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Daily News - Thursday, 22 May 2014

Hiring 6,000 teachers and buying musical instruments
The Ministry of Education has announced plans to hire 6,000 new teachers for the next school year. The teachers will work in the new schools built by the Medina administration so that students can benefit from full school days. The teachers will be recruited by competition.

Minister of Education Carlos Amarante said that there will be 2,700 new classrooms by the end of May, another 2,000 by June for around 10,000 new classrooms ready in time for the start of the new school year in August. He says this is in addition to 200 daycare centers under construction.

Amarante said that 569 schools are already offering the extended school day, of which an estimated 90% are fully operational. He said that lessons have been divided in blocks of sciences, mathematics, Spanish, technology, sport and fine arts.

"Children from poor families can now receive the afternoon lessons that only children of the elite received before. This is about providing quality education for all," he stated. He announced tenders would be issued for the purchase of instruments for music lessons at state schools.


Senate passes US$2 billion loan for two coal-fired plants
The Senate approved a bill yesterday, Wednesday 21 May, whereby the CDEEE will take on a US$2.04 billion loan for the construction of two 338.39-megawatt coal-fired power stations for a total 674.78 megawatts of power. The generating plants will be located in Punta Catalina in the southwestern province of Peravia. Odebrecht-Tecnimont-Estrella is the contractor of the two electric generators. The power plants will be installed with the new standard of flue gas desulfurization equipment in order to reduce pollution.

Congress passes naturalization bill
On Wednesday, 21 May 2014, a quorum of 26 of 32 senators voted in favor of the naturalization bill. The bill that was drafted by the Executive Branch had already passed in the Chamber of Deputies without changes.

"The bill creates a streamlined path to citizenship for undocumented individuals born in the Dominican Republic. Through this historic legislation, President Danilo Medina fulfilled his commitment to finding a just and equitable solution for undocumented persons, while giving clarity to an outdated system and respecting the separation of powers," said Anibal de Castro, Ambassador of the Dominican Republic to the United States. "The bill's swift passage underscores the Dominican people's overwhelming support for an inclusive policy that will help move the country forward and benefit the whole island of Hispaniola."

It now moves to the Presidency for signing and will become law when it is published.

In a press release, the Embassy explains that for many decades, the Dominican Republic experienced significant gaps in registration, documentation and identification of residents and foreigners. The law validates the status and documentation of people currently in possession of irregular or invalid documentation as Dominican citizens. In addition, the bill provides undocumented individuals born in the Dominican Republic to foreign parents a clear path to obtaining legal permanent residency, and potential citizenship.

A recent public opinion poll indicated that 72% of the Dominican population supported the bill.

The legislation addresses two groups: people who born and grew up in the Dominican Republic with irregular birth certificates due to their parents' lack of immigration status, and those born and living in the Dominican Republic to foreign parents without a valid residence permit who do not have any form of documentation.

Individuals officially registered as Dominicans, regardless of their parents' irregular status, will have their documents legalized and will enjoy all the benefits of Dominican citizenship. This action will allow for a fast, fair and final end to any uncertainty surrounding their situation.

Undocumented individuals who are able to prove that they were born in the Dominican Republic will have the opportunity over a 90-day period to register for a regular immigration status. This group of people will now be able to enter the naturalization process and apply for citizenship after two years of regular residency status.

After extensive consultations with diverse sectors of Dominican society, as well as with the international community, including the UN, the EU and CARICOM and Haiti, the bill takes into account the contributions of the stakeholders to ensure that this policy fairly addresses all residents of the Dominican Republic.

"The text of the legislation was forged through an extended process of consultations, with broad consensus-building during the draft stage," said Ambassador de Castro. "The Dominican Republic is grateful for the international community's continued support as we proactively address the complexities of developing and implementing a modern migration policy."

The Central Electoral Board (JCE), the body responsible for the Civil Registry of the Dominican Republic, will oversee an information campaign to ensure that everyone living in the country is aware of the new policies.

The proposed legislation can be read in English at http://domrep.org/documents/SpecialRegimeDraftBill-English.pdf

See the Spanish version at http://domrep.org/documents/SpecialRegimeDraftBill-Spanish.pdf

For more information abroad, the US Embassy can be contacted at Tel 202 999-4731 or by email at [email protected]

Santiago business leader on obstacles to development
The Santiago Chamber of Commerce president says that the existing transport monopoly is a major obstacle for development. Maria Victoria Menicucci said there is a need to find solutions to the rising informality in jobs and the high cost of electricity, as well as what she described as "the mafia" of unions and lawyers. She was speaking yesterday, Wednesday 21 May during an exchange in Santiago with businessmen from the Herrera Association of Industries. She called for a win-win solution to the changes requested in the Dominican Labor Code.


DR exports to US grow 24% under DR-CAFTA
Ministry of Industry and Commerce Jose del Castillo Savinon says that Dominican exports to the US have increased by 24% since the signing of the DR-CAFTA agreement, growing from US$3.09 billion in 2007 to US$4.07 billion in 2013. Speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce business lunch yesterday, Wednesday 21 May, he said that the US is still the main market for Dominican exports, with 51% of total sales. He said that the duty-free access to the US market has led to a diversification in exports. Del Castillo mentioned increases in medical equipment and electronic components, which increased by 36% and 27% respectively during the period. He said other exports that have shown significant increases in recent years included gold and by-products, cigars, jewelry and footwear.

