Good progress in DR-Haiti talks|
Yesterday, Monday 3 February, representatives from the Dominican Republic and Haiti met for talks on establishing control of revenues at customs, preventing drug dealing, arms dealing and people trafficking, and establishing rules for immigration. This was a follow up to the first meeting held in Haiti on 7 January. The parties agreed on monthly meetings at the start of each month.
Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo said that significant progress was made during the talks, which took place at the Jimani border and lasted for over 10 hours. The declaration in Spanish and French with the agreements reached during the meeting was not issued until 1am today, Tuesday 4 February.
The delegates discussed creating new procedures for allowing air transport regulation for people and products, reciprocal promotion and protection of investments, and border market management.
The delegations also agreed to set up a bi-national observatory funded by the European Union to follow up on the agreements. Both parties also agreed on a Cooperation Plan for the two countries' national police forces. The cooperation plan has six basic areas of focus: training, exchange of intelligence information, criminal investigations, search and capture of fugitives and joint operations.
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) and the Haitian National Police also signed an inter-institutional agreement for counteracting drug trafficking.
Montalvo said that both nations were concerned about how to ensure order and peace along the more than 200 kilometers of the border and stop illegal transactions.
In terms of immigration, the Dominican government said that the process of implementing the Foreigner Legalization Plan was at an advanced stage and should be completed by May 2015. A public information campaign will start this month. The plan is aimed at ensuring that no residents in the Dominican Republic remain without legal documentation n with working permits, legal residency, tourists or Dominican nationals.
The Dominican commission members were Montalvo, Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul, Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo, Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations Jose Ramon Trullols, and legal advisor to the Presidency Cesar Pina Toribio.
Haiti was represented by Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, Foreign Relations Minister Pierre Richard Casimir, Interior Minister David Bazile, Minister of Commerce Wilson Laleau, and Nesmy Manigat, legal advisor to the Prime Minister.
Dominican, Haitian business reps meet in Jimani|
Prior to the government-to-government talks that took place in Jimani yesterday, Monday 3 February, Dominican and Haitian businesspeople held a meeting and announced their own agreements for strengthening relations. The meeting was named the Quisqueya Business Summit and took place on Friday, 31 January. The summit is seen as a permanent platform for the development and promotion of business and trade relations between the two nations.
As reported in El Dia, the business leaders agreed to back measures to reduce illicit trade, prepare a formal consultation procedure between governments and business sector prior to ordering trade bans and affecting trade. They also agreed to create a bi-national organization to promote the creation of joint investment projects, the same as a Haiti-DR Investment Fund to finance private sector projects that have been chosen.
These agreements and recommendations were contained in a statement read out by the businesspeople during the II Meeting of the High Level Bilateral Commission.
Haiti Industries Association president Norma Power read out the statement, and National Business Council (Conep) president Manuel Diez spoke on behalf of the Dominican business group. The resolutions were approved on Friday, 31 January during a meeting at a hotel in Petionville before the government-to-government talks on Monday, 3 February.
Dominican businessmen Juan Bautista Vicini, Fernando Capellan, Manuel Diez and Jose Singer took part in the talks. Bernard Craan, Didier Fils-Aime, Stephan Coles and Bah Tierno Oussemen represented Haiti, together with special guests Gregory Mews and Stanislav Wojwodzki, as reported in El Dia.
European Union happy with talks|
The European Union has welcomed the talks between the Dominican Republic and Haiti on bilateral issues with the EU, United Nations, and Venezuela as observers. Caricom representatives were also expected but did not attend.
EU head of foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, said that they were happy to support the process with input of their experience in the areas of commerce, customs, security, the fight against drugs, border control, migration policies and environmental protection.
She went on to say that the EU was convinced that an open and constructive dialogue is the best way to strengthen the bi-national relationship and promote political stability and economic prosperity in both countries.
She also said that they recognized the sovereign right of the Dominican Republic to define their own policies on nationality and immigration but at the same time they should be in line with the international standards for universal human rights.
IDB to support National Strategic Plan|
The Dominican government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) have signed an agreement for a total sum of US$600,000 (some RD$25.6 million) to be used to strengthen institutions and support the logistics of the National Strategic Plan.
The agreement was signed by Minister of Economy, Planning and Development Temistocles Montas and IDB representative in the DR Flora Montealegre Painter at the Presidential Palace in Santo Domingo yesterday, Monday 3 February.
