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Daily News - Friday, 16 October 2009

Commission struggles with CNM
The Verification and Auditing Commission of the National Revisory Assembly for the Constitution has failed to reach an agreement. The Commission met to find "a way out" of the stalemate created by the rejection of the modification to the composition of the National Magistrates Council (CNM), which has paralyzed the workings of the Constitutional reform process. In the meeting that went on for several hours a number of options were batted about, mainly proposed by the PRD and PLD assembly members who are trying to follow the terms of the pact signed by their leaders, which included the composition of the CNM, the body in charge of appointing judges.
Both parties are suggesting that Assembly regulations should be put to one side in order to find a political solution that allows for the completion of the Constitutional reform process without any further stumbling blocks. Although no agreement was reached, a proposal was drafted, which was rejected as a dissenting report in last Monday's Assembly session. The commission will continue its discussions today.
The Verification Commission is chaired by Frank Martinez and composed of German Castro, Pelegrin Castillo, Prim Pujols, Andres Bautista, Eugenio Cedeno, Josefa Castillo, Minou Tavarez Mirabal, Tommy Galan, Isabel Bonilla and Radhames Castro. The new proposal that will be discussed suggests including the Attorney General of the Republic, two members of the Supreme Court and the dean of one of the nation's law schools as members of the CNM.

Moreno launches new political movement
Former District Attorney Guillermo Moreno has announced the launch of a new political movement called Alianza Pais (Country Alliance), with a view to contesting the next Presidential elections in 2012. He told supporters that he was embarking on a national tour to mobilize the support needed for obtaining electoral recognition. Moreno said that Alianza Pais would provide voters with an alternative to the mainstream parties, adding that they were "not the solution but part of the problem that needs to be resolved".
"There is no way out and no solution to the national problems with these traditional parties and their governments, especially since the pact between Leonel and Miguel who have shared power between themselves and the institutions and have left the sources that feed political clientelism and corruption intact", he stated.
The former DA criticized the Constitutional Reform process, describing it as "a step backwards" and said that legislators have put themselves "at the service of powerful groups", denying rights to citizens and to future generations.
He also expressed skepticism about the latest accord with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which in his view will lead to more taxes and raise the cost of living.

Police link kidnappers and leftists
The National Police have released information on the two dead kidnappers involved in the case of Eduardo Baldera Gomez and established links with several other kidnapping cases. According to today's Listin Diario, the police are also saying that there are close ties between the kidnappers and a previously unknown or unpublicized leftist group known as "Nacion solidaria". They have attributed at least 5 kidnappings to the group since 2000.
The group leaders included Cecilio Diaz, who was reported killed together with William Batista last Saturday in an area near Villa Vasquez after young Baldera Gomez escaped from the shack where he was being held. Listin Diario reporters were shown two files on Cecilio Diaz, who used the names of Manuel, Sibilio or Lilo as aliases and is identified as "a guerilla in El Salvador" and they are connecting him with two other kidnappings, one in November of 2005 in the so-called Gringo Case, in Santiago, and the other in San Francisco de Macoris, the Lantigua Case in November of last year. He is also mentioned in connection with raids and robberies in exchange houses, banks and other commercial establishments. He is believed to be the founder and leader of the subversive "Gregorio Luperon Movement" and an activist in several leftist organizations.
William Batista's rap sheet says that he was indicted for robbery and attempted kidnapping in 1996 and that he belonged to the Gregorio Luperon and FALPO groups. Investigators revealed that the modus operandi of the Baldera Gomez kidnapping is very similar to the four previous cases. The kidnappers carried keys to handcuffs, compasses, military clothing and equipment and false documents. In addition, the five cases (Ulerio in San Francisco de Macoris in August 2000, Capellan, in Santiago in August 2002, Gringo, in November 2005, Lantigua, in San Francisco de Macoris in November 2008 and Baldera in September 2009) all took place between August and November, all requested similar amounts of money, and all took place in the Cibao Valley area. In addition, all victims were seized in the early evening between 8 and 9 o'clock, and all five were taken from their homes using stolen vehicles, military clothing and automatic rifles. The same use of tapes and cell phones to prove the victim was alive was also part of the MO.

Police patrol involved in deaths
The Attorney General has ordered the arrests of the members of the police patrol involved in the shooting that led to the deaths of the alleged kidnappers of young Eduardo Antonio Baldera Gomez. Assistant Prosecutor Ramon Aristides Madera Arias, who headed the commission appointed to investigate the case, said that in principle the arrests are disciplinary and not judicial.
This order was issued after several rural judges from the communities of Los Conucos, Buen Hombre and Sabana Cruz were interviewed, and they reiterated to the justice department representatives that they handed over the two men, Cecilio Diaz and William de Jesus Batista, safe and sound to the authorities. Members of the Dominican Navy were also interviewed, together with policemen from the Villa Vasquez, La Baitoa, Las Canas and Copey offices, from where Baldera Gomez supposedly escaped after 22 days in captivity.

