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Daily News - Wednesday, 08 January 2014

Haiti and the Dominican Republic start talking
The talks between the Dominican Republic and Haiti that took place in Ouanaminthe, Haiti yesterday, Tuesday 7 January were positive for both countries, according to the initial press reports. Local media headlines are that Haiti recognized that the DR has the right to decide on its immigration and nationality policies. Haiti has been lobbying intensely at an international level in protest at Dominican citizenship not being granted to long-time undocumented Haitian immigrants. In the concluding statements, Haiti requested a guarantee that concrete measures would be adopted to safeguard the rights of Haitian citizens and their descendants in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican delegation confirmed these guarantees and made it clear that the Dominican government would proceed with national legislation in order to provide answers to all of the cases not covered by the Legalization Plan for Foreigners that is currently underway after its implementation was ordered by Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 that establishes the criteria for Dominican citizenship.

The officials also touched upon environment, trade and security issues and agreed to schedule meetings between specialist delegates for further discussion on these topics.

Dominican Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo, and Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe headed the talks.

Haitian Foreign Minister Pierre Richard Casimir, Minister of Commerce Wilson Laleau, Minister of the Interior David Bazile, and Nesmy Manigat, Regional Director of Aid and Action represented Haiti at the meeting. The DR was also represented by Jose Ramon Fadul and Jose del Castillo, Ministers of Interior and Police and Industry and Commerce respectively, acting Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Trullols and Presidential legal advisor Cesar Pina Toribio.

Observers included Marion Caviano for the European Union, Peter De Clerq for the United Nations and ambassador Coli Granderson for Caricom.

The meeting took place at the premises of the Compagnie Industriel Development (CODEVI), a Dominican-owned free zone in Haiti that employs more than 7,000 workers.

The meeting finished after 3pm when journalists were allowed into the room.

The representatives of the two countries agreed to hold bilateral meetings on the first Monday of each month, the next scheduled for 3 February in the Dominican Republic.

Diario Libre reports that the conclusions of the talks were:


The sovereign right of the Dominican Republic to determine its immigration and nationality policies was recognized and the DR agrees to guarantee the rights of persons of Haitian origin. Haiti has agreed to provide legal documentation to its nationals who travel to the Dominican Republic to work.


Both countries agreed to trade reciprocity to enable trade of products from both countries to go ahead without delay.

It was agreed to regulate the bi-national markets with cooperation from the DR and the European Union.

Agricultural institutions will exchange information to implement adequate measures.


It was agreed to expand Dominican assistance for reforestation in border areas.


Institutions in both countries wagered to protocols for joint combating of organized crime and drug trafficking.


It was agreed that the mixed bilateral commission would be reactivated to follow up on these topics.






Will we be able to rid ourselves of our vices?
In his page two editorial in today's Diario Libre, Wednesday 8 January, Adriano Miguel Tejada comments on the irony of the DR-Haiti talks. "In Ouanaminthe, two realities emerged: one, that of a country that could, but does not do, and another of one that cannot."

He explained:

"One, which has all the conditions to guarantee certain conditions of civilized life, but does not act, and the other that not even with international help has been able to move ahead. (Or perhaps it does not want to.)

This introduction leads up to the question that motivates his writing. "If the DR commits to adhere to its immigration law, to its trade and Constitution, as well as other legal standards. Will it be able to do so? Will it want to? Will it have the resources for what is important, and not only for what is superfluous? Will it get tired of doing so in two weeks when the matter is no longer headline material?

"The commitment to organize this country so that we can all live in peace does not end at the border with Haiti. It starts with transport organization, in the schools, in the hospitals, in eliminating impunity at all levels, in ridding ourselves of so many distortions, of the so-called fathers of families, rigged procurement and political favors.

"We hope that this Haitian topic will give us the necessary strength to do what has never been done: organize the country according to the laws that we have published. If that would happen, then Haiti, unintentionally, will have given us the opportunity to carry out our true independence: ridding ourselves of our own vices."

National Judiciary Day
Yesterday, Tuesday 7 January on National Judiciary day and in the presence of President Danilo Medina, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, Mariano German Mejia listed the judicial highlights of 2013. United States ambassador James "Wally" Brewster, Papal Nuncio Jude Thaddeus Okolo, former Vice President of the Republic Rafael Alburquerque, judges, prosecutors and other dignitaries also attended the event.

German Mejia said that despite budgetary limitations he and his team had run the administrative functions of the judiciary efficiently and now there was better justice in the country although there was still much to do.

He then went through the figures for the year: From January to September 2013 they received 348,846 cases and handled 323,380 representing some 93%. The Supreme Court handed down 1,337 sentences in the First Chamber, 2,747 in the Second Chamber and 784 in the Third Chamber.

The Supreme Court sent several proposals to National Congress including the New Civil Code and signed six agreements with national and international institutions. In addition the Dominican Republic was chosen to hold the presidency of the Central American and Caribbean Judicial Council.

