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Daily News - Thursday, 20 March 2014

President Medina heads Naturalization Bill discussions
President Danilo Medina met with the Minister of the Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul (Monchy) and the President's Legal Advisor, Cesar Pina Toribio yesterday Wednesday 19 March to discuss the draft naturalization bill. Pina Toribio told the press that no decisions had yet been made. Apparently, President Medina has taken the lead in the discussions after some government officials disagreed with the draft that Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo was planning to present to Congress. El Dia reports that the difference is that the version presented by Montalvo would automatically issue Dominican citizenship to children of undocumented foreigners born in the country, which would have clashed with Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13. It also created concern because as drafted, the bill would encourage mass immigration from Haiti because any foreigner who could find two people to testify that they had been born here would receive Dominican citizenship. The draft does not require any other proof. The dissenting government officials have presented another bill that would be in line with the Constitutional Court ruling that established the principles for obtaining Dominican nationality. The discussions have delayed presenting the bill to Congress, as reported in El Dia.

So far, the Haitian government has made the continuation of the bilateral talks conditional on the presentation of the bill to Congress.


Thousands of Haitian families populate Dominican border areas
A total of 2,420 Haitian families, or 12,642 people, are settled about 98% illegally on the 15-kilometer strip on the Dominican side of the five border provinces with Haiti. The families have been there for between two and ten years. Some 89% cook with firewood or vegetable charcoal, and 52% burn their garbage, causing serious damage to the environment and natural resources.

As reported in Diario Libre, a "Survey of Buildings and Inhabitants of Haitian Nationality" released by the Dominican Ministry of Defense and carried out by the Specialized Border Security Corps of (Cesfront) in the second half of 2013, collected data on the living conditions of these Haitian families on land that includes the border area in Dominican territory. The immigration is attributed to the search for a better quality of life that Haiti does not offer. Barely 32% of the 12,642 know how to read and write, and only 67% speak Spanish. Most of these immigrants live in wooden shacks with tin roofs, more than half of which are rented from Dominicans. Only 8% have indoor sanitary facilities and 78% use latrines. In total, 3,252 men were living in these areas at the time of the survey, as well as 3,176 women and 6,214 children. Minors under the age of 15 represent the majority, with 49%.


Documenting the first European aqueduct in the New World
Architect Maribel Villalona says that the remains of the first aqueduct of the New World have been found during excavation work for the Colonial City renovation program. A 100-meter-long tank and other remains of what is said to be the first aqueduct were found two weeks ago in excavations on Calle Isabel la Catolica, on the east side of the Santo Domingo Cathedral.

The well is estimated to date back to 1540 when the water was sourced from a well and then by gravity to a tank. Villalona said the underground structure was photographed and videoed and would be covered again for conservation. Archeologist Francisco Coste said that the aqueduct ran from the San Francisco Ruins on the north side of the Colonial City down through Arzobispo Merino and Isabel la Catolica streets, ending at the Santa Clara Monastery.


Military and Police asked to renew licenses
The Department Ground Transportation (DGTT) is calling on the National Police to ensure that its own agents renew their driver's licenses in order to have the moral authority to ask civilians for this document. "The military and police have to adopt controls on driving licenses, so that they can have the moral authority to require all drivers to obtain a license," said DGTT director Luis Estrella.

The official stated that the campaign to reduce the number of drivers with expired licenses should be implemented in two ways. "First there is the need to develop an educational strategy for driving on the roads, and the DGTT needs this budget for creating public awareness; the other is through monitoring, and this is where AMET comes into play. There has to be a mechanism for supervision and control so that people know that they have to renew their licenses," he argued. Another thing is to train the police to have a better overview of the problem."

