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Daily News - Thursday, 13 February 2014

Medina inaugurates overpass amid re-election calls
President Danilo Medina inaugurated the overpass on the Ecological Avenue over Charles de Gaulle Avenue in East Santo Domingo yesterday, Wednesday 12 February amid calls for re-election. President Medina registered an 82% approval rating in the Gallup-Hoy January 2014 poll, but the 2010 Constitution bans him from running for a consecutive term.

The overpass was built by the Odebrecht/Estrella Consortium and is designed to ease traffic flow, save fuel and activate trade in the area. According to El Caribe and other newspapers, during the event, the mayor of Santo Domingo East, Juan de los Santos, expressed his thanks for the new overpass and for the President's announcement of the extension of the Santo Domingo Metro into Santo Domingo East.

Rural electricity feeds off water power in Jarabacoa
It was not a mega-project that was inaugurated, there were no billions in funding, but yesterday, Wednesday 12 February the community of La Pelada, tucked away in the mountains to the south of Jarabacoa, was able to turn on some lights thanks to a micro-generation hydro-electric project. The tiny generator powered by the waters of the Las Guazaras Creek will save the country around a quarter of a million dollars in annual fuel costs, and provide electricity to the small community.

The project brought together a range of entities including the Ministry of the Environment, the local coffee producers cooperative and the CDEEE Rural Electrification Unit. Costing just RD$10 million pesos, the project will pay for itself in fuel savings in less than a year and greatly improve the community's quality of life.

In contrast, a group of protesters in Puerto Plata are camped out in one of the city's parks in protest at the proposed installation of yet another massive generation plant in the bay. The protesters are saying that another generator would further damage the local environment, and scare away tourists and investments, as reported in Listin Diario. Puerto Plata has suffered since the closure of several hotels and tourism ventures after the government authorized the operation of the Smith Enron power plant in the city bay area that caused major pollution.

Fifty-six public hospitals get makeovers
Minister of Public Health Freddy Hidalgo has delivered the first payment towards the remodeling of 56 of the nation's public health centers. The overhaul will allow the government to begin to invoice these services to the Social Security network. Hidalgo said that 20% of patients who go to the hospitals have private health insurance, but these centers cannot collect for their services from the Health Service Administrators (ARS) because they are not equipped to do so. The three billion-peso-program will convert the large ward areas into smaller one and two-bed units. The 65 hospitals scheduled for remodeling include the Dario Contreras Hospital in Santo Domingo East, the Luis Eduardo Aybar in the National District and the Jose Maria Cabral y Baez Regional University Hospital in Santiago.

River buses will serve Metro
A river transport system will provide service between the banks of the Ozama River as the government constructs the essential bridge that will carry the Metro II section of the Santo Domingo Metro towards Santo Domingo East.

The second subway line was initially scheduled to begin in Los Alcarrizos and end in San Luis, but budget limitations caused it to start at the Luperon avenue cloverleaf intersection on the Duarte Highway and stop before the Ozama River. Now it is planned to cross the river and reach the Megacentro shopping mall on the Mella Highway. Parts of the Gualey and La Barquita neighborhoods are being prepared to receive the flow of passengers. According to El Dia, the director of the Transport Reorganization Office (OPRET), Diandino Pena and his deputy, Leonel Carrasco, visited the area yesterday, Wednesday 12 February and encouraged the workers to do their jobs with the greatest possible order. The government is also helping 800 local families that will need to be relocated.

Carrasco said that the new phase of the metro would add another four kilometers to the route with stations at Los Tres Brazos, Fernando de Navarrete, Trina de Moya and the Megacentro.

More metro lines yes, but crack the transport monopolies
Today's Diario Libre editorial, Thursday 13 February, backs the extension of the Santo Domingo Metro but says that nothing will be achieved by investing in the metro if the government does not end the public transport monopolies that affect commuters.

"It is not a solution to continue spending huge sums on the metro lines when the system is clogged up by the cargo and passenger transporter companies that monopolize transport with their threats.

"No government has been capable of imposing the rule of law, free competition, rights of the consumer, etc... that they are respected in the transport sector. Then, they affect productivity in the country with their bad passenger service, distorting the market when they affect the tourism sector, obstacles to industrial sector competitiveness with their impositions in cargo service.

"They even affect higher education because the deficit in operation makes everyone think of one car for each student.

