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Daily News - Friday, 09 March 2012

International Women's Day honors
President Leonel Fernandez and First Lady Margarita Cedeno presented awards 11 women yesterday, Thursday March 8 - International Women's Day. At the Presidential Palace, he awarded the Order of Merit to Duarte, Sanchez and Mella, in the rank of silver cross, to Gladys Gutierrez. She was the first minister of women in the country, recognizing her for her achievements in politics and human rights for women. He also awarded the women's merit medal to:

Santa Maria Perez Carrasco, sports; Isabel Mercedes Tezanos D'Acosta Gomez, politics; Tomasina Altagracia Moreaux de Nouel, science and technology; Ivonne Altagracia Cornielle, environmental research; Beatriz Letania Lora Pena, health; Norma Violeta Martinez Ruiz, education; Cristina Aguilar Quezada, professional development; Flor Miladys Calcano, community work; Carmen Dinorah Coronado, literature; and Damaris Aleiny Encarnacion Navarro, fine arts.

Vice President Rafael Alburquerque, Minister of Presidency Cesar Pina Toribio, Administratie Minister Luis Manuel Bonetti, and Minister of Women Alejandrina German also attended the ceremony.

President Fernandez opens aqueduct
President Leonel Fernandez has inaugurated an aqueduct and newly repaired roads in several communities in Loma de Cabrera in the northwestern province of Dajabon, for a cost of RD$291 million.

Mariano German, the director of the National Institute of Drinking Water and Sewage (INAPA), said yesterday at the ceremony that the aqueduct would operate by means of gravity, taking water from the Masacre River. He emphasized this was the third potable water system the President had inaugurated this year, supplying water to more than 51,000 people.

At the same time, President Fernandez opened 17 kilometers of roads, repaired at a cost of RD$20 million in the municipality of Loma de Cabrera, and more in the communities of El Guayabal, La Cienaga and Los Cartones that had been repaired at a cost of RD$15 million.

Leading merengue singer Fernando Villalona attended the Loma de Cabrera inaugural and sang the national anthem at the event. Villalona also praised the new aqueduct and asked the President to keep the construction equipment in town for paving streets in the local barrios.

Foreign Minister responds to US drug trafficking report
The Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos Morales Troncoso said yesterday Thursday March 8 that the annual report on drug trafficking from the US State Department, the 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, was fair and balanced, and recommended that people should read it in its entirety rather than only certain paragraphs published in the press, which were taken out of context.

National Drug Control Department (DNCD) chief Major General Rolando Rosado Mateo said that the fight against drug trafficking had taken a new turn in this country and as the report stated, the coordination of agencies here with their US counterparts had been a decisive factor in the increase of drug hauls from 4.85 to 6.7 metric tons from 2010 to 2011.

Morales Troncoso added that there had only been one suspected drug flight from South America to the Dominican Republic in 2011, compared to 11 in 2010, which he said proved the success of the air prohibition thanks to the DR government's purchase of Tucano airplanes.

The report states that the DR continues to be a major transit point for the transshipment of illicit narcotics destined for the United States and Europe. The six international airports, 16 seaports and a large porous frontier with Haiti present Dominican authorities with serious challenges.

Corruption within the government and the private sector, the presence of international illicit trafficking cartels, a large informal economy, and a fragile formal economy make the DR vulnerable to money laundering and terrorist financing threats. The large informal economy provides a significant market for illicit or smuggled goods.

The report says that US law enforcement believes there is some evidence that arms smuggling across Dominican borders has reached systemic levels as there are identifiable networks smuggling weapons into the DR from the US. The increase in drug related violence throughout the DR is partially attributable to arms trafficking as evidenced by the seizures of illicit weapons at ports of entry over the past year. The major sources of laundered proceeds stem from illicit trafficking activities, tax evasion and fraudulent financial activities, particularly transactions with forged credit cards.

The Dominican Republic is a member of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found here:

http://www.cfatf-gafic.org/downloadables/mer/Dominican_Republic_3rd_Round_MER_(Final)_English.pdf

On enforcement and implementation issues and comments, the report says:

"The DR has made progress on the functioning of its financial intelligence unit (FIU), but problems remain. Progress includes greater clarity on the areas covered by disclosure and reporting requirements; however, there remains a lack of publicly available information about the numbers of reports submitted by the various reporting sectors.

The DR also strengthened its laws on PEPs and correspondent relationships but international experts have outlined key weaknesses to address. In addition, the DR urgently needs to pass regulations to provide safe harbor protection for STR filers and criminalize tipping off. The government also should work to better regulate casinos and non-bank businesses and professions, in particular real estate companies, and strengthen regulations for financial cooperatives and insurance companies.

