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Daily News - Wednesday, 15 January 2014

President pays tribute to General De La Cruz Martinez
President Danilo Medina visited the Blandino funeral parlor yesterday, 14 January to pay his respects to the family of the late General De La Cruz Martinez who was killed in a vehicle accident on Monday, 13 January. Medina expressed his sorrow at the tragedy and said the death was a great loss to the National Police.

The President listed the late senior policeman's personal qualities and said that as well as being a great and a very pleasant man, he had the ability to turn big problems into little ones and had been a personal friend.


Non-traditional exports up in 2013
Minister of Agriculture Luis Ramon Rodriguez said that non-traditional farm exports are up 23% this year, reporting US$1.2 billion in revenues for the country. He said that rice, onion, garlic and dairy producers have increased their yield and are now making major investments. He added that the Medina administration has spent RD$280 million on repairing 3,500 km of rural roads, benefiting people who live and work in rural areas, as reported in Listin Diario.


Plan to stop forest fires
Yesterday, Tuesday 14 January, the Ministry of the Environment announced a Plan of Prevention, Control and Mitigation of Forest Fires, which occur every year causing millions in losses for the country.

They called on the general public to help prevent these fires, which usually start in February and continue until April.

The plan was drawn up during a meeting between the Minister of the Environment, Bautista Rojas Gomez and deputy minister Manuel Serrano.

The measures being adopted include prevention patrols, the temporary hiring of 80 forestry firefighters and coordination of community associations and NGOs, all aimed at reducing response time to the fires.

They will also work in coordination with the National Pilots Association to report fires and issue GPS equipment to the provincial offices where most fires occur.

Firebreaks are being cleared in the highest-risk areas, especially in the Bahoruco Mountains.


SICA meeting begins
The Central American System of Integration (SICA) Meeting for the Commission of Specialized Secretaries and Institutions started yesterday, Tuesday 14 January at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo with 126 national and international delegates, with the task of organizing the national and regional agenda for the integration process for the first semester of 2014.

In his role as the current President of SICA, the DR's deputy Minister of Foreign Relations for Economic and Commercial Affairs Cesar Dargam welcomed the participants and outlined the priorities proposed by the Dominican Republic for January to June 2014,

The Secretary General of SICA, Hugo Martinez, listed the regional priorities and the need to strengthen communications between members as well as the strategic vision and the integration process.

Representatives of each of the regional institutions participating in the meeting made a brief speech about their main areas of progress and challenges and the agendas held by their respective Ministries or mandatory forums.

Five topics will be rolled out over five months: Climate Change and Disaster Prevention, Social Integration, Economic Integration, and Democratic Security and Institutional Strengthening.

The national institutions involved will include the Ministries of the Environment and Natural Resources, Public Works and Communications, the Presidency, Interior and Police, Economy, Planning and Development, Tourism, Sport and Youth.

The Central Bank, the Vice Presidency of the Republic, the National Institute of Drinking Water and Sewers, the National Meteorological Office, the National Council for Climate Change and Clean Development, the Dominican Telecommunications Institute, the National Police, the National Statistics Office and the Immigration Department will also be taking part.

SICA is the institutional Regional Integration forum for Central America and its members are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.


Cars failing inspection text
According to the director of resources and analysis at the Ministry of Public Works, Manuel Morban, around 25,000 vehicles that have been checked have not been issued the vehicle inspection sticker, due to their condition. He said that so far 460,000 vehicles have been checked although 800,000 in total should have a sticker, out of the 1.2 million vehicles in the country. Some do not need to undergo the inspection.

He said that most of the vehicles that failed the inspection were public passenger transport vehicles that did not deserve to be on the streets due to problems including broken windscreens, no headlights or chassis in bad condition.

He said he did not know what the authorities would do with the vehicles that have failed the inspection, and went on to say that unlike public transport vehicle drivers, owners of private vehicles were trying to correct the defects to able to pass the inspection. He said that as a way of speeding up the processes they had opened checking centers at Coliseo Carlos Teo Cruz, Los Tres Ojos in Santo Domingo East, Villa Mella and in the offices of the Metropolitan Bus Service (OMSA) in Santo Domingo East.

Morban said that they were checking around 8,000 vehicles across the country every day, and hoped that by the time the process had finished, at the end of the month, they will have checked between 90 and 95% of the vehicles that needed to be checked.