Peso depreciation on its way to RD$45.80 by year's end|
The Central Bank's International Department director, Frank Fuentes, says that the recent depreciation of the peso to more than RD$43 to US$1 was to be expected. He said that the Central Bank has estimated a rate of RD$45.80 to US$1 that was used for the Central Bank Monetary Program and the National Budget, equivalent to a variation of 6.6%. He said that the depreciation of 0.7% accumulated to January is approximately 11% of what was projected for the entire year. Nevertheless, he said this is below the average rate of depreciation that has occurred over the past five years.
Lots of protests last year|
According to data from the Dominican Political Observatory (OPD), an initiative by the Global Democracy and Development Foundation (FUNGLODE), 952 protests took place in the Dominican Republic during 2013, an average of 79 a month or 2.6 a day.
The National District was the scene of 21% of all of the demonstrations, followed by Santo Domingo with 12% and Santiago with 9%.
Examining the number of protests with relation to population size, Pedernales had the most and the highest incidence was between October and December, with January to March being the lowest.
The main reasons for the protests included improvement in the electricity and water supply systems, infrastructure, salary increases, Barrick Gold, the proposed mining of Loma Miranda, fuel subsidies, immigration and the development of protected beach area of Bahia de las Aguilas.
Dede Mirabal laid to rest|
Yesterday, Monday 3 February, thousands of mourners attended the funeral of Dede Mirabal at the Club Hermanas Mirabal, in Ojo de Agua, with a mass at 3pm conducted by the Bishop of La Vega, Monsignor Antonio Camilo. She was then taken to her final resting place in the Salcedo municipal cemetery.
Her son, former Vice President Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal and other family members received condolences at the entrance of the Club. Fernandez, who is the current Minister of Sports described her passing as a great loss for the country and praised her qualities as a good mother and a great human being.
The funeral was attended by dignitaries including Supreme Court of Justice president Mariano German, Senate vice president Cristina Lizardo, Santo Domingo East mayor Juan de los Santos, Environment Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez, and the deputy minister of Public Health, Jose Rodriguez Aybar.
She was the surviving sister of the four Mirabal sisters, best known as political dissidents during the regime of dictator Rafael Trujillo. Her sisters, Minerva, Maria Teresa and Patria (The Butterflies) were returning from Puerto Plata on 25 November 1960 after visiting their husbands, who were political prisoners of the Trujillo dictatorship, when they were murdered. The murder marked a turning point and led to the decline of the Trujillo regime.
Dede Mirabal went on to raise her nieces and nephews who grew up as one family. They were Nelson Gonzalez Mirabal, Noris Gonzalez Mirabal and Raul Gonzalez Mirabal (Patria's children), Minou Tavarez Mirabal and Manolo Tavarez Mirabal (Minerva's children), and Jacqueline Guzman Mirabal (Maria Teresa's daughter).
In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly commemorated the sisters' legacy by designating 25 November as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in their honor.
Fuel retailers complain about cut in their profits|
The president of the National Fuel Retailers Association (ANADEGAS), Emilio Vasquez says that his members will march to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce today, Tuesday 4 February, at 11am to personally deliver a document outlining their demands to the Minister, Jose del Castillo Savinon.
At the same time 500 gas stations will be closed for sales from 6am to 2pm so that their owners, families and employees can go to the Ministry asking them to stop their "unhealthy intentions to the detriment of the sector".
One of their main complaints was what they describe as the "unjustifiably high price of fuel" pointing out that Dominicans are paying the highest prices in Latin America - in fact in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and the United States, prices are between 18% and 38% lower than the Dominican Republic.
Anadegas is also opposing a recent Ministry of Industry and Commerce decision revoking Resolution 64-95 that provides margins that make fuel sales profitable. What would be eliminated is the differential in price profit margin that allows for the fuel volumetric expansion. Fuel volumes are known to change due to the variations in temperature.
Help needed for Bavaro beaches|
The CASC workers union in Higuey has warned that thousands of people could lose their jobs due to the deteriorating state of the beaches in Bavaro, Cabeza de Toro, Cortecito, Uvero Alto and El Macao.
CASC general secretary Manolo Ramirez (Pupilo) has sent a letter to President Danilo Medina warning that the beaches in Bavaro-Punta Cana, especially Bavaro beach, have a large number of fishing boats, speedboats, glass bottom boats, catamarans and boats used for parasailing without insurance or the correct permits and the local authorities are not taking responsibility for this.
Ramirez said that if the President does not address this situation, as well as failing to reach his target of 10 million tourists, the number would actually decrease.
He said that none of these boats have permits, including the ones for excursions, water sports and water taxis.
