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Daily News - Friday, 17 July 2009

Fernandez chosen as rapporteur
President Leonel Fernandez was unanimously chosen as general rapporteur to deliver the concluding remarks at the XV Summit of Non-Aligned States (NAM), which took place in Egypt. The NAM meeting, which ended yesterday, included 118 member countries represented by a contingent of no fewer than 8,000 delegates from Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Fernandez was presented to the delegation by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Among topics discussed was a unanimous call for the US to lift the trade embargo with Cuba.
Continuing on his 10-day Middle East tour, Fernandez today will visit the Al-Ahram Center for Political & Strategic Studies, followed by a visit to the American University in Cairo. He will also visit Carmen Feliz, a Dominican student who is studying Arabic in Egypt as part of an exchange with Harvard University.

High school certificates released
The Ministry of Education is issuing high school graduation certificates to thousands of recent graduates. The certificates had been on hold as the Ministry investigated fraud detected in the Standardized National Tests.
Following coverage by El Dia newspaper, the Ministry authorized the issue of the certificates so as not to jeopardize university registration for thousands of recent graduates.
El Dia reported that while many private universities have been provisionally registering students subject to later presentation of their certificates, the state university UASD was still requiring the certificate. Students who were registering for studies abroad had found themselves against a wall. Reportedly, some 155,000 students are affected.

Energy concerns grow
The energy system is once again on the verge of collapse. With initial power generator plans on hold, the state-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) resorted to importing barges loaded with power generators with a view to adding 242 MW to the energy grid, but Hoy reports that the barges have yet to leave the Philippines.
CDEEE executive Pedro Pena Rubio admits that the barges should have arrived in 2008. He said that for most of the year the energy demand is of 1,600 or 1,700 MW, but in the summer the demand spikes to 2,100 MW, which puts limitations on the sector.

Blackouts raise cost of business
Manuel Cabrera, president of the Herrera Industrial Association (AEIH) is warning that the increase in blackouts is leading to an increase in the costs of business and reducing competitiveness.
Meanwhile Jacobo Ramos, president of the National Confederation of Dominican Workers (CNTD) lamented the fact that the chief executive of the State-run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) Radhames Segura was on a trip abroad while the country's energy sector is on the verge of collapse.
He added that the country is now entering nights of darkness and has 17 of its energy generating plants turned off.
"We don't know what Segura is doing, he is being accused of corruption, and is on tour with President Leonel Fernandez.
Cabrera expressed hope that the blackouts would be temporary and stated that they don't just hurt business, but they hurt the nation as a whole.
The blackouts come at a time when consumers have also suffered in many cases more than 50% increases in their power rates after the Superintendence of Power authorized rate increases.

Two dead due to blackouts
A 24-year old man and a 13-year old boy died of bullet wounds suffered during protests in the Santo Domingo slum neighborhood of Capotillo. Local residents were protesting the recent increase in power blackouts.
Carlos Francisco Peguero and Miguel Angel Encarnacion died of the fatal wounds. Neighbors say that neither of them were participating directly in the protests.
There are two sides to this story as Police say that unknown men shot at the crowd, fatally wounding both men. But residents say that police, patrolling the area, shot at the crowd without reason.
Both victims were taken to the Francisco Moscoso Puello hospital, where they died.
Police managed to eventually quell the protests by 6pm. General Geronimo Brown Perez, coordinator of the Barrio Seguro Program, said that the officers involved in the shootings would be brought to justice.

