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Daily News - Tuesday, 06 May 2014

President Medina makes surprise visits on Labor Day
Yesterday, Monday 5 May, on the day Dominicans celebrated International Labor Day, President Danilo Medina made one of his surprise visits, inspecting projects in north-central Duarte province (San Francisco de Macoris).

He started in Bebedero where he checked on the progress of a new housing project for families relocated from flood-prone areas along the Yuna River.

He then went on to look at the new installations at a rice factory belonging to the Limon del Yuna Agrarian Federation (Faly) in Villa Riva, which has restarted its operations after receiving RD$10 million in government support in November 2013.

Finally he moved on to El Naranjito in Samana where he visited a passion fruit and yam plantation that he last saw in June 2013 and approved a loan to finance more planting and to increase production.



DR and Chile working on free trade agreement
The Dominican Republic plans to increase trade with Chile. A trade agreement is in the works, according to an announcement by Chilean ambassador in the Dominican Republic Fernando Barrera Robinson on Friday, 2 May. Barrera said Chile sells US$70 million a year worth of goods to the DR, primarily in newsprint, wine, fruits, seafood and pharmaceuticals. The DR exports US$30 million in rum, cigars and pharmaceuticals, as reported in Diario Libre.

He made the comments during the opening of a new Chilean consulate in Punta Cana to serve the increasing number of Chilean tourists who visit the area. Fernando Placeres Pena is the new honorary consul.

DR has 'most promising economy,' says Cemex
The president of Cemex Dominicana, the Mexican cement multinational's local operation, says the DR is where the most opportunities and best conditions for foreign investment in Latin America and the Caribbean can be found. In an interview with Listin Diario, he expressed his optimism in the economic future of the country. He stressed that it is possible for business to turn a good profit, grow and help others.

He said that after four years of decline in the construction industry, over the past year and a half the negative trend has been reversed. He said government construction of schools and other infrastructure has kick-started the industry again. He forecast that the construction industry would grow by 6-8% in 2014.

Cemex Dominicana exports cement, gypsum and clinker to Haiti, Guyana, Bahamas, Jamaica, Antigua, Turks & Caicos and other Caribbean islands.

He said that Cemex has invested US$700 million in its Dominican installations and that the company is at present investing US$20 million to expand their plant, and RD$190 million in a new fleet of 50 trucks, increasing their fleet to 120 units. They are also installing a 1.5-megawatt solar generator.


Sugar to return to Monte Plata
Senator Charlie Mariotti, the State Sugar Council (CEA), the Dominican Sugar Growers Federation (FEDOCA) and the Monte Plata Sugar Growers Association (ACAMOPLA) have signed an agreement to reestablish sugar cane cultivation in the province and surrounding areas. It also proposes the installation of factories to process sugar cane for human consumption and cattle feed.

The agreement was signed by the Senator for Monte Plata, Charlie Mariotti, CEA executive director Jose Joaquin (Pepe) Dominguez Pena, FEDOCA executive director Pedro Ignacio Rodriguez Chiappini and ACAMOPLA president Julian Peralta Mendoza.

Mariotti said that it would be a gradual process and they would begin on a small scale.


Help for coffee growers
The government press agency has announced that more than RD$154 million is being allocated for the National Commission for Managing Coffee Roya to bring seeds from Brazil and Costa Rica that are resistant to the fungal leaf rust disease to replant coffee plantations in Bonao. Small-scale growers do not have the funds to replant their plantations and this new move comes after President Danilo Medina visited Bonao on 3 November 2013 and met with the management and members of the Independencia Coffee Growers Association (ASOCAIN) who asked for help to fight the disease, increase the size of their nurseries and to replant the plantations to increase income and improve the lives of their families.

The mountainous coffee growing area, which is around two million tareas (311,000 acres) in size, provides a livelihood for more than 50,000 Dominican families.

Coffee leaf rust is a disease that leads to dramatic collapse in the quality and quantity of the coffee crop. Local plant losses are estimated at more than 50%. It is caused by the Hemilea Vastatrix fungus and attacks the leaves that are responsible for the photosynthesis of the plant, leading to its premature death.

