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Daily News - Tuesday, 25 February 2014

President checks progress of 911 system
President Danilo Medina visited the Santo Domingo headquarters of the new 911 system yesterday, Monday 24 February to check on its progress. The system is aimed at helping crime victims while controlling and monitoring public spaces, improving security on roads and preventing crime, as well as coordinating rapid responses to natural disasters.

Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo said that RD$2 billion has been spent to date, 40% of which was donated by Taiwan, the United States and South Korea. Some 4,000 between firefighters, police, doctors, paramedics and 220 operators located at the headquarters have been receiving training as part of the new Integrated 911Emergencies and Security System. Montalvo said the system would start covering Greater Santo Domingo including the National District, Santo Domingo North, West and East and Boca Chica in May, before it is rolled out to the rest of the country.

Montalvo said that it would include an audiovisual security system with 1,300 cameras, which will pick up street incidents such as traffic accidents and robberies. He warned that fines would be imposed on anyone making bogus calls.

The Ministry of Public Works is responsible for the remodeling of the building that is located at Av. Abraham Lincoln, across from the Blandino funeral home. Deputy Minister Claudia Franchesca de los Santos, said that it would be made to be self-sufficient for a period of a month with its own electricity supply with two 500 KW and one 350Kw power plants and a cistern with 40,000 gallons of water.

The President also inspected some of the new emergency equipment in the parking lot with 85 ambulances, 90 motor ambulances, 400 police cars and 1000 motorcycles as well as 75 fire trucks, all of which are for the 911 service.

The President was accompanied by Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo, Public Works and Communications Minister Gonzalo Castillo, Public Health Minister Dr. Freddy Hidalgo, Indotel Director Gedeon Santos, National Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo, Metropolitan Traffic Police (AMET) Director General Juan Geronimo Brown Perez, Emergency Operations Center (COE) Director Colonel Juan Manuel Mendez, 911 system director Dr. Dalvert Polanco, the Deputy Ministers of the Presidency and Public Works Zoraima Cuello and Claudia Franchesca de los Santos, and the Fire Service superintendent for Santo Domingo East, Colonel Rafael Javier Bueno.



President inaugurates Robotic Surgery Unit
President Danilo Medina inaugurated the Robotic Surgery Unit at the Santiago Metropolitan Hospital (HOMS) yesterday, Monday 24 February. The unit is the first of its kind in the country and only the second in the whole of the Caribbean.

The "Da Vinci Si" system can be used for many different types of surgical intervention. The surgical system enables surgeons to perform delicate and complex operations through a few tiny incisions with increased vision, precision, dexterity and control. The system seamlessly translates the surgeon's hand, wrist and finger movements into precise, real-time movements of surgical instruments.

The president of the hospital administration board, Rafael Sanchez Espanol said that with this unit HOMS was building a highly complex area with four ultra modern operating rooms and that it also had an Online Surgery system that could show the surgeries live.

Sanchez Espanol said that the team who would use the equipment was composed of himself, as director and Juan Felix Capellan, Jose Alvarez Torres and Hector Sanchez Navarro, who had been trained in its use by Vinci in laboratories in Houston Texas and in hospitals in Phoenix, Arizona.

The President then used the machine to stitch a wound in a virtual operation.






President meets with Arab delegation
President Danilo Medina hosted a delegation from the Council on Arab Relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (CARLAC) yesterday evening, Monday 24 February at the Presidential Palace. The visitors said that CARLAC promotes cooperation between Latin America and the Caribbean and the Arab countries, seeking to strengthen commercial relationships and regional exchanges.

The visitors said they want to establish four centers to fulfill their remit as a non-governmental organization. Two will be in Latin America and the Caribbean and the other two in the Middle East and North Africa.


Blackouts announced
The EdeEste power distribution company has announced that their electricity service will be affected as the AES Andres generator is out of service for maintenance until 28 February.

They said that the areas affected include the provinces of La Altagracia, San Pedro de Macoris and El Seibo as well as the municipality of Guerra in Santo Domingo.

They apologized to clients in the affected areas.


Florida wants more Dominican business
The Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce (CCPSD) and the United States Embassy Commercial Office are sponsoring a workshop on "Doing Business with Florida" today, Tuesday, 25 February with the participation of Gray Swoope, CEO of Enterprise Florida, Inc., the organization set up to attract companies to the state, and a delegation of 33 business owners, and Secretary of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Ananth Prasad from the state of Florida at the Hotel Magna 365 in Santo Domingo. Dominican business owners in the areas of agriculture, industry, and renewable energy services have been invited. The event is sponsored by Enterprise Florida, Inc.

