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Daily News - Monday, 01 April 2013

Luis Alberto Moreno of IDB meets President Medina
President Danilo Medina met with Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), today, Monday 1 April. Speaking after the meeting, Moreno said that the Dominican economy has enormous potential and praised the government's work aimed at increasing investments and becoming more transparent. He also praised the President's plans to assist small and medium-sized business. "We believe the government is making an enormous effort to balance its public finances and that is not easy for any government," said Moreno after the meeting.

He said the IDB has credit available for the DR this year for US$250 million to finance government social programs and farm production programs, with interest at 2.5% and 25-year repayment terms. He said the IDB could be the best partner for the Dominican Republic in its development challenges.

Moreno met with President Medina, in the presence of Minister of Hacienda Simon Lizardo Mezquita, Minister of Economy Juan Temistocles Montas, and IDB officials Gina Montiel, Jorge Requena, and Muriel Alfonseca, Dominican representative in Washington.

Danilo opens Metro 2 today
President Danilo Medina arrived on time for the inaugural run of the first part of the second line of the Santo Domingo Metro around 10 this morning, Monday 1 April, as reported in Diario Libre.

The President boarded the first line at the Centro de los Heroes for travel up Maximo Gomez Avenue to switch to the second line at the Colonel Rafael Tomas Fernandez Dominguez Station on San Martin Avenue. From there, Medina continued on Metro 2 on to the Eduardo Brito Station (the 17 Bridge). On the return he went all the way to the Maria Montez Station on Gregorio Luperon Avenue, where he declared the line open for business, as reported in Diario Libre.

Vice President Margarita Cedeno, Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo and the Metro Office (Opret) director, Diandino Pena accompanied President Medina on the inaugural run. President Medina congratulated his predecessor, Leonel Fernandez for the initiative of building the Metro.

Travel on the second line of the metro will be free all this week, until Friday, 5 April.

The fare will be RD$20, unchanged since Metro 1 opened in 2009.

This represents an entry into public service, mainly for residents of the National District, and Santo Domingo East and West, of a train system that will go from Francisco del Rosario Sanchez, at the head of the bridge of the same name, all the way to Luperon Avenue along John F. Kennedy Avenue. In total, fifteen trains will cover the 12.8 kilometers.

The Transport Reorganization Office (Opret), which is responsible for the construction and management of the Santo Domingo Metro system, projects that Line 2 will transport 120,000 passengers a day in the first year of operation, the same as Line 1, now in its fourth year. They add that the total number of Metro system users is expected to reach 250,000 a day.

Line 2 was built at a cost of US$850 million, some RD$34.1 billion at the current rate of RD$41.11, during a 40-month construction period. The initial excavations started in December 2010, during the Leonel Fernandez administration (2008-2012), when 95% of the construction took place.

During the first four years of operation of Line 1 of the Santo Domingo Metro they have carried about 100 million passengers with a constant yearly growth. In 2009, there were 16.9 million riders, in 2010 there were 23.6 million, a 42% increase, in 2011 there were 28.8 million, which was 22% greater than the previous year, and in 2012 there were 30.9 million, another 7% increase, according to Opret stats. At the same time, from 1 to 24 January 2013 they carried 1.7 million passengers.

Once completed, the 22 km second line will reach Los Alcarrizos on its northwestern side and San Luis on the eastern side, but date for the continuing has not been announced.

The stations on Line 1 are:

Est. Mama Tingo n Ave. Charles de Gaulle
Est. Gregorio Gilbert Suero - La Paz
Est. Gregorio Luperon - Buena Vista
Est. Jose Francisco Pena Gomez - Los Guaricanos
Est. Las Hermanas Mirabal - Mirador Norte
Est. Maximo Gomez - La Isabela
Est. Los Tainos - Ave. Ovando
Est. Pedro Livio Cedeno - Cementerio Nacional
Est. Pena Batlle - Ave. Pena Batlle
Est. Centro Olimpico Juan Pablo Duarte - Ave. Kennedy
Est. Juan Bosch - Ave. 27 de Febrero
Est. Casandra Damiron - Ave. Maximo Gomez
Est. Joaquin Balaguer - Ave. Maximo Gomez
Est. Amin Abel - UASD
Est. Francisco Caamano Deno - Ave. Lincoln
Est. La Feria - Centro de Los Heroes

