President Medina in Cuba|
President Danilo Medina spent time explaining the official Dominican position on the path to citizenship and legalization for undocumented people in the Dominican Republic while attending the II Summit for the Community of Central American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Havana yesterday, Tuesday 28 January. As reported in Listin Diario, President Medina defended Dominican sovereignty when it comes to nationality issues in response to the stance taken by Caricom in line with the Haitian government lobbying for the Dominican Republic to nationalize immigrants who do not have legal Haitian papers. More than half the population in Haiti does not have legal papers.
Otherwise, President Medina took part in discussions that focused on regional efforts to improve citizens' education levels.
Following the session, President Medina went to the Plaza de la Revolucion where Cuban President Raul Castro hosted a dinner for the visiting Heads of State and governments.
Security Conference being held in Santo Domingo|
The United States and Dominican Republic are hosting the 2014 Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) on 28-30 January in Santo Domingo.
The conference is discussing the progress of ongoing efforts to bolster the region's security and information-sharing capabilities. The theme for this year's conference is "Caribbean security support to CBSI: Sustaining the capacity to counter transnational organized crime." CBSI (Caribbean Basin Security Initiative) was developed by US and Caribbean leaders to substantially reduce illicit trafficking, increase citizen safety and security, and promote social justice by integrating approaches that address those areas.
As reported, 21 countries are participating, including: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, the Bahamas, Belize, Colombia, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago. Regional representatives from Canada, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are attending.
The US delegation attending the conference also includes senior representatives and subject matter experts from the US State Dept., Joint Interagency Task Force-South, the Inter-American Defense Board, and the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies. Other guests included the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) and the Canadian Joint Operations Command.
Since 2010, the US has committed more than US$263 million to support the initiative. Under the CBSI, SOUTHCOM assistance to the region it has donated intercept boats, communication packages, spare parts and tools, and provided training to Caribbean coast guard, naval and other maritime patrol forces. Currently, the command staffs and funds a Technical Assistance Field Team to assist Caribbean nations with maintenance, logistics and procurement systems essential to sustaining long-term readiness of maritime patrol forces and service life of critical maritime patrol resources.
More agents for Haiti border patrols|
Minister of Defense Sigrido Pared Perez has announced the increase of Specialized Border Patrols (Cesfront) agents to deter the Haitian illegal immigration. Pared Perez said that the force has been increased from 600 to 1,400 agents after the government ordered a stop to deportations after the issuing of the presidential decree for the Foreigner Legalization Plan that is due to begin to be implemented, as reported in El Dia. Pared Perez made the comments yesterday, Tuesday 28 January, on the occasion of the 2014 Caribbean Nations Security Conference (CANSEC) that is taking place at the Hilton Hotel in Santo Domingo.
"Historic cooperation between the US and the Dominican Republic has produced positive results, such as the confiscation of numerous tons of drugs, the capture of heads of organized crime at a national level and the equipping and modernization of teams for prosecuting organized crime," said Pared Perez in the presence of John F. Kelly, Commander of the US Southern Command.
Mayor promises to fix access to National Zoo|
After an investigative report in El Dia exposed the slum-like deterioration of the access roads to the National Zoo in Santo Domingo, city Mayor Roberto Salcedo acknowledged the problem and announced a plan for improvements. City government general secretary Andres Navarro said that work would begin in the first quarter of the year. Solutions will be found to the sewage and garbage disposal from nearby slum areas, lighting will be improved and public spaces will be recovered, sport and recreational areas will be created where today there are garbage dumps and misused public areas. He said that illegal occupiers of public spaces would be gradually evicted. He said the authorities need the help of the Ministry of Public Works and Edesur to complete the project. El Dia reported yesterday, Tuesday 28 January on the neglect of the access area, the mechanic shops, improvised car and laundry wash areas, and carpentry shops that have taken over access roads and sidewalks, causing damage to the environment.
More bandwidth might be on the way|
The government, via the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel), is proposing to roll out the "National Fiber Optic Network" so that the whole country has telecommunications service, using wide bandwidth. They say that it will mean faster Internet and an improved telephone and cable service.
According to information given to Diario Libre by Indotel, the proposal is included in their 2014-2015 plan, which is now in the public consultation phase. It will cover around 3,000 square kilometers or 6.67% of the country over five years and seeks to reach 80% within three years.