Florida is a market of 20 million consumers and there are increased opportunities under the DR-CAFTA free trade agreement. Trade between the DR and Florida is worth more than US$2.5 billion a year, of which US$1 billion are exports from the DR to Florida and another US$1.5 billion imports. The volume of trade is high enough to rank the state of Florida in eleventh place among the 25 markets for the DR.



Las Americas tunnel closed tonight
Take note to use alternative routes on the Las Americas Expressway connection to Santo Domingo tonight. The Ministry of Public Works is carrying out maintenance works at the Las Americas tunnel on both sides of traffic. The tunnel will be closed from 10pm on Tuesday, 25 February to 6am on Wednesday, 26 February.

Attacks on foreigners on the rise
The police have announced the death of a Czech citizen, Eva Cimbalnikova, 62, after an armed robbery in Sosua whilst she was on a motorbike with her husband. This is the latest in a series of attacks against foreigners over the past few months.

On February 20, a German resident, Wally Hinrichs, 74 was beaten together with his maid, and in January Italian tourists Nicolas Mario Feloquiario, 63 and his 60-year old wife, Bumi Francesca, were stabbed in Boca Chica.

On January 17, an African student, Robustiano Olo Mengue Osongono, 27 was attacked and killed in a public shared taxi in Santo Domingo and a Dutch national Antonius Adrianius Zwerts was shot and killed on 3 January when he was travelling on his scooter.

Police spokesman Major General Jacobo Mateo Moquete says that they are looking for a Haitian citizen in connection with the Czech woman's murder, identified by a witness as a man called "the General'.

The Central Office of Criminal Investigations (DICRIM) is continuing the investigations.



Haitians arrested to prevent illegal boat trip
The Dominican Armada (Navy) detained 50 Haitians in San Pedro de Macoris yesterday, Monday 24 February, just as they were about to board an illegal boat (yola) to travel to Puerto Rico. The detainees, 35 men and 15 women were arrested between Cumayasa and Las Sardinas in San Pedro.

The boat was also confiscated and was around 30 feet long and 10 feet wide with two outboard motors and spare fuel.

The Haitians were taken to the head office of Naval Intelligence (M2). Navy Commander General Vice Admiral Edwin Rafael Dominici Rosario said that the number of arrested illegal travelers to Puerto Rico now stood at 282, of whom 212 are Haitian.

In a shipwreck off the Punta Cana coast on 20 February, some nine bodies of a group of 20 Haitians were recovered. The Haitians were attempting to reach Puerto Rico, when their boat capsized.

The number of Haitians trying to reach Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic has increased since the United States government loosened the immigration rules for Haitians following the 2010 earthquake. This has encouraged hundreds of Haitians to make the crossing, while Dominicans have been discouraged from doing so by media coverage of the high risks involved.


Man commits suicide by jumping off Blue Mall
An unidentified man, thought to be a Haitian national, fell from the 5th floor of the Blue Mall in Santo Domingo on Monday, 24 February. He jumped from the mall's restaurant balcony.

El Dia reported that this death brings the total of suspected suicides so far this year to 101. The Latin American average is five to seven suicides per 100,000 inhabitants, but current figures place the DR suicide rate at eight to nine suicides per 100,000 inhabitants. Countries with higher suicide rates are Cuba and Uruguay with 19 and 26 per 100,000, Colombia with 16 per 100,000 inhabitants and El Salvador with 10 per 100,000.

A total of 567 suicides were reported last year. The most commonly used methods are hanging, gunshot, poisoning and jumping. In the DR, for every female suicide victim there are six males, while the global ratio us one woman for every three men.

Dominican Psychiatry Society former president Jose Miguel Gomez said that the figures were alarming. The 2013 total of 567 suicides was down from 642 in 2011 and 638 in 2012. Gomez called on the Ministry of Public Health to draw up public policies aimed at early diagnosis of depression and mental disorders, and providing access to health, treatment and psychological education in schools.


