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Daily News - Wednesday, 18 April 2012

President inaugurates Duarte overpass
Yesterday, Tuesday, 17 April President Leonel Fernandez inaugurated the elevated section of the Duarte Highway with Monumental Avenue in Santo Domingo. The new overpass was built at a cost of over US$18 million. The 530-meter overpass consists of a 220-meter viaduct and several 155-meter ramps. The overpass is part of Corredor Duarte I road project, an overall US$250 million commitment.

Santa Ana parish priest Father Alejandro Cabrera blessed the project, and Santo Domingo province Governor Idelfonso Vasquez made the welcome address.

Also present were Norma de Vargas, representing the local business sector, Marino Vinicio Castillo, Presidential advisor on drug-related issues and Education Minister Josefina Pimentel.

The Minister of the Armed Forces Lieutenant General Virgilio Perez Felix, the director of the state subsidized cafeteria program Nicolas Calderon, Manuel Estrella from the Estrella Group and Marcos Cruz from Odebrecht also attended the ceremony, as reported in Hoy.

Start of Corredor Duarte II announced
Speaking at the inauguration of the Av. Monumental and Duarte Highway overpass, Public Works Minister Victor Diaz Rua announced that works would soon be starting on the Corredor Duarte II. Diaz Rua described the north-south solutions for easing traffic flow through intersections with Av. 27 de Febrero, which crosses Santo Domingo from east to west.

Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction firm that has been responsible for Corredor Duarte I won the tender for the second part. The works have a projected cost US$280 million.

Diaz Rua said that the contract has been awarded and the new road solutions are designed for traffic congestion spots at Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and Tiradentes with 27 de Febrero, as well as other road solutions for Maximo Gomez and Isabel Aguiar avenues.

Last year, during an interview with Multimedios del Caribe, Diaz said that as part of Corredor Duarte II a tunnel will be built under the Plaza de la Bandera to connect 27 de Febrero with Isabel Aguiar avenue. Once vehicles exit the tunnel and enter Av. Isabel Aguiar they will be able to connect directly with the 6 de Noviembre Highway that leads to the southwest. The tunnel will extend from Av. 27 de Febrero with Gregorio Luperon under the Plaza de la Bandera to reach Av. Isabel Aguiar so that commuters do not have to go around the traffic circle, as at present.

Corredor Duarte II involves the construction of open tunnels at Avenida Luperon, as well as at the intersections between Privada and Caonabo streets and 27 de Febrero. In October 2011, in an interview with Diario Libre, Diaz Rua said that tunnels would be built at the intersections of Av. 27 de Febrero with Calle Privada, 27 de Febrero and Caonabo and 27 de Febrero and Gregorio Luperon. Earlier, in 2010, Diaz Rua told Hoy there would be north-south traffic flow solutions for Tiradentes, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill avenues with the construction of tunnels passing under Av. 27 de Febrero.

Final design of ballot papers
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) presented the final design of the ballot papers for the 20 May Presidential elections yesterday, Tuesday, 17 April.

JCE communications director Felix Reyna showed the press the four different ballot papers. The first is headed by Hipolito Mejia (PRD) followed by Danilo Medina (PLD) then the other four presidential candidates: Max Puig, Democratic Alliance (AXD), Eduardo Estrella, Dominicans for Change (DXC), Julian Serulle, Popular Front (FA) and Guillermo Moreno, the Alliance Party (AP).

Dominicans living overseas will have two ballot papers, one to elect the presidential candidate and one to elect overseas Deputies.

Reyna said that the ballot papers have different formats, horizontal and vertical to make it easier for voters to distinguish between them when voting. He said that they would announce the names of the companies that would be printing the ballot papers next week. Corripio, a large printing company, announced last week that it had won the tender for the printing of the ballots, as reported in acento.com.do.

Estrella denies alliance
The presidential candidate for the Dominicans for Change (DxC) party, Eduardo Estrella, denied yesterday, Tuesday, 17 April that he had decided to support either of the main parties in the event of a second round in the Presidential elections, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.

