President attends Altagracia Day celebration|
President Danilo Medina and First Lady Candida Montilla de Medina attended the Altagracia Day mass yesterday, Tuesday, 21 January at the Basilica Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia in Higuey.
Thousands of pilgrims also went to Higuey, with the roads leading to the east of the country busy for several days prior to Altagracia Day. The National Police increased security and Civil Defense deployed 14,000 members in a series of measures aimed at preventing road accidents.
Mass was celebrated at several times throughout the day and a procession through the streets of Higuey at 4pm.
Diario Libre reported that a full house mostly of Haitian immigrants attended mass in Creole at the Basilica on Sunday. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians live in the Punta Cana area after migrating there to work in the construction of resort hotels.
RD$15m for San Jose de las Matas farmers|
On Sunday 19 January, President Danilo Medina was in San Jose de las Matas where he delivered a check for RD$15 million to support vegetable farmers in the area. RD$5 million is for working capital and RD$10 million will be used for the completion of a modern farm produce packaging plant. The farmers who received the funding are members of the Mountain Greenhouse Farmers Association (APACOS), in the community of Botoncillos, in San Jose de las Matas.
Whilst in San Jose de las Matas, President Danilo Medina said that 70,000 jobs had been created in the formal sector of which 40,000 were due to the work his government had done supporting the productive sector of the country.
He also announced that work on the controversial Cibao-South road that will cut through national parks located in the Cordillera Central would begin soon. He expects the road to be an important contribution to the development of the area. Former Minister of Environment Frank Moya Pons is one of many who oppose the road saying it will be disastrous for the environment and very costly for the economy. Moya Pons advocates repairing roads connecting the north and the south instead of building a completely new route.
Haiti keeps ban on Dominican imports|
Minister of Agriculture Luis Ramon Rodriguez has announced that Haiti has not lifted the ban on imports of poultry and eggs. He said that a phyto-sanitary agreement still needed to be signed. Last week he reported on the Ministry of Agriculture web site that the ban had been lifted. The president of the Northern Region Poultry Producers Association, Jose Lopez told Listin Diario they are optimistic that trade will be resumed in two or three months. Minister Rodriguez said that the poultry farms are being certified to export to Haiti.
200 motorcycles for the AMET|
Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo headed a ceremony in which 200 new motorcycles were delivered by the Presidency to the Metropolitan Transport Authority for patrolling. The government has invested in new equipment for the police and AMET for improved city safety. The motorcycles were received by AMET director General Juan Brown Perez.
Revista time extended|
The Ministry of Public Works has again extended the deadline for obtaining the transit inspection sticker known locally as the "revista." The new date now is 28 February 2014. Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo called on vehicle owners to get the RD$45 sticker.
President Danilo Medina will not run for reelection|
Presidential spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena has confirmed that President Danilo Medina will not opt to run for re-election now that he has an approval rating of 89% in recent polls.
Rodriguez was responding to press questions about the actions of Alberto Pelaez Andina, who has been collecting signatures looking for a way to enable President Medina to stand for office again in the 2016 elections. Rodriguez said that the President was dedicating his time to governing the country. The Dominican Constitution says in article 124: "The President of the Republic will be elected every four years by direct vote and cannot be elected for a consecutive second term."
Where is the Minister of Foreign Relations?|
A survey of readers of online newspaper El Nacional Digital on the lack of news concerning the health of Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso reveals that 95% think that the government should make some sort of announcement about him. It is known that Morales Troncoso was treated in a US hospital for leukemia in September 2013 and since then has not been available for journalists either for comments on his health or his government work.
The only news has been the mention that he is up for reelection in his party's internal election (National Ordinary Assembly) on 26 January as the president of the PRSC.
He is on a ticket with Jose Hazim Frappier, Victor (Ito) Bisono and Miguel Bogaert. Bisono is proposed for general secretary, Miguel Bogaert for organizational secretary. Their main rival is the group led by Amable Aristy Castro.
Morales Troncoso has not appeared in public for the last three-and-a-half months, reports El Nacional.
