President Medina in Costa Rica|
President Danilo Medina left early this morning, Thursday 8 May on a private plane for a short visit to Costa Rica to attend the inauguration of recently elected President Luis Guillermo Solis. Solis visited President Medina several weeks ago and invited him to the inauguration.
Medina is expected back this evening. He left from San Isidro Air Base and was accompanied by a group of officials, including Deputy Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Trullols and the Administrative Minister for the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta, his communications chief Roberto Rodriguez Marchena, Presidential Guard commander Major General Adan Caceres and personal assistant Carlos Pared Perez.
Medina asks for more money for Monte Grande|
President Danilo Medina is asking the Senate to approve two addendums to the contract for the construction of the Monte Grande dam and the repairs to the Sabana Yegua dam. In letters addressed to the president of the Senate, Reinaldo Pared Perez, the President proposes an extension of the delivery date for the two projects until 30 April 2016. The President also asks for an extra US$47.4 million to cover additional expenses of Phase 1. The new contract, including the additional money from the addendum number two, will bring the total to US$401.7 million. The third letter is a request to close off two shafts and their related works in order to install a new system of gateways for the closure of the drainage of the project.
Dominican government borrows big to keep big spending|
Writing in today's Diario Libre, Thursday 8 May, economist Alejandro Fernandez comments that 98% of all the increase in borrowing in the Dominican Republic was gulped down by the Dominican government. Central Bank statistics show that borrowing increased by RD$41.896 billion during the first quarter. Of that amount RD$40.087 billion was channeled to the public sector, and of that 89% through the BanReservas. Lending to the private sector was only RD$1.8 billion during the first quarter.
Fernandez looks into how the governmental commercial bank, BanReservas has taken the lead in lending in the Dominican Republic. As of March 2014 BanReservas accounted for 28% of all banking assets in the country. He writes that the bank has doubled its market share since the turn of the century, going from 15% in 2000 to 28% in March 2014.
Banks that posted growth in 2014 have been the Progreso, Caribe, Promerica and the BDI, none of which are market leaders. The market leaders, namely the Popular, BHD, Leon and Citibank, posted slight declines in their market share in 2014.
Fernandez points out that according to the financial reports published by the Superintendence of Banks, as of March 2014, 75% of all the growth in bank lending in the quarter was due to the RD$34.647 billion increase of BanReservas. The runner up bank, Banco Popular increased its lending portfolio by just over RD$4 billion.
The economist says that the private banks that posted growth did so because of loans made to the government, too.
In his conclusions Fernandez says that local borrowing should slow down now that the government has made significant bond placements to borrow abroad.
Marranzini: Fiscal burden is 33% not 14%|
Dominican businessman Celso Marranzini says that the fiscal burden that the Dominican government has imposed on its taxpayers is 33% and not the 14% official stat.
The former president of the National Business Council (CONEP) and general manager of the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) says: "When one looks at all the productive sectors, we figure the tax burden is around 30-33%." He proposes major changes to taxation for a more fairly distributed tax burden. He says the 10 tax code reforms over the past 10 years have been carried out to compensate for budgetary deficits caused by increasing government spending.
Exports stagnate, with the exception of gold and silver|
The Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD) reports that during the first quarter of the year Dominican exports outside of free zones were up 8.53% from January to March 2014. During the period, the DR exported just over US$2 billion, but gold and silver made up US$416.4 million of this total. Diario Libre reports that when gold and silver exports are subtracted from the export total, exports were only up 1.2%. Remainder exports were US$1.5 billion.
Free zone exports were more than US$5 billion, for about 52% of all exports. In a recent presentation on the occasion of Dominican Week in Washington, DC Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo reported that free zone investments increased 26% in 2013, meaning that future growth is ensured.
Bilateral talks with Haiti: Double-edged sword for DR|
Writing in Hoy newspaper today, Thursday 8 May, foreign affairs expert Fabio Herrera Minino comments that the Dominican Republic has always been the loser in the bilateral talks with Haiti. He says that the agreements approved in the first two meetings have not been fulfilled.
