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Daily News - Tuesday, 22 September 2009

President vows to fight drug trade
On the first day of his official visit to New York City, President Leonel Fernandez spoke at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and stressed that his administration and security officials are fully engaged in the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime. He spoke of steps that have been taken to fight drugs and strengthen public institutions.
Fernandez claims that during his tenure a total of 19,000 drug sales points have been raided in the DR. The President said that a crusade against small-scale dealers has been launched in barrios across the DR. He said that drug consumption in these areas went up after dealers began paying their distributors in drugs.
"There is a need to strengthen the struggle against small-scale drug trafficking. We need to revise the Penal Procedures Code to respond to the changes in the patterns of organized crime," said Fernandez. He said that more international support is needed for local programs.
According to Fernandez, the increase in small-scale drug trafficking in the DR is the result of an increase in migration by young people from rural areas to large cities in search of jobs, and then fall into the trap of easy drug money. He added that the drug situation is global. He commented on the DR's favorable geographical position alos works for drugs trans-shipment.
On a more positive note, he said that the Dominican public now has greater trust in the National Police. President Fernandez highlighted the success of the low-income neighborhood security program, Barrio Seguro. He said that at the start of the program the homicide rate was 26.41 for every 100,000 inhabitants. He said that by June of this year, the rate had declined to 22.81. He said patrolling nationwide at the start of the program was 4,000 agents, and that now 14,526 agents are on patrol.
Fernandez said that John Jay College has helped train Dominican police officers in criminal justice, to improve investigation and intelligence skills and scene of crime protection in the DR and New York.
President Leonel Fernandez also spoke on the future of higher education in the DR at Hostos Community College, and today he is scheduled to speak at Brooklyn Law School on Constitutional Reform.
President Fernandez is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly and the V Meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative.

DR's strategic alliance
The World Bank's new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) with the Dominican Republic 2010-2013 was presented to the Bank's Board of Directors today. It earmarks possible financial support of up to US$500 million for the country during the next four years.
"The government, with the World Bank's cooperation, will continue its efforts to strengthen public institutions, to eliminate obstacles and decrease the costs and the timeframes for doing business, and to promote economic growth and competitiveness", said Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas.
This new Partnership Strategy with the Dominican Republic is in keeping with the National Development Strategy objectives that were recently defined by the Dominican government. Key areas include reducing the country's vulnerability to external factors and obtaining tangible results that benefit all Dominicans. "The new strategy will place special emphasis on protecting the poor while enhancing competitiveness and strengthening public institutions for performance accountability in the country," stated Yvonne Tsikata, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean Region.
See http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/...

Paredes delegates in milk commission
Education Minister Melanio Paredes said that his Ministry would investigate the allegations made by Dairy Farmers' leader Cesareo Contreras, who said that the Ministry is purchasing "milk that is not milk" for its school breakfast program. Paredes clarified that although the issue does affect the school food program, it is not the Ministry's job to monitor the nation's milk. He said that a commission is responsible for ensuring the quality of the milk served in school breakfast program. This is not the first time that school milk has come under fire. Two years ago, under former Education Minister Alejandrina German it was found that the milk being served in schools did not meet minimum nutritional standards.

Pro Consumidor will investigate
Yesterday's allegations that traders are selling "milk that is not milk and cheese that is not cheese" has caused a ripple effect in the DR's dairy sector. It has led other dairy producers to back up claims made by Cesareo Contreras.
And as a result, Consumer Rights Protection group Pro Consumidor is launching an investigation into the allegations. The National Cattle Farmers Trust and the Dominican Dairy Farmers Association (Aproleche) have condemned the practice. The National Milk Council (Conaleche) has also supported the views expressed by Contreras, adding that producers often import large amounts of proteins, which are used in the preparation of dairy products. Eric Rivero, president of the Cattle Farmers Trust, says the allegations are true, adding that some brands of milk and cheese are being made with chemicals. Meanwhile, Luis Carlos Fernandez, president of Aproleche, says the government should investigate the allegations, which is affecting Dominican schoolchildren.

Paredes teaches
Education Minister Melanio Paredes took the opportunity to turn a difficult situation into a positive one. Paredes, who used to be a math and science teacher, took off his business jacket, rolled up his sleeves, asked for chalk and began teaching science to students at the Victor Garrido Liceo in the Invi neighborhood. The Minister's lesson wasn't so much a stunt as a necessity, because there is a shortage of teachers in the Dominican school system.
As reported in Listin Diario, Paredes visited the school to personally verify the missing teachers problem had been resolved. When he got there, the math teacher had not arrived. So the minister filled in for him, to the delight of the sophomore students.
Students at the school have been fighting for their teachers, and the need is urgent as students at that school had yet to receive their first science class of the year. "We have to get the system in order," said Paredes.

RD$1.5 M for anti-narcotics agents
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) has announced that it divided up RD$1.5 million between DNCD officers who were responsible for the seizure of 294 kilos of cocaine during an operation last week.
New DNCD director Major General Rolando Rosado Mateo made these comments while awarding new ranks to 12 officers promoted by chief of the Police, Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin for their brave efforts against drug trafficking and organized crime. Rosado Mateo stated that officers needed to know that although there are plenty of temptations on the outside, there was just as much compensation on the inside.

