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Daily News - Friday, 10 July 2009

Fernandez and Zelaya meet
Deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is meeting with President Leonel Fernandez in Santo Domingo today.
Also attending the meeting are Vice President Rafael Alburquerque, Armed Forces Minister Lt. General Pedro Rafael Pena Antonio, and several other high-ranking military officials.
Hoy describes the odd reception that Zelaya received at the Presidential Palace, where employees greeted him with cheers.
Zelaya arrived in the DR at 6:50am, on a flight from Costa Rica.
The former Honduran leader was ousted from office and flown out of the country at the end of June after he tried to hold a referendum on constitutional changes that would allow him to remain in power.

Fernandez departs on 10-day trip
After his meeting with deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, President Leonel Fernandez is scheduled to depart for his 10-day trip to France, Israel and Egypt. This will be his 11th overseas trip this year.
He is expected to sign a cooperation agreement during his stay in Paris.
While in Israel, Fernandez will meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres and businesspeople interested in investing in the DR.
Fernandez will visit the Knesset (Parliament) in Jerusalem, where he will meet with speaker Reuven Rivlin. He will also meet with Foreign Relations Minister Avigdor Lieberman, visit the Holocaust Museum and a national park where he will plant a tree.
Fernandez will visit the communities of Hadera and Shefayim to meet with representatives of the energy and agriculture sectors there.
Fernandez will then travel on to Egypt on Tuesday to attend the 15th Summit of Non-Aligned States, to be held 15-17 July.

Fernandez the mediator
After his success at last year's Rio Summit, President Leonel Fernandez has gained a reputation as a great mediator.
Fernandez will use his skills during meetings with the African Union and the Arab League next week, where he will act as spokesperson for the regional nations and organizations that support recently deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.
During a press conference at the Presidential Palace, Zelaya said that Fernandez would present to Arab and African participants the Bolivarian Alternative (ALBA) forum, the Organization of American States (OAS) and SICA, which completely condemned the recent successful coup d'etat.
Speaking on the coup, Fernandez said this was the first time in history that countries have been so quick to denounce the overthrowing of a government. Zelaya says that by next week, with help from Fernandez, he hopes to receive the support of the African and Arab communities.

Hamadoun Toure in Santo Domingo
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Toure was honored by the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernandez last night, when he was accorded the title of Grand Officer of the Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella (Orden al Merito de Duarte, Sanchez y Mella).
The Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella is the principal Order of the Dominican Republic. It was established in 1931, and is conferred by the Head of State on both civilians and military for distinguished services.
In receiving the decoration, Toure paid tribute to the leadership of President Fernandez and his strong commitment to national development. "I praise your efforts in driving development, and accept this award with great honor," said Toure.
He praised the community technological centers, a project implemented by First Lady Margarita Cedeno and her office. He also spoke highly of the efforts at the ITLA cyberpark in the Province of Santo Domingo.
Toure was on an official visit to the DR to attend the Conference of Magistrates, where he stressed the importance of ICTs and broadband as vital enablers of social and economic development. He noted the enormous progress made in the country over the past five years, with mobile cellular subscriptions growing from 2.1 million at the beginning of 2004 to 7.2 million by the start of 2009, and Internet access increasing from 731,000 to 2.6 million over the same period.
This is the first time a president of the ITU visits the Dominican Republic.

US donates equipment
During a ceremony at the National Police headquarters in Santo Domingo, US Embassy Charge d'affaires Roland Bullen donated, on behalf of the United States, hi-tech equipment to be used to detect explosives. The donation also covers training 15 people in the use of the equipment. The donation by the US is worth a total of US$600,000. Police Chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin says the equipment will help modernize the National Police and thanked the US government for their support.

UNDP takes on Los Haitises case
The United Nations Development Program office in Santo Domingo has accepted a request from the Ministry of Environment (Semarena) to carry out a technical evaluation of the concession process by which an environmental license was granted to the Dominican Mining Consortium for the installation of a cement factory on the edge of Los Haitises National Park and an assessment of the feasibility and advisability of the installation of the cement plant. President Leonel Fernandez, a supporter of building the cement plant in that location, recently announced that recommendations would be sought from the United Nations Environmental Program in order to resolve the dispute over the location.
The Ministry of Environment issued Environmental License 057-069 for the cement plant, but this has been disputed by Chamber of Deputies the Environmental Commission, the Academy of Sciences, leading environmental groups and officers within the Ministry of Environment itself.

