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Daily News - Monday, 28 September 2009

UAE foreign minister to visit
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayid Al Nahyan, foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates will visit the DR next week for talks with government officials and Dominican business leaders in a visit lasting from 6 - 8 October. Sultan Al Nahyan has declared his profound appreciation for the Dominican support of his country's campaign to secure the headquarters of the International Agency for Energy Research (IRENA).
The UAE foreign minister said: "The Dominican Republic was my country's main ally in all of the Americas. Now I will visit this beautiful country to get to know it, in order to identify investment opportunities and to appreciate at first hand the legendary enchantment of its people".
Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso announced that the visiting minister would have an ambitious agenda that would look into potential investments in the areas of energy, finance and tourism, adding that these would be "very opportune for the DR at these times of international crisis."

Latin Pride awards
This year, Dominicans dominated the annual Latin Pride Awards. First Lady Margarita Cedeno (Woman of the Year) shared the stage with fellow Dominican Chichi Peralta (excellence in music), artist Hector Acosta (El Torito), high fashion model Arlenis Sosa, artist Wason Brazoban (role model), singer/composer Issa Gadala, swimmer Marcos Diaz, TV businessman of the Year Juan Ramon Gomez Diaz and classical violinist Aisha Syed, in a ceremony that took place in Boston, Mass on 24th September.
Other winners were actors Cesar Evora and Fabian Rios, artist Jerry Rivera, soap opera producer Juan Osorio, writer Laura Posada, Domingo Dauhajre (Men of Spirit award), radio announcer Walter Tailover, artist Obie Bermudez, artist Frankie Negron, artist Diana Reyes, journalist Fernando del Rincon, marketing expert Juan Rios of American Airlines, TV reporter Gelena Solano, businessman Julio Arrieta, comedian Tom Morello and artist Tony Melendez,
Also attending the event was Miss Universe pageant runner-up Ada Aimee de la Cruz. Hoy newspaper says that she was escorted by Dominican NBA basketball player Al Horford.

DR-Haiti commission to meet 29 Oct
The Dominican-Haitian Bi-national Commission is set to meet on 29 October to discuss leading bilateral issues and their possible short, medium and long-term solutions, Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso told journalists while attending the 64th annual United Nations Assembly. During the event, Morales Troncoso met with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Haitian President Rene Preval. The bi-national commission meeting will take place in one of the border towns, and topics on the agenda will include drug trafficking, arms and human trafficking, job creation, migration and health issues. Morales also expressed appreciation for Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) support for the commission. Also present was Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the OAS.

AgroFrontera recognized by Clintons
AgroFrontera, a non-profit organization that works in the northwestern Dominican Republic was in the spotlight at the Clinton Global Initiative annual assembly on Friday, 25 September in New York City. Former President Bill Clinton and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that AgroFrontera will work with 450 small farmers, food companies and other food supply stakeholders to design and implement better food value chains. AgroFrontera was chosen as a representative example of initiatives being supported by the Clinton Foundation to address the global hunger crisis through innovative partnerships to improve the sustainability of agriculture practiced by small-scale farmers. AgroFrontera chairman Jaime Moreno represented the Dominican project at the event.
In Guayubin, province of Monte Cristi, AgroFrontera and Tres Rios Agricultural Cooperative, together with their partners, are working with smallholder farmers and food companies to design and implement innovative food value chains that will improve the capacity of smallholder farmer organizations in the impoverished northwest region of the DR to supply high-quality food products to local national and international markets. The program is directed by Frederick Payton.
Moreno received the distinction together with Christina Shea, the senior vice president of General Mills, Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley, special representative for Global Partnerships from the US Department of State, Troy Wragg, the founder and chairman and CEO of Mantria Corporation, Will Allen, the CEO of Growing Power, and Chris Elias, the president and CEO of PATH.

Cid Wilson to Obama commission
President Barack Obama has appointed former Dominican-American Roundtable president Cid Wilson to the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of the American Latino. Fellow members are: Emilio Estefan, Jr., Andres W. Lopez, Cindy Pena, Abigail M. Pollak, Gilberto Cardenas and Jose B. Fernandez.
Cid Wilson serves on the board of directors of LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). In addition, he is a "gold life member" of the NAACP and a member of the Latino-Jewish Working Group advisory committee of the American Jewish Committee. In February 2004, he made the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine for his activism and national leadership. Wilson is also an accomplished Wall Street financial analyst. He was recognized by Forbes in 2006 as the #1 Wall Street financial analyst in his field and is a founding board member of Dominicans On Wall Street (DOWS). He was also appointed to the board of trustees for Bergen Community College and to Governor Jon Corzine's Property Tax Policy Reform Transition Committee.

