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Daily News - Thursday, 28 August 2014

JW Marriott opens at Blue Mall
President Danilo Medina was at the JW Marriot Hotel on Santo Domingo's Winston Churchill Avenue yesterday, Wednesday 27 August, for the formal opening of the city's newest hotel. The 150-room SD Marriott Santo Domingo is the brand's first hotel in the Caribbean.

The hotel is located in the area known as the Poligono Central, the heart of the city's business and entertainment district, which has benefitted from Law 195-13 that extended tax exemption benefits to operations in the area.

The hotel is part of the expansion of the brand in the Caribbean and Latin American region. Marriot's president for Latin America and the Caribbean Craig Smith attended the ceremony.

The hotel is an investment by the Grupo Velutini's Fondo de Valores Inmobiliarios SACA, which also owns the Blue Mall where the hotel is located. The Blue Mall contains the most exclusive stores in Santo Domingo, including Louis Vuitton and Cartier.

Read more in Spanish: http://presidencia.gob.do/noticias/iniciativa-legislativa-danilo-medina-incentiva-primer-hotel-marriott-del-caribe

Congress creates Loma Miranda National Park, Falcondo protests
The Senate approved the Chamber of Deputies bill that declared Loma de Miranda a National Park in two consecutive readings yesterday, Wednesday, 27 August 2014. The bill now will be sent to President Danilo Medina who can make observations or sign the bill into law. The Chamber of Deputies fast-tracked the bill during two consecutive readings on Tuesday, 26 August. La Vega senator Euclides Sanchez says it is the same bill that was passed in the Senate before and includes an 11km buffer zone. Spokesman for the ruling PLD block of senators, Adriano Sanchez Roa said the new legislation seeks to preserve the ecosystems, the water sources and the landscape of the heart of the island that is the Central Mountain Range. He said the aim was to preserve valuable natural resources and the environment, which is the main interest of the Dominican people, despite those who say the country will lose a lot of money. Felix Nova, the senator for Monsenor Nouel province where the new national park is created, opposed the bill. He said that he had made a commitment to the more than 200,000 inhabitants of the province, and the environment, but would not vote for the bill because it would mean the loss of 2,000 jobs and would affect their future and development.

The bill states that the park will cover an area of 32 square kilometers, with a 10.75km buffer zone for a total regulated area of 42.75km2.

Referring to property owners in the newly created National Park, the bill points to the Constitution where it states that "a person shall be paid a fair value before expropriation, as determined by the mutual consent of the parties or by the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction, pursuant to the law."

In order for the state to have the funds to compensate the landowners, it orders the Ministry of Environment to increase the cost for mining companies to extract metallic and non-metallic resources by 10%.

Falcondo issued a statement observing that declaring Loma Miranda a national park will create a bad precedent in the country as it is a violation of the mining law, juridical security and the rule of law. The company says there is no conclusive research that backs the rationale for declaring the area a protected area. It insists that the mountain has 19.3 million tons of mineral that if extracted would benefit the Dominican state and the economy by some US$7.5 billion over the next 20 years. The company says that of the property purchased by Falcondo in 1956, only 16% would be used for mining development, and the remainder 84% would be forest cover. The company maintains that only 4.6km2 of a total area of 42km2 would actually be mined.

The company claims that the Dominican state granted it mining rights under the Quisqueya I concession in 1956 that covers Loma Peguera, Loma Caribe, Loma Ortega and Loma Miranda in the provinces of Monsenor Nouel and La Vega. Falcondo maintains that the bill approved in Congress violates the Constitution in its articles 51, 110, 51, 17, 67, 237, 93 and the Sectorial Law on Protected Areas 202-04 in its articles 15 and 16 and Mining Law 146 in its articles 7 and 28.

Last year, 2013, the Dominican government commissioned a team of UNDP experts to review the environmental impact study presented by Falcondo for the extraction of the mountain deposits. The UNDP hired experts rejected the environmental impact study presented by Falcondo, and Catholic priests led a popular campaign for Loma Miranda to be granted national park status in order to conclusively ban mining operations in the mountain.

Read more in Spanish:

http://www.elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=388710

http://www.7dias.com.do/portada/2014/08/27/i171151_falcondo-considera-apresurada-creacion-del-parque-nacional-loma-miranda.html

OMSA is making money!
Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta has told El Caribe that the Metropolitan Bus Service Company (OMSA), which operates large state-owned public transport buses, has experienced an economic recovery since 2012, to the point where it now has a cash flow of one million pesos a day for services provided. He said that two years ago OMSA had fewer than 100 buses and today it operates with a fleet of 248. The current cash flow will enable the purchase of another 100 buses to be added to the public transport system.