According to a DGTT report, more than 839,000 drivers have expired licenses while another 120,000 licenses are totally out of date, five years after expiring. Of this group, more than 9,000 police agents and nearly 30,000 members of the Armed Forces have expired licenses

Senate to hold hearings on Loma Miranda
A special commission that is studying the bill that seeks to declare the Loma Miranda a National Park says that it will hold public hearings in order to listen to opinions from all sectors. The chairman of the Senate commission, Rafael Calderon (PLD-Azua) said that the initiative for holding these hearings in La Vega is aimed at tackling the diverse viewpoints on the issue in the area. Speaking to reporters after the first meeting in this legislative session of the special commission that he chairs, the legislator made it clear that the United Nations has not made its own study of Loma Miranda; all it did was evaluate the study by Falconbridge Dominicana itself.

He stressed that there is a lot of contradictory information, making it difficult to establish whether the environmental losses caused by the proposed project would be greater than the benefits that the country would receive if mining does go ahead. "This is because the information has not always been supported by studies; they are often repeated without necessarily being backed by previous studies," he stated. He concluded by saying that the Special Commission has received a lot of complementary information from mining, geological, hydraulic and environmental experts.

Everton drills for gold near Pueblo Viejo
Everton Resources has announced the start of a core drilling program on its 100%-owned Ampliacion Pueblo Viejo concession located next to the Pueblo Viejo gold mine (Barrick/Goldcorp) in the central Dominican Republic.

Andre Audet, Everton's Chairman and CEO, said that the drilling program would consist of 10-15 holes, 200 to 300 meters deep, along the boundary of the concession to the east and north to explore the mineralized structures that may extend from the Monte Negro and Arroyo Hondo pits of the Pueblo Viejo complex. These structures have been interpreted from a combination of detailed geological mapping, soils and rock geochemistry, and ground and airborne geophysics.

Everton and Energold Drilling Corp. have entered into a diamond-drilling contract for the Ampliacion Pueblo Viejo property. This drilling program is expected to continue into April. Follow-up drilling will be determined based on the results of the program.

Everton is actively exploring in the Dominican Republic next to the Pueblo Viejo Mine, owned by the world's two largest gold mining companies, Barrick Gold Corporation (60%) in partnership with Goldcorp Inc. (40%)

ADIE says it needs US$1.5 billion
Otto Gonzalez and Milton Morrison of the Dominican Association of Electricity Industries (ADIE) told reporters from Listin Diario that the sector needs at least US$1.5 billion over the next four or five years in order to provide better energy service to the population. Gonzalez said that the industry needs an investment of between US$600 and US$800 million in distribution and another US$600 million in transmission. He said that with adequate investments in distribution they can reduce losses in the system but the main thing will be to work on planning with an up-to-date management structure. This requires clear information and equipment. He said that recent statements by Juan Vicini in a seminar sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce referred to the need to know the quantity of energy that is consumed in the country as well as in Haiti, where, according to Gonzalez, the DR could sell its excess energy.

Call for action against corruption
The editorial in Diario Libre today, Thursday 20 March highlights President Danilo Medina's popularity and his very low rejection rate. It makes the point that Medina is seen as a reasonable, discreet and dedicated politician.

Ines Aizpun writes that Medina is willing, listens, hears, and solves problems for previously ignored groups. "The man 'without charisma' the quiet man, has spectacular popularity rates," she writes.

But she observes that there is another Danilo, and describes him as "complex." This is the Danilo who organized the party while Leonel was President, the one who created the political machinery that took the PLD to power and keeps it there today. She says that Danilo is cold, patient and a strategist. "If he were not, he wouldn't have controlled the party and be President today," she comments.

But she observes that there are substantial matters that can't be improved with goodwill alone. The first thing, according to Aizpun, is political patronage, which she describes as an obstacle to development. "Those payrolls of party faithful who exclude valuable professionals from the workforce to fill government with people sent by the politicians at a high price we all pay." Second, she advocates for tackling corruption with sincerity, not to bluff and then tolerate. "More is achieved with equity, institutionalism and judicial security than giving small loans in remote communities" she writes.

"He can do it, as Leonel could have done in his day. With everything in his favor, Danilo cannot run the risk that what he does not do will continue to kidnap the country's future," she writes.

