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Daily News - Monday, 03 March 2014

DR1 publishes English version of President Medina 27 February speech
To help provide a better understanding of major public works and government programs in the Dominican Republic, the DR1 news team has translated the televised video of President Danilo Medina's state of the nation address to the National Assembly on Thursday 27 February.

The speech is long but comprehensive. President Medina spoke for one hour and 41 minutes. See the PDF full translation at Medina27February2014speech.pdf

RD$8 million for hare producers in Valverde
President Danilo Medina was in Laguneta, Hato Nuevo in the northwestern province of Valverde, municipality of Mao yesterday, Sunday 2 March. He met with members of the landless farmers association who will now receive a loan at 5% annual interest with a six-month grace period. The farmers want to purchase 600 hares and build the necessary installations for a hare-breeding project.

He then met with a brick producers association in Esperanza that presented him with a list of needs for purchasing equipment to improve the quality of their products and secure financing for new installations as the places they use now have thatched roofs that are vulnerable to fire.

President Medina also traveled to La Cruz de Manzanillo in Montecristi to visit a banana farm. He was shown the rehabilitation of the banana farming and the packaging areas. This is President Medina's follow-up trip to a project that he first visited on 25 November 2012 and ordered the repair work to make it a major source of jobs in the region.


Medina meets with former agriculture ministers
The farm sector is highlighted as one of the major successes of President Medina's year-and-a-half-long administration. On Saturday, 1 March a group of former agriculture ministers under the PRD and the PRSC offered their support to President Medina for his work to stimulate the farming sector. The meeting took place in Villa Mella where President Medina said that during the surprise visits he sees for himself the needs for financing small businesses. He added that the funds were channeled by the Fund for Agriculture Development (FEDA) to the Agriculture Bank that lends them to the small businesses. The group, which handed the President a plaque of recognition, included former President Hipolito Mejia, Carlos Aquino Gonzalez, former director of the IICA for Latin America, Pedro Breton, Amilcar Romero, Tito Hernandez, Eligio Jaquez, Fernando Alvarez Bogaert, Luis Toral, Carlos Segura and Maximo Acosta, who was the host in Villa Mella. Others present included Juan Gomez Pena, Juan Sanchez Pimentel, Rafael Merejo, Sandino de Jesus, Sigfredo Frias, Manuel Amezquita, Homero Gonzalez, Ligio Taveras Miolan, Elbio Carrasco and Nicolas Concepcion.

Press reports point out that Chio Jimenez and Frank Rodriguez, agriculture ministers during the past Fernandez administration, did not attend.

President Medina was accompanied by Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta, FEDA executive director Antonio Lopez, and Angel Estevez, administrator of the Banco Agricola.


JCE reopens civil registry office in New York City
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) reopened its offices at the Dominican consulate in New York City last week. The JCE says it will also be reopening the offices located in Boston, Massachusetts and Miami, Florida.

Will DR and Haiti talks continue?
The Dominican Republic and Haiti had programmed bilateral talks to be held on the first Monday of the month. Nevertheless, the date of the March talks has not been announced.

Instead, the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Haiti, as reported in Haiti Libre online, in a written statement on 27 February has complained that President Medina only dedicated a small part of the state of the nation address on 27 February to the Haitian naturalization issue and protested at Medina's failure to fulfill a commitment to present the naturalization bill to Congress on that day. The bill is expected to fast-track the naturalization process for people born in the DR but who do not qualify for automatic Dominican citizenship as per the Supreme Court ruling in 2005 that was confirmed by the Constitutional Court 168-13 sentence.

President Danilo Medina mentioned in his speech that the bill would be submitted to Congress in the next few days together with other bills.

President Danilo Medina dedicated most of his speech to describing the Dominican government's new approach of redistributing wealth by reaching out to the very poorest. The numerous free programs including literacy, daycare, public hospital services and vaccines benefit large numbers of Haitian immigrants, regardless of their status. Haitian immigrants make up a large part of the poorest in the country and are able to enjoy human rights in the Dominican Republic they are denied in their home country.

The Haitian Ministry of Foreign Relations says it is "very concerned that this promise has so far not been met by the neighboring republic".

As reported in Haiti Libre online, the Haitian government reiterates its initial position, namely that the Dominican authorities must take appropriate measures to ensure the rights of citizens affected by this judgment in accordance with the laws of the Dominican Republic and its international commitments to human rights.

