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Daily News - Monday, 13 January 2014

New ID cards to have holographic image
The new ID and voter card (cedula) scheduled for issue this year will have holographic images to combat card forgery and unauthorized alterations and duplications. Other enhanced security measures include micro text printing - small text that is only visible with a magnifying glass and hidden characters and patterns within the intricate graphic design, according to the contract that the Central Electoral Board (JCE) has signed with Copy Solutions International, winner of the tender to supply the around seven million cards in 2014, as reported in Diario Libre. The new card measuring 3-3/8" x 2-1/8" will last at least five years and will contain the identity number, photograph, hidden photograph, signature of the bearer, names and last names, birth date, civil status, birthplace, nationality, particular identifying signs, sex, blood type and expiration date.


New temporary worker visa in effect
The National Immigration Council (CNM) has assigned top priority to the regularization of temporary foreign workers in keeping with the guidelines of the National Immigration Legalization Plan. The plan seeks to legalize foreigners with irregular status in the Dominican Republic and to organize immigration.

In Resolution 01-14, the CNM instructs the Foreign Relations Ministry to implement the Temporary Worker Visa (VTT) established in General Immigration Law 285-04. The Ministry says that this visa that is now available will be issued to foreigners who have a job offer from a company that is registered in the country.

The resolution has been notified to foreign missions in the country and abroad. The visa will be valid for a maximum of one year, with one or multiple entries depending on the duration of the work contract.

To apply for the VTT, the company that is offering the job must send a letter notifying of the position, and the prospective employee must sign a commitment to comply with conditions and labor rules in the country, transport, travel expenditures and repatriation expenditures.

To comply with Article 151 of Immigration Law 285-04 that orders the National Foreign Legalization Plan it orders the Ministry of Foreign Relations and Department of Immigration issue the documents corresponding to the migratory status of foreigners who qualified, as established in Decree No. 327-13.

It also instructs the Immigration Department (through the National Immigration Institute) to begin consultations with companies involved in agriculture whose practices need to adhere to the minimum fair trade rules and to propose quotas for each economic sector.

The CNM also instructed the Ministry of Interior and Police to establish a preferential procedure for companies and individuals that employ these temporary workers so they may proceed to legalize them.

As part of the new resolution, the Ministry of Interior and Police will start discussions with the National Social Security Council, the Ministry of Labor, the Department of Immigration and the JCE to implement regulations so that the beneficiaries may receive a Unique Identification Number (NUI) and can be eventually included in the Dominican Social Security System. The CNM also announced that Florinda Rojas Rodriguez has been appointed director of the National Immigration Institute by Decree No. 326-13.



More undocumented Haitians seek free healthcare in Santiago
The director of the regional section of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD) Manases Pena has told Hoy newspaper that doctors have been seeing a larger number of Haitian patients since the hospitals eliminated patient fees. He called on the government to send the complementary resources now that the hospitals are not able to charge patients. Most of the patients who are being seen are undocumented Haitians who arrive seeking the free healthcare services. Pena said that in the case of the Jose Maria Cabral y Baez Public Hospital the funds spent on Haitian patients are up 40% in 2013 and the trend is for this to continue increasing.

Pena says that the Immigrant Legalization Plan should obligate employees to pay medical insurance for their workers of any nationality to contribute to lower the cost of treating them at public hospitals. He said most of the Haitian patients they see are undocumented.


Haiti, four years on
On the fourth anniversary of the earthquake in neighboring Haiti, today's Diario Libre, Monday 13 January, focuses on key issues for long-term sustainability in Haiti and warns that forces within Haiti seem to be leaning towards exporting Haiti's problems.

"It has been four years now since the devastating earthquake that destroyed many of the main cities in Haiti, including its capital. Despite the aid and the efforts of the people, Haiti has not yet gotten beyond clearing the rubble.

International aid has served to ensure that the Haitian people do not die of hunger and for one or two infrastructural works, but reconstruction is lacking in adequate planning, recovery is slower than expected and many families are still living in tents, too many families are still there.

The greatest danger, nonetheless, is the creation of a culture of survivors of international charity, who only see a solution of Haitian problems by exporting them to other nations.

Another major obstacle is the impossibility of reaching political agreements to meet the election calendar and give legitimacy to government.

We trust that the new energies of the Haitian private sector may be channeled to their objectives for collective good."

Diario Libre reports that 146,000 Haitians still live in tents that should have lasted six months in 271 camps. In many cases, the latrines no longer work.



