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Daily News - Friday, 21 March 2014

Footwear mission in China
Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta is heading a Dominican private-public mission that is in China to convince US footwear companies to relocate manufacturing operations to the Dominican Republic. The mission also includes Minister of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo and the director of the National Export Free Zone Council Luisa Fernandez. A new National Footwear Commission, with the backing of the two ministers, has been formed to help with logistics, technical issues, staff training and seek investors for the footwear industry. The trip to China to convince major companies to relocate here is a result of the new coordinated private-public sector initiatives.

The delegation is visiting companies in the south of China that are responsible for 70% of the footwear exports to the US, said Aquiles Bermudez, president of the Dominican Association of Export Free Zones who is also on the mission. He said many have shown an interest in relocating their production to the Dominican Republic, while adding that training local operators is a key issue.

"China is becoming a middle-class society and this changes its low-wage based production model," he said. According to Bermudez, the DR offers good infrastructure, proximity to the US and free trade agreements such as DR-CAFTA," he said. General Shoes has already announced it will be opening a factory in Santiago where 2,000 new direct jobs will be created, he added.

During the visit to China, the group met with Wolverine in Macau.

Other members of the mission were Santiago Free Zone Corporation president Miguel Lama, Bojos Tanning president Luis Jose Bonilla, Jose Clase and Jose Miguel Clase of D'Clase Shoes and Silvia Cocho and Ebell de Castro of CNZNFE.


Four new schools opened in Samana
President Danilo Medina was in Las Terrenas yesterday, Thursday 20 March for the formal opening of six new schools n Escuela Basica Profesor Juan Bosch in Come Plan (Las Terrenas), Basica Juan Hector Moya Cordero in Punta Gorda and Basica Altagracia Medina de Brito (Sanchez), Basica Johanna Diaz (El Catey) and Belarminio Calvo in Samana city. The ceremony took place at the Politecnico Santo Esteban Rivera. The total of 69 more classrooms includes 52 new and 17 remodeled ones for a RD$177.3 million investment in education in Samana. The new facilities are part of the government's extended school day program.

Senate approves US$71.8 m loan for Azua irrigation project
The Senate has approved a US$71.8 million loan to finance the completion of the Azua II-Pueblo Viejo irrigation project in Azua. The project is the responsibility of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INDRHI). The funds will be provided by the Brazilian government export agency BNDES and the work will be carried out by a Brazilian company, Constructora Queiroz Galvao S.A


Senate returns Family Code bill to the Presidency
The 800+ page Family Code was returned to the Presidency for further study yesterday Thursday 20 March. Vice President Margarita Cedeno delivered the project to President Danilo Medina earlier this year for sending to the Senate. It was returned on the grounds that it is conflict with many laws. The bill had met with widespread criticism for being ultra-conservative and not taking into account the fact that 40% of Dominican households are headed by a single parent.

CAID, Rehab to work together for special needs kids
The First Lady's Office and the Dominican Rehabilitation Association (Rehabilitacion) have agreed to join forces in benefit of the Integrated Care Center for Children with Disabilities (CAID). The staff of both institutions will have access to all areas, programs and departments to support children with special needs and contribute to the strengthening and sustainability of the CAID, a new organization created under First Lady Candida Montilla. The agreement was signed yesterday, Thursday 20 March by the First Lady and Dona Mary Perez, the founder and long-time president of Rehabilitacion.

"I know the vast experience that you have had in Rehabilitacion will help us greatly and at the same time CAID will do all necessary to create linkages with you and share knowledge and everything that can be done to benefit children with different abilities," said Montilla, upon announcing the agreement.


Metro will transform Santo Domingo East
Metro Office (OPRET) deputy director Leonel Carrasco says that the Metro's arrival in Santo Domingo East will transform that side of the capital. The plan is for it to connect with the intersection of San Vicente de Paul and Mella avenues near the Megacentro shopping complex.

OPRET is in the process of relocating 800 families from Gualey and Los Mina at the site where the new bridge that will be parallel to the Francisco del Rosario Sanchez Bridge at Av. Padre Castellanos (la 17) will be built. Carrasco said that several residences and business would also have to be relocated from the Av. San Vicente de Paul with Av. Fernando Navarrete area.

He said that work would begin on the construction of four kilometers of tunnels under the Av. San Vicente de Paul next week.

The area will benefit from the underground installation of much of the electricity, telecommunications and TV cabling (especially beneficial in a hurricane), construction of new substations for a total of 120 megawatts to the area, as well as new drainage systems.


