporting this position were Modesto Guzman, Hector Rodriguez Pimentel and Alexandra Izquierdo.
The deciding judges for the JCE were Mariano Rodriguez, president of the Chamber of disputes, and judges Aura Celeste Fernandez, Luis Mera (representing Eddy Olivares), Josefina Montas (representing Leida Pina) and Evangelina Alejo (representing John Guiliani).
On Sunday PRSC president Federico Antun and secretary general Luis Jose Gonzalez then held an extraordinary assembly whereby they changed the bylaws of the organization to legalize the selection of the new authorities by the way of a "consensus ballot."
The consensus ballot proposes current Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos Morales Troncoso as the new PRSC president. This group is still divided on who should be the secretary general, the secretary of organization and the vice president. The names in the hat are Victor Bisono, Ramon Rogelio Genao, Placido Domingo, Maximo Castro Silverio, Humberto Salazar and Rafaela Alburquerque.
The PRSC has been a strong ally of the PLD since former PRSC leader Joaquin Balaguer supported Leonel Fernandez's Presidential candidacy in 1996. Once the leading majority party, in the 2008 presidential elections the PRSC presidential candidate only obtained 4.6% of the total vote (187,645 votes), losing its legal status.

Dominican archeologist and Cleopatra
Dominican archeologist Kathleen Martinez says that a quest to discover Cleopatra's tomb has made the Dominican Republic famous throughout the Middle East. Martinez made these comments during a television interview with Orlando Jorge Mera on Color Vision. "I believe this is the first instance of bi-lateral cooperation between the DR and Egypt. In fact when I first arrived they had no clue about our country, even after we tried to explain where we were located," she said.
She said that as a result of the archeological discoveries many Egyptians have told her that they now search for information about the country online.
She said that 120 items have been obtained from the original tomb discovered, and will be put on display in an exhibition sponsored by National Geographic.

Heat wave
The Weather Department (ONAMET) is forecasting a heat wave for the DR, with few rains expected. Miguel Campusano of ONAMET warned that the hot weather would continue through September and said that in some areas temperatures are exceeding 40 degrees.
Parks and beaches are packed with residents seeking respite from the hot summer temperatures.
For a list of links for following DR weather-related information, see http://dr1.com/weather/hurricanes.shtml#3

DR sweeps in Volleyball PanAm
The DR women's volleyball team is undefeated so far in the nine-day Pan American Cup, which includes three of the four 2008 Olympic Games semifinalists (Brazil, USA and Cuba), and serves as a qualifying event into the 2010 FIVB World Grand Prix scheduled for Japan.
The DR team has defeated Argentina (24-26, 25-13, 25-18, 27-25), Canada (23-25, 25-17, 25-21, 25-21) and Trinidad & Tobago (25-6, 25-7, 25-14) since the opening of the event last week.
The event is taking place in Miami at the campuses of the University of Miami and Florida International University.
The DR team, ranked No. 13 in the world, is the tournament defending champion.
Now, the DR goes against Brazil, said DR coach Marcos Kwiek. Brazil was the gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.
The teams competing in Pool A are USA, Peru (17), Puerto Rico (19), Mexico (26), Costa Rica (30) and Guatemala (48). The teams in Pool B are Dominican Republic (13), Brazil (1), Canada (23), Argentina (31) and Trinidad & Tobago (53).
The winners of each pool will advance automatically to the semifinal round and the teams of second and third place will meet in crossed matches in the quarterfinals. The medal matches will take place on Sunday, 4 of July at the University of Miami.

Hispaniola Lowenbrau marathon
Julius Keter from Kenya is the new winner of the Hispaniola Lowenbrau half-marathon (21 kms). He clocked in with a time of 1:05:30 on Sunday, a new record for the event. Keter was one of the favorites. He won the marathon through the sweltering heat that affected many of the runners. Runners-up were Pedro Mora from Venezuela with 1:09:19 and Walder Ureta from Peru, with 1:10:25. Dominican Jesus Ramirez was 4th.
In the women's division, defending champion Alemtsehay Misganaw from Ethiopia clocked in at 1:20:40. Dominican Andreina de la Rosa was second with 1:21, and Erika Mendez from Puerto Rico was third with 1:25:59.
More than 800 runners took part, competing for RD$700,000 worth of prizes. The event began at 5:14pm at the Parque Mirador Sur. For the list of runners and how they placed, see: www.allsportcentral.com/results/results.cfm?EventID=22194

Felix Diaz makes debut
Olympic gold medalist Felix Diaz will make his professional debut at the Carlos Teo Cruz Coliseum tonight. Ten months ago Diaz was crowned Olympic champion at the Beijing Olympics. Diaz, fighting at 140 pounds, will face Mexican pugilist Hugo Pacheco. Commenting on the fight, Diaz said, "I feel strong and calm, and have completed my training without any setbacks and have followed every instruction from my trainer."
For info on coming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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