Initial reports suggested that Estrella and his team would announce support for Danilo Medina of the PLD. Estrella assured his followers he had not held any discussions with either party and the idea had never entered his head.

Another alleged plot recorded on tape
Four PRD deputies announced on Tuesday, 17 April that they had a tape recording of a telephone conversation between two leading members of Hipolito Mejia's campaign team, Guido Gomez Mazara and Leo Adames, suggesting that they were plotting to kill the PRD president, Miguel Vargas Maldonado.

Vargas Maldonado had sought to be the party's presidential candidate, but lost to Hipolito Mejia in the party primary. The two, nevertheless, have not been able to reconcile their differences and campaign together for a PRD party win.

One of the deputies, Aquiles Ledesma warned that the tape would be handed over to the Justice Ministry for investigations, and that measures would be taken to guarantee the security of Vargas Maldonado and his friends and family.

The announcement was made at a press conference where copies of the alleged taped conversation were handed out to journalists.

Speaking on a radio program, Gomez Mazara dismissed the claims, saying it was similar to the supposed plot against the Haitian Government. Hipolito Mejia's campaign chief Cesar Cedeno said the action by the deputies did not deserve any comment at all.

The taped conversation is transcribed by El Caribe at www.elcaribe.com.do/2012/04/17/acusan-guido-gomez-trama-para-matar-miguel-vargas

The actual audio is here: www.listindiario.com/la-republica/2012/4/18/229236/Difunden-conversacion-que-habla-de-matar-a-Miguel-Vargas-Maldonado

More 24-hour electricity
Southern regional electricity distribution company EdeSur has announced that 2,162 families in Altagracia de Herrera and the area of Altos de Engombe in Santo Domingo West will be placed on a 24-hour electricity circuit.

The company stated that it was part of their plan to improve service, reduce losses and increase payments for the electricity service.

EdeSur stated that with this latest addition, in the first three months of this year there are 6,292 new users with 24-hour electricity.

24-hour circuits are created when most of the customers in the area have proven to be paying customers.

Outbreak of suspected cholera claims first victim
According to El Nuevo Diario, cholera has claimed in first victim in Tamboril. Edward Ramos Pena, aged 28, died last night, Tuesday, 17 April. Regional Public Health director Ramon Martinez Henriquez announced that the actual cause of death was not known because the patient also suffered from diabetes.

Ramos Pena was admitted to the hospital in Tamboril suffering from fever, severe pain and diarrhea. The hospital has now treated 300 people with symptoms similar to cholera.

According to by Public Health Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez, as reported in Listin Diario the cases reported are of amoebic dysentery. He said that the outbreak, whether cholera or not, was under control.

Canadian contracts rabies
Toronto Public Health authorities confirmed on Tuesday, 17 April that a 41-year old man who was recently in the Dominican Republic contracted rabies, the first case recorded in Toronto for more than eight decades, as reported in the Montreal Gazette.

For privacy reasons, the health department said it could not release any information about the man, but CBC news said he had been working as a bartender in the Dominican Republic and that he had been treated there, but came back to Canada when his condition worsened.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, there were 26 cases of human rabies in the province from 1925 until early this year, five of which were caused by infected bats.

Toronto Public Health said it is awaiting lab results from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency on the strain of rabies before it can establish the place of exposure.

Rabies is a contagious and viral disease that affects the brain and eventually the central nervous system if left untreated.

It is transmissible through saliva, often from animal bites. It can lead to death in serious cases.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, there is a vaccine that can be given after a bite but there is no effective treatment for anyone already showing symptoms of the disease.


Taiwanese Embassy official murdered
Julia Ou, aged 52, a second secretary at the Taiwanese Embassy, has been found dead in her apartment in the Gazcue area of Santo Domingo.

A member of the Tzu Chi Foundation, one of Taiwan's biggest charities, Ou was described by her colleagues as a philanthropist who often helped the needy.

Dominican Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso called Ambassador Tomas Ping-fu Hou to express his concern and requested the help of the country's police in investigating Ou's death.

