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Daily News - Friday, 14 February 2014

US$1.5 billion in IDB projects for DR
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has US$1.52 billion available in funding with sovereign guarantees for the Dominican Republic for the period 2013-2016, said IDB country representative Flora Montealegre Painter. She said they also have technical assistance and loans without sovereign guarantees available for the private sector. The funds are part of the new work strategy for the country that seeks to stimulate growth that is compatible with the creation of quality jobs for a sustained reduction in poverty levels. She said the IDB's work in the country was based on productive development and investing in human capital. The IDB is prioritizing the electricity sector, and is making funds available for helping find solutions in the area of distribution, telemetering and loss reduction.

As reported in Listin Diario, the IDB has a portfolio of 94 projects ongoing in the Dominican Republic with US$1.8 billion approved and disbursals pending for US$910.2 million. They include seven operations for US$287.3 million in direct lending to the private sector, 34 donations for US$35.1 million for technical cooperation and 26 projects for US$10 million from the Multilateral Investments Fund (MIF). This is in addition to 27 loans for US$577.9 million with sovereign guarantees.

Montealegre concluded by saying that the country also benefits from the private sector support programs funded by the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC).



Medina hopes to be remembered for improving people's lives
President Danilo Medina said yesterday, Thursday 13 February that he is focused on improving the Dominican people's living conditions, and that his priority is not to become a leader, or to be re-elected.

President Medina made the comments during the start of the works to build the Monte Grande dam in Barahona province. This is a US$401 million investment.

Hoy newspaper comments today, Friday 14 February that his reply is in direct response to former President Leonel Fernandez's op-ed piece "Power and leadership between posts and little envelopes" in which analysts believe he was referring to the current President when referring to using the government's pockets to purchase people's favor. The article refers to three cases of government officials who distributed jobs or funds to the people and became popular party leaders during the Fernandez administration.

Medina said his goal is that by the end of his government term, "people can say thank you for having improved their living conditions."

"We are caring for the poorest all around the country. And all I seek, as I said in the election campaign, because I have no other interest, neither to be a leader, nor to be reelected, nor anything along those lines. What I seek with these programs, what I am looking for, is to improve our people's living conditions," he stated.



US Vice President to visit
The Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden will make a stop in Santo Domingo during the second week of March as part of a tour that is taking him to Chilean President Michelle Bachelet's swearing-in ceremony on 11 March. He is traveling with his wife, teacher Jill Biden. As announced by the White House, he is coming "to discuss a broad range of bilateral issues, as well as regional cooperation."

Biden has traveled extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has also visited Mexico, Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago and Brazil.

Go for medical care, then learn how to read and write
The Human Resources Department at the Vinicio Calventi Public Hospital in Los Alcarrizos in Santo Domingo North has announced plans for a program to give patients who do not know how to read and write the opportunity to enroll in the "Quisqueya Learns With You" literacy program at the public hospital itself. The classes will be open to patients seeing doctors at the hospital as well as anyone admitted through the emergency room. Hospital director Alberto Diaz said that literacy was important for patients to be able to continue treatment and prevent illnesses.


Study sports journalism at PUCMM
Minister of Sports Jaime David Fernandez and deputy Minister of Sports Marcos Diaz were at the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) Santo Domingo campus yesterday, Thursday 13 February for the start of a university course in sports writing. Speaking on the occasion Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado said this marked a turning point for sports writing in the country. The new course opened in January with 27 students at the university's postgraduate studies building. Students need to complete 22 credits that include 11 practical credits.


Seattle Mariners have new academy in Boca Chica
Kevin Mather, president of The Seattle Mariners, general manager Jack Zduriencik and star player Robinson Cano were at the opening of the new baseball academy built by the Seattle Mariners half an hour's drive from Santo Domingo yesterday, Thursday 13 February 2014. The academy is not far from where Cano grew up. The team spent US$7.3 million to build the state-of-the-art training center in Los Farallones, Boca Chica. The Mariners is the team that recently committed to major contracts for two Dominican stars in the World Baseball Classic winning team, Robinson Cano and Fernando Rodney.