Haiti PM Lamothe: nationality ruling "unacceptable"
Despite the statement following the 3 January meeting in Ouanaminthe where the Haitian government recognized the sovereign right of the Dominican Republic to define who is eligible for Dominican nationality, the Haitian Prime Minister has stated that Haiti would continue insisting that the Dominican Republic should nationalize people of Haitian origin. Since Haiti for years has not been documenting its citizens, thousands that have relocated to the DR have done so without identification papers.

In an interview published on Saturday, 11 January Lamothe told The Miami Herald:

"Q: Why hasn't the Haitian government been more public on the Dominican Republic's ruling denying citizenship to Haitians?
A: The government has been very active in solving that issue in a diplomatic way. Haiti and the Dominican Republic are the only two republics that are sharing an island, so we have a unique situation with the Dominican Republic. We managed to have opened a dialogue as the only way to come to grips with the big issues that were affecting the country for the past 50 years. We made it public, our feelings toward this ruling: it was unacceptable, inhumane and steps needed to be taken to address it. However, we had to do it in a certain way to make sure it was a sustainable and successful strategy.
Q: How were the recent talks between Haitian and Dominican officials on the nationality ruling?
A: It was one where it was open, it was frank, it was direct. We put the issues on the table... Our intention is to leave no one behind, whether it's Haitian temporary workers or Dominicans of Haitian descent.... This is what we discussed with them, and this is what we feel we advanced on many fronts.
Q: Why doesn't the declaration issued after the meeting mention the nationality ruling?
A: This is the first dialogue of many others coming. We all know what the ruling says, and we all know that it's an unacceptable ruling. We needed to focus on the next steps, the solutions and the steps that would be taken in order to come to a solution. It shows a willingness, it shows the clear intention of moving toward coming to support and aid of those of Haitian origin".


Paraison says Haiti hasn't changed position
In an op-ed piece in El Dia today, Monday 13 January, the former Haitian ambassador to the Dominican Republic Edwin Paraison who took part in the 3 January Haiti-DR talks writes that the official point of view of the Haitians has not changed. In the statement after the first talks were resumed on 3 January 2014 in Ouanaminthe, Haiti recognized the right of the Dominican Republic to decide who is a Dominican national. Nevertheless, the country's government is pushing for the rectification of the Constitutional Court ruling 168-13. They expect this to be contained in the announced special naturalization bill.

He says that the international observers, now part of the dialogue, share the Haitian government's view that it is incompatible for the Dominican Republic to naturalize individuals who do not have legal documentation as Haitians.

He adds that the Dominican government has announced the issuing of temporary work visas, but this is dependent on Haiti issuing legal documents for these individuals.



Solar generator for Saona Island
Saona Island off the southeast coast is best known as the most popular tourist excursion sold in the Dominican Republic. It has a small population of around 500 inhabitants who will now benefit from the solar generator that is expected to enter into operation in March 2014.

The Ministry of Environment announced the unit that cost US$400,000 would supply clean energy to the more than 110 families living on the island in the village of Mano Juan. The generator will improve living conditions of the inhabitants of the protected area. The project was financed with contributions from the Ministry, the Government of Taiwan and the Finnish government's Environmental Energy Alliance. The Ministry of Environment's Climate Change and Renewable Energies Departments worked in coordination to install the plant, which they say will reduce the emission of CO2 by more than 300 tons at the site.

The unit will provide constant power to the island's healthcare center, elementary school, IT center and surveillance center.

The new power plant will also supply electricity to the around 500 inhabitants who currently receive power three hours every evening supplied by two fuel-powered generators.

Counting the votes for new members of PLD committee
The commission that is supervising the vote count of the 168 new members for the Central Committee of the PLD announced the election went well with a large turnout of PLD members on Sunday nationwide. In a first bulletin, the Organizing Committee of the 8th Norge Botello Congress of the PLD announced the 37 most voted candidates of the party. The votes are being counted at the Volleyball Pavilion of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center. For the first bulletin on the morning of Monday, 13 January 4.4% of the votes had been counted or 144 polling stations. Remaining are 3,355 stations.

The commission said the next bulletin would be issued at 6pm today. Final results at a national level will be reported on Wednesday on a national level and in the morning of Tuesday for the local vote counts.

An incident of the theft of ballots was reported in a station in Santiago. Votes in New Jersey and New York reportedly were postponed because the ballots did not arrive on time due to bad weather. Those elections are scheduled to take place this coming Sunday.

The election to choose the new members of the PLD Central Committee is seen 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. While former President Leonel Fernandez is eligible as a pre-candidate in the 2016 presidential election, incumbent President Danilo Medina by constitution is banned from seeking re-election. This has opened doors for active campaigning by other aspirants to the presidential ticket for the ruling PLD.


