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Daily News - Monday, 14 April 2014

Plant passion fruit where coffee was before
Over the weekend, President Medina met with the coffee growers gathered in the Association of Producers of Special Coffee of Juncalito in Santiago Province. Coffee growers in the area, as in many areas nationwide, have been affected by the rush virus that has killed countless coffee trees. .

The coffee producers have seen their production drop from 20,000 to 25,000 annual quintals to only 2,000 quintals. The renovation of the coffee plantations is estimated to take three years.

The director of the Special Fund for Farming Development (FEDA), Antonio Lopez suggested that in the meantime, coffee producers plant passion fruit. The FEDA will finance the establishment of passion fruit so that farmers will be able to generate income until the new coffee plantations spring back. President Medina approved RD$12 million financing for the new crop in Juncalito.

President Medina also approved financial support for small vegetable farmers in the region and for the making of bedspreads and sheets by the mothers club of Juncalito.

During the visit, the President also urged that any person that did not know how to read or write sign up for the government's literacy program.


New Gildan apparel plant in San Pedro de Macoris
President Danilo Medina attended the inaugural of a Gildan Activewear apparel plant in the San Pedro de Macoris Industrial Free Zone. Gildan is a leader in sportswear in the US and Canada that began operations in the Dominican Republic in 2004.

The company's executive vice president for global manufacturing, Benito Masi came for the inaugural of the US$12.5 million plant that will employ 2,000. The company also has factories in Bella Vista and Las Americas (Santo Domingo province). It expects to generate more than 5,000 jobs by the end of the year in the Dominican Republic.

Also attending the inaugural was the Administrative Minister of the Presidency, Jose Ramon Peralta and the Minister of Labor, Maritza Hernandez as well as the Ambassador of Canada in the DR, Georges Boisse. Other officials who attended the ceremony included the director general of INFOTEP Idionis Perez, the president of the Association of Free Zones, Aquiles Bermudez and the president of the Association of Free Zones of San Pedro, Eduardo Bogaert.

Gildan is a leading supplier of quality branded basic family apparel, including T-shirts, fleece, sport shirts, socks and underwear. The company sells its products under a diversified portfolio of company-owned brands.

Bani-Azua highway ready by November
The Medina administration has plans to inaugurate the Bani-Azua road system by November. The new highway will bypass the cities of Bani and Azua, so that motorists who are traveling to points further in the southwest can avoid delays.

The Ministry of Public Works is investing RD$850 million in the South Corridor that serves around 7,000 vehicles a day. The highway project calls for the rehabilitation and maintenance of 180 kms from Bani to Barahona. The highway will stimulate commerce and improve the economy of the region.

Engineer Fortunio Ubinas, speaking on behalf of the companies who have won the contracts to construct the highway, told Hoy newspaper that the highway was designed for heavy traffic and it would be 10-15 years before major repairs are needed. Each lane of the highway will be 3.65 meters wide and the road's shoulders would be two meters wide. Reflectors and thermoplastic paint will improve driver safety.


Universities need to synch better with business needs
Minister of Higher Education Ligia Amada Melo expressed frustration that Dominican universities are graduating many students that will have a tough time finding employment.

Melo urged that universities work more closely with the nation's industries so that the education and training curriculum can better prepare students for job opportunities in the country.

Victor Castro also noted that there are also many unemployed or underemployed recent college graduates that are overqualified for the jobs that are available. Castro told Listin Diario that perhaps the universities are more focused on their own bottom lines and less concerned about tailoring their programs to best meet the needs of their students or how to contribute to the development of a skilled workforce that will spur the economic growth.

He said that most youths will be disillusioned if they believe that studying engineering will lead to a higher income than a technician who does not necessarily have a university degree. "I have to admit that today we are paying higher wages to electricians because that talent is scarce in the workforce, compared to, let's say, a plant engineer," he said.

Melo said that the universities insist on graduating students in careers whose job markets are saturated such as marketing, business, law and psychology. Melo said that businesses have jobs for 20 technically skilled workers for every professional.

Melo said that there have been two career marketing studies done, one in 2005 and another in 2008 with Pareto Consulting group that determined the labor needs of productive sectors. She said the MESCYT has also met with businessmen and has said that there is a need for specialized two-year technical careers and has discussed this with the academia with little response.

The comments were made on occasion of graduation time in the Dominican Republic.