The DR's asset forfeiture regime is improving but has weaknesses because it does not cover confiscation of instrumentalities intended for use in the commission of a money laundering offense; property of corresponding value; and income, profits, or other benefits from the proceeds of crime. The DR should implement legislation to bring its asset forfeiture regime up to international standards."

In July 2011, Dominican authorities announced they had dismantled the core of a narcotics trafficking and money-laundering organization based in the DR. The alleged profits from the narco-trafficking operation were laundered using banks and other financial instruments throughout the Western Hemisphere. The group allegedly had branches in Canada, Colombia, Venezuela, Jamaica and elsewhere. The investigation was coordinated by agents from the DR, Central America, South America, North America, and Interpol.

Morales Troncoso confirmed that the Dominican government in no way condones, or facilitates the illicit production, manufacture or distribution of any type of narcotic or controlled substance, nor does it condone any activities relating to money laundering, despite corruption being an endemic problem in all levels of Dominican society. Nevertheless he stated that progress was being made in order to combat it, and 360 police and 84 members of the DNCD had been dismissed for bad conduct, including criminal activities related to narcotics.

www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2012/03/185364.htm

www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2012/vol2/184115.htm#Dominican_Republic

Police and Interior Minister responds to US
The Police and Interior Minister, Jose Ramon Fadul has replied to the report issued by the United States State Department that cited the Dominican Republic as one of the largest drug transit countries in the world and reproached certain Caribbean countries for the corruption linked to illegal drug trafficking, as reported in DR1 News yesterday Thursday 8 March.

Fadul blamed the US for the situation, stating that he considered them to be the biggest consumer of drugs in the world. He said that that is what they should be concerned about because it was the fact that they were consumers that had affected the Dominican Republic.

He said that there was no sign of the US increasing their investment in Latin America to combat the situation, as reported in Listin Diario.

Bananas going bananas
The banana producing sector in the Dominican Republic has become an important contributor to the employment market by maintaining a sustained rise in production over the last seven years, increasing exports and currency income, resulting in US$200 million of exports in 2011 and employing over 25,000 people.

The Dominican Republic is one of the main small banana producing countries in the region and is a leader in the production of organic bananas, of which 90% go to Europe.

In 2004, 19 million bunches were produced, while in 2011 it grew to 33 million, a 77.2% rise.

In 2005 and 2006, banana production was 42,647,367 bunches, while in the following three years 53,461,481 bunches were harvested

In 2010, banana production totaled 30,279,431 bunches and in 2011 reached the level of 33,878,456 bunches.

www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=93791

Sugar cane workers to receive higher salaries
The Ministry of Labor's National Salaries Committee has set a new minimum wage rate for workers in the sugar industry.

The new minimum monthly salary for employees who do not work in the fields is RD$5,000. The new national minimum salary for field workers is RD$129 per day for an eight-hour day.

Repatriations on the increase
In 37 days the US government has deported 214 supposed Dominican drug traffickers, which is a record according to the airport authorities here.

El Nacional reports that the US federal authorities have confiscated goods and properties belonging to 26 of the Dominican ex-convicts with a value between 14 and 21 million dollars.

The statistics show that apart from those repatriated for drug trafficking, another 175 were repatriated having completed sentences for murder, fraud, kidnap, rape and other crimes.

Many of those repatriated were living in the US illegally, including four women, and this year's overall repatriations figure is considerably higher than the same period in any of the previous five years.

Motoconcho protest
Hundreds of motorcycle taxi drivers affiliated to the National Federation of Motoconchistas (Fenamoto) picketed outside the main office of the Metropolitan Office of Bus Services (OMSA) in Santo Domingo yesterday in demand of a gasoline subsidy, reports El Dia.

FENAMOTO president Oscar Almanzar was received by OMSA administration manager Roberto Paredes, who promised to take the drivers' request to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce that manages the subsidy that is granted to other transporters.

The protesters marched from the intersection of 27 February Avenue with Isabel Aguiar to OMSA, causing a large traffic jam.

Almanzar stated that the drivers, who transport thousands of passengers every day on their motorcycle taxis, are not asking for free gasoline, but for tax exemptions.

US man charged with underage sex
A United States citizen is facing charges of charges of sex tourism after allegations that he traveled to the Dominican Republic several times to have sex with minors.

Conrad Gallant, 61, was arrested in the Dominican Republic on Sunday after a 15-year-old girl told the National Tourist Police that she had been having a year-long sexual relationship with an American man. He was immediately deported to the USA.

Gallant traveled to Bavaro, on the country's east coast, at least four times since February 2011 to engage in sexual acts with underage girls, the US attorney's office said.