Consequently the coffee bean itself does not grow or mature sufficiently, weighs little and is of low quality, which means a reduced income for the grower.

The government has supported strategies to fight the disease with fungicides or by planting resistant coffee plants.



New offices for BanReservas
The governmental Banco de Reservas (BanReservas) has inaugurated two offices in San Francisco de Macoris and one in Cotui as part of their expansion plan which starts in the north east and then will spread to the rest of the country soon.

According to a press release the new branches are in the commercial centers of Galerias 56 and Yoma in San Francisco de Macoris, and in Villa la Mata, in Cotui.

According to the General Administrator of the bank, Enrique Ramirez Paniagua, the plan is to open new branches closer to their clients.


Diplomats no longer need to wait
The Ministry of Foreign Relations and the Migration Department have announced plans for the installation of two special booths in the arrivals and departure halls at Las Americas International Airport (SDQ) in order to check the documents of diplomatic personnel in the country.

According to Aerodom, which will be installing the booths, they are being provided in response to complaints from diplomats who say they have to wait in long lines when they arrive at or leave the airport.

Diplomatic protocol allows the ambassadors themselves to receive preferential treatment such as a special VIP lounge and no need to go through the usual channels, but lower-ranking embassy officials must stand in line like any other passenger.


All is not green light for Fernandez presidential candidacy
Political analyst Abel Guzman Then writes in Diario Libre today, Tuesday 6 May on "stones on the road" for the launch of the presidential candidacy of three-time President Leonel Fernandez. Fernandez won on the ruling PLD party ticket in 1996, 2004 and 2008. However, Fernandez ended his presidency in 2012 with a reputation as being the most corrupt in the history of the Dominican Republic.

In particular, two of the promoters of his pre-candidacy for the party, Senator Felix Bautista and former Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua have been criticized for major corruption in office, despite managing to avoid the judiciary that is seen to be dominated by the ruling party.

Guzman comments that Fernandez will not be able to count on the support of two of his previous key campaign men. He reached the Presidency in 1996 with the support of current President Danilo Medina, while in 2004 and 2008 one of the current PLD pre-candidates, Francisco Javier Garcia, was his campaign manager.


Latest epidemiological report
According to the latest epidemiological report issued by the Ministry of Public Health, so far this year there have been over 10,000 suspected cases of chikungunya, dengue and malaria.

These break down into 7,520 cases of chikungunya and 2,100 probable cases of dengue, including 15 deaths. Both are transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that breeds in clean water.

Malaria is transmitted by the Anopheles mosquito that breeds in stagnant water.

As far as dengue is concerned, 83% of cases have been reported in 11 provinces: Santo Domingo, National District, Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris), Santiago, Espaillat (Moca), San Cristobal, Monsenor Nouel (Bonao), Puerto Plata, Maria Trinidad Sanchez (Nagua), Peravia (Bani), La Vega, San Juan, Valverde (Mao), Sanchez Ramirez (Cotui) and Azua.

There is a yellow alert in San Cristobal, Duarte, Espaillat and Maria Trinidad Sanchez. Across the country the dengue rate is similar to 2013 with 70 cases per 100,000 inhabitants and a death rate of 0.7%.

Chikungunya is a new virus whose first cases were registered in February, and so far most cases, 3,974 out of the 7,520 registered are in Nigua, 3,504 in Bajos de Haina and 42 elsewhere in the country.

As far as malaria is concerned, two cases were confirmed in Santo Domingo East last week but so far this year the number of cases reported is four times less than 2013.


Police kill six from Bani, Senator congratulates police chief
On Sunday 4 May, National Police officers killed four suspected hit men who had allegedly killed two apparent drug dealers in the Lucerna area of Santo Domingo East.

The incident took place at 2pm on Charles de Gaulle Avenue when Police ordered the alleged hit men to stop in their vehicle. According to reports, the suspects then started shooting at the police.

