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Daily News - Friday, 20 November 2009

Government bullish on economy
The Dominican government's economic team is optimistic about growth prospects for the end of the year, as reported in Listin Diario. The team forecasts a growth rate of at least 3% for this year. The IMF forecasts growth of 2.5% for next year with the creation of some 10,000 jobs following the injection of money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the World Bank.
According to Listin Diario, the economic team says that the economy is responding to recent funds injections and results will be seen in less than a month and a half. The best demonstration of that, they say, is the fact that banks have increased loans by RD$29 billion, in contrast to the situation at the end of 2008 and during the first months of this year.
The authorities say that the amount of money being moved by the entire banking community, both public and private is setting the pace, with banks lending money at between 10% and 14%, a low in banking credit in the DR.
They mentioned that commerce had received loans for more than RD$9.5 billion, which they expect will make 2010 a take-off year. The entire agricultural sector has received around RD$4 billion, including fishing and forestry products, says the government. Perhaps more importantly, the housing and construction sector is showing signs of reactivation, with banks lending out RD$4.5 billion for mortgages at a "privileged rate" of 11%. Finally, for the first time in the history of private lending, micro-businesses received RD$1.4 billion worth of financing.
As part of the IMF agreement, the injection of more than a billion dollars into the local market over the next 12 months will permit an acceleration of the economy.
The economic authorities say that the drop in imports had compensated for the drop in export revenues.

2.1 million vaccinated for tetanus
The Ministry of Public Health reports that 2.1 million persons have been vaccinated for tetanus and whooping cough, a milestone figure in the history of the inoculation program. Public Health Minister Dr. Bautista Rojas Gomez says the program is the key factor in the more than 50% drop in deaths from tetanus in the DR during 2009 compared to 2008. In 2008, 54 persons died from tetanus nationwide. He said that vaccination efforts are targeted at rural areas and construction workers. The goal is that there not be a single death from tetanus.

US$110 MM aqueduct for Bani
The National Potable Water and Sewerage Institute (INAPA) has signed a contract with the Dominican-Spanish consortium Acciona Agua-Abikaram-Morilla for the construction of a multi-service system of aqueducts for the province of Peravia (Bani) at a cost of US$110 million. Inapa executive director Mariano German said that the project would supply Bani and 21 surrounding communities with 23 million gallons of potable water per day.
Construction could begin as soon as next February if Congress approves the proposal and the funds arrive on time. The money for the project will come from credits from the Spanish government (US$99.6 million) and US$10.4 million that the Ministry of Hacienda is negotiating with international banks.
The project will use water from the Valdesia Dam for the aqueducts. A total of 17.5 kilometers of pipeline will be installed to benefit 138,000 people initially, and a projected 310,000 by 2030.
The Acciona Agua-Abikaram-Morilla group won a public tender in which major construction companies such as Odebrecht, Vinci and Biwater took part.

AMET takes, AMET returns
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) has returned a total of 783 vehicles to their owners after receiving payment of the corresponding fines, late fees and sticker price for the renewal of the tax on using the nation's roads. They also hauled in 3,185 vehicles for not having the marbete sticker showing that the tax had been paid to the Department of Taxes (DGII).
The operation to seize vehicles without stickers began on 18 November, after the three-month period for the sticker acquisition expired.
Hundreds of thousands of drivers who had been counting on an extension of the process were surprised by the aggressive behavior of the AMET officers in their "Smoky the Bear" hats. Dozens of cars were hauled away every minute, with more than a thousand in Santo Domingo alone and more than 500 in Santiago. The resulting traffic tie-ups were also noteworthy.
Traffic Law #241 sets out that: "No vehicle can travel on the public roads without being duly authorized for this by the DGII."
According to El Nuevo Diario, the DGII has gone as far as to set up an office at the old dog track to facilitate the dispatch of new stickers for people whose vehicles have been towed away.
Diario Libre reported that 20% of one million vehicle owners still needed to obtain their stickers, and that in Santo Domingo province some people were scammed after trusting others to get the document for them by paying less.

