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Daily News - Thursday, 24 April 2014

Medina urges people to take care of new Boca Cachon
"Here you have everything.... now take care of your town!", exclaimed President Danilo Medina yesterday, 23 April 2014, at the inauguration ceremony for the new town of Boca de Cachon in the southwestern province of Independencia. Medina has described the town as a model for the relocation of low-income families.

The residents of the original Boca de Cachon had suffered the loss of extensive areas of town because of severe flooding during tropical storms Noel and Olga in 2007. Properties in the town and surrounding areas were also being consumed by the rapid expansion of Lake Enriquillo.

The construction of the new Boca de Cachon included 560 new houses, elementary, secondary and vocational schools, a primary health care clinic, heliport, parks, sports and recreation facilities, a fresh food market, a community center, two churches, the city hall, a national police station, an INAPA water office, a telecommunications center, a water treatment plant, a senior citizens center, an office of the Red Cross, a farm support center and a fire station.

In addition to the improvements in the town itself, the government cleared and prepared 53,000 tareas (1 tarea=629 square meters) of farmland to be worked by farm families who had lost their lands and livelihoods due to the flooding.

President Medina urged the beneficiaries of the project to care for their new town. To assist in the management of Boca de Cachon, the government, together with community leaders formed several local oversight committees that would coordinate services in the community, thus guaranteeing that local residents would have a voice and direct role in the town's governance.

Needless to say the families who have benefited from the government's investment in this ambitious project were overjoyed.


DR joins the Taiwan fund for Central American development
Central American foreign ministers meeting in the Dominican Republic for the Central American Integration System (SICA) gathering in La Romana, said they support the inclusion of the Dominican Republic as a partner in and beneficiary of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Central American Economic Development Fund (ROC-CAEDF). This gives the Dominican Republic access to new financing for a wide range of development projects and initiatives in the Fund's portfolio. The host of the event, the Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos Morales, said that the DR will have access to programs and projects covered by the fund as soon as the Dominican participation is formalized.

The Dominican Republic, that holds the temporary chair of SICA, is hosting the organization's meeting this week in Casa de Campo in La Romana. Attending the gathering are the ministers of foreign relations from Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. The Minister of Foreign Relations of Mexico is also attending as special guest.

The ministers have also agreed to discuss the development of an integrated and coordinated program to monitor and respond to emergencies that affect the region.




Indotel to pressure telecom companies for better service
In an interview with the Corripio media group, the president of the board of Indotel Gedeon Santos, said yesterday, 23 April 2014, that the level of service to consumers provided by telecom sector has eroded over the past eight years. He attributed the decline in customer satisfaction with the telecom companies to a lack of government regulation and oversight. Santos explained that since 2006, the government had allowed the telecom companies to essentially be self-regulated as the government became less and less engaged in the industry. Although the policy of encouraging private-sector driven innovation and investment in telecommunications in the country worked well initially, the lack of government oversight of the industry has appeared to have created an unforeseen complacency within telecom companies that has led to a decline in levels of the quality and efficiency of service to consumers nationwide.

Santos said the only way that the quality of service to consumers can be restored is by the government retaking its role as the sector regulator. Santos, citing a report that was recently published, noted that the levels of telecommunication service in the Dominican Republic had declined by 44% over the past several years and that the telecommunication services in the country now rank below the region's average.

Santos expects that the government's new commitment to energetically supervise and oversee the telecom sector will eventually improve the communication services in the country, restoring the Dominican Republic as a regional leader in telecom services.

Santos said that the Indotel is developing new standards that will mandate that telecom companies establish and maintain a high level of service quality or else face stiff penalities and sanctions.

The Indotel director also said the agency will renew its commitment to address consumer complaints, noting that many customers feel they have no viable options to express their complaints about poor telecommunication services.

Santos said a team is working on reforming the Telecom Law so that it is more effective and geared to protect consumers. He noted that Indotel is also evaluating what changes can be made to contracts between telecom companies and consumers that would offer these more flexibility when choosing telecommunication services.

Santos said that Indotel would be investing RD$600 million a year in programs to improve the quality of telecom services in the country and to address connectivity issues and promote the expansion of access to digital telecommunication services for up to 50,000 low-income households over the next two years. Santos also promised to assist micro and small businesses to have better access to high-speed telecommunication services through Indotel's new the "Hogar conectado" and "Myipyme conectado" programs.

