Fernandez moves on demands|
The government convened the Council of Government to meet on 5 August to review commitments taken on in January during the Presidential Summit meetings held earlier in the year. The government maintains that it has been fulfilling these commitments gradually, Secretary of the Presidency Cesar Pina Toribio said yesterday.
The Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Development is organizing the meeting. On the question of the "pilgrimages" to Santo Domingo by delegations from the provinces seeking action for their communities, Pina Toribio said they are happening because a first pilgrimage was successful.
He said that his office serves as the channel for directing community demands to the appropriate ministries. "I call upon the officials, particularly the ministers and those in charge of those areas that are the object of such demands, that as soon as one of these pilgrimages is announced, they should get in touch with the organizers in order to offer the corresponding answers."
Pina Toribio said that in many of these cases, processes are already under way, and the answers being given do not seem to appeal to the organizers of these pilgrimages. He also accused opposition politicians of jumping on the organizers' bandwagons.
School year starts 17 August|
The 2009-2010 school year in the Dominican Republic starts on 17 August. The Ministry of Education expects an enrollment of 398,000 children in public schools alone. Fernando Reyes, director of the Solidarity Program, said that the government is allocating RD$145 million every two months to help parents with children in the public school system.
Most private schools will also start on that date.
CDEEE debt hinders deals|
The embattled executive vice-president of the State-owned Electricity Corporations (CDEEE) Radhames Segura has said on several occasions that the contracts for electricity generation are burdensome and that they need to be renegotiated. He repeated this again yesterday, and newspaper reporters asked him why this has not been done.
Segura has been in this post for some 10 years now. His answer was that the debt with these businesses, which is close to US$700 million, impedes meaningful dialogue.
According to Hoy, he went on to say something unusual: the state fears that these generators would pressure for payment before renegotiating and after receiving the money they would refuse to do it and turn off their generators.
Segura said yesterday that the state is trying to renegotiate the contracts.
He said that in the light of this situation, the state is trying to find a way to work out a deal with the generators, but so far they have only been able to do this with Palamara, La Vega.
Talks are under way with the managers of Itabo, Haina and Dominican Power Partners.
Segura said that some of the blame for this situation falls on the private sector, because the sector did not come up with the investment it had committed to, and he pointed out that the private sector has not honored its promise to invest in generators that would bring more energy into the grid.
He said that the state has been true to its word and has offered letters of credit, contracts to purchase the energy and other incentives.
Docs and nurses chained up|
A group of public hospital doctors and nurses chained themselves up at the Ministry of Labor yesterday as part of their ongoing campaign for better salaries and other benefits. Waldo Ariel Suero, the head of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD), led the group. Last night, police posted in the area did not allow any food to be brought to the demonstrators.
Suero told Hoy reporters Ubaldo Molina and C. Cabrera that he and his colleagues would stay chained up in the hall of the Ministry of Labor all night.
The health workers are demanding better salaries, more jobs in hospitals, an increase in the number of nurses and the payment of incentives for health professionals who work in the border region.
Two nurses had to be brought out from the protest area and one was taken to the Salvador B. Gautier Hospital in an ambulance, according to press reports.
Last night the area around the ministry was cordoned off by anti-riot squads, and no access was allowed to the protestors.
As Minister of Labor Max Puig left the building at around 2:15 in the afternoon, a clamor went up amongst the protestors and Puig greeted them and then left the building.
Speaking on the Huchi Lora afternoon talk show, Puig said that the doctors had made their point in achieving media coverage and should now leave the facility. He said the Ministry of Labor closes to the public at 2:30pm and was not a hotel for the protestors to stay over.
Assembly might approve amnesty|
The National Revisory Assembly working on the Constitutional Reform might propose a broadening of the rule of jus soli that would grant amnesty to thousands of children born to undocumented foreigners in Dominican territory. Assembly Verification Commission chairman Frank Martinez says this was in the works among legislators.
In order to grant the amnesty to the children of illegal foreigners, the National Assembly would revise Article 16 that covers nationality in a second reading. Martinez said, "In the Verification Commission there is an awareness that the Ministry of the Interior regulations on undocumented foreigners do not respond to the vision held by the majority of Dominicans. He said that the issues surrounding the birth of these children of illegal foreign residents need to be resolved, because they are documented in the Civil Registry and are covered by the Immigration Law of 1938. He said that as a result, the Revisory Assembly would seek a provisional amnesty that will cover all the cases of children born to illegal foreigners.
