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Daily News - Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Leonel absent Bosch centennial
President Leonel Fernandez canceled his appearance at the ceremonies marking the centennial of the birth of PLD founder Juan Bosch, and instead traveled to Managua, Nicaragua to attend the 34th Ordinary Meeting of Heads and State and Government of the Central America Integration System (SICA). The situation in Honduras was discussed during the session.
Vice President Rafael Alburquerque will represent Fernandez during the Bosch centennial activities.
In Nicaragua, Fernandez met with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who had traveled to Managua instead of to Santo Domingo as originally planned. Chavez was to have signed a letter of intent for the purchase of 49% stake in the government-owned Dominican Petroleum Refinery (Refidomsa). He was also due to attend centennial celebrations for founder of the ruling PLD party, Juan Bosch.
From Nicaragua President Fernandez is traveling to Panama to attend the inauguration of the President-elect Ricardo Martinelli. Fernandez, who left after 2:30pm from the San Isidro Airbase yesterday, was accompanied by a delegation that included Presidential Press Secretary Rafael Nunez and investigative journalist Huchi Lora. He returns to the DR on Wednesday.

The nation remembers Bosch
One hundred years ago today, Juan Bosch was born in La Vega. The politician, professor and writer is remembered as an untiring fighter for democracy, described by President Leonel Fernandez as a man who stood for dignity and progress.
"There is no doubt that Juan Bosch is one of the imposing, vital and most pivotal figures in the areas of art, thought and politics in the Dominican Republic," stated the President.
In the words of Brazilian writer Frei Betto, the only thing a revolutionary cannot lose is morality and ethics, values that are, in his criteria, the legacy of Juan Bosch's example.
In his fight against the Trujillo dictatorship, the founder of the Dominican Liberation and the Dominican Revolutionary parties sought to guarantee Dominicans the right to life and lent his voice to the voiceless. This defense led him to be called a conspirator against the regime and put him behind bars. His thoughts and his stance against the dictatorship sent him into exile.
In 1939, together with a group of collaborators against the regime, he founded the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). In 1962, Bosch won the elections and was proclaimed President, taking office in 1963, but was overthrown seven months later.
In 1973 he broke away from the PRD and founded the PLD.
Upon the celebration of his 100th birthday his party is offering tributes. By means of Decree 480-09, the Executive Branch declared the tomb that houses the remains of the former President of the Republic an exclusive dependency of the National Pantheon.
Juan Bosch died on 1 November 2001 at the age of 92.
During a Eucharistic ceremony held at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in La Vega yesterday, Father Anjolino Abreu, the director of the Domingo Sabio Youth Center, described Bosch as an eternal defender of human principles and values. After the Mass, the honors continued, and a PLD group composed of members of the Eugenio Maria de Hostos teaching sector placed a wreath on his tomb in the Ornamental Cemetery.
For today, commemorations begin with the flag raising ceremony at the PLD National HQ at 8am. The Senate and the Chamber of Deputies will hold a joint session at the National Assembly as part of the activities.
This solemn session is set for 10am in the National Assembly Hall, and the diplomatic corps, business representatives and officials have been invited. At noon, the PLD faithful will place a floral wreath at the Altar of the Nation in Independence Park and a concert will be held in the party's National HQ at 7pm, entitled "Infinite Juan Bosch."

In the mirror of Honduras
Supreme Court of Justice Jorge Subero Isa told the press yesterday that the DR should see its reflection in the mirror of what has happened in Honduras. He said that problems escalated in Honduras when President Manuel Zelaya sought to change the presidential system under which he was elected, and the political crisis escalated when President Zelaya chose a new Supreme Court of Justice.
He said, as reported in Listin Diario, that the Honduran army ousted President Zelaya on the orders of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Congress validated the coup by naming a successor.
Subero Isa says that President Leonel Fernandez has proposed much of the same in the bill for a new Constitution at present being studied by the PLD-majority Congress. He said that the constitutional court proposed by President Fernandez would be above the Supreme Court of Justice.
"In matters of violation of the Constitution, the organizations in charge of monitoring its fulfillment should be extremely prudent when interpreting and applying the Constitution, because all constitutional decisions are political and one can create a circumstantial political problem, as has happened in Honduras," said Subero during the opening of a program to train justices of peace.
Subero says that only through training can the judiciary be truly independent. He said that a trained judge is aware of his role and committed to society, and less likely to fall prey to pressures.