He writes: These talks are a double-edged sword that is ultimately detrimental to Dominicans because the Haitians have nothing to lose and present themselves to the world as poor and held back by the Dominican imperialists. And the world will take their side better than that of a people that was trampled in turn by the Haitians for 22 years, having to wage a 14-year war to separate the island again, at the cost of giving Haiti 4,000 square kilometers.
He writes that the Haitians will delay the bilateral talks until they see that the Dominican Republic abandons its attempts to control the presence of thousands of Haitians who live in the country illegally. He speculates that the Haitians will encourage Dominicans to take forceful measures to deport the Haitians, knowing that such actions are a waste of time because the border is so easy to cross. Haitians who are deported will be back soon after in their homes in Veron, Higuey or other places in the country.
Herrera writes that the Haitians are now pressuring, with the militant support of the US, for the DR to modify its plans to regularize their status so as to facilitate the mass entry of their nationals. Their aim, according to Herrera, is for Dominicans to be seen as inhumane and abusive for not allowing the immigration of desperate human beings, without identification documents who in their own country can only hope to die of hunger.
In his opinion, countries that are friendly to Haiti have cooperated so that the Haitians shake off their indolence and laziness so that they, through their own effort, do something for their own territory that can be recovered. The Cubans are cooperating on health matters, Dominicans with reforestation, and Dominican hospitals at this side are assisting in the birth of Haitians, the US is building houses and schools, Venezuela is providing fuel, and the Minustah contributing to order. "All these are tools so that the Haitian authorities, if they were less greedy, less lazy and less demagogic, dreaming only of steamrolling Dominicans, would have the ingredients to plant the bases for their own development," he writes.
"But all the above is not in the interest of the Haitians. For them it is easier to bombard the country internationally to drive in the point that the Dominican government is abusive, that it does not want the Haitians to live in the country illegally. The accusations are constant, whether directly to find excuses or to close the border to Dominican products whenever they feel like it, since they have met with difficulties in achieving their goal of purely and simply taking over the whole country, with the help of sectors of the US government and groups of Dominicans."
People's Defender reaches one-year anniversary|
The "People's Defender" (a type of ombudsman or public defender) will be one year old next 15 May. In this first year of action, "the people have overflowed" in search of help in channeling their needs, with more than 2,000 cases attended, most of which have been solved, according to the head of the office, Zoila Martinez. According to Martinez, the requests are linked to the need for medical insurance for the elderly, deficiencies in the electric supply, requests for pensions, or a pensions increase for public and private workers, and lawsuits for the lack of water. "But complaints, which are of all kinds, from neighborhood boards, from everything...," she said in a visit to the director of Diario Libre, Adriano Miguel Tejada. The official, who had to start from scratch in this project that was given to her, tells how it has been a year of hard work. "The toughest part has been to create a team with the same vision, the same vocation, the same desire to serve, to be useful, the same commitment. It has been very hard," she stressed.
Funglode signs agreements with Chicago universities|
The Global Democracy and Development Foundation, represented by its president Leonel Fernandez, has signed agreements with two Chicago educational institutions, DePaul University and the Illinois Institute of Technology. The agreement with IIT will allow teachers from Chicago to come to the Dominican Republic and carry out research. Students from the DR will have access to research opportunities, workshops and other academic activities at IIT. The agreement with DePaul University was signed by Fernandez and Father Dennis H Holtschnieder, the president of DePaul University. Funglode and DePaul had an agreement to carry out a cycle of training courses on programming and the development of applications for video games in the Dominican Republic. DePaul is the largest Catholic university in the United States, founded in 1898 by Vincentian fathers from the order of Saint Vincent de Paul, a 17th century French priest.
Telexfree victim is alive|
A man who had left a note saying that he was going to commit suicide because he had lost over a million pesos in the Telexfree ponzi scheme has reappeared after going missing for two weeks. He had been staying in an aunt's house near Santiago. Santos Nicolas Mejia had been reported missing by relatives. He told police investigators that he had borrowed one million pesos to put into TelexFree, but when he found out that they had filed for bankruptcy he became depressed and disappeared. So far there have been no arrests in the Dominican Republic.