Metro feeder buses ceded to OMSA
After years of trying to turn 88 new buses into feeder routes for the two lines of the Santo Domingo Metro, the OPRET has announced that the buses would instead be integrated into OMSA routes. OMSA is the Dominican government bus line that operates alternative routes to the Metro. The buses, which have been parked for more than a year, were purchased during the Leonel Fernandez administration and cost over US$8 million. Privatized transport unions have opposed the operation of the feeder routes by the government. The government finally gave in and authorized the buses to operate in the OMSA routes.

JCE opposes attending another IACHR session
Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Roberto Rosario says that the Dominican Republic should not attend the next session of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) because, in his view, the court is biased against the country and has already issued its opinion after its recent visit. The IACHR opposes the Dominican government's plan to legalize immigrants in the Dominican Republic. Rosario sent the press a communication to the Ministry of Foreign Relations notifying it of this position. He said the session would be used to put pressure on the Dominican government.

"We should not, under any circumstances, tolerate pressure on our country from several international organizations with meddling attitudes that violate diplomatic rules and undermine our national sovereignty. It is our duty and that of the Dominican state to preserve the mandates and rules of the Constitution of the Republic, as a free and sovereign country to allow any citizen from abroad to remain in the country providing they are duly registered," stated Rosario.

The JCE president said it was not up to the IACHR to decide which officials should represent the country. Rosario said that is a right of the Ministry of the Republic.


Environmental resources are savings for new generations
In a column in today's Diario Libre, Friday 21 March, economist Pedro Silverio writes that environmental resources such as Loma Miranda should not be mined because preserving the environment is leaving reserves for the future generations. Silverio says that the government has overextended itself by taking on debt that will need to be repaid by future generations. He advocated leaving these environmental resources untouched as a reserve for the future.

In its mining proposal for Loma Miranda, Xstrata Nickel Falcondo says it will exercise responsible mining practices and will only affect a part of the mountain. Environmentalist Jose Manuel Mateo says that there is no way to mine in part of the mountain without damaging the ecosystem because of the environmental linkages.

Falcondo argues that the government is planning to build the San Juan-Santiago highway through national park areas, and that this will be more damaging than their proposed mining in Loma Miranda. Environmentalists are also expected to oppose the San Juan-Santiago highway that will open up mining activities in national park areas.

Environmentalists point to the company's negative track record in the nearby Loma La Peguera.

The Chamber of Deputies has approved a bill that would turn Loma Miranda into a national park, granting it protected area status that would prevent any mining from taking place in the area. The Senate is debating the bill, but the pro-mining Medina administration has continued to support the company in its bid. The director of Mines, Alexander Medina, is a former Falcondo employee.




Commonwealth Roundtable announces new consuls
To facilitate travel and business with members of the Commonwealth countries, two honorary consuls have been appointed by the governments of Australia and India.

Businessman Fernando Rainieri, a former Minister of Tourism of the Dominican Republic, was named honorary consul for Australia. Rainieri has served as secretary of the board of directors of the Commonwealth Roundtable in the Dominican Republic for years.

Meanwhile, Campos de Moya was appointed honorary consul for India. He is the director of the Commonwealth Roundtable and is a corporate executive at the Vicini Group. He is also the president of the British Chamber of Commerce, and member of several other boards.

Exporting capers from Montecristi
Montecristi caper farmers want to sell their product on the local market where some US$20 million a year is spent on importing capers, a key ingredient in several Dominican dishes. The Dominican-grown capers have been exported to Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. The governmental Specialized Fund for Agricultural Development (FEDA) recently granted a soft loan to the Zafarraya Agricultural Cooperative Union.


Dominican takes on US citizenship at 101
Yesterday, Thursday 20 March the US media reported the story of 101-year old Braulia Fabian who was sworn in as a US citizen. The Dominican immigrant took the oath of allegiance to the US at a ceremony at her home in New York City. She became a permanent US resident in 1990. As reported, she lives with a son in the Bronx and has 12 grandchildren, 28 great grandchildren and 11 great-great-grandchildren. She will be 102 on 26 March.



Court revokes bail for sergeant found with US$500,000
Judges of the Penal Chamber of the Court of Appeals have ordered three months preventive custody for Police sergeant Eduardo Andres Massanet Martinez, who was found in possession of US$500,000 in a SUV in Santo Domingo last month. Judges Eduardo Sanchez, Doris Pujols and Antonio Sanchez revoked a previous ruling that ordered his release under bail. The new order sends him to Najayo jail. National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso had appealed the release order.

