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Daily News - Tuesday, 29 December 2009

DR1 News breaks for the holidays
We assume no news is good news. Thus, as of tomorrow, Wednesday 30 December, the DR1 Daily News takes a break for the New Year holidays to concentrate on the good news. The news digest will not be updated until the Monday, 4 January issue that will summarize headline-making stories for the New Year holiday period.
The DR1 Forums will continue open 24/7 for posting and commenting on news stories at www.dr1.com/forums
Happy holidays and wishing the best for the New Year!

Enhanced security at airports
Airline passengers now have to deal with new security measures. Following recommendations from the US Transportation Security Agency (TSA), passengers bound for the United States will no longer be allowed to carry liquid substances on to planes or turn on electronic devices during flights. Passengers may carry the equipment on board, but will not be allowed to turn them on. Dorian Martinez, president of the Airlines Committee at Las Americas International Airport, said the suggestions by the TSA were announced after last Friday's thwarted terrorist attack in the US. Toothpaste, floss, liquid substances, scissors, gels and aerosol cans will also not be permitted in carry on luggage. New measures also dictate that passengers must remain seated for the one-hour period before the plane lands, and will only be allowed to go to the bathroom or stand up in emergency situations. During this period passengers will not be allowed to use pillows or blankets. Passengers are asked to be at the airport at least 3 hours before check-in.

AMET retains 31 freight trucks
The southern regional commander for the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) says that 31 freight trucks were detained over the Christmas holidays for violating the decree that bans them from using the highways without special authorization. Over the holidays, the authorities ban freighters from major roads to reduce traffic accidents over this domestic peak transit period.
The Ministry of Public Works had banned the circulation of heavy trucks from Thursday, 24 December at noon through Saturday, 26 December at 6am. The measure, which is aimed at preventing accidents over the holidays, will also be in effect from Thursday, 31 December at noon to Saturday, 2 January 2010 at 6am.

The economy grew
Initial reports from the DR's Central Bank indicate that the economy is most likely to end the year with a 3.5% increase. This is slightly higher than the 3% growth originally estimated for the Gross Domestic Product. According to the CB's preliminary report, there is a direct correlation between the growth of the GDP and private credit. The authorities say the economy responded well to monetary measures taken to reactivate bank lending to the private sector. These measures included a reduction in prime rate, bank reserve levels, changes in banking prudential norms and liquidity provision levels that resulted in declines in bank lending rates that stimulated borrowing. The bank lending rate declined from a 25.17% average in January 2009 to 13.73% average in December. The declining interest rate created an incentive for private credit, and generated RD$34 billion in credit in 2009.
The Central Bank said that the recovery began in the quarter April-June 2009 with a 1.8% growth rate, which increased to 3.4% for the July-September quarter. The Central Bank says that given its solidity and stability of the financial system, Dominican banks were able to respond rapidly to the stimulating measures.
The sectors of the economy that most benefited from these changes were commerce, the real estate market, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and small business loans.
The report states that the level of gross international reserves hovers around US$3.2 billion and net international reserves register at around US$2.8 billion.
International liquid reserves also registered at US$1.6 billion. The balance of payment has also experienced increased strengthening, registering a deficit of -5.25% in 2009, a vast increase compared to the -9.7% increase of the GDP in 2008, for a reduction of 4.5%. This is partly due to a decrease in imports of US$3.73 billion, particularly oil imports which decreased by US$1.72 billion. The deficit of the current accounts closed the year at US$2.2 billion while foreign direct investment registered US$2.06 billion.
Hoy writes that the DR's 2.1% growth during the first 9 months of the year was the highest growth rate in Latin America.
See http://www.bancentral.gov.do

Time to change the economic model
Santiago Chamber of Commerce president Oliverio Espaillat has backed statements by President Leonel Fernandez, saying that the country's economic model needs to change. Espaillat is in favor of a model that focuses on the country's productive sectors. He says that there needs to be full support for a change in mindset so the country can become a leading exporter. "This means that fiscal and monetary macroeconomic policies need to be modified and coordinated so that they directly support these activities," he said, as reported in El Nacional. Espaillat says that the creation of jobs in the formal sector depends on this. Espaillat says that under the present models fewer jobs in the formal sector are created, with more employment in the informal sector without social benefits for employees. He called for a reduction in government current spending, and increased spending on education and infrastructure.

Montes Arache buried at sea
Manuel Ramon Montes Arache has been laid to rest a true hero of the Dominican Republic. President Leonel Fernandez was in attendance as Montes, a fighter in the 1965 Dominican Civil War, was given one of the nation's highest honors. The title of "National Hero," was included in decree 918-09, and included the President's authorization to name the first battalion of the Navy after Montes. The President also honored and recognized the 57 surviving men, "Frog Men," who fought alongside Montes, during the conflicts of 1965. Montes died at the age of 88.
The ashes of retired Vice-Admiral Manuel Ramon Montes Arache, remembered for his heroic participation in the April 1965 revolution, were scattered in the Caribbean Sea off the coast of Santo Domingo on Sunday, according to his wishes.
"In this way the memory of this national hero will not be forgotten by the Dominican people, that his examples of heroism, valor, discipline in the Armed Forces be taken into account by all military personnel of the Dominican Republic, in such a way that none of them will have an excuse to taint the military uniform with evil actions," said the president of the Constitutionalist Military Foundation, Andres Reyes Fortunato, during the wake at the Blandino Funeral Home. Reyes Fortunato reminded the people that it was the wish of the deceased that a decent pension should be provided to all of the military officers who served the Constitutionalist cause.