Chamber of Deputies told same sex marriage violates Constitution|
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Abel Martinez, warned the floor yesterday, Wednesday 7 May, that any bill for authorizing same-sex marriages would not pass. He said the proposed content of the bill for the organic law for the Prevention, Attention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women violates the Constitution. Because of this, he called on the Justice Department Commission, which has the legislation under study, to be sensible and present their report according to what is established by the Dominican Constitution. Martinez stressed that the new bill defines a woman as "a person of the female sex at any stage of her life and a person whose gender identity is recognized by herself and her social environment as female." For him this definition and the "gender identity" would give "a green light" to a man who feels like a woman to be able to marry a man, which would violate article 55 of the Constitution of the Republic.
Hunger causes Public Defender to be suspended|
The Public Defender who was representing the accused mastermind of the attempted murder of Jordi Veras, Adriano Roman, left the courtroom prematurely yesterday, Wednesday 7 May, causing the hearing to be postponed, a further delay in justice. According to Listin Diario, Leonidas Estevez said that "he was hungry and had to eat".
The National Office of Public Defenders has announced the suspension of the lawyer until the case is fully investigated. The head of the National Office, lawyer Laura Hernandez Roman said that she would appoint another lawyer to defend Mr. Roman (no relation). This will further delay a case that has been in the courts for two years. The Public Defenders handle between 75% and 82% of all of the cases in the nation's courts.
Murders given maximum 30-year sentences|
The men accused of killing an elderly woman during a nighttime robbery were convicted by the Second Collegiate Tribunal in Santiago yesterday, Wednesday 7 May and sentenced to each serve a 30-year sentence. The case made headlines because the victim was the mother of former major league baseball player Miguel Dilone, and was a much-loved resident in her neighborhood. The Police suspected from the start that the killers were from the La Joya sector where the elderly woman lived.
Tragic toll of strike in Higuey|
One man is dead and nine were injured as result of clashes between members of the National Police and demonstrators during a 48-hour strike called by the Federation of Neighborhood Boards of the province of La Altagracia yesterday, Wednesday 7 May. The strike was lifted later in the afternoon.
The dead man was identified as Juan Carlos Contreras Jimenez, 23, from the Lago Verde sector of Villa Cerro, who was shot in the chest and died before he reached the Hospital of Our Lady of Altagracia yesterday afternoon. In the meantime, by nightfall the number of injured had risen to nine and those arrested came to more than twenty. The principal acts of violence took place in the barrios of Villa Cerro, San Jose and Los Platanitos, where members of the special SWAT unit clashed with the demonstrators using teargas grenades, which forced many people from their homes during the first hours of the protest.
In Higuey, the provincial capital of La Altagracia, the shutdown of activities was nearly total in the business, commercial and transportation sectors. This situation, with less success, was repeated in the towns of San Rafael de Yuma.
The demands that the protest organizers are making to the government include the completion of the construction of the aqueduct and new hospital in Higuey, the repaving of all the streets, the repair of the rural road network, electricity in all of the barrios and rural communities and the revision of the highway tolls. In statements to the press, National Police eastern region commander General Manuel Rodriguez Miranda said that he regretted the young man's death. "I regret that a human being has lost his life, and the actions of the police are not personal but I cannot allow these individuals who try to promote anarchy to continue their actions. We are not going to permit this. At the same time I want to ask the population to stay calm during the course of the next few hours." Despite the fact that the strike was called for 48 hours, it was lifted just after 6pm after the organizers gave the government a time out after the intervention of Bishop Nicanor Pena Rodriguez.
According to news reports, out of town excursions were affected, but otherwise activities were as usual for tourists in the Punta Cana area.