"More metro lines, yet. But if the rest is not solved, we have done nothing."


Cancer hospital inaugurated but not opened
The government has still not set a date for opening the Rosa Emilia de Tavares National Cancer Institute to the public. It was inaugurated a year and a half ago at a stated cost of RD$5 billion. Yesterday, Wednesday 12 February, the authorities reported that the electricity problems had been fixed.

During a press conference held yesterday afternoon at the hospital and headed by the Minister of Public Health Freddy Hidalgo and the director of the Supervising Office of State Works, engineer Miguel Pimentel, the director of the Institute, Francisco Monegro Santos announced that personnel would be sent to Vienna, Austria for several months of training in order to learn how to use several of the machines described as latest generation, including a brachytherapy machine and a cyclotron. (Editor's note: brachytherapy is the use of high dose radiation seeds place in or near cancers).

Government to re-enter generation business
President Danilo Medina has sent a bill to the Senate, designed to permit the Dominican government to re-enter the business of generating electricity on a "temporary" basis. The legislation is aimed at providing low-cost and environmentally friendly electricity generation while changing the local fuel generation matrix. One article of the proposal states that the goal is to provide universal, continuous, efficient and quality electricity to the entire population. The proposal says that this project is exempted from the restrictions imposed by the Law 360-07 on government purchases of goods and services.

Western Michigan University advises Sports Ministry on collegiate sports
Western Michigan University is assisting the Ministry of Sports of the Dominican Republic to improve college athletics in the Dominican Republic. The initiative was spearheaded by the longstanding friendship between Deputy Minister of Sports Marcos Diaz and the university's Director of International Admissions and Services Juan Tavares. Marcos Diaz is best known as an open water swimmer, including his feats of crossing the English Channel, and is the only man to ever swim both the Strait of Gibraltar and the Magellan Strait. He has also swum around Manhattan twice.

The university is also helping to develop principals, arts and sports.


Sustainable Santiago
The Santiago Strategic Development Council has approved the Yearly Operational Plan for 2014 in which the agreements reached with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are some of the more outstanding points. These agreements will permit the city to be included among the 22 cities in Latin America where the Emerging Sustainable Cities Initiative (ESCI) can be applied. The Council also announced that the World Bank and the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development are working on the recompilation of a formal study of the city. The research will permit the city to ease the creation of new businesses. The Plan has three main areas: the improvement of public safety, climate change adaptation and cooperation in the area of HIV-AIDS.

The IDB-funded ESCI applies a multidisciplinary approach to dealing with the challenges faced by emerging cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. The program seeks to integrate environmental and fiscal sustainability, urban development and good governance, and also to promote the support of actions that will provide basic services and guarantee the protection of the environment, as well as adequate standards of living and employment levels. The current goal is for the Initiative to include 26 cities in Latin America and the Caribbean by 2015. In Brazil, the goal is to implement ESCI in four cities by 2014.

Hi-tech crimes should get stiff sentences
Over the last six years, 2,234 people, both nationals and foreigners, have been charged with crimes of cloning cards and stealing information and identities through phishing. Phishing, used to steal money or information of accounts through e-mail or fake Internet pages, made up 72.7% of the cases. The head of the Specialized Prosecutor against High Technology Crimes, John Henry Reynoso Ramirez, stated that before his agency was created February 2013, very few people were convicted for the two types of crimes listed above, since 97% of the processes reached some sort of conciliation with the banks or the victims and there was no prosecution focused on cybercrimes. Some 1,850 people charged for hi-tech crimes and processed by the Specialized Prosecutor over the last eight months are currently in preventive custody and awaiting their judicial processes that could carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison. Another 28 were able to obtain a bail bond.

A total of 67 foreigners belonging to networks that worked in cybercrimes between 2007 and 2013, whose activities affected the local banks were charged with cloning credit cards and 60 were charged with phishing. "Generally speaking, many Haitians, Canadians, Venezuelans and Colombians are arrested here," said Reynoso.

There are also criminals of other nationalities. On 27 October 2013, two Bulgarians were arrested in Bavaro accused of placing altered keypads and other devices in ATMs in tourist areas in order to get customers' credit or debit cards PINs with the aim of cloning them and making withdrawals. All told, the scam totaled US$200,000.