Disability insurance very profitable for banks
Diario Libre reports today, Monday 13 January that the five companies approved for disability or death coverage of workers had received RD$16.49 billion for coverage of workers who suffer disabilities or death prior to their retirement age as of November 2013. But as of the same date, they had only benefited 7,003 people, who receive on average RD$6,462.57 per disability and their spouses and children will receive RD$8,940.22 per month if the affiliate dies before retirement age. This equals to around RD$713.2 million spent on the chapter by the banks for the same period. Diario Libre calculates the banks have pocketed RD$9.36 billion, or 131% of the pensions since the start of the Dominican Social Security System.

Joaquin Geronimo, Superintendent of Pensions, was quoted as saying: "Without doubt it is a very, very lucrative business for the insurance companies," as reported in Diario Libre.

The companies approved to provide the disability and death insurance in the Dominican Social Security System are Seguros Universal, Seguros Banreservas, Seguros Sura, Scotia Seguros and Mapfre BHD Seguros. In August 2006, the Superintendence of Pensions approved a resolution on the Disability and Survival Policy Contract that stipulates that the rights of the beneficiaries expires after two years, in benefit of the insurance companies, but in violation of the Law of the Dominican System of Social Security, says Diario Libre.


Legendary singer, Francis Santana dies
To the beat of merengue and the many legendary songs always memorable in his voice, family and friends said goodbye to Francis Santana yesterday, Sunday 12 January. Santana, who died on Saturday at the age of 84, was best known for his renditions of bolero and merengue songs. Yohanna Almanzar and Nestor Sanchez sung "Amor eterno," "Evocacion" accompanied by Miguel Leclerc on the piano. His voice singing "Por amor", "En la oscuridad" and "Arenas del desierto" was also heard at the funeral along with several lively merengue tunes. His daughter Katiuska told the mourners: "We want to ask everyone to remember him as he always was: A happy person, an honest person, an excellent husband and an excellent artist."

Francis Santana was a regular at the Sunday concerts at the Ruinas de San Francisco with the Bonye group.





Fire destroyed Duralon plastics factory in Herrera
A massive blaze on Saturday, 11 January destroyed the installations of the plastics manufacturing company, Duralon in Herrera Industrial Zone. Firefighters from Santo Domingo and San Cristobal were successfully able to contain the fire so that it did not affect neighboring industries. Fire Service Colonel Jose Antonio Segura Feliz said that the blast spread to Marcos Metalicos before they were able to extinguish it. He said the investigation into the causes is now underway, as reported in El Caribe. Duralon has 235 employees, according to company spokesman Eduardo Frankenberg. No injuries were reported.

Security to be enhanced in Boca Chica
Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia has called on the National Police and the Specialized Tourism Security Corps to improve protection measures for tourists visiting the country. He called for stepping up security especially in the communities of Boca Chica and Sosua, where crime has increased. Meanwhile, Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo said that he would personally intervene in Boca Chica to strengthen security levels for all.

Earlier this month, two Italian tourists were injured in a violent robbery in Boca Chica, leading to widespread calls for enhanced security measures.

Impunity for Polish papal nuncio?
Catholic World News reports that the Vatican will not cooperate with Polish authorities that have been investigating former papal nuncio Jozef Wesolowski. As reported, the Vatican has refused a request from Polish prosecutors for the extradition of Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski.

As reported in Polish press, the Dominican judicial authorities shared the information on its investigations into child sexual abuse in the Dominican Republic involving Father Wojciech Gil with the Polish authorities and those on the papal nuncio with the Vatican. Both are natives of Poland, but the Vatican is refusing to extradite Wesolowski on the grounds that he is a citizen of the Vatican and there is no extradition treaty with the Dominican Republic or Poland. "Archbishop Wesolowski is a citizen of the Vatican, and Vatican law does not allow for his extradition," the Vatican announced.

The archbishop served as apostolic nuncio in the Dominican Republic since 2008 until August 2013, when he was recalled to Rome after Cardinal Nicolas Lopez Rodriguez informed Pope Francis that he had heard reports of sexual abuse by the Vatican envoy. At the time, investigative journalists had begun to air TV reports on his misconduct in the Dominican Republic as well as that of a fellow Polish clergyman, Father Wojciech Gil who was the parish priest in Juncalito, Santiago. The two men were known to be close friends. Wojciech is now living with his relatives in a village south of Krakow in Poland.

Shortly after Wesolowski's departure, authorities in the Dominican Republic revealed that several families had filed complaints against him. At the time, the Vatican pledged full cooperation with Dominican prosecutors.

The Polish authorities launched their own investigation into Archbishop Wesolowski shortly after the publication of reports about his alleged misconduct in the Dominican Republic and visited the Dominican Republic to investigate and meet with local judicial authorities. Przemyslaw Nowak from the District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw has said the Vatican has confirmed that it is proceeding with its own investigation concerning the archbishop.

