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Daily News - Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Santiago toll rates dropped to encourage road use
The Ministry of Public Works has announced considerable reductions in tolls for using the new Santiago city bypass. The tolls are being lowered to RD$100 from RD$150 for cars, minivans, SUVs and pickups, and from RD$270 to RD$180 for minibuses. Buses will now pay RD$240 down from RD$360 and large trucks will pay RD$300 down from RD$600.

The highway opened on 24 February but the high tolls were discouraging many drivers from using the bypass, which was designed to reduce traffic through the city.

Tollbooth manager Jesus Tatis said that he noticed an increase in traffic after the reduction, whilst CNTT transport union president Juan Marte said that the northern bypass, which is 24 kilometers long from its beginning at Canabacoa, Santiago, to La Delgada on the Joaquin Balaguer highway, was one of the most anticipated roads in the city but the exorbitant toll cost was deterring many drivers from using it.

Juan Santana, a frequent user, says that the government should drop the price to RD$75 to see an increase in traffic, as reported in Diario Libre.


Improvements to water and sewage in Las Terrenas
According to Kirsis de los Santos representing Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia, and the executive director of the National Institute of Drinking Water and Sewers (INAPA), Alberto Holguin, the Ministry of Tourism (Mitur) and INAPA will invest more than RD$150 million in solving the problem of sewage and lack of drinking water in Las Terrenas, in Samana province.

Alberto Holguin says that Mitur will be investing RD$110 million and INAPA RD$40 million to increase the aqueduct so that all areas of the city could have water. He went on to say that the Ministry of Public Works would pave the roads after INAPA installs the pipes.

Kirsis de los Santos said some of the problems within the area were caused by people disposing of solid waste and that all residents will have to work together to enable the project to be successful.


President Medina and Leonel Fernandez meet on naturalization bill
President Danilo Medina stated that the country was under international pressure regarding migration issues. Speaking earlier today, Tuesday, 25 March, Medina said that the problem was not the pressure in itself, but having the conviction to do what has to be done in response to the situation. "There is international pressure. You see it every day. Many people are in agreement with the ruling and others are not. Our problem is not the pressure. The problem is the inner conviction of what we have to do and that is why I am consulting the leadership of the country," said the President.

President Danilo Medina met with former President Leonel Fernandez yesterday, Monday 24 March, to discuss the Constitutional Court ruling and the Naturalization bill as part of a series of consultations he is having on the issue this week. The meeting took place at the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (Funglode) in Santo Domingo and lasted almost an hour.

The President has met with Presidential legal advisor Cesar Pina Toribio, the president of the National Migration Council and the Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul, as well as Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Roberto Rosario.

Today, Tuesday 25 March, President Medina is due to meet with the former President Hipolito Mejia of the opposition PRD.

The Executive Branch is holding the discussions prior to sending Congress the bill drafted to uphold the human rights of hundreds of people who claim Dominican citizenship.

Minister of Interior and Police Fadul says that the implementation of the Foreigner Legalization Plan is in the hands of the President and its success will depend on high-level meetings with Haiti, the next of which is set for 8 April. Haiti's cooperation is needed to document the immigrants for the subsequent naturalization process.



President Medina meets with US Ambassador
President Danilo Medina met with United States Ambassador James Brewster at the Presidential Palace for around 50 minutes yesterday, Monday 24 March. The meeting took place on the heels of the US issuing a special visa for Juliana Deguis to travel to the US. According to reports, despite not having a passport, Deguis was planning to attend the Inter-American Human Rights Court hearing on her case that took place yesterday. News sources criticized the US government for identifying Deguis in the visa as having Dominican nationality, ignoring Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 that established the reasons why she did not automatically qualify for Dominican nationality. A parallel legalization plan provides the steps for people with strong ties to the country to regularize their status and seek naturalization.

Furthermore, the issuing of the visa came as a surprise because the normal procedure is for the US Consulate to require a current passport to issue the visa. Migration officers at the Las Americas International Airport denied Deguis access to board her flight on the grounds that she did not present a passport to depart.

Yesterday, Monday 24 March, the Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul, prior to meeting with President Medina, said that although the country has weaknesses in some areas, the Dominican Republic is a sovereign state with laws and rules that must be obeyed and no one can leave the country without the necessary documentation.