IDB donates US$1m to Metro
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has donated US$1 million towards the Santo Domingo Metro feeder route system.
The total project cost is US$1,250,000 and the Dominican government will make up the US$250,000 in counterpart contribution.
Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas and IDB representative in the DR Manuel Labrado signed the agreement at the National Palace yesterday. The agreement also seeks to define a strategy for negotiation with the transport unions for the Metro feeder routes.

Free zone exports fall 23%
The president of the Dominican Association of Free Zones (ADOZONA), Fernando Capellan, has revealed that exports from the nation's industrial free zones continue to decrease with the resulting loss of 8,000 jobs. He said that in the first half of the year exports were off by 22%, going from US$2.208 billion in the first half of 2008 to US$1.724 billion for the same period this year, a decrease of US$483.9 million. Capellan said that it was not just textile exports that were down. Electronics were 50% less and jewelry was 59% less in the first half.
As reported in El Caribe, even tobacco, a Dominican tradition for more than 300 years, was down 8%, shoes 12% and "other products" down 21%. Perhaps ironically medicines and pharmaceutical products were up.
The Adozona leader and his executive vice-president, Jose Manuel Torres, told reporters that on 30 October the association would hold a seminar called "Inteport: towards an export mindset". The event will feature Miami Herald columnist and bestselling author Andres Oppenheimer.

Three die in Ocoa 'copter crash
Three people on board a helicopter that crashed in the El Limon area in San Jose de Ocoa yesterday were killed, according to a report from the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC). The pilot was identified as Wilkler Diaz Romero, a First Lieutenant in the Dominican Army, and his passengers were two architects assigned to the Foreign Ministry, Manuel Checo and Yendi Vasquez, according to Listin Diario. The helicopter lifted off at 2:35 yesterday afternoon from the Hotel Santo Domingo heliport, heading for San Jose de Ocoa. The IDAC said that at approximately 2:55pm the Control and Communication Center in Santo Domingo received a call from the pilot saying that they could close the flight plan as he had his final destination in sight in the province of San Jose de Ocoa. The helicopter belonged to the Dominican consul in Haiti, Carlos Castillo, who was not on board at the time of the accident. Air accident investigators are looking into the causes.

DR borrows AIDS drugs from Haiti
The Dominican government has resorted to borrowing ARV drugs from Haiti via the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), according to Dulce Almonte, director of the Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS (Redovih). The Presidential AIDS Commission (Copresida) said that there was no drug shortage, in response to press reports earlier this week claiming that public health centers were experiencing a shortage and that the health authorities did not have the funds to purchase the medications.
Almonte said that the main thing was that people should receive their treatment. "We know that an application was made for a loan from the Haitian authorities, through PAHO", she said, pointing out that of 1000 patients only 100 have received their doses.

Sobeida out on RD$5m bail
A Santo Domingo judge has released Sobeida Feliz Morel, accused of involvement in the case of the US$4.6 million cash haul from a luxury SUV in Santo Domingo. Magistrate Roxana Vazquez set Feliz Morel's bail at RD$5 million, imposed an exit ban and ordered her to report to the authorities at regular intervals. Sobeida Feliz Morel was in possession of the keys to the vehicle, which is owned by Puerto Rican Jose Figueroa Agosto, a suspected drug trafficker and fugitive from justice.
National District Prosecutor Alejandro Moscoso Segarra said he would appeal the decision to free Feliz Morel, on the grounds that "it sets a bad example in the fight against drug trafficking and money laundering".