Manuel Rivas has headed OMSA since the change of government. The company provides day and night service on several routes in Santo Domingo and Santiago with services on routes up to 36 km for fares of RD$10 in units without air conditioning and RD$15 for routes with air conditioning.

OMSA data shows that the buses carried 3.6% of all passengers in 2013. Others use the Metro, motoconchos and the unionized minibuses known as "voladoras".

Speaking in an interview, Peralta said that the new economic situation at OMSA is proof that when things are done well there can be good results.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2014/08/28/ldquo-omsa-esta-dejando-millon-pesos-diariosrdquo

Public Health builds primary care units to reduce hospital load
The Ministry of Public Health says the government is investing more than RD$2.5 billion in the construction and equipping of 50 diagnostics clinics and will increase the number of primary care units (Unap) to 2,000.

Health Minister Freddy Hidalgo said the Unap centers would be equipped and staffed by a doctor and several nurses who will be able to care for 70% of the problems affecting patients.

He said that there are already 1,725 primary care centers in operation and the plan is to increase them to 2,000. He said each Unap has the capacity to care for 500 to 700 families. He said this would reduce workloads in hospital emergency and consulting departments.

He added that the Ministry of Public Health has 2,200 promoters who provide preventive health information in communities.

Speaking on Channel 13's Revista 110, Hidalgo announced that another 3,000 health promoters are training at Infotep so they can work in the diagnostics centers and the primary care centers.

"President Danilo Medina and the Ministry of Health's aim is to educate and guide families so that they get sick as infrequently as possible, and if this happens, they visit the Unap in their community before going to a hospital," he said.

He also said that the government is building 24 hospitals and remodeling 100.

Read more in Spanish: http://elnacional.com.do/dice-salud-invierte-2500-millones-pesos-en-centros-clinicos-de-diagnostico/

Coal-fired plants get environmental permit for construction
The Ministry of Environment has granted the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) the environmental permit to build the coal-fired Punta Catalina Thermoelectric Central in Peravia province. The power plant consists of two units with a generating capacity of 376 megawatts each, for a total of 752 megawatts and complementary works. The CDEEE awarded the construction to the consortium made up of the companies Constructora Norberto Odebrecht S.A., Tecnimont S.p.A. and Ingenieria Estrella SRL.

IMPE-Gezhouba Group has disputed the granting of the contract to the consortium on the grounds that their proposal was for US$900 million. The government approved the bid for US$2.04 billion made by the Odebrecht-Technimont-Estrella group.

Read more in Spanish: http://acento.com.do/2014/economia/8168743-accionistas-del-consorcio-impe-asesoraron-a-danilo-medina-durante-la-campana-del-2012/

Advances on DPWorld's Caucedo Logistics Center
Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo and other government officials and private sector representatives met with executives of Dubai Trade to discuss progress at the Caucedo Logistics Center yesterday, Wednesday 27 August 2014. The center is a joint venture between DP World and the Caucedo Development Corporation. Dubai Trade is a major investor in the Puerto Caucedo Multimodal Port and the new Logistics Center.

The Caucedo Logistics Center, under construction between Port Caucedo and Las Americas International Airport, will provide regional distribution facilities for foreign and Dominican companies by connecting them to a comprehensive, efficient, logistics multimodal network provided by the Port of Caucedo.

The center seeks to make the most of the large ship trade that will result from the completion of the Panama Canal expansion.

The government was also represented by Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo, Minister of Hacienda Simon Lizardo, Economy, Planning and Development Minister Temistocles Montas, Environment Minister Bautista Rojas, Presidential advisor Antonio Isa Conde, Customs director Fernando Fernandez, CEI-RD director Jean Alain Rodriguez, and advisors to the Minister of the Presidency Isidoro Santana and Ernesto Vilalta.

Representing Dubai were Mahmood Al Bastaki and Ravi Kumar for Dubai Trade FZE.

The private sector was represented by Dominican Republic Industries Association (AIRD) president Ligia Bonetti, Dominican Free Zones Association (Adozona) president Aquiles Bermudez, Sadhala Khoury from the Dominican Association of Exporters (Adoexpo), shippers Jeff and Jaak Rannik from Agencias Baez & Rannik and Teddy Heinsen from the Shippers Association (ANRD), and Tony Vasquez from Dominican Freight Forwarders Association (Adacam).

Representing the Caucedo Multimodal Port were DP World Caucedo president Samuel Conde, DP World Caucedo director Manuel Enrique Tavares, Hector Tamburini, Felix Gomez and Carlos Flaquer.