Prosecutor orders retrial in Francina Hungria case
On Monday, 24 February 2014, the National District Prosecutor announced it was appealing against the judge's decision on the armed robbery in which engineer Francina Hungria was blinded. The prosecutors are asking the court to confirm the 30-year conviction against Jose Manuel Vidal Feliz (Memin) while opening new proceedings against Melvin Perez (alias Bululo), Jose Miguel Mora Acosta (alias Antonio and/or El Gordo), Celso Gonzalez Montero (alias Nariz) and Jose Manuel Arias (Bacan).

They were all found not guilty of the aggravated robbery and attempted murder of Hungria on 23 November 2012.

One of the men acquitted had even given a TV interview to Victor Gomez Casanovas (Victor en Vivo) where he described how Francina Hungria was attacked to take her SUV as they were trying to flee after mugging senior citizen Josefina Bogaert in the Piantini neighborhood in Santo Domingo.

National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso argued: "Articles 172 and 333 of the Penal Procedures Code have been violated because the court appraised the proof incorrectly, as evidenced by the fact that the judges make individual and biased observations of the proof presented and not a harmonious evaluation as was intended by the legislators," as reported in Diario Libre. She said that the court did not take into account the physical descriptions of the assailants by victims Francina Hungria and Josefina Bogaert, or the statements from the investigators and the incomplete evidence that was presented throughout the case.



Man with half a million dollars in Porsche arrested
Agents from the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) with the cooperation of the United States Drugs Enforcement Administration (DEA) and state prosecutors have arrested a man carrying US$499,440 in cash in a Nike and Blue Label bags in a Porsche Cayenne in Villa Consuelo in Santo Domingo. The money is believed to be the proceeds of drug dealing and money laundering.

The DNCD announced that the suspect lives in the exclusive area of Naco and that the arrest was made after a long period of investigation. He was arrested at Calle Hermanos Pinzon corner Teniente Amado Garcia.

They went on to say that as well as the money they confiscated several bank debit and credit cards, two cell phones, a Glock pistol and bullets, and several receipts for deposits and withdrawals of hundreds of thousands of pesos from banks around the country. The receipts were for US$9,900 each. The 2014 model Porsche had a provisional license plate. The money was deposited in the National District prosecutors office account.


Birthday of Founding Father
On this day, 25 February in 1816, Matias Ramon Mella was born. He was a Dominican military man, politician and activist and became one of the Founding Fathers along with Juan Pablo Duarte and Francisco del Rosario Sanchez. He died on 4 June 1864.

Mella contributed significantly during the war of National Independence against the Haitian occupation and was involved in the early moves to restore the country to Spanish annexation before his death. He is best known for having shot his blunderbuss on the night of 27 February 1844 at the Puerta de la Misericordia, one of the gates leading into the Colonial City in Santo Domingo.

In 1836 he married Josefa Brea who came from a prominent Dominican family and they had four children, Ramon Maria, Dominga America Maria, Antonio Nicanor and Ildefonso.


Farm & Livestock Fair set for 15-23 March
The traditional National Agricultural and Livestock Fair is set for 15-23 March at the Ciudad Ganadera complex on the Malecon in Santo Domingo. This year the event focuses on new initiatives aimed at promoting the export of produce. Rene Columna, president of the Cattle Ranchers Board, and spokesman for the event, said the goal is to show the general public the export capacity of the cattle ranching and farming sector. The event also has the backing of the Ministry of Agriculture.


Symphonic music and Anthony Rios
Dominican musicals producer Amaury Sanchez is arranging a symphonic music evening for the popular singer and composer of ballads Anthony Rios. The event will be staged on 28 and 29 March at the National Theater in Santo Domingo. Rios will be accompanied by the 60-strong Santo Domingo Philharmonic Orchestra. The concerts are expected to sell out and a DVD and CD will be produced for sale.

Carnival on the Malecon
The Ministry of Culture has announced that 180 dance troupes from 31 provinces and the National District will be parading along the Malecon on Sunday 2 March. The event brings together the best of carnival from all around the country. The Ministry of Culture announced that this year's parade would begin at 10am from Malecon Center to the Obelisco Macho. TV host Frederick Martinez (El Pacha) is the King of Carnival this year. The queen is former Miss World Mariasela Alvarez.

Best Latin American table tennis players to compete in Santo Domingo
The 2014 ITTF Latin American Championships will open in Santo Domingo on Tuesday, 1 April. They will continue through Sunday, 6 April bringing together the region's best young table tennis players. The DR successfully organized the event in 2002 and 2008.

The tournament follows the celebration of the Youth Olympic Games Qualification Tournament for Latin America that will be held on 29-30 March.

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

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