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Daily News - Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Government funds Catalina plants construction
The Medina administration is pushing ahead to complete the Punta Catalina coal-fired power facility even though the US$632.5 million loan with a group of banks pooled by the Deutsche Bank S.p.A. nor the Brazilian financing have been yet disbursed. As reported in Diario Libre, the work entrusted to the Odebrecht Tecnimont Estrella consortium under the supervision of the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) involves the installation of coal-fired plants with a generation capacity of 769.8 megawatts. Its cost is said to be around US$2.04 billion and the plants are scheduled to enter into operation in 2017, as confirmed by CDEEE board chairman Jose Rafael Santana.

As reported, so far US$600 million have been spent on the construction, of which US$300 million was provided by the government, and another US$300 million through a loan secured with local banks by the Odebrecht-Tecnimont-Estrella consortium, with the endorsement of the Dominican government.

On 10 February 2015, the government signed a loan for US$656 million with the Brazilian export bank (Bndes) to be used to finance the 100% of the Brazilian equipment to be used in the thermoelectric plant. These funds have still not been disbursed.

On 20 May 2015, the government approved the US$632.5 million financing with Deutsche Bank. This too is pending to be disbursed.

In an interview in El Dia, Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta says that the Medina government will resolve the country's blackout problems with Punta Catalina. He says residential and business consumers will also benefit from competitive tariffs for electricity once the plant kicks in.


21% more jobs at power companies, despite losses
The country's three main power distribution companies (EdeNorte, EdeSur and EdeEste) have added 1,338 new workers between them, or 20.8% more employment. The payroll has been increased despite the fact that the government says it has to subsidize the power distribution companies' losses with US$1 billion a year.

As reported in Diario Libre, the number of employees in the government-operated power distributors had increased by 914 in the last Leonel Fernandez administration (from January 2009 to August 2012), or 16% in three years and eight months. During the period from August 2012 to July 2015, however, now under Danilo Medina PLD administration, an additional 1,338 workers were added to the payroll.


Ministry explores dengue death reduction strategies
In an interview with Diario Libre, Public Health Minister Altagracia Guzman Marcelino says that medical training for Dominican doctors needed to be improved with an increased emphasis on tropical diseases. The minister mentions that she has been meeting with deans of medical schools to discuss the need to change the curriculum.

"Our universities have to rethink their curricula, because they are in a tropical country, so everything that has to be done to tackle tropical diseases has to be the number one priority, and this starts with clinical training for medical students," said the Minister in the interview.

Guzman Marcelino said that the implementation of a Single Medical Competencies Examination would exert pressure on medical schools to train better doctors. She says this will also ensure that the graduates have an epidemiological profile that is appropriate for the country.

She said that many patients go to the doctor twice, and when they return, they are in a serious condition. "That means that they did not receive the correct treatment," said Guzman. In her opinion, if the primary care level were in operation, the dengue problem would be resolved.

The minister said that she was most concerned about the fact that people were dying from a disease that is treatable. She says that inadequate handling by doctors and patient care are the main factors behind the high death rate in the country. She pointed out that in Honduras, where there have been more than 40,000 cases, there has not been one single death. In Peru, where there have been 38,000 cases, there have only been three or four deaths. She mentioned that of the deaths analyzed, 31 were diagnosed and treated as dengue, but were actually malaria, leukemia or septicemia and the patients died.

Meanwhile, as part of the new measures being taken to stop the spread of dengue, National Health Service director Dr. Ramon Alvarado Mendoza said that 3,600 people were being trained to travel around the country on the last weekend of every month and work with the regional health services to implement dengue prevention campaigns to eliminate mosquito breeding places and educate people on how to recognize and treat the disease.




Children of Dominicans are Dominican
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has told the Ministry of Interior and Police that children of Dominicans who are born overseas are Dominicans and do not need to go through a naturalization process to acquire Dominican citizenship, as the Ministry has been erroneously requiring.

The Central Electoral Board (JCE), which is in charge of civil registry, says that the Ministry of Interior and Police has been applying the law in the wrong way. JCE president Roberto Rosario notified Minister Jose Ramon Fadul that children of Dominicans born abroad do not need to undergo a naturalization process, regardless of their having already acquired the nationality of their birthplace when it is different to that of their parents. He says this is established in Article 18 of the Constitution.

On 9 October 2015, Rosario sent Fadul Resolution No. 02/2015 dated 27 April 2015 issued by the JCE plenary, which establishes the procedure for the transcription of foreign birth certificates at JCE civil registry offices, consulates and consular sections abroad.

The procedures notified in the Resolution make it easier for Dominicans living abroad to pass on their nationality to their children.