Referring to the humanitarian visa the United States embassy gave Juliana Deguis that stated that she was Dominican, he commented that no other country had the power to bestow Dominican nationality on a foreigner.

Brewster was not available for comment to the press after his meeting with President Medina.



President Medina meets diplomats
Yesterday afternoon, Monday 24 March, President Danilo Medina and First Lady Candida Montilla attended a cocktail party held in their honor and hosted by the Diplomatic Corps in the country. The event provided ample opportunity for the ambassadors to converse among themselves and with the President and First Lady.

Monsignor Jude Thaddeus Okolo, the papal apostolic nuncio made the welcome speech in his role as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and thanked the President and First Lady for their hospitality.


Dominican Republic criticized on nationality issue
Yesterday, Monday 24 March, the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) criticized the measures taken by the Dominican Republic maintaining its position that there have been violations of human rights with regards to naturalization matters.

In a public hearing, the IACHR asked for an 'immediate' response from the Dominican state to the observations made by the Organization of American States (OAS) and issued following its visit to the Dominican Republic last December.

The IAHCR observations included that the problem in the Dominican Republic had been aggravated by the sentence issued by the Constitutional court which denied citizenship to those children of illegal foreigners in the country and that they considered this to be 'discriminatory'. One of the seven members of the IACHR, Felipe Gonzalez, lamented the fact that the Medina government had not yet responded to these observations and said that people with a right to Dominican nationality should not have to register as foreigners in order to gain their rights. The Dominican government has established that anyone who does not meet the rules that have been in effect since 1929 needs to go through a fast-tracked procedure to demonstrate strong ties to the country and gain Dominican citizenship.

IACHR Commissioner Rosa Maria Ortiz, whilst recognizing that the State was making a big effort, said that it was not going in the right direction, as it was not going in the direction that the United Nations Commission had set out over the past 10 years.

Meanwhile, the Dominican representative at the hearing, ambassador Radhys Abreu maintained the position that the Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 was not acting retroactively in the requirement that to automatically acquire Dominican citizenship at birth a person must be the offspring of a Dominican or a legal resident of the country. The lawyer expressed her concern that the matter had been extensively debated and the country had established its position and legal right to determine who receives Dominican citizenship. She said that the Central Electoral Board (JCE) that is responsible for civil registry has already established the number of foreigners resident in the country.


Migration experts on US visa to Deguis and passport requirement
TV talk show host and migration expert Yadira Morel has told the press that the US was fully within its rights to issue a visa to a person who did not have a passport, while clarifying that no one can travel without the document. She said it is up to migration inspectors to decide whether a person can enter or depart the country, and the visa does not guarantee this, as reported in El Dia. Juliana Deguis, the test case used in the Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 to establish who automatically received Dominican citizenship, was not allowed to travel to the US despite the US government issuing her a special visa. In the special visa she is identified as a Dominican, despite a widely publicized Dominican Constitutional Court Ruling to the contrary. Dominican According to Migration inspectors, a passport is an essential requirement for a Dominican to leave the country.


High cost of overseas diplomats
Today's Diario Libre, Tuesday 25 March examines the excessive number of vice consuls, assistants and advisors appointed by the government at Dominican embassies and consulates overseas.

The country has 95 vice consuls in the United States, 36 of them in New York as well as 102 assistants, 54 in New York. The vice consuls have a monthly salary of US$1,750, and the assistants US$920 a month, plus allowances which add up to four times this amount, as reported in Diario Libre.

According to the staff list published by the Ministry of Foreign Relations, there are 21 vice consuls and 32 assistants in Miami. In Spain, 34 vice consuls and 49 assistants. In Madrid there are 11 vice consuls and 28 assistants.

The number of Dominicans working in embassies and consuls overseas in much higher than countries with higher populations such as Mexico that employs 33 diplomats at its embassy in the United States and 15 at the United Nations (UN). The Dominican Republic has 62 on the UN embassy payroll, including 10 deputy ambassadors with salaries of US$3,000 a month, 13 minister counselors receiving US$2,000, and 21 advisors receiving US$1,600.

Deputy Minou Tavarez Mirabal, who chairs the Chamber of Deputies Foreign Relations and International Cooperation Commission, said that the overseas service should be reorganized and a new bill would need to be sent to Congress on the subject because the previous one has expired.


