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Daily News - Tuesday, 15 April 2014

President receives his new identity card
President Danilo Medina received his new biometric identity card (cedula) yesterday, 14 April, an event that marks the start of the issuing of the new Central Electoral Board (JCE) identity card to around 7 million persons in the Dominican Republic.

The president of the JCE, Roberto Rosario Marquez was at the Presidential Palace to complete the process for the President and hand him his new identity card, including taking his photograph, and digitizing his signature and fingerprints.

Rosario emphasized that the card is more secure than the old one. He said it enables the National Police to have access to more data for any specific person. Financial institutions and other businesses, government agencies and organizations will have access to technology to quickly determine whether a card is false.

During Easter Week, the JCE will issue the new identity cards to their staff at 147 offices and 15 mobile units. Starting on Monday, 21 April, the new ID cards will be issued to the general public.

The new identity card is valid for 10 years and is embedded with more than 20 different security measures, making it practically incorruptible, says the JCE.

In addition, identity cards will be issued to minors from 16 to 18 years, military and police personnel and legal foreign residents.


First Lady to go to Rome
First Lady Candida Montilla de Medina will head up the delegation representing the Dominican government at the ceremony for the canonization of former Popes, their Holinesses John XXIII and John Paul II, which will take place at The Vatican on 27 April.

In addition to the First Lady, the delegation includes the current and the ex-Dominican ambassadors to the Holy See, Victor Manuel Grimaldi Cespedes, and Doctor Victor Gomez Berges, respectively.


Hospitals prepare for Easter week
Health officials assured that two principal trauma hospitals, Dario Contreras and Ney Arias Lora, are fully equipped with beds, medicines and medical personnel ready for the anticipated influx of patients during Easter Week, the peak domestic travel time.

The director of the Ney Arias Lora Public Hospital, Dr. Felix Hernandez, said that the hospital had around 60 doctors and 200 beds available as well as the necessary equipment and supplies to meet the anticipated demand of this holiday week. He said that the Emergency Room had been reconfigured and expanded to receive up to 60 patients at any given time, and that six ambulances will be in service for all of the hospitals in the area.

The head of public relations at Dario Contreras Trauma Hospital, Dario Manon said that they too were ready for Easter Week, and that the personnel at the hospital had been trained and was ready to work in a high pressure, almost war zone-like environment. He said that the emergency room was ready for any type of event that might happen during Easter Week, with around 26% of the 185 beds available and sufficient medical staff.


Easter Week in Santo Domingo
Speaking at a press conference, the Mayor of the National District, Roberto Salcedo announced that the third celebration of Easter Week in Guibia Park will start on Thursday, 17 April at 9am. The city government is recreating the water play area at the Guibia Park, at a cost of RD$8.6 million, as reported in Diario Libre. The water play area will be open from 9am to 6pm through Sunday, 20 April.

George Washington Avenue (Malecon) will be closed from Wednesday, 16 April at 3 pm between Socorro Sanchez Street, going from east to west up to San Geronimo Street from west to east for preparations.

At Guibia Park there will be 12 swimming pools, inflatable games, karaoke, concerts, volleyball tournaments, domino game tables and children's games amongst other activities.

Salcedo said that 1,200 cubic meters of sand will be brought in to recreate a beach environment. The city government expects the crowds to exceed the 446,000 visitors, more than last year.

To guarantee the public's safety, there would be five ambulances and around 250 police officers, from the National Police, Municipal Police, Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET), Tourist Police and the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) patrolling throughout the holiday.

Salcedo also emphasized that the filling of the 12 swimming pools would not further worsen the city's current water crisis and that there would be an adequate supply of water distributed to homes throughout the capital. He wryly noted that the city's poor chronically endure water shortages, but all the hotels in the area had full swimming pools. He estimated there were more than 50,000 Jacuzzis in operation in Santo Domingo and no one moans about this situation.

He assured that the water for the pools would come from underground wells located between the City Hall and the Santo Domingo Fire Station.


Call to drive carefully for Easter holidays
The director general for traffic from the Ministry of Public Works, Luis Estrella has called for drivers to practice prudence and restraint during this Easter Week, the peak domestic holiday travel period.