Finally, Santos said that Indotel will be working closely with other government agencies in the roll-out of the new 911 Emergency Services program.


Former President Fernandez drops in on President Medina
Political conventional wisdom suggests that if former President Fernandez chooses to run once again for President of the Dominican Republic in 2016, it is probable he would win his party's (PLD) nomination. Furthermore, many pundits speculate that Fernandez would be the odds on favorite to win the presidency in the general election.

With this backdrop of political intrigue, the current former President Leonel Fernandez yesterday "dropped in" on President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace. Fernandez, who occupied the Presidential Palace for 12 years, told journalists he felt "nostalgic" over his old work place, noting that President Medina had been keeping the place looking good. Fernandez told the press that the purpose of his visit to his old stomping grounds was to inform President Medina of the interest of several about high-tech companies to invest in the Dominican Republic.

By constitutional mandate, President Medina cannot seek reelection and several high profile members of the PLD have already announced their pre-candidacy for president, including Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia, Minister of Economy Temistocles Montas and the president of the Senate Reinaldo Pared Perez.

Fernandez was received by Administrative Secretary of the Presidency, Jose Ramon Peralta, government spokesman, Roberto Rodriguez Marchena and personal assistant to the President, Medina Carlos Pared Perez.

After visiting with President Medina, Fernandez stopped by the offices his wife, former First Lady Margarita Cedeno who is the Vice President in the Medina administration. News reports say he stayed at the Vice President's office for about 40 minutes.

Fernandez is the president of the ruling PLD political party.

Redistribution or the way of doing politics in the DR
Editorial writer Ines Aizpun of Diario Libre writes today to protest the distribution of government funds by legislators to select constituents over Easter so that these lucky people had the means to whip up the traditional Easter desert of habichuela con dulce.

Azipun asks: is that not corruption? Or what Abel Martinez [the president of the Chamber of Deputies] calls 'redistribution of economic growth'.

"Over years, more and more power has been concentrated in the hands of legislators of the different parties that have been at the helm of the legislative bodies and who believe that this sort of political patronage is simply how politics works in this country. It is bordering on the absurd. Even something as traditional as an Easter dessert has fallen victim to political patronage.

"Hand outs are THE strategy", Aizpun exclaims. Political patronage is the structure that characterizes the state. It is not an ideological or a party problem. (Is it rejected by the opposition?) The deputies do not even feel they are being referred to when the pork barrel funds are mentioned, because "that is senator stuff." But regardless of the name, the concept, the moment, the excuse. political patronage is no longer a matter of anecdotes, nor of the campaign every four years. Political patronage frames the work and personal lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens who win or lose their way of life when a politician arbitrarily either gives them a job or removes them from a government post.

"The political class has excessive power because the traditional ways that citizens can monitor if politicians are fulfilling their duties no longer function and politicians simply create their own corrupt and disenfranchising rules. .

"Sweet beans in Easter, filled shopping bags in Christmas, Mother's Day perks, back to school perks in August. Politicians believe they can decide on the use of public money at will because they are doing so without fear of retribution. That is why these legislators now wish to shut the door completely, by making sure that citizens cannot sue them (In their words: "So many fools loose.)"


Business launch campaign push for labor reform
The National Business Council (CONEP) presented its campaign called "IMAGINA", designed to educate the public on the proposals championed by the business sector dealing with labor reform currently underway. The president of CONEP, Manuel Diez Cabral noted the distortions that have been caused in the national economy by the current Labor Code and its ties to the increase in informal employment as well as the disappearance of thousands of Pymes (small and medium businesses). He told the reporters gathered at the press event, that for every formal job that was created there were 14 created in the informal sector. The business leader was emphatic in stating that management is not trying to eliminate severance packages from the Labor Code.

According to Diez Cabral, labor costs inhibit small business employers from creating jobs.

Court orders to stop tender of telecom frequencies to hear Bermudez
Superior Administrative Court (TSA) has suspended receiving tenders for telecom frequencies.

The Superior Administrative Court (TSA) announced has ordered that Indotel suspend tenders for telecom frequencies until a claim placed by businessman J. Armando Bermudez (Popy) of Colorvision is heard that asserts that his company already has a concession to certain frequencies included in the upcoming tender. Indotel had convened the tender to grant frequencies from the 1710 MHz to the 1755 and from 2110 MHz to 2155 MHz.