He argued that the DR needed to sign DR-CAFTA or would have been at a disadvantage compared to Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras that are signatories of the free trade treaty, or with Mexico, Canada and Chile that have negotiated similar agreements separately.



Imports up 17.38% in first quarter
The Dominican Republic imported 17.38% more in the first quarter of the year. The Customs Agency (DGA) says that imports were US$4.547 billion. If petroleum imports are deducted, imports for January-April 2014 totaled US$3.102 billion, which is 12.85% more than during the same period in 2013.


Minou Tavarez resigns from PLD
Deputy Minerva (Minou) Tavarez Mirabal has announced her resignation from the ruling PLD party. She sent a letter to Leonel Fernandez, president of the organization yesterday, Wednesday 21 May but says this does not mean she will be leaving her post as legislator, or that she is retiring from politics. In her letter, which she posted on her Facebook page, Tavarez Mirabal states that she is resigning because the political organization has become estranged from the principles and values she believes in.

Tavarez Mirabal is in her third term as PLD deputy for the National District. She is the daughter of two national heroes, Minerva Mirabal and Manuel Aurelio Tavarez Justo, both victims of the Trujillo dictatorship. A cousin of the Minister of Sports and former Vice President Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal, she has also served as a member of the PLD's influential political and central committee.


Bahia de las Aguilas case continues in court
Judge Alba Luisa Beard of the National District Land Court has ordered the Barahona land title registrar to certify the procedures carried out for lot 215A of Bahia de las Aguilas. State prosecutors are now pressing for the title to be annulled together with another 1,300 allegedly irregularly issued.

The procedures continue at the court today, Thursday 22 May.

Prosecutors in the case seek to expose the way in which government complicity led to the irregular distribution of prime beachfront and natural reserve lands to new legal owners, using land reform as subterfuge.

Woman slightly injured in Metro2 construction
A woman was injured by a falling beam used for the construction of the Metro 2 around 9am yesterday, Wednesday 21 May. The woman lives in the Gualey slum, in a house located right under the Francisco del Rosario Sanchez bridge. Residents were asked to leave the area, but have been negotiating compensation for relocating.

23-year old Virginia Castro Mercedes and her seven-day old baby were taken to the Luis Eduardo Aybar public hospital for treatment and have since been discharged. Castro has a three-centimeter cut and minor shoulder injury and her baby was unharmed. Local residents said they would not permit the construction to continue.

Metro office (Opret) spokesman Leonel Carrasco, for the attributed the collapse to "human error." He said that some 14 families living too close to the construction must be relocated. Yesterday's accident affected four dwellings. All the residents in the area want to be relocated, but Opret says it does not have the budget to relocate everyone.



New judge appointed to hear Victor Diaz Rua case
Leomar Cruz is the new judge who will be hearing the asset laundering and corruption case against former Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua. Her predecessor in the case, Margarita Cristo, resigned after a heated debate with National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso. After the clash, the first judge assigned to continue the case, Ramon Lamertus, also resigned.

Colombia increases trade with the DR
In an interview with Diario Libre today, Thursday 22 May, Colombia Pro Export director Carlos Gonzalez highlighted the increases in trade and tourism between the Dominican Republic and Colombia. He stressed the growing importance of Colombia for the Dominican marketplace. Colombia exported US$188.7 million in products (not including petroleum, coal, ferronickel or gold), and buys 35% of all exports of Colombia to the Caribbean. Dominicans make up 30% of all tourism from the Caribbean to Colombia. Of a total 35,000 Caribbean tourists who visited Colombia, 10,518 were from the Dominican Republic. Puerto Rico followed with around 6,000 tourists. He said that Colombian agribusiness and food exports were US$19.6 million in 2013. Manufactured good exports to the DR totaled US$158.6 million in 2013, including packaging, household goods, cosmetics, clothing and leather goods. Colombia has been investing heavily in Dominican industry. This includes Nutresa's purchase of a majority share in Helados Bon, and investments by the Grupo Familia and Grupo Productos Quimicos Panamericanos.


Ozama and Isabela river campaign to create awareness of inhabitants
Sansouci Holdings and the Association of Foundations for Sanitation and Recycling (Afunsarec) have announced a major awareness campaign to promote the protection and cleanup of the Isabela and Ozama Rivers in Santo Domingo. The campaign, "The River is the Mirror of my Barrio" is aimed at filling a widespread environmental education gap.

Sansouci Holdings president Lisandro Macarrulla said the goal was to get people involved in the management of their communities, when making the announcement yesterday, Wednesday 21 May in the La Zurza slum area on the banks of the Ozama River.

Ciudad Alternativa executive director Roman Batista said that any project implemented in the area could not succeed without involving the local residents.

Comedy at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater
Luis Jose German, Jose Roberto Diaz Garcia and Karla Hatto are back at the National Theater in Santo Domingo for a stage production of the "The Case of the Suspect Bowtie" (El caso del corbatin sospecho). The comedy, directed by Enrique Chao, is about a series of blunders and misunderstandings. It will be onstage at the National Theater from 22-25 May and from 29 May to 1 June at 8:30pm.

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

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