Shell signs its sell off
The Shell Company announced yesterday that it signed a sales agreement for its businesses in the DR with the Grupo Sol, with the exception of Lubricantes Dominicanos (Lubridom). Even though the multinational company did not reveal the amount involved in the sale, it reported that the deal has not yet been finalized. The agreement includes Shell's service stations, industries and businesses. The sale also includes the distribution of products and lubricants as well as the continued use of the Shell brand name under a licensing agreement.
The Marti and Vicini groups took part in the transaction, each one with around a 30% share. On the 10 June 2008, Shell's representative in the country Rafael Maradiaga told Diario Libre that they were negotiating the sale of their 137 gasoline stations and that whoever bought them would have to pay royalties, as is the case with any other global brand.
In a brief statement, the Shell Company pointed out that the sale of these businesses will permit it to focus its investments in areas where it can substantially grow and at the same time it will enable investors in the DR to continue operating and serving this important market.
"Completing and closing the sale depends on both parties, Sol and Shell, fulfilling certain agreed requisites," reported the Sol Group, which is from Barbados and which was set up through the acquisition of Shell's distribution and retail outlets (service stations) in the Eastern Caribbean, Guyana, Suriname and Belize in February 2005. Sol acquired The Shell Company in Puerto Rico in August 2006, which became known as Sol Puerto Rico Limited. Sol purchased most of Esso's assets in Suriname and Guyana in November 2007 and in Haiti on 29 February 2008.

JCE to hold PRD hearing today
Factions of the PRD will face off today in public hearings at the Central Electoral Board (JCE) Disputes Chamber. The session is being convened to discuss challenges to the results of the XXVII Ordinary National Convention.
PRD president Miguel Vargas Maldonado announced that lawyers Hugo Tolentino Dipp and Enmanuel Esquea Guerrero would defend the position and legality of the party's resolutions. He said that he expects that the electoral tribunal will rule in favor of the PRD, which will enable the party to proclaim the 3,371 PRD members who were selected for all the party's posts in the legislative and municipal election of 16 May 2010 during the last convention.
Vargas Maldonado reiterated that all the party's internal bodies had heard the challenges from leading PRD members Guido Gomez Mazara and Tony Pena Guaba, who were exercising their rights.
Meanwhile, former President Hipolito Mejia told reporters that he was confident of the honesty, impartiality and ability of the Disputes Chamber judges. He gave the example of the previous confrontations within the PRD, in which the JCE members had acted in strict accordance with the Constitution, the Electoral Law and the party statutes. "This is an important contribution to the strengthening of the party system and Dominican democracy", he said.

The tangled affairs of drug kings
The Prosecutor for the National District has told reporters that Leavy Yadira Nin Batista and/or Fior Jansen Rodriguez, the wife of the fugitive drug trafficker Jose D. Figueroa Agosto, has multiple assets and increasing wealth that cannot be justified by any legitimate source. He says this is evidence of her ties to converting, transferring, acquiring, possessing and administering the assets that come from crimes of drug and arms trafficking.
In a brief, he asks the judge of the Sixth Court of Instruction Clara Luz Almonte Gomez to apply special complex affairs regulations to the file. He says that the capital acquired by the implicated woman comes from her husband's illicit activities. The magistrate will hear the request next Tuesday at 9am.
District Prosecutor Alejandro Moscoso Segarra listed assets acquired by Nin Batista as an apartment in the Piantini neighborhood. There is also an apartment in the Naco area and another in Santo Domingo East.