AIRD: Labor Court sets precedent for ending transport monopolies
The Dominican Republic Association of Industries (AIRD) has hailed the decision by the labor jurisdiction of Santiago that ruled against a labor demand placed by Hugo Francisco and Johnny Rodriguez Marte of the Sindicato de Camioneros y Furgoneros de Puerto Plata and ordered the union to become a private company in order to operate their cargo business. The court rejected the use of the union to force companies to use their services in violation of the Constitutional ban on monopolies. The ruling states that unions need to be made up of workers or employers, and not of people whose interest is in doing business. The court established that the transport union is made up of truck owners and workers who are providing transport services and for that reason they should form a company to provide the service.

"This judicial ruling precedent is a positive sign and opens the way to eliminate once and for all the monopoly that so much affects the cost of production of the country, as well as juridical security," stated Circe Almanzar, vice president of the Association of Industries.

The president of the Association of Industries of Herrera (AEIH) Victor Castro said the ruling is a step forward for juridical security for the country. He said this should go viral, and should be applied not only at the Port of Puerto Plata, but nationwide. Castro said that having ten trucks does not make anyone a labor union member, but a company, instead. He said that the unions that load cargo in the ports are companies like any other, with the exception that they have been allowed a monopoly on cargo rates.

Lawyer Waskar Marmolejos said that the ruling of the Juzgado de Trrabajo del Distrito Judicial de Santiago was issued on 12 June 2014 and orders the cancellation of the union registration No. 00167-1962 dated 24 July 1962 in the name of the Sindicato de Camioneros y Furgones de Puerto Plata, based on Art. 382 of the Labor Code, was appealed on 23 July 2014.

Read more in Spanish:

http://www.elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=388692

http://www.diariolibre.com/noticias/2014/08/28/i766561_sindicato-camioneros-apel-cancelacin-del-registro.html

Detour on Duarte Highway today
The Ministry of Public Works has announced that today, Thursday, 28 August 2014 traffic at Km 24 of the Duarte highway will be diverted for works on the construction of a bridge over the highway to connect to the Santo Domingo Bypass. The highway point will be closed from 6am to 7pm. Traffic in both directions will be diverted to one side of the four-lane highway. Vehicles will also be able to travel on the Duarte Vieja highway, entering in front of the 16 de Agosto Military Camp at Km. 25 and exiting at Ciudad Satelite. The construction works are being carried out by Compreica-Alba Sanchez.

Cuba and DR sign immigration agreement
The Dominican Republic and Cuba have signed an immigration agreement aimed at regulating illegal immigration. Director general of Migration Jose Ricardo Taveras Blanco and Cuba's deputy minister of Foreign Relations Nelly Perez Duverge signed the immigration cooperation memorandum concluding the 7th Round of Cuba-Dominican Republic Migration Talks held at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. The Cuban delegation was headed by ambassador Rafael Daussa, director of consular affairs and in charge of matters of Cubans residing abroad for Cuba, and included the Cuban ambassador in the Dominican Republic Alexis Bandrick Vega.

Taveras stated: "As long as there are inequalities and lack of opportunities, the migration phenomenon will continue to be a problem that requires attention by the states, and that is why cooperation for the order and legality in migration flows is an increasingly urgent imperative in our times."

Santo Domingo and Santiago courts have been hearing smuggling cases involving Cubans, including baseball players. Cuban doctors and teachers are known to have migrated to the Dominican Republic illegally.

Read more in Spanish:

http://www.listin.com.do/la-republica/2014/8/27/335325/Cubanos-ilegales-seran-repatriados

http://elnacional.com.do/rd-cuba-enfrentaranla-inmigracion-ilegal/

Francisco Javier Garcia proposes changes in what schools teach
Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia, who is seeking to be nominated as the ruling PLD party's presidential candidate, is calling for major changes in the Dominican educational curriculum to improve the quality of education. Garcia said that the population backs the Medina administration's 4% allocation of GDP to education. The funds have made it possible for schools to extend their teaching hours and has led to the construction of a large number of new schools. However, this is not enough unless comprehensive changes are made to the curriculum that are more in line with country development strategies, says Garcia. He added that a greater focus needed to be placed on research, sciences, arts, sports and recreation. He said this would lift the Dominican Republic from the lower rankings in education.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=388695

Transport kingpins want to run for President
Transport union leaders Juan Hubieres of Fenatrado and Antonio Marte of Conatra, whose affiliates' vehicles are known as "voladoras" with a monopoly on many routes in Santo Domingo, are seeking political recognition from the Central Electoral Board (JCE) for their political parties. Hubieres is a deputy who ran on the ruling PLD party ticket. The parties will then be able to put forward candidates for the Presidency in the May 2016 national election.

The Dominican government awards billions of pesos in funds to the political parties with little accountability. The monopolies are outlawed by the Constitution but tolerated by governments.

