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Daily News - Monday, 02 November 2009

Conference of the Americas
President Leonel Fernandez brought the 5th edition of the International Conference of the Americas (CILA) to a close at the Barcelo Bavaro Convention Center with a call for the young people of the continent to find new solutions to the problems of under-development and climate change. The Model United Nations Conference was sponsored by the United Nations Association and the Global Foundation. The MUN is an academic simulation of the United Nations that aims to educate participants about civics, effective communication, globalization and multilateral diplomacy. In a standard Model UN students take on roles as diplomats and engage in a simulated session of an inter-governmental organization (IGO). Participants research a country, take on roles as diplomats, investigate international issues, debate, deliberate, consult, and then come up with solutions to world problems. This year it was held in Bavaro and about 1,500 young people met to exchange ideas on important international matters.

Highway to Bani is almost open
On Sunday, the Ministry of Public Works opened a 14-kilometer stretch on the southwestern route from San Cristobal to the Lucas Diaz Bridge near Bani. The new 4-lane highway will greatly increase safety along one of the most treacherous sections of the Dominican highway system. The Public Works Minister Victor Diaz Rua promised that the remaining 14 kilometers would be finished over the next few months. The newly opened stretch of the highway has eliminated bottlenecks that caused several wrecks over recent months as drivers got too impatient and tried dangerous moves that cost lives.
Some of the companies that worked on the highway were Malespin Constructora and Constructora JM and they are responsible for finishing the job. The Compania Tecnoamerica, led by Pedro Delgado Malagon - himself a former Public Works Minister at the time the Duarte Highway was built - was in charge of overseeing the work.

Most fuels up again
Increases in fuel prices on the international markets pushed up local prices for gasoline, diesel and LPG further this week. Avtur and kerosene prices remained at last week's levels. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce set the price of premium gasoline at RD$160.80, an increase of RD$4.40. Regular went to RD$150.60, an even bigger increase of RD$4.70. Regular diesel was set at RD$125.40, up RD$3.80. Recent price increases have upped the price of a gallon of this popular fuel by more than 25%.

Organic exports growing
Dominican exports of organic products grew 34.4% in the first 9 months of the year, going from UD$28.83 million in August last year to US$38.75 million in 2009, a difference of US$9.92 million.
According to the Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD), during the January-August period of this year, they drew up a list of 10 organic products that are exported: bananas, leaf tobacco, eggplant, peppers, powdered cacao, fresh pineapple, plantains, herbs, dried coconut and cherry tomatoes.
In organic bananas alone, in the first 9 months of the year the DR exported 84.68 kilograms with a value of US$34.01 million and in leaf tobacco, the country exported US$3.33 million. This year the CEI-RD hopes for an increase of more than US$160 million in cacao, coffee, mango, avocado and other products that are exported.
The country is consolidating its position as a powerhouse in organic agricultural products, which generate more than US$200 million for the DR each year, and create 30,000 jobs both direct and indirect according to the Ministry of Agriculture (SEA). According to information from the ministry, organic agriculture, which in 2008 brought in US$175 million, could exceed US$200 million in 2009.
The country now has 288,000 'tareas' (629 square meters, 15.9 tareas = 1 hectare) dedicated to organic production and non-traditional products distributed among 12,660 farmers.
The products that provide 80% of the hard currency received include bananas, coffee, cacao of all types, limes, avocado, mangoes, oranges, plantains, sapodilla and cassava ('yuca'). These crops are believed to generate more than 50% of rural jobs across much of the Dominican Republic.
Diario Libre reports that in the northwestern region, organic bananas, limes, mangoes, coconuts and cassava are harvested, providing US$30 million in hard currency and employing 3,500 people. In the northern region, crops include cacao, limes, avocados and coffee, and they generate US$35 million and provide 3,000 jobs. According to the SEA, in the north-central region, there is organic coffee, avocado, limes, plantains and sapodilla, generating US$50 million a year and providing more than 10,000 jobs in the countryside. Meanwhile, in the central region they produce US$25 million and provided 2,500 farm jobs. Likewise, in the east they produce coconuts and organic limes that produce US$10 million and 500 jobs.
The production of vegetables in greenhouses was 43.3 million pounds last year. Meanwhile, the development of Agro-plasticulture in the country continues its rapid growth. As of now there are more than 60,000 square meters of modern greenhouses in San Jose de Ocoa. The SEA registered an increase of 276,500 square meters of greenhouses.

