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Daily News - Thursday, 09 January 2014

Haiti-DR talks are a good start
After saying that the talks between Haiti and the Dominican Republic got off to a good start, civil society organizations in the country and representatives of the diplomatic corps are urging for answers to be provided to the bilateral problems through an understanding on immigration and trade issues.

Former Dominican ambassador in Washington, D.C. and constitutional expert, Flavio Dario Espinal commented: "The talks between the Dominican Republic and Haiti have begun well. It must be understood, however, that this is just the starting point in a complex process in which they have to tackle major problems and challenges." In his judgment, the Dominican Republic must achieve the recognition by the Haitian authorities and by the observers at the talks of its sovereignty in nationality and immigration. "Ahead of the next meeting, the Dominican authorities should continue preparing their positions well, preparing themselves with discipline for the negotiations and efficiently handling the communications," he said.

Legislator Pelegrin Castillo called for Haiti to step up efforts to legalize its nationals in Haiti. He said the true achievement of Dominican diplomatic efforts would be when Haiti admits its inexcusable obligation to recognize and document the people of Haiti within Haiti as any responsible state would do. For years, most people in Haiti have not had legal documentation. This has caused major problems given the non-stop illegal immigration to the Dominican Republic. "This controversy would not exist if Haiti did not have the limitations and malfunctions that we all know about. That is the root of the problem. The true solution needs to be to guarantee stability and rebuilding the national bases of the Haitian state," he commented, as reported in Diario Libre.

Meanwhile, Haiti's Foreign Relations Minister Pierre-Richard Casimir insisted that the Foreigner Legalization Plan to be implemented by the Dominican government is not a solution to the statelessness of Haitian immigrants.


Government faces major challenges with naturalization law
The government is facing a big dilemma: find a Naturalization Bill that manages to satisfy national public opinion, the demands of the Haitian government, and even the demands of international agencies. In addition, it should be a legal initiative that respects the irrevocable character of Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13, which sets the parameters for granting Dominican nationality.

The country's expectations now turn to the Presidential Palace where over the next few days a legislative proposal will be drawn up that includes the commitment taken on in the joint declaration signed by the Dominican Republic and Haiti on Tuesday, 7 January. One element to be taken into account is the approach that legislators take towards the bill, since many voices have been raised in the National Congress in unrestricted support, without any caveats, for the Constitutional Court ruling.

On 2 December, Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo promised that in the coming weeks the government would send a Special Nationalization Bill to Congress for people who were born and can prove strong links to the Dominican Republic. Decree 327-13 issued on 29 November ordered the start of the national Foreigner Legalization Plan for people with irregular migratory status. The decree establishes that anyone who for legal reasons does not apply for the Legalization Plan can opt for nationalization.

The details of the bill have not been shared publicly. When asked, Montalvo told the reporters that he did not have an answer yet.

Yesterday, Wednesday 8 January, Montalvo said that they were dealing with "a new item of legislation.... we are discussing, we are evaluating, and in the next few days we will report on this."

Nevertheless, the Judicial Consultant for the Executive Branch, Cesar Pina Toribio, said that this would not necessarily be a Naturalization Law, or an Amnesty Law, but he did not want to go into more details. Besides bringing together the requisites that have been mentioned, the legislative legal proposal should comply with the role of "safeguarding the rights of Haitians and their descendants," as agreed at the bi-national meeting in Ouanaminthe on Tuesday 7 January.

The Medina government has said that it is going ahead with the start of the Foreigner Legalization Plan that seeks to give legal status to all those living in the Dominican Republic. Those not regularizing their status in the 18-month term will be offered assisted deportation or asked to leave.



Servio Tulio Castanos: Legislators get more funds than judiciary
The executive vice president of the Foundation for Institutionalism and Justice (Finjus), Servio Tulio Castanos Guzman says that the recent speech by the president of the Supreme Court of Justice Mariano German on the occasion of the Day of the Judiciary should lead to reflection across all of Dominican society. He asked people to take note that the DR is the only country in the world where the Congress receives a bigger budget than the Judicial Branch. "We are facing a true internal crisis of the justice system," he said, as reported in Diario Libre. He said that 103 new courts need to be created, and more than 200 new judges should be hired. He said that 97% of the Judiciary Budget goes on current expenditures, while 77% of employees make less than RD$15,000. He recalled that nine highly qualified judges resigned last year.