The stations on Line 2 are:

Est. Coronel Rafael Tomas Fernandez - Ave. Leopoldo Navarro
Est. Eduardo Brito - Ave. Francisco del Rosario Sanchez
Est. Francisco G. Billini - Ave. Dr. Defillo
Est. Freddy Beras Goico - Ave. Lope de Vega
Est. Horacio Vasquez - Ave. Josefa Brea
Est. Juan Pablo Duarte - Ave. Maximo Gomez
Est. Juan Ulises Garcia Ave. Ortega y Gasset
Est. Manuel de Jesus Abreu Galvan - Ave. Jose M. Lopez
Est. Maria Montez - Ave. Gregorio Luperon
Est. Mauricio Baez - Esc. Rep. Dom.
Est. Pedro F. Bono - Ave. Nunez de Caceres
Est. Pedro Mir - Ave. Abraham Lincoln
Est. Ramon (Mon) Caceres- Ave. Duarte
Est. Ulises F. Espaillat - Ave. Winston Churchill




Mayor says Guibia was a success
The city government of the National District is hailing the success of the 12 public pools that they set up next to the Guibia Beach area on the Santo Domingo Malecon seafront boulevard. According to their figures between 300,000 and 400,000 people made use of the artificial beach and the surrounding recreational areas over the Easter Week holidays. According to a press release, no "incidents" were recorded at the facilities over the four-day weekend. In fact, the city is thinking of repeating this activity in other areas of the city. According to the mayor, the program was so successful and the lines were so long, that they had to extend the opening hours until 7pm.

Writing in today's Diario Libre, tourism industry analyst Juan Llado suggests that the funds used for the weekend pool parties organized at Guibia would be better spent on permanent structures along the seaside that could be filled with seawater. The seaside pools then could be used all year round.


COE reports fatalities over holiday weekend
As of today, Monday 1 April, the number of fatalities recorded over the Easter Week holidays had climbed to 29 for a total of 595 cases, including traffic accidents, drunkenness and food poisoning and drowning. According to El Caribe, reporting the release of Bulletin No. 4 from Emergency Operations Center (COE) director General Juan Manuel Mendez Garcia today, Monday 1 April, 27 people were killed in traffic accidents in places including San Juan de la Maguana, La Vega, La Altagracia (Higuey), Greater Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macoris, Peravia (Bani), Hato Mayor, San Cristobal and Puerto Plata. Two people drowned in Boca Chica and Rio San Juan. A total of 289 were affected by traffic accidents, most of which, 188, were caused by motorcycles, 134 cases of alcohol poisoning, including 12 minors, and 36 cases of food poisoning.

In the previous bulletin, released late yesterday, Sunday 31 March, Mendez Garcia said that 70 vehicles were stopped for driving at excess speed, shown on radar guns, and the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) stopped 344 heavy vehicles for traveling without permits, 299 light vehicles for carrying too many passengers, 206 vehicles for having tires that were unsafe, and 57 pickups were stopped for excess cargo. Across the country, 4,546 motorcyclists were stopped for driving without helmets and 14 vehicles were retained for not having lights and one for excessive noise. The Ministry of Public Works and Communications provided roadside assistance to 371 people, while 199 received help through the Acarrea program.


Trauma hospitals were busy
The country's main trauma hospitals treated a total of 1,399 patients over the Easter break, mostly traffic accident victims. The highest number of emergencies was registered at the Dr. Dario Contreras Hospital, with 844, followed by the Ney Arias Lora Hospital with 495, and the one with the least was the Juan Bosch Hospital, with 60. The Dario Contreras Hospital treated 841 people who were injured in separate incidents: 214 in traffic accidents, 162 involving motorcycles, six with gunshot wounds, and one with a knife wound. Six people died there, including one who was admitted in the early hours of yesterday, following a motorcycle accident. A young woman, Franchesca Bautista de Leon, 22, was DOA at the Ney Arias Lora Hospital, and another fatality arrived at the Professor Juan Bosch Hospital for the same reason - a traffic accident, as reported in Diario Libre.