Anti-corruption dispositions
Manuel Quiterio Cedeno, writing in today's El Caribe, says that despite claims by government officials that no legislation exists that prohibits government officials from employing their relatives and friends in their departments or doing business for profit taking advantage of their posts, this is not the case. He says that there are articles in the Constitution, the Penal Code, laws and international conventions approved by the country that include principles and judicial items that refer to these issues.
Art. 102 of the Constitution says: "There will be penalties that the Law established, all who for his personal profit extracts public funds or taking advantage of his position within government departments or autonomous institutions obtains economic gain. There will be penalties also for persons who have provided advantages to their associates, family members, friends or related persons." And Art. 100 consecrates equality of persons who before the law and thus no one can take advantage based on privileges.
He also says that the Code of Ethics of Public Servants prohibits: "Utilizing the position to gain advantages, benefits or privileges not allowed by the Law, in a direct or indirect manner, for a family member or another person, business or entity".
The Ruling of the Law of Civil Service and Administrative Career prohibits government officials in Art 130: "To participate in official activities in which the government employee is judge and part at the same time. To participate in official activities in which the officer has any economic interest, company ownership or political interest, that in some way contradicts with duality of attributions, rights and interests."
He also points out that prevarication is discussed in Art. 166 of the Penal Code and describes this as a crime committed by a public servant in the exercise of his functions and establishes the penalty of civic degradation.
He also says that Congress ratified the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption in March 1996, and the United Nations Convention against Corruption in October 2006.
Cedeno says that this information was compiled when in September 2007 the Environment Commission of the Chamber of Deputies circulated a document when some actions by then Minister of Tourism Felix Jimenez were being questioned.

Temp confiscation of Maconi assets?
District prosecutor Alejandro Moscoso Segarra says that state prosecutors could provisionally retain assets belonging to Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara Diaz (Maconi), who was extradited to the US on drug trafficking charges. On Wednesday, 15 July, El Dia reported that the Supreme Court of Justice had omitted including an asset confiscation order in the extradition sentence issued against Guevara Diaz. Moscoso Segarra said he believes the omission was due to an involuntary error. He remarked that the law against money laundering says that assets obtained through drug trafficking can be confiscated no matter where they are located and that the general prosecutors could confiscate the goods and make the request to an instruction judge.
El Dia reports that while the sentence issued by the Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice included a request from US government and state prosecutors to confiscate the goods, no reference is made to Maconi's property in the extradition order.
Chief Justice Jorge Subero Isa said that in cases of extradition for drug trafficking, it is usual to order the preventive confiscation of the properties until a definite sentence is forthcoming.

"Retired" general speaks
General Juan Tomas Taveras Rodriguez, who was forcibly retired from the Police after publishing critical comments, wasn't being insubordinate or rude when he decided to go the civil courts to challenge a ruling that he considered in violation of the Police's Organic Law. Taveras was disciplined by the Police Department for expressing his opinions on police reform in his column in the Clave Digital online news service.
"Police General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin didn't comply with that law and that is why I took the case to civil court," he stated. Quoted in Hoy, he said, "How is it that the law is good enough for the Chief to sanction me for it, but not good enough so that I can appeal it?"
Speaking on his forced retirement, the General said it bothered him that his case had been made public, but added that he doesn't want to return to the Police, on the grounds that he doesn't want to be part of an institution that breaks its own laws.
He told the press, nevertheless, that he plans to keep a low profile for the time being.

A job-related assault to DGA officer
Customs department spokesman Abinader Fortunato told El Caribe newspaper of the department's concerns following the shooting of former deputy director of the DGA, Luis Manuel Sanchez Diaz. He said that Sanchez Diaz was behind the discovery of a large number of fraud cases over the last few years and many of those deemed responsible have been prosecuted. "That is why this crime has to be thoroughly investigated to find whoever is responsible."
Yesterday, Sanchez Diaz told the press that he suspected that "affected interests" were behind Wednesday evening's attack. He escaped unscathed, but his driver, who suffered multiple bullet wounds, was killed in the attack.
Sanchez Diaz's SUV Toyota Land Cruiser has 8 bullet holes, while 23 bullets were found at the scene of the crime, outside Sanchez Diaz's house in Santo Domingo's Evaristo Morales neighborhood. Armed Forces Minister Pedro Rafael Pena Antonio described the raid as a challenge to the authorities, as reported in El Caribe. Reportedly, the two assailants were riding a motorcycle, which they used to make their getaway.