Ramirez is asking for boats without permits to be prevented from working and for no more permits to be issued to anyone wishing to engage in water-based activities until a study is carried out on the sustainability of the beaches to work out how many boats should actually be allowed to operate.
CASC Higuey is asking for the implementation of an environmental plan that includes replanting corals and regenerating the beaches in the country's main tourist destination, and Ramirez invited the President to visit the area and see the problem for himself.
Rejection of proposed lawyer regulation bill|
The Justice and Transparency Foundation (FJT) is rejecting a proposal by the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) to control who is allowed to practice law in the Dominican Republic.
The FJT criticized the fact that the SCJ controls the Public Prosecution service, describing it as a clear conflict of interest, and for trying to introduce a law that will involve all of the lawyers in the country including members of the Public Prosecution service and those working in the High Court as lawyers.
The FJT says that it is unacceptable for the Supreme Court to have the monopoly over all players in the administration of justice, which they say is a violation of constitutional principles. FJT president Trajano Potentini described the proposed law to regulate the profession of lawyer, as "absurd, dangerous and unconstitutional."
The proposal is for recently qualified lawyers to undergo a two-year internship, take examinations every five years, and be licensed by a commission consisting mainly of members of the Judicial Branch.
Supporters of the bill say that it is an attempt to improve the quality of legal practitioners in the Dominican Republic.
PRD has presidential candidate|
After receiving mass support from members of the PRD in La Caleta, Boca Chica, economist Luis Abinader has declared that he will be the main presidential candidate for the opposition party for the 2016 elections.
He said that despite the internal problems affecting the party, looking at the electoral scene there was the clear opportunity for change that he represented, and that he was receiving support throughout the country
Public taxi fares rise|
Drivers in the National District and Santo Domingo province have now started to apply a RD$5 increase on the shared taxi routes between Maximo Gomez Avenue and Villa Mella, and vice versa. Alfredo Pulinario (Cambita), from the Mochotran transport union and Arsenio Quevedo from Unatrafin rejected the increase in the fare saying that it was too much to ask people to pay even though the price of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) had increased by RD$7 a gallon.
Despite these comments, the drivers are applying the RD$20 to RD$25 increase, leading to complaints from passengers.
Spanish government aid to reach EUR15 million by 2016|
The Spanish International Development Cooperation Agency (AECID) will be donating EUR15 million to the Dominican Republic between now and 2016, as reported in Diario Libre. This is equivalent to about RD$795 million. Spanish Ambassador Jaime Lacadena says that the funds will go towards consolidating the rule of law, education and potable water programs, natural disaster risk mitigation, cultural links and sustainable rural development, as well as other priority areas.
To strengthen the new cooperation strategies, Minister of Economy, Planning and Development Temistocles Montas and the AECID Latin America and the Caribbean director Rafael Garranzo Garcia signed an agreement at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Monday 3 February. Ambassador Lacaena said that AECID has contributed EUR426 million or about RD$22.5 billion in its 26 years of work in the Dominican Republic.
Vegetarian cooking course|
Art of Living Foundation in the Dominican Republic has organized a Vegetarian Cooking Course for this month. The dates and schedule are Sat, 15 Feb from 3 to 7pm, Sun, 16 Feb from 9am to 1pm, and Sat 22 Feb from 3:30 to 730pm. Cost is RD$4,000. There is a RD$1,000 discount for two persons. The participants will learn about fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, basic foods, basic cuts, how to cooking methods and will receive a recipe booklet. Arte Vivir is located at Calle 8 #18, Julieta. Tel 809 338-4404 or email Martha Gonzalez at [email protected]
DR ranked 28th in world tennis|
The Dominican team's good performance in the Davis Cup has raised the Dominican Republic world ranking to 28th. This is the first time that the DR has made the elite group of the best 30 tennis-playing countries according to the Davis Cup ranking. The DR defeated Uruguay last weekend in its quest to make the World Group of the Davis Cup PNB Paribas Championship. Before that, the DR was in 39th place. The DR is ranked sixth in the Americas, behind Argentina, Canada, US, Brazil and Ecuador.
DR defeats Cuba in Caribbean Series|
Yesterday, Monday 3 February, the Dominican Republic's Tigres del Licey defeated Villa Clara, the team representing Cuba in the Caribbean Series for the first time in several decades. The championship between the winning winter league teams from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the DR and now Cuba is taking place in Isla Margarita, Venezuela.
Today, Tuesday 4 February, Puerto Rico will match Cuba at 4pm, and the DR will match Venezuela at 8:30pm.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
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