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Daily News - Monday, 21 December 2009

Preval will visit in January
Haitian President Rene Preval confirmed he would visit Santo Domingo in the first week of January. He made the announcement after an hour and a half meeting with Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas in Haiti. Preval accepted the invitation to come with Prime Minister Jean-Max Belerive. During the meeting, Montas was accompanied by the director of bilateral cooperation of the Ministry of Economy, Inocencio Garcia and Dominican ambassador in Haiti Ruben Silie. The talks centered on activating the Dominican-Haitian Bilateral Commission.
During the meeting, the still-enforced prohibition on Dominican poultry and egg imports to Haiti as well as the need to re-launch several joint programs, including academic exchanges were discussed. Montas said they talked about cooperation programs and bilateral trade as well as border infrastructure projects, the need for close ties between both countries' farming authorities, and health and forestation programs.

Budget goes to Deputies tomorrow
The Chamber of Deputies will review the 2010 National Budget this Tuesday. The Senate approved the budget proposal received from the Executive Branch on Thursday, after two consecutive readings, without changes. The Budget totals RD$378,997,500,000 after an agreement reached between Hacienda Minister Vicente Bengoa and Central Bank governor Hector Valdez Albizu on resources for the recapitalization of the CB.
According to the report, the budget was drafted in the context of the Stand-by Arrangement signed with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in November. The budget will involve commercial bank borrowing to inject new resources into the economy, foreign financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank and other international financial organizations.
The budget was submitted by the Executive Branch on 24 November and studied by a joint commission headed by Senator Dionis Sanchez and deputy Jose Cabrera.

More money flows today
Beginning today, the government will disburse RD$6 billion in salaries for the month of December through the Banco de Reservas. This follows the Christmas bonus or 13th salary that was paid starting 10 December, as reported in El Nuevo Diario. The newspaper reports that so far, all government employees except those who work at the Dominican Institute of Social Security have collected their "Christmas bonus". IDSS head Dr. Sabino Baez is RD$200 million short of fulfilling the Institute's obligations and employees at IDSS hospitals have protested the delay.

Thousands of cops on the streets
The chief of the National Police has ordered a further 16,000 agents to be added to those currently patrolling the streets, with the aim of preventing robberies, attacks and other crimes during the Christmas holidays.
Major General Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin called on the media to compare police on duty patrolling this year to last year. He said that as a result, there has been a decline in crime. Overall, Operation Safe Christmas has posted 28,000 agents on the streets, under the supervision of general officers of the institution. Patrols have been increased along Santo Domingo's El Conde and Duarte Avenues, and other major commercial areas across the country, as well as the areas close to banks.

Major snowstorm cancels flights
Aerodom, the company that runs Las Americas and Puerto Plata International Airports, reports that the big snowstorm that swept across the northeastern United States forced the cancellation of dozens of flights, leaving passengers stranded at both Dominican and US airports. Worst affected were Liberty Airport in Newark, New Jersey, JFK in New York City and Philadelphia's airport. Jet Blue, American, Delta and Continental all cancelled flights. As much as two feet of snow fell in some places between Washington, D.C. and Boston.

Local weather and the COE plan
The Dominican 'winter' officially starts today, with a frontal system located over the Windward Canal, which will bring showers to the northeast, the north, the northwest, the Cibao Valley and the Central Mountains as well as along the frontier. According to a bulletin from the National Meteorological Office, temperatures will be slightly lower for the next 24 to 36 hours.
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) has launched its 2009-2010 "Born on Christmas" Plan with 39,000 volunteers, in an effort to reduce the holiday death toll, especially resulting from traffic accidents, like one in Moca yesterday that took the lives of two young men and seriously injured another. General Juan Manuel Mendez said that they have a serious challenge ahead in trying to reduce accidents, most of which (87%) are caused by motorcycles.
The general said that the latest Christmas and Easter Week operations have shown the COE that more than 80% of deaths are related to motorcycle accidents when drivers don't use helmets or are driving under the influence of alcohol. The first phase of the operation will begin at 2pm on 24 December and ends Sunday 27 December. Mendez has warned farmers in the Monte Plata area to keep animals far away from the Samana toll road in order to prevent accidents, saying that owners would be fined. Mendez also identified the critical points along the Duarte Highway, such as Kms 22 and 28, the entrances to Villa Altagracia, La Cumbre, Piedra Blanca, Bonao and Sonador, the toll station in La Vega and the entrance to Santiago.