Cities want tender for Duquesa management
The city councils for the National District and Santo Domingo East favor a public tender to find a company to run the solid waste dump for the Santo Domingo North city council (ASDN) at Duquesa. They say that this represents an excellent option for resolving Greater Santo Domingo's garbage problem. Santo Domingo East city council secretary general Juan Lopez told Diario Libre that "Santo Domingo North does not have the economic or technical capacity to resolve the Duquesa problem; because of this we believe that a good tender process, although it will take some time, will guarantee a long-term investment."

Meanwhile, the National District city council secretary general, Andres Navarro, said that "the solution to the systemic refuse problem in Greater Santo Domingo will not be resolved until there are qualified personnel at the landfill. Therefore, any initiative by the ASDN aimed at providing Duquesa with a management facility will be supported by the National District city council." Regarding the hearing into the background of the lawsuit filed by the Lajun Corporation, which used to manage the dumpsite for the ASDN, both Lajun and the city council have confirmed that the court had still not reached a decision. Max Da Silva, the former manager of Duquesa before it was taken over by the ASDN, said that the lawsuit had yet to be heard, "and the land on which the dumpsite is located is ours." On the other hand, the judicial advisor for the ASDN, Carlos Ortiz, pointed out that "although the lawsuit has not been settled, there is no way that the Lajun Corporation can retake the contract."

Fare hikes in Santiago and region
Yesterday's news that the Fetraci transport union members plan to apply an increase of between RD$5 and RD$10 to their fares as of Monday, 13 January has been met with widespread rejection from passengers in Santiago. A public car or "concho" ride in Santiago currently costs RD$20 per passenger and public transport users told reporters that they would not pay the announced increase.

The secretary general of the union, Basilio Valerio, said that the increase in the fare had been ratified in a meeting with the leaders of 25 unions affiliated to the Fetraci. Valerio said that the fare increase had to be introduced to compensate for operational costs, which he said were no longer sustainable. "In addition, more than 30% of the drivers in Santiago and the northern region do not have the "Bonogas" card which the government hands out to compensate for the fuel price increase," said Valerio. He said that the increase will only avoided if President Danilo Medina orders "Bonogas" cards to be issued to the more than 2,000 drivers in Santiago who do not receive this government assistance. Fetraci controls 25 routes, 20 of which are in Santiago's urban transportation system, and all of the cars use LPG.

Nevertheless, CNTT union president Juan Marte said that his members would not increase their fares for the time being, but would assess their operational costs before deciding whether to continue providing their services at the current price. "We believe that this is not the right time to increase fares, because people cannot afford any more additional expenses," said Marte.

Amid threats and cajoling PLD heads to internal elections
The election to choose the new members of the PLD Central Committee has become, as well as a group struggle for the control of the main ruling party organs, a pre-fight struggle between the aspiring candidates for senators and mayors in the 2016 elections. Three senators (Barahona, Bahoruco and Valverde) linked to former President Leonel Fernandez have gone on the offensive by complaining of supposed favoritism by officials who are followers of President Danilo Medina for candidates in these PLD bailiwicks. The most emblematic case is in Barahona, where the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Jose del Castillo Savinon, and the current senator, Eddy Mateo, are engaged in a bitter fight for the political control of the southwestern city, with the objective of achieving the senatorial nomination.

The turn in the activism by Danilo Medina's followers started on 24 November in the results of the plenary of the VIII Norge Botello Congress, where Leonel Fernandez's followers managed to approve most of their proposals. Political visits to several provinces by officials have frayed the nerves of local leaders, who fear being displaced by new leaders who have the support of the administration. Besides the fact that it is the party's main decision-making body, which statutorily has to meet each six months, but does not do so, the Central Committee is the entity that elects the members of the Political Committee, which will be expanded from 27 to 35 members when the party congress comes to an end next 26 January.

SFM traders on strike today
Commercial establishments in San Francisco de Macoris will be closed from 6am today, Thursday 9 January. Traders are demanding that President Danilo Medina extend the deadline for the installation of the tax printers. They are unable to take on the costs of machines at present, according to the president of the Dominican Traders Federation (FDC), Ivan Garcia during an event attended by several traders' representatives. Garcia said that around 99% of businesses in San Francisco de Macoris were supporting the strike in the province, adding that they plan to bring trading to a halt in several towns around the country throughout this month. The campaign will culminate in a national traders strike on January 30-31. When Diario Libre reporters visited several businesses in the capital, they found that many traders, despite having missed the 31 December 2013 deadline issued by the Tax Department (DGII), did not yet have the tax printers, and others, although they do not qualify for the installation of this equipment, say that they will support the traders' strike.

