New ambassadors to Spain and Panama|
President Danilo Medina announced the DR's new ambassadors to Spain and Panama yesterday, Wednesday 29 October 2014.
Anibal de Castro, ambassador to the United States has been appointed to represent the country in Spain via Decree 403-14. His replacement in the United States was not announced. Anibal de Castro has served as Dominican ambassador in Washington, D.C. since 2011. Before that, he represented the country as ambassador to the UK and Ireland (2004-2011).
Ambassador de Castro was born in 1949. He studied journalism at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo and received a First Class Degree in Development Studies in 1979 from the UK University of East Anglia.
Since 1968, Ambassador de Castro has held a variety of positions in the media, including editor and press department director at Radio Cristal, reporter and international affairs columnist, editor-in-chief and editor at Ultima Hora newspaper, producer of the Trialogo television commentary program, director and host of the Rumbo TV program, executive vice-president of the Omnimedia media company, producer of the Diario Libre A.M. television program and founding editor of Diario Libre newspaper. He is still a contributor to Diario Libre's weekend edition.
Likewise, a journalist by profession, Cesar Medina was appointed to the post of Dominican ambassador in Panama. He replaces Octavio Lister who was named ambassador in Costa Rica on 9 October 2014. Cesar Medina, who previously served as Dominican ambassador to Chile also writes an opinion column for Listin Diario.
Larimar Workshop and Museum in Bahoruco|
President Danilo Medina was in Bahoruco yesterday, Wednesday 29 October 2014, to inaugurate the Larimar Workshop and Museum. The RD$43.5 million facility was built by the government (funding from the Banco de Reservas and Banca Solidaria) to ensure that an increase in earnings from the larimar stone trade stays in the southwestern region. The new center is on the road from Barahona to Pedernales and is where visitors can learn more about the semi-precious blue stone, which is unique to this area of the country and very popular in jewelry. Tourists will also be able to purchase jewelry directly from the source.
During the launch of the workshop-museum, businessman Jose Manuel Gonzalez Cuadra of Centro Cuesta Nacional promised the locals to open a space at each of his stores to sell arts and crafts made with larimar, as part of the company's Corazon Dominicano corporate responsibility program.
The workshop-museum seeks to emulate what Chile has done with its own lapis lazuli stone.
Foreign master stone craftsmen will train locals in modern techniques to process the stones. Classes begin on Monday.
Medina told the local people that better days would come once tourism development starts to make the most of the Bahia de las Aguilas beach area.
Health Minister prioritizes preventing Ebola entry|
The Minister of Public Health Altagracia Guzman Marcelino says that measures for preventing the entry of Ebola is high on the public health agenda. In a press release issued yesterday, Wednesday 29 October 2014, she explained that the disease is only contagious if an infected patient's bodily fluids come into direct contact with the skin. She said that the Ministry was taking the proper steps in order to completely equip isolation units and treatment centers for an eventual case in the country. She reported that the Ramon de Lara Air Force teaching hospital has prepared two areas with trained personnel.
Kenyan stopped at Dominican n Haitian border|
Health authorities at the Dominican-Haitian border are closely monitoring a Kenyan citizen who crossed from Haiti into the Dominican Republic. Although Kenya is nowhere near the West African countries affected by Ebola and the man does not present any symptoms of the disease, Dominican doctors are submitting him to clinical studies "as a preventive measure."
So far preventive measures against Ebola have been taken in the country's airports and seaports, and with this report, vigilance along the border has also been increased. According to the popular morning radio talk show "El Gobierno de la Manana" (Z101) a group of evangelical pastors from Nigeria is due for a visit Haiti next month, and they will carry out religious work in the neighboring country before coming to the Dominican Republic, which the radio commentators say should put authorities in both countries on alert. Nigeria experienced a minor Ebola outbreak and was declared free of the disease earlier this month.