DNCD nab 4 more in Higuey
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) reported the capture of 4 more men in the sugar cane fields of the "batey" Palo Bonito yesterday in connection with the small plane seized in the area on Wednesday morning.
Colombian Jose Luis Moreno Torres, Venezuelan Jose Eltinio Vivas, Haitian William Boyer (a.k.a. La Rata) and Dominican Jorge Castillo (a.k.a.) El Grande were arrested in the cane fields where they were apparently hiding out while the area was being searched by the authorities. The DNCD is waiting for test results on the airplane from the forensics laboratory today to establish the presence of traces of cocaine.
The DNCD chief, who has been in the area since Thursday night, instructed a team from the regional office headquarters in La Romana to search the whole area with the aim of capturing other suspects who may be linked to the case.
DNCD spokesman Roberto Lebron said that investigations are being carried out in order to locate the cocaine consignment suspected to have been transported in the Cessna 206 with the Venezuelan tail number YV1133, and to locate the owners of the cargo.

Drug lab closed
The National Drug Control Department has announced the dismantling of a cocaine preparation lab and the arrest of three brothers. The DNCD says the three were arrested in possession of 108 bags of cocaine, 32 of crack, a gun, lab equipment, and dozens of capsules used by "mules" that transport the drug in their stomachs on international flights. The arrested men are Franklin (35), Manuel (33) and Luis German Mieses Rosario (48). The lab was located in Los Tres Ojos in Santo Domingo East. The DNCD said that the lab had been under surveillance for around 3 weeks.

New Trujillo book
Diario Libre reports that a new book by Angelita Trujillo, daughter of former Dominican Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo Molina, is being launched on 15 January 2010. The book is about her father's life and his days in government. But Diario Libre says the book could go on sale earlier to coincide with the Christmas shopping season. The book launch will take place simultaneously in Miami, Florida and Santo Domingo. The ceremony will feature the presence of Ms. Trujillo, and be transmitted by teleconference to the event in Santo Domingo.
The book is described as an academic work of over 600 pages, featuring dozens of previously unpublished photographs of the Trujillo family. Of all the surviving members of the Trujillo family, his widow Maria Martinez and his brother Hector never gave any press interviews. Angelita is reported to have compiled these memories and first-hand impressions of the regime and its personalities based on long conversations with her mother. It is reported that although the book tries to maintain an impartial tone, "there are some very tough chapters".
Maria de los Angeles Trujillo Martinez (Angelita), was born on 10 June 1939 in Paris. The outbreak of the Second World War forced Trujillo to return to the Dominican Republic by ship with his newborn daughter. Trujillo created the Colegio Santo Domingo, staffed by Canadian nuns so that she could get a better education, and during the Feria de la Paz y Confraternidad del Mundo Libre (the Free World Fair of Peace and Brotherhood), Angelita was "elected" queen. Her costly gown and ermine cape in a tropical country provoked a storm of comments. Angelita was married twice, first to Luis Jose Leon Estevez and then to Luis Jose Dominguez Rodriguez, both colonels in the Dominican Air Force. With her first husband, a native of Canca, Tamboril, she had 3 children, Luis Jose, Rafael Leonidas, and Maria de los Angeles Leon Trujillo. With her second husband, a native of Gurabo, Santiago, she had 4 more children, Maria Mercedes, Luis Jose Ramfis, Maria Laura and Maria Julia Dominguez Trujillo.

New Canadian Embassy
The Embassy of Canada reports that the telephone number for its new Acropolis Center offices is 809 262-3100. The Embassy is relocating to the 18th floor of the Citigroup Tower at Winston Churchill 1099, in Santo Domingo's Piantini sector.

Arawak's homage to dance
Arawak Art Gallery is presenting an exhibition on dance, with 14 acrylic and pastel works of art on the theme by Maestro Ramon Oviedo. "Dance Divertimento" will be open through 12 December. The exhibition comes on the tail of the recent National Biennial of the Visual Arts that honored the 85th anniversary of Oviedo's birth, with a retrospective at the Palace of Fine Arts. Arawak Art Gallery is located at Rafael Augusto Sanchez N? 53, Piantini, Tel. 809 565-3614.