The Haitian ministry noted that in the Independence Day speech, President Danilo Medina dedicated very little time to Haiti-DR relations. In the speech, President Medina said:

"The historic dialogue we have opened with the neighboring Republic of Haiti deserves a special mention.

"Never before had our two nations sat at a table to discuss a full agenda of issues of mutual interest.

"And this dialogue will continue, always on the basis of mutual respect for the sovereignty of each country, with the purpose of providing solutions to the needs of our people.

"At this point, I would like to stop to reiterate my commitment to several international institutions, such as the European Union, the United Nations and several governments that in the coming days together with several other bills, we will submit the naturalization bill to Congress that is a commitment that we have taken on and will be presented for all to consider."


Pro-Competencia: wasteful spending
The Herrera Industrial Association is protesting at the government spending RD$34 million (not including perks) on the president and four members of the National Competitiveness Commission. In a written statement, Victor Castro of AEIH said that the president of Pro-Competencia, Michelle Cohen is paid RD$500,000 a month to make announcements of what they will do, social contacts, "mere public relations." The budget of the entity is RD$96.6 million, as reported in 7dias.com.do

Diario Libre reports that the entity has not begun its work because the government has not appointed an executive director.

Victor Castro says that Pro-Competencia is still non-operational six years after it was created, but the entity costs the country millions.

He says that the entity has a role to play. "If competition is regulated, dismantling economic cartels and abuses by dominating players, consumers will benefit with better quality and better prices of goods and services," writes Castro.

"We are fed up of seeing Pro-Competencia trapped in impotence, holding short courses, workshops, meetings, travels, studies, paying expert consultants, but not operating. There has been enough time for its organization and what is occurring now is an offense to citizens," said Castro.

Pro-Competencia was created by the General Law for Competitiveness No. 42-08 that was signed into law on 16 August 2008. The law established that the President would appoint a commission and name the members of the board and the executive director within 90 days of the publication of the law. The government has yet to name the executive director.



What the Stratfor Global Intelligence report said on the DR
In his state of the nation address on Thursday, 27 February, President Danilo Medina mentioned the Stratfor Global Intelligence Report. The mentioned report is titled The PC16: Identifying China's Successors that includes the Dominican Republic among the countries that are set to benefit from the flow of manufacturing contract work that is leaving Continental China, due to rising production costs there.

In Latin America, the report mentions Peru, Nicaragua and Mexico as other likely beneficiaries among 16 nations around the world. The study is dated 30 July 2013.

The director of the National Council of Export Free Zones, Luisa Fernandez said that the study explains that the era of low wages to conquer global markets of China is ending because there are other nations with even lower wages and other advantages. "China will have to behave differently from the way it does now, and thus other countries are poised to take its place," reads the report.

The international system opens the door to low-wage countries with appropriate infrastructure and sufficient order to do business. It includes the Dominican Republic among the 16 countries best suited to succeed China as the world's low-cost, export-oriented economy hub.


Public debt increased US$3.34 billion in 2013
By November 2013, the Dominican Republic's non-financial public debt had increased by US$3.34 billion compared to the previous year. The total non-financial public debt is estimated to be US$22.58 billion, or 37.5% of the Gross Domestic Product, as reported in Diario Libre.

12% of experts are hi-tech goods
The director of the Center for Export and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD) Jean Alain Rodriguez says that 12% of the country's exports are based on technological products such as medical apparatus manufactured in free zones. He said that this high percentage is proof that we are not only farm product exporters. He said that there are 50 software manufacturers in free zones and beyond, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.

Jean Alain Rodriguez was speaking on the Encuentro Extra TV show with Christian Jimenez on Sunday, 2 March. He highlighted the diversification of Dominican exports, pointing out that 3,700 products lines are being exported to 170 countries. He said that in 2013, Dominican exports reached US$9.55 billion, which was US$500 million more than in the previous year.

Thousands of passengers again hit by extreme weather
Several flights to the Dominican Republic are suffering delays and cancellations as the US is being hit by extreme winter weather yet again.

Forecasters are expecting heavy snow by the end of today, Monday 3 March in Washington and the Mid-Atlantic Region, brought by winter storm Titan.

News reports say that the worst affected airports are in Washington, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

Las Americas is reporting the cancellation of three JetBlue morning New York flights, but most are on schedule.

A 10:17, 2:31pm and 4:14pm JetBlue flights from Santiago to New York today, Monday 3 March were cancelled, but others to New York are on schedule.