Car missing? Might be here
The National Police have dismantled a "chop shop" for stolen vehicles in Pantoja, recovering eight vehicles and the parts of several more. The search took place on Colon Street in the Villa Maria sector of Pantoja in Santo Domingo West, and was carried out by members of the Investigation Department for Stolen Vehicles. Three Daihatsu trucks were recovered along with three Toyota Corollas. The Police also found a Taurus 9mm pistol. In the search, a man whose car was stolen five months ago was present to recover his Toyota Corolla. A man known as Roberto Antonio Colon Melo (Joselo) is a fugitive along with six other people who are also on the run and are now being sought by the National Police.

Yeni to appeal release of drug case accused
The District Attorney for the National District, Yeni Berenice Reynoso, plans to appeal the release of two defendants in a case involving 108kg of cocaine found inside an SUV on Sarasota Avenue in Santo Domingo's Bella Vista neighborhood. Reynoso says that she will appeal the decision by the substitute judge for Permanent Attention, Margarita Cristo, who ordered the release of Carlos Manuel Gonzalez Cuevas and Daniel Moreta Diaz. Only Dante Reynoso Valdez was sent to preventive custody in Najayo. Reynoso said that drug traffickers were treated leniently with alarming ease, completely out of proportion with the severity of the case. She stated that all three of the suspects in the case should have been sent to protective custody. In addition to the cocaine, the search of the vehicle by the authorities turned up two 9mm pistols.

Judge turns down second appeal by Sobeida
The judge of the Second Penal Court of the National District has turned down an appeal filed by Sobeida Felix Morel, the former lover of Puerto Rican drug baron Jose David Figueroa Agosto. The appeal called for the Justice Department to honor the plea deal it signed with the inmate, who is serving a five-year sentence for money laundering. Defense lawyer Felix Portes said that he would take action against the Justice Department, including a suit brought before the Higher Administrative Tribunal and the formal opposition to the sale of any assets belonging to Felix Morel. Judge Franny Gonzalez told Listin Diario reporters that the appeal should have been filed in the Constitutional Court.


3,400 Dominicans deported from US
The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) reports that it had deported a total of 3,414 Dominicans who had served their sentences in several prisons and jails in the US. In 2012, the number of deportations was 3,245. The 22 flights carrying deportees that landed at Las Americas International Airport last year included 62 women. Some of the flights had landed in other Central American countries like Guatemala and El Salvador, and in the Guyanas. According to El Nuevo Diario, 38 people were listed as "dangerous" since they were murderers at the service of drug traffickers.

Baseball roundup
Evan MacLane pitched seven stellar innings in San Francisco de Macoris yesterday, Wednesday 8 January, and the Gigantes del Cibao whitewashed the Tigres del Licey, 3-0. The victory puts the Gigantes just one game behind the all-important second slot in the standings. The Gigantes are tied at 4-6 with the Aguilas Cibaenas.

In the venerable Estadio Quisqueya, the Leones del Escogido beat up on a poor-fielding Aguilas Cibaenas, 9-2, in a game that featured the triumphant return of Raul Valdes who threw five very solid innings for the Leones, ensuring they kept their first place in the standings. With eight games remaining in this Round Robin portion of the Winter League Tournament, the Gigantes and the Aguilas are just a game in the back of the Tigres del Licey (5-5). See future game schedules at lidom.com

ESCOGIDO 7 - 3 .700 --
LICEY 5 - 5 .500 2.0
GIGANTES 4 - 6 .400 3.0
AGUILAS 4 - 6 .400 3.0

Tonight's games, Thursday 9 January:

* Santo Domingo, Estadio Quisqueya at 7:30pm - Leones del Escogido (E. Valdez) vs. Tigres del Licey (R. Ortiz)
* San Francisco de Macoris, Julian Javier Stadium 7:30pm - Aguilas Cibaenas (C. Martinez) vs. Gigantes del Cibao (C. Vargas)

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

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