International organizations help Haitians get IDs
The European Union ambassador in the Dominican Republic, Alberto Navarra, said that the European Union is very interested in that Haitians get their ID documents. In an interview with Diario Libre, he said that the Organization of American States has provided 6 million Haitians with ID documents and has digitalized around 18 million documents, mostly birth certificates, but also marriage and divorce documents and those of custody, but only of persons of voting age. He noted that there are around 4 million people in Haiti without documents. While in the Dominican Republic, birth certificates and first ID cards are free, this is not the case in Haiti where prior to this effort of international organizations most people did not have ID documentation.

As a result, he said there is an estimate that 209,000 Haitians living in the DR do not have documents and said that the European Union, together with other donors, such as the United States and Canada, are willing "to put order where there is disorder."


Falcondo president discards international arbitration
The president of Falcondo in the Dominican Republic, David Soares says that international arbitration is not being contemplated in the case of Loma Miranda. Soares said that in the past 50 years the company has always solved its problems in the Dominican Republic through dialogue, as reported in Hoy.

The company seeks to exploit 22,000 tareas (1 tarea = 629 square meters) in Loma de Miranda in La Vega. Community, environmental and religious leaders have opposed the exploitation pointing to the environmental track record of the company in previous exploitation areas, such as Loma Peguero.

Environmentalist Luis Carvajal says the company has a debt of US$800 million in non-resolved environmental liabilities. He said the company has spent more in public relations than in environmental remediation.




Iberia returns to the Dominican Republic
The president of Iberia Luis Gallego announced that Iberia will be using new airplanes (A330-300) for the Santo Domingo-Madrid route that once again begins service on 1 September 2014. He said that the airline will fly direct on five days of the week (3,000 seats) on the SDQ-MAD route and those flying Iberia will be able to easily connect to Germany, France, UK, Switzerland and Italy, among other destinations on the Iberia network.

Over 1 million tourists from Europe visited the Dominican Republic in 2013, accounting for close to 25% of the country's tourists, as reported in Diario Libre. Of these European tourists, close to 150,000 came from Spain.. "We want to be the airline that connects the DR with the Old Continent," Gallego told Diario Libre.

He said the company would return to the country with a reduction in operation costs that will enable the airline to offer better deals to Dominican travelers. He said there will be very competitive rates in Business and Tourist classes. Gallego noted that Iberia is a leader on the Europe-Latin American routes. He said that the airline also connects to destinations in Africa and the Middle East.

Many travelers welcomed the news of Iberia's return to the Dominican market. Iberia will certainly provide price competition to the Dominican-Spanish market that had been exclusively serviced by Air Europa.


Dismantling baby-selling ring in Cabrera
The Attorney General's office reported it has dismantled a network that allegedly dedicated itself to sell babies to foreigners. Several persons were arrested in Cabrera, province of Maria Trinidad Sanchez, as reported in Listin Diario. The judiciary announced the arrest of an Italian couple, Rodolfo Subrizi and Lucila Magnanti, who were about to leave the country with a four month old baby for which they had allegedly paid EUR10,000. The court set bail for the husband while the case is heard. Reportedly, the couple was arrested after an intelligence operation under the supervision of Judge Jonathan Baro Gutierrez of the Specialized Prosecutor Force Against the Illicit Trafficking of Immigrants and People, of the Maria Trinidad Sanchez province prosecutor office.

Also arrested were Gabriela Isabel Peralta Gomez, the mother of the child, and Regalado Guzman Cordero and Rosanna de Lucas Garcia who are investigated as being the promoters of the deal. These suspects were ordered to serve three months in preventive custody.


Lunar eclipse tonight
A penumbral eclipse begins on Tuesday, 15 April at 0:55am. The partial eclipse will be able to be detected by 1:59am. By 3:08am a total eclipse phase will begin, according to the Caribbean Astronomic Society. The maximum eclipse will occur at 03:46am when the moon will be closest to the center of the shadow.

The eclipse will be able to be seen until 04:23am before sunrise. The eclipse can be observed without any special eye protection.

Experts advise that the first hour will not offer the best viewing and that observers should get a more impressive show during the second and third hours of the eclipse. During the eclipse, the moon will darken gradually until it becomes a totally reddish disk, then gradually return to normal in two to three hours.

The eclipse will be visible in much of the Western Hemisphere.

To read more on lunar eclipses, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_2014_lunar_eclipse

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

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