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Daily News - Monday, 07 April 2014

President Medina visits farmers in El Seibo
During a visit to farmers in Higua, El Seibo (eastern Dominican Republic) over the weekend, President Danilo Medina stressed that the problems facing the country cannot be solved all at once. He said the government is working so that "little by little" Dominicans can have enough resources to live with dignity. In this particular visit, he announced that funds will be made available to support farming and cattle ranching, the purchase of a water pump, and 20 sewing machines for a small apparel factory in El Seibo.

The funds will be available so farmers can transition from the production of oranges to passion fruit. Diseases have disseminated orange groves in this region of El Seibo. In addition, funds would be used to purchase 175 cows and 25 bulls to increase meat and milk production in the area. The government is financing a central packing facility for fruits and vegetables that is valued at RD$3.5 million. The financial support offered to the farmers is through the auspices of the Special Fund for Agricultural Development (FEDA) of the Presidency.

The President met with members of the Asociacion de Pequenos Ganaderos El Progreso, Asociacion Nuevo Amanecer and Asociacion de Mujeres Nuevo Amanecer in El Seibo.


2014 Budget deficit
The Medina government is operating with a budget deficit of RD$8.9 billion, according to statistics published by the Department of Budget (Digepres) of the Ministry of Hacienda. From January to February 2014, the government reported revenues of RD$62.3 billion, but spent RD$71.2 billion.


RD$10 billion windfall to government for Tricom-Orange merge
On April 5, the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) announced the approval of the transfer of the shares of Orange Dominicana to Altice Republica Dominicana. The approval was notified with Resolution 017-/14 of the Board of Indotel. The merger of Tricom-Orange (approved by the Board of Indotel in Resolution 017-/14) will generate revenues for the Dominican government of more than RD$10 billion. The Altice purchase of Orange Dominicana was reportedly for more than US$1.4 billion. Altice secured the continuing use of the Orange brand for the Dominican market. Prior to the Orange purchase, Altice had purchased majority shares of Tricom.


DR-Haiti postpone April bilateral meeting
The governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic confirmed via their respective Twitter accounts the postponement of the bilateral meeting that had been scheduled for 8 April in Jacmel, Haiti. The new date announced is on Tuesday, 6 May.

As reported, the government of Haiti had requested the postponement.

Top ranking government officers from both countries are discussing issues related to migration, trade, public health, and environment, among others. Representatives of the European Union and other international organizations and agencies are attending the talks.

Prime Minister of Haiti Laurent Lamothe made the initial announcement of the postponement of the meeting that was later confirmed through the Twitter account of the Office of the Presidency of the Dominican Republic. The last binational meeting was on 14 March 2014.

The announcement of the delay in the talks occurs at a time when the Haitian government has changed most of its cabinet ministers. Last week the Haitian government announced the appointment of new ministers of: Foreign Relations (Duly Brutus); Economy (Marie Carmelle Jean-Marie); Culture, (Monique Rocourt); Education, (Nesmy Manigat); Youth and Sports (Himler Rebu); Communication, (Rudy Heriveaux); Interior and Local Administration (Reginald Delva); Defense (Lener Renauld); Service to Haitian Residents Abroad, (Francois Guillaume); Political Party Strengthening (Patrick Joseph Sully).

The postponement is also attributed to the Haitian government's frustration for the lack of progress in drafting a bill that would facilitate naturalization of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican authorities reportedly have delayed acting on the bill in order to be assured that the bill conforms to the Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 that confirmed the rules for Dominican nationality and established the national foreigner legalization plan.


Italy closes Dominican Embassy
Despite an estimated Italian population of 50,000 living in the Dominican Republic, the government of Italy announced the closing of its embassy in Santo Domingo. The Italian government also announced that its missions in Honduras, Iceland and Mauritania and at UNESCO in Paris, France will also be closing.

Thousands of Italians travel to this country every year and the Dominican Republic is a beneficiary of millions of euros in Italian investments. The closure of the Italian Embassy in the Dominican Republic had been rumored since last year.


Alert for quality of extended school days
Elena Viyella, president of Accion Empresarial por la Educacion (Educa) advised Dominicans to learn from the experience in Brazil where the schools that have incorporated the program for extended school days are known as "slow schools" after studies showed the students achieve the same results over longer hours and at a higher cost when compared to the previous abbreviated school day the longer school program has replaced. She stressed that the model of longer school days needs to improve in quality of teaching.

Viyella recognizes that the country is on a "chosen path" of enacting the longer school day program at more than 590 education centers in which approximately 200,000 children now receive state-sponsored lunches.

She noted that in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Paraguay the longer school day program was accompanied by intense training sessions for teachers and directors and significant changes in the curricula.


JCE announces the arrival of equipment for new IDs
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) announced the first shipment of 300 Toppan CP500 machines that will be used to process the new ID cards for an estimated 7 million residents in the country. The issuing of the new ID cards (that will have to be renewed every 10 years) is expected to begin later this April.

Felix Reyna, communications director for the JCE, said that the first batch of photographic machines readers of signature and fingerprints and blank cards that recently arrived are enough to start the process.

The new ID card will be issued to residents in several categories: adults (18 and older), minors (16-17 years of age), military and police and legal residents.


Exporting Dominican pineapples to Italy
The Association of Pineapple Producers of Cevicos (Apropic) made the first shipment of premium pineapples to Italy last week. The pineapples are part of a project that has received funding through FEDA as part of the Medina administration's support for the farming sector.

