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Daily News - Thursday, 16 January 2014

Panama and DR free zones to work together
Free zone associations in Panama and the Dominican Republic have signed a strategic agreement to work together to increase production of exportable goods and services, competitiveness, train staff, strengthen markets and create quality jobs in both countries. Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo says that the expansion of the Panama Canal opens up new opportunities for business in both countries. He says the parties committed to promoting networking, business and trade and value-added chains between Dominican and Panama free zones. The agreement was signed by the Panama Free Zones Association (Zaofrap), the Dominican Free Zones Association (Adozona) and the Dominican government's National Council of Export Free Zones (CNZFE).


Santo Domingo to host SICA Summit in June
Santo Domingo will host eight Central American heads of state and over 20 observer countries for the Central American Integration System (SICA) Summit on 27 June. The DR holds the presidency of the regional group for the January-June 2014 period. SICA secretary general Hugo Martinez made the announcement during a press conference following his meeting with President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Wednesday 15 January.

The Central American Integration System (SICA) Meeting for the Commission of Specialized Secretaries and Institutions is being held at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo this week 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. The agenda includes discussions on Climate Change and Disaster Prevention, Social Integration, Economic Integration, and Democratic Security and Institutional Strengthening in eight Central American countries and the Dominican Republic. The member countries are Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic.



AMET director says "parking agents" are illegal
Today's El Dia, Thursday 16 January quotes the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) director as saying that the self-styled parking attendants who have forcefully privatized city streets by charging for the right to park there are illegal. General Juan Geronimo Brown Perez said that Law 241 says the practice is against the law. "The issue of the parking agents is that they are violating Law 241. That law specifies that the practice is contrary to the law. It is not that we do not want them to work. It is that we cannot allow chaos in the country." He said that AMET agents have arrested around 200 people for the practice. The parking agents intimidate drivers seeking to park on city streets near areas where events or activities are taking place to pay or risk damage to their vehicles. The practice has escalated to the point where these informal parking attendants are even issuing tickets and charging from RD$50 to RD$500 for the service.


Teaching candidates fail tests
Around 59% of the 16,000 candidates who took the competitive placement tests for the vacant teaching posts in the nation's public schools have failed the tests. A total of 9,581 out of 16,239 failed the examinations and were disqualified, according to the Deputy Minister for Pedagogy and Technical Services, Luis Enrique Matos, as reported in Listin Diario.

The ministry is now in the second phase of assessing some six thousand candidates for primary school and high school posts, including language teachers, PE teachers, psychologists, guidance counselors, principals and deputy principals for jobs in state schools. According to Matos, the candidates who passed are now going into the second phase. Matos said that they hope to end up with three thousand of the best candidates.

Hundreds of millions to audit Civil Registry
Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Roberto Rosario announced yesterday, Wednesday 15 January that RD$213 million would be spent on auditing the Civil Registry (Vital Statistics) books from 21 June 1929 to date. The aim is to establish the status of the 53,000 foreigners registered and identify them. Rosario said that the audit would take a year to complete in accordance with Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 on nationality. The review of the Civil Registry will also create a list of foreigners living in the country irregularly because they do not meet the conditions set out in the Constitution. Rosario said that the first stage of the audit, which covered the 1929 n 2007 period, produced an inventory of the people registered in the birth records whose parents were not Dominican and the identity documents used to justify the birth registration. According to Rosario, the end purpose of the audit is to provide a basis for the legalization of the persons affected.


Clergy call to rescue family values
On the occasion of the celebration of the Day of La Altagracia, that honors Our Lady of Altagracia, the religious protector of the Dominican people, the Roman Catholic Bishops in the Dominican Republic issued a statement calling for parents to educate in love and prepare their children for marriage. The bishops say that sexual education is a challenge for the country.

"We reaffirm, concretely, that the movements dedicated to responsible parenthood have the obligation to promote and offer services to regulate births with natural methods in each diocesis, courses, talks, consultations and guidance to young people of childbearing age," said the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate in a written statement. The bishops say that Catholics face challenges brought about by the globalization of mass media that affect faith and values. They also addressed the rise in teenage pregnancies. "The frequency of divorces and separation of couples is always traumatic for the children. This is another challenge we now face," said the priests. The bishops backed continuing the effort to strengthen school education that contributes to the welfare and the mission of family, by cultivating values that need to start in the home. The bishops refer to a need for more work opportunities given the rising cost of living.