The resolution establishes that: "The Civil Status Officer is instructed that once the authorization to transcribe the foreign birth certificate is received it should be immediately registered in both in the Automated Civil Registration System and in the corresponding Book of Registrations."



Road closures in Santo Domingo
The Ministry of Public Works and Communications (MOPC) has announced that today, Tuesday 10, and tomorrow, Wednesday 11 November 2015, traffic will be diverted off the Duarte highway near Piedra Blanca from 9 pm to 5 in the morning. On Sunday 15 November, the intersection of 27 February Avenue with Caonabo will be closed to traffic.

The MOPC said that the Duarte highway at kilometer 69 is being closed for work connecting the Piedra Blanca- Cruce de Ocoa intersection.

There will be alternative routes. Drivers bound for Santo Domingo from Santiago via the Duarte Highway will be directed onto the other side of the road and vice versa.

The MOPC has also scheduled other road closures in the city. The Nunez de Caceres tunnel will be closed on 10, 11 and 12 November for cleaning from 10.30 at night to 5 in the morning. On Friday 13 November, the Las Americas tunnel will be closed. On Saturday 14 the elevated section of John F. Kennedy with Lope de Vega and Tiradentes avenues and on Saturday 14 the elevated section of Kennedy with Ortega and Gasset avenues will also be closed.


Coming soon: animation films made in DR
The region's largest animation studio is being set up in Juan Dolio, a 40-minute drive from Santo Domingo. Lantica Media and AG Studios are working together in association with Mexico-based Anima Estudios. Antonio Gennari of Lantica Media and Alex Garcia of AG Studios announced that the facility would be set up at the Pinewood Dominican Republic Studios, a Lantica Media company.

As reported in Variety, the first project Lantica and AG Studios are considering are feature films based on the "Leyendas" (Legends) franchise, using Caribbean legends for the stories.



Politics holds up trade talks with Haiti
Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo Savinon has not given up hope of a change of Haiti's policy to ban the overland imports of 23 consumer products in effect since 1 October 2015. He says, however, that it is unlikely that talks on the issue, which started on 13 October 2015 at a meeting between President Michel Martelly and President Danilo Medina, will resume until the post-electoral confusion in Haiti comes to and end. "It has to be understood that the conditions are not in place for us to go to Haiti and continue the talks," he said, as reported in Diario Libre.

Elections in Haiti were held at the end of October. The final results are expected on Thursday 12 November. Jovenel Moise, who is Michel Martelly and his party's candidate, received 32% of the vote in the first round and Jude Celestin obtained 25%, according to the preliminary results.

Speaking at a press conference, Lapeh party candidate Celestin described the first round results as a ridiculous farce and said they did not reflect the actual votes of the people.

Castillo made the comments following up on the Haitian government ban on cross-border imports of the most commonly purchased goods. The Haitian government has only been allowing these imports to enter via sea or air, reportedly in order to have better control over customs taxation.

As reported recently in Le Nouvelliste, Haiti's Economy and Finance Minister Wilson Laleau says that the entry by sea and air of the 23 products has enabled the government to collect millions more in gourdes. According to Laleau, Haiti has received an additional US$26.4 million in October this year since it banned some Dominican products from entering via the land border. He added that the Haitian authorities are hoping to gain a twelvefold increase in customs' duties by the end of the year as a result.

Laleau stated that the ban had achieved its aims as in October they received 5.9 billion gourdes which is US$111.3 million dollars, which was US$26.4 million more than in October last year. He went on to say that each year they collected around 2.2 billion gourdes at the border, some US$41.5 million and with the ban on the 23 products by land the Haitian treasury expects to receive at least one billion gourdes more.

Del Castillo said that Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo and the Haitian Minister of Tourism were assigned the task of continuing the discussions that began on 13 October 2015.

Nevertheless, in its Tuesday, 10 November 2015 issue, Diario Libre reports that hundreds of Haitians and Dominicans were allowed to trade freely during the Monday, 9 November 2015 market day.



Constitutional Court rules on Armando Casciati
The Constitutional Court has annulled a court order prohibiting the arrest and deportation of Italian businessman Armando Casciati who allegedly operated businesses promoting sex tourism in the country. Diario Libre reports that the Italian businessman owns several businesses in Sosua, including a hotel, a TV channel and several bars allegedly dedicated to prostitution, for which the Dominican authorities had threatened to deport him. Following the Constitutional Court order against Casciati, Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito called on the authorities to take measures to prevent foreigners from establishing themselves in the Dominican Republic to promote the country as a sex tourism destination.


Inabie overseers quit for lack of transparency
Five of seven volunteers selected to oversee the school breakfast programs under the Instituto Nacional de Bienestar Estudiantil (National Institute of Student Welfare) resigned yesterday, Monday, 9 November 2015 arguing that the government entity has violated the Law of Free Access to Information and refused to provide information that has been requested, as reported in Diario Libre.

