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Daily News - Friday, 13 September 2013

Medina heads launch of Education Pact
President Danilo Medina was at the Pedro Henriquez Urena National Library in Santo Domingo's Plaza de la Cultura yesterday, Thursday 12 September to mark the start of consultations for drafting a plan to change the country's education system.

President Medina had convened the Economic and Social Council to work on this pact that is established in the National Development Strategy Law.

Medina said that the 4% of GDP allocation to public elementary and secondary education is a starting point for guaranteeing investment in a quality education system. The process will consist of four phases: consultation, discussion, conclusion and the creation of a follow up committee. The consultations begin on 28 September and are set to conclude in mid-October.

The "National Pact for Quality Education for All" is an opportunity for in-depth changes to the educational system.

Minister of Education Carlos Amarante Baret said that the www.pactoeducativo.do website has more information on the initiative.

President Medina opens water-park
President Danilo Medina visited Juan Dolio yesterday, Thursday 12 September for the inauguration of the Los Delfines Water and Entertainment Park. The park is located near Playa Caribe, a five-minute drive from the Guayacanes-Juan Dolio beach area. The park, which covers an area of 44,000 square meters, was built by the Grupo Empresarial Gobela SRL. Company president Hakan Senaltan said that the water park was just the first phase of a project that also includes the construction of a beach club, vacation property sales and a 400-room hotel. The water park is described as the largest in the Caribbean, and involved a US$13 million investment. Senaltan said they had chosen Juan Dolio because it was near Santo Domingo and the tourist centers of Bayahibe, La Romana and Punta Cana.

The park has capacity to host 2,500 visitors a day, who can enjoy 17 water-slides, wave pools and special children's pools. The entrance fee of US$50 for adults and US$39 for children also includes lunch. The park is open from Wednesdays to Sundays from 8am to 3pm.

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia congratulated the investors for adding the new attraction. He also pointed out that Dominicans often travel abroad to visit water parks and can now enjoy the attraction right here.

Senaltan said that the company has invested in the construction and hospitality business in Russia and Turkey. He said the company would like to be involved in the construction of artificial beaches on the east coast, as reported in Diario Libre. Senaltan said the company also is looking into building a hotel in the Uvero Alto area in the north of Punta Cana.

823 pharmaceuticals available at Promese
The Dominican government's low-cost generic pharmaceuticals program, Promese announced the purchase of RD$2 billion in 823 types of pharmaceuticals for sale nationwide yesterday, Thursday 12 September. Program director Elena Fernandez said that this year the number of pharmaceuticals is 119% greater than last year. She said that Promese sourced 376 types of pharmaceuticals last year. The low-cost generic medicines are sold at Promese pharmacies nationwide, located in 194 public hospitals and 1,264 Ministry of Public Health primary healthcare units (UNAP). There are also 466 People's Pharmacies. The low-cost pharmacies are open to the general public.

Taiwan: Potential to attract Taiwanese golfers to DR
Speaking at a press conference at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Thursday 12 September, Taiwanese Minister of Transport and Communications Kuang-Shih Yeh said that his country could invest in yacht manufacturing in the DR. The minister, who heading a Taiwanese business mission to the DR to explore investing and potential for increased tourism between both countries, also pointed out that golf is very popular in Taiwan and that there is great potential for promoting Dominican golf vacations there. "Golf is regarded as one of the most famous sports in Taiwan and that is why we want to promote Dominican golf courses," he said. He said that some of the members of the delegation are tour operators working in the United States. He said he would work with his colleagues to promote more visits by Taiwanese tourists to the Dominican Republic.

The provinces that will decide the 2016 election
With three years to go, the Central Electoral Board (JCE) is already releasing statistics on the voting list for the presidential, congressional and municipal elections scheduled for Sunday, 15 May 2016.

According to the data, most of the potential voters in the Dominican Republic live in the north of the country with 2,571,953 or 37.7%. This is followed by the Greater Santo Domingo area with 2,276,108 for 33.4%. The south of the country has 1,203,631 voters or 17.7%. The east has 763,143, for 11.2%.