Some 40 prospects have already been signed and are training at the new academy, as reported in Listin Diario.

Built by architect Jose Mella, the new facility includes three full-sized fields, dormitories for housing up to 80 prospects at a time, classrooms and computer labs for young players to study English and other programs.

The Mariners previously shared an older facility with the Dodgers in the Dominican Republic.




Falcondo says Loma Miranda does not qualify for national park status
Falcondo says that it makes no sense to declare Loma Miranda in La Vega province a national park. A report funded by Falcondo describes the plan as irrational and says it would make no contribution to the local flora and fauna. The report adds that the decision could also have legal consequences for the government because the area is private property.

Falcondo owns 1,373 hectares in the mountain and needs permission from the Ministry of Environment to extract minerals from the area.

Religious leaders, community activists and Academy of Science experts have come out strongly against the proposed mining in the area. They point to the devastation of farmlands and the environment caused by the company in its mining sites in neighboring Monsignor Nouel province.

A bill to declare the area a national park has already been passed in the Chamber of Deputies and is pending approval in the Senate.


Priest accused of sexual abuse released with RD$70,000 bond
The RD$70,000 bond that Juan Manuel Mota de Jesus (Father Johnny) from Constanza was allowed to post during a hearing in La Vega yesterday, Thursday 13 February, was met with widespread protests on the grounds that it backs impunity in his case. He was accused in August 2013 by a group of organizations and citizens led by the Cibao Women's Coordinating Committee (CMC). In September, four of the 15 women who are accusing the priest of rape formally presented their cases to the Constanza district attorney.

The women's group says that the decision confirms that members of the clergy accused of sexual abuse in this country continue to enjoy impunity.

"Judge Yanet Martinez, of the Constanza court, ordered Padre Johnny's release with a bond of only RD$70,000 and periodic appearances before the authorities, as well as a restraining order on approaching the victims' houses," says a statement from the women's organization, as reported in Acento.com.do

The statement from CMC went on to say that it was regrettable that the priest was being released with such a low bail just days after the United Nations Children's Rights Committee called on the Vatican to remove all the members of the clergy accused or suspected of sexually abusing minors and hand them over to justice.



Dominguez Brito critical of court decision in Francina Hungria case
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito has reiterated his call for a retrial of the four men who were acquitted in the case of engineer Francina Hungria, who was shot and blinded during an armed robbery in Santo Domingo last year. He said that all the evidence presented by the prosecutors had been clear and decisive. Dominguez Brito said that the gun that was used, videos, and even confessions from the accused were presented. "If for the judges who heard the case proof is to find the accused in the act of killing a person, then it will be difficult to convict and sentence anyone responsible for crimes," said Dominguez after an event organized by the Dominican Gastroenterology Society yesterday, Thursday 13 February.

Judges Sarah Veras, Ingrid Soraya Hernandez and Yisell Soto said that the case was not well prepared and that it failed to convincingly link the acquitted men to the case. They said that newspaper cuttings were presented as evidence.

Dominguez asked whether the judges would be able to show their faces if one of the men they acquitted in the armed robbery that blinded Hungria injures another defenseless person.

Dominguez Brito expressed his concern about similar cases of impunity that have occurred in Santiago. He said that known contract killers and drug traffickers with links to drug cartels have been acquitted by the courts.

When journalists asked if the judges would be submitted to disciplinary trial, Dominguez said that was the role of the Judicial Branch Board. He said that the role of the prosecutors was limited to appealing the case.

A court sentenced Jose Manuel Vidal Felix (Memin) known to have shot the gun that blinded Francina Hungria to 30 years in prison, but acquitted Melvin Perez (Bululo), Jose Miguel Mora Acosta (Gordo), Celso Gonalez Montero (Nariz) and Jose Manuel Arias Mejia (Bacan).