Colorvision says that in 1984, they were granted a license for the use of the frequencies from 2150 to 2198 MHz and thus the latter should not be included in the tender.

The TSA says that the frequencies were issued to J. Armando Bermudez in his person and not to Colorvision. The hearing into the matter will be held on this coming Monday, 28 April 2014.


Landmark eatery, Barra Payan shut down for not paying taxes
Officials from the Department of Taxes (DGII) closed down the famous Barra Payan on 30 de Marzo for repeated violations of tax reporting requirements. DGII officials said that the sandwich and drinks place has repeatedly issued bills to consumers without the corresponding tax numbers and that the establishment had been fined before for the same reason.

The owners of the Barra Payan, a landmark among people in the capital, said that they were closed down because of a RD$85,000 fine had not yet been paid. The manager stressed that the fine was now paid in full and that they were promised by the DGII that within 24 hours they could open once more.




Most of Santiago without water today
The Santiago Water and Sewer Corporation (Coraasan) will suspend water supply to most of the city of Santiago today as part of its water system maintenance program. Specifically, Coraasan will provide maintenance to the water treatment plant in the sector of Nibaje. Starting at 8am and continuing until 5pm, the scheduled maintenance will affect Pueblo Nuevo, El Congo, Baracoa, La Joya, Hospedaje and Los Pepines. Also affected will be El Retiro, El Ensueno, Nibaje, El Cambronal, Parada Baitoa, all of the City Center and Las Carreras, Imbert (Ferreteria Ochoa) and 27 de Febrero avenues from Espana to the Palacio de Justicia.

IACHR report cites DR at the OAS
The Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) reported yesterday on the "arbitrary" refusal to recognize the nationality of numerous persons, principally those of Haitian extraction, in the Dominican Republic. The commission, chaired by Jamaican Tracy Robinson, presented yesterday before the Judicial and Political Affairs Committee of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), their annual report for 2013 that concludes that the violations of the right to nationality in the Dominican Republic have become more serious due to the ruling issued last year by the Constitutional Court. "As a result or the sentence, an undetermined but very significant number of Dominican men and women, which diverse sources estimate at more than 200,000 persons, have been arbitrarily deprived of their nationality and live in a condition of extreme vulnerability," says the report. In strong language the report says that the Dominican Republic ruling deprives nationality retroactively and creates a condition of statelessness.

Man disappears; said to have lost a million in TelexFree
An individual identified as Santos Nolasco Mejia, who had "invested" more than a million pesos in the TelexFree scam, has been reported missing since 18 April. Nolasco Mejia left a note saying that he was going to take his life because of the pressure of the debt he had incurred was unbearable. According to the report in the Diario Libre, the 34-year old man had mortgaged his house and car in order to put the money into the TelexFree get-rich-fast scheme. The man apparently became very depressed upon learning of the company's bankruptcy filing and reading all of the news reports that his investment was just part of an illegal Ponzi scheme. Santos Nolasco Mejia said in his note that he was trying to guarantee his family's future through the investment. TelexFree is under indictment in Massachusetts for running a Ponzi scheme and has been shut down in Peru, Brazil and other places.

Once again DNCD arrests "El Capi" with cocaine
The Colombian Andres Berroa and/or Rene Rueda Martinez (el Capi) who served three years of a five year sentence in Najayo for his part in the Paya drug case, was once again arrested on Monday night by the National Department for Drug Control (DNCD) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) while on board a fast boat trying to bring 600 kgs of cocaine from South America into the country.

In the famous Paya case of August 2008, seven persons were gunned down during a drug trafficking operation. The 600 kilos confiscated in this operation, were said to belong to the Colombian cartel known as Los Urabenos, from Uruba, an organization composed of drug traffickers notorious for its violence.

It is thought that crime organization is part of a para-military gang that operates in the Colombian jungle. Los Urabenos form part of the entity known as the Drug Trafficking Integrated Organizations (ODIN) and share the drug trafficking scene with other drug-terrorist gangs, among who are the Rastrojos.