Constitutional Court
A group of jurists describes the creation of a Constitutional Chamber as proposed in the constitutional reform submitted by President Fernandez as a priority that would consolidate the constitutional system, strengthen democracy, validate rights and freedoms and stabilize the adequate functioning of public institutions.
This stance is outlined in a letter sent to the National Revisory Assembly, signed by eminent jurists such as Eduardo Jorge Prats, Milton Ray Guevara, Alejando Moscoso Segarra, Franklyn Garcia Fermin, Victor Joaquin Castellanos Pizano and Rocina de Alvarado.
In a letter sent to the Constitutional Revisory Assembly, the jurists state:
"The first reason for all Constitutions is to establish limits to the exercise of power. The effectiveness of these limits is only possible with the existence of a Constitutional Watchdog provided with strength and specialization needed to guarantee the control of the activities of power to the Constitution. The signers of this letter, in our capacity as university professors and promoters of institutional reforms aimed at strengthening the Judicial Branch, send our fervent call to the National Assembly so that they take these points of view into consideration, convinced as we are that with this proposal the best interests of the country will be served".

SEE files complaint on exam fraud
The Ministry of Education (SEE) has submitted a formal complaint to the District Attorney for San Cristobal against four people, including two ministry employees, who are accused of fraud using cell phones during the mid-level (High School) standardized national exam process. Minister Melanio Paredes was at the prosecutor's office in San Cristobal yesterday where restraining measures were placed on both the masterminds and perpetrators of the fraud.
According to Listin Diario, Paredes filed the complaint through the lawyers for the ministry's legal council. The accused face charges of violating Law 53-07 on Crimes and Hi-Tech Misdemeanors, as the fraud was committed using text messages and cell phones. The minister refused to give reporters the names of the individuals involved.
Paredes said that at least 217 students who took the Spanish Language exam were involved in the fraud as well as 618 in Math and 191 in Social Sciences.
Two of the accused are free on RD$50,000 bail and the other two have to report to the prosecutor's office every 30 days.

CDEEE, INDRHI scandals shake industry
The Industrial Associations Federation (FAI) and the Herrera Association of Industrial Enterprises (AEIH) have demanded that the executive vice president of the Dominican Corporation of State-owned Electrical Enterprises (CDEEE), Radhames Segura, respond to all the accusations of nepotism, million-peso donations and juicy consultancy contracts revealed during an investigation by television journalist Nuria Piera.
According to El Nuevo Diario, the presidents of the industrial associations, Ignacio Mendez and Manuel Cabrera, warned that they would begin legal consultations to find out what actions can be taken by their institutions as civil actors to put an end to the sinful use of public funds.
They said that they will not only consider the case against the CDEEE but also the complaints about the National Institute for Hydraulic Resources (INDRHI), where, according to an investigation by journalist Alicia Ortega (El Informe), there have been huge payouts for projects that are still unfinished.
The industrial leaders said that when this type of corruption goes unheeded and unpunished, "it can put the state institution in danger."
At the same time they called on industrialists, politicians who care about a better nation, civil society organizations campaigning for respect for state institutionalism, and officials with a vocation for service to form a common front against such corruption.
They said that the cases of INDRHI and the CDEEE could be barely a hint of the corrupt structure that bad Dominicans have instated in government institutions.
The business leaders added that the apparent economic structure under which the CDEEE operates explains why Radhames Segura has always been a defender of state ownership of the electric sector and why he had torpedoed every attempt to privatize it and this is why he said that the experiment with private sector ownership failed. They described the revelations as "scandalous."
See www.nuria.com.do/casos.php

Segura's private company clients
A paid advertisement by RRS Energia Electrica ENEL establishes that the private electricity company headed by engineer Radhames Segura has always adhered to Dominican laws and principles of integrity since its founding in 1987.
As reported in Listin Diario, the company has a wide and growing customer base and has carried out operations worth RD$1.69 billion, which is evidence of its "degree of operational consolidation."
Its clients include the Supreme Court of Justice, Grupo Corripio, Grupo Vicini, companies belonging to engineer Miguel Vargas Maldonado, the former Baninter, Banco Popular Dominicano, the former Bancredito, Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana, Tricom, Codetel, Plaza Lama, Induveca, Megacentro, Gildan Activewear, Siemens, Westin Roco Ki Resort and Cemex Dominicana.
Segura heads the state-owned CDEEE, which oversees the operation of the power distribution companies, hydroelectric companies, transmission lines and several generation plants.