Oversight commission coordinator Ana Mitila Lora said that they have met with Inabie director Rene Jaquez on several occasions but he continued to postpone providing the requested information. "We got tired of his games," said Lora. Fellow members Ramon Baez, Flavio Rodriguez Mendez, Frank de la Cruz and Johnnie Martinez have also resigned.

In an editorial today, Tuesday 10 November 2015, Diario Libre managing editor Ines Aizpun comments on the volunteers' resignation for reasons that show that politicians are not willing to accept supervision, and that they will not act with transparency as long as the system makes this possible.



Blackout in Las Terrenas
On Saturday, 7 November 2015, Las Terrenas and El Limon experienced a power cut lasting for more than 10 hours. The blackout was caused by a fault at the Sanchez substation that supplies the new connection line via the Interconnected National Electricity System (SENI).

The local private electricity company, Luz y Fuerza, apologized for the power cut, which affected the operations of local hotels and restaurants.

According to Luz y Fuerza, when the Electricity Superintendence proposed connecting Las Terrenas to SENI the company warned that if that happened service would suffer and Las Terrenas would no longer have 24-hour power but instead would have prolonged blackouts. Luz y Fuerza suggested using their services to supply electricity when any blackouts occurred but on 16 October 2015 they were informed that they would not be allowed to do so.

Luz y Fuerza general manager Alejandra Orsini says that local people are now at risk as well as the security of the area, which is one of the main tourist destinations in the country and has received uninterrupted electricity for more than 23 years. Because of this most residents do not have a back-up supply such as a generator or an inverter, meaning that the blackouts cause more problems than in other parts of the country.


Cruce del Isleno bus accident kills one
On Friday, 6 November 2015 one woman was killed and 25 people were injured after two buses collided on the Cruce del Isleno-La Ceiba, Bavaro road in the east of the country.

Yubelkis Mercedes Avila, 28, died of her injuries in a Higuey hospital.

The vehicles, which were transporting hotel employees, were a 32-passenger bus and a 54-passenger bus. The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) is conducting an investigation into the accident.


Higuey jail being cleaned up
The Attorney General's office has announced that it will be lifting the ban on medical and legal information relating to 80 inmates who were taken from Higuey jail to Anamuya jail to prevent the spread of diseases.

The men were in jail on remand and last week they were transferred by the Public Prosecution Service and the Health Ministry until a judge could decide what to do with their remand terms.

Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito said that each man should be given breakfast, lunch and dinner as established by law, as well as healthcare as needed.

He said that conditions in the remand jail in Higuey were a high priority and he would look at solutions to solve the problems once and for all.

The authorities say that the recent deaths of three inmates occurred after a Haitian remand prisoner was diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Following the intervention of the Higuey prosecutor and Public Health Ministry representatives, three inmates were taken to hospital with breathing difficulties

The jail is now being disinfected and cleaned up by the Ministry of Public Health and local firefighters to try and bring the old jail up to standard with improved hygiene with the aim of stopping the spread of disease.


DR tops China in naturalized US citizens
For 2013, the biggest groups of naturalized citizens of the United States came from Mexico, India, Philippines, Dominican Republic and China. It is the first time that the DR has overtaken China.

United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics show that of the nearly 800,000 people who decided to become US citizens in the 12 months that ended 30 September 2013, Dominicans lead in seven US states n New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, North Dakota and Pennsylvania.

The DHS data show revealed that for two years running, Dominicans have made up the biggest group of naturalizations each year in New Jersey, narrowly exceeding the number of Indians.

The largest immigrant population in the US comes from six countries - Mexico, the Philippines, India, the Dominican Republic, China, and Cuba. In 2013, a total of 779,929 people naturalized. The leading countries of birth of new US citizens were Mexico (99,385), India (49,897), the Philippines (43,489), the Dominican Republic (39,590), and the People's Republic of China (35,387). The largest number of people naturalizing lived in California (164,792), New York (107,330), and Florida (101,773).

Asia and North America were each the regions of origin of 35% of people naturalizing in 2013. Mexico was the leading country of birth of people naturalizing in 2013 (13%), followed by India (6.4 %), the Philippines (5.6%), the Dominican Republic (5.1%), and the People's Republic of China (4.5 %).