This first shipment which arrived via airplane in Milan, Italy and is being distributed to fresh produce markets across Italy.

The planting material for the new varieties of pineapples was imported from Costa Rica, at a cost of RD$80 million.

The pineapples are also packaged for export to markets in the US.


DR sells 51% of its products to the United States
Nassim Jose Alemany of Deloitte, writes that the US continues to be the largest market for Dominican exports, accounting for over 51% of all Dominican export goods. Alemany explains that most Dominican exports are manufactured or assembled in duty free industrial zones across the country. Haiti is the second most important Dominican export market followed by Canada. Mineral exports to Canada make up 12% of the total value of exports to that country. CEI-RD statistics indicate exports to the US in 2013 were US$3.6 billion, those to Haiti were US$1.04 billion, and sales to Canada reaching US$974 million.


Chikungunya confirmed for Dominican Republic
The Ministry of Public Health confirmed the existence of the chikungunya virus in the Dominican Republic. Over the weekend, around 150 patients were being treated in San Cristobal for the disease. The disease is a viral infection spread by the same Aedes mosquito that causes dengue. The viruses are transmitted from human to human by the bites of infected female mosquitos. To make matters worse, a person can be infected with both chikungunya and dengue at the same time. It is strongly recommended to take preventive measures to minimize the risk of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Symptoms for chikungunya and dengue are almost identical - high fever (40C/ 104F), headache, eye ache, joint pain (lower back, ankle, knees, wrists or phalanges), rashes and lethargy. Chikungunya is rarely fatal.

Several methods can be used for diagnosis. Blood tests can detect the dengue and chikungunya viruses during the first few days of infection. Beyond the first few days following infection, tests can be performed to detect for the presence of the virus-specific antibodies.

Symptoms appear between 4 and 7 days after the patient has been bitten by the infected mosquito. Symptoms are generally self-limiting and last for 2n3 days. The virus remains in the human system for 5-7 days and mosquitoes feeding on an infected person during this period can also become infected. Chikungunya shares some clinical signs with dengue and can be misdiagnosed in areas where dengue is common.

The best way to distinguish between the two tropical fevers is joint pain.

Currently, no vaccine is available for either dengue or chikungunya and treatment is symptomatic. NSAIDs need to be avoided because of capillary fragility and increased risk of bleeding.

JICA to help DR with power efficiency
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has signed an agreement with the National Energy Commission for launch a technical assistance project aimed at increasing energy efficiency in the Dominican Republic. The technical assistance will begin in June of this year and last for 18 months. There is an energy efficiency bill working its way through Congress.


Vulgarity in urban music is talk of the town
The latest talk of the town is the lost opportunity by popular urban music singers to contribute to a better Dominican Republic. In a front page story today, Listin Diario cites the vulgarity of the lyrics in popular urban music as a contributing factor to increased sexual promiscuity, increased violence against women and the promotion of the consumption of illegal drugs.

In a debate sponsored by the newspaper, psychiatrist Vicente Vargas, composer Manuel Jimenez, musicologist Rossy Diaz, radio station director Ramon Lluberes and the Roman Catholic priest, Gerardo Ramirez shared their views on the trend. "There is no doubt that the lyrics have an effect on people," confirmed psychiatrist Vargas. In his opinion, the music is a reflection of the decomposition of today's society. He urged parents to offer guidance to their children to counter the negative messages that are being sent through media outlets. Composer Manuel Jimenez considered that youths today are victims of a situation they cannot control.

Rossy Diaz noted that in the US there was an alliance between MTV and rap singers to clean up the lyrics.


Documentary on Binational Market wins European award
Competing with 130 participating countries for the DEVCO Communication Awards 2013 of the European Union, the Dominican Binational Market documentary produced by Walkiria Almonte of World Television won the first round of awards for Latin America and the Caribbean. The competition is held during the annual meeting of Europe Aid 500 in Brussels, and included 40 delegations from the European Union. Sixty eight videos were submitted to the committee responsible for choosing the winning entry for competitor countries.

Jonathan Pitts, communications manager for the delegation of the European Union, said that the Dominican documentary won because of it was an excellent showing of technical and artistic ability and portrayed a profound human and social sensitivity.



Old men impregnate Dominican children
Dr. Pedro Sing Urena, president of the Dominican Medical College, the leading physicians association in the Dominican Republic, called for increased awareness of the high number of minors treated in the public hospital maternities as a result of having been impregnated by relatives and adults many times 60 years old and older. He called the situation a "true calamity," during an interview by Hector Herrera Cabral on the program D'Agenda broadcast on Sunday on Channel 11.

The president of the Dominican Medical College said that the situation is a depressing spectacle. He said public hospitals have had to dedicate entire wards to attend to the special needs of the teenage pregnant girls. He said when the teenagers become pregnant they usually abandon their studies, and "you end up with a child having to take care of a child".

He urged the nation to become aware of the problem and mobilize forces to confront this dramatic and sad reality.


Sergio Vargas at Jet Set
Enjoy an evening of romantic boleros and catchy merengues with Sergio Vargas at Jet Set Night Club at El Portal, Av. Independencia in Santo Domingo. Showtime is 9pm, with the start of Chiquito Team Band to warm up the stage. Ticket information, Tel. 809 535-4145


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

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