Falcondo viability tied to Loma Miranda|
Falcondo has reiterated that their continued operations in the country were conditional upon receiving authorization for mining in Loma Miranda, a rural area between La Vega and Bonao. Company president David Soares told Diario Libre that the company needed to extend the duration of their mining operations to make viable the installation of a new power generation facilities that would be more cost-efficient for the mining operation.
While the proposed mining appears to have the support of the Ministry of Environment and the Department of Mines, the Academy of Science, groups led by the Bishop of La Vega, and environmentalists are opposed to the plan on the grounds that the area is an important water source. Opponents argue it would be a repeat of the environmental pollution caused by the company in the Bonao hills where it has worked for several decades. The Medina government requested the opinion of UN experts that said that the impact study presented by the company was incomplete. The UN also urged the country to decide whether mining was a sustainable development activity for the country.
Lawyers association to get new charter|
The president of the Dominican Republic Lawyers Association (CARD) says that the association would appoint a commission of five specialists to draw up a new and modern law for the association. Diego Jose Garcia said that they accept and respect the ruling of the Constitutional Court that declared them to be in violation of the Constitution Law 91-83 that created the organization. The law said that membership of the organization is obligatory in order to practice law in the country. However, the Constitutional Court said that the approval of the bill in 1983 was done in an irregular manner and thus ordered that Congress pass a new law, but also ordered that the law continue in effect provisionally until the new bill is passed. Garcia said that new bill could be passed in no more than six months after regional consultations.
Hato Mayor is now a major amber-producing region|
The Cordillera Oriental is now known as a major amber-producing region. As reported in Diario Libre, the amber mining is now the leading economic activity in the municipality of El Valle in the province of Hato Mayor. Diario Libre reports there is little regulation of the mining operations for yellow, red or blue amber - the rarest variety. Reportedly, blue amber is sought by Chinese purchasers who are willing to pay RD$40,000 per ounce. If it is fossilized, the price can increase to RD$75,000. Reportedly, Jose Caraballo found a stone weighing 1.25 lb and received RD$1.6 million for it. As reported, farmers in the region are now dedicated to mining operations. Former workers in African palm plantations are now mining amber. Diario Libre reports that a jewelry-making school in the Aquilino Medina municipality had to close because it could not compete with the big money of the Chinese amber buyers.
Photoshopped picture of the bishops of the DR|
Last week, the media published a photo of the members of the Conference of the Episcopate posing together to accompany their traditional La Altagracia Day open letter to the Dominican people.
Shortly after, Diario Libre published a story revealing that the photo had been manipulated. The original photo had the former Papal Nuncio Josef Wesolowski, who is accused of pederasty, in it, next to Cardinal Nicolas Lopez Rodriguez. Fausto Mejia Vallejo, bishop for San Francisco de Macoris and Monsignor Francisco Jose Arnaiz, emeritus bishop for Santo Domingo, who is unwell, were absent. In the published version of the photo, Wesolowski's headshot was replaced with an image of Monsignor Arnaiz.
The editor of El Dia speculates that the photo could have been altered in order to serve to present a monolithic position of the Roman Catholic Church of the La Altagracia Day letter. But he is critical of the Church for sending the photo and putting the media in the position of printing lies. He said this should not happen again or the general public would lose trust in the media or the Church, as well as in the values that they proclaim.
The photo was sent to the media by Carmelo Santana Jerez, secretary general of the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate.
Police agents charged in RD$38 million robbery|
The National Police have announced that three members of the force have been arrested and arraigned on suspicion of involvement in an armed robbery from a Caribe Express security truck carrying RD$38 million on the Duarte highway last Monday, 13 January.
The accused, corporals Angel Gregorio Garcia Perez and Johan Manuel Terrero Ortega, and Private Luis Alfredo Pichardo Ortiz were in possession of RD$1,088,000, which, according to their statements to Criminal Investigations Department officers, was their share of the robbery.
Police spokesman Colonel Jacobo Mateo Moquete says that the robbery was planned and orchestrated by an organized crime gang, reportedly headed by a man called Esterlin Rikelvin Viloria Calas, alias "El Grande", who has been behind other robberies of security trucks in the past, including an incident in Guerra on 21 July 2013 when a group of armed men in military uniform held up a Vimenca truck.