Martinez added that a second reading would review the disposition that released legislators from accountability on their use of public funds.
El Caribe reports that of the 274 articles included in the new Constitution President Leonel Fernandez sent to Congress, 32 still remain to be reviewed and passed in the first reading.
Border market reopens|
The Dominican and Haitian authorities reopened the bi-national market that is held in Dajabon every Monday and Friday. However, yesterday the market was much less active than normal with fewer buyers and sellers occupying the stalls around the city.
According to Haitian consul Jean Batiste Bien Ame, the lower-than-usual turnout was the result of Haitian fears that there would be a recurrence of last Friday's incidents.
The market was suspended last Friday in the wake of protests in the nearby community of La Vegia following the killing of a 34-year old Dominican, Carlos Espinal, supposedly by two Haitians, one of whom, Pepine Wason Chipa, is in jail in Ouanaminthe (Juana Mendez), on the Haitian side of the border. The Haitian consul said that a further three people are also in jail, believed to belong to the gang led by Chipa, and accused of killing three people in Haiti in order to rob them.
FINJUS re Constitutional Chamber|
The Foundation for Institutionalism and Justice (Finjus) is arguing for the creation of a Constitutional Court, an entity that would be autonomous and independent. The foundation believes that is the clearest and most efficient way to reform the justice system.
Finjus executive vice-president Servio Tulio Castanos Guzman says the new chamber would enable "important steps to be taken to strengthen the internal independence of the Justice Power, create the basis for the "second wave" of judicial system reforms, democratize the government of the Judicial Branch, and specialize constitutional justice."
He said that the Finjus has emphatically defended the need to create a specialized constitutional jurisdiction that can remake the culture of what is constitutional through strengthening the mechanism for guaranteeing fundamental rights and liberties.
Castanos stated that the Dominican Republic is one of the few nations in Latin America that places the full body of the Supreme Court in control of what is constitutional and what is not. He commented that the creation of a specialized constitutional jurisdiction is unavoidable if we take into consideration the integrated character of the constitutional reform that is currently going through the National Assembly.
Whistle blower gets suspended|
The Ministry of Foreign Relations has suspended Dominican Consular Minister in Nicaragua, Radhames Reyes Vasquez, a decision that was taken on Monday after last week's public complaint by Reyes Vasquez who claimed that there was a 'mafia' in the institution that was stealing checks from the foreign service.
Reyes Vasquez will remain without any duties or pay for 30 days, according to an item in El Nuevo Diario that says that a letter given to the diplomat mentions a violation of article 31 of the Organic Law of the Ministry of Foreign Relations.
Vasquez warned that, "They cannot keep me quiet. I prefer to go and sell puppy dogs on the 27th of February Avenue before I negotiate my legitimate rights with some bastards!"
Last week, Reyes Vasquez complained that he had not received his salary check since last March because according to him there is a mafia in the Ministry of Foreign Relations that steals checks from members of the foreign service.
Air Force Southern Command|
The Dominican Air Force has completed its plans to install its Southern Command in Barahona's Maria Montez International Airport (MMIA). This will be one of the bases used by the new Super Tucanos recently acquired by the government from Brazil at a cost of around US$90 million. The Super Tucanos' main role will be to intercept as many of the drug flights currently bombarding the Dominican coastal areas with drugs from South America as possible.
There used to be an air base in Barahona but it was abandoned and the areas next to the main landing strip were used by the Fifth Brigade and for installations of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD).
The new plan involves new infrastructure next to those in existence at the MMIA, which is rarely used by commercial or military flights.
According to the chief of the Dominican Air Force (FAD), the installation of the Southern Command in Barahona will put 3,000 troops in place to provide security along the south coast, the most violated by drug flights and fast boats.
According to the chief of the FAD, the Super Tucanos are among the most appropriate aircraft for patrolling the nation's skies, and will have the ability, supported by radars and night vision equipment, to intercept any irregular incursion in Dominican waters or skies.