Montas on government shortfall
All today's newspapers are reporting Minister of the Economy, Planning and Development Temistocles Montas' detailed explanation of the government's income problems. Montas was quite clear in stating that the government income for the period January-September was RD$19 billion less than projected in the 2009 budget.
An accompanying chart in the Hoy newspaper shows how exports are off by nearly 36%, free zone exports are down almost 22% and direct foreign investments are 27.6% less than projected for the year.
During his speech at a conference on Internal Auditing and Management in Cabeza de Toro on the east coast over the weekend, Montas said that the world financial crisis that began in September 2008 put a halt to the nation's growth rate that had been at a comfortable 7% over the previous two years.
His charts showed how non-petroleum related imports were down 33.3% and even tourism was off 7.1%. Finally, the remittances from the overseas Dominican population were also down by 5.1%, and this all added to the government woes, since remittances have contributed as much as 7% of the nation's GDP.
Montas said that the main challenge for the country is to reverse the slowing or even negative growth rate, and to "reduce the impact of the crisis on the poorest sectors and prevent even greater poverty and inequality".

Gasoline prices down
The Ministry of Industry and Commerce issued the new fuel prices on Friday. Gasoline prices have gone down by one or two pesos. Regular gasoline went down to RD$139.40, a RD$1 reduction, and premium gasoline was pegged at RD$151.10, RD$2.00 less than the previous week. Both grades of diesel fuel and LPG remained at the same price as the week before: RD$118.10 for regular diesel and RD$68.01 for LPG. Aviation fuel, Avtur, and kerosene went up a little in price, 89 cents for Avtur and 90 cents for kerosene.
The ministry press release says that crude oil and gasoline prices fell slightly on Wednesday, giving more evidence of market saturation and the market still hurting from the worst recession since 1930. The government also reported that reserves of crude and gasoline were way above the expected limits, different from other fuels such as diesel, avtur, kerosene and LPG, which showed only slight increases this past week.

Supreme Court on Paya case
The weekend's newspapers reported the transfer of several of the accused in the Paya case to prisons around the country, following death threats to the prosecutors. The case involves the August 2008 massacre of 7 Colombians presumed to be drug traffickers.
As a result of the incidents in the latest hearing in the courtroom in San Cristobal, the prosecutors also petitioned the Supreme Court for a change in venue.
Twenty-five suspects are standing trial for the murders, and judge Leonardo Antonio Garcia Cruz set 2 October as the next court date because one of the lawyers for the defense did not appear to the latest hearing, forcing the postponement.
Those transferred were former Dominican Navy colonel Ricardo Rafael Guzman Perez, who was sent to Mao from the Najayo Men's Prison, Jose Luis Montas Vargas (El Duro Motors) who was sent from La Victoria to the Centro de Vista El Valle in San Francisco de Macoris, Eduard Mayobanex Rodriguez, who was transferred from Najayo to the Rafey Men's Center in Santiago and Luis de Jesus Lara Martinez who was sent from Azua jail to Monte Plata jail.

Dozens of cases expire today
Stacks of case files, evidence boxes and dusty papers will become recyclable after today. They are in the warehouses of the Prosecutor General, the courts and even the Supreme Court and they all belong to cases that were initially begun under the old Criminal Procedure Code. The deadline for terminating or closing the cases is today, but there are some cases dating back 10, 15 or even 18 years in which lack of interest or the disappearance or death of some of those involved have prevented completion of the process.
Supreme Court chief justice Jorge Subero Isa told reporters from Listin Diario that today the full court would consider requests on the cases subject to these cut-off dates from lower court judges.
When the new Penal Process Code was established, the law called for a five-year period for terminating cases initiated under the outgoing Criminal Procedure Code. Subero Isa said that in reality there were not that many cases pending a final decision, and the full body of the Supreme Court would take them under consideration.
The District Attorney for the National District, Alejandro Moscoso Segarra, said that his staff had made up a list of the cases that were due to lapse and pointed out that there were not that many, adding that some of them were of little importance. He indicated that some 52 cases were under consideration, and that there were 593 cases involving people considered to be in contempt of court for not showing up for the case. In these cases the contempt charge will be delayed until the justice department can present the accused before the judge responsible for hearing the case.
He did say that one of the more famous cases, the case of malpractice against Dr. Edgar Contreras for the death of reporter Isabel Vargas, would not expire because the courts had begun the final deliberations on the case.

Bahoruco hard hit by arsonists
The Bahoruco Mountain Range National Park is under attack by Haitians and Dominicans who are stripping the mountains of their trees to make charcoal for the markets in Haiti.
The Forum on Protected Areas is complaining that these virgin forests are being invaded by people, who when caught by the authorities accuse park rangers of accepting RD$3,000 and RD$5,000 every two weeks in return for allowing them to cut down trees in the forest.
The park only has a few rangers and they are paid very low salaries. They do not have the equipment needed to patrol the 1,000 square kilometers of forested area. To top things off, three of the main ranger cabins have been abandoned for months, according to Hoy newspaper. The only functioning guardhouse is the one at Loma del Toro located beneath an observation tower in El Codo.
Some of the slash and burn is going on near the Mulito River, one of the main tributaries of the Pedernales River, and a key area for ecological studies and ecotourism expeditions. Local sources report that the one-time "panoramic" roadway to Aceitillar, which goes from Cabo Rojo to the middle of the park, is a disaster and allows the charcoal burners to "window shop" for places to invade. The Forum says that if things continue at the present rate, the future looks very grim for our protected areas.