He noted that the institution had issued a very limited number of permits to a few, select trucks to transport goods during the period from Thursday, 17 April at noon, to 6 am on Monday, 21 April. Otherwise, heavy vehicle traffic on the nation's roads will be very light, making travel safer for the general public.

Estrella said that motorcycle riders across the country should especially drive with caution to reduce the number of accidents. Motorcycle accidents have been a major source of road injuries and fatalities during Easter Week. He hoped that the country as a whole would avoid the excesses of the holiday season and wished a safe return home to all travelers after the holidays.


911 system nearly ready
Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo has announced that the new National Emergency and Security System 911 will be able to be accept calls even though a pre-paid telephone being used to make the call may not have sufficient funds available.

Montalvo asked the population to take the new system seriously when it enters into operation at the end of May, and to only call the number when it was really necessary. He went on to say that those who are found to have used the emergency service needlessly would be subject to a fine up to 15 minimum wages.

He highlighted that the system would work 24/7 with the first phase operational in eight municipalities in Greater Santo Domingo. A second phase will expand the service to include Santiago, Puerto Plata province, and the eastern region of the country.


Seniors to be enrolled in Senasa
The National Council of Social Security (CNSS) authorized the government health plan, Senasa, to enroll senior citizens that live in government-run retirement and nursing homes. The manager of CNSS, Rafael Perez Modesto, said that hundreds of senior citizens will be allowed to enroll in Senasa if they meet the legal requirements for the subsidized social security program, have legal IDs, and are not already already affiliated with the system. The initiative is authorized in Resolution 315-01 of April 2014.

Legal system closes tomorrow
The Legal Branch of government announced that it is closing at noon, Wednesday, 15 April for the Easter Week holiday and that the judicial offices will reopen returning on Monday, 21 April. However, The Ministry of Labor lists only Good Friday as a national holiday. A spokesperson for The Judiciary explained that this special vacation time applies to the legal permanent care offices of the instruction court in judicial districts nationwide. This legal branch of the government employs around 7,000 people nationwide, as reported in Diario Libre.

Ship refloated off Pedernales
The Dominican Armada (Navy) has announced that they have successfully managed to refloat the Chinese ship "Great Qin" that ran aground on 7 April off Cabo Rojo in southwestern Pedernales province.

The operation involved two tugboats, two floating cranes and two barges together with the support of two coast guard ships.

The Armada said that when the ship ran aground it was inspected together with its documentation and everything was in order with both national and international protocols.


Illegal foreigners will be deported
The Director General of Migration Jose Ricardo Taveras Blanco has reiterated that all foreigners who do not comply with the requirements of the National Foreigner Legalization Plan face possible deportation.

He stressed that the Plan clearly lays out the process to comply with the law and that all foreigners will be protected by due process under the statutes dictated by the law. The intent of the law is not to identify and deport foreigners who are not legally residing in the country. But rather, the goal of the National Foreigner Legalization Plan is to offer clear guidelines and procedures to acquire legal residency for foreigners who are living in the country, said Taveras. However, he did not discard the possibility of implementing deportations proceedings against those who do not comply with the law. In cases in which foreigners are deemed to be illegally residing in the country and do not choose to regularize their status or leave voluntarily, the Migration Department would collaborate with the Ministry of Interior and the National Police to expel these individuals.

Taveras Blanco stressed that foreigners cannot reside in the Dominican Republic illegally, and that the lax immigration policy that has been tolerated for more than 100 years must end.

He added, as far as international pressures are concerned, there has been a media commotion instigated by a small group of NGOs, but there are many other organizations and entities that understand and support the initiative to normalize the status of foreigners who have chosen to reside in the Dominican Republic.


Drug haul at ports
Agents from the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) have confiscated 479 packets of drugs found inside three containers that came from Peru and Colombia and docked in the Multimodal Caucedo and Haina ports.

In Haina, they found 173 packets of drugs that arrived on the ship Warnow Whale from the port of Barranquilla, Colombia. Three Dominicans were arrested at the scene as they were transferring the drugs into a truck, but the truck driver managed to escape.

In Caucedo, the DNCD found 306 packets of drugs in containers in the ship Spirit Hamburg that came from Peru.

DNCD spokesman Miguel Medina said that the drugs had been sent to the National Institute of Forensic Science (INACIF) to determine their composition and their exact weight.