Liquid cocaine found
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) has reported the seizure of 11 55-gallon drums containing liquid cocaine mixed with oil. The drugs were found in at km12 of the Sanchez highway and authorities are also reporting that the owner of the drugs was shot and killed by drug enforcement officials, after a gun battle ensued. Bulgarian national Zlatin Roumenov Raynov, as well as Miguel Sosa, Boanergues Santos Medina, Jorge Luis Cabrera Sosa and Aribelio Ramirez Santana, were arrested in connection with the drugs. Police are still looking for Zlatin's brother Kaloian Roumenov Raynov. Speaking on the morning talk show, "Gobierno de la Manana," Roumenov's wife Indira Feliz said the drums were purchased from the Customs Department, at an auction.

Violent crimes up in December
Although December is known as a time for family gatherings and the festive spirit, this December in the DR was marred by an increase in violent deaths. As of Sunday, the National Forensics Department registered that 145 people died violently, of whom 124 were men, and with gun violence being the number one cause of death. A total of 70 deaths were caused by bullet wounds. Of the victims, 117 were Dominicans, 23 were foreigners and 6 have yet to be determined. The week between the 7th and the 13th was the most violent, with 44 deaths, of which 25 were caused by guns.

Gonzalez Gonzalez was talking
El Nacional reported yesterday that murdered former Police colonel Jose Amado Gonzalez Gonzalez was the person who tipped off the National Drug Control Department (DNCD) about an SUV containing US$4.6 million belonging to fugitive drug trafficker Jose Figueroa Agosto, parked in a La Esperilla apartment block. The newspaper also reported that Presidential drugs advisor, lawyer Marino Vinicio Castillo (Vincho) says that the former police officer was murdered because he had threatened to talk about his ties and those of other officers with Figueroa Agosto in exchange for protection or a judicial deal. Castillo also mentioned that 2 DNCD officials, of a total of 5 who have been arrested in the investigation, had met with Gonzalez Gonzalez half an hour before he was murdered upon his arrival to his Torre Serena apartment on Av. Anacaona. Sources told the newspaper that Gonzalez Gonzalez used to be Figueroa's chauffeur and security chief, but had broken away because he had an intimate relationship with Sobeida Felix Morel, who is thought to be one of the Puerto Rican drug trafficker's lovers. The source explained that Gonzalez Gonzalez knew all the details of Figueroa Agosto's operations and lifestyle but had fallen out of favor with him, so Figueroa threatened to kill him. The source added that the former officer was not afraid of Figueroa and was desperately seeking his readmission into the Police, from which he was dismissed in August 2008 for his relations with Figueroa Agosto. He reported Figueroa to the DNCD but Figueroa found out. The source suspects that Figueroa Agosto himself murdered Gonzalez Gonzalez with an AK-47 gun.
"Gonzalez Gonzalez's attitude towards this drug chief cost him his life. Apparently he had said if he was called he would speak using documents, photographs and videos that he had as proof and I deduce that he tried to negotiate with the authorities, and by maintaining that position, the final order was made to finish him off," said Castillo. Gonzalez Gonzalez was murdered on 24 December at 5pm outside his apartment at Torre Serena, Avenida Anacaona 67 in Bella Vista. He lived there with his wife Madelin Bernard and their 3 daughters. His wife was also seriously injured and was hospitalized in Clinica Abreu. The authorities removed videos and other documents from a safe in the house and investigators have said the evidence is "very compromising."

Former army man on the license plate
Former Army major Bienvenido Antonio Savinon Aybar has a document to prove that he reported the theft of a license plate assigned to him by the Army. He said the plate was stolen on 18 November or thereabouts, when he reported this to the Police. Local press reports, nevertheless, point out it is not clear why he had an Army plate when he had been removed from the force in 2005.
Diario Libre reports that Army chief Major General Joaquin Perez Felix has evaded reporters' questions on why Army license plate OE00234 was in the vehicle that had transported Gonzalez Gonzalez's murderers. "When I have the results of the investigation into why that plate had not been retrieved, it will be revealed once the commission appointed by the Army concludes its work," he said. The plate had been assigned to the former army major. Savinon visited the Police to tell his version accompanied by Army legal consultant Colonel Miguel Antonio Matos. He was questioned for several hours by the chief of Homicides of the Police, the deputy director of the department and a deputy prosecutor.