Police uncover more guns
The case involving the seizure of 294 kilos of cocaine and US$229,000 is far from over. The Police have announced the discovery of an assault gun arsenal in the back of a Honda Ridgeline truck. Police are saying the guns had been used in drug operations. Authorities have announced the arrest of Juan Hernandez Cabrera, who had been in jail in the US for drug trafficking, and Armed Forces Lt. Juan Francisco Santana Leyba, for their role in the drug ring. Police have also detained Gabriel Arias Castillo in connection with the case. Items seized by the Police included Glocks and Smith and Wesson guns and two pick-up trucks. Inside the Ridgeline officers found assault rifles, including a rifle, three guns, 1,241 casings for an M-16, and 2,850 casings for a 9mm, among other weapons.

Who's behind the kidnapping?
Police anti-kidnapping units are on the trail of Eduardo Baldera Gomez, who was kidnapped in Nagua on Friday. The National Investigations Department (DNI), the Army J2 unit and other security corps have been searching for the 20-year old man. According to newspaper reports, the Police says the kidnappers are Cecilio Diaz and Jose Caba Tineo and that these have requested US$5 million in ransom for the safe return of the business administration student.
Baldera Gomez is the son of Francisco Baldera, a currency exchange house owner. He was kidnapped by three men in military uniforms who forced him into a SUV while visiting his girlfriend in Nagua.
The girlfriend has also identified Rosario Colon as the man who forced Eduardo Baldera to board the vehicle at gunpoint. Police have since recovered the SUV that was used in the abduction.
At the closing of this issue, Jose Luis Caba Tineo, one of the men accused of the kidnapping, turned himself in to the Police. He maintains his innocence and says that he was working at a colmado he owns in Bonao at the time of the kidnapping.

Websites for denouncing crime
In recent weeks, Police performance can be said to have been above average, with several major well-publicized drugs and arms confiscations. Now the Police has announced that citizens can use a new website for reporting crime anonymously. The website is www.dintel.gov.do/home.html and comes as part of the planned Police modernization program.
Last week the Fernandez administration also unveiled its www.311.gob.do website for citizens to report government corruption 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In contrast with the new Police site, the 311 website requires the person placing the complaint to provide their 'cedula' or foreign passport number.

Magic box on sale
Electricity theft is one of the main reasons why the Dominican energy sector has failed to meet the needs of its users. And as the price of the service has been increasing, new ways are devised to steal that energy. According to Listin Diario there is a new "magic box" being sold on the Dominican black market that users can install, which reduces the speed at which an energy meter turns, effectively making the meter register a lower electricity consumption level. The housing unit can have all appliances on at the same time and the meter will denote that only a few appliances are on at that moment. According to the newspaper, the "magic box" costs between RD$10,000 and RD$15,000 to install and consumers swear by its results. Some users say it can reduce bills by 50% or even more. Since it is installed inside a home, a special court order is needed before an inspection can be made, giving the owners of the box time to disconnect it.

Crisostomo keeps on plugging
Puerto Plata Deputy Alfonso Crisostomo says he will not back down from his intention to modify the DR's freedom of information law, saying that all access to information must be regulated. Crisostomo's comments came after fellow legislators agreed unanimously that the law should not be reformed. Crisostomo announced his intention to reform the law after it was revealed that his father and brother were on public payrolls. The Deputy claims that journalists have been using information to sensationalize news.

RD youth win medals
Leidy Mercedes and Juan Pena had a successful showing at the under-17 Pan American Weight Championships held in Chile. Mercedes, who could lead the DR's next generation of female lifters, won two gold medals in the 53kg weight class, while Pena won one gold and two silver in the 69kg weight class.

Baseball prospect goes to jail
Three years ago Angel Villalona was on top of the world. The young baseball star had just signed with the San Francisco Giants, becoming their most prized prospect, and was given a US$2.6 million bonus. Three years later Villalona is in jail for two months preventive custody after he allegedly shot and killed a man in the DR.
The 25-year old victim, Mario Felix de Jesus Velet, was allegedly shot in the neck after an argument in a bar in La Romana. He was taken to the local hospital and pronounced dead on the scene.
Colonel Adrian Baez told ESPNDeportes.com, "Shortly after 10pm we were informed that a man was taken to a medical facility where he died from a neck bullet wound. According to information gathered on the scene, Angel Villalona was the one who shot him".
The Giants released a statement saying, "The Giants were disappointed to learn that there was an incident in the Dominican Republic last night in which an individual was killed and one of our minor league prospects, Angel Villalona, may have been involved. We will monitor the situation closely and trust that the judicial process in the Dominican Republic will resolve the matter promptly and fairly.
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4489935

Jonas Brothers in Santo Domingo
Teen sensations the Jonas Brothers are booked to appear on the largest stage in the DR, the Felix Sanchez Olympic Stadium (more than 50,000 fans) on Sunday, 25 October. Brothers Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas, winners of the American Music Awards, Teen Choice Awards, MTV Latino and MuchMusic award will appear for Dominican audiences. The band first found fame on the Disney Channel's Hannah Montana and High School Musical shows. Saymon Diaz is the promoter. The group has included Santo Domingo in their world tour that has taken them to the US, Canada, Europe and Santo Domingo.
See: www.teamjonas.com and www.jonasbrothers.com/?content=about

An unusual exhibition
The Alliance Francaise is holding an exhibition of classic and contemporary works and everyday objects that can be discovered only through touch, from 9 Sept to 3 October. Displays include works by Cayuco, Juan Trinidad, Ezequiel Taveras, Carmen de Pool, Robert Hernandez, Victor Vega and the Hermanos Guillen. During the tour, visitors will experience what a blind person feels and will be guided by a blind person. Accept the challenge. The Alliance Francaise is located on Calle Horacio Vicioso No. 103, Centro de los Heroes, Tel 809 532-2844
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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