Child smugglers arrested
Members of the Specialized Border Corps (Cesfront) have arrested six Haitians who were allegedly members of a gang that smuggled Haitian children to the DR to beg for their profit. Cesfront said that three Haitians, Joseph Dorsevil, 30, Martha Jean Guise, 27 and Atuan Pierre, 24, of the group of 6, were arrested while they were transporting 10 minors. The other two had hidden another 14 children, aged between 2 and 13, who were being transported to Santiago de los Caballeros.
According to Cesfront, at least Martha Jean Guise is known to have been involved in this type of crime before, as she appears in the biometric archives that the US authorities installed at the Dajabon border crossing.
The military authorities say that the smugglers charged the children's parents large sums of money to transport the children to the DR, promising they would put them in school and that the children would be earning money at the same time.
Instead, the minors are taken to Santiago and other cities in the Cibao region where they are sent to beg on streets. They sleep in abandoned lots and other high-risk areas.
The children said they were from Ouanaminthe, Otout du Nord and Limonade.
The Solidaridad Fronteriza organization headed by Father Regino Martinez and other humanitarian organizations have expressed concern about the increasing traffic in Haitian children to Dominican territory, as reported in the Listin Diario. Martinez has criticized the fact that this has been happening with the complicity of the armed forces.

Mayr to lead Los Haitises evaluation
The United Nations Development Program in the Dominican Republic has chosen former Colombian Environment Minister Juan Mayr Maldonado to lead the international team of experts that will evaluate the concession process by which the Ministry of Environment issued an environmental license to the Dominican Mining Consortium for building a cement factory on the edge of the Los Haitises National Park. The team will also assess the feasibility and advisability of the location of the cement plant on that site.
The team is coming after President Leonel Fernandez, a leading supporter of the cement plant, agreed to seek an independent opinion on the location. Opposition has come from within the Ministry of Environment itself, the Chamber of Deputies Environmental Commission, the Academy of Sciences and leading environmental and civic groups.
Mayr has served as vice president of the International Nature Conservation Union, president of the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development and has led several sessions of the UN Convention for Biodiversity. He has ample experience of environmental conflict resolution and has consulted for the UNDP, the UN Environmental Program and the Inter-American Development Bank.
He visited the DR from 13-15 July for meetings with Environment Minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal and his team and initial preparations for the UNDP evaluation. They visited the site by air.
During his short stay, the UNDP reports that he compiled information on the case and prepared the schedule for the evaluation that will take place during the first week of August, which will include extensive interviews and the presentation of conclusions and recommendations. Specialists from the UNEP and the Pan-American Health Organization will also take part.

Concert for Los Haitises
Over 20 musical performers are coming together for a concert in support of the preservation of Los Haitises, the singular karst region in northeastern DR, considered the main source of water for the south and eastern regions. The event is scheduled for Sunday, 19 July starting at 4pm at Plaza de Espana, in Santo Domingo's Colonial City.
Several young composers are writing lyrics and music especially for the event. They join the grassroots movements campaigning to convince the Dominican Mining Consortium to relocate its cement plant to a less vulnerable location. Calor Urbano, Marel Alemany, Janio Lora, Pavel Nunez, Gnomico, Pablo Cavallo, Victor Victor, Son Abril, Grado Celcius, Cayhao, Sociedad Tabu, Juango Davalos, Diego Mena, Nelson Poket, Xiomara Fortuna, Marte o Venus, Tony Almont and DJ Visionario are among the participants who have signed up to join their voices to raise awareness about the threat posed by the construction of the cement plant to the district of Gonzalo, in the province of Monte Plata.
Music for Los Haitises is part of a campaign strategy that also includes the sale of t-shirts, pins and car banners, all of which are for sale at Casa de Teatro, Meson de Bari, Encuentro Artesanal, Quintana Bar, Narbon, Cinema Cafe, Modafoca and Beer House.
For other upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar

Elio Enai is a champion
Elio Enai Rojas, a featherweight boxer from San Francsico de Macoris, is the new WBC Featherweight Champion. Enai returned to New York City this week to a hero's welcome. Enai defeated Japanese national Takahiro Aoh by decision.
According to reports, the airport in New York was flooded with Dominicans who waited to see the boxer.
Enai is now 23-1 in his professional career and commenting on his win, he said that it was very emotional for him to win the title.
Enai is now the 14th Dominican boxer to ever hold a world boxing championship, continuing a tradition of strong Dominican pugilists.
These include Teofilo "Teo" Cruz, Juan Guzman, Leonardo Cruz, Eleoncio Mercedes, Francisco Quiroz, Cesar "Patico" Polanco, Julio Gervacio, Rafael Torres, Hector Acero Sanchez, Luis "Cucuso" Santana, Julio Cesar Green, Agapito Sanchez and Joan Guzman.
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