To become a naturalized US citizen, an immigrant must usually have been a permanent resident of the US for at least five years (three years if the spouse is a US citizen) and then pass a citizenship exam. Additional requirements include the ability to speak, read, and write the English language, knowledge of the US government and history, and good moral character. https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/ois_natz_fr_2013.pdf


Euclides Gutierrez: Clintons own Haiti's economy
Lawyer Euclides Gutierrez Felix, who is the country's Superintendent of Insurance but was speaking in his role as a historian, believes that relations between the Dominican Republic and Haiti will worsen if former US Secretary of State and former First Lady Hillary Clinton wins the US election.

Quoted in Hoy newspaper, Felix claims that the Clintons own Haiti's economy. Gutierrez, who is a leading member of the ruling PLD, said that the Clintons are the owners of Haiti's main telecom company, after making an investment of US$90 million. He said that everyone in Haiti has a cellphone and that Bill Clinton himself handled more than US$1 billion related to Haiti. "But Hillary Clinton's brother has the franchise for the goldmine on the island between Restauracion, the border and part of Haiti," he said.









Drugs seized from luxury yacht in La Romana
Yesterday, Monday 9 November the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) seized 54 packages of a white substance thought to be cocaine or heroin and arrested six people on a luxury yacht that was leaving Casa de Campo Marina in La Romana.

The drugs were onboard the 135-ft long and 30-ft wide luxury yacht, "The Kingdom" flying the Bahamas flag.

The DNCD had received intelligence reports that led them to board the yacht together with the Dominican Navy (Armada) and the Public Prosecution Service and found two suitcases containing the drugs.

Four people aboard the yacht were arrested and two were detained in a nearby store.

The DNCD also confiscated a Ford Explorer SUV, a Toyota car and RD$43,450 and US$500 in one vehicle and RD$64,000 in another.

The drugs have now been sent to the National Institute of Forensic Science (INACIF) for analysis and the detainees will appear in court in La Romana.



Good news: rains fill Jiguey-Valdesia reservoir
The director general of the Santo Domingo water authority (CAASD) Alejandro Montas says that all the rains that have fallen in the past two weeks have increased the water levels at the Jiguey and Valdesia dams by more than 651 million gallons. He said that the rains have been good for farming and water supplies, with water levels rising at a rate of 11 cubic meters per second.

He added that the rains are also replenishing the Haina River basin, which will guarantee good water levels for the aqueducts of Isa-Mana, Duey and Haina-Manoguayabo.


Threat of floods
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) is forecasting rain for the Cibao region and some other areas in the northwest and northeast due to a weather front linked to Tropical Depression 12, which has formed over the Bahamas but will not be heading in the direction of the Dominican Republic. It is moving west-northwest at around 24 miles an hour.

Onamet says that the rains and storms are most likely in the provinces of La Altagracia (Higuey), La Romana, Peravia (Bani), Samana, Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua), Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris), Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo), Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui), Monte Plata, Monsenor Nouel (Bonao), El Seibo, Hato Mayor and San Pedro de Macoris.

There will be increased wave activity in the Caribbean Sea but by Wednesday, 11 November it is expected that the weather will become more stable with less rain.

Onamet has issued an alert for flooding and landslides as well as an increase in water levels of rivers and streams for the provinces of Peravia (Bani), Samana, Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua), Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris), Santiago, Espaillat (Moca), Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo), Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui), Monte Plata, Monsenor Nouel (Bonao), La Romana, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, San Pedro De Macoris, Greater Santo Domingo and San Cristobal.


Paso horse world cup in Cap Cana
Punta Cana is hosting the 12th Paso World Cup (Confepaso 2015) at new equestrian installations that are opening with the event in Cap Cana. The event, which highlights the quality, beauty and gait of paso horses, is sponsored by the International Confederation of Paso Horses (Confepaso), and the Dominican Association of Paso Horses (Adopaso).

The event is scheduled to take place from 19-22 November 2015 at the new Equestrian City stables, located north of the Boulevard Central in the Cap Cana tourism and residential zone, in southern Punta Cana.

Confepaso members are: Germany, Switzerland, the United States, Venezuela, Panama, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Colombia, Curacao, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic.

The new equestrian facilities are being promoted as the most advanced and complete in Latin America. The equestrian city is being developed over an area of three million square meters and complies with all international requirements for paso fino, jumping, horse racing, reining, cross country, endure, polo and dressage horses. Two polo fields have been completed, and a third is in construction under the supervision of engineer Alejandro Battro, one of the most prestigious in the field.

250 horse stalls and a veterinarian clinic are already open. The club house has a conference hall, equestrian store, cigar club, restaurants, game area, spa, nursing station, children's area and other facilities.

Cap Cana is selling prime real estate to horse lovers in the same Los Establos Equestrian City.

See the scheduled events and more details at:




Read more about upcoming events at http://www.dr1.com/calendar

To read more news, see the DR1 News Archives at: http://dr1.com/premium/news/2015/index.shtml

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