Temperatures drop to zero in Dominican mountains
The Dominican Meteorological Office says that temperatures of zero Celsius have been reported in the Central Mountain Range this week. The department reports a temperature of 0.2° Celsius at the Valle Nuevo station. Other lows recorded were Constanza, 8° C, Hondo Valle 12° C, Jarabacoa 15° C, Restauracion 14°, Los Montones and Monte Plata 17°, Bonao, 18° C, Montecristi 20° C and Santo Domingo 22° C.

The weather forecast for today, Friday 14 February is for rain in Santo Domingo and Puerto Plata nevertheless, with lows of 22° C and highs of 31° C, sunny for Punta Cana with lows of 23° C and highs of 31° C, and partially cloudy in Santiago with lows of 20° C and highs of 31° C. It will be hot in La Romana, with highs of 32° C and lows of 20° C. Samana is getting warm weather, also with highs of 31° C and lows of 23° C.


Independence cycling tour starts 20 February
Cyclists from around the world are coming to the Dominican Republic for the 35th Independence Cycling Tour this month. Team Defferdange/Inteja-Luxembourg, Team Incycle of Puerto Rico and the national cycling team of Puerto Rico, Team Ecuador, Team Kazakhstan, Team Smart Stop from the United States, national team of Venezuela, Team Galilee Cycles of Israel and Team Formesan of Colombia are all taking part.

Event organizer Guillermo Saleta says that the visitors guarantee the high level of the competition.

The leading event of its kind in the Caribbean, the annual tour is divided into eight stages that take cyclists on a 1,010km trip all throughout the country. This year, for the first time, cyclists will travel to San Juan de la Maguana, hometown of President Danilo Medina. The event takes place from 20 to 28 February. Dominicans celebrate Independence Day on the 27th.

The first leg of the competition starts at 9am from Independence Park in Santo Domingo's Colonial City from where cyclists will take off to cover the 146km stretch to San Pedro de Macoris in the southeast. The second leg departs at 9am on 21 February from Santo Domingo to Samana (140 km). The third stretch is from Samana to Sanchez and San Francisco de Macoris (136 km). The fourth is a turnaround the Avenida Monumental in Santiago. The fifth takes cyclists to Moca, La Vega, Jarabacoa and Constanza (95 km). The sixth takes cyclists on tour from La Vega to Villa Altagracia and then to Santo Domingo (79 km) in the morning, to compete against the clock in the Mirador del Sur Park in the afternoon (20 km). The seventh stretch is San Cristobal-Bani-Azua-San Juan, a distance of 162 km. The eighth is along the Quinto Centenario expressway (96 km.)

Fernandito Villalona and Jochy Santos at Escenario 360
Bolero and merengue singer Fernandito Villalona and TV host and comedian Jochy Santos are booked for the Galeria 360 shopping mall in Santo Domingo for performances on Friday, 14 February and Saturday, 15 February at 9pm. Tickets are on sale at ticketexpress.com.do or at the Escenario 360 box office at the mall. They are RD$2,500 and RD$3,000 and include snacks and drinks.

Salsa at the Hotel Hamaca for Valentine's Day
Salsa dancing enthusiasts should head out to the Be Chic Night Club of the Be Live Hamaca in Boca Chica this evening, Friday 14 February. Salsa singer Yiyo Sarante will be there, singing to lovers from 10pm.

Urbanova and La Receta at Cinema Cafe
Enjoy the music of Urbanova, a fusion and bossa nova band from 9pm this evening, Friday, 14 February. The evening's entertainment also includes stand up comedians of La Receta, made up of Eduardo Santos, Faruk Miguel, Jefferson Reina and Juan Carlos Pichardo Jr. Cinema Cafe is located behind the National History & Geography Museum between the Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Dominican Man in Plaza de la Cultura in Santo Domingo. Tel 809 221-7555.

Carnival nationwide
Carnival characters have had two Sundays to practice, so expect this Sunday action to be at its best. There are two carnivals in Santo Domingo, one along Maximo Gomez Avenue and another on Av. Espana. For the first time, Carnival has been announced in Boca Chica, but the traditional carnivals are in La Vega, Bonao and Santiago. Puerto Plata's carnival is also getting good reviews. Carnivals in these areas take place every Sunday in February.

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

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