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Daily News - Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Faxas on opportunities in France
Dominican Ambassador in France Laura Faxas says the DR needs to do more to take advantage of the European Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). Faxas was interviewed in France, on occasion of the visit of a large Dominican mission to Paris for the French Travel Market fair. She told Listin Diario that on the embassy's agenda is increasing French cooperation and investment. She is also promoting tourism in France, focusing on attracting tourists that want to experience the culture and ecology. She is coordinating these efforts with the UNESCO that is based in Paris. She is working closely with Mercedes Castillo, director of the tourism promotion office.
She also spoke of volunteer tourism, and said there are many non-governmental organizations in the DR that could be the local counterpart for these experiences.
She said there are an estimated 250 Dominicans in France.

Deforestation at the border
Today's Listin Diario features a two-page report on how the DR is losing land to undocumented and destitute Haitian immigrants in the border region. The newspaper says that the main concern is deforestation. In the past, anyone flying over the border used to marvel about the contrast in the forest cover between the DR side and the Haiti side, but now the barren landscape is encroaching on the DR, due to degrading farming practices and charcoal production.
The reporter writes: "Haitians do not respect the area and have deforested very sensitive areas of the Bahoruco Mountain Range", adding that the few forestry rangers working in the area are helpless. According to local sources, new charcoal ovens are built as soon as others are removed. Other concerns include an increase in cattle rustling and theft of fruit from farms.
The newspaper points out that on the occasion of the celebration of the Day of Las Mercedes on 24 September, when Pedernales priest Antonio Fernandez Rodriguez said mass it had to be translated into Creole by Haitian deacon Mico Sun Luis because 97% of his parishioners are Haitian.
"They didn't come from Haiti to hear the mass," writes Adriana Peguero. "They live in the town of La Altagracia, founded 100 years ago. The songs of praise were in Creole".
According to Jorgilio Segura, 70% of children attending the local school are Haitian, 99% of health services are used by Haitians and 90% of the homes that were built under Joaquin Balaguer are now occupied by Haitians.

Losing territory to Haiti
In an editorial published today, Listin Diario warns that the growth of the new Haitian majority towns on the border pose great threats to our country. There can be a real loss of rights over those territories as they are taken over by Haitians, says the columnist.
The newspaper says there are lessons to be learned from similar takeovers of another country's territory by a culturally distinct population. The takeover of land is not the result of a political concession by the state, but the gradual human occupation by desperate Haitians leaving their country to seek food, housing and better living conditions, writes the newspaper. "Nobody has kicked them out or bothered them in that process, which contradicts the claims of abuse, discrimination or exploitation. On the contrary, the reality is that we have been indifferent to the process and still keep observing it with indifference.
The progressive occupation of areas abandoned by Dominicans on the border has implications on the framework of the national sovereignty because they can physically change the territorial limits and consolidate elements that are part of life and culture in Haiti. These would acquire the force of the law and proper customs that would later be difficult to dismantle or revert".
The editorial concludes. "These realities cannot be ignored under any circumstances unless the government is definitely not interested in the future or the fate of these areas and is blind, deaf and mute in response to this apparently unstoppable and risky takeover process."

Confusion reigns with PRD
Orlando Jorge Mera and Geanilda Vasquez are still the frontrunners for the PRD Secretariat posts, with 80.14% of all voting precincts reporting their votes. However, despite official figures issued by the PRD, Guido Gomez Mazara and Tony Pena Guaba have both declared victory in the polls. According to the fourth bulletin issued by the party, Mera obtained 57.7% of the vote and Vasquez 46.9%. Meanwhile, Gomez registered 40.4% of the vote and Pena registered 40% of all votes tallied.
But Gomez says that he would present proof that he has actually won the position of Secretary General of the PRD at a 4pm press conference today.
Luis Abinader, who is supporting Pena Guaba's candidacy, has asked for a special commission to be created in order to study the election result, doubting the quality of the election.
But it looks as if Gomez's and Pena's efforts might be in vain as the Central Electoral Board (JCE) has announced that with the emission of a final report by the PRD and with 80% of the votes counted the JCE had declared its job done.
JCE Administrative Chamber President Roberto Rosario said there had been no fraud in the elections, only minor glitches. The PRD has also announced that a resounding 96.26% of voters agreed with Miguel Vargas Maldonado's election as president of the party, a topic that was subject to considerable internal debate in recent months.