The Vatican has not disclosed the whereabouts of the Polish archbishop who is believed to be living in the Vatican or Rome.

The News of Poland reported that a deacon who worked for Archbishop Wesolowski has stated that he procured boys for the papal nuncio. Wesolowski allegedly engaged in oral sex with boys, and took photographs of them while they were masturbating. Meanwhile, three children in the Dominican Republic have made allegations against Father Gil, and child pornography was allegedly found on his computer.

The statement is issued on the eve of a 16 January visit by a Vatican delegation to a hearing at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva as part of an investigation into allegations of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy around the world and an alleged system of cover-ups by the Holy See.

'This is the first time the Holy See's been pressed on child sexual abuse by the world's children's rights body and that's of international significance,' said Veronica Yates, director of Child Rights International Network (CRIN). 'We know child abuse happens in other closed institutions, but what's unique about the Catholic Church is the Holy See is a UN State that's voluntarily signed up to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, a legally binding document that includes, among others, a child's right to protection from violence and sexual abuse.'

She added: 'Child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is a global problem affecting thousands of children. Some of the "techniques" employed by the church indicate its disregard for children's rights and the law. An example is the "geographical cure", designed to relocate, forget and sweep under the rug cases of child abuse to protect the institution. There are numerous examples of priests accused of abuse being transferred, usually from Europe or North America to Africa or Latin America. The Holy See's given no indication these practices have stopped.'






6.4 earthquake in Puerto Rico felt in DR
A strong earthquake out to sea shook northern Puerto Rico at 12:01 am on Monday, 13 January. It lasted for 10 seconds. Only minor damage was reported in some places. Media reports in Puerto Rico say it is the strongest earthquake recorded on the island since one that occurred on 11 October 1918. Some people reported items falling in their homes and dozens said they felt buildings sway in the capital San Juan, about 61 miles (98 kilometers) from the quake's epicenter. The US Geological Survey said the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 and struck just after midnight about 35 miles (57 kilometers) north of Hatillo. It said the quake occurred 17 miles (28 kilometers) deep. According to social media reports, the quake was also felt in many parts of the Dominican Republic.

The UASD Seismologic Institute reports the quake measured 6.8 on the Richter scale and was felt in several parts of the Dominican Republic, especially in the east.





Playoff teams yet to be decided in baseball
Over the weekend, the Tigres defeated the Aguilas to shake off other teams in the second position. The Gigantes defeated the Escogido to continue fighting for a playoff spot.

Today, Monday, 13 January is an off day in the round robin taking place between the Escogido, Licey, Aguilas and Gigantes to decide the playoff teams. The Escogido continues to lead, followed by the Licey, but the Aguilas Cibaenas and Gigantes del Cibao are but three games away.

Pending games are:

Tuesday, 14 January 2014:
- Santo Domingo, Quisqueya Ballpark: Leones del Escogido vs. Tigres del Licey at 7:30pm
- Santiago, Cibao Ballpark: Gigantes del Cibao vs. Aguilas Cibaenas at 7:30pm.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014:
- Santo Domingo, Quisqueya Ballpark: Aguilas del Cibao vs. Leones del Escogido at 7:30pm.
- San Francisco de Macoris, Julian Javier Ballpark: Tigres del Licey vs. Gigantes del Cibao at 7:30pm.

Thursday, 16 January 2014
- Santo Domingo, Quisqueya Ballpark: Gigantes del Cibao vs. Tigres del Licey at 7:30pm.
- Santiago, Cibao Ballpark: Leones del Escogido vs. Aguilas del Cibao at 7:30pm.

ESCOGIDO 9 - 5 .643 --
LICEY 7 - 7 .500 2.0
AGUILAS 6 - 8 .429 3.0
GIGANTES 6 - 8 .429 3.0

Hosts for Soberano Awards announced
Channel 5 TV entertainer Michael Miguel Holguin (Sabado Extraordinario and De Extremo shows on Channel 5) and Channel 11 TV news presenter Roberto Cavada have been chosen to host the Tuesday, 18 March Soberano 2014 show. The awards ceremony honors the best in show business in the Dominican Republic. It will be televised by Telemicro and produced by Rene Brea with the sponsorship of Presidente beer brewery. The show is the most extravagant national production, in the style of the Oscars in the United States.

Santiago Cycling Circuit
The annual Santiago-Montecristi cycling circuit is announced for Sunday, 19 January 2014. The departure is at 7:30am from BiciCentro Santiago. There are three categories: A n 35km/h average, B n 30km/h average, and recreational 20km/h average. To register, see www.clasicosantiagomontecristi.com

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

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