Plans for water shortage
The director of the Santo Domingo Corporation of Aqueducts and Sewers (CAASD), Alejandro Montas says there is no water crisis despite the current drought, but confirmed there is a water shortage for which they are preparing.

He said that if the drought continues then they would implement the emergency program, which will begin to limit the amount of water that people receive. Consumers who receive water three days a week will receive it twice, those who get it for four days will go down to three and those on five days a week will go down to four.

He went on to say that at the moment they did not need to implement this program as the water shortage usually only occurs in February, March and April and the rains should return at the end of April.


Exports up to Switzerland
Exports to Switzerland were up 52% last year, compared to 2012, says Swiss ambassador Line Leon-Pernet. She said that the country sold 23 million in Swiss francs to Switzerland from January-November 2013, of which 16 million were farm products and two million textiles. She said the DR imported items worth 19 million Swiss francs from Switzerland. The ambassador said there was great potential for increasing exports of agricultural products to Switzerland, mentioning the demand for Dominican pineapples. The Dominican-Swiss Chamber of Commerce promotes trade between both countries and there are direct flights from Switzerland with cargo space.


Many not allowed to leave the country
More than 160,000 Dominicans and around 1,600 foreigners based in the country have exit bans against their names, according to sources at the Las Americas airport. They have been issued over the last 19 years with most being since the year 2000, for homicide, fraud, document forgery, kidnapping, motor vehicle accidents, and not paying child support.

According to the source many of the reasons for these exit bans do not exist anymore but the people are still on the list as not being allowed to leave. The list includes active and retired members of the Armed Forces and the Police, and former government members, legislators, mayors and diplomats.


Cholera outbreak under control
Yesterday, Monday 24 March, Minister of Public Health Freddy Hidalgo confirmed reports of an outbreak of cholera in La Pinita in Higuey last week, which has left one man dead and nineteen affected.

He said that it occurred when people drank water from a well contaminated with fecal matter. Public Health and the National Institute of Drinking Water and Sewers (INAPA) had intervened and made the area safe, so now everything was under control and only three people were still in hospital.

He was speaking on World Tuberculosis Day and said that the Public Health system had treated more than 4,000 people with TB, which was a curable disease. He warned that if someone had a cough for more than 15 days they should go to the doctor to check for tuberculosis.


No charges in case of beauty salon owner who killed thief
State prosecutors have announced that no charges have been presented against Germania Francisca de Vasquez who killed a thief after he had robbed her customers and was leaving the salon. She used a handgun for which she has legal permission. Santo Domingo prosecutors say they are in possession of a video with evidence that the salon owner had acted in self-defense.

Vasquez, 39, was ordered to make regular court appearances and although the case is open, no charges were levied.



Humor Festival honors the late Luisito Marti
The Second Humor Festival is set for the new Escenario 360, the show area of the Galeria 360 mall on Av. John F. Kennedy in Santo Domingo. The event will take place from 27 to 29 March at 8:30pm. This year's lineup includes Colombian Piter Albeiro, Mexican Tony Balardi and Cuban Bonco Quinongo, according to Producciones Marti, the production company. Dominicans Irving Alberti, Leondy Osoria and Jochi Jochi will perform on Thursday, 27 March, the opening night. On Friday, 28 March Dominicans Fausto Mata, Aquiles Correa and Jochy Santos promise to have everyone laughing non-stop. On Saturday 29 March, the three international guest performers will take the stage together with Cuquin Victoria (winner of the Grand Soberano Showbiz Award this year, and comedians Juan Carlos Pichardo and Felipe Polanco. Tickets are for sale at ticketexpress.com.do, ueUepa Tickets and at the Galeria 360 box office.

1K Marathon with your pet
The 1K-Nino RD 2014 is scheduled to take place on Sunday, 30 March starting at 9am. The run with pets will take place at the Feria Ganadera, off the Santo Domingo Malecon. The event is a benefit to raise public awareness of Law 242-12 on Animal Protection and Responsible Animal Ownership.

During the event there will also be basic dog training advice, animals up for adoption, free veterinary check-ups, pony rides, and more.

To register, go to cotorrita.net


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

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