New DNCD staff at POP
The National Drug Control Department have announced the transfer and arrest of their entire staff posted at Puerto Plata International Airport. Last week 43 packages of cocaine were discovered at the airport. The drug was to have been shipped to Toronto, Canada. Roberto Lebron of the DNCD said that there were 6 suspects, but that investigations would continue. As reported in Diario Libre, three military officials suspected of collaboration with an international drug ring have been arrested in connection with last week's cocaine haul.

Paya case moved
The case of the 25 men accused of masterminding the 2008 Paya massacre has been moved to the National District. Roman Hiciano Berroa has been appointed as the judge who will hear the preliminary charges against the 25 men accused of murdering seven Colombians in what is presumed to have been a drug-related dispute. The move to the National District came after Attorney General Radhames Jimenez made the request, citing a danger to the public. The case, which was being heard in San Cristobal was getting out of control, with death threats against judges being made in the courtroom. Listin Diario reports that another suspect, Mayobanex Starling Garcia, wanted in connection with the Paya case, has been apprehended in Santiago.

Figueroa's zoo
He isn't Pablo Escobar, but drug trafficker Jose D. Figueroa enjoyed some of the finer things in life, including a 75-tarea farm (47,000 square meters) on the 25th kilometer of the Duarte Highway. Drug control officials seized the farm yesterday and discovered a selection of exotic and expensive animals on the farm. Officials also established that the farm was a shipping point for the drugs handled by Figueroa. The animals on the farm included ostriches and thoroughbred horses. The farm was also equipped with a helipad. Figueroa has been on the run for three weeks and police have not announced any real leads as to his whereabouts.

Cali Capo caught
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) has reported the arrest of Luis Santacruz Echeverri, known to have direct ties with the once-powerful Cali Cartel in Colombia. The Colombian national was detained in Santo Domingo and will be deported to the United States with immediate effect following an official request from the US authorities. Santacruz, also known as Lucho, is the half-brother of the late Jose Santacruz Londono, one of the Cartel's most powerful bosses, who was gunned down during a shootout with police in 1996. Hoy reports that Santacruz was responsible for the activities of a network of traffickers that received air shipments of drugs in the southern and northeastern DR. According to the newspaper, Santacruz, who had been living in Juan Dolio, was apprehended on the corner of 27 de Febrero and Abraham Lincoln Avenue and.

Burgos is back
His career is officially over, and unless he got his G.E.D. or high school diploma, it looks as if former NY Mets pitcher Ambiorix Burgos will have a tough time ahead. The once-promising pitcher was deported back to the DR yesterday. He arrived at Las Americas airport and was handed over to the Dominican authorities. Burgos had been in a NY jail after being charged with beating his girlfriend in a Queens hotel room. But his troubles don't stop there. Burgos is being held responsible for the deaths of two people in the DR, after his Hummer ran over and killed Angely Fana and Josefina Minaya Martinez.

El Torito honored
Dominican musician Hector "El Torito" Acosta has received special recognition from US Senator Anthony Galuccio from Massachusetts. The ceremony was held at the State House in Boston last Friday. Acosta is currently on tour in the US and Listin Diario reports that he is currently holding talks with officials in Massachusetts with a view to finding ways of helping children with health problems. Miss Universe runner-up Ada Aimee de la Cruz was also at the ceremony. Galuccio said that he has felt affection towards Dominicans since the first time he visited the country and that they reminded him of his own family.

Cuban nights at Cane
Wednesdays is time for Cuban music live at Cane Restaurant. Ave. Abraham Lincoln #1059. Live entertainment and Cuban music, and the popular mojitos. Tel 809 368-2200.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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