Electricity rates up again
The Superintendence of Energy announced a second electricity tariff increase yesterday. On 2 June the increase was 6.4% and beginning yesterday they once more increased by 5.7% on average the price of a kilowatt/hour that belongs to tariffs classified as BTS1, BTS2, BTH, MTD1 and MTH.
The authorities argue that fuel oil number 6 increased 21.9% in price, going from US$42.8619 Bbl., to US$52.2375 Bbl; Natural Gas fell in price from US$4.037 MMBTU to US$3.597 MMBTU, while coal prices fell by 47%, going from US$131.12 per ton to US$69.00 per ton. On the other hand, the monthly average exchange rate went from RD$36.03 to RD$36.00 to the dollar. As a result of the variation cited, the indexed tariff for the month of July experienced an increase of 0.14%.
While electricity rates had been fixed, now the Superintendence has pegged them to variables.
The new rate increases, could mean an additional 22% rate increases for households consuming up to 700 kWh.
Blackouts continued in Santo Domingo, nevertheless, despite the rate increases.
For June, the Superintendence had already ordered increases of 12, 17, 22 and 2.2% on the household tariffs.
As per Resolution SIE-47-2009, the new tariffs are:
0-200 kWh: RD$3.70 up from RD$3.50
201-300 kWh: RD$5.81 up from RD$5.50
700 kWh: RD$9.26 from RD$8.76
Commercial and industrial sectors:
Rates have increased to RD$4.98 from RD$4.71, RD$7.92 from RD$6.80 and RD$9.42 from RD$8.91 and RD$9.62 from RD$9.10.

Sediments shorten dams usefulness
Dam Engineer Gilberto Reynoso is warning about the lack of maintenance that is shortening the capacity of the nation's dams to store water for hydroelectric use. He said that for instance, Aguacate Dam is out of service because of an excess of sediment. It has not operated since Tropical Storm Olga hit the region in December 2007, and Jiguey should follow suit, as it is now operating precariously.
Reynoso says the most recent study on the situation of the dams was carried out in 1992.
The increasing sedimentation obliges waters to be released prematurely from the dams.
Speaking on Teleantillas' "Uno+Uno", Reynoso also mentioned the dire situation of rivers that are losing their capacity. He mentioned the Yuna, Yaque del Norte and Yaque del Sur whose banks now overflow with almost any kind of rain.

Police return 522 stolen vehicles
The police have handed over 522 stolen vehicles to owners and insurance companies, mostly luxury models that were recovered during the months of May and June. This number exceeds by 200 the number of automobiles reported stolen in the same period last year, according to Police Chief Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin.
Diario Libre reported that the chief ordered each vehicle to be returned to its owner and to several insurance companies.
The vehicles were recovered thanks to intelligence work by agents from the Center for Criminal Investigations Department (Dicrim) working in coordination with Justice Department representatives.
Guzman Fermin said that during the month of May, 178 vehicles were reported stolen, while in June this number was reduced to 144 for a total of 322.
He stressed that the number of vehicles recovered in both months was 522, which showed that each reported case of auto theft made by a citizen is followed up. Guzman Fermin said that the institution's work on auto theft prevention has been on such a large scale that an average of 15 stolen cars each day has been reduced to just 5, a reduction of more than 60%.
He also mentioned that the theft of fully loaded trucks on highways that used to affect dozens of traders has been eradicated.

