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Daily News - Friday, 13 November 2009

DR strong on maritime connectivity
The DR is in the lead among DR-CAFTA signatory countries on the Liner Shipping Connectivity Index (LSCI) for 2009, announced Andres Van der Horst Alvarez, head of the Dominican Republic's National Competitiveness Council. The United Nations Conference on Commerce and Development (UNCTAD) sponsors the index.
Overall, the DR is ranked 47th of 162 countries. In the Americas, the US, Canada, Panama, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and Uruguay ranked higher than the DR.
The higher the ranking, the easier it is to access a high capacity and frequency global maritime freight transport system and thus effectively engage in international trade.
Van der Horst told Listin Diario that the index shows how effectively countries are connected to global shipping networks. He pointed out that the Dominican Republic has greater opportunities for access to import and export freight because it is so well connected.
The official added that the port facilities and costs, together with a location close to major markets and a stable economy have provided the country with this enviable position. He mentioned that the Caucedo Multimodal Port has certainly put the country on the map.
See www.unctad.org

Gazprom coming to the DR
Russian energy giant Gazprom has announced plans to install a natural gas processing plant for vehicular and domestic use in Haina. Some 70 natural gas stations would be installed as part of the project. The natural gas plant will be operational in 3 or 4 years. Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso made the announcement at the Presidential Palace. He said that the installation would include a tank with storage capacity for 250,000 cubic meters of natural gas and three power generation units to produce 300 megawatts. In addition, several power generation modules will be installed, for a US$800 million investment.
Georgy Fokin, director general of Gazprom Transgaz met with President Fernandez at the Presidential Palace yesterday.
Gazprom is the world's largest gas company basically focused on geological exploration, production, transmission, storage, processing and marketing of gas and other hydrocarbons. The Russian state owns a 50.002 per cent controlling stake in Gazprom.

Public Health puts students to work
The Public Health and Education Ministries have joined forces to involve more than 4,000 students from Santo Domingo East in work to show their communities how to prevent dengue and other epidemics affecting the country.
Yesterday, Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez led activities in the Los Mina sector, with the help of 4,334 students and 134 teachers and 39 schools from the area, who toured their neighborhoods advising families on how to prevent dengue and other illnesses.
Rojas Gomez said that the aim is to eliminate 80% of sites where mosquitoes can breed by the month of February 2010, in order to begin the "epidemic year" under control all over the country.
According to current statistics, this year 4,998 cases of dengue have been registered nationwide, with 44 deaths.

Taxman is coming to get you
The Tax Department (DGII) is gradually installing machines to calculate the taxes that traders should be reporting in their statements. Juan Hernandez, the head of the DGII, told Listin Diario reporters that his inspectors would be going after traders who have not set up the system. He said that fast food chains and supermarkets had been hooked up to the system this year and soon hardware stores, the large department stores and restaurants were next on the list. Liquor stores are also on that list.
Hernandez said that large-scale retail stores and business owners are being notified so that the machines can be installed during 2010, and within the timeframe that was published some time ago. The equipment is currently set up in one of the CCN supermarkets (Cuesta-Nacional Group), Pollos Victorina, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Domino's and other fast food chains.

Customs makes gift-giving easier
Christmas is an important time for family gatherings and the Dominican Customs Department (DGA) always makes these meetings better.
Rafael Camilo of the DGA announced that starting at the end of November through 7 January, Dominicans residing abroad are allowed to bring gifts and goods worth US$2,000 duty free. This annual concession is set out in Law 9-96.

Mixed signals on drugs
Today's Diario Libre editorial comments on the mixed messages the government is sending in the war against drugs.
"There is no doubt that the government wants to cleanse itself of the fiasco of drug trafficker Jose Figueroa Agosto's escape and Sobeida Felix Morel's "disappearance", and of the strong rumors suggesting that military, police and civilian government officials have strong ties with both fugitives," writes the newspaper.
It continues:
"The government is trying to cleanse itself in two ways: first, trying to find a scapegoat, which in this case could be the Justice system, when it was not the judiciary that let the two get away. And second, ordering a search that would only be effective if the authorities looked into the linkages that made both their escapes possible.
"That is, wherever you look, someone in government is involved.
"It would be more sensible if responsibilities were established", writes Diario Libre editor Adriano Miguel Tejada. "Why was there no surveillance on Sobeida if it was known that the fugitive Figueroa Agosto was very likely to try to contact her? Why did she not have protection given that drug traffickers or people she could incriminate were likely to try and erase her from the map?" asks the editorialist.
He continues:
"All this brings us back to the analysis on how Figueroa Agosto got away in the first place.
"The impression on the street is that there is a conspiracy to force a change in direction of the institutions that are fighting drug trafficking. Someone is playing a game with two heads.
"It is understandable that the government wants to cleanse itself, but what is not understood is why the old guard let the prey get away so easily."

No one said she couldn't leave
The director of Migration Department, former Chief of the Armed Forces, Rear Admiral Sigfrido Pared Perez said that his department was never notified that Sobeida Feliz could not leave the country, as reported in El Caribe.
The General Prosecutor office replied showing a note dated 19 October at 5pm that it says was sent Migration on the same day and was received at 6:30pm. The document is only signed by someone called "Angelina A".
Senator Wilton Guerrero has said that Sobeida Feliz left the country on a private plane.

