New government procurement control commission|
Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo has introduced the Commission for the Follow Up and Citizen Oversight of the Office of Supervisory Public Works of the State (OISOE) that will monitor the entity's procurement and contracting. The commission is made up of business, education, religious and community representatives who are being asked to oversee the procurement and contracting on a voluntary basis, to ensure that they meet legal, objective and transparency criteria.
The Oversight Commission members are: Rafael Paz of the National Business Council (Conep), UNAPEC university rector Radhames Mejia, businessman Jesus Moreno, executive director of the Institute of Authorized Public Accountants Mariluz Arias, Addys Then of the NGO Alliance, reverend Daniel Oscar, and professor Manuel Lama.
In an editorial in El Dia, the newspaper says this is a new government initiative aimed at implementing control mechanisms for achieving a society where equality, transparency and legality prevail.
"The work and suitability of surveillance of the new commission is about a new battle to keep in line and control what is seen to have gotten out of control in terms of the low level of trust in the multi-million tenders held in the government ministries."
Environment Ministry halts power barge installation in Puerto Plata|
The government has ordered a stop to the installation of a 36.5-megawatt electricity barge in Puerto Plata in response to community protests. The Ministry of Environment called for Compania de Electricidad de Puerto Plata to stop the installation in Cafemba Bay. Deputy Minister Zoila Gonzalez told the holder of the barge installation contract, the Compania de Electricidad de Puerto Plata that the people of Puerto Plata were opposed to the plant, as reported in El Dia.
Tolls are obstacle to Samana development|
The Samana Tourism Cluster (CTS) has called for the government to find ways of reducing the toll on the Santo Domingo-Samana highway that now costs RD$1,876. This compares to the RD$300 toll to get to Punta Cana from Santo Domingo, a similar distance. The Samana highway contract was signed during the Leonel Fernandez government and guarantees minimum revenue levels for the company that financed the highway. The Samana Tourism Cluster says that the high cost of the tolls is an obstacle to tourism development and investment in the province. They urged the Ministry of Public Works and the Autopistas del Nordeste and Boulevard Turistico del Atlantico companies to conduct a reasonable review of the rates charged to encourage more traffic.
It takes about two hours to drive from Santo Domingo to Samana using the toll road, compared to the around four hours on the alternative route.
"As business owners, we realize that highways made with private funds charge tolls to recoup the investment and that contracts need to be respected, but the rates established are out of proportion and when compared to similar highways do not justify the prices that are being collected, and affect the competitiveness of our tourism destination," says CTS.
The CTS also complained that the more than 53,000 tourists who have arrived via the El Catey International Airport are forced to pay too high a cost for the 24 km route to get to Las Terrenas, and tourist transport vehicles have to pay even when they are traveling to the airport empty to pick up tourists. The CTS says that the situation affects visitor satisfaction and small business development in the area.
"We appeal to our authorities to review this situation within the legal framework of the contracts that have been signed. We also trust in the goodwill of the Ministry of Public Works and the company that has the concession to find a solution that enables us to position ourselves in an increasingly competitive touristic market," stated the Samana Tourism Cluster.
Going to the rescue of the Los Haitises National Park|
President Danilo Medina and the Special Commission for the Los Haitises Park have agreed to invest US$55.7 million over a three-year period to relocate the human activities that degrade the area. Minister of Environment Bautista Rojas Gomez, who chairs the commission, says the plan will be crucial to rescuing and preserving the park's ecosystem - an important fresh water reservoir for the country.
The plan also entails involving the local communities near these areas so they can receive the benefits of domestic and foreign park visits and improve their living conditions.
Grimaldi speaks for himself, says Foreign Ministry|
Controversial Dominican ambassador to the Vatican, former journalist Victor Grimaldi is again making headlines for his extreme positions.
The Dominican government has distanced itself from statements by the Dominican ambassador to the Holy See Victor Grimaldi regarding US ambassador James Bewster meeting with representatives of the DR gay community.
In a press release, the Ministry of Foreign Relations said that "the unfortunate statements by Ambassador Grimaldi were made on a personal level and do not reflect the Dominican government position."