The Church is critical of abortion, same-sex weddings, and other controversial issues.


PLD Political Committee to meet
Amidst complaints from leading party members in response to the delays in announcing the final vote count from the internal party election, the PLD Political Committee is meeting this morning, Thursday 16 January. General secretary Reinaldo Pared Perez made it clear that the meeting was not to deal with the complaints about the election, which took place on Sunday, 12 January. "The PLD Political Committee has not been convened to deal with "irregularities", if any, in the process," said Pared Perez.

The leading PLD member said that the meeting had been called at the request of the Organizing Commission of the VIII Ordinary Congress Commander Norge Botello, in order to hear the report on the course of the voting process. The request for the Political Committee meeting was presented to party president Leonel Fernandez and to general secretary Pared Perez, in a letter signed by Cesar Pina Toribio in his role as the congress organizing commission coordinator.

The final vote count of the election held on Sunday was originally scheduled for completion by late Wednesday, 15 January.

Miguel Vargas confirms BanReservas loan
Two days after the opposition PRD faction led by former President Hipolito Mejia accused party president Miguel Vargas of improperly obtaining a US$15 million loan from the government-owned bank, BanReservas, Vargas responded to what he described as "malicious and divisive statements." Reading a document in the company of his lawyers yesterday, Wednesday 15 January, the PRD president admitted taking the loan for his company, General de Galerias Comerciales Mundo Mall S.A. A copy of the letter requesting the loan on 25 July 2011 indicated that the amount required was US$20 million, not US$15 million.

Following this, and using the word "lie" repeatedly, Vargas said that he had the qualifications to receive a loan for this amount, since his commercial registry, of 31 March 2006, showed his capital to be RD$628 million. Regarding what was "approved in a record time of 11 days," he said that the process lasted seven months from the request until the disbursal, but he did not say when that was. According to photocopies that were shown, the loan contract was signed on 19 December 2011; and the one for a line of credit with a mortgage guarantee on four parcels of land and improvements, located on Maximo Gomez Avenue and appraised for "a sum of over US$44 million" on 31 January 2012.




US to donate millions for security
The United States and the Dominican Republic have signed a cooperation agreement for US$184 million over a five-year period to be used to improve public safety, which they described as essential for economic growth in the country. This agreement is part of the new strategy of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and is in line with the Dominican government's National Development Strategy (END in Spanish). The funds will be disbursed over the next five years, subject to availability, and will be used for crime prevention, climate change and HIV/AIDS prevention. The agreement was signed yesterday, Wednesday 15 January by the Minister of Economy, Planning and Development Temistocles Montas and US Ambassador James Brewster.


Femicides at eight-year low
The Attorney General of the Republic Francisco Dominguez Brito has disclosed that during 2013 the rate of femicides in the country was the lowest in the last eight years, with a total of 74 deaths in this category. A preliminary report indicates that there were 98 femicides in 2005, while there was a total of 99 women victims in 2006. The report shows that during 2007, 89 women were killed, while in 2008 there were 131 deaths of women at the hands of their partners or former partners. This number dropped to 92 in 2009, but in 2010 it increased to 97. Meanwhile, in 2011 the number increased to 128 victims. In 2012, the number of women killed was 103, a number that went down in 2013 to 73 femicides.

"We will continue implementing all of the necessary actions in order to save the lives of our women. It is a day-to-day struggle, which we take on with all of the faith in our power to reach the goal of "Each Day Less, Until We Reach Zero," the Attorney General told reporters. He said that the statistics for the 2012-2013 period represented a 28.16% variation.


