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Daily News - Thursday, 08 October 2009

Carter and malaria
During his visit to Dajabon yesterday, former US President Jimmy Carter commended Dominican efforts aimed at eradicating malaria and filariasis from the DR within the next ten years. He praised the work of President Leonel Fernandez's administration and the Ministry of Public Health in particular. Carter arrived at the La Bomba neighborhood in Dajabon at 10:30am. The significance of this particular neighborhood is its high rate of malaria cases due to its location near the Massacre River. Commenting on anti-malaria initiatives in the DR and Haiti, Carter said, "One of the main developments has been the new cooperation between the two countries. And for the first time in history, they are targeting the complete elimination of the disease instead of just treating sick people." Every year an estimated 30,000 people in Haiti and several thousand more across the border suffer from malaria, which causes a high fever and flu-like symptoms. On a global level, malaria kills more than one million people each year, mostly in Africa. Carter will hold a press conference at the Hilton Hotel in Santo Domingo today. Carter is also expected to meet with President Fernandez to continue discussing the issue.
The meeting will take place at noon at the National Palace. Carter will be accompanied by his wife Rosalyn and other members of his foundation. According to Diario Libre, the Carter Center will give the DR and Haiti US$194 million to continue this program with 63% of the funds going to Haiti and 32% going to the DR, and 5% in bi-national funds. Malaria affects 5% of Haitians and 1.3% of Dominicans. The distribution of the funds will begin in 2010 and programs will be implemented in three stages across a total of 10 provinces.
See: www.cartercenter.org/health/malaria_control/index.html
In contrast to what was printed in yesterday's DR1 News, we would like to point out that this is not former President Carter's first visit to the DR. He has visited the country on a couple of previous occasions. DR1 would like to apologize for this inaccuracy.

Comments on the constitution
Vice president Rafael Alburquerque has expressed his wholehearted support for the constitutional reforms currently under way, saying he finds it strange that people are riled up about the constitution. Quoted in Hoy, Alburquerque said that the Revisory Assembly was creating a new constitution "with new and unprecedented advances for the citizenry". However, PLD deputy Isabel Bonilla says she believes that there are hidden motives behind some of these reforms. She believes that the new constitution and the amendment to privatize beaches is a "crime against the country". She also attributed the approval of the constitution to a "Guacanagarix complex", saying that legislators were selling everything off for a cheap exchange. Guacanagarix was a Taino chieftain who gave precious gold to Columbus and his sailors in return for trinkets and baubles. Bonilla, who confessed that the feeling of helplessness had made her cry, added that powerful politicians, businesspeople and hotel owners had put pressure on legislators to vote a certain way.

Supporting agreement
The Young Entrepreneurs Association (ANJE), the Association of Santiago Industrialists (ACIS) and the Dominican Business Federation (FDC), have all thrown their support behind the Dominican government's imminent Stand-by Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, ACIS president Luis Nunez says the agreement will only work if there are no more taxes and the funds are well spent. He added that the agreement could lead to an economic recovery, but this would depend on the policies implemented by the government. FDC president Ivan Garcia says that the funds the DR will get will strengthen the reserves in the Dominican Central Bank and could help control inflation. Ricardo Bonetti of ANJE says that a tax increase should not be part of the agreement. Although the business sector is supporting the agreement, some have expressed concern that the agreement does not give details on how to spend the money or how to invest it.

Legislators make pledge
Dominican legislators have come out saying they will not support any fiscal reform, or tax increase, as a result of stipulations presented by the Letter of Intent for the Stand-by Arrangement in the works between the DR and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). During yesterday's legislative sessions PRD member Jose Leonel Cabrera said that no new loans should be approved unless they were from the IMF or the World Bank. Concerns about a possible tax increase have been looming since the government admitted to having a large budget deficit, which it wouldn't be able to cover. Talks on restructuring the budget have been announced, but calls for government to tighten its belt have fallen on deaf ears.

Chile and DR strengthen relations
The DR and Chile have agreed to strengthen bi-lateral relations and will form a Feasibility Group aimed at developing economic and commercial opportunities between the two countries. The decision was made during a meeting that took place on 5 October and 6 October at the Foreign Relations Ministry. The meeting included discussions on cultural, political and cooperation opportunities.

You broke it, you pay for it
State-owned Electricity Companies (CDEEE) VP Celso Marranzini has announced that protestors who were bold enough to rip out their electricity meters during protests against blackouts in Santiago earlier this week must pay for the damage and reinstallation. He warned, "If you take or damage any State property, you'll have to pay for it." Once again Marranzini described the protestors as vandals and said that the sector would not have power until the meters were replaced. He added that the CDEEE is working as hard as it can to make sure its clients are treated well.