The Ministry adds: "The Dominican government recognizes the work that ambassador James Brewster is carrying out on an wide range of topics on the bilateral agenda."
The note was made public hours after Grimaldi warned deputy minister of Foreign Relations Jose Manuel Trullols that he did not accept what he deemed as threats from the Ministry after the latter reportedly called him after he sent a letter to Pope Francis. In the letter to the Pope dated Thursday, 13 February, Grimaldi links Brewster and the gay community in the DR to a campaign to "dethrone" Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez. The Cardinal is due for retirement as he is over the retirement age of 75.
The cardinal has been critical of Brewster's appointment as US ambassador to the Dominican Republic, given the latter's high profile as a gay rights activist.
In the letter to Pope Francis, Grimaldi presented as "proof" a news story that appeared in El Nacional on the meeting between the ambassador and representatives of the gay community in the Dominican Republic.
In the letter, the Dominican ambassador goes on to recall that the Dominican Constitution in its Art. 55 establishes that marriage is between a man and a woman. Prior to traveling to the Dominican Republic to serve as US ambassador, Brewster married his long-time male partner.
The 13 February news story in El Nacional reported on a commission of 15 gay organizations that were received by the US ambassador for a review of their struggles for their rights in the Dominican Republic. As reported, the local activists discussed their achievements, current obstacles, lack of anti-discrimination laws, and the influence of the Catholic Church in decisions taken by legislators given the absence of a secular state in the country, and HIV/AIDS prevention initiatives.
Gravel extractors do more damage than mineral mining companies|
A feature in El Dia by Pedro Julio Sanchez compares the damage done by gravel and construction material companies that extract material from Dominican riverbeds and the environmental damage caused by mining companies like Falcondo. Pedro Julio Sanchez says that the owners of the companies that extract materials from riverbeds are now millionaires at the cost of Dominican rivers. He asks where have the strong opponents to Falcondo mining Loma de Miranda been when it comes to these extraction companies.
"These so-called environmental groups, including some legislators and community kingpins who are currently opposing the government extending the Falcondo contract so it can mine in Loma de Miranda, who are fully aware of the crucial reality of the extermination of Dominican rivers by construction sector businesses, to our knowledge have never taken on such a radical position as they have in the case of the mining company."
The reporter says that the extraction of construction materials from riverbeds began when former President Joaquin Balaguer launched major construction initiatives. Reportedly, permits for the extraction of the natural resource were initially granted to friends, relatives and military chiefs during the Balaguer regime. As a result, the country's main rivers including Nigua, Nizao, Yubazo, Yuna, Camu, Yaque del Norte and Yaque del Sur were annihilated. "And those environmentalists have never spoken out, let alone set up campaigns with posters in protest at the extraction areas."
The writer wonders why there have not been more protests about the pollution in the Ozama and Isabela Rivers by the environmentalists.
The writer also wonders where the environmentalists have been on the issue of the negative consequences of the construction of large hotels on the coasts affecting forests, reefs and mangroves.
The writer also comments that the Barrick Gold operation is more damaging than the proposed Falcondo operation "because they deposit sulfur and cyanide in open pit and the results can now be seen in the bodies of the farmers who live in the vicinity of the company."
Mejia announces he will not run for the PRD|
Former President Hipolito Mejia has announced he will not participate in the PRD party convention convened by party president Miguel Vargas Maldonado. The disagreements between Mejia and Vargas have divided the party. Mejia said he would not attend the event and instead would present his candidacy for the general election in 2016 through the Convergencia Nacional Democratica political movement.
Following his announcement, former Presidency minister during the Mejia government, Guido Gomez Mzara announced he would submit his candidacy for party president. Miguel Vargas seeks to continue in the position.
Earlier, former legislator Alfredo Pachedo also announced his aspiration to continue as president of the PRD in the National District and said he would be taking part in the convention.
When making the announcement, Mejia said that the "blue ties agreement", between Miguel Vargas Maldonado and former President Leonel Fernandez had been a move to take the PRD out of the running field and perpetuate the PLD in power.