The latest stashes of drugs arrived in the country in containers that reached the Multi-Modal Port of Caucedo and Haina Oriental from Peru. Those responsible for this shipment are said to belong to a narco-terrorist gang made up of Peruvians, Mexicans, Ecuadorians, and Colombians. These individuals are charged with receiving the shipments that Los Urabenos sent them, and then forwarding the drugs to the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic is often used by drug traffickers as a bridge for illegal drugs destined for Europe and the United States. With this operation, the amount of drugs seized has reached 1,500 kilos seized in the first 24 days of the month of April, which is thought to be a record for the DNCD in terms of drug seizures in a than 30 day period.

Along with Berroa, also arrested in international waters off the coast of Barahona, was the Dominican Juan Carlos Felix. Both suspects were were taken to Tampa, Florida together with the shipment of cocaine.



Victim of crime, engineer Francina Hungria, honored as Woman of the Year
With expressions of gratitude to God and inviting all Dominicans to follow the example of people working to help others, engineer Francina Hungria and the Catholic priest Gregorio Alegria Armendariz received last night their awards as the "Man and Woman of the Year 2013".

The statuettes of recognition for Hungria and Alegria were presented to the honorees by the president of the Onmimedia Group, Arturo Pellerano. Omnimedia is the publisher of Diario Libre newspaper that sponsors the awards.

Upon receiving the award, the young engineer thanked God and the fervor with which all Dominicans supported her after she lost her sight during an attempted assault, and that she "planted the love that has given its fruits in a job that has returned me to life, a life with meaning."

Hungria was recognized for her work in favor of the blind through her foundation that seeks to improve their lives through training, providing the site impaired with opportunities to work and gain skills that promote their social inclusion.

For his part, Father Alegria expressed his appreciation to the faithful and his fellow priests in the order of the Paulist Fathers, for the support he has received during his more than 30 years of work. This support, he said, has made possible this project that benefits of the communities where he has worked from a spiritually fulfilling place "of the faith and service."

The work of Father Alegria, and for which he was recognized, has improved access to quality health care of thousands of low-income families. He is responsible for efforts to provide services to the elderly through the Bethania Home, and for work of the Mutual Help Medical Center and the San Lucas Free Clinic. He also heads project of social development in La Barquita in East Santo Domingo.

Dominican Eddy Herrera to decide on the new stars of Colombia
Eddy Herrera will be one of the jurors giving his opinion on emerging artistic stars in Colombia. Herrera has been asked to sit on the jury of Idol Colombia. This season's Idol Colombia, which is produced by RCN Television, will air from 20 May through 20 August. Herrera's publicist informed the press that the Dominican singer will be moving his family (along with the family's cook and maid) to Colombia during the taping of the shows.

His contract with RCN Television states he can perform in shows not related to his Idol Colombia duties as long as these performances do not conflict with his duties at Idol Colombia. Since the reality show will be broadcast Monday to Friday from 9 to 10pm, he will have little free time to perform for the Colombian audiences during his stay in the country.

Fellow jurors will be Spanish singer Rosario Flores, Peter Manjarres of Colombia, and Alejandro Villalobos, director of La Mega in Colombia.

Pablo Milanes to perform at the Book Fair
The Santo Domingo Book Fair opens today, 24 April 2014 at the grounds of the Plaza de la Cultura. It is dedicated this year to Dominican poet Domingo Moreno Jimenez. Panama is the guest country.

The Book Fair features numerous cultural activities and artistic presentations. The events this year include, on Friday, 25 April at 7:30pm, a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Maestro Papo Molina. The performance, which will be held at the National Theater features a number of popular music selections. That same evening, Minister of Culture, Jose Antonio Rodriguez, sings at the Cafe Bohemia. There will be several performance of modern dance (Endanza 2014) at the Tarima-Caribe stage on Saturday and Sunday, 26-27 April. On Saturday, Once Upon a Time a Merengue will be staged at 7:30pm at the main hall of the National Theater. The Duarte Today play will be staged on Sunday at the National Theater at 7:30pm, and that same evening at 8:30pm, Guy Frometa will be playing jazz at the Cafe Bohemio.

The highlight of the next week will be three performances by Cuban singer-composers Pablo Milanes. The famous artist will entertain audiences on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (1-3 May) at the National Theater. The shows will begin at 7:30pm. All Book Fair shows are free.

For more on the program, see http://www.ferilibro.com/2k7/images/programa%202014%20pdf%20final.pdf

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

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