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Daily News - Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Colombian business mission
President Leonel Fernandez has held a meeting with Colombian business leaders interested in doing business in the DR. It was agreed that a Dominican government mission would travel to Colombia in January to study the feasibility of several projects. Eddy Martinez, of the Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD) said that the Colombians are interested in building roads and housing in the DR, and in investing in a number of sectors including electricity, health, farming, food production, tourism, ports and installing natural gas dispensers. Dominican ambassador in Colombia Angel Lockward accompanied the 28-member Colombian mission.

Power for the holidays
State-owned Electricity Companies (CDEEE) vice president Celso Marranzini says that the DR's energy problems are "disappearing" and that the lights would be on during the holiday season. Quoted in Hoy, Marranzini said, "The problems are already disappearing, because short-term measures are being taken which are improving the system." However, Marranzini's promises are just that to most people, considering the continuing power outages. Neighborhoods in the DR are experiencing up to 16 hours of blackouts and areas that were previously receiving 24-hours of power are now experiencing prolonged blackouts.

Electricity fraud list made public
The Superintendence of Electricity has announced it has pressed electricity fraud charges against 40 individuals and companies, out of a list of 156 individuals and companies that was released to the press yesterday, as reported in Diario Libre.
Superintendent Francisco Mendez says that fraud accounts for US$2.5 billion in losses. The Superintendence also acknowledged that governmental Dominican Social Security Institute hospitals owe RD$800 million in unpaid electricity consumption. Of this amount, RD$600 million is owed to the EdeSur power distribution company.

Soccer field dispute cleared up
Public Works Minister Victor Diaz Rua has confirmed that the fenced soccer field built on the grounds of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Stadium is indeed private. But he said that while it would be used by the employees of Brazilian company Construtora Norberto Odebrecht, once the overpass construction entrusted to the company is completed, the field will be opened to the general public. Marcos Machado, director of the Duarte Corridor project, said that soccer is very important for the Brazilians. He said the field was built in an area designated for the Odebrecht headquarters and had been authorized by Diaz and Sports Minister Felix "Jay" Payano.
The company, in association with Grupo Estrella, is building the Duarte Corridor, a series of overpasses along 27 de Febrero and John F. Kennedy avenues and the Duarte Highway. Diaz said the company had also built a private soccer field in Mao when they were constructing the Northwest Line Aqueduct.
Diaz said that the company would build several public works to compensate for the environmental damage caused by the construction works.

Long lines for marbetes
Although drivers were given at least four months to get their marbete stickers, as of 5pm Tuesday afternoon, 300,000 drivers, about 30% of the car-owning population, still hadn't fulfilled the essential requirement for driving a vehicle in the DR. In previous years, extensions were given, but not this year.
Long lines could be seen at large and small branches of banks yesterday, with frustration mounting for many drivers. Hoy reports that system failures affected the process at several banks, which were hard-pressed to handle the avalanche of last minute requests in the final three days.
The Tax Department (DGII) has collected RD$819 million from the 604,370 drivers who did pay their tax. Of this total, RD$49.5 million was received through the DGII's online payment option, with the remaining RD$769,553,6000 being paid through banks or savings and loans institutions.
The RD$600 late payment penalty applied as of today. AMET officers were sent to city intersections and streets to catch drivers who don't have the sticker on their vehicle.
Keeping to their word, on the first day (Wednesday, 18 November) they confiscated 1,148 vehicles across the country. About 740 cars were impounded in the province of Santo Domingo with 133 taken in the eastern provinces, 67 in the south, 145 in the north, and 63 in the northeast.
Drivers can still pay for their marbetes between 8am and 4pm today, but the stickers can only be purchased at the DGII offices, so expect long lines.

Montas admits there is corruption
Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas has admitted that there are alarmingly high levels of corruption in the DR government. Montas' admission followed the announcement that the DR is among the most corrupt countries in the world, ranked 99th on a list of 180 countries.
Montas says the current administration has passed laws to limit corruption. The rankings were compiled by global anti-corruption coalition Transparency International. In Latin America and the Caribbean only Jamaica, Bolivia, Argentina, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Venezuela and Haiti are perceived to be more corrupt. The DR is ranked 21st out of 31 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The DR received a Corruption Perception Index (CPI) of 3.0.