They carried out campaigns against child abuse and strengthened gender and family policies.

They asked for a budget of RD$6,783.57 million and RD$4,206.64 million was approved.

For 2014 they have asked for RD$8,329.24 million and RD$4,906.64 million has been approved, which, according to German Mejia will mean they have to limit their obligations but it will neither destroy their hopes nor their fight for a better Judiciary.


Consumer Rights Director to stay in post
The Executive Branch has confirmed that Altagracia Paulino will remain in her post as Director of the National Consumer Rights Protection Institute (ProConsumidor) for a further two years until 9 October 2015.

Paulino was originally appointed in September 2009 until 2011, then for another two years by the then-President, Leonel Fernandez. She is now about to start her third period in office.

The new board at ProConsumidor consists of Dr. Nelson Gomez Moscat, representing the Ministry of Public Health, Zoila Gonzalez de Gutierrez, representing the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Circe Almanzar Melgen, representing production for the business sector, Odile Minino, for the rental business sector and Alfonsina Cuesta and Salvador Polanco, representing consumer rights defense organizations.


Drinking rules back in place
Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul has announced that alcohol sale restrictions will be restored at midnight tonight, Wednesday 8 January.

Fadul warned that the Ministry would act forcefully against businesses and their owners if they disobeyed the law, which was lifted during the Christmas and New Year period. Alcoholic Drinks Control (COBA) inspectors will be resuming their work and patrolling the streets to ensure that businesses are complying with the law.

Fadul also said that they would continue working to ensure citizen safety and public order, stressing that it was prohibited to enter drinking establishments with firearms and that minors could neither enter them nor purchase alcohol.

In the Dominican Republic from Sunday to Thursday, drinking curfew is midnight. On holidays and weekends the curfew is extended to 2am. Businesses located in hotels and others have been granted special permits to continue serving alcohol later.


Eco-tourism plans for protected areas
Yesterday, Tuesday 7 January, the Ministers of the Environment, Tourism and Sport agreed to work together to offer eco-tourism activities and sports in the country's protected areas.

Minister of Environment Bautista Rojas Gomez, Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia and Minister of Sport Jaime David Fernandez said that there was potential for the protected areas that cover 25% of the country.

They said that these areas offer new opportunities for exploration for millions of tourists especially those who tour the world looking for non-traditional tourist activities.

The three agreed that a tri-ministry commission made up by the deputy minister for protected areas and biodiversity Daneris Santana for the Ministry of Environment, the director of Planning for the Minister of Tourism, Maribel Villalona, and the deputy director of sports Marcos Diaz would present an action plan in no less than 20 days.


Battle to reduce infant mortality
The Deputy Minister of Public Health, Nelson Rodriguez Monegro has revealed that last year around 2,600 infant deaths were registered in the country, of which 80% were babies under 28 days old. He said that the deaths were due to the condition of the babies when they were born including low birth weight, breathing difficulties, infections and disabilities, and that it was not unusual for a maternity hospital to register several deaths in one day.

Rodriguez Monegro arrived at the San Lorenzo de Los Mina maternity hospital in Santo Domingo yesterday, Tuesday 7 January, following complaints from parents that a power cut and lack of generator had caused the deaths of several newborns.

The Minister said that the blackout had only lasted for 20 minutes and that the ventilators that the babies were on had kept working as they used an extension lead. He said that he is looking for a solution to the generator problem so that it does not recur.

He told reporters that the Public Health authorities are working to reduce infant and maternal mortality and their target is 50 deaths per 100,000 births in 2016 for maternal deaths and 15 deaths per 1,000 live births for infant mortality. In 2013 there were 106 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births and 26.7 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. He said that there were 600 fewer infant deaths last year than the previous year and six fewer maternal deaths.


AMET towing cars
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) will continue its operation to impound any vehicles that do not have their annual taxation sticker known as a "marbete." Owners of vehicles that do not have it will have to pay a RD$1,600 fine.

According to AMET spokesman, Roberto Lebron, the checks will continue until every vehicle has the required documentation and since 31 December to yesterday, Tuesday 7 January some 2,000 vehicles have been impounded.

The government is also checking for up-to-date driver's licenses and the so-called inspection sticker, the "revista." The date for the revista validity in Santo Domingo has been extended to 31 January.


10,530 new businesses in Greater Santo Domingo in 2013
The Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce has told Diario Libre that 10,530 companies were registered in 2013, which is 27.45% more than in 2012, when 8,262 companies went legit. Taxation, red tape and high labor costs have kept many would-be companies informal, but government procurement contracts seem to be encouraging more companies to formalize their status, reports the article. He says that the government awarded more than RD$65 billion in contracts, of which small business received RD$41 billion last year, according to Yokasta Guzman, director of Government Procurement. She reported that 18,000 new companies registered to sell to the government in 2013.

