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Daily News - Tuesday, 03 November 2009

Marranzini rejects barges
Executive vice president of the State-Run Electricity Companies (CDEEE) favors installing natural gas generators, changing distribution lines and collecting from non-paying consumers. He rejected the electricity barges on the grounds that the government would have to purchase power for US$0.17 per kWh. He says, "What the electricity sector has done is purchase emergency plants," as reported in Hoy. He said talks are under way for the installation of three units of a natural gas-fired plant, each capable of generating 200 megawatts, for a total 600 megawatts. The plant will be installed in Manzanillo, Monte Cristi province, and involves an US$800 million investment. It would be installed by the Abu Dhabi Oil Investment Company and operated by subsidiary Mann-Forrestar, as reported in El Caribe.

15 days to pay for electricity
The Superintendence of Electricity is urging all consumers with irregular electricity connections to regularize their status within the next 15 days. The Superintendence is granting non-paying users a 2-week amnesty. The Superintendence says that in these two weeks fraud detection services would assist anyone seeking to regularize their service. After this period, the department says it will publicize the names of consumers found to be responsible for electricity theft. The new electricity theft bill establishes prison and high fines for customers who steal power.

Moving propaganda
Political parties are resorting to hiring vehicle owners to carry their message around, reports Listin Diario. The parties have recruited relatives and friends and even reached out to paying public transport vehicles to display their congressional and municipal campaign propaganda. This is in addition to propaganda on billboards, trees, walls, etc. Meanwhile, Fenatrano transport union leader Juan Hubieres is using his members' vehicles to campaign for his Movimiento Rebelde's recognition as a formal party. The municipal authorities in Santiago recently considered taxing this type of advertising, but this was rejected by public transport drivers. The precedent was set during the last presidential election campaign, when drivers were offered RD$1,000 in return for displaying electoral propaganda on their vehicles.

JCE warns on campaigning
The new Dominican constitution is expected to grant increased powers to the Central Electoral Board (JCE). The Board plans to use these new powers to control the amount of campaigning and the way in which public funds are used during the 2010 municipal and congressional campaign period. The discussions on the new constitution by the National Revisory Assembly have been completed and the new constitution is due for publication next week, on the occasion of Constitution Day, 6 November.
JCE president Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman stated that the political parties would have to abide by election campaign rules, which will limit the campaign period, use of funds and television and radio advertising. In past campaigns, this began several months or even years in advance of the elections.
Castanos added that one way to help limit campaigning is for all candidates to reveal their funding sources. Castanos said that during the 2006 congressional and municipal elections the JCE tried to enforce this requirement, but strong opposition from the political parties and the media prevented this from happening. A recent story focused on the inexistent level of accountability for political parties that receive a big chunk of taxpayer money.

Controversial Barrick contract
Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui) province deputy Rafael Molina Lluberes has expressed his opposition to the amended Placer Dome contract, now transferred to Barrick Gold. The contract with Placer Dome was signed when gold cost US$300 per troy ounce, and now gold costs US$1,000 per troy ounce. Mining expert Osiris de Leon has also been vocal, stating that the government has given up too much in the change of contract. He was asked for his opinion by a special Chamber of Deputies commission. De Leon says that when Barrick purchased Placer, the price of gold had already increased to US$564 per troy ounce, which would have generated US$36 million for the state, according to the original contract. But with the price of gold climbing to US$1,000, the state was due to receive US$194 million in benefits over a period of at least six years. De Leon says this motivated Barrick Gold to seek a renegotiation of the contract. De Leon denounces the fact that the renegotiation means that tax revenues will be RD$42 billion less. The contract was fast-tracked through Congress.
In exchange, Barrick accepted to be responsible for 50% of the environmental damage at the mine site, spending up to US$37 million on cleaning up the serious pollution in Cotui left by previous mining operations.
See www.osirisdeleon.com/index.php?option=com_content...&
Ricardo Briones, a member of the National Environmental Assembly (ANA), warns that the contract passed in Congress also gives the company mining exploitation rights throughout the whole country for an indefinite period of time. See also
www.barrick.com/GlobalOperations/NorthAmerica/...