Sanctions threat heats up PRD internal strife
Two days before the end of the deadline for the registrations for the PRD's 30th ordinary convention, members of the divided opposition party are once again breathing the air of sanctions and expulsions that sparked the internal war early last year. PRD president Miguel Vargas and the president of the party's control commission have classified the assembly of an opposition front by the PRD sectors that have been at each other's throats over the leadership of the party as insubordination in violation of the statutes. PRD disciplinary council president Rafael Vasquez said that this party organ would be active as always to process what the national prosecutor and the control commission submit. These are the party agencies that should proceed to point out any violation of the statutes.

Former President Hipolito Mejia's spokesman, Hector Guzman, attributed the criticisms by Vargas regarding the front of opposing organizations to the fact that he does not have the capacity to bring together the political and social forces such as those represented in the so-called "Convergence." He accused Vargas of being the first to violate the statutes because although he has reached the end of his term as PRD president, he has refused to step down. "Miguel Vargas has no political standing to speak of discipline or of the statutes because he signed a pact with Leonel Fernandez outside of the party," he said. He also reproached the fact that Vargas had obtained a loan from the Banco de Reservas in the middle of the election campaign in which he did not support his own party's presidential candidate.

Flights cancelled, again due to snow
Aerodom, the operator of several of the nation's airports, has reported that the latest winter storm to hit the Northeast of the United States has forced the cancellation of more flights to and from the Dominican Republic, as reported in El Nuevo Diario. The company says that Delta, JetBlue and United Airlines have had to cancel flights from New York, Atlanta and Newark bound for Las Americas International Airport in Santo Domingo and the Gregorio Luperon Airport in Puerto Plata. So far, flights to the El Catey airport in Samana have been normal.

Aerodom is advising all passengers to call their airlines before leaving for the airport. Passengers can also visit www.aerodom.com for updates.

Airline tracking website Flight Aware reports that more than 4,000 flights have been cancelled within, into or out of the US today, Thursday 13 February. The worst affected airports include Hartsfield-Jackson, Philadelphia International, Reagan International in Washington and airports serving New York - Newark, LaGuardia and John F Kennedy.

ARTchavon film series at the Chavon Archaeological Museums
The Museo Arqueologico Regional Altos de Chavon is hosting a series of movies on famous artists' lives as part of the ARTchavon film series. They are:

Frida Kahlo: Wednesday, 19 February 2014, 6pm. Contribution RD$200

Kahlo's work has been celebrated in Mexico as emblematic of national and indigenous traditions and by feminists for its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form.

Van Gogh: Thursday, 20 February 2014, 6pm. Contribution RD$200

Van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter of Dutch origin whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th century art.

Georgia O'Keefe: Sunday, 23 February 2014, 6pm. Contribution RD$200

O'Keefe was an American artist known for her paintings of flowers, rocks, shells, animal bones, and landscapes in which she synthesized abstraction and representation.

Fausto Rey at Hard Rock Cafe
Legendary Dominican romantic singer Fausto Rey has teamed up with Felix D'Oleo for a "Romantic Evening with the Greats." The show takes place on the eve of Valentine's Day, this evening, Thursday, 13 February at Santo Domingo's Hard Rock Cafe in the Colonial City. The concert will feature a string of some of the most romantic songs, sure to evoke nostalgia in listeners. Tickets are RD$1,250 in pre-sale at the ticketexpress.com.do

The best of photojournalism in 2013
The Centro Cultural de Espana in Santo Domingo's Colonial City presents a selection of 48 of the best news photos published in 2013. The works are by four newspaper reporters. The exhibition will be open through 9 March. Free admission.

Forever Tango continues at the National Theater
The show tells the story of life through tango moves. Tango from its origins in Buenos Aires to its heyday in Europe. Through dance, it tells the story of three lonely women. A 12-musician orchestra, a singer and 14 dancers put on a Broadway-style show with special performances by Milly Quezada and Nini Caffaro.

The show was created and is directed by Luis Bravo. It has toured the world since its inception in San Francisco in 1994, where it thrilled audiences for nearly two years. Called "A must-see" by the New York Times, Forever Tango originally opened on Broadway in 1997 where it played the Walter Kerr and Marquis Theatres for fourteen months and earned multiple Tony® and Drama Desk Award nominations.

Performances continue at the Carlos Piantini Hall of the National Theater in Santo Domingo on 13, 14, and 15 February at 8:30pm. Tickets are RD$2,500 to RD$3,500.


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

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