The victim told authorities that "Gallant forced her to have sex with him even when she was unwilling," and that "Gallant asked her to bring him other minor females to have sex with," according to an affidavit filed by a federal agent in the case.

The victim met Gallant in February 2011, when she was introduced by his then-girlfriend, officials said. When Gallant returned to the United States at the end of the month, he stayed in touch with the then-14-year-old victim by e-mail and phone. Gallant promised her gifts and money, eventually giving her a total of $195.

When the victim turned her cell phone over to authorities, they found a nude picture of Gallant and a picture of Gallant and the victim engaged in a sexual act. After his arrest, Gallant admitted to police that he had a sexual relationship with the victim, according to court documents.

If convicted, Gallant could face up to 30 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

www.boston.com/Boston/metrodesk/2012/03/shrewsbury-man-faces-sex-tourism-charges-conrad-gallant-arrested-dominican-republic/v9G5HphJMGgK02rEgpVFFJ/index.html

Accused murders of cameraman acquitted
According to Reporters Without Borders a court in Santiago has acquitted three men of the 2008 murder of Normando Garcia, a cameraman employed by the Santiago-based TV station Teleunion.

Those acquitted on 1 March were businessman Jaime Flete Garcia and the two men Flete allegedly hired to gun Garcia down on 7 August 2008 in Santiago, Jose Amauris Santiago and Jose Agustin Espinal. A taxi driver Garcia was talking to at the time was also fatally injured in the shooting.

"We are unpleasantly surprised by this decision as Flete's motive for murdering Garcia seemed to have been established," Reporters Without Borders said. "If there was insufficient evidence against the three defendants, why did the court not hear the testimony of the police officer who led the investigation? Was pressure put on the judges? These questions alone are sufficient grounds for the appeal that the prosecution plans to file."

At a previous hearing on 28 August 2010, the three defendants were released on US$130,000 bail on condition that they did not leave the country and presented themselves regularly to the judicial authorities in Santiago.

Prosecutor Luisa Liranzo has announced his intention to appeal against their acquittal on the grounds that testimony was not taken during the trial from the police officer in charge of investigating the murder, Colonel Roberto Salcedo.

The Dominican Republic is ranked 95th out of 179 countries in the latest Reporters Without Borders press freedom index. Another journalist was murdered in 2011.

http://en.rsf.org/dominican-republic-court-surprisingly-acquits-three-08-03-2012,42038.html

Windy conditions expected
The National Weather Office (Onamet) has stated that the next 24 to 48 hours will be marked by strong winds on both the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts and small craft should stay in port.

In addition there will be rain and cloud across the northeast, southeast and central areas, with cooler temperatures in the early mornings and at night.

David Ortiz passes DNA test
Dominican baseball player David Ortiz is not the father of 17-year old Edward Jimenez, according to a paternity test.

Several months ago, Jimenez, a young baseball player from San Luis, said that his mother had told him that Ortiz was his father.

In a phone interview with Hoy newspaper, Ortiz said that the test had showed a zero percent probability that the boy was his son, and lamented that people did this type of thing. He said it was sad that the Dominican authorities and certain members of the press had not investigated the claim before making it public.

He asked why this boy's mother had waited 17 years before saying she had his son, and doubted that someone with economic problems would have waited so long. He said that he had had to spend RD$100,000 on the whole episode and that the authorities had even wanted to impose an exit ban on him.

But his biggest regret was the false hope they had given the child, who had been living under the illusion that he was Ortiz' son.

Punta Cana Carnival Parade
Tomorrow is the celebration of carnival in Punta Cana, with an afternoon parade scheduled for the Punta Cana Village streets. The best of carnival groups from all around the country attend, making it an event not to be missed.

Philippe Quint at Spring Concert
The National Symphony Orchestra presents award-winning Russian-born US violinist Philippe Quint as the soloist in its Spring Concert on Tuesday, 27 March at 8:30pm at the National Theater. Quint is a multi-faceted artist whose wide range of interests has led to several Grammy nominations for his albums, and performances with major orchestras throughout the world at venues ranging from the Gewandhaus in Leipzig to Carnegie Hall in New York, a leading role in a major independent film called Downtown Express, and explorations of tango with his band The Quint Quintet.

Quint's live performances and interviews have been broadcast on television by CBS, CNN, ABC, BBC World News, NBC, Reuters, Bloomberg TV, as well as by radio stations nationwide including NPR, WNYC and WQXR. His recordings have received multiple "Editor's Choice" selections in Gramophone, The Strad, Strings, and the Daily Telegraph. Tickets: RD$1,500, RD$1,000, RD$700 and RD$300. 809-687-3191

For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
 

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