Artisans Fair
The Alternative Handcraft Fair is set for the Plazoleta Fray Bartolome de las Casas in the Colonial City, at Padre Billini and Arzobispo Merino, across from La Bricciola Restaurant. Proceeds of sales will benefit the Fundacion Hogar de Ninas Madelaes, a girls' orphanage. Dominican artists will present unique pieces of handcraft by Kilia Llano, Norberto Aquino, Enrique Royo, Bernardita Garcia and Daysi David. There will be original creations by Vianna Pacheco, Manuel Ochoa, Popi Victorino, Pedro Javier Mendoza and Boutique Artesanal Duendes del Caribe. The fair is open from 10am to 9pm and will be held from 27 to 29 November.

Christmas carols in Punta Cana
As part of commemorations of the 40th anniversary of the Puntacana Group, founders of the Punta Cana tourism area, the National Symphony Orchestra and the National Choir will perform a gala concert at the Basilica Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia in the city of Higuey. Maestro Jose Antonio Molina will conduct the orchestra, and Jose Enrique Espin the choir. The event will take place on 11 December at 7pm. The Group contributes to the culture and art in the province of La Altagracia through its Foundation. During the performance, Maestro Molina will release new compositions and will feature Christmas classics from all over the world, as well as Latin American and Dominican music.
Maestro Molina is the most outstanding Dominican orchestra director of all times. He has served as the director and arranger for the Pavarotti & Friends concerts since 1996 and has directed the National Symphony Orchestra since March this year.

Paulina Rubio coming to Chavon
Mexican pop singer Paulina Rubio is booked for an Altos de Chavon performance in La Romana. She is including the DR in her world tour, "Paulina Gran City Pop Tour." The performance is set for Wednesday, 30 December, marking the start of the New Year's long weekend, including Thursday, 31 December, Friday, 1 January, Saturday, 2 January and Sunday, 3 January.

Codetel marathon
More than 1,600 athletes from 6 countries have registered for the 24th International Codetel Marathon that will be run this Saturday, as of 4pm around the Mirador del Sur Park. RD$1 million in cash prizes plus awards will be given out. The City of Santo Domingo has denominated the road race as its official marathon. Competitors between the ages of 15 to 90 and people with special needs, including visually impaired runners are taking part. The starting point for the 10 km run is on Cayetano Germosen Avenue at the intersection with Italia.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar

Baseball roundup
The cellar-dwelling Estrellas Orientales staged a spectacular come-from-behind rally in the 9th inning to defeat the Leones del Escogido 8-6 before an astonished crowd of Escogido fans in the Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo. This was just the 9th win in 27 games for the Estrellas.
In Santiago, the unusually meek Aguilas fell once again to the Tigres de Licey in a near-empty Estadio Cibao. With a losing record the notoriously fickle fans are just not going to the ballpark. The game itself was a 12-5 blowout by the very powerful Licey team, which started out with a 3-0 lead in the very first inning and never looked back. Both these teams have won more than 40 of the championships since baseball became a professional sport in the 1950s.
In La Romana, the league-leading Toros del Este increased their lead over the Leones del Escogido by defeating the visiting Gigantes del Cibao in a "squeaker", 9-8. The Toros came close to blowing a 9-1 lead as the Gigantes battled back in the 5th and 8th innings to come within one run. The Toros used 6 pitchers to stop the Gigantes. For the calendar of upcoming games, see www.dr1.com/calendar
Standings:
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
AZUCAREROS 18 - 9 .667 --
ESCOGIDO 16 - 11 .593 2.0
LICEY 15 - 11 .576 2.5
AGUILAS 12 - 15 .444 6.0
GIGANTES 10 - 16 .385 7.5
ESTRELLAS 9 - 18 .333 9.0
Today's games
* Santo Domingo, Estadio Quisqueya. 7:30pm.
Aguilas (J. Halama) vs Tigres del Licey (E. Rogers)
* San Francisco de Macoris, Julian Javier Stadium. 7:30pm.
Toros (W. Wright) vs Gigantes (J. Capellan)
* San Pedro de Macoris, Tetelo Vargas Ball Park at 8pm.
Escogido (N. Rodriguez) vs Estrellas (E. MacLean)
 
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