Clarifying history
A new book about the life of former Dominican president Antonio Guzman by Jose Baez Guerrero is providing new insight into claims that the White House influenced the 1978 presidential elections that brought Guzman to power.
According to Baez's book, which chronicles the life and death of the former president, then president Joaquin Balaguer received a call from the White House instructing him to continue the counting of electoral votes.
Once resumed it was determined that Guzman had beaten Balaguer. Balaguer went on to peacefully leave office. Baez cites declassified US documents.

New school of DR musicals
The Dominican Republic is becoming a leader in musical theatrical productions in Latin America. Alfonso Quinones makes a roundup in today's Diario Libre pointing out that the Dominican versions have been so good that on several occasions they compete directly with the originals in Broadway.
Nine musicals are to be staged in 2009. So far, among these have been "The Fiddler on the Roof," "Cats" and "Hairspray", and some upcoming are "The Miracle of Fatima (September, a Luis Marcel Ricart production), "Cinderella" (October, an Amaury Sanchez production) and "Rhen" (December, a Carolina Rivas and Luiggi Tejada production).
Quinones makes the point that around 15 musicals have been staged here in the last four or five years. He said the impetus for musicals began after the success of "Beauty and the Beast." Then came "Cabaret", "Annie," "High School Musical and "Les Miserables".
He wonders about the musicals' profitability. He estimates that a musical like "Beauty and the Beast" cost RD$16 million to produce 3 years ago and was staged 27 times in the DR and 14 in Venezuela, and thus made a profit.
But there are big losses with only four performances, for example, as was the case of Hairspray. He points out that sponsorship deals are crucial to the success of the productions and says that high taxation affects the promoters.
Quinones proposes that ticket packages could be offered to tourists, even as part of their all-inclusive deals. He suggests agreements with the Ministry of Culture and Tourism to promote the plays at the hotels.
Furthermore, he supports the idea of increased international marketing of the plays. He said this would continue with the very successful performances of "Beauty and the Beast" in Venezuela, while warning that transport costs and logistics would have to be taken into account when designing the sets.
Regardless, he concludes that we could be witnessing the dawn of a new school of Dominican musicals.

Golden Debut for Felix Diaz
Felix Diaz fulfilled his promise last night to present a spectacular but short-lived fight for the Dominican people.
Diaz only needed two minutes and eleven seconds of the first round to put down his Mexican rival Hugo Pacheco for the second and last time.
This was the professional debut by the winner of the Dominican Republic's first-ever Olympic boxing gold medal.
Pacheco, who had ten professional fights under his belt, began attacking with long punches that a good defense easily avoided.
A quick combination by Diaz at two minutes into the battle left Pacheco tangled in the ropes after a hard right. After the obligatory eight-count for protection, referee Ruddy Valdez allowed the fight to continue.
Diaz attacked with lightning jabs, then a strong punch to the ribs followed by a straight punch to the chin that floored Pacheco. The Mexican tried to get up but fell flat on his face, and the referee stopped the fight.
The fight took place in the Coliseo Carlos Teo Cruz and more than 5,000 fight fans were present.

Optimist Sailing Championship
The IODA North American Optimist Championship begins today 30 June in Andres, Boca Chica. The event will take place through 8 July in the beach community east of Santo Domingo.
Some 198 sailors from 23 countries around the world are registered for the event that brings together some of the region's best junior sailors (up to 15 years category).
Eduardo Verdeja, president of the Dominican Optimist Association, heads the organizing committee.
Participants are coming from the Netherlands Antilles, Argentina, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Chile, Ecuador, France, Germany, Guatemala, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Puerto Rico, Spain, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, the United States, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.
The members of the national team are: Erick Holmbom, Paloma Esteban, Eduardo Ariza, Rodrigo Delgado, Sebastian Bros, Justina Pacheco, Alina Nordbruch, Natali Nordbruch, Nicole Reitzel, Nicolas Moreno, Joan Mella and Paula Varona. Coaches are Rulo Borojovich and Jato Ocariz.
The event is sponsored by the Dominican Optimist Association (ADO), the Dominican Sailing Federation (FDV) under the supervision of the International Optimist Dinghy Association (IODA).
The executive committee is Eduardo Verdeja, director general, Juan Lehoux, treasurer, Omar Bros, marketing director and Andres Santana, technical director.
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