Blackouts "just seasonal"?
Radhames Segura, executive vice president of the State-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) has played down the recent increase in blackouts. Speaking yesterday, he described them as a "momentary inconvenience," produced by the increase in demand that comes with summer, as reported in Diario Libre.
Segura met with generator and distribution companies and explained that the demand had peaked over 2,200 megawatts.
But he said supply was stable within its limitations, reaching 80% of the demand. He said that according to reports made by the generators, the power companies are practically all online.
The generators, nevertheless, are making the availability of supply conditional to the CDEEE making timely payments, said Segura.
He said that the debt with the generators now stands at around US$700 million.
Prolonged blackouts are back with a vengeance despite considerable rate increases imposed by the CDEEE on paying consumers in June and July.
The blackouts and rate increases come at a time when press reports exposed bloated payrolls and questionably high purchases of goods and services within the CDEEE itself.

Segura defends rate hikes
The vice president of the State-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE), Radhames Segura, has been defending the recent hikes in energy rates, saying they could generate an extra US$70 million needed for the energy distributors. Segura claims it would also save the CDEEE US$40 million in operating costs.
During a press conference at the CDEEE, Segura announced that the distributors had promised to provide energy to the public for the remaining days of summer, but that the government had to increase its payments on arrears.
Segura says that in regards to 2008, the government owes the generators US$4.74 million, not including what is owed to the CDEEE, the hydroelectric companies and the transmission companies. He said that the hydroelectric companies are owed US$239 million and the generators are owed US$246 million for 2009. These figures do not include the debt that was frozen in 2005, which began at US$453 million, but is now down to US$190 million, he says.
In total, Segura says the generators are owed US$400 million.
Segura did not mention the corruption scandal exposed by TV journalist Nuria Piera. The investigative reporter recently revealed large-scale nepotism and excessive spending at the CDEEE.

Corruption "uncontrollable"
Former presidential candidate Guillermo Moreno says there is a pandemic of uncontrollable acts of corruption in the current administration, with the example coming from the highest echelons. He added that it was regrettable that State Prosecutors did not pursue any of the charges of corruption that are denounced.
Moreno says that it appears that President Leonel Fernandez doesn't have the will to prosecute and punish those acts.
For Moreno, the impunity relating to most of these acts is what makes the situation worse. "The amount of corruption is severe: nepotism in government institutions, institutions that make purchases without due process, government officials who assign themselves hefty salaries, per-diems and thousands of other forms of corruption," he said.
He added that these acts remain unpunished because corruption is the easiest way to achieve wealth in this country.
With a slight tone of pessimism, Moreno added that there was no way things could change in the DR, because the conductor of the orchestra, President Fernandez, hasn't set the tone, doesn't instruct, doesn't lead and doesn't display the will to punish corruption.

President meets the anti-corruption team
President Leonel Fernandez met with the anti-corruption departments of his government and representatives of the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank yesterday. Present were Jose Joaquin Medina for the Commission for Ethics, Hotoniel Bonilla for the Department for the Persecution of Corruption, General Prosecutor Radhames Jimenez Pena and General Controller Simon Lizardo. Also attending for the government were legal advisor to the President, Abel Rodriguez del Orbe, Secretary to the Presidency Cesar Pina Toribio, and Eric Hazim for the Government Prosecurement and Services Deparment (Law 340-06), as reported in Hoy.
For the UNDP, Mauricio Ramirez Villegas, resident representative and Valerie Julliand, resident coordinator attended, and country representative Roby Senderowitsch and Maritza Rodriguez were at the meeting for the World Bank.
The meeting comes following the new scandals presented by TV journalists Alicia Ortega and Nuria Piera, this time on questionable practices at the electricity and dam operation departments. The journalists are popularly now known as the government anti-corruption SWAT team.

Companies will be investigated
Thirty-eight companies, which are allowed to import tax-free petroleum to the DR, will be investigated by a commission headed by the Customs Department. The decision to launch an investigation was made yesterday during a meeting between the ministries of Hacienda and Industry of Commerce, as well as Customs and the Tax departments. There have been allegations of illegal transfers of tax-free petroleum between the Itabo generator and the cement company CEMEX. The initial report is expected to be released within one week. Hoy reports that the original accusations of "contraband" fuel were made by Texaco and the president of Anadegas more than two weeks ago.