Despite the decision to remove cars that do not meet minimum standards, any observer can see that unionized public transport vehicles that do not comply with the regulations still continue to circulate in Santo Domingo main streets.

On the other hand, the impact of the cars that have been banned from circulation is being felt in traffic being less jammed in the cities.


Shops on strike in Valverde
Shop owners in the northwestern provinces of Valverde and Santiago Rodriguez began a strike yesterday morning, Tuesday 14 January, in protest at against the requirement to install tax printers linked to the Tax Department (DGII) computers and the increase in the sales tax, as part of a series of shutdowns across the country.

Several businesses in Santiago respected the call to strike and nearly all of the shops in Calle del Sol closed their doors.

According to the president of the Dominican Traders Association, the strike began at 6am and was due to end at 6pm. He said that the closures would continue on Thursday 16 January in Espaillat, and that businesses in neighboring provinces could also join the strike if they wanted to.

Traders on Calle del Sol said the country was not ready for the new system of tax printers that would cost more than RD$150,000 to install.

The strikes began last week in the provinces of Duarte (San Francisco and Macoris) and Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua) and the organizers say they will continue in other parts of the country throughout the month of January. The businesses did not participate in deals offered by the DGII and now want the government to cover the cost of the tax printers, many of which cost around RD$60,000.


Cardinal speaks out again
As he was leaving a mass to celebrate the second anniversary of the Higher Electoral Court (TSE) yesterday, Tuesday 14 January, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez rejected criticism of the country resulting from the recent nationality ruling by the Constitutional Court, describing it as "unjust and unacceptable".

He said that all these countries, beginning with the United States and all of the Caribbean, as well as the rest of the world had not done even a quarter of what the Dominican Republic had done for Haiti. He went on to say that their accusations against the country were absolutely unacceptable.


26 Haitians give birth at Santiago hospital over weekend
The director of the Cabral y Baez public hospital in Santiago says that 26 Haitian mothers gave birth to 14 baby girls and 12 baby boys over the weekend of 11-12 January, all reported to be in good health. Hospital spokesman Johny Lama said that many of these mothers had arrived from Haiti to give birth, while the rest lived in the DR with their husbands. He said that the expense of treating foreign patients is a great burden for the hospital, but that they do not deny medical care to anyone who arrives at the hospital. According to hospital statistics, in 2013 they provided services to 25,022 foreigners, of whom 24,507 are reported to be Haitian nationals.


Central Romana denies Hotel Santo Domingo sale
While confirming the hotel is closed, Central Romana, which owns the Hotel Santo Domingo, is denying recent press reports that the hotel has been sold to the Spanish owners of Guavaberry vacation project in Juan Dolio. As reported in Diario Libre, Jorge Sturla said that they are working on finalizing the budget for the property's renovation that would start in three months. Sturla said that while the company is open to selling the hotel, it is not for sale and has not been sold.

The planned renovation of the Hotel Santo Domingo follows a recent trend for improvements in hotel accommodation in Santo Domingo. The Hotel Jaragua Renaissance is also scheduled to close for major renovations this spring. The Melia, now Magna 360, will soon open as a newly remodeled Santo Domingo Sheraton. A JW Marriott is also scheduled to open on Av. Winston Churchill this spring.


Privatizing parking in the Dominican Republic
Today's El Dia newspaper, Wednesday 15 January publishes a report that puts in writing the frustration of everyone who needs to park on city streets. Reporter Leisy Torres writes about the individuals who have taken over certain sections of city streets as their own personal fiefdoms. The self-appointed parking attendants charge fees ranging from RD$50 to RD$500 for parking in the public areas. The unspoken threat is that the vehicles may be stolen or suffer vandalism - by the very same parking attendants.

The reporter captures the frustration and defenselessness of city residents given that neither the police nor the authorities have done anything to stop this scourge.

Meanwhile, the reporter says that ProConsumidor, the government consumer defense unit, is working on a resolution whereby businesses that offer parking services will be made liable for caring for the vehicles parking on their premises.


PLD vote count is slow
The vote count for the internal election for new members of the PLD Central Committee is delayed. The organizers had said results would have been known by yesterday afternoon, Tuesday 14 January, but Bulletin 3 issued last night indicates that only the votes from 801 polling stations had been tallied, and the ballot boxes from a further 2,698 still needed to be counted. Reportedly, a total of 2,414,763 votes were cast, of which 2,330,484 have been deemed valid.