Naturalization deadline extended|
The Senate has passed an amendment to Law 169-14 that extends the deadline for the processes related to the special regime of naturalization established in the law for people born in the Dominican Republic who were irregularly registered in the Civil Registry by 90 days. The deadline, which originally ended last Tuesday, 28 October 2014, will now be next 28 January 2015. The legislation was approved in two consecutive readings yesterday, Wednesday 29 October 2014, after being declared urgent. In the first reading it received a favorable vote from 13 of the 17 senators present, and in the second reading it was passed by 17 of the 18 senators present.
Senator Dionis Sanchez (Pedernales) voted against the bill. "The desire is to maintain the faucet open." He told a Diario Libre reporter that he thought that this extension would permit the entry of hundreds of Haitians citizens across the "unprotected border."
On Tuesday, 28 October, the day of the deadline, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved the amendment sent by the Executive Branch. As of 28 October, a total of 3,013 applications had been presented.
The bill now moves back to the Presidency for signing and publishing.
Sold! To the highest bidder|
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito is auctioning the assets seized in several drug trafficking cases, including the high-profile cases involving Quirino Paulino Castillo, Sobeida Felix Morel and Jose David Figueroa Agosto.
In a press release, the Attorney General invited the public to an auction of nine apartments in Santo Domingo, a house in Las Margaritas in Brisas del Canal, as well as two lots and several properties in Bani, in the province of Peravia. There are also luxury watches, a number of vehicles including a Ferrari, a Porsche and several SUVs.
The auction was scheduled to take place in the Attorney General office's pressroom at 9am this morning, Thursday, 30 October 2014.
Corruption moves up to public attention|
While in the past Dominicans did not point to corruption as one of the leading social ills, the 12-16 October 2014 Greenberg-Diario Libre poll highlights that corruption is second to lack of jobs in the perception of voting Dominicans. Making the point of how now corruption has "finally" become a serious public concern, in a page two editorial today, Thursday 30 October 2014, Diario Libre editor Ines Aizpun writes:
"The political class acts as if it does not know that political patronage is a weak and temporary mitigation of poverty that is strategically used to obtain impunity. In the poll, corruption mars the figure of Leonel Fernandez but the message should be understood by Danilo, despite his excellent popularity, because citizens believe that corruption continues to grow," she writes.
She expands: "Citizens have assimilated the implications that corruption has on their lives. The 'diverted' money has enriched generations of politicians/aka businesspeople. This is the money that the citizens need, but it has been taken from education, health and infrastructure."
Aizpun writes: "It's unlikely that the candidate-ministers could pay for those huge campaigns lasting for more than a year out of their own pockets.... It's impossible for legislators to become millionaires in dollars after a few years of congressional work.... It is unacceptable that municipalities spend millions collecting garbage and yet are always dirty... It's humiliating that relatives and friends get preference in jobs...."
She says that the poll reveals that society wants corruption to be tackled. "They are aware that there are people who are directly responsible. That is not an abstraction. Pretending otherwise has finally become unbearable for Dominican society," she concludes.
Small parties have weak internal accounting controls|
Parties such as the Dominican Social Alliance (ASD), Popular Democratic (PDP), Dominican Workers (PTD) and Institutional Democratic (PDI) have failed to comply with the law on handling the funds delivered by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) during the 2011 and 2012 period, according to audits by the Dominican Republic Chamber of Accounts (CCRD).
The irregularities detected include loans received and disbursals made without invoices and documents to support them, the emission of checks without the documents justifying the disbursement, and failure to report the corresponding deductions to the Tax Agency (DGII).
In addition the audits found that some contributions and loans were not deposited in the party's bank account, contracts processed that were carried out inadequately, and accounts payable without the supporting documentation.
The Chamber of Accounts also established that some organizations issued checks for travel expenses, per diems, propaganda, telephones, other communications, donations and political activities without the supporting documentation, radio and television publicity without deductions and errors in their accounting books. The CCRD reports that it has sent the 2012 ASD audit to the Specialized Prosecutor for the Prosecution of Administrative Corruption (PEPCA), because it believed that "the constitutional, legal, rules and standards of obligatory compliance in the administration of public resources relating to the registration, handling and informing of the economic contribution of the state to the political parties were not observed."