PRD gets tough on candidates
The main opposition PRD party has asked its 4,515 prospective candidates registered for next year's elections to submit to drug tests and to present certifications that they have no pending drug-related judicial issues. The candidate registration sessions over the weekend are said to have concluded satisfactorily, and the party collected contributions totaling RD$48,858,000 from these pre-candidates. Emmanuel Esquea Guerrero and other members of the party's organizing committee reported on the process at a press conference yesterday.
According to Diario Libre, Esquea Guerrero stated that "We have been very emphatic in the requirements and we are being very demanding because society as a whole is asking the parties to be demanding".
Other requisites for registration as pre-candidates were, as well as a minimum period of PRD membership, the presentation of certification from a social entity and economic contributions depending on the position being sought and the city in which the candidate was going to run for office.
Senators were asked for RD$75,000 and candidates for deputy were asked for RD$50,000.
Esquea Guerrero said that members of the commission would meet with PRD president Miguel Vargas Maldonado today in order to determine which polling company would be selected to determine the levels of preference among the aspiring candidates for senators and mayors in order to "disqualify" any who do not have at least a 20% approval rating.
"The (candidates for) senators and mayors who achieve 20% will then be accepted as pre-candidates and will go to the convention. Neither the candidates for deputy or for city council membership are required to provide polling evidence", said Esquea Guerrero.
Of the total number of registrations, 26 pre-candidates aspire to become senators, 323 want to be deputies, 252 are mayoral hopefuls, 2,705 are seeking municipal council seats and 1,209 for membership in municipal boards. A total of 1,353 positions are available, and 4,515 pre-candidates were registered, a 3:1 ratio of candidates to posts.
Esquea Guerrero said that they would announce the date for the registration of candidates for positions in the Municipal Districts and their members next week. He said that no registrations had been accepted in areas where candidacies were reserved. The PRD Political Committee has reserved 30% of the slots for the PRD to name the candidates and 15% of the posts for political allies. Esquea Guerrero thanked the candidates for their support for the process and made a point of acknowledging the help from the Central Electoral Board that supervised the whole process.

Judge hard on the little guys
The same judge who accepted bail for Jimmy Oliver Rodriguez Ortiz, arrested on 15 September in possession of 50 kilos of cocaine, ordered the start of a case against a man arrested with 9.66 grams of drugs, as reported in Hoy. Francis Hernandez, a 26-year old mechanic, was arrested in possession of 4.62 grams of cocaine, 2.93 of crack and 2.11 of marijuana in Cristo Rey, which puts him in the category of drug distributor. Nonetheless, Judge Gonzalez treated the case as if he were a narcotics dealer, in contrast with the case of the man found with 50 kilos of cocaine. Hoy reported that the marked difference in the way Judge Gonzalez Castillo acted in both cases attracted the attention of people who monitor court cases. Rodriguez Ortiz is a former army private who was arrested in the National District. District Attorney Alejandro Moscoso Segarra said that in 2008 the judge issued a similar order to benefit two others caught trafficking drugs. Rosado Mateo said that this type of decision endangers the lives of the people who pursue drug traffickers. Both the National Drug Control Department and state prosecutors have asked the Supreme Court to conduct an investigation into Judge Franny Manuel Gonzalez Castillo's decision regarding Rodriguez Ortiz.