The Central Committee members decide the members of the influential Political Committee of the party that today is divided among those who are partial to incumbent President Danilo Medina and those loyal to former President Leonel Fernandez. Fernandez can run for President in 2016, not so President Medina.



Security truck robbed
Masked men with firearms attacked a Caribe Express security truck on the nation's main highway yesterday, Tuesday 14 January and made off with more than RD$30 million.

The incident occurred at around 11am at kilometer 35 on the Duarte Highway near Villa Altagracia.

National Police chief Major General Manual Castro Castillo immediately ordered specialist troops to the area to look for the armed robbers and set up a committee with two Generals and other officers to investigate the case.


Boy Scouts 100 years old in DR
The Dominican Boy Scout association is celebrating its hundredth anniversary since the first group was set up in San Pedro de Macoris. In 1992, they allowed the first girls' patrol in a camp in Santiago de los Caballeros.

The president of the National Council for the Dominican Scout Association, Fabiola Reyes, said that of the almost 3,000 members of the movement, around 50% are now girls.


Warrant issued for murderer on the run
A judge in the National District has issued an arrest warrant and ban on leaving the country for a former Police Captain, Lino Monte de Oca Jimenez, who was sentenced to eight years in prison for the murder of drug dealer Rolando Florian Feliz.

Oca Jimenez is currently on the run and the warrant was issued at the request of the dead man's family, via their lawyer Viterbo Perez.

On 25 April 2013 Monte de Oca Jimenez was convicted of killing Florian Feliz in Najayo jail on March 17, 2009, where the drug dealer from Barahona was serving a 15 to 20-year sentence for drug trafficking.


US teenagers on the run sought in the DR
A teenage boy and girl boarding at Stonyhurst College in England are missing and are understood to have flown to the Dominican Republic.

Edward Bunyan and Indira Gainiyeva, both 16, left their private boarding school in a taxi on Monday 13 January and according to the police they were last seen at Manchester Airport where they boarded a flight to the Dominican Republic

Police said their families have been informed and are being kept updated.

Officers are "carrying out a number of inquiries to try and trace them to ensure that they are safe and well".

Stonyhurst College, near Clitheroe in Lancashire, is an independent fee-paying boarding and day Roman Catholic school, which follows the Jesuit traditions. It was founded in 1593. Children aged 13 to 18 are taught there.



Contemporary dance at Bellas Artes
The Central American and Caribbean Dance Company (Codaco) will be presenting a contemporary dance show at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo next Wednesday, 22 January and Thursday, 23 January. The show is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, the Fundacion Edanco and the Instituto Goethe and admission will be RD$100 per person. Tickets are being sold at Bellas Artes. Codaca dancers will join dancers from the National Dominican Ballet, the National Folklore Ballet and the Contemporary Dance Program of the Dominican Republic. Codaca is on a tour of the Central America and Caribbean region.

Futsal Grand Prix in Santo Domingo
The president of the National District Football Association has announced that the First Futsal Grand Prix is scheduled to take place in Santo Domingo on 1 and 2 February. Futsal is played on a smaller pitch than a normal soccer field and between two teams of five players. National District Football Association president Adalberto Rodriguez said that futsal is a first phase to producing good soccer players. Futsal is catching on worldwide because the courts can provide playable space at a smaller cost in a smaller area.

Teams from Guatemala, Cuba, Haiti and the DR will be playing in the first event.

The Grand Prix is sponsored by the Ministry of Sports and will take place at the futsal court at the Volleyball Pavilion of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center.



Escogido makes it to playoffs
The Tigres del Licey, Gigantes del Cibao and Aguilas Cibaenas continue to battle to become the team that will now face the Leones del Escogido, which defeated the Tigres del Licey yesterday, Tuesday 14 January to ensure a playoff slot. Yesterday, the Gigantes defeated the Aguilas to hang on to their hopes of making the playoffs. There will be games on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The round robin ends with the Friday, 17 December games.

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.

Friday, 17 January 2014
- Santo Domingo, Quisqueya Ballpark: Tigres del Licey vs. Leones del Escogido at 7:30pm
- San Francisco de Macoris, Julian Javier Ballpark: Aguilas Cibaenas vs. Gigantes del Cibao at 7:30pm.

ESCOGIDO 10 - 5 .667 --
GIGANTES 7 - 8 .467 3.0
LICEY 7 - 8 .467 3.0
AGUILAS 6 - 9 .400 4.0

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

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