Indotel fines Codetel|
The board of directors of the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) has ordered the Dominican Telephone Company (Codetel) to pay a fine for poor service. Indotel instructed Codetel to pay cell phone users who used prepaid plans the equivalent of 8.3% of the monthly consumption by the user. The resolution obliges the Codetel concession "to work out a bonus plan for the users of mobile telephone service contracted for under the prepaid scheme, for the degraded service in their GSM platform during the 19 to the 23 of May, 2008."
Codetel has to inform all the prepaid users the reasons that justify the application of the recharge of five minutes of airtime established in the resolution.
Codetel told reporters that it would file an appeal against the Indotel resolution before the proper authorities. The company points out that the resolution requires the bonus to be given to the users of prepaid cell phones for events that took place in 2008, when some of these customers made thousands of calls for free, without consuming their balance, which constituted the principal reason for the degraded service, due to the congestion that this created in the network.
Codetel assured reporters that they did apply a bonus for an amount equal to or more than this to the customers who were invoiced or as a portion of the monthly rent, and they communicated in writing the reason for the bonus on their invoices.
Guillermo Moreno on corruption|
Former presidential candidate Guillermo Moreno complains that government corruption has become horizontal, because all who aspire to elected office see the post as a lifeline for feeding their personal projects. "The entire political system and especially the party system is fed by corruption," he said on Monday. Moreno is notable for having tackled difficult cases during his time as state prosecutor.
Moreno believes that because government officers have been given carte-blanche to appropriate government funds and traffic in influence, the state prosecuting departments are held hostage by the Executive Branch and do not exercise their role of prosecuting corruption in government.
Moreno described the proposal for a transparency pact with the business sector as another initiative by President Leonel Fernandez to gain time and dilute a pressing situation. "We do not need more pacts, we just need to apply the law, laws that are already in place," he reiterated in an interview on Uno + Uno on Teleantillas, Channel 2.
He would like to see the imposition of a juridical figure that obliges government officials to justify the origin of their new fortunes.
Moreno described the President's recent meeting with the press as a smokescreen to distract the country. He insisted that the laws are already in place, but what has not existed is the will or the resolve to enforce them.
Robberies in AILA "secure areas"|
Over the last few days, 11 suitcases, 251 grams of gold, cell phones and other articles have been stolen from the Las Americas International Airport (AILA). The thieves evaded security and entered the terminal flight ramp. The National Police are investigating 6 cases of robbery committed over the past 15 days in restricted areas of the airport. According to data given to Diario Libre, 6 people, including several employees, have been detained for investigation.
The most recent case was the theft of a mail pouch that contained an order of gold consigned to the El Estilo company, located in the San Pedro de Macoris Free Zone. The gold was being sent to Miami by UPS on Flight 2239.
The individuals under investigation supposedly took the pouch with 251.4 grams of 14 carat gold, which was processed for jewelry.
The 11 bags were taken by three people, one of whom is still at large.
According to the National Police, the suitcases were taken out of the airport in a white, 2002 Honda Odyssey, but they have since been recovered by the Police in a barrio in the capital.
The owners of the suitcases, who complained to the authorities, had arrived on American Airlines from New York and according to official reports one is an official at the French Embassy.
The investigations are being carried out by the National Police Monetary Crimes Department, led by First Lieutenant Oscar Antonio Cedano Cedano.
One of the robberies at the airport was committed in the office of Servair, a private company that provides services to airlines operating out of AILA. In this case the thieves carried off cell phones and other valuable objects during a nighttime robbery.
The areas where the robberies occurred are considered to be areas of maximum security, under the absolute control of the members of the Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESA). Despite the vigilance and restrictions imposed by CESA, the criminals managed to get onto the terminal's ramp and cross several check points in order to commit their crimes.
According to the police report, the thieves entered the duty free shops where they took whiskey, cartons of cigarettes, cell phones, packages of printed tax forms, glasses and other valuable items from stores located in areas controlled by CESA agents.
This happened at a time when CESA was supposed to be implementing a modified system of access identification.
Storeowners, passengers and people consulted by Diario Libre said that they do not understand how these robberies could happen in areas under the control of airport security agents.
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