The Barrick deal
The 29 October issue of Clave newspaper reports that Barrick Gold will invest US$3 billion to exploit the gold reserves estimated at 13.4 million troy ounces. Placer Dome had estimated the reserves at 1.2 million troy ounces. Once the company reaches a 10% level of profitability, after recovering its initial investment in 7 years, the state will be able to share in the profits. The government would also receive 3.2% of the sales minus costs (RNF) and 25% income tax.
The original contract did not condition government revenue to the 10% profitability. Edwin Ruiz explains that Barrick Gold (60%) and Goldcorp (40%) now make up Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation (PVDC) after purchasing the rights from Placer Dome in 2005. Plans are to extract 600,000 to 650,000 ounces of gold a year at a cost of US$275-US$300 per ounce for the first five years, according to Clave.
The amount of gold has changed from the days of Placer Dome to those of Barrick. Journalist Edwin Ruiz reports that while in September 2005 Placer Dome announced an investment of US$1.35 billion to extract 800,000 ounces of gold during the first six months of operation, and 12 million ounces in 20 years. Nevertheless, three months after purchasing Placer Dome, on 27 February 2009 Barrick Gold announced that the proven reserve of the Montenegro mining reserve was 22.4 million ounces of gold. It announced an investment of US$2.7 billion, and an additional US$300 million to expand the plant's processing capacity from 18,000 to 24,000 tons per day.
The government needs to relocate two entire towns, Los Cacaos and El Llagal, at a cost of US$19.5 million.
While in the previous contract, the Dominican government was responsible for environmental damage caused by Rosario Mining Company and Rosario Dominicana since 1975, the PVDC will now share the cost of recovering the area. The Dominican government needs to contribute US$37.5 million to complement Barrick's announced investment of an equal amount. The Mejita and Margarita rivers and the subterranean streams are loaded with sulphur and heavy metals left by past gold mining operations.
Fernando Sanchez Albavera, executive director of Barrick in Pueblo Viejo, says that the company has been very generous. "We have found an environmental disaster. We are making a gift of US$37.5 million to the state because they told us they did not have the resources," he told Clave.
Barrick is expected to start operations in September 2011. The company purchased the Monte Rio generators and two Seaboard barges currently on the electricity grid for its operations.

What's in Ladom milk?
That seems to be the question on everyone's lips, but there seem to be no straight answers. The issue of milk quality has once again become a hot topic after television reporter Nuria Piera revealed on her show, "Nuria en el 9" that between February and March 2009 Lacteos Dominicanos (Ladom) imported 500,000 kilograms of non-protein pork whey. Piera supported her claims by presenting the importation documents from Ladom. The company produces the La Campesina budget milk brand.
The Quality Systems and Standards Office (DIGENOR) has defended the use of whey in milk products in the past, claiming it has 25% protein content. Hoy reveals that it actually only has 0.9% protein, 0.3% fat and 93% water, adding that non-protein whey is typically used as a food supplement for animals, especially for pigs.

Kidnapping vehicles
Kidnapping people in the DR has been kept at bay by the efficiency of the Police. But El Caribe now reports that a new method is on the rise - the kidnapping of vehicles. El Caribe reports that murdered TV producer Miky Breton had also been a victim of the crime. The thieves who "kidnapped" his vehicle called to demand money to return the car in perfect condition. He was asked for RD$200,000 but in the end the vehicle was returned without a "ransom" payment.
The Police say that although the method is not yet widespread, some people whose vehicles have been stolen have also been harassed by kidnappers requesting money for returning their vehicles.
As reported in El Caribe, the Police Criminal Investigations Department follows the same procedure used to locate a person when locating a vehicle. El Caribe recalls that several months ago, Police Chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin showed the press three members of a gang that operated the extortion procedure from San Francisco de Macoris jail. The police have been able to trace several vehicle kidnappers by tracing their calls.

The Capo from Capotillo
Manuel Mesa Beltre's reign as a big shot in Santo Domingo's Capotillo neighborhood's growing micro-drug trafficking trade may be coming to an end. On Monday, Capotillo Capo Manuel Emilio Mesa Beltre (El Gringo) was arrested with RD$4.3 million during a police operation and will be sent to jail. Guzman Fermin said: "We hope that Mesa Beltre's case will not be treated like others who have been arrested and then freed or have recovered their property with different judgments," said Guzman Fermin. He expressed his opposition to lenient court decisions after all the great efforts made by the authorities to arrest these individuals.
The police seeks to reveal the extent of Mesa's local empire, which could total millions. Yesterday, police began their investigation at the Solano money exchange house in Santo Domingo, where they found safety boxes filled with undisclosed quantities of Dominican and US currency. Listin Diario reports that Mesa's inner circle includes several lawyers with connections to the Presidency. Mesa's wealth is estimated at over RD$800 million. National Police chief Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin, National Drug Control Department (DNCD) chief Major General Rolando Rosado Mateo and National District prosecutor Alejandro Moscoso Segarra have been meeting to discuss efforts to control small-scale drug trafficking in poor barrios, as reported in Listin Diario.