Fernando Ferran, vice president of the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce, says that 60-65% of the new companies will not make it past the first year.

Ferran says that the modalities for company formation chosen were:

* Sociedades Anonimas Simplificadas (SAS): 90
* Sociedades de Responsabilidad Limitada (SRL): 9,383
* Empresas Individuales con Responsabilidad Limitada (EIRL): 494
* Sociedades Anonimas (SA) 54
* Sociedades en Nombre Colectivo 1
* Sociedades Extranjeras 366.

He said even more companies would be formalized in 2014 with the start of operation of the single window initiative (Ventanilla Unica) that cuts red tape.


Government to receive windfall from Tricom and Orange sales
Diario Libre reports that the Dominican government could receive more than US$360 million (almost RD$15.4 billion) for the sale of Tricom and Orange to Altice as well as money from the merger of the BHD and Leon financial groups, which includes the purchase of the shares of the Spanish bank Sabadell.

The founder of the Altice group, Patrick Drahi, has said that he is happy to have invested US$1.8 billion in the Dominican Republic by purchasing 100% of the shares of Orange and 88% of Tricom and confirmed that the government would receive around 20% of this amount in tax.

Meanwhile, with the merger of the two banks, the state is expected to receive tax on the issue of new capital and for the acquisition of shares from Banco Sabadell.

According to Drahi, the process of ratification by the authorities could take until February after which they will start to offer new services and products for consumers.


San Francisco strikes against tax-registering machines
San Francisco de Macoris businesses, with the support of the Dominican Traders Federation (FDC) president Ivan Garcia have announced that they will strike in protest at the requirement to install cash registers linked to the Tax Department system. The government is requiring all businesses with sales of over RD$7 million a year, or purchases of RD$30 million to install these cash registers. Garcia said the protest could spread to nearby towns of Salcedo and Nagua. The installation of the machines is aimed at reducing tax evasion and will oblige more businesses to go formal. The DGII says that most of the country's taxes are paid in Greater Santo Domingo.

Fares to rise in Santiago
The Cibao Transport Federation (Fetraci) announced yesterday, Tuesday 7 January that as of next Monday, 13 January public shared taxi fares in Santiago and other areas of the north would increase by between five and 10 pesos per journey.

Fetraci general secretary Basilio Valerio said that the increase was being introduced to assist with the operational costs that are increasing daily and highlighted that more than 30% of the drivers in Santiago and the north did not receive the free gas card (Bonogas) that the government has distributed to compensate drivers for the high cost of fuel.

He said that only President Danilo Medina could prevent the increase from taking place by agreeing to give the Bonogas card to more than 2,000 drivers in the region who did not have it.

The transport union leader concluded by saying that there had been no price increases since 2008 despite the increase in operational costs.


Drug dealer arrested in Colombia
The Chief of the Police, Major General Manuel Castro Castillo has confirmed that a suspected drug dealer, Salomon Eusebio Rosario (Piky), has been arrested in Colombia. Arrangements are being made via Interpol to deport him to the Dominican Republic.

He said that Eusebio Rosario (Piky) is thought to be involved in the murder of Juan Felix Cordero Febles (Copelin), Edgar Rijo Astacio (Maestrico), and other member of the drug and hit men underworld.

He continued by saying that Piky was a known drug dealer in the east of the country and was the head of a group of hit men that Cordero Febles (Copelin) belonged to, before being found dead together with a police Sergeant Major and a driver in San Cristobal last September.

However he went on to justify the death of three men in Villa Mella, and the injury of two more, saying that they were known criminals who were members of a gang that terrorized residents in Santo Domingo north and the National District. He said the gang was responsible for more than eight deaths and a dozen woundings, as well as a large number of robberies and attacks. Castro Castillo said that his force would continue to work hard and use an iron fist approach to crime.


Marco de la Rosa dies of heart attack
The president of AES Dominicana electricity company, Marco de la Rosa, died early this morning while he was running in Mirador Sur Park.

Another member of his running group said that he appeared to faint and they took him to the Independencia Clinic where he was pronounced dead on arrival. According to press reports, the 45-year old Venezuelan national apparently suffered a sudden heart attack.


Winter Baseball update
The second half of the round robin to determine the playoff teams for the Dominican Winter Professional Baseball Championship begins today, Wednesday 8 January with any of the four teams still in line to qualify for the finals. The Leones del Escogido lead with 6-3, followed by the Tigres del Licey (5-4), the Aguilas Cibaenas (4-5) and Gigantes del Cibao (3-6).

Games scheduled for today:

* Quisqueya Ballpark, Santo Domingo: Aguilas Cibaenas vs. Leones Escogido at 7:30pm.
* Julian Javier Ballpark, San Francisco de Macoris: Tigres del Licey vs. Gigantes del Cibao at 7:30pm.

For more on upcoming events, see www.dr1.com/calendar

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