Army to work closely with Police to fight crime
Major General Jose Matos de la Cruz of the Army and Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo have agreed to increase patrols in vulnerable areas. Matos de la Cruz said the army backup for the patrols would start this weekend, 30-31 August-2014. "We are ready to help the Police prevent crime. We are going to step up our presence in cities and capital city barrios that have become vulnerable," he said, as reported in Diario Libre.

General Matos is also director of the Joint Command of the Armed Forces that operates within the National Citizen Security Plan. He said that the army would make all necessary army personnel available for preventive patrols.

General Matos made the statements when speaking with the press after meeting with the chief of the police.

Read more in Spanish: http://www.diariolibre.com/noticias/2014/08/28/i766321_ejrcito-polica-nacional-acuerdan-aunar-esfuerzos-contra-delincuencia.html

Police accuses watchmen of robbery in Santiago
The police have arrested two Segasa security guards, Rafael Antonio Uceta Acevedo and Jose Alberto Mora Torres, identifying them as the main suspects in a robbery at the residence of the Moya family in Cerros de Gurabo III in Santiago on Tuesday night, 26 August 2014. The watchmen were employed at the Moya family home. The Police are accusing the suspected robbers of stealing a Mercedes Benz and an unspecified amount of cash, mobile phones and other items. Most of the stolen goods have been recovered. The two suspects were arrested as they left a casino.

Rafael de Moya said that he and his wife were gagged and robbed on Tuesday night by their paid guard and his companion. He said that day he and his wife had arrived home earlier than usual and the watchman and the other man had already gagged the maid. "If we had not arrived earlier they would have murdered the maid because they were not wearing masks and she knew the watchman who had been working for us for eight months," he said.

Read more in Spanish:

http://www.elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=388691

http://hoy.com.do/empresario-y-familia-asaltados-por-su-vigilante/

Progress in Wesolowski and Waldemar Gil pedophilia cases
Judge Kenya Romero of the 7th Court of Instruction of the National District has set a date, 2 September 2014, for a hearing for presentation of evidence against former papal nuncio Josef Wesolowski, who is accused of pedophilia. Earlier this year the Vatican announced that the priest was defrocked, thus losing his diplomatic immunity. This would enable Wesolowski to stand trial in a jurisdiction outside of the Vatican.

National District prosecutors have requested approval to hold interviews with victims and witnesses in the case. Wesolowski is accused of bribing underage boys for sexual acts near the Plaza Montesinos in Santo Domingo. Two mothers have presented accusations in the case of two of the boys.

Francisco Dominguez Brito, the Dominican Republic's attorney general, issued a statement saying it was "just and positive" for the Vatican to remove Wesolowski's immunity and that the country would consider seeking the former archbishop's extradition so he could stand trial here. Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi says that the former priest can now respond to the crimes of which he is accused in civilian courts.

As reported in Listin Diario, the case occurs in the context of a request for international cooperation coming from the office of Warsaw prosecutor Ryszard Rogatko, who is also investigating the former nuncio.

Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito said that his office has not requested Wesolowski's extradition because the Dominican Republic does not have an extradition treaty with Poland, country of citizenship of Wesolowski.

Meanwhile, in a related case, the Warsaw prosecution notified Dominican authorities of the extension of preventive custody until 17 November 2014 for Wojciech Waldemar Gil, known here as father Alberto Gil, who is accused of sexually abusing underage boys in Juncalito, Santiago province. Gil is accused in his native Poland of violation of Art. 200 Paragraph I of the Polish Penal Code.

Investigative TV reporters in the Dominican Republic first revealed Gil's suspected abusive practices and also documented his relationship with the papal nuncio. When they realized that the journalists on their trail, both Gil and Wesolowski left the country before they could be questioned about their activities.

Both Gil and Wesolowski are likely to be tried in Poland.

Read more in Spanish:

http://lainformacion.com.do/noticias/nacion/27830/procuraduria-no-ha-solicitado-extradicion-de-wesolowski

http://elnacional.com.do/autoridades-de-polonia-informan-extension-de-prision-contra-padre-alberto-gil/

Felix Sanchez and Luguelin Santos in Diamond League today
Felix Sanchez and Luguelin Santos, Dominican gold and silver medalists in the London 2012 Olympics, are running today, Thursday 28 August 2014 in the Diamond League Zurich events. Sanchez is competing in the 400 m hurdles and Santos in the 400 m race.

Follow the races at:

http://www.diamondleague-zurich.com/en/Results/Overview/400m-Hurdles-Men/

http://www.diamondleague-zurich.com/en/Results/Overview/400m/

Comedy at Bellas Artes
"Una picara en la cocina" is a comedy that will be staged at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo this weekend. The cast includes Manolo Ozuna, Cheddy Garcia, Yubelkis Peralta, Pacxo Vargas and Chanell Leguizamon. The play will run from Thursday, 28 August 2014 through Sunday, 31 August.

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

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