Calderon gets the boot
The writing was on the wall and Rafael Calderon, the PRD deputy for Azua and former administrative secretary during the Hipolito Mejia administration, had been preparing for the outcome.
The PRD has agreed to expel Calderon from the party. It is now likely that Calderon will move to the ranks of the PLD.
Veteran PRD stalwart Calderon was a friend of late PRD leader Jose Francisco Pena Gomez and a close aide of former president Hipolito Mejia. Calderon says he became disenchanted when current PRD president Miguel Vargas Maldonado promised the Azua Deputy post to an ally, instead of allowing him to run for re-election. Calderon then met with President Leonel Fernandez to discuss the possibility of running on a PLD ticket. Calderon said that Fernandez said he would consult the PLD party on the issue.
The PRD also agreed to reject fraud claims by Guido Gomez Mazara and Tony Pena Guaba.

Clutching at straws?
With no real leads on the whereabouts of fugitive drug trafficker Jose Figueroa Agosto or his lover/accomplice Sobeida Feliz, the police are turning their attention to Feliz's ex-husband Eddy Antonio Brito Martinez as a key witness. Although police have said they have not found any direct connection between Brito and the case, they have no other leads. Brito is seen as the last remaining link to Figueroa and Feliz. Hoy reports that Brito is considered a flight risk because he could have easy access to fake cedulas or passports and visas.
Hoy is also reporting that Brito's imminent detention is partly due to the DR's weak immigration security system that could allow Brito to slip through their fingers. Another aspect that has come to light in this media-frenzied case is that it is unclear whether Feliz and Brito are legally divorced.

Fugitive pedophile arrested
The National Drug Control Department and Migration officers have arrested a Dutch pedophile. Named by the police as "Anne Krottje", he is a fugitive from Dutch justice and will now be deported to Amsterdam. He is due to serve jail sentences on charges of pedophilia and drug trafficking. He was arrested in a parking lot at a shopping center in La Vega and taken to the DNCD headquarters in Santo Domingo to await deportation. The DNCD says Krottje fled Holland in 2007. He was first charged with child sexual abuse in 2004.

Little sex education
According to Omnicom Media Group's first poll on sexual activity in the DR, 69% of those polled said they received no sex education from their parents but 45% did not receive sex education from either their parents or their school. The poll revealed that 31% of women and 51% of men had sexual relations before the age of 18 and in an interesting statistic, 80% of men say they need sex frequently as opposed to 55% of women. Forty seven percent of men admit to having more than 20 sexual partners or more, while only 10% of women claim to have had as many. The poll also reveals that 73% of men feel the need to know their partner before they have sexual relations with them. This number is much higher with women, of whom 93% say they must know they partner.
The Sexual Behavior 2009 poll was conducted online by the Brand Science division of the Omnicon Media Group.
The results can be seen at http://comportamientosexual.org/

Global Film Festival
III Dominican Republic Global Film Festival 2009 opens today at the National Theater and will run through 22 November. Organized by the Dominican Republic Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (Funglode) it is about global issues and personal stories. World reknown figures have come for the event, including the legendary Omar Shariff.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar

The baseball scores
There have been slight changes to the standings but the Toros continue playing outstanding ball. They have proved to be one of the many surprises of the year. The Escogido are now looking like a real championship contender, with fans hoping that this is fact "the Year of the Reds". There have been some stunners at the bottom of the standings with the Aguilas and the Gigantes fighting for the scraps at the bottom. This has been a surprise as the Aguilas are usually fighting with Licey for the top spot of the standings, and the Gigantes have come off two outstanding regular season campaigns in 2007 and 2008. In last night's match-ups Joel Guzman took care of the Aguilas by hitting two bombs, helping the Estrellas to the 13-5 victory. The night's second game pitted the two top teams,
Escogidos vs Toros, with the Toros taking the game 8-2, with the offensive help of Gary Sanchez, who hit his first homerun of the year.
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
AZUCAREROS 16 - 9 .640 --
ESCOGIDO 15 - 10 .600 1.0
LICEY 14 - 10 .583 1.5
AGUILAS 11 - 14 .440 5.0
GIGANTES 10 - 11 .450 5.5
ESTRELLAS 8 - 17 .320 8.0
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