The five provinces with the most voters are Santo Domingo 20%, the National District 12.69%, Santiago 11.21%, San Cristobal 5.61% and La Vega 4.56%.

Politicians are likely to be busiest in those areas during campaign time as they chase those votes.

As of 31 August 2013, there will be 761,990 new voters in the Sunday, 15 May 2016 election. The JCE expects the list of voters to reach 7,264,958 voters, up 11.7% compared to the number of voters in the 2012 election.


Dominicans pay the highest airport fees in Latin America
The Dominican Tour Operators Association (OPETUR) says that Dominican airports are the most expensive in the region. Dominican airports are all privately operated.

Opetur president Elizabeth Tobar says that the high airport fees affect the DR's tourism competitiveness. She says that the high fees are one of the reasons for Puerto Plata's tourism slump, as reported in El Caribe.

Tobar said, "We haven't realized that before we were a relatively cheap destination. But today we have become one of the most expensive when it comes to air services.

According to Tobar, landing fees, the cost of airline fuel and the cost of the tourist card all add to the expense even before the tourists begin their stay.

This is all in addition to the high taxes the Dominican government levies on airfares to the Dominican Republic. The Opetur president said that the charges often add up to more than the airfare itself.


Jamaican businesspeople visit Expo Cibao
Jamaican business owners are visiting the DR to explore opportunities for increased business with the Dominican Republic. The Jamaica Promotions Corporation (Jampro) is heading a delegation of 15 exporters who are visiting the country from 10-14 September. They will be attending the Expo Cibao trade show in Santiago and have scheduled individual business meetings around the show.

Expo Cibao is an annual multi-sector trade show organized by the Santiago Chamber of Commerce and Production that is taking place from September 10-15 under the theme, 'for the integration and development of the region.'

The mission has the support of the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) in partnership with the Jamaica Manufacturers' Association (JMA).

The Jamaican companies taking part in the mission include Wynlee Trading, Falcon Marketing, Crimson Dawn Manufacturing Co., Paramount Trading, West Indies Gypsum Co., Sun Island Jamaica, Federated Pharmaceutical, Honeykist Apiaries Limited, Jamaica Fiberglass Products (JFP), Edgechem Jamaica, Bio-Tech R& D Institute, GK Foods & Services, Isratech Jamaica and Honey Bun.

According to JAMPRO's Manager of Export Promotion, Berletta Henlon Forrester, a key objective of the initiative is to increase trade links between Jamaica and the Dominican Republic as well as to promote a business-conducive platform between companies in both countries. "We are undertaking this mission as an important step in helping our manufactures and exporters realize the benefits of the Free Trade Agreement between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic," she said.

General Manager of Federated Pharmaceutical, Joy Angulu, one of the participating exporters, is looking forward to the mission, describing it as, "a whole new world of opportunities." She added: "The Dominican Republic is the second largest Caribbean country with a population exceeding 10 million representing a high value market opportunity for Jamaican companies."


Students win engineering prize
Nine Dominican university students have won the first prize in innovation with their project that converts plastic waste into reinforced concrete building blocks meeting international engineering standards. The civil engineering students at the Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo (INTEC) won the student competition organized by the Latin America and the Caribbean Consortium of Engineering Institutions (LACCEI) held recently in Cancun, Mexico. Arleen Nina, Benito Morantin, Emmanuel Garcia, Melissa Martinez, Alvin Olivo, Irving Feliz, Iyeisys Escorbores, Fannelly Ortiz and Aries Mejia presented the project that was chosen from 32 entries from 44 universities that participated in the student competition, as reported in Hoy.


Time to end celibacy in the Catholic Church
A legislator and director of social clubs from Barahona is calling on the Catholic Church to put an end to celibacy so that priests can marry and have families. PRD deputy Fabio Vargas Matos said yesterday, Thursday 12 September that celibacy needed to be revised given the too frequent occurrences of priests involved in sexual abuse of children and others having affairs with women. "Celibacy and pederasty, which are dragging the Catholic Church down all around the world, have to come to an end," said the legislator.