Apparently Ou had worked overtime and was in her office until 10 pm the night before she was found dead.

The investigation is being led by the head of the Criminal Investigation Unit, Hector Garcia Cuevas who visited the scene together with the deputy director Luis Perez Sanchez.

In the wake of the tragedy, Taiwan's overseas missions in Latin America have been warned to pay greater attention to the safety of their staff.

In response, Prosecutor General Radhames Jimenez Pena appointed a commission head by Juan Amado Cedano Santana, lead investigator; prosecutor of the Court of Appeals of the National District, Jose Sepulveda; National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso, and the head of the Central Department for Criminal Investigations, General Hector Garcia Cuevas to investigate the crime.


Oscar de la Renta backs Adriano Espaillat
Dominican fashion designer Oscar de la Renta announced his support to Adriano Espaillat for a seat in Congress. He would replace Representative Charlie Rangel. De la Renta called for Dominicans to vote to lead Espaillat to become the first Dominican legislator for the district that extends from Upper Manhattan into the Bronx. Rangel has served as Representative to the 15th District for the past 40 years.

Espaillat is currently a New York state senator. Other contenders who seek to defeat Rangel for the Democratic nomination are Clyde Williams, Joyce Johnson and Craig Schley.

In his official endorsement statement, De la Renta said:

"I am proud to endorse Adriano Espaillat for Congress and I call on all Democrats, particularly the Latino and Dominican communities, to join me in rallying behind Adriano's historic run to change the political landscape of this country.

"Our communities are at a crossroads and we need leadership that can help us meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. Senator Adriano Espaillat's record clearly indicates that he will bring bold, new ideas to move our communities forward. I am fully committed to add my voice to help elect Adriano to Congress."

The Huffington Post says this is not the first time De la Renta openly makes a contribution to politics.

It reports that the designer had donated money to the Democratic National Committee in 2010, to Hillary Clinton in 2007, and in 2004, the Republican National Committee and Dick Gephardt. But then concludes that his biggest contribution to American politics, however, hasn't been money, but style. "Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush have all worn de la Renta's dresses during their tenure as First Lady, and the designer desperately wants to dress Michelle Obama," says the feature.


Haitians call conspiracy a farce
In a note dated 17 April 2011, Haitian press agency AhpHaiti publishes comments by legislative officials and human rights campaigners in Haiti on the alleged conspiracy by former military colonel and aide to PRD presidential candidate Hipolito Mejia, Pedro Julio (Pepe) Goico and Haitian businessman Pierre Kanzki to destabilize the government of Michel Martelly. The announcement came after TV journalist Nuria Piera revealed suspect evidence on irregularities in deals between PLD senator Felix Bautista and Haitian and Panamanian politicians. Bautista is a close aide of President Leonel Fernandez.

Senator Francois Annik Joseph did not beat around the bush, denouncing the press conference as a big joke and farce, as reported by AHP. "This is a bad taste scenario that was written by an amateur", he said, joking that the government could afford to have paid for a better script, or for a better director like Steven Spielberg.

The legislator added that President Michel Martelly's administration, which he describes as "having both feet in one shoe," is trying to see how to occupy the minds of its citizens. But he advised the President to look for something else. He said the political battle in the Dominican Republic had reached out to Haiti.

Joseph had taken the lead in the senatorial investigation of the two names apparently used by Martelly n Michel and Michael, and had shown copies of his US residency and US passport on the Internet, in a debate on whether Martelly was legitimate. Art. 13 of the Haitian Constitution says that Haitian nationality is lost by naturalization in a foreign country. Art. 15 states that dual Haitian and foreign nationality is in no case permitted. Art. 135 says that to be elected President of the Republic of Haiti, a candidate must be a native-born Haitian and never have renounced Haitian nationality.

On the other hand, the president of the National Assembly of Haiti, Simon Dieuseul Desras commented that the supporters of coups d'etat in Haiti have always used Dominican territory to prepare and wonders why this is only being denounced now. He said the field is not propitious for a coup against Martelly in Haiti. He said that if Martelly were to leave the Presidency, it would be for something else. He warned the government to desist from a return to the old practice of accusing citizens of conspiracy against the state for its own security purposes.