Mateo Moquete said that Viloria Calas was on the run as well as another ten suspects, all with criminal records. Five of them, named as Choco, Magallanes, Familia, Eliezer and Rodriguez are already on the run for armed robbery and murder. It has now been established that Viloria Cabas flew out of the country bound for Spain.
As well as the police corporals and the private, a woman, Perla Franchesca Sanchez Florian was also arrested, accused of buying the cell phones the group used for communication before, during and after the robbery.
A National District court handed down one-year remand sentences in jail for the policeman and the Head of the National Police has issued dishonorable discharges.
Runaway teenagers were vacationing in Punta Cana|
The teenage runaways who went missing from their boarding school in England last week have been found safe and well at a five-star resort in the Dominican Republic, police confirmed today.
The Police ascertained that Edward Bunyan, 16, and Indira Gainiyeva, 17, were staying at the Occidental Grand resort in Punta Cana before renting an apartment in the Los Corales area. The Police had also searched the Puerto Plata area, initially reported as their destination. According to British press reports, Edward was reunited with his mother Susannah, who traveled to Punta Cana on Sunday, 19 January. The youths then returned to staying at a Punta Cana resort. The teenagers were traced through the use of their credit cards.
Maunaloa reopens with calendar of events|
The Maunaloa nightclub in Santo Domingo's Centro de los Heroes has announced a performance by merengue star Eddy Herrera on 8 February. On 14 February, Anthony Santos is booked to appear with his show 'A lo intimo'.
On 28 February, Anthony Rios takes the stage with a show of ballads and boleros.
The Maunaloa is a casino and nightclub.
Rally Frontera n Dominican Off-road|
The Quisqueya Auto Club, with the backing of the Armed Forces Ministry, is organizing the 15th Rally Frontera 4x4 Aventura 2014 from Wednesday 26 February to Sunday, 2 March. The event is also being sponsored by EcoPetroleo Dominicana. Promoter Jose Liz and technical director, Rear Admiral Lazaro Garcia Nieto, say that this is an international event with teams from Germany, Italy, Puerto Rico and the DR expected to attend. The event will consist of two days of rally and two of tourism and the route covers 1,600 km in two phases. The trip covers Jarabacoa, Manabao, La Culata, Constanza, Las Canitas, Padre las Casas, San Juan de la Maguana, Vallejuelo, Neiba, Duverge and Cabo Rojo.
City rivals in winter baseball playoffs|
The Leones del Escogido, which won the regular season and the round robin to decide the playoffs, has gotten off to a slow start in the playoffs. The other city team, the Tigres del Licey, has won the first two games. Cuban pitcher Yunesky Maya controlled the Escogido team in the first five innings of yesterday evening's game, Tuesday 21 January, which ended 5-1.
The Licey had barely made it to the playoffs. They did so in a final game on Saturday, 18 January in Santo Domingo when they defeated the Gigantes 9-8 in the ninth inning. The Escogido ended the season with 11 games won to 7 losses, the Licey with 10 wins and 9 losses.
Santo Domingo's two city teams, the Escogido and the Licey, have not battled for the Dominican Professional Winter Baseball Championship since 1999. News reports are that the fans are responding and filling up the Quisqueya ballpark.
Licey has won five of the seven times the teams battled each other, the last time being in 1999 when they won the series 5 games to 4. Escogido vice president Jose Miguel Bonetti had predicted that the series would be very closely contested from start to finish, as reported in El Dia. For the playoff games, the teams are strengthened with key players from the Gigantes, Aguilas, Estrellas and Toros, and some imports from other Caribbean league teams.
For the finals, the Escogido have recruited Fernando Rodney of platano power-fame and one of the key players for the DR winning the MLB Baseball Classic last year. They also recruited Jesus (Motorita) Feliciano and Jordan Lennerton who played with the Puerto Rico league.
The nine games, which began on Monday, 20 January, are set to end on Wednesday, 29 January. All the games are being played at the Quisqueya Ballpark. Sell out crowds are expected, especially for the final week. All games are at 7:35pm with the exception of Tuesday, 21 January (a national holiday) and Sunday, 26 January (a national holiday) when the games start at 5:05pm.
ROUND ROBIN STANDINGS
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