A suspicious lawyer
Diario Libre reports the arrest of lawyer Juan Carlos Acosta Perez, who was arrested when he was found inside a penthouse in Torre Bolivar 848, Apartment 201 that the authorities had visited in search of fugitive Puerto Rican drug trafficker Jose Figueroa Agosto.
The authorities also announced the confiscation of a lot in Casa de Campo, and a purchase contract for RD$30 million signed by Figueroa Agosto, but apparently paid for with a check in the name of Mary Pelaez Frappier, who is also in detention as an asset laundering suspect. The vendor of the property received a payment for US$870,000 and the name of Cristian Almonte Peguero appears on the contract. The name is known as one of the fake identities used by Figueroa Agosto.
Diario Libre also reports of a penthouse on Av. Luis F Thomen in Santo Domingo, sold by Figueroa Agosto using his other fake identity of Ramon Sanchez to a Chilean citizen for US$300,000.

Two more suspects in Figueroa case
El Dia reports that the National Drug Control Department's head of operations, Police Colonel Miguel A Sanchez Diaz and the DNCD commander at La Romana Airport are under investigation due to suspicious activity in relation to the murder of former Police colonel Jose Amado Gonzalez Gonzalez. Sanchez Diaz had served as director of operations from the start of Major General Rolando Rosado Mateo's tenure as DNCD chief. El Dia reports that the investigation into Sanchez Diaz was called after it was revealed that Sanchez had met with Gonzalez Gonzalez minutes before he was murdered. The newspaper writes that the meeting had not been authorized and that Sanchez Diaz did not report it to his superiors, despite knowing that Gonzalez Gonzalez was being followed because of his links to Figueroa Agosto.
In the case of the DNCD commander at La Romana Airport, identified as Colonel Diaz Medina, he is known to have arrived at the scene of the crime shortly after the murder and El Dia reports he had the intention of removing documents and other possible evidence that was in the murdered former officer's apartment. Diaz Medina is also said to have tried to remove a safe that was in the apartment, but this was impeded by police at the scene of the crime who kept all under custody until the arrival of Prosecutor General Office officials who took charge of the investigation. The prosecutors proceeded to formally search the apartment recovering documents and objects of interest to investigators and the safe. The safe was opened the next day in the presence of two of Gonzalez Gonzalez' brothers and his lawyer.
El Dia reports today that investigators have confirmed that Jose D. Figueroa Agosto had threatened to eliminate former colonel Jose Amado Gonzalez for having set a trap for him to be murdered on the day of his spectacular escape at the crossing of 27 de Febrero near the La Esquina de Tejas restaurant.

Johnny to the rescue
Merengue legend Johnny Ventura is worried about the state of the genre of merengue, saying that many musicians are composing music that doesn't deserve to be labeled merengue. This is the reason Ventura is putting the final touches on a typical merengue album (merengue tipico) in order to "rescue" the genre he helped make famous. Ventura says that instead of a dying genre, merengue tipico is a genre that needs attention. Ventura commented on the need to innovate and move forward, but he also said there is a difference in mixing genres and staying close to the genre's musical roots. Ventura is also experiencing renewed success with his holiday album, "Llego la Navidad" which he composed with a variety of local artists, including Elvis Crespo, Fernando Villalona, Los Rosarios, Hector Acosta, Ramon Orlando and Jose Pena Suazo, among others. Expect Ventura to be in the spotlight, saying, " if I am going to be here I will here completely, and not part-time, like I had been doing. Ventura recorded 104 albums during his 54-year career.

New Year parties
The traditional Roncierto Brugal, the New Year's Eve bash on 31 December, will feature bands playing salsa, merengue and bachata this year. The concert is in its 10th year. For the evening, starting at 9pm, the Johnny Ventura, El Jeffrey, Luis Vargas, Los Hermanos Rosario, Tono Rosario and Raulin Rosendo bands will put on a free show for the Dominican public. The production will be televised on Supercanal 33 and Supercanal Caribe for the United States. It is booked for the front gardens of the Columbus Lighthouse on the eastern side of the Ozama River.
For those who are seeking dinner and a more intimate celebration, Cane Restaurant and Tangerine Disco at Abraham Lincoln 1059, Tel 809 368-2200 (RD$1,995 per person + tax, is offering dinner + party with Grupo Faena live, cava toast, bottle of wine per table (4 persons), and party favors.
On 1 January it is Hope in a Box bash at Hard Rock Cafe in the Colonial City.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar

The baseball scores
The Dominican Winter League Baseball round robin is in full swing and it looks like the Escogido are not slowing down. After having cruised through the regular season in first place, the Leones have maintained their standing at number one with a 7-0 beating of the Gigantes. However, the Tigres are right behind the Leones and are making things interesting, after an 8-1 pummeling of the Toros. The championship scenarios are exciting fans, but fans in Santo Domingo are hoping for a Licey vs. Escogido final, while non-traditional fans are looking for a Gigantes vs. Toros match-up.
For game schedules, see www.dr1.com/calendar

Team W-L Avg. Diff.
ESCOGIDO 2 - 1 .667 --
LICEY 2 - 1 .667 --
AZUCAREROS 1 - 2 .333 1.0
GIGANTES 1 - 2 .333 1.0

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