Indotel say it will cost US$62 million which is RD$2,675.3 million at the current exchange rate and of that, US$30 is in the negotiation phase with the World Bank, the rest to be paid by the country.
Indotel says that this network will improve business as it will attract new investors in the areas of telecommunications, tourism, industry, manufacturing and Free Zones. They say that a feasibility study has been carried out by a Spanish company, IDOM Ingenieria S. A., including the environmental impact.
According to Rafael Zorrilla, telecommunications engineer and former president of he Professional Telecommunications Association, this project is what the country needs in order to improve telecommunications, and it will improve the quality of service, availability and the access.
Ministry late in paying scholarships|
The Minister for Higher Education, Ligia Amada Melo, says that the delay in paying grants to Dominican students in France and Spain is due to the process of the contracts with the universities and not due to a lack of money.
A total of 101 out of the 4,000 overseas students are affected, studying at the Spanish universities of Murcia and Salamanca and at several French universities. They have now not been paid their scholarships for up to four months.
Melo said that the contracts with the universities were ready but that some needed to be rewritten to incorporate changes, one of which was for Salamanca and she had it there on her desk.
She admitted the existence of some problems at Salamanca with independent students who fell outside the contract and the Ministry had to pay for them, but the university was threatening to expel them, as this had not been paid. Unfortunately this had only been communicated to the students and not to the Ministry.
In the case of Murcia and the French universities, once again the contracts had not been finalized.
The PLD administrations have disbursed millions of dollars for Dominicans to study abroad.
Federation of Small Shopkeepers (Fenapeco) president Apolinar Leyba Javier has expressed his support for the general strike across the country on Thursday 30 and Friday 31 January, in protest against the obligation to install tax printers.
He questioned the credibility of the Tax Office (DGII) promise that it would not insist on the installation of the printers for small businesses with annual sales under RD$7.8 million, or purchases below RD$30 million, describing this as "a trick by the tax authorities."
Leyba Javier rejected the DGII initiative, saying it was an impossible expense for small businesses which could not afford the printers.
He also asked for better transparency in assigning permits to import agricultural products under the DR-CAFTA trade agreement, claiming that the current system was irregularly managed.
Electricity sector seeking loan|
Ruben Jimenez Bichara, executive vice president of the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE), has revealed that they are negotiating with a group of banks to obtain a loan of between US$300 and $400 million to pay part of the debt they owe to the electricity generators.
The Dominican Electrical Industries Association (ADIE) representing the generating companies is pressing for payment of the debt, now around US$844.2 million saying that if it is not paid they are concerned about the potential operating and financial problems for the companies.
Strike in Santiago today|
The main transport union leaders in Santiago have turned down an invitation for a meeting from the head of the police, Major General Manuel Castro Castillo and to his call for them not to strike today.
CNTT and the FETTRANRENO union presidents Juan Marte and Gervasio de la Rosa said they had decided not to go to the meeting as they are not going to back off from their demands, namely better working conditions for their members.
They confirmed that today, Wednesday 29 January they are asking all drivers on the urban and inter-urban public transport routes to strike from 6am until 6am tomorrow, Thursday 30 January.
January salaries late|
The National Treasury says that the public employees who have not been paid for the month of January work in the institutions due to receive a pay increase, including the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Defense, National Police and the Public Health Ministry.
They said that the new salaries are being calculated and will be paid as soon as they have been approved.
Historic drugs haul in Caribbean waters|
In an operation straight out of a thriller, the US Coast Guard and British Royal Navy joined forces in an operation last week that culminated in the historic seizure of 1.25 tons of cocaine (1,135 kilos or 2,500 pounds) valued at US$37 million wholesale off the south coast of the Dominican Republic.
As reported, the crew of Royal Fleet Auxiliary Naval Support Ship RFA Wave Knight, along with a US Coast Guard patrol aircraft, forced a speedboat suspected of drug smuggling to stop in international waters south of the Dominican Republic last Wednesday night, 22 January. The presumed drug dealers threw the drugs into the water, but the packets were later recovered by the Coast Guard ship and taken to Florida.
The operation was carried out by the Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATF-S), the United States Coast Guard with the support of international partners for fighting illegal drugs in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
This was the first time an armed US Coast Guard helicopter embarked on a foreign flagged military vessel in support of counterdrug operations.