Honoring Sergeant Pinales
Listin Diario reports on the burial with honors this week of Sergeant Alcedo Pinales Suero, who was murdered during an anti-drug operation in San Cristobal. At the funeral, National Drug Control Department (DNCD) chief Major General Rolando Rosado Mateo said that Pinales Suero had been murdered by drug traffickers. He promised that the death would not remain unpunished. He attributed the killing to some extent to the "way in which some entities seek to discourage us in a mistaken exercise of the authority they are invested with." He said that the death of the young army and DNCD agent "should serve as an example for those who instead of encouraging us to fight against drug trafficking criminals hold us back and discourage us, in an mistaken exercise of their authority." The Police reported that suspects Teudi Geraldo Binson (Maloco), 21, and Delin Geraldo Arias, 18, were arrested in San Cristobal.

Saying goodbye to Miky
A tragic ending to his life has inspired sadness among friends and fans alike. Television personality Juan Miguel Breton Mieses, known as Miky Breton, was brutally murdered and police found his body, covered in blankets, with twelve stab wounds in a motel on the Autopista 30 de Mayo. Initial reports by investigators are casting doubt on the initial assumptions that a woman was responsible for the murder. Investigators also estimate the time of death to be around 8pm on Sunday, and that before his murder Breton was with a companion, as there were alcoholic drinks and glasses around the motel room. Breton's vehicle was later found at a Codetel office in Bonao, while his personal documents were found near El Abanico in Constanza. Breton, who was 49, was best known for his work on the hard-hitting crime series "Relatos de Miky Breton". Listin Diario reports that a year ago he announced that he was directing a film to be titled "Narcos", about the drug trade.

Dengue still a concern
There has been a spike in the number of cases of dengue fever reported in the DR. However, officials still maintain that an increase in new cases is common for this time of year. There have been 4,800 cases recorded in 2009, with 39 deaths as a direct result of dengue fever. Listin Diario reports that children are amongst those most affected by this recent wave of dengue and schools have been reminding parents not to send children to school if they are unwell.

DR ranked 10th in taekwondo
The Dominican Republic is ranked 10th in the world in men's taekwondo by the World Taekwondo Federation. The DR has achieved a ranking above Brazil (17), China (20), France (12) and Japan (60). It shares this position with Germany. The position was reached after competing in the World Championship held in Denmark. In the previous 2007 event, the DR was ranked in 19th place. The DR is ranked after countries like South Korea (1), Iran, Spain, Turkey, US, Mexico, Canada, Afghanistan and Azerbaijan. In women's, the DR placed 43rd among 150 participating countries.
The WTF Taekwondo World Championships is held every other year. Athletes compete in 16 weight divisions - 8 for men and 8 for women.
www.cph2009.dk/welcome.asp

Pedro's chance
The World Series has been one of the more exciting in recent memories, but Yankee dominance, especially in the latter part of the games has had given the Bombers a 3-1 series lead. Going into last night the Yankees needed one more victory to uncork the champagne and claim series championship #27, but the Phillies and their timely hitting forced a sixth game back in New York City. Yankee hopefuls seemed relieved at the fact the series is going back to NY, as they would rather celebrate a championship on their home turf. Fans are excited at the possibility of giving the new Yankee Stadium a proper welcome, celebrating championship in the first year of its opening.
But there is a huge hurdle ahead of the Yankees, and its name is Pedro Martinez. The seemingly ageless Martinez will pitch for the second time in this series, having given a solid performance in game 2 of the series. Martinez, a master of New York media, has resurrected his career, and there couldn't have been given a better stage to add to his legacy. He will be pitching in game 6, at Yankee Stadium against his rival Yankees, with the World Series on the line. Game 6 takes place on Wednesday, in the Bronx, with the Yankees sending Andy Pettitte to the mound, on 3 days rest. It looks to be an exciting game.
To follow the winter baseball championship in the DR and more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
 
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