Stolen RD$38 million was transported with minimal security
Only two people were guarding the minibus that was transporting RD$38 million to pay remittances, reports El Dia today, Thursday 16 January. The news that RD$38 million had been stolen from a Caribe Express vehicle was released yesterday, Wednesday 15 January. As reported, the authorities suspect it was an inside job. Four company employees have been arrested, including the two occupants of the minibus, one of whom is a police sergeant. The driver and two guards were intercepted by five individuals dressed in military garb.

Father jailed for giving wine to 7-year old
A Santiago court has sent a man to three months preventive custody after allegedly allowing his seven-year old daughter to drink home-brewed wine. The girl is reported to be in a serious condition at the Arturo Grullon children's hospital in Santiago. Judge Martha Martinez said that Leonardo Torres had given his daughter wine, arguing that "a drink doesn't do any harm." The child was admitted to the hospital on Sunday, 12 January, suffering from a brain edema caused by the alcohol poisoning. On Tuesday, 14 January Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito ordered prosecutors to investigate and prosecute guardians or parents of children who have been hospitalized for drinking alcoholic beverages.



Passport stolen? Might be here
The Chief of the National Police reported yesterday, Wednesday 15 January that an Immigration officer and a former member of the Dominican Navy were among the six people arrested as members of a "powerful gang of human traffickers and white slave traders" that operates in the country. Major General Manuel Castro Castillo told reporters that the four men and two women who were arrested had obtained passports through robberies and thefts from United States and European citizens. The stolen passports were then offered to others so that the identities could be switched. Three men are still at large and being sought by the Police.

Their modus operandi was to obtain valid passports stolen in the Dominican Republic with visas to the United States or the Schengen countries, or passports from the United States or several other countries such as Spain, Belgium, Germany or Panama. The organization charged between US$10,000 and US$15,000 to switch identities.

See more at: www.elcaribe.com.do/2014/01/15/oficial-migracion-oficial-marina-formaban-parte-red-trata-personas


Danny Rivera at Bellas Artes
Puerto Rican romantic ballad singer Danny Rivera is booked for a Tuesday, 11 February concert at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo. The concert is a prelude to Valentine's Day, on Friday, 14 February.

Comedy at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater
Jose Manuel Rodriguez stars in the "A puro teatro" comedy to be staged at the Sala Ravelo at the National Theater in Santo Domingo on weekends from 30 January to 9 February. There will be shows at 8:30pm on Fridays, Saturdays and at 6:30pm on Sundays.

He explains that the script is about how people pretend to be or act in key life situations.

Presidente Festival set for 3-5 October
The Latin music mega-show, the Presidente Festival is booked for the Felix Sanchez Olympic Stadium from 3, 4 and 5 October. Popular Dominican and Latin music stars will perform before more than 50,000 fans who are expected to congregate at the Santo Domingo stadium every day. The festival was begun in 1997.

Baseball Roundup
Cuban Felix Perez hit a homerun with two on base to give the Tigres del Licey a 6-4 victory over the stubborn Gigantes del Cibao and take back second place in the standings yesterday, Wednesday 15 January. The Tigres took advantage of errors by the Gigantes to score five runs in the fifth inning. The victory gave the Tigres a record of 8-8 and a one-game advantage over their closest rival, the Gigantes.

Meanwhile, in the venerable Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, the Leones del Escogido defeated the Aguilas Cibaenas by a score of 2-0, where once again the pitching by the Leones held the bats of the Aguilas at bay. The loss puts the Aguilas on the cusp of disqualification for the final section of the tournament that will be disputed between the top two teams in this round-robin section. The Aguilas only managed to get two men to second base as the Leones' pitchers kept them in check all night long. Eury Perez was the hero for the Leones with two RBIs.

ESCOGIDO 11 - 5 .688 --
LICEY 8 - 8 .500 3.0
GIGANTES 7 - 9 .438 4.0
AGUILAS 6 - 10 .375 5.0

Thursday 16 January action in the Round Robin
- Estadio Quisqueya, Santo Domingo at 7:30pm: Gigantes del Cibao (J. De Paula) vs. Tigres del Licey (R. Ortiz)
- Estadio Cibao, Santiago de los Caballeros at 7:30pm: Leones del Escogido (E. Villanueva) vs. Aguilas Cibaenas (A. Castro)

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

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