Arnaiz: military & police fortunes
Bishop Francisco Jose Arnaiz says it is strange how no one investigates military personnel or police officers who have become inexplicably wealthy. He used one example to press his point, describing a seven-floor apartment building belonging to a Police sergeant. He estimates that the building cost RD$70 million. He gave the address at Avenida Sarasota 143, next door to a private clinic. He lives at Av. Sarasota 145. He said that several businesses operate in the building.
As reported in Hoy, he said that for there to be justice in the DR it has to come from the people themselves, and that people have to change. "What are you going to do? Fill the jails with judges?" he asked. He criticized the ease with which people with drug trade connections were able to evade justice. He called for changes to the Penal Procedures Code to make it more effective in the fight against drug trafficking and crime, reiterating that there were many military and police officials who have fortunes they could not justify.

Subero: everyone to jail now
In the face of widespread criticisms of recent judicial decisions in favor of people accused of crimes, many judges have said that "under no circumstances" would they order any other coercive measures except remand to custody (prison). Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ), Jorge Subero Isa, made the comment in a speech during a ceremony marking the Day of the Public Defender.
"This restriction is going to bring about, invariably, an increase in the prison population," he said.
Subero said that the judges whose decisions have been questioned say that they have been covered by the dispositions established in the Penal Process Code. "The information that I have is that some judges have said that in no circumstances now, as a result of the criticisms that have been expressed, are they going to grant provisional freedom on a bail bond or any other measure."
Subero Isa added that they would use a discretional choice that they have and that is to keep the accused in preventive custody. He commented that he respects judges' independence. On the issue of the decision by the judge of the Seventh Court of Instruction of the National District, Rosanna Vasquez who released Sobeida Feliz Morel, who is linked to a major drug trafficking cartel and subsequently absconded, Subero said that he would wait for the report from the Penal Chamber of the SCJ for their assessment of the judge's decision. He said that the judges have said that they have acted within their guidelines.

Balderas can't win for losing
The Baldera family, which just went through the ordeal of having their son kidnapped and rescued amid a storm of speculations and shootings that resulted in two dead and many more questions than answers, is experiencing more problems. The Superintendence of Banks has closed down their money exchange businesses in Nagua and Samana because they do not have the proper permits. Assistant prosecutor for Nagua, Braulio Duarte made the announcement about the shutdowns. He assured reporters that the "closures are only because of a lack of a proper permit to operate."
Francisco Eduardo Baldera has been operating the Baldera Bienes Raices exchange house in Nagua for over 20 years. His lawyer, Pedro Baldera German said that his client needed to deposit US$30,000 and RD$5 million with the Superintendence of Banks in order to finish the paperwork, which had already been started. He said that his client had been lax in getting all the paperwork in order.

18 years for crime didn't commit
A 40-year old Dominican immigrant, Fernando Bermudez has been acquitted of a 1991 conviction for the murder of Raymond Blount, 16, in Greenwich Village. As reported in the New York Daily News, the judge dismissed the indictment against the father of three. Bermudez was serving a 23-years-to-life sentence at Sing Sing. Supreme Court justice John Cataldo dismissed the case on several grounds: a cooperating witness lied in court and witnesses were improperly allowed to confer about a mug shot of Bermudez before identifying him as the shooter. All have recanted.
As reported in the New York Times, since his conviction, Bermudez had married, become a father and earned two associate's degrees through correspondence programs at the Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, NY. His lawyers have spent most of that time pressing 11 appeals or motions to set aside his conviction.
Read more: www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2009/11/12/... and www.nytimes.com/2009/08/14/nyregion/...

Golf: the "Interior" wins Corrie Cup
The team from the so-called Interior won the weekend battle with the golfers from the Capital in the XV Corrie Cup competition. This year's tournament was dedicated to the memory of Marco Raul Midence, a former champion and one of the originators of the Cup championships, which this year were held in the Punta Cana Resort &Club. The Interior, led by Puerto Plata's Fidi Bordas, included stars such as Hiram Silfa, Marcel Olivares, Federico Valverde, Danny Fernandez and Jorge Medina. This is the second year in a row the "country folks" have won the Jack Corrie Cup, which had not happened very often in the 15 years of the competition.

Baseball Round-up
There were no games in the Dominican Winter League Championship, dedicated to the three Alou brothers.
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
AZUCAREROS 13 - 8 .619 --
LICEY 12 - 9 .571 1.0
ESCOGIDO 12 - 9 .571 1.0
AGUILAS 9 - 12 .428 4.0
GIGANTES 9 - 11 .450 3.5
ESTRELLAS 7 - 13 .350 5.5
Tonight the Estrellas play Licey in Santo Domingo at 7:30; Escogido travels to San Francisco de Macoris to play the Gignates and the Aguilas go all the way to La Romana to meet the Toros del Este. If you go to this game in La Romana, be sure to eat a Dom Ham, a specialty hamburger available nowhere else in the Dominican Republic.
For the schedule of the games in the DR and more on upcoming events nationwide, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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