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Daily News - Monday, 26 May 2014

Naturalization bill is law
President Danilo Medina signed the naturalization bill into law 169-14 on Friday, 23 May 2014. The bill establishes a special regime for people born in the Dominican Republic who were registered irregularly. It also creates a streamlined path to citizenship for people born in this country who do not have documents.

Presidential legal advisor Cesar Pina Toribio said the next step would be to prepare the ruling for its application. The Ministry of the Presidency is coordinating this process. Nevertheless, Pina said that most aspects of the law could be implemented without the ruling.


President Medina vetoes importing seven-year old vehicles
Presidential legal advisor Cesar Pina Toribio has announced that the Executive Branch vetoed the bill that proposed to extend the age of vehicles that could be imported from five years to seven years. Pina said that the government was concerned about the loss of revenue and the environmental cost of the decision that would require greater spending on health and environmental impact mitigation.

The bill was returned to the Chamber of Deputies. The government estimated it would collect RD$2 billion less. The bill was a modification of Law 147-00.


11 new schools for La Altagracia
President Danilo Medina was in the eastern province of La Altagracia (Higuey) for the inauguration of 11 public schools (171 classrooms) that will operate in the full-day class model. The new facilities cost RD$474.5 million.

A total of 6,720 students will be enrolled at the new schools starting the new school year in August 2014. Minister of Education Carlos Amarante said that another 34 schools in the province