Network laundered billions in the East
Twenty properties, including plots, luxury villas, commercial malls, housing projects and apartments have been seized from Ricardo Diez Conde. Spaniard Diez Conde is described as having close links to an alleged network of international drug traffickers that used the country to launder billions of pesos. The seizures were carried out at the request of Spanish judge Baltazar Garzon in Madrid, as reported in Diario Libre.
The 20 properties seized from the fugitive are located in the municipality of Higuey. As reported, these include a villa located in Punta Cana with a surface area of 2,094m2 inside the Tortuga Bay project. Likewise, a 12,577 m2 parcel 67-B-181 of Cadastral District No. 11-3rd, as well as a commercial plaza called Coral Park, built on this same site. Also taken was a Cessna 402B airplane that is parked at the La Isabela International Airport in Santo Domingo.
Judge Garzon says that Diez Conde, who also possessed a Venezuelan passport in the name of Ruben Ramos Ortega, is also known as "the Emigrant". The judge said that the accused belongs to an organization that planned to bring cocaine from some point in South America into Spain, and then later launder the amount of money that came from the illegal sale of the drugs.
He said that they had also identified Madrid resident Oscar Eduardo Salazar Molina and some of his family members, as well some friends who worked for the accused, and so detected the group's social network.
In June 2007, Jose Belisario Pinieros Rodriguez and Alexandra Duran Marin were identified as the main leaders of the organization, whose role was to get the money out of Spain to South America through Spanish airports using a series of concealment methods. In his request for international cooperation sent to the Dominican Republic Prosecutor General, Garzon said that Belisario Pinieros and Duran Marin were arrested in Spain with 110 kgs of cocaine in July, hidden in wooden furniture that came from Venezuela.
He added that Salazar Molina and Pinieros Rodriguez had met with Jose Luis Diez Perez who handed over EUR20,000 to Pinieros who, in turn handed it over to Diez Conde. Ricardo Alvarez Barrera, a confidant of the fugitive, was detained after 69kgs of cocaine were found in the trunk of the car that he was driving, and they found 176 kilograms of the drug, hidden in excavating machines, EUR200,000 and a firearm inside a building he had been observed leaving. The Spanish judge says that during a series of recorded telephone conversations they mentioned several properties located in the Dominican Republic in which Conde Diez and Salazar Molina had invested money.

Higuey jail murder plan foiled
The Department of Prisons reports that it foiled plans for a riot at the Higuey jail with the intention of masking the killing of several people being held there in connection with a drug-trafficking flight. The men were arrested after the detection of a Cessna 206 in the Los Jobos area in a cane field in the province. Basically, the plan was to kill Dominican, Venezuelan and Colombian nationals Esteban Cedeno, Daniel Colorado, Carlos Gaviria, Alexander Vasquez, Oscar Rojas and Pedro Alonzo Gallo, who have since been sent to Najayo jail in San Cristobal.
According to the department, Cedeno enjoyed many privileges, such as the use of cell phones and frequent visits by prostitutes and friends allegedly linked to drug trafficking. He allegedly paid the sum of RD$500,000 a month for these privileges, which also prevented him from being transferred to another jail. An early morning search of his cell revealed a stock of 10 cell phones, a knife, 6 phone chips and other "prohibited" objects. As a result of these discoveries, the prison warden and secretary were suspended, as was the person in charge of security who was known to play dominoes with the prisoner.