Nearly 5,000 violent deaths in 2013
The sad fact is that nearly five thousand Dominicans and foreigners lost their lives last year. Some 4,992 people died in 2013 all over the country in murders, suicides, traffic accidents, drowning and electrocutions. This total is 292 fewer than in 2012 when 5,284 deaths were reported, a 5.5% reduction. Police statistics reveal that during the last year, 1,987 people were victims of murder, of which 578 were committed in the province of Santo Domingo, 250 in the National District, 171 in Santiago, and 108 in San Cristobal. The towns with the lowest number of violent deaths were Pedernales, with five, and San Jose de Ocoa and Santiago Rodriguez with seven apiece. The records show that more crimes tend to be committed on Saturdays and Sundays between 6pm and midnight. Last year there were 567 suicides, 481 by men and 86 by women, and they occurred in a greater proportion in the province of Santo Domingo, with 100 cases; 57 in Santiago and 46 in the National District.

Meanwhile, traffic accident fatalities totaled 1,892: 1,671 men and 221 women. There were 312 in the province of Santo Domingo, 135 in Santiago, and 122 in San Cristobal. In addition, 216 people were electrocuted last year, and 330 drowned. According to the report presented by the National Police to the National Congress, the Crime Index in the country has fallen by 23.4% from what it was in 2012 and 20.2% in 2013, the lowest in recent years. The 2012 statistical bulletin from the Public Safety Observatory, an agency of the Ministry of the Interior and Police, indicates that of the 5,284 violent deaths registered that year, the "intentional deaths - homicides and suicides - made up 55.4% of cases, while the "unintentional deaths" - from traffic accidents, drowning and electrocutions - represented 44.6% of cases.

Money laundering authorities are preparing cases
The Dominican authorities in charge of prosecuting money-laundering offenses are preparing cases against people who have been extradited from the United States after serving sentences for drug trafficking. According to German Miranda Villalona, the director of the anti-money laundering department at the Attorney General office, his people are taking the word of new US Ambassador James Brewster who spoke of the need to correct the weaknesses in the extradition laws that are being taken advantage of in both countries. One of the areas that need modifying is article 10 of the extradition agreement that deals with discovery and the corpus delicti against the extradited persons or fugitives when they are sought in other countries since this is a restrictive interpretation by the US authorities. Mirada Villalona said that he hopes that the law will be expanded since the nature of criminal activities has changed since the original treaty of extradition went into effect in 1909.



Truck driver admits error
The driver of the freight truck that struck the 30-passenger bus from Santo Domingo head-on earlier this week and caused nine deaths and several injuries has admitted that he was driving in the wrong lane. Sources at the Metropolitan Transit Authority (AMET) said that Marcelo Aquino admitted that he was in the wrong lane at the time of the accident. An AMET statement in El Caribe says "he invaded the east to west lane in which the minibus laden with passengers was traveling on the way to Vicente Noble and Tamayo...."

According to the article the truck driver was drinking and racing another truck down the highway when the accident occurred. The driver of the other truck then helped Aquino to escape the accident scene and reach the Casa del Conductor in Santo Domingo where he turned himself in. However, he was removed from the Casa del Conductor and taken to jail in Azua where he awaits a hearing on serious charges.

Explosion at gas station in Santiago
An explosion at the Cocigas propane gas station in Santiago yesterday, Wednesday 19 March destroyed seven vehicles. One person was injured, as reported in the press. The fire happened around 10am at a propane station located on Duarte Highway in Arenoso, Canabacoa at the entrance to Santiago. Firefighting units from Moca and Santiago fought the blaze for an hour. The vehicles that were affected were filling up with gas when they were caught in the explosion.


Feria Ganadera
The National Farm and Livestock Fair, the Feria Nacional Agropecuaria, continues at the Ciudad Ganadera in Santo Domingo through Sunday, 23 March. This is the time to see the best of horse and livestock breeds and farm produce. Evening events.


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

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