Rosso turns himself in to US authorities
Former Navy captain Carlos E. Rosso Pena decided yesterday to turn himself over to the United States justice system where he is wanted on charges of protecting and storing boats used by the cartels for trafficking large shipments of drugs into the United States. The former officer took the decision after a lengthy interrogation session at the Attorney General's office. Once Rosso stated his intentions in front of a notary public, the Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) was authorized to handle the case, and they asked him if he wanted to go voluntarily.
The justices declared there was no objection against ordering the extradition because of volunteer surrender. The case was presented by Assistant Attorney General and department head Gisela Cueto. The former naval officer fled the DR to Haiti on 13 September and traveled on to Colombia, supposedly to turn himself in to a Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agent.
In Haiti he had false documents made up in the name of Angel Bolivar Alcantara Perez before traveling on to Panama and reaching Colombia on Tuesday or Wednesday. Colombian authorities captured him and began a process of deportation to Haiti, but Rosso identified himself as a Dominican, so they sent him to the Dominican Republic. When he arrived at Las Americas International Airport nobody knew that he was a fugitive with an arrest warrant issued on 9 August by the SCJ. He asked a DNCD officer at the air terminal if he knew him, and received a negative answer. Rosso then identified himself and asked to be taken to the superior officer because he wanted to turn himself in. Attorney General Radhames Jimenez immediately began the paperwork needed for the extradition.
Rosso was discharged from the Dominican Navy in August 2008 and is alleged to have been the chief partner of former navy major Miguel Antonio Suarez Silfa who was also requested on extradition charges by the United States last month. He was in a high security detention center run by the DNCD in 2008 and was freed on 2 October 2009 on an order that came from the Santo Domingo prosecutor's office. The prosecutor who dealt with the case at that time was Juan Antonio Mateo Ciprian.

Fatal accident on Bani-Azua highway
A catastrophic accident on the highway between Bani and Azua has left at least 4 people dead and over two dozen injured, according to today's newspapers. Police named the four people killed as Jose Luis Cruz Sanchez, Griselda Delgado de los Santos, Edwin Viloria and Freddy Delgado. Not all of the injured had been identified, according to El Nuevo Diario. The accident occurred near the Isla gasoline station on the Sanchez Highway near the community of Las Charcas.
Because of the seriousness of their injuries at least 11 people were transferred to the Dario Contreras Hospital in Santo Domingo East. The collision took place between a passenger bus and a pick-up truck belonging to the company Soluciones Medicas Dominicana (SMD). Only the driver, who died on impact, was in the pick-up truck, and the remaining victims were all on the bus.

Brugal awards prizes to worthy causes
This year's Brugal prizes, the annual recognition of charitable work by altruistic and dedicated individuals and organizations, awarded the grand prize, now called the George Arzeno Brugal Prize, to the Patronato Contra el Cancer del Nordeste (North-eastern Trust Against Cancer). The ceremony, held in the San Pablo House in Santo Domingo was a posthumous honor for George Arzeno Brugal, the late long-serving president and CEO of Brugal and Company. These prizes, called "Brugal believes in its people", honored groups in categories such as Social Assistance, Education, Community Development, Defense and Protection of the Environment, Arts and Culture and the Grand Prize.
Each of the awards in the five categories carries a cash prize of RD$1,000,000, and the Grand Prize has a check of RD$1,500,000.
In the category of Social Assistance, the award went to Instituto Oncologico del Nordeste (North-eastern Oncological Institute), in education, the Integracion Juvenil (Youth Integration) of Puerto Plata, in Community Development it was the Women's Development Association (Asopem), for protection and defense of the environment, the prize went to Reef Check Dominicana and Vida Azul, and in Culture, Bonao's Plaza de la Cultura won the prize.

Play Ball!
The 2009 Dominican Winter League kicks off with three games tonight. This year's tournament is dedicated to the three Alou Brothers, Felipe, Mateo and Jesus, a very popular choice according to public opinion. The tournament, number 56 in the history of Dominican baseball, will begin with games in Santiago, La Romana and Santo Domingo, and the "official" opening ceremony this year will take place in La Romana's Francisco Micheli Stadium with the Dominican Foreign Minister, Carlos Morales Troncoso, throwing out the first pitch of the game between the Toros and the Estrellas.
In Santo Domingo, at the old Quisqueya Stadium, eternal rivals Licey and Escogido will open their respective seasons, and in Santiago's Estadio Cibao, the Aguilas Cibaenas and the Gigantes will feature the debut of Felix Fermin as the manager of the Gigantes, the first time in his baseball career that he has worn a uniform other than the Aguilas.
Baseball, the Dominican national sport, will capture the public's attention from now until early February with games in five ballparks: Santiago's Estadio Cibao; San Francisco's Julian Javier Stadium, Santo Domingo's Estadio Quisqueya; San Pedro de Macoris' Tetelo Vargas and La Romana's Francisco Micheli. This year, the defending Champion are the Tigres del Licey.

Jose Luis Perales at the National Theater
Jose Luis Perales, one of the most famous Spanish singer-songwriters of all times, will perform at the National Theater. With sales of more than 100 million, he will be on stage 30 and 31 October. He is best known for "Celos de mi guitarra," "Ella y el", "Amada mia" and "Por amor". His greatest hits concert will feature the best of his 30-year career. He has more than 450 songs to his name.
See: www.joseluisperales.net/1024b/index4.htm
For more information on forthcoming events visit the DR1 Calendar at www.dr1.com/calendar/
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