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Daily News - Wednesday, 09 September 2009

Morales Troncoso in Russia
Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso was in Moscow yesterday for talks aimed at forming new links between the two countries in the areas of energy, economy, tourism and culture, as well as between their legislatures. Eddy Martinez of the Center for Export and Investment, and Ricardo Canalda, advisor on energy matters, also represented the Dominican government at the meetings.
El Caribe reported that Prisco, Capital Bank and Unifin Bank of Russia could finance renewable energy projects in the DR. The announcement was made by the Dominican ambassador to Russia, Jorge Luis Perez Alvarado, during a meeting with Russian and Dominican business representatives at the headquarters of the International Business Forum.
Morales Troncoso also gave a talk, "Prospects for bilateral cooperation between Russia and the DR" at the Forum. He stressed that despite the disparities in economic size the two nations could complement each other. "In the same way as we are a paradise of good weather and exuberant tropical nature for Russian tourists, for the Russian investors we can be a land of opportunity for growth and expansion," he said.
He stressed the geographic location, political and macroeconomic stability, and ample work force. He also mentioned that the DR is the US's 6th largest trade partner in the Americas.
In Russia, he stressed the DR's trade links. "We are one of the countries with most free trade agreements in Latin America and the Caribbean. We are part of DR-CAFTA with the US and Central America and we have an economic association agreement (EPA) with Europe," he stressed.
Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso addressed the Council. "We are looking forward to a great launch of the relations between the Russian Federation and the DR because we have a lot to learn from one another," he stated.
In Russia, the Dominican delegation also met with Alexander P. Torshin, First Deputy Chairman of the Council of the Russian Federation. As reported, he said the DR is attractive for Russia. He said the visit is a powerful push to the future strengthening of relations. Morales said that in the DR he would begin a series of talks and workshops aimed at an improved mutual understanding of both countries.
In Russia, he spoke about the DR's trade links. "We are one of the countries with most free trade agreements in Latin America and the Caribbean. We are part of DR-CAFTA with the US and Central America and we have an economic partnership agreement (EPA) with Europe," he stressed.
Tourism flow from the DR and Russia has increased from 2,000 in 2004 to 50,000 in recent years. An estimated 2,000 Russians live in the DR. Torshin said Russians are attracted to the DR, which is perceived as a very hospitable, comfortable and safe place to live, as reported in Hoy.
Morales Troncoso also mentioned that 1,000 Dominicans have studied in Russia thanks to a scholarship program.

First Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church will have its own parish in the DR in the near future. In time for Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso's current visit to Russia for official talks, President Leonel Fernandez signed an act to transfer a land plot to the first Russian Orthodox Church parish. The church originally would be built in Santo Domingo, but it was later agreed that Puerto Plata would be a better location.
"The order to organize a land plot for the Russian Orthodox Church has been signed," Carlos Morales Troncoso said at a meeting with Church spokesman Metropolitan Hilarion.
"Work to organize the parish started in May," Metropolitan Hilarion said. "People permanently residing in the Dominican Republic need spiritual guidance," Ria Novosti reported in Russia.

IMF agreement imminent
For several years now, business sector representatives have been encouraging the government to sign an agreement with the International Monetary Fund to control spending and corruption. Minister of Economy, Planning and Development Temistocles Montas announced that the agreement with the IMF would be for a total of US$1.23 billion for the remainder of the year. Montas said that both parties are working on a letter of intent, and talks could start as early as next Wednesday.
Montas commented that any new agreement with the IMF would not mean a new fiscal reform, or tax increase.

Taiwan trains the trainers
The Taiwanese International Cooperation and Development Fund (ICDF) will help train vocational trainers in the DR. The ICDF has signed an agreement with the National Professional Training Institute (Infotep) to provide a self-learning program for Infotep's teachers. Taiwan will provide 195 software licenses for Infotep teachers in the areas of electrical studies, basic electronics and industrial mechanics.
Taiwanese ambassador to the DR Isaac Tsai, and Infotep director Josefina Pimentel signed the agreement. Tsai declared that he hoped that users of the programs would make the most of them. He also hopes that the program will enhance the competitiveness of the nation's technical professionals.
For more information on ICDF programs, see www.icdf.org.tw

CPI influx
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has increased by 0.85% compared to the month of August, announced the Central Bank.
The CB explains that because of this accumulated inflation during the first 8 months of the year reached 4.19%, below that of the same period in 2008, when the CPI was 9.41%.
The 12-month inflation rate, measured from August 2008 to August 2009, registered at 0.47%.
The transport sector experienced a 2.32% in growth due to an increase in gas prices, while housing experienced a 1.32% growth.
Education was up 1.37%, while foods, drinks and tobacco grew by 0.25%.