EGE Haina fuel-oil loan to Cemex
The EGE Haina power generation company says it acted as a good neighbor when it dispatched 9,800 gallons of fuel-oil on loan on 30 June 2009, responding to a formal request from CEMEX cement plant that needed to replace fuel that had been contaminated, says EGE Haina in response to press reports. EGE Haina reports that the fuel-oil was returned by CEMEX on 3 July 2009.
The press reports focused on a DGA report of irregularities in the transfer of fuel imported by EGE Haina under privileged tax treatment to the cement plant.
EGE Haina says that the loan to Cemex is fully documented and was duly reported to Raul Herrera, in charge of hydrocarbons at the DGA, on 6 July. In the statement, EGE Haina detailed the amount of fuel that was on loan, who received it, and why and when it was returned.
EGE Haina says that in a response to a letter from the DGA in San Pedro de Macoris, where the cement plant is located, requesting a certification of local fuel-oil sales of EGE Haina from 2008 to the present, the company responded: "EGE Haina certifies that it respects the dispositions and prohibitions on the matter and thus has not carried out, neither in the past, nor in the present, nor will do so in the future, local sales of fuel-oil to a Dominican or foreign company."

JCE's Fernandez makes accusation
Never scared of ruffling feathers, Central Electoral Board (JCE) judge Aura Celeste Fernandez is accusing JCE Administrative Chamber head Roberto Rosario of lying about the cost of JCE public works. Fernandez says the true amount totals as much as RD$460 million, while Rosario says it is RD$RD$242 million.
Fernandez says the JCE has approved RD$417,015,657 worth of projects, some completed and some not, while spending RD$59 million on remodeling JCE offices and dependencies.
Fernandez also provided proof for her accusations, submitting an audit by JCE Auditor General Carmen Compres.
She added that the Administrative Chamber must answer to these allegations and explain the reasoning behind assigning RD$345 million in publicity and propaganda without discretion and presenting it to the members of the JCE.
"I don't believe a strong institutional image is built on propaganda and a publicity campaign, or hiding information. A good public image is built on responsibility, transparency, and following the law," said Fernandez.
Responding to her allegations, Rosario, listing a number of JCE projects valued at more than RD$10 million, which he said had been approved by JCE members. He said that all JCE works being constructed are on lands donated to the local city halls or government-owned buildings. Rosario continued by calling Fernandez's accusations a lie.
The president of the JCE Disputes Chamber, judge Mariano Rodriguez also challenges the US$1.25 million that was taken from his department's account to complete a payment to the Somo consortium, as reported in Hoy.

Dave Jauss Licey manager
American skipper Dave Jauss has been hired as the new manager of the Tigres del Licey for the upcoming baseball season, which begins in October. Jauss says he is excited and happy about the opportunity, saying he was always waiting for the chance to get back to the DR.
Jauss was the coach in the MLB minors with Boston Red Sox and had previously coached with a record of 83-67 and a win in the Serie del Caribe in 1998-1999.
In related news, Puerto Rican baseball great Candy Maldonado was appointed general manager of the Gigantes del Cibao while Felix Fermin was named coach.
Winterball begins in October in the DR.

DR team wins in Caribbean golf
The Dominican Republic junior national golf team has won the XXII Caribbean Amateur Junior Golf Championship that took place at the Cinnamon Hill Golf Club in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The DR was first, Trinidad second, and Puerto Rico third. The Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands and Jamaican teams also competed.
The win qualified the DR team to take part in the world junior championship in Japan, from 14 to 19 July.
The Dominican team members are Gonzalo Perez, Diego Shicffino, Jose Alberto Hernandez, Ramon Bordas, Ramon Brenes, Ernesto Vitienes, Ramon Genao, Gerardo Aponte for the boys. Colette Bogaert, Maria del Mar Rodriguez, Bona Kim, Patricia Pena, Lyanne Santana and Cristina Contreras for the girls. The coach is Jonas Fernandez, and Ernesto Vitienes is the team manager.
The team returns this week to prepare for the Japan commitment.

Davis Cup tennis in San Francisco
Jose Hernandez and Victor Estrella will represent the Dominican Republic in the Davis Cup BNP Paribas, Group II of the American Zone. The matches will take place at the San Diego Campo Club in San Francisco de Macoris, in the northeast of the DR. This is the first time that Davis Cup matches are held in the interior of the country. Victor Estrella is ranked 240th in the world. The national team will compete against Paraguay in the event.
This is the second round of the championship.
See www.daviscup.com/results/am2.asp
For more info on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
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