Fighting for fake jobs
Wouldn't we all like to get paid and not anything for it? Well, 1,500 former employees of the State-owned Electricity Companies (CDEEE) have announced that as of tomorrow they will hold vigils around Santo Domingo in an attempt to pressure the CDEEE to give them their jobs back. Readers may recall that mass dismissals were announced by Celso Marrazini soon after taking up his new post as CDEEE vice president. Marranzini announced he would "trim the fat" off the CDEEE when he took over and began to do so by removing hundreds of employees who had only been receiving pay. He once commented that many people who were on the payroll came to work for the first time when he took office. The inefficiencies in the CDEEE and its bloated payroll had been subject of much controversy, but these employees still want their "jobs" back. They have even sent letters to the President and the PLD political committee demanding reinstatement.

Morales sworn in
Two months after his selection as president of the ailing PRSC party, Foreign Relations Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso has been officially sworn in. Immediately after taking the position Troncoso swore in Joaquin Ricardo, Monchy Martinez and Jacinto Peynado Alvarez to the positions of Youth and Business Affairs. Ramon Rogelio Genao and Maximo Castro Silverio were also sworn in to senior posts in the PRSC. The PRSC was founded by the late Joaquin Balaguer and was once one of the main political forces in the country. However, it has suffered a steep decline in fortunes since its founder's death in 2002. In the 2008 election it came a distant third place with just 5% of the vote.

Malnutrition still a concern
Fifteen percent of rural children and 10% of urban children in the Dominican Republic are said to suffer from chronic malnutrition, according to doctors taking part in a conference organized by the Cuesta Group's corporate social responsibility department. This high rate produces a 19% slowdown in children's growth. Dr. Elbi Morla from the Robert Reid Cabral Children's Hospital said that on the other hand between 20% and 30% of Dominican children are obese and called for more public education on nutrition.

Cops on border
The National Police has announced that 117 new auxiliary police officers will be sent to the Dominican border with Haiti to provide surveillance and security on the frontier. Police Chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin is quoted as saying, "the objective is to strengthen security in that area and contribute to the protection of the citizenry." The new officers were trained by the Police Department and the Interior Police Ministry and will be distributed between Monte Cristi and Pedernales in the provinces of Independencia, Elias Pina, Pedernales, Bahoruco, Montecristi, Dajabon and Santiago Rodriguez.

Wildcat strikes again
Citizens suffered a rude awakening as they went to work this morning. Public transport users were surprised by an unannounced strike that began at 6am. The lines were long and aggression became the emotion of the morning as passengers fought tooth and nail to gain a seat in the already cramped public taxis. According to reports, 10 drivers were injured in the clashes. The strike was led by the FENATRANO bus union, which ordered its drivers to park their vehicles as a protest. The problem was exacerbated by the limitations of the OMSA city buses, which didn't have enough units circulating around Santo Domingo. Although the transport unions have a number of grievances against the government, no particular reason has been given for today's action.

Protestors use new media
In what could be termed a sign of times, local protestors have become adept at using the Internet and viral marketing to get their message across to a mass audience, without spending any money on ad campaigns. This generation of protesters is using websites like Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Hi5 and Myspace to spread the word about all sorts of activities, both important and trivial. Campaigners have succeeded in legitimizing these movements and increasing participation, making the most of the advantage of getting a short message out to thousands of people using the smallest amount of resources of possible. The benefit of using social networking sites is that it has allowed protestors and youth movements to print their message, and bypass the bureaucracy or bias of a news outlet, and present their message unedited and as intended. This year, the Musica por Los Haitises concert and the campaign against the cement factory, used Facebook as their medium for spreading information. In recent weeks, "Toy Jarto" and "Esa no es mi Constitucion" have continually presented their message to the masses, rallied support and given interested members a place to express their views.
www.facebook.com/search/?q=Toy+Jarto+&init=quick#/group.php?... (Toy Jarto)

Dominicans in Chicago
Dominicans from around the world are converging on Chicago to run in the city's annual marathon. A total of 50 Dominicans from the DR, the US, Puerto Rico and Mexico will compete in the grueling race which takes place on 11 October. This is the largest number of Dominicans to participate in a marathon at the same time. The group Los Cocuyos del Mirador is sending 18 runners to the race, including Arelis Duran, who is running her first race at the age of 50. Bolivar Cruz, Ronald Feliz, Eduardo Morales, Guido Despradel, Juan Guzman, Eliecer Adames, Juan Albelo, Alan Munoz, Wilfredo Pichardo, Jorge Garcia, Urbano Alba, Omar Cohen, Juan Mota, Ramon Ledesma, Rafael Mena and Randor Bernal are among the runners in the race.
See: www.chicagomarathon.com
 
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