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Daily News - Tuesday, 10 November 2009

IMF agrees on pact
On Monday, 9 November the IMF approved the DR's proposal for a new Stand-by Arrangement, which will allow the DR to have access to US$1.7 billion (SDR$1,094.5 million) in funds over the next 28 months.
The approval of the DR's letter of intent comes as a budgetary relief as the government will now have access to US$300 and US$250 million in funds from the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank. The disbursement of these funds was contingent on the approval of the Stand-by Arrangement. For its part, the DR government must implement a fiscal policy that reduces the public sector deficit to 0.8% by the end of 2009, 0% in 2010 and eventually have a surplus of 2% by 2012.
See: www.imf.org/external/np/sec/pr/2009/pr09393.htm

Monitor the use of IMF funds
Economist Carlos Asilis has called for thorough monitoring of the use the government will give to the loans granted by the IMF, the IDB and the World Bank. Speaking on the TV program, "De la Semana," Asilis said that the signing is the best evidence that the country has not done things the right way. He said the move is correct because otherwise the government would have serious financial problems given the decline in tax collections and in sourcing of funds from abroad. "The government needs to act prudently and not spend in a disorderly way. Instead it must create an emergency fund due to the possibility that the crisis could continue," he said.

Tiburcio acts for transparency
Allan Tiburcio Andrikson is an exemplary Dominican citizen. Although not financially well off, he has taken it upon himself to demand transparency from political parties. He is using the muscle of Law 200-04 on Free Access to Public Information and has already requested information from 100 government institutions. But he is also persevering in his quest to find out what 23 political organizations have done with more than RD$1 billion in taxpayer money they have received from 2000 to 31 August 2009, as reported in Hoy. He began by requesting information from the Dominican Revolutionary Party on 10 September. The party has not provided the information, and he took the case a step forward to the Central Electoral Board (JCE) Chamber of Disputes. He awaits a response tomorrow.
As reported in Hoy, he wants to set a precedent. He believes that if transparency is achieved, the DR will be different. He says all citizens have to take this same step, and put aside the laissez-faire approach. In his opinion, if corruption in government is not stopped, the country could implode.

Waldo's last days at the CMD
Dr. Waldo Ariel Suero, whose name is synonymous with doctors' strikes, is ending his term as president of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD). He called the strikes seeking to pressure the government for over-the-board wage increases for public hospital physicians. Elections for his successor are being held today, with Senen Caba facing Enriquillo Matos. The election is highly politicized. It is said that Caba has the support of the PRD and PRSC and that Matos is backed by the PLD. Matos is a former president of the CMD (2005-2007). More than 12,000 doctors can vote. Suero spent his two-year term organizing public hospital doctor strikes, with little - if any - success.

Ruddy of the Guloyas dies
Juan Felipe Simon, known simply as Ruddy, passed away in San Pedro de Macoris on Sunday. Ruddy was the leader of SPM's folkloric troupe known as the Guloyas and had taken over as leader after Daniel Henderson (Linda) died earlier this year. Ruddy's case seems particularly troubling because he went to Santo Domingo for treatment but was turned away from the Cardiology Institute because there were no beds. He was then transferred to the Oncology Center at the Universidad Central del Este, where he died. He was 64 years old. The Guloyas will now be led by Ramon Aruajo, known as Momon.

Journalist's suspect shooter
Police have apprehended Cesar Jimenez Peralta, a.k.a. Quico, who is accused of shooting at the house of journalist Franklin Guerrero last week. Jimenez is believed to be associated with Manuel Emilio Mesa Beltre, who was arrested last week on money laundering and drug charges. Jimenez has been sent to one-month preventive custody. Listin Diario reports that police found the Taurus pistol believed to have been used in the shooting at Jimenez's home. Listin reports that Jimenez was pursuing Guerrero after the journalist tried to interview Mesa at the Palace of Justice, shortly after his arrest.

Where is Sobeida?
Sobeida Feliz, the only material witness in the case against drug trafficker Jose D. Figueroa Agosto, has gone missing. Feliz, who was arrested in the days following the discovery of a bulletproof vehicle with US$4.6 million in cash, was recently very questionably released from jail on bond.
As part of her agreement with the Attorney General's office, Feliz had to appear before a judge once a week. However, the last time Feliz met with the judge was on 3 November. Hoy reports that the last time she met with her lawyers was 30 October.
Police officials say they are trying to trace Feliz, and that INTERPOL is also taking part in the investigations.
Police are looking for Feliz in Haiti, Panama and Venezuela, as well as the Dominican Republic.
The authorities have been unable to track down Figueroa, who had escaped from jail in Puerto Rico prior to moving and setting up base in the DR, and who also slipped through the fingers of law authorities here, leading to Sobeida Feliz's arrest.