Contract killer reveals his mistake|
The man who killed two young women, Nathasha Sing and Suleyka Flores Grullon, collected the sum of RD$200,000 for each one and claimed during the first interrogations that he killed Nathasha by mistake. Amauris Soriano Garcia (Nevado) admitted shooting the two women. These incidents took place on Monday 7 April and Monday 28 April at 8am. During the interrogations carried out on Tuesday night and yesterday morning, Wednesday 7 May, Soriano Garcia, arrested in San Francisco de Macoris, revealed that Mariano Perez was his partner at the time of committing both murders. Perez is being pursued and is believed to be heavily armed and dangerous. The murderer also revealed that he collected RD$200,000 for each killing and that he killed Nathasha because her car, a Daihatsu, was very similar to Suleyka's. Nonetheless, as of yesterday afternoon, he had not revealed the name of the mastermind behind both deaths, and the motives this person had for ordering the killings. Both Suleyka as well as Nathasha lived opposite each other in the Vereda Tropical residential complex. Suleyka lived in Apartment 2D in building 7, while Nathasha lived in 3A in building 4.
The police say that the accused stated that Nathasha Sing German's death was due to a mix-up, since the objective was to murder Suleyka Flores Guzman.
Tornado rips up part of Barahona|
The weather was cruel to a place called Fondo Negro in Barahona yesterday, Wednesday 7 May. What the local Civil Defense authorities describe as a tornado ripped off roofs, uprooted trees and tore down power lines, all in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes. The local Agrarian Reform director, Denny Perez, told El Caribe that no personal injuries were reported. On the bright side, the strong weather system brought much needed rain to the area that will benefit the local farmers.
Pre World Volleyball Cup in La Romana|
The Dominican women's team will be fighting for a place in the World Volleyball Cup with its participation in the FIVB Women's Volleyball World Championship Qualification Tournament Norceca that will take place at the Eleoncio Mercedes Arena in La Romana. The Dominicans are the favorites to win the slot for the World Volleyball Cup that will take place in September in eight Italian cities.
Team captain Bethania de la Cruz has just returned from participating in the South Korea volleyball league where her team won and she was voted the Most Valuable Player of the All Star Game of the Korean Volleyball League. The DR is ranked 8th in women's volleyball by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and number two of the Norceca league.
The Dominican team will play Guadeloupe on Thursday, 15 May.
Competing in the Group P are teams from El Salvador, Guadeloupe, Nicaragua and hosts Dominican Republic. Nicaragua is ranked No. 10 in Norceca, El Salvador is in the 17th position while Guadeloupe in the 32nd place.
The tournament is played under a round-robin format before the first and second placed teams compete for the ticket to Italy.
The second-ranked team from the tournament and from four other Norceca third round competitions will get a chance to win the ticket to Italy in a final playoff to take place in Trinidad and Tobago from 2-9 June.
The Dominican Republic is one of the five seeded Norceca teams in the final phase of the continental qualification process that began in 2012. The others are United States, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Canada.
A press conference was held to announce the team that will represent the Dominican Republic. On the team are setters Niverka Marte and Rosalyn Angeles, middle blockers Candida Arias and Marianne Fersola, opposite players Gina Mambru and Yonkaira Pena, outside hitters Bethania De la Cruz, Brayelin Martinez, Yinery Martinez, Erasma Moreno and Ana Yorkira Binet and libero Brenda Castillo.
FIVB first executive vice president and Norceca president Cristobal Marte Hoffiz attended the event accompanied by the governor of La Romana Juan Jose Santana, Congressmen Teodoro Ursino Reyes and Omar de Marchena and Dominican Republic Volleyball Federation President Ramon Garcia.
5pm El Salvador vs. Nicaragua
7pm Dominican Republic vs. Guadeloupe?
5pm Nicaragua vs. Guadeloupe
7pm Dominican Republic vs. El Salvador
5pm Guadeloupe vs. El Salvador
7pm Dominican Republic vs. Nicaragua
4pm Third Place vs. Fourth Place
6pm First Place vs. Second Place
Danny and Anthony at Escenario 360|
The auditorium of the Galeria 360 shopping mall on Santo Domingo's JF Kennedy Ave. presents romantic singers Danny Rivera and Anthony Rios on Friday, 23 May, Saturday, 24 May and Sunday, 25 May at 8:30pm. These concerts are in celebration of Mother's Day in the Dominican Republic that falls on the last Sunday in May, this year 25 May. The concert is titled: "No hay Rios sin Rivera", a pun on their last names, rivers and stream, and the opening show will also feature stand-up comedian Juan Carlos Pichardo Jr.
For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar
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