When denouncing the conspiracy at a press conference in Santo Domingo on 12 April, Justice Minister Pierre Michel Brunache mentioned that the prosecutor in Port-au-Prince had been entrusted with the case. In Santo Domingo Justice Minister Radhames Jimenez Pena ordered National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso investigate the case.

The Executive Director of the National Network for the Defense of Human Rights, Pierre Esperance said the governments were trying to manipulate public opinion in Haiti and the Dominican Republic to persecute political opponents. He said that it is unbelievable that a retired Dominican general could be thought of as one to overthrow the Haitian government that is protected by a UN occupation force.

The executive secretary of the Platform for Human Rights Organizations (POHDN) Anthonal Mortime said that he doubts the veracity of the information released by the governments of both countries. "It sounds like he believes the move will distract people from the real problems. This is not the time to create events to occupy the minds of the population, but for serving," he said. He called on the countries' leaders to show more responsibility. "If they have clear information that there is a conspiracy against state security, then let the justice system act," he said.

In Haiti, Pierre E. Kanzki, accused of plotting against President Joseph Michel Martelly has rejected all charges, describing them as fantasy, especially the accusation that he was plotting against the security of the Haitian State.

President Martelly was hospitalized in Miami yesterday for treatment for a blood clot in the lung, a side effect of recent surgery. Because of the illness, he did not attend the Cartagena, Colombia 6th Summit of the Americas last week.





Drug arrest
The National Drug Control Department (DNCD) has announced the arrest of Azolin Vil Perez, accused of supplying marijuana to a former Dominican Air Force Colonel, Francisco Jose Espinal Munoz, who was remanded in prison for a year after being caught with 409 pounds of the drug.

After his arrest in Santo Domingo, Perez was sent to Jimani where he has outstanding warrants including one for murder

The arrest took place on 15 March when he was returning to Santo Domingo from Jimani.



Miss Universe Dominican Republic
Carlina Duran Baldera, representing La Vega at the Miss Universe Dominican Republic beauty pageant, was crowned Miss Universe Dominican Republic last night, Tuesday 17 April. She will represent the country at the Miss Universe 2012 contest.

The event was held at Santo Domingo's Hotel Jaragua with 37 women vying for the title.

The judges were Leila Lopes, Miss Universe 2011, Rosely Amaro, president of the jewelry brand Thomas Sabo, Dominicana Moda promoter Socrates Mckinney, Tomas Perez-Ducy, president of Viva telecom, broadcaster Carmen Elena Manrique, swimmer Marcos Diaz, fashion designer Jenny Polanco and entertainment businessman Simon Diaz.

The runners-up were Dulcita Francisco, National District as first runner up, Carolyn Hawa Rodriguez from Santiago second, Alondra Pena Pacheco from Peravia province was third and Luz Quezada Baez, from San Jose de Ocoa, was the fourth runner up.

Duran received a number of prizes, including a new BlackBerry smart phone by Viva, luggage set from La Sirena, beauty treatment by Roland beauty salon, a Caribbean Cruise, Nine West and Steven Madden bags and shoes, Armani handbag, a round trip to Madrid sponsored by JetBlue, beauty treatments at VIP Laser Clinic and a year's gym membership at Body Shop.

For love
A love story is unfolding on Twitter as Santo Domingo residents respond to a large banner placed at the intersection of John F Kennedy and Lope de Vega avenues. The banner read:

"Siria, I Love You. Let's rescue what united us." A makeshift drawing of a man and a woman tickled the imagination of Dominicans who are divided in two camps: those who think Siria should forgive him and those who don't.


Book Fair opens today
The Santo Domingo International Book Fair, dedicated this year to Central America, opens today at the grounds of the Plaza de la Cultura. The fair, which is the country's leading cultural activity, runs through 6 May. Twenty-eight countries and 425 exhibitors are taking part in the fair.


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

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