Province rejects gold contract
The senator, municipal authorities and social and development organizations from the province of Sanchez Ramirez are rejecting an amendment to a mining contract, which would give the state 5% in revenues from all gold mined at the Pueblo Viejo mine, in Cotui. The 5% was original designated for the province of Sanchez Ramirez. However, senators Charlie Mariotti (Monte Plata) and Felix Nova (Monsenor Nouel) say they deserve a percentage of that 5%, since there is residual environmental damage in their provinces.
Both senators also want some of the 2,500 jobs created by the mining work to be given to residents of their provinces.
Sanchez Ramirez senator Felix Nova says that a rework of the contract would negate Law 64-00, which stipulates that 5% of all taxes paid must be given to the province where the company is located.

Colombians not happy
Colombians in the DR are not happy with a recent statement made by Presidential drug advisor Vincho Castillo.
Yesterday, in the wake of media frenzy about the US$4.6 million found at an apartment in Santo Domingo, Castillo called for a census of all Colombians living in the DR, estimated to total close to 4,000. He made his comments in reference to the large number of Colombians who have been involved in drug trafficking ventures in the DR.
However, a group representing Colombian residents, Fundacion Nosotros Colombia, says it is not fair to label all Colombians as drug traffickers because most come to the DR to lead honest lives. The Foundation stressed that there are 40 million Colombians and only a small number are involved in drug trafficking.
Journalist and writer Miguel Guerrero says that Vincho's suggestion was an insult to Colombians and to that sister nation and to all people with links to Colombia. "As far as I am concerned it is improper [to hear that] from a high-ranking government official and a person who is bright and who I know is bright." He added that Colombia is the country that has paid the heaviest price in the fight against drug trafficking. He said that despite its internal war, Colombia has reached a level of institutionalism that he hopes the DR will match some day.

More details in US$4.6M case
The woman suspected of being the mistress of a fugitive drug baron, Sobeida Feliz Morel, is continuing to protest her innocence, denying she had any knowledge or involvement with the US$4.6 million in cash found in a SUV registered in her name. Nevertheless, according to some reports she says that one bag is missing in addition to the three others found by the police.
Feliz has been sent to one year in preventive custody at Najayo Model Prison, as the case of suspect drug dealer Cristian Almonte Peguero is investigated.
National District Deputy District Prosecutor Alejandro Moscoso Segarra says two other people, besides Cristian Almonte Peguero, are suspects in the case.
As Feliz Morel was escorted from the Palacio de Justicia in Ciudad Nueva, Feliz declared that, "Colonel Familia is responsible for what happens to me and my family."
According to the woman's attorneys, an unnamed man removed the tape from her apartment's security cameras. She said that during the raid on the apartment at the Torre Alco Paradisso four bags with money were found, but that one bag, with even more money, has "gone missing."
The president of the Natioanl Drug Control Department (DNCD) said the statements were a maneuver typical of drug traffickers to discredit the investigators.
Drug officials at the DNCD have also announced they carried out a raid at an abandoned mansion in Arroyo Hondo II, which yielded 2 money-counting machines, 4 communications systems, a GPS system and 4 holsters for 9mm Glock guns.

Figueroa not Almonte
Cristian Almonte Peguero, the man believed to be the "owner" of US$4.6 million found in an SUV parked in an apartment building in Santo Domingo is a Puerto Rican citizen who has used many aliases to evade capture. But Listin Diario is reporting that Almonte is not his real name and that in fact he escaped prison in Puerto Rico where he had been serving 200 years for other crimes.
According to Listin Diario, the man's real name is Jose D. Figueroa, born on 28 June 1964. He has also used the identities Felipe Rodriguez de la Rosa (born 1965) in Samana and Ramon Sanchez (born 15 December 1965) in Sanchez Ramirez.
US FBI and the DEA agents are currently in the DR looking for Almonte Peguero. The investigation will extend beyond just drug charges, but into the civil registry and the Central Electoral Board (JCE) to determine how the man was given three different Dominican birth certificates.
It is believed that one of his certificates says he was a late declaration, which allowed him to obtain a 'cedula' identity card. Other details of the case reveal that the SUV in which the cash was found was actually imported to the DR with the tax exoneration status of an unnamed Dominican congressman.