Former President Leonel Fernandez has announced the launch of his new online presence. The website is leonel.do
The new platform is an initiative by the youth movement that backs his pre-candidacy for President in the 2016 presidential election. The movement is headed by his son, Omar Fernandez and the website is coordinated by Axel Hache.
The new site was launched at the Hotel Billini in Santo Domingo's Colonial City yesterday, Wednesday 29 October 2014. During the event, Axel Hache said that anyone interested could follow the former President's activities and publications and interact with him online.
Given that the 2010 Constitution bans consecutive re-election, former President Fernandez, who is also president of the ruling PLD party, is the strongest pre-candidate into the 2016 presidential election.
Police believe a mastermind was behind Metro incident|
Investigators suspect there could have been a mastermind behind the fire that was started on the Metro Santo Domingo on Monday morning, 27 October 2014, judicial and security authorities said yesterday in a press conference.
The man suspected of starting the fire is 21-year old Frank Kelin Holguin Medina. According to reports, he was carrying inflammable material in his backpack. Some 35 people were injured, two with serious burns.
As reported at a press conference yesterday, Wednesday 29 October 2014, when questioned by Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito and National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso, Holguin admitted that he set the metro car on fire before escaping uninjured.
Holguin could face 30-40 years in jail, as he will be tried for violation of the Law against Terrorism 267-08. Holguin, who was identified in the metro security videos, is being held at the jail on the fourth floor of the Palacio de Justicia in Ciudad Nueva.
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito, Minister of Defense Lieutenant General William Munoz Delgado, Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo, District Attorney for the National District Yeni Berenice Reynoso, and the chief of the Specialized Corps for Metro Security, General Bonarges Batista attended the press conference.
"The investigations suggest there may have been a mastermind, so they are digging deeper in order to identify the person or persons responsible, with a view to arresting them and submitting them to justice," states an executive report read by Police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete.
Dominguez Brito said that regardless of motivation, the incident is being treated as a terrorist attack.
According to the authorities, Holguin arrived at the Manuel de Jesus Galvan station and once inside the metro car he set fire to his black backpack. The National Institute of Forensic Sciences (INACIF) certified it contained gasoline.
Diario Libre investigated Holguin's background and found that he works as a barber in the Gualey slum where he lives. He charges RD$50 for a haircut. He is the son of Don Nicolas Holguin, and one of seven children. His father makes a living selling bread and his mother is a housekeeper. Some neighbors commented that Holguin should be psychologically tested. They said that mental problems affected some of the family members, including a 12-year old sister.
Higher Education Minister Ligia Amada Melo said, "First we have to assess the man's mental condition, we would have to see if he is sane because he committed an act of this kind, with such a high risk, even to himself who was in danger," as reported in Diario Libre. She said that if he has confessed, then what should be done immediately is to establish his mental state.
Holguin lives in a house under the Francisco del Rosario Sanchez Bridge that has been marked for demolition by the Metro Office (OPRET).
Diario Libre reports that while Holguin has been enrolled in the state UASD University for the past two semesters, he has yet to complete one of the preparatory courses. In his first semester he selected three subjects, but dropped out. He registered again for the present fall semester, selecting six subjects but there are no grades in his record. When he turned himself in to the authorities, Holguin told the press that he was a law student at the UASD.
In a further twist in the case, El Dia speculates about a possible connection between warring drug traffickers and the attack on the Metro. The Gualey area where Holguin lives is part of the territory that the authorities say that fugitive drug trafficker Pascual Cordero Martinez controls. Adding to the speculation is the fact that lawyer Raul Hamburgo Mena represented the impoverished Holguin during his questioning in the Palacio de Justicia. Hamburgo Mena is known for being legal counsel in several drug trafficking cases in the past, such as that of the parents of Junior Javier Minaya German (Gilbert), described as one of the leading drug traffickers in the Herrera area and who was murdered by police agents.
As reported in El Dia, when reporters asked Hamburgo Mena who was paying for his services to defend Holguin, he just replied "a friend."
El Dia reported that the police investigations into the Metro case include establishing whether drug traffickers were behind the incident and whether the two arrest warrants for Pascual Cabrera Ruiz and Pascual Cordero Martinez had any connection with the recent attacks on the Najayo and Victoria jails and the Metro.