Minister of Education calls for full attendance
The Minister of Education, Josefina Pimentel, called on students to attend classes today, Monday 1 April as the last period of the school year begins today after the Holy Week break. The minister asked parents to be sure to send their children to school to prevent any delays in the school calendar. She also reminded each regional educational board and school director that the number of days set out in the school year must be fulfilled together with the number of hours required for each level of education, as reported in Hoy.

Promotions for merit, not friendship
Minister of the Interior and the Police, Jose Ramon Fadul, has told the National Police and the administration that the announced National Police Reform will be based on two platforms: one is the legal status and one is in fact. The first will be sent to the National Congress for legislative approval. The second is already under way and is geared at crime prevention and investigation. Fadul revealed that 12,000 recruits would be joining the force during the Medina administration.

Interviewed during the Listin Diario Breakfast event, Fadul outlined the Comprehensive Public Safety Plan, consisting of seven programs: A Public Safety Watch, National Weapons System, Peaceful Living (formerly Safe Barrios), Local Groups on Violence and Gender issues, Control of Alcoholic Beverages, Police Reform, 911 Emergency System and Control of Motorcycles. Fadul mentioned the current situation of the National Police with its "islands of power" (enclaves), and said he hoped to create a central command and control for the force. The Comprehensive Security Plan announced by the government last month was met with criticism in the media.

In a commentary in Listin Diario, Oscar Medina writes that the plan is more of the same that has been announced before but not been successfully implementedn mixed patrols, surveillance cameras, controls for motorcycle drivers, more police on the streets, agents removed from private service, more equipment for the Police, etc. He said the country is still waiting for the government to say how it is going to transform the Police to make it an institution with the capacity for preventing crime.

In the 2012-2013 World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, the DR ranked 143rd of 144 countries in the world in reliability of police services.




PC calls for compliance with pact
The civil society group Citizen Participation (PC in Spanish) is issuing a call to President Danilo Medina to fulfill the commitments he undertook when he signed the "Protocol for Transparency and Institutionalism in the Dominican Republic." The civic watchdog group said that of the 21 points agreed upon to strengthen the public administration and push for measures against corruption, 63% have not been fulfilled, 27% are in process and just 9.9% have been completed, as reported in Hoy.

The group says that according to their monitoring, President Medina has not complied with the standardization of the information on the government's webpages during the 150 days of his administration, as required by the Protocol.


Builders complain about tender results for housing
The National Directorate of Public Contracts (DGCP) has launched an investigative process aimed at establishing whether or not there were any irregularities in the international public tender convened by the National Housing Institute (INVI) for the construction of 800 low-cost housing units as part of the Development and Habitat Program under way since 2010. The program has spent US$124.3 million, financed by the Andean Development Corporation and the Dominican state. By taking this step, the DGCP is accepting a request made by the president of the Dominican Association of Contractors for State Projects (Adocoe), Miguel Liberato, who complained there was a lack of transparency in the process. The head of the top agency for public purchases and contracts, Yokasta Guzman Santos, notified Liberato and the director of INVI, Alma Fernandez of the start of the investigative process, in compliance with articles 71 to 76 of Law 340-06 regarding Public Purchases and Contracts.

"We recently received letter number 000479, dated 26 March, where we were informed about the procedure that will be followed with relation to our report on violations of the Law, which in our judgment have been committed by INVI officials during the process of a public tender for the construction of 800 social housing units," stated Liberato. He said that he also received a copy of a letter sent by Guzman Santos to the INVI director on 25 March, requesting the delivery of the administrative files of the tender within ten days.

Adocoe asked President Danilo Medina to appoint a new executor agency for the housing construction programs, because they believe that INVI handled the process "deficiently and with little transparency." The entity has also asked the government to make an arrangement with the Andean Development Corporation for the construction of the 800 houses to be spread out among eleven sections, so that a larger number of companies can be contracted. According to Adocoe, in the tenders carried out by INVI for the first and second stages of the housing program, the six companies that won the tenders in 2010 also were the winners in the 2011 tender.