Drug dealers keep their cash
El Dia newspaper is denouncing the fact that although some of the DR's big drug capos are arrested and extradited to the US, they have been able to maneuver in justice to keep their vast fortunes in the DR intact. The late Florian Feliz and extradited Quirino Paulino Castillo, Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara Diaz, Carlos Rosso Pena and Miguel Antonio Suarez Silfa had their cases heard by the judiciary, but continued to enjoy their wealth. The newspaper report estimates that Quirino Paulino, Guevara Diaz and Rosso Pena managed to keep a total of RD$1.8 billion among themselves. The Dominican justice system has not ordered the confiscation of assets in any of those cases. Quirino accepted to deduct RD$520 million of a fortune that is estimated to exceed RD$1 billion, as reported in Hoy.
El Dia reports that the system also favored Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara Diaz (Maconi) because when he was extradited there was an "error" by the Penal Court of the Supreme Court of Justice and his goods were not confiscated. He is in jail in the US, but continues to enjoy his riches, estimated in hundreds of millions.
The newspaper writes that the state prosecutor is now seeking for the US to order the confiscation of Guevara Diaz's property, which could be possible in a framework of international judicial cooperation.
Furthermore, former Navy officer Carlos Rosso Pena signed his voluntary extradition and was sent to the US without anyone touching his enormous fortune, which according to anti-narcotics agents is estimated at more than US$25 million, openly amassed in front of his colleagues and even using Dominican navy ships, as reported in El Dia. In that case, efforts are under way for the US to order the confiscation of the assets, estimated at more than US$16 million. See http://www.listin.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=119566 and http://www.listin.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=119485

Narcotics gang dismantled
National Drugs Control Department (DNCD) head Major General Rolando Rosado says that the DNCD had dismantled an international gang that exported ingredients used to manufacture ecstasy and amphetamines in Central America. Rosado Mateo said that three people have been arrested and they are on the trail of two others. He said that the owners of the cargo camouflaged the drugs in boxes of a Churchill cigar brand. The cigars were being prepared for export via Las America International Airport on board Amerijet to Guatemala. The shipment was consigned to Surgikon Pharma Corporation.

Police active against drug dealers
In the last two months, the Police anti-drugs investigations department has confiscated more than 364,000 grams of heroin, cocaine, crack and marijuana, worth RD$130 million. General Nelson Rosario, spokesman for the department, said they have also confiscated 50 guns and 15 other types of weapons. They have carried out 669 raids in 23 provinces. The drugs include 340,853.10 grams of cocaine and 22,786.50 grams of marijuana, 1,109 grams of crack and 56.3 grams of heroin. The record is from 28 August to 21 October, shortly after a new DNCD director was appointed.

Too many bank holdups
There have been 23 bank holdups in the last 18 months. This represents RD$238 million, of which RD$200 million were removed from ATMs. The most recent raid took place at the Arroyo Hondo II branch of Scotiabank on Avenida Republica de Argentina in Santo Domingo, not far from a police station. The three men, who entered posing as bank customers held up the bank and ran off with RD$500,000. An accomplice was waiting outside in a getaway vehicle. Many of the recent raids have featured similar modus operandi. The robberies usually take place around lunchtime, when there are fewer clients and less vehicular traffic, as reported in Listin Diario.

Army complicit in deforestation
Milton Martinez, director of the Forestry School at the UASD, has told Listin Diario that complicity by state security organizations in charge of surveillance in the border area is common and widely known. "To make charcoal you have to cut trees, pile them up, wait days for the charcoal to burn, and transport it. This is why it is essential to follow the money trail," he told Listin Diario. He said that it was impossible to transport and market the charcoal in the area without military complicity. He recommended developing a model forestry project that permits large-scale energy production.

US Embassy names names
The United States Embassy has distributed a list of 49 people who pose as embassy employees to swindle people with the promise of getting them a visa. The names, accompanied by photographs that show the face of the alleged swindlers, were given to the District Attorney for the National District. "These people are not employees of the American Embassy", says a poster on the wall of the Complaints and Disputes Department at the District Attorney's office.
Diario Libre says that the following warning is issued at the foot of the photographs: "Report fraud and prevent a swindle". It goes on to say, "if you have information on any type of fraud, contact the American Consulate Anti-Fraud Unit at Window 11". They also ask people to phone 809 731-4446, 809 731-4272 or fax 809 731-4467.
Hundreds of people go to the American Consulate every day to apply for a visa.