Pinewood Indomina Studios can finance global filmmaking
Indomina Media has announced a US$26 million revolving production loan to finance the company's slate of motion pictures, most of which will be filmed at its Pinewood Indomina studios in the Dominican Republic. The studio has unique water filming facilities. Indomina has said it will provide the new Comerica bank loan with soft money solutions, mostly represented by the 25% Dominican transferable tax credit production incentive on above- and below-the-line costs to finance two to three English-language motion pictures per year.

Pinewood Indomina Studios offers turnkey production services and hosts an innovative media park that shall accommodate, foster and consolidate a competitive film industry cluster, comprising independent businesses capable of providing complementary world-class services to producers filming their content in the country.


Crime is down, says prosecutors office
The Attorney General office says that there were 145 homicides in January, which is 39 fewer deaths than in January 2013. A report in El Caribe says that in January 15 deaths occurred due to confrontations with the police, down from 17 in January 2013.

Most murders took place in the Province of Santo Domingo with 41 cases, followed by Santiago with 18, the National District with 15 and San Cristobal with 12. There were seven in La Vega, six in Peravia and San Pedro de Macoris, five in Monte Plata and La Altagracia and four in San Jose de Ocoa. There were three in Puerto Plata, San Juan, Dajabon and Espaillat. There were two homicides in La Romana, Maria Trinidad Sanchez, Monsenor Nouel, Sanchez Ramirez and Valverde. And one case is reported for Duarte, El Seibo, Elias Pina and Independencia. No homicides were reported for Azua, Bahoruco, Barahona, Hato Mayor, Hermanas Mirabal, Montecristi, Pedernales, Samana or Santiago Rodriguez.

Haitians wage protest gets bloody in Boca de Cachon
The 567-home project was extolled as a model project in the 27 February state of the nation address by President Danilo Medina, but was back in the news after a group of around 300 Haitian construction workers became violent when protesting at delays in wage payments for the second half of February. The contractors said the wages were delayed because of the 27 February holiday and the payments would be made on Monday, 3 March. The workers did not react well to the news. Listin Diario reported that 13 people were seriously injured, 20 with slight injuries and one death. The newspaper says that two houses were set on fire during the worker mutiny, as well as the tent used by the Office of the Department for the Promotion of Border Communities under General Rafael de Luna Pichirilo. Reportedly, one of his bodyguards was injured when the protesters pelted the office with stones.

Army General Ruben Dario Paulino Sem reported that two people were seriously injured and 40 are under arrest. Police sources told Listin Diario that 13 people were taken to the Barahona Regional Hospital, and another 20 injured were treated in the Jimani and La Descubierta hospitals.

The deceased was named as Charles Ronnin, a 27-year old Haitian whose body was taken to the morgue of the Jaime Mota Hospital in Barahona. Police Chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo said the arrests were made after a mob of hundreds of Haitians throwing stones and wielding sticks attacked the police and members of the Cesfront border security corps who together with prosecutors tried to convince the enraged workers to call off their protest. He said the protestors threw stones at trucks, vehicles and offices, burned tires and blocked the roads.


Victor Estrella Burgos ranked 99th by ATP
For the first time in Dominican tennis history, a Dominican player, 33-year old Victor Estrella Burgos, has made the elite top 100 list of the Association of Tennis Professionals ranking. He was ranked in 99th place after climbing 19 places and playing 26 tournaments. The Top 100 play the cash-rich Grand Slam tournaments. He announced his next commitment would be at the Sony Open, of the Master Series of Miami, where there is a cash purse of US$5 million.

He climbed 19 places from 118th on the list after defeating Argentinean Andrea Collarini (ranked 246th) 6-3, 6-4 in the XIX Salinas Open, an ATP Challenger event, playing in Ecuador. He won the tournament and a US$5,750 cash prize.

Estrella told Diario Libre his goal is to be in the world Top 50. He said he has gotten this far without sponsorship, traveling without his coach. Estrella said he would now concentrate on his professional career, and would no longer play in the regional games n Central American and Caribbean or the Pan Am Games.

As reported in Diario Libre, 2013 was Estrella's best year, with earnings of US$66,000 and traveling to 10 countries to play in 21 tournaments.




Carnival festivities continue with the Punta Cana carnival
The best of carnival from all around the Dominican Republic meets in Punta Cana Village this weekend for the annual carnival celebration. Check out the troupes of carnival characters from all over the country as well as Punta Cana itself. 4pm, Saturday, 8 March 2014.

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

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