Guido cries foul
The main opposition party, the PRD, held its ordinary convention this weekend and according to the first bulletin issued by the National Organizing Commission for the Convention, with 17.38% of the votes counted, Orlando Jorge Mera was leading the race for the post of Secretary General with 59% of the votes counted, followed by Guido Gomez Mazara with 39.09% of the votes.
Gomez Mazara said that Miguel Vargas Maldonado was responsible for the attempt to "steal" the election from him. He made this statement over the telephone in an interview with political commentators Julio Martinez Pozo and Euri Cabral.
Before issuing the first bulletin, PRD vice president Luis Abinader had reported that according to the results that he had seen, Tony Pena Guaba had won the post of party secretary. However, his statement came almost two hours before the first bulletin was read at party headquarters. The first bulletin gave Geanilda Vasquez 46.66% of the votes counted and Tony Pena Guaba 39.71% of the votes. Most newspapers went to bed before the second bulletin was released.
Miguel Vargas Maldonado had included a question about his leadership of the party so far, and he received an approval vote from 96% of those counted in the first bulletin. Almost 100% of the voters, so far, were also in favor of eliminating that inconvenient Article 184 of the party statutes that prevents a party president from being a candidate for the Dominican presidency.

La Vega Book Fair a success
Over 48,000 people visited the "V Regional Book Fair, La Vega 2009" that was held for 6 days in Duarte Park in La Vega. The fair was dedicated to the Centennial of the birth of the city's celebrated son, the late professor Juan Bosch. Students and schoolchildren made up most of the visitors.
"Of the 45,000 schoolchildren in the province, at least 30,000 visited the fair as part of their curricular assignments", said the provincial director of Culture, Orlando Lora.
The fair, which began last Monday with several events, was attended by delegations from the 14 provinces of the northern region, officials, writers, poets, artists and culture lovers in general.
Since then, each day was dedicated to specific provinces: Tuesday was assigned to Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua) and Samana, Wednesday was for Montecristi and Dajabon, Thursday was for Santiago and Espaillat (Moca), Friday was set aside for Valverde (Mao) and Santiago Rodriguez, Saturday was the turn of Puerto Plata, La Vega and Monsignor Nouel (Bonao) and Sunday was for Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris), Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui) and Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo).
The event ended last night, and left organizers with the satisfaction of having contributed to the promotion of reading, art and culture.

DR bowler comes 12th in the US Open
The DR's No. 1 bowler, Aumi Guerra, has placed 12th in the US Open, winning the right to compete in the Women's Series 2009 bowling professional tour with events this year in Michigan (World Series of Bowling) and two more in January 2010 - one in Oregon and another in California.
She said this is the Major Leagues of bowling. For the first time, a Dominican bowling competitor has reached world-class level. Internationally, her previous highest placement was a bronze medal in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007. "If I win any of those tournaments, then I can play in the US Open next year. If I don't make it, then I have to compete again for 1-12th place", said Guerra.
Guerra was national champion in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2008. She represented the country in the World Bowling Games in Taiwan in July 2009.
In the 2009 Women's World Championship, teaming with Annie Henriquez, she finished 8 of 120 pairs in Las Vegas, USA.
She says that the government should build a public bowling course so that more players could learn. The Sebelen Bowling Alley in Santo Domingo can be expensive, and this discourages newcomers to the game.
Aumi Guerra is seeking sponsorship to keep going, but bowling has yet to attract big purse money. The prize money at the world games is US$10,000.
See www.pba.com/news/feature.asp?ID=1484

Gold for the DR in volleyball
The Dominican Republic staved off four match points to outlast Puerto Rico in five sets (19-25, 25-23, 16-25, 32-30 and 15-8) in the last game of the Norceca Women's Continental Championship in Bayamon, Puerto Rico before 7,000 spectators. By winning the NORCECA Continental Championship, the DR team qualified for the 2009 FIVB Grand Champions Cup to be held in Japan on 10-15 November.
This is the first ever victory for the Dominican team, gold medal winners in the 2003 Pan Am Games, in the Norceca (North, Central American and Caribbean volleyball league) Championship after four straight third-place finishes. The Dominican women overcame a one-game advantage and defeated the powerful team from the US in the semi-final round. The team from Puerto Rico had defeated the Cuban national team for their ticket to the finals.
Team captain Milagros Cabral told reporters:
"Our team is super-happy with the goal we have been trying to achieve for many years. We have never been in the Grand Champions Cup and we got the ticket because we battle for it. We tried to keep the calm in the fourth set because we were not willing to give away the game".
In another exciting game during the tournament, the DR defeated the US team, ranked No. 2 in the world. The US Women had five match points against the Dominican Republic but still lost a five-set semifinal match 21-25, 26-24, 10-25, 25-20, 21-19 on Saturday evening.
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