Teachers and health professionals must report sexual abuse|
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito has sent letters to the ministers of Education Carlos Amarante Baret and Public Health Freddy Hidalgo with instructions for schools and medical centers to report teenage pregnancies. He said that a high number of these cases are the result of sexual crimes. Dominguez Brito said that the Code for the Protection of the Rights of Boys, Girls and Teenagers establishes that health, education, psychology, social work and police professionals and officials, both in public and private centers, who are aware of or suspect sexual abuse or rape are obliged to denounce these cases to the competent authority. "The obligation to report is the highest for doctors, teachers, school counselors and principals and any government official who has had contact with the affected child," he said, as reported in Diario Libre. The AG urged them to be proactive in reporting the pregnancies in the cases of seduction, rape or incest, as soon as they become aware of them. He said that public or private school principals should not penalize, expel or exercise any kind of discriminatory treatment due to the pregnancy. Dominguez Brito stressed that the information received would be treated with confidentiality so as not to create obstacles to the investigations into the case.
As reported, the DR is in fifth place worldwide in teenage pregnancy rates, according to the United Nations Population Fund's 2013 World Population report. Data indicate that in the country 20-25% of young girls ages 15-19 has been or is pregnant.
Ivan Grullon is new rector of state university|
With a mere difference of 84 votes, 69-year old Ivan Grullon has been elected the new rector of the state university UASD. He received 1,302 votes. His closest contender Emma Polanco received 1,218 votes of the 2,634 authorized to vote. His term starts on 28 February 2014. He will replace Mateo Aquino Febrillet, who has served as rector since 2011.
Father Arnaiz passes on|
Well-loved and respected 88-year old Jesuit priest Monsignor Francisco Jose Arnaiz died on Friday, 14 February at the PUCMM residence in Santiago. After being expelled from Cuba by the Fidel Castro regime, he came to live in the Dominican Republic and stayed. He was buried in the Jesuit cemetery in Manresa Loyola, in Haina, San Cristobal, west of Santo Domingo.
Two of his nieces came from Spain for the wake. His niece Maria Jose Arnaiz said that her uncle chose to be buried here because he loved the country and felt he was a Dominican.
Canadian shot in Cabarete recovering|
A Canadian rental operator is recovering in Winnipeg after surviving an armed robbery in Cabarete. Canadian resident Les Lehmann, who manages an apartment complex in Cabarete, tried to fight off thieves who broke in last month. This occurred the evening after a group of Canadian students had arrived to volunteer at a humanitarian project. The students were uninjured, but several of them witnessed the shooting. A video showed how the 64-year-old man took a bat to the thieves and was shot nine times. Les Lehmann initially received medical care in Puerto Plata, but then traveled to Canada to complete his recovery. His daughter-in-law, Eugenia Lehmann, says he has a long way to go in his recovery, as reported in CBC news of Canada. The family collected donations to help bring him back to Canada for medical treatment.
Blues with Little Joe McLerran|
The US Embassy is sponsoring a tour by blues musician Little Joe McLerran and his band. They will be playing three free concerts in the DR, at Casa de Teatro in Santo Domingo's Colonial City, the UASD auditorium in Barahona and the Centro Cultural Perello in Bani.
The group will also hold two master classes for students at the National Music Conservatory and the Centro Cultural Perello (in Bani).
Little Joe McLerran is described as the producer of America's longest-running blues radio program.
Irka Mateo sings for women|
Singer-songwriter Irka Mateo will be in Santo Domingo for a concert to mark International Women's Day. The show is being organized by the Foro Feminista and the Centro Cultural de Espana. It will be dedicated to Anacaona, the indigenous woman who opposed the Spanish conquistadors. Irka Mateo will be accompanied by Yasser Tejeda and his Pa'lotre group. Jesus "Chuchu" Tejeda Reinoso of the National Folk Dance group will be playing the accordion. The concert will take place in the gardens of the Centro Cultural Espana in the Colonial City on Saturday, 8 March at 9pm.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
The contents of this webpage are copyright © 1996-2015. DR1. All Rights Reserved.