Bahoruco Park gets a sponsor
The National Park of the Sierra de Bahoruco has finally found some love, as the Tropigas Natural Foundation has decided to sponsor the park and look after its best interests. According to Hoy newspaper this comes at a time when the park, located close to the border with Haiti in the provinces of Pedernales, Independencia and Barahona is in need of some help. In fact, in today's A.M. editorial in Diario Libre, Monday 1 April, deputy editor Ines Aizpun refers to a study published on their webpage about the ravages wrought on the park by slash and burn farmers. This step forward by the Tropigas Foundation might be just what is needed to save some of the country's most diverse parklands. Lack of surveillance in Barahona and Pedernales has resulted in indiscriminate slash and burn farming becoming increasingly common, in detriment to the environment and human health.


4,678kg of drugs seized so far this year
So far this year, according to the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), its agents have seized close to five metric tons of drugs (1000 kg = 2,200 pounds = 1 metric ton, also called a long ton). Most of the drugs were being transshipped via the Dominican Republic en route to Europe or the United States. In fact the total is way over five metric tons and closer to seven metric tons because neither the 1,638 packages (or "bricks") of cocaine weighing 1,909kg, seized on Saona Island during Easter Week in a combined operation with the US Coast Guard nor the 700kg seized at the Punta Cana International Airport on 20 March are included in the total. And this was just in the first quarter of the year.

Providence, RI mayor saves city
The newly elected mayor of Providence, the son of Dominican immigrants, Angel Taveras, knew that the city was in trouble when he took office as the first Hispanic mayor of the city in January 2011. Because of that, he immediately met with local unions and spelled out his message, focusing on preparing for future concessions. He said, "I need your help." It so happened that he needed a lot more help than he imagined. The city, the capital of the US state of Rhode Island, was US$110,000,000 in the red, and close to municipal bankruptcy.

Now, after a little more than half of his tenure, the 42-year old and possible gubernatorial candidate has brought the city back from the brink of disaster in a state that has battled with one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States for years. He cut expenses in all city offices, closed schools, eliminated jobs and raised taxes. He also raised millions from the city's tax-exempt institutions, including Brown University. He negotiated with the unions and managed to get a ten-year freeze on pensions and avoided a costly court fight. He reduced US$178 million from the US$900 million that was sinking the city's finances, and is currently saving US$18 million more this year.


Junot Diaz wins British bank short story award for Miss Lora
Junot Diaz, the Dominican-born author of "Drown" (1997) short stories and "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao" (2008) has won another prestigious award. He has just received the 30,000 British pounds for the London Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2013. The cash award is described as the world's most lucrative award granted for a single short story.

The short story is "Miss Lora". It is written in Spanglish and talks about a relationship between a high school age boy and an older woman in the 1980s in New Jersey. Judge and novelist Andrew O'Hagan called it a "contemporary classic".

In celebrating the award, Nestor Montilla, chairman of the Dominican American National Roundtable says: "With this story, Junor proves once more that he is indeed one of the best and most successful writers of our time."

Junot Diaz is also a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient. Read more on the award at





Light rains in the forecast; drought not over
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) is forecasting some light rainfall over much of the country for the next day or so, dropping off tomorrow, Tuesday 2 April and lingering mainly in the Central Mountains. The rains are caused by a low-pressure trough just to the south of Puerto Rico that is drifting away to the east.

Despite the weekend rains, the drought that has been affecting the country for the last month persists. Although many welcomed the rains, they did not fill up the rivers or reservoirs. Most of the rain fell in San Juan de la Maguana and Jarabacoa, nestled in the Central Mountains, and it was also felt along much of the north coast and in the southeast. The nation needs some 20mm of rainfall in order to begin to recover from the drought. Onamet forecasters are urging people to save water until the rains come again.

Merengue, bachata and electronic music at the Jaragua
Teatro La Fiesta at the Hotel Jaragua in Santo Domingo presents Hector Acosta (El Torito), Omega, Arcangel "La Maravilla," Chelion and DJ Lobo in a show called "El Merembambo" this Friday, 5 April organized by Angel Productions and King Productions. Music starts at 9pm. Tickets are for sale at ticketexpress.com.do

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

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