Police search houses; arrest seven in Najayo case|
Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo revealed yesterday, Wednesday 29 October 2014 that they now know that the Hyundai SUV that was used in the attack on the Najayo jail on Friday, 24 October 2014 was rented from a business on Km 22 of the Duarte Highway, in La Guayiga. In the incident, armed men fired at the jail from the vehicle, killing four inmates and two penitentiary officers, and injuring a dozen others.
Castro Castillo told Diario Libre that following searches in East and West Santo Domingo seven people were arrested and are being questioned in connection with the incident. The suspects' names have not been released.
During the searches, said Castro Castillo, two clips for an M-16 automatic rifle were found, along with other military equipment.
The Police recalled that several people are being investigated in the case, including three men who turned themselves in.
Earlier this week, the Police identified the members of the gang said to be responsible. Intelligence supplied to the police led to the identification of the members of the gang headed by Abraham Suero Garcia, (El Gordo), Elvin Feliz Alcantara, (Sadan), Hairo Brito Bello and Gustavo Alcantara Valdes, (El Grande).
Oxfam: DR poverty levels have increased; higher than a decade ago|
International development agency Oxfam warns that the Dominican Republic has not escaped from the growing inequality that could cause the loss of decades in the fight against poverty. An Oxfam study, released on Wednesday, 29 October 2014 found that the country has been one of the nations with the highest growth rate in the last 50 years, but poverty levels (41.4% in 2013) are higher than they were a decade ago (32% in the year 2000). The Oxfam study found that 10% of the population lives in extreme poverty, a higher percentage than a decade ago when it was 8.1%. This means that wealth is being concentrated among a small group, increasing unequal wealth distribution and reducing the Dominican population's opportunities for development, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.
In recent years, immigration from Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, has increased, adding to the DR's poverty levels.
Winter Baseball Results|
Yesterday evening, Wednesday 29 October 2014, in a game dedicated to the late St. Louis Cardinals ball player Oscar Taveras, the Aguilas Cibaenas defeated the Toros del Este by a score of four to one. The big blow for the Aguilas was a three-run homerun by Mark Canha.
In Santo Domingo, the Tigres Del Licey fell for the sixth time in a row as they lost to the Gigantes Del Cibao four to two.
In San Pedro de Macoris the Leones Del Escogido halted a three-game losing streak defeating the Estrellas Orientales by a score of six to four.
See the next scheduled games at http://www.lidom.com/home/index.php/calendario
La edad de la ciruela|
Teatro Guloya in Santo Domingo's Colonial City presents "The Age of the Prune" (La edad de la ciruela) by the 37 por las Tablas drama company, directed by Maria Ligia Grullon this Sunday, 2 November 2014 at 6:30 and 8:30pm. Admission: RD$400. Students with ID RD$300.
Mo'Mojo Band at Lousiana Fest|
The US Embassy is sponsoring the Louisiana Fest with a concert by the Mo'Mojo band, which is on tour in the Dominican Republic from today, Thursday 30 October through Sunday 2 November 2014.
This is their first visit to the country. Mo'Mojo music is a mix of Zydeco, Cajun, Blues, Reggae, Rock R&B, African and Latin beats.
The group will play four free concerts: Santo Domingo (Friday, 31 October, La Galeria in Piantini at 9pm and on Sunday, 2 November at the Centro Cultural Mauricio Baez, Villa Juana, 7pm), Bani (Thursday, 30 October, Centro Perello, 7pm), Santiago (Saturday, 1 November, Centro Cultural Dominico Americano, 7pm).
The group musicians will also hold a master class at the National Music Conservatory.
Paso a Voz at the National Theater|
The Dominican National Ballet presents "Paso a Voz" this evening, Thursday, 30 October at 10:30am and 8:30pm and tomorrow, Friday, 31 October at 8:30pm. Choreography by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Carlos Veitia, Awilda Polanco, scenery by Stephanie Bauger and music by Frederic Chopin.
Carlos Piantini Hall at the National Theater, Santo Domingo. Tickets: RD$300.
For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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