Murderer of American gets 30 years imprisonment
Judges in the National District have handed down the maximum 30-year jail sentence to Misael Mejia Paredes who was found guilty of murdering American citizen Jay Emerson Poers aged 80 and injuring his German wife, Ana Dorothee Geb Muller.

The court, presided over by Judge Sarah Veras, assisted by Judges Ingrid Fernandez and Gissel Soto, agreed with the evidence presented by Public Prosecutor Eduardo Joel Velasquez.

On 23 August 2012, the accused entered the home of the deceased and attacked them with a knife and beat them. After having killed Poers and injuring Poer's spouse, the accused left with cell phones, a computer and other personal belongings of the couple.

Mejia Paredes was identified by Geb Muller and the cell phones were recovered from people who said they had bought them from Mejia Paredes.


Police dismissed
On 14 April, the Executive Branch agreed with the recommendations of the Upper Police Board to forcibly retire or dismiss for bad conduct 27 police officers: four majors, two captains, nine first lieutenants, seven second lieutenants, two sergeant majors, two corporals and one private, yesterday, 14 April. The dismissals were related to acts of extortion, having links to drug dealers or criminal gangs, and other crimes.

Enforced retirement was recommended for Major Jose Antonio Feliz Perez for negligence as well as Major Daniel de Leon Rodriguez for allowing alcohol inside the jail in Barahona.

In addition, Major Miguel Angel Feliz was dismissed for misconduct, while Major Renato Pena Rojas was dismissed for having stolen a music system from a car which had been involved in an accident in Imbert, Puerto Plata.

The remaining officers were dismissed for extortion, some for taking bribes from people arrested, allowing them to go free, while others dismissed for associating with known criminals.


Easter Special at Ocean World
Ocean World Adventure Park Puerto Plata is extending an Easter Week special offer for groups of visitors who are residing in the Dominican Republic. Groups of 10 people or more get a special rate of RD$999 adults and RD$795 kids (4 to 12 years old). This includes day pass, entrances to the dolphin, shark, sea lion and bird shows. The pass also includes snorkeling in tropical reef and access to the tiger pool, dolphins beach and the birds exhibit. And the pass also includes lunch. This offer is valid during Easter Week and will be extended through April 30th 2014. For additional information call 809-291-2204 or follow Ocean World in Twitter e Instagram @OceanWorldRD www.oceanworld.net

Juan Sebastian de Elcano in Santo Domingo
The Royal Spanish Navy's Juan Sebastian de Elcano tall ship will be in Santo Domingo on Thursday, 24 April for its 20th visit, as reported in Diario Libre. The ship is a four-mast topsail, steel-hulled schooner that measures 113 meters (370 feet) long and is the third largest tall ship in the world. It is named after the Spanish explorer Juan Sebastian Elcano, captain of Ferdinand Magellan's last exploratory fleet.

During her visit, locals will get a chance to learn a bit about Spain's naval history, and Spanish immigrants are welcome abroad for a chance to step onto Spanish "soil" for a few moments. The ship carries the de Elcano coat of arms, granted to the family by Emperor Charles I.

The ship will be open to the general public from Thursday, 24 April at 1:30-7pm. On Friday, it will open from 10am to 1pm and from 1pm to 2:30pm. On Saturday, it will be open from 10am to 1pm and from 1:30 to 7pm. On Sunday, 27 April, the last day, it will be open from 11am to 1pm and 1:30 to 7pm.

The Spanish Embassy noted that the ship is on its 85th training cruise. The ship leaves Monday, 28 April for New York City, prior to returning to Spain.

The commanding officer of the Juan Sebastian de Elcano is Captain Enrique Torres Pineyro, and her crew consists of 24 officers, 22 NCOs, 139 leading seamen and ratings, and 5 civilians.


Santo Domingo Cathedral choir schedule for Easter
The Good Friday traditional Easter Concert at the Cathedral of Santo Domingo has been cancelled. The director of the choir says that the cancellation was due to the difficulties in parking in the area caused by the ongoing remodeling of the Colonial City.

However, the Choir will be performing on Holy Thursday, during the commemorative Easter mass at 8pm. On Easter Saturday, 19 April, the choir will participate in the 3:30pm mass and on Resurrection Sunday, 20 April, the choir will participate in the 12 noon mass.

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

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