Freed on bail, kills again
One of the five people implicated in the murders of Police Major Paula Mercedes and retired Second Lieutenant Juan Cabrera was granted a bail bond of RD$200,000 but almost immediately became involved in another killing during an attempted robbery at a house in the Quisqueya sector of Santo Domingo. Joan Manuel Alcantara de Jesus is said to be the owner of the Taurus 9 mm pistol that was used to kill the Major in November 2008 and Cabrera at a propane gas station in the Herrera section of the city on 5 October 2009. National District judge Jose Reynaldo Ferreira Jimeno ordered one month in remand for Alcantara de Jesus. The Prosecutor of the National District implicated Alcantara de Jesus, together with Moises Mateo Done or Moises Mateo Valdez, as well as fugitives Beriguita, Zapato and Zapatico in the murder of William Relucen, a watchman at the Miramy Residence in the Quisqueya sector. He said that on 20 September the accused tried to enter the parking lot with the intention of theft. However, Relucen put up resistance and closed the gates, which led Alcantara de Jesus and Mateo to take out their weapons and shoot him several times.
According to Diario Libre, just two months earlier, on 20 June, a judge ordered the removal of Alcantara de Jesus's custody order, after reviewing the files implicating him in the murder of retired Lieutenant Cabrera. Judge Jose Duverge Mejia substituted preventive prison for the accused for a bail bond of RD$200,000 and regular visits to the Santo Domingo Prosecutors office. The judge has received a request to open a trial against Alcantara de Jesus, Leandris Ernesto Ramirez Casado, Fernando Cruz Villa and Jose Aybar Batista Valdez.
The Police and the Prosecutors established that the motive for the murder of the Major, which happened in the Claret section of the National District, was theft, to which she resisted.
The accused are also said to be involved in other crimes, using the same weapon that killed the officer. In that crime, young Junior D'Oleo (Junito), Danny Turbi Garcia (Sanguillen), Juan Carlos Espino Tavarez (Papito), Jose Luis Vicente Santos (El pintor) and a person known as "Men" were also named as suspects.

Cooler temps should stay around
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) reports that temperatures should remain comfortable for most of the morning and evening as predominantly northeastern breezes cool the area. Some light rains with a little chance of some strong winds are also in the forecast. Onamet reported that there would not be any rainstorm activity due to an almost static frontal system over the northeast of the country. Meanwhile, a tropical wave was located to the southeast with most of its clouds covering the Caribbean.
The local forecast is for light rains in Puerto Plata, Santiago, Samana, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, Monte Plata, La Altagracia (Higuey), La Romana and San Pedro de Macoris provinces. Light rains are also predicted for Santo Domingo and the National District.

Baseball Roundup
Over the weekend the Estrellas Orientales ended the Leones del Escogido's 5-game winning streak, defeating them in their own park 5-3 on Friday night. That same evening, Ricardo Nanita hit a grand slam homerun to seal an 8-2 victory for the Toros over the Gigantes del Cibao in the Francisco Micheli Stadium in La Romana. In the Estadio Cibao, the Aguilas Cibaenas were defeated by their bitterest rivals, the Tigres del Licey with a score of 3-1.
On Saturday, the Toros (or Azucareros) defeated Escogido 3-2 and went into first place in the standings. In San Francisco de Macoris, the Gigantes del Cibao pulled a game out of the fire with a last inning sacrifice fly by Luis Durango to defeat the reigning champions from Licey by a score of 4-3. And over in San Pedro de Macoris, the Aguilas Cibaenas were able to defeat the Estrellas Orientales in a shoot-out 10-6.
On Sunday, "eternal rivals", Licey and Escogido battled it out in the Quisqueya Stadium, but the battle was a lopsided victory for the Leones over the Tigres, 10-1. With the victory Escogido stopped its worst skid of the season at 2 defeats and stayed in second place in the standings. The Aguilas had to go into the fearsome Julian Javier Stadium where the Gigantes del Cibao were nearly unbeatable. And yes, they were defeated 6-4 in a game that saw the Aguilas try and battle back from a 0-5 deficit. In the Francisco Micheli Stadium in La Romana, the Toros kept their hold on first place with a 7-4 victory over the Estrellas Orientales.
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
AZUCAREROS 9 - 4 .692 1.0
ESCOGIDO 8 - 5 .615 1.0
LICEY 7 - 5 .538 2.0
GIGANTES 5 - 8 .384 4.0
AGUILAS 5 - 8 .384 4.0
ESTRELLAS 5 - 8 .384 4.0
No games are scheduled for today.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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