In the latest scandal, the Vatican's ambassador in the Dominican Republic was accused of sexual abuse against minors. Former Papal Nuncio Josef Wesolowski left the country shortly before the scandal hit the headlines. Several investigative journalists were on the trail of the priest when he left the country.


Vatican officially notifies DR on Wesolowski case
The Dominican ambassador to the Holy See, Victor Grimaldi says that the Vatican has officially informed the Dominican Republic that former papal nuncio Josef Wesolowski, accused of sexual abuse of minors in the Dominican Republic, is under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He said that the Holy See reported that it respects the competency of the Dominican authorities and its justice system.

Reportedly, church authorities in the DR were aware of the irregularities in the conduct of the nuncio, who left the country shortly before the scandal made front-page headlines. TV journalist reporters were on the trail of the priest at the time.

The Vatican has denied it is protecting Wesolowski, who has not been available for comment.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was formerly known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition and is the oldest among the nine congregations of the Roman Curia. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's duty is "to promote and safeguard the doctrine on the faith and morals throughout the Catholic world: for this reason everything which in any way touches such matter falls within its competence."

Its offices are headquartered at the Palace of the Holy Office, just outside Vatican City. The congregation employs an advisory board including cardinals, bishops and priests, lay theologians and canon lawyers.




Former priest shows up to meet his jail sentence
Former priest Domingo Espinal, who was on the run from the law, has turned himself in to begin to serve his sentence for rape of a minor. He was sentenced to 15 years of jail in 2009. The former priest was spiritual advisor at the Licenciado Victor Garrido School, near the parish of the INVI in Km. 10.5 of the Carretera Sanchez. The Third Collegiate Court of the National District found Espinal guilty of the rape of a 12-year old boy and sentenced him on 3 July. He was ordered to pay a fine of RD$100,000, as reported in Hoy.


Basketball team captain still mad at Al Horford
The captain of the Dominican men's basketball team that qualified to play in the World Basketball Championship in Spain told the press yesterday, Thursday 12 September that the team representing the DR at the important championship should be the same as the one that qualified at the Caracas FIBA Americas tournament. Jack Michael Martinez is still unhappy at the Dominican Republic's best basketball player, Al Horford who plays for the Atlanta Hawks, for choosing not to play the championship.

As quoted in El Caribe, Martinez said: "Al's excuse was that he was tired, that he needed to rest. Well he can keep on resting so he is much better to play with his NBA team," said Martinez. Horford had said that he was committed to taking part in the Basketball without Frontiers program with the Hawks team that was traveling to South Africa at the time, as reported in Diario Libre.

Martinez also objected to Charlie Villanueva or Luis Flores making the team to the World Games.

"Francisco (Garcia) and myself feel good, we felt abandoned, the same as the rest of the group, but for now we will stay with the same team for the Worlds," he said, in response to reporters' questions upon arriving to Las Americas from Venezuela.

After the Dominican team qualified, Al Horford had been quoted saying he would be willing to join the team. The World Championships will decide the teams that qualify to play in the Rio Olympics.


Contemporary Dance Festival at Bellas Artes
The International Contemporary Dance Festival, Edanco will take place at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo. Performances will be 25 September to 7 October. Contemporary dance companies are coming from Japan, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Colombia, Italy, Spain, El Salvador, Guadeloupe and Martinique. The event is being sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, the Centro Cultural de Espana and the Edanco Foundation. Edanco director Edmundo Poy says that this year they will be paying homage to Olga Espaillat, first ballerina of the country's first Ballet Academy in the 1940s.


Caramelos de Cianuro booked for concert at Sambil
Venezuelan rock band Caramelos de Cianuro will take the stage of the Sambil Mall on Saturday, 14 September for a concert together with Dominican band Bocatabu. This evening of Latin American rock also celebrates the sixth anniversary of the popular Shots Bar. Caramelos de Cianuro are Asier Cazais (vocals), Miguel "El enano" Gonzalez (guitar), Pavel "El ruso" Tello (base) and Dario Adames (drums). Tickets are for sale at Ticket Express and Shots Bar for RD$600 and RD$1,000 vip.

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

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