Amaral Duclona arrested in DR
The Dominican authorities have announced the arrest of 31-year old Haitian Amaral Duclona, one of the most wanted fugitives from justice in Haiti. He was being sought for extradition by France for the death of the French honorary consul in Cap-Haitien and other accusations by the Minustah UN peacekeeping forces in Haiti, as reported.
News reports say he killed a Canadian police officer who worked with the Minustah peacekeeping forces in Haiti. Duclona is known as a gang leader in Cite Soleil, a large slum neighborhood in Port-au-Prince.
He was captured by National Drug Control Department agents in La Romana, as reported in Listin Diario. In the DR he used the alias Julicoeur Berthone. The Supreme Court of Justice ordered the arrest.

Cheche's shooter in jail
Leocadio Franklin Mejia Puello, the man who shot leading PLD politician Cheche Luna, has been sent to jail on preventive custody for three months. Mejia is accused of shooting Rafael Antonio Luna, a.k.a. Cheche, in the chest after a heated argument at a colmado in Gazcue earlier this week.
Judge Alejandro Vargas, who is in charge of the case, said it would be reviewed on 8 December, 20009.
Mejia will spend the next three months in Najayo jail, unless the decision is overturned.
Hoy reports that Cheche is recovering and is now in a stable condition.
The shooting came after Cheche allegedly fondled Carolina, Mejia's 22-year old daughter.
New information reveals that Luna might have been the first to draw his weapon, which locked up, and that Mejia pulled his weapon in self-defense.

Rains on the way
During the next 24 hours residents of Monte Plata, San Pedro de Macoris, Hato Mayor, Duarte, San Juan de la Maguana, Santiago, Dajabon, Elias Pina, Azua and San Cristobal, should expect rains and thunderstorms, which are forecast to begin during the early afternoon hours on Wednesday. The National Meteorology Office (ONAMET) is tracking a storm that is currently east of Puerto Rico. Officials are also monitoring Hurricane Fred, which is currently 805 kilometers off the coast of Cape Verde, moving west at 20 km/h. It is not expected to affect the DR.

Baseball update
Pedro Martinez. Pedro Martinez has found the fountain of youth, but the question now is, does he have enough juice left to push the Philadelphia Phillies to another World Series championship? Martinez finished off his career with the New York Mets as a future Hall of Famer, but had been plagued with injuries, which limited his output.
Martinez thought he had something left in the tank and during the second half of 2009 he has still proven to be an effective pitch.
Last night, behind a 5-homerun performance by the Philly offense, Martinez pitched for his fourth victory of the year (4-0), giving up 3 runs and seven hits, for a solid performance.
The Phillies are now 6-0 when Martinez pitches. Martinez now has a 3.64 ERA in those 6 starts, and has only given up 5 homeruns.
Albert Pujols. Meanwhile, Albert "El Hombre" Pujols has continued to prove he is not from planet Earth. Pujols is having a season for the ages and with each at bat inches closer to another MVP trophy.
Last night, Pujols hit his 45th homerun of the season and is the only player in MLB threatening to hit 50 homeruns in a season.
But Pujols is not just a power hitter. He is batting .328 with a slugging percentage of .687 and an on base percentage of .449. He has 104 walks on the season and 121 runs batted in.
But what is more amazing about Pujols is his efficiency. Pujols has only struck out 56 times on the season in 485 total at bats. Compared to the 189 strikeouts by the Arizona Diamond Back's Mark Reynolds, Pujols' feat is even more impressive.
Carlos Pena. Carlos Pena's season is over. The young star was hit by a pitch during a game against the New York Yankees. The pitch by CC overpaid pitcher Sabathia, not believed to have been thrown maliciously, fractured two fingers on Pena's left hand and immediately ended his season.
Pena was having a career year, leading the league with 39 home runs and bringing in 100 runs. What's more frustrating about Pena's injury is that he was a heavy favorite for the AL MVP, which would have been the pinnacle of the Dominican presence in Major League baseball.

Caledon = opera + comedy
Symphony Foundation and the British Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic bring Caledon - Scotland's Tenors to Dominican audiences on 16, 17, 18 September. The threesome will be in Santo Domingo for three performances at the Palace of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes) at 8:30pm.
The powerful tenor voices of Alan Beck, Jamie MacDougall and Ivan Sharpe, along with Music Director Michael Barnett are equally at home on the stage of the world-famous Sydney Opera House or inspiring the 50,000 football crowd at Hampden Park with their stirring new version of Flower of Scotland. Mixing traditional favorites with contemporary Scottish classics from the likes of The Proclaimers and even Elvis (his ancestors Scottish!) Caledon deliver a high energy show like no other.
Tickets RD$900 and RD$600 for sale at the Fundacion Sinfonia Tel 809 532-6600 and 809 535-8587.
Email [email protected]
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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