The dead men, who are all from Bani, were identified as Ruben Dario Amador Arias (Nene Paludismo), Rafael Manuel Vicente Amador, Rafael Emilio Emilio Perez Peguero (Piti), and Jorge Vizcaino Martinez.

According to police spokesman Colonel Jacobo Mateo Moquete, the dead men are linked to the wounding in Bani in April this year of a man called Pegaito who was associated with drugs. He went on to say that they had allegedly killed two drug dealers in Lucerna and that the police had been after them for several months.

He said that Ruben Dario Amador Arias has a criminal record for homicides in 2008, 2010 and 2011, while Piti has a record for robbery in 2008, 2010. All have had weapons confiscated and it is thought they operated as contract killers in Bani and the capital.

In the evening, the Senator for Peravia province, Wilton Guerrero, congratulated the Chief of Police for the deed, saying that it would come as a relief for the people of Bani.

The police also shot and killed two suspected criminals in Haina and at Km. 20 of the Duarte Highway

Erick Daniel Mora Morales, 23 was shot by police as he was apparently shooting at them to avoid arrest and Mario Santana Reynoso, 22 was killed by them in Haina, again when resisting arrest.



Bus crash leaves one dead
A young woman was killed and another 17 were injured following an accident on the Bani-Ocoa route when the bus left the road at El Naranjal on Saturday 3 May.

According to Roberto Lebron, spokesman for the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) the bus driver was Genaro Gonzalez who is now in hospital in Bani, 17-year old Perla Perez was killed, and the rest of the injured are being treated in hospital in Santo Domingo.



Illegal boat trip captains jailed
The two Dominican captains of the boat that sank on 1 May whilst illegally en route to Puerto Rico have been sent to jail for three months on remand.

The boat sank off Boca Chica and at least six Haitians drowned and another 12 were saved.

Fidel de la Cruz Duran and Eduardo Madrigal Morales (Joan), were sent to La Victoria penitentiary. Both are from Palmar de Ocoa, Bani.


Felix Sanchez and Luguelin Santos win at Jamaica track meet
Felix Sanchez and Luguelin Santos, 400 meters hurdles and 400 meters flat, both edged off formidable competitors in photo-finish wins on Saturday 3 May at the Jamaica International Invitational 2014, which took place in Kingston.

Two-time Olympic champion Sanchez won in a time of 49.21 ahead of Jehue Gordon from Trinidad and Tobago in a time of 49.32.

Outleaning world champion LaShawn Meritt (USA) at 44.86, Dominican Republic's 2012 Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos at 44.82 won the 400m at the event.

Race announcers seemed confident that Merritt would win the race until Santos' photo-finish win, which even surprised himself. His teammate Felix Sanchez, gold medalist at the Athens 2004 and London 2012 Olympics, was prompt to congratulate him on the field. See the race at:





Golf tournament prize money could help DR golf tourism
The president of the Dominican Golf Federation (Fedogolf), Juan Cohen says it is good business for the government to come up with the prize money to attract major golf competitions. In an interview with Diario Libre, he said that around 500,000 rounds of golf are already available in the 24 installed golf courses that need to be booked. He said around US$200 million has been invested in the golf courses nationwide. Cohen estimated that US$150,000-US$300,000 is a small price to pay for the government to collect around US$17 million in ITBIS and the country to receive US$90 million in tournament-generated revenues.

In the same interview, vice president of Fedogolf Rafael Canario commented that Puerto Rico with half of the number of Dominican golf courses and 30% of the quality of the Dominican courses invests US$5 million to attract the PGA Tour and the PGA Latin America. He estimated that the PGA Tour generates around US$22 million for Puerto Rico.

He says the DR has to be more aggressive to attract the 30 million golfers in the United States. He estimated that in the US golf is a US$75 billion industry, and there are 16,000 golf courses, including 1,200 in Florida alone.

The Dominican Republic will be hosting the 3rd Dominican Republic Professional Golf Open at Teeth of the Dog in La Romana starting 12 May. Cash prize money of US$150,000 has been set aside. The tournament, operated under the PGA Tour Latin America (Nec Series Tour), is being held to help Latin American golf players prepare for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016.




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