Massanet admitted to being in possession of the money but argued that they were the result of clothing and footwear transactions by his family business. Prosecutors say that Massanet was unable to convincingly justify the source of the money. An investigation by state prosecutors is now underway in coordination with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).


Juan Luis Guerra joins Paul Simon for Cooperstown 75th anniversary concert
Dominican contemporary music great Juan Luis Guerra will join the likes of 12-time Grammy Award winner Paul Simon for the Diamond Anniversary of the National Baseball Hall of Fame & Museum in Cooperstown when it celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The concert is set for Saturday, 2 August 2014, six days after the annual induction ceremony.

Other special guests will be the world renowned Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra that will serve as the house band for the evening. The event is a benefit for the museum.

The live event will also celebrate the 75th Anniversary of Little League Baseball, as well as other iconic baseball organizations including American Legion Baseball and Minor League Baseball.


Carnival in Harvard museum
Carnival is a big celebration in the Dominican Republic and for several years now Dominican immigrants in Massachusetts have been having their own celebration. The Massachusetts Carnival Association has announced that its 2014 parade will start at 2pm on Saturday, 29 March at the Peabody Museum of Archeology & Ethnology at Harvard University in Cambridge. (11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA, Tel 617 496-1027). Carnival participants will be able to learn more about the DR through games, crafts, snacks and sound-tracked stories where the audience adds the drama. The event is presented in conjunction with the Harvard Dominican Student Association.


Taekwondo international
The Dominican Republic will be hosting the Qualification Tournament for the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Sports Games on 2-3 April 2014. The CACSO Games are scheduled to take place in November 2014 in Veracruz, Mexico.

The competitions will take place at the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center's Volleyball Pavilion and Combat Pavilion.

Immediately after this event, Santo Domingo will host its most important world taekwondo competition, the Santo Domingo Open International Taekwondo Tournament from 5-6 April 2014 at the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center. Some 1,000 athletes from 40 countries are expected to attend, said Dominican Taekwondo Federation president Francisco Camacho. Camacho said that the country would be the world capital of taekwondo for the event.

For more information, Tel 809 566-7318 or [email protected]

The Dominican Republic will be represented by Yohaira Diaz, Candelaria Marte, Yahaira Peguero, Dinansi Polanco, Deysy Montes de Oca, Ana Matos, Mayelin Reyes and Katherine Rodriguez in the women's categories. The men are: Jhovanny Barthemi, Edward Espinosa, Manuel Guillen, Moises Hernandez, Cesar Martinez, Ruddy Enmanuel Mateo and Kilvio Mejia.

Camacho said that local athletes who did not qualify to compete in the Central American and Caribbean competition will be able to take part, including Beijing Olympics silver medalist Gabriel Mercedes and Luis Pie.

Alejandro Fernandez at the Quisqueya Ballpark
Mexican singer Alejandro Fernandez (El Potrillo) is booked for a concert in Santo Domingo as part of his Confidencias World Tour that is taking him to 19 countries. The Latin Grammy winning and multi-platinum selling Mexican superstar is promoting his new Confidencias album that debuted at #1 on the Bill Board Latin charts. The production has toured 11 major US cities prior to coming to Latin America. The Confidencias tour promises an unprecedented concert from one of the most iconic voices in Mexican musical history. The dazzling show pays homage to Mexico via Fernandez's exceptional mariachi, orchestra and vocal prowess, featuring a collection of his greatest hits, including traditional "rancheras", pop hits and songs from the new album. The show also includes new musical arrangements and innovative technology including mobile structures in which more than 230 robotic lights dance along with a giant screen that brings to life breathtaking scenes from Mexico. The show is booked for Saturday, 22 March 2014 at 7:30pm at the Quisqueya Ball Park in Santo Domingo. Tickets are available through ticketexpress.com.do

Virgin Mary art exhibit at Basilica Museum
The Virgin Mary in the Americas exhibition is now open at the La Altagarcia Museum at the Basilica Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia in Higuey. The 30 paintings are by Dominican naif painter Jose Morillo and are in different formats. Morillo's works are exhibited at the Modern Art Museum in Cartagena, Colombia and the Museo del Barrio in New York City, as reported in Diario Libre.

The exhibit also features paintings of the Virgin Mary that are venerated in other Latin American countries, in addition to the Dominican Republic.

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

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