As reported, on 22 January, US Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry aircraft detected a 25-foot go-fast boat with four individuals and suspicious packages aboard moving at a high rate of speed. The US Coast Guard launched its helicopter from the British Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) Wave Knight to intercept the suspected drug smugglers.
The Coast Guard helicopter arrived on the scene and fired warning shots in an attempt to get the vessel to stop. The suspected smugglers were observed jettisoning several packages overboard during the pursuit. The helicopter employed airborne use-of-force and disabled the vessel.
The RFA Wave Knight, with a US Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team aboard, arrived on scene and detained the four suspected smugglers and recovered 45 bales of cocaine from the water.
"This historic operation is a result of a dedication to improved interoperability and highlights the great success and commitment of our interagency partnerships to stop the illegal flow of narcotics into the United States," said Rear Admiral Jake Korn, commander of the Coast Guard Seventh District, as reported in Maritime News.
Maritime News said that the four suspected smugglers would be transferred to law enforcement authorities in the US. The seized contraband was transferred from the Coast Guard Cutter Sitkinak to US Drug Enforcement Agency, on Tuesday 27 January at 10am, at Coast Guard Base Miami Beach, Fla.
Son of murdered Moca man released on bail|
Yesterday, Tuesday 28 January, a judge in Moca ordered the release of the main suspect in the case of the murder of Ramon Antonio Sanchez Grullon.
Julio Sanchez, son of the deceased, was freed on bail of RD$500,000 and periodic court appearances for six months.
His brother and sister, Victor and Dalida Sanchez, who are guarantors for the bail, are claiming he is innocent.
The other men accused, Winston Antonio Rosa Salas, Jose Antonio Polanco Salcedo and Jose Reyes Moya were sent to jail on remand for nine months. The Public Prosecution service had asked for twelve months.
Licey is king!|
Emilio Bonifacio, who plays for the Kansas City Royals in Major League Baseball, put an end to the reign of the Leones del Escogido in Santo Domingo. The Tigres del Licey had not won a championship since the 2007-2008 Championship, eight years ago, and had lost their record as the team that won the most championships. With the win, the Licey again leads with 21 championships. The Licey was tied with the Aguilas for 20 victories. The two city teams, Licey and Escogido had not played for the championships since 1999. Tigres del Licey fans enjoyed every minute of the thrilling game on Tuesday, 28 January when they won the right to represent the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Series to be held in Venezuela. The Licey defeated the Escogido 3-2 in the eighth game of the series of 9-5 series. In the playoffs, the Licey won the first three games, then the Escogido won the next three, with Licey then won the next two. The game was decided in the seventh inning thanks to a great catch of a would-be hit by Bonifacio to end a likely run by the Escogido. Then Bonifacio himself, with two outs, batted in the winning run. The team has announced that the championship parade through Santo Domingo will take place on Thursday afternoon, 30 January, leaving from Quisqueya Ballpark. For details of the game, see lidom.com
Not to be missed: Clowns playing music at Galeria 360|
Santo Domingo's Galeria 360 shopping mall on Av. John F Kennedy and the National Conservatory of Music will be playing "A Concert of Clowns" this Saturday, 1 February at 6:30pm. The music will be played by the Juan Pablo Duarte Symphonic Orchestra, an orchestra of young musicians directed by Maestro Dante Cucurullo. Cucurullo said that 70 clown-musicians would be playing.
"We strive to create awareness about classical music and the possibilities for their future among children and parents," said Cucurullo. "We will be staging an entertaining story to introduce each of the musical instruments to the general public, he said. He promised an unforgettable event in the central lobby of the mall.
The program for the evening is:
Beethoven: Turkish March www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7QF97oJ9Ic
Camille Saint-Saens: Carnival of the Animals (The Pianists)
Symphony No. 3 www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDaZfSHDpa0
Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmOClcEk124
Vittorio Monti: Czardas www.youtube.com/watch?v=Op7GsUAiRnM
Leroy Anderson: Trumpeters Lullaby www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTcvj-PXIt4
Aram Khachaturian: Sabre Dance www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8N2lV6kmio
George Bizet: The Toreador Song (Carmen) www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCBjp562SKs
Antonio (Tono) Abreu: Cana Brava www.youtube.com/watch?v=itCGPsQpOH0
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
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