DNCD also stages a roundup
Some 200 people were arrested across the country during a combined operation by the National Drug Control Department (DNCD) and the National Police. The swoop allowed agents to take known and recidivist drug sellers out of circulation, many of whom were surprised while sleeping in their houses, while others were caught in the act of plying their trade.
The raids took place in Santo Domingo, San Cristobal, San Francisco de Macoris, La Romana and other cities.
In the capital and San Cristobal alone, 51 people were arrested with hundreds of portions of cocaine, crack, marijuana as well as scales and weapons.
The blitz began at 6am and the police made hundreds of inspections and searches in the presence of assistant prosecutors assigned to the jurisdictions where the arrests and confiscations took place. This is the continuation of Phase III of Christmas Without Drugs Program, was supported by a helicopter and several launches that assisted in the searches of the barrios of the capital that are situated along the banks of the Ozama River.

Arts & Crafts
Fundacion Arawak/Arte Contemporaneo presents an exhibition of outstanding arts & crafts at Rafael Augusto Sanchez 53, Evaristo Morales. The exhibition is open in evening hours: Thursday 17 December to Thursday 31 December from 7:30 to 10:30pm. For more information, call Mildred Canahuate at 809 565-3614. Sponsored by Pinturas Tropical.
For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar

Baseball weekend results
On Friday night, the Aguilas Cibaenas kept their playoff hopes alive with some good pitching from lefty Ben Jukich and good hitting by Jose Fernandez, Chris de la Cruz and Luis Terrero to defeat the Leones del Escogido in Santo Domingo by a score of 7-2. Jukich did not allow a single runner to reach second base until the fifth inning while striking out 5 Leones. The Tigres del Licey were defeating the Toros del Este 6-4 when rain forced the game to be halted. It was close to midnight by the time the ground crew took off the tarps and tried to get the field back into shape.
Meanwhile, in "Death Valley", Julian Javier Stadium in San Francisco de Macoris, the Gigantes were able to defeat the Estrellas 3-0 in a tough game. The Estrellas have been eliminated from the round-robin stage of the tournament but they do show up to play ball every night. Only timely hitting by Wilson Betemit and Francisco Peguero, together with excellent pitching by Jose Capellan, permitted the Gigantes to win, yet again.
On Saturday, the Leones assured themselves of at least a tie for first place with a 6-1 victory over the Gigantes in the Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo. Meanwhile, the Toros and the Tigres put an end to their worries and ensured their classification in the round-robin portion of the tournament with victories. The Toros continued to dominate the Aguilas in what used to be "Death Valley", winning 8-3. The Tigres had to go into extra innings to defeat the Estrellas, who never seem to give up, by a score of 5-4. As a result of Saturday's games, the Gigantes have a "magic number" of one to classify for the Round-Robin portion: a Gigantes victory or an Aguilas loss puts them into the semi-final stage of the tournament.
On Sunday, Willy Otanez hit a homerun to help the Leones del Escogido defeat the Tigres del Licey by a score of 10-1, in the Estadio Quisqueya. At the ancient Tetelo Vargas Stadium in San Pedro de Macoris, the Estrellas took vengeance on the Toros del Este, winning 11-8 and pounding out 17 his in so doing. In the Estadio Cibao, long the scene of joyous celebrations, a more serious mood fell over the small crowd. For the first time in 18 years, the Aguilas will not be in the round-robin portion of the tournament. Yes, the Gigantes del Cibao defeated the Aguilas Cibaenas by a score of 3-0 and ended their playoff hopes. Aquilino Lopez and 4 more pitchers did the shutout for the Gigantes who came into the Aguilas' nest and beat them once again.

Standings
Team W-L Avg. Diff.
*ESCOGIDO 30 - 19 .612 --
*GIGANTES 27 - 22 .551 3.0
*LICEY 27 - 22 .551 3.0
*AZUCAREROS 27 - 22 .551 3.0
**AGUILAS 24 - 25 .480 6.0
**ESTRELLAS 15 - 34 .306 15.0

*Already classified
** Already Eliminated

Tonight's games and probable starters
- Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo 7:30pm.
Estrellas (E. MacLane) vs. Tigres (D. Cabrera)
- Estadio Julian Javier ("Death Valley"), San Francisco de Macoris 7:30pm.
Escogido (F. Liriano) vs. Gigantes (R. Perez)
- Estadio Francisco Micheli, La Romana, 7:30pm.
Aguilas (F. Carmona) vs. Toros (R. Valdez)

 
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