The value of a life
The family of Mario de Jesus Valette, the young man killed by baseball player Angel Villalona, has agreed to not proceed with charges against the player in return for a RD$5 million settlement. Villalona has also been released from jail after being held for two months preventive custody. Listin Diario reports that the victim's child will receive money from Villalona, and that the family has already received RD$2 million in advance.

French drug smugglers get lucky
Two French women accused of transporting drugs through the DR will be allowed to serve their jail sentences in France. On Friday, the DR and France will sign an agreement for the transfer of the prisoners to the French. The agreement came after a one-hour meeting between Alain Joyandet, Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, and family members of 19 people held on drug trafficking charges in the DR. Joyandet will visit Sarah Zaknoun and Celine Fayem who were sentenced to 8 years in jail in 2008 after authorities found six kilos of illegal drugs in their luggage.

What's up with Sammy?
Slammin' Sammy Sosa is back in the news this week. The former MLB slugger has been at the center of a controversy that has gripped the Internet and Sosa has done little to hush the critics. Sosa, known for his infectious smile, is also easily recognizable by his dark skin. But when he showed up on the red carpet at the Latin Grammys in Las Vegas, his skin was much lighter than usual. Combined with his slicked back hair and green contact lenses he looked like a completely different person.
The buzz surrounding Sosa is reminiscent of Michael Jackson's controversial physical transformation. Rumors circulated that the photo was a hoax, or that Sosa was suffering from the skin disease vitiligo as a result of heavy steroid use.
A friend close to Sosa says the slugger is actually going through a "skin rejuvenation" process, which has made his skin lighter.
Quoted in the Chicago Times, Rebecca Polihronis said, "He's not trying to be Michael Jackson. He is going through a rejuvenation process for his skin. Women have it all of the time. He was surprised he came out looking so white. I thought it was a body-double. Part of (the photo appearance) is just the lighting. He is in the middle of doing a cleansing process to his skin. The picture is deceiving. He said, 'If you saw me in person, you would be surprised. When you see me in person, it is not going to seem like the picture'."
See: www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

Dominican wins US horse race
In what has been described as a long-shot winner, 23-year old Dominican jockey Joel Rosario made off with the trophy in the US$2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint, held at the Santa Anita race track in Arcadia, California last Saturday. He thus positions Dominicans as world-class athletes in another sport - along with successes in baseball, basketball, volleyball, and several other sports. He won in a four-horse photo finish, riding Dancing in Silks. The normal eye showed a tie between Crown of Thorns (14-1) and Dancing in Silks (25-1).
Joel Rosario is a native of Pimentel in Duarte province (San Francisco de Macoris). He had a successful career at Santo Domingo's V Centenario Race Track, where he won 1,170 races and had four championship titles before moving to the US. Last December, he was in Puerto Rico where he won the Caribbean Classic riding Sicotico. This was the first time a Dominican jockey has ever won a big name race. He is now among the top 5 money producers for horse owners, with more than US$10 million.

Art auction
Art lovers (especially those with deep pockets) should seriously consider attending the Caribbean Art Auction. Innovative art entrepreneur Mildred Canahuate of Arawak Art Gallery began art auctions in the DR, which are now held from time to time. The next one will take place at the Hotel Melia on 24 November. This time, Canahuate is joining forces with Juan Jose Mesa and Gamal Michelen. The event is described as the largest ever in the country and the second largest in the Caribbean. Mesa says that the event seeks to promote Dominican art to foreign buyers. This year, works from Cuba, Puerto Rico and Haiti will also be featured. The auction has the backing of the Dominican Association of Art Galleries.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar and www.dr1guide.com (for Santo Domingo).

The baseball scores
With minor changes in the standings thus far, the teams in this year's winter league championships have either found their groove or slump. The surprises included the consistency of the Toros, which have kept their grip on first place. Licey and Escogido have their eye on that top spot and are only one game behind, while the Aguilas and Gigantes have continued to give their fans ulcers. Both teams are now four games behind the lead and struggling, and the Estrellas have taken their regular spot at the bottom of the standings. But management has decided on a personnel change that could give the Estrellas a boost. The team has fired manager Carlos Juan Bernhardt and replaced him with former first base coach Rodney Linares. During last night's game the Escogido once again relied on the bat of Conor Jackson, who led them to a 4-3 victory over Licey. In a second game the Estrellas did manage a victory against the Toros, 6-4, behind the arm of Evan MacLane. And in the night's final game foreigners John Halama and Kevin Barker guided the Aguilas to a 9-1 victory over the Gigantes.
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
AZUCAREROS 12 - 7 .632 --
LICEY 11 - 8 .579 1.0
ESCOGIDO 11 - 8 .579 1.0
GIGANTES 8 - 11 .421 4.0
AGUILAS 8 - 11 .421 4.0
ESTRELLAS 7 - 12 .368 5.0
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