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Daily News - Tuesday, 01 April 2014

New air traffic control centers opened
President Danilo Medina inaugurated two modern air traffic control centers at Las Americas International Airport (SDQ) and Punta Cana International Airport (PUJ) yesterday, Monday, 31 March.

During the inauguration, the director of the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC), Alejandro Herrera said that both centers were the most modern and efficient in Central America and the Caribbean and are a model for the region. US$15,640,000 was invested in the centers.

Herrera said that both centers were equipped with the latest generation radar, flight data processors and recording data, as well as dual configuration so that they could receive and process signals simultaneously.

Herrera highlighted the contributions to the project made by the Corporacion Aeroportuaria del Este that manages the Punta Cana International Airport.

Following the ceremony, President Medina toured the new installations.



President confident about naturalization impasse
President Danilo Medina, who held a series of meetings throughout the month of March with influential political and social leaders to discuss the drafting of the naturalization bill, has said that he hopes the proposal will eventually be sent to National Congress, and that if it does not please all of the people, that it would at least be acceptable to the majority. The bill would need to be in harmony with Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 that clarified who is Dominican and called for the implementing of the Foreigner Legalization Plan.

When asked by journalists if the Dominican authorities would discuss the matter with Haiti during the 8 April bilateral talks in Jacmel, Medina said they would wait and see, as they would not commit to something that might not happen. "I cannot commit to firm deadlines, have to do this calmly. This has taken years, I cannot be rushed," he said.

He went on to say that everyone he had spoken to shared a spirit of cooperation for the drafting of the bill.

President Medina has publicized the home visits he has made to hear the opinions of Luis Abinader, Hipolito Mejia, Miguel Vargas Maldonado of the PRD, and Hatuey de Camps of the PRSD, in addition to Cardinal Nicolas Lopez Rodriguez. He is now expected to hear the opinion of the evangelical church spokespersons.

The President said the bill would be delivered to all the leaders he has visited prior to sending to Congress.


New Director General for Bellas Artes
The Executive Branch has appointed actor and filmmaker Felix German as the new Director General of the Dominican fine arts schools (Bellas Artes), taking over from Franklyn Dominguez who has retired.

The announcement was made in Decree 109-14, signed by President Danilo Medina.

Felix German is a civil engineering graduate from the Central Eastern University (UCE) who became involved in acting and directing from an early age. He studied theater at the HB Studios Academy in New York and has produced more than 50 stage productions in his career and appeared in several films.


Education Pact handed over
The Coordinating Committee for the Education Pact, chaired by Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado has handed over the final agreement to President Danilo Medina.

Nunez Collado was accompanied by Higher Education Minister Ligia Amada Melo, as well as trade union leader Rafael Abreu and other committee members.

The pact includes strategic points for improving Dominican education, such as teacher training, and making sure the classes operate for their assigned time. The Pact, whose drafting was called for in the National Strategic Plan Law, is due to last until 2030.


New identity cards nearly ready
The new identity cards (cedula) will start being issued in the National District as of 15 April, according to Felix Reyna, communications director for the Central Electoral Board (JCE), the governmental entity in charge of civil registry. Reyna said that between April 2 and 21 the JCE will be limiting some of the services they offer to the general public as they will be working on the new platform for the identity cards.

However, he said everyone with problems with their birth certificates should solve them now as they will not be charged.

Reyna also announced a press campaign to inform people how to obtain the new cedulas that will be issued to seven million citizens via 146 JCE centers throughout the country.


Metro Line extension begins
Excavations for the extension of the second Santo Domingo Metro line to eastern Santo Domingo has begun, announced the Transport Reorganization Office (Opret) and the municipality of Santo Domingo East. The extension will benefit the most populated areas of Greater Santo Domingo.

Opret director Diandido Pena thanked President Medina for his support. The new line will extend from the Francisco Rosario Sanchez Bridge to the Megacentro shopping center in eastern Santo Domingo. The works, estimated to cost US$385 million, are scheduled for completion before President Medina ends his term of office in August 2016, assuming that the funds are issued on time, said Pena. But Pena said that for the line to go into operation, more cars needed to be purchased for the extended route.

The Mayor of Santo Domingo East, Juan de los Santos said that he had never lost faith that the eastern extension to the Metro would be built.


New Free Zone companies
The Minister of Industry and Commerce and president of the National Council of Free Zones (CNZFE), Jose Del Castillo Savinon, says that they have approved eight new industrial free zone companies that will add 400 jobs. Three of the new companies are located in Puerto Plata.

The new companies will invest around RD$116.1 million and generate around US$2.8 million of foreign currency.

He highlighted that the industrial free zone sector is experiencing a period of recovery and growth as well as continued diversification.

Del Castillo visited the United Near Offshore (UNO) call center with 1,300 employees as well as D'Clase Shoes that manufactures high quality shoes for brands such as Sebago, Timberland and Sperry, and with 1,700 employees. Both are located in the Gurabo Free Zone in Santiago.

Also present were Aura Toribio, governor of Santiago province, Aquiles Bermudez, president of ADOZONA, the Free Zone Association and Jose Clase, president of the Gurabo Free Zone amongst others.


Ambassador De Castro praises Washington, D.C. staff
Dominican ambassador to the United States Anibal de Castro has the good news that political patronage does not prevail among the Dominican Embassy staff in Washington, D.C.

In a letter to Diario Libre, which recently published a series of reports on the excesses at many Dominican missions abroad, de Castro says that 10 staff members are accredited by the US government. He says that the embassy staff includes members who speak five languages in addition to Spanish, and most have obtained postgraduates in universities outside of the Dominican Republic. "What prevails in the team is the service vocation and sense of duty that explains the many tasks they undertake, despite the fact that their wages are lower than what diplomats in other embassies earn," writes De Castro. In addition there are five administrative assistants who are duly registered with the US Department of State.

De Castro stressed the important role the Embassy has played in explaining the Dominican stance on the Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13.


El Salvador president to visit
The President-elect of El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren will be in Santo Domingo on Friday, 4 April as part of his Central American and Caribbean tour prior to assuming the presidency of his country. Sanchez Ceren will also be visiting Panama and Nicaragua to discuss issues of common interest. He has already visited two other members of the Central American Integration System (SICA), Guatemala and Belize.

Sanchez Ceren won his country's presidential election on 9 March and will take over the presidency on 1 June 1 for the 2014-2019 period.


Japan donates US$5 million for hybrid vehicles
The government of Japan is donating 125 hybrid vehicles, announced the Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development. The US$5 million donation for the purchase of the vehicles was made via the Japan International Cooperation System (JICS). Japanese Ambassador Soichi Sato signed the agreement with Deputy Minister for International Cooperation Inocencia Garcia Javier in the name of Minister Temistocles Montas.

The vehicles, which will arrive later this year, will be assigned to 16 government ministries and to the Emergency Operations Center (COE). They also will be assigned to the border development and migration units, said the Ministry of Economy.

The hybrid vehicles are fueled by gasoline or diesel with electric engines or batteries, as reported in El Dia.


High tolls of highway sets Samana back
The president of the Samana Cluster, Rafael Blanco, says that the high tolls on the Santo Domingo-Samana highway are an obstacle to development of tourism in the province. He said that a car or SUV needs to pay RD$1,876 in tolls or around US$45 for the return trip.

He called for the government to help find a solution. Tourists heading overland to Puerto Plata from Santo Domingo pay RD$30 + RD$200 for the bypass road (return), and visitors headed to Punta Cana pay RD$300 (return) for comparable distances.

Blanco called for a meeting with the tourism commission of the Chamber of Deputies calling for a meeting between the Autopista del Nordeste S.A. that manages the tolls and the private sector. Samana businessmen Federico Schad, Pavel Martinez and Alejandro Orsini also spoke at the meeting, which was chaired by deputy David Collado. The businessmen said the high tolls also affected the transport of perishables. The toll road to Samana cuts driving time from the capital to Samana by half.

Amber stone with flowers found in Hato Mayor
A piece of amber with a flower encrusted was found in one of the 12 amber mines recently opened in El Cabao, Hato Mayor province. The find is valued at RD$1.2 million. According to entomologists and biologists, it can explain the existence of ornamental plants in the area millions of years ago. In February another rock was found with fossilized flowers that was valued at RD$16.8 million.

The forest area is located on the outskirts of the Los Haitises National Park. The El Valle area is now being dubbed the "amber capital of the Caribbean."

According to reports, some farmers have abandoned their work to dig for amber in the area. Many of the findings are of the blue amber variety, which is the most valued by jewelers.


General issued with writ accused of murder
According to Listin Diario, retired General Ramiro Matos Gonzalez went to the Attorney General's office yesterday, Monday 31 March to be interviewed about the murder of Manolo Tavarez Justo and his companions at Las Manaclas, San Jose de las Matas, on 21 December 1963. Diario Libre says that he was not interviewed, simply informed about the writ issued against him.

He appeared in front of Assistant Attorney General Bolivar Sanchez Veloz, accompanied by his lawyers Miguel Valerio, Juan Nunez and Luz Maria Duquela at around 11am.

At the same time a group of 50 retired Generals from the Armed Forces and the National Police went to show their support to Matos Gonzalez, and agents from the police SWAT team were on hand at the entrance to the building.

The meeting took place following a writ issued against him by Deputy Minou Tavarez Mirabal and her brother Manuel Enrique, 50 years after their father's murder.

The writ includes officers and enlisted men who were under the command of General Matos Gonzalez, also accused of the murders of Jesus Antonio Barreiro Rijo (Tony), Ruben Alfonso Marte Aguayo, Federico Jose Cabrera Gonzalez, Jaime Ricardo Socias, Fernando Arturo Ramirez, Ruben Diaz Moreno, Juan Caonabo Abel, Alfredo Peralta Michel, Antonio Folion (Manchao), Manuel de los Santos Reyes Diaz (Reyito), Jose Daniel Fernandez and Manuel de Jesus Fondeur (Piculin).

Those issuing the writ include the Patriotic Foundation, the Manolo Tavarez Justo Foundation, the Foundation of the Heroes of 30 May, the Mirabal Sisters' Foundation, the Foundation of the Heroes of Constanza, Maimon and Estero Hondo, the Foundations of the Heroes of Luperon and the Amaurys German Aristy Foundation.



Dominican food blog makes Saveur Awards finals
Dominican food blog Aunt Clara's Kitchen by Clara Gonzalez and Ilana Benady has been selected in the Best Regional Cuisine Blog for the Saveur Magazine Best Food Blog Awards 2014. The Dominican food blog is competing with Acadiana Table (Cajun), Bottom of the Pot (Persian), Indian Simmer (Indian), Jun-blog (Filipino), and Rose Water & Orange Blossoms (Lebanese). Saveur Magazine editors chose the finalists from a total of 30,000 blogs for their work in 2013.

Readers can help Aunt Clara's Kitchen win the award for the Dominican food by voting.

See www.saveur.com/content/best-food-blog-awards-vote

Orlando Antigua to coach South Florida University in NCAA
The coach of the Dominican Republic team in the World Basketball Championship, 40-year old Orlando Antigua has been appointed coach of the South Florida University of the NCAA league. He is the first Dominican to be appointed. He has served as assistant coach working with John Calipari from 2008 at Memphis and then as of 2009 at the University of Kentucky. At present Antigua is playing the Final Four with Kentucky.



La Oreja de Van Gogh at the National Theater
Spanish pop rock music group La Oreja de Van Gogh (LOVG) is booked for the National Theater in Santo Domingo on Saturday, 5 April 2014 at 8:30pm. The performance is part of the group's Primera Fila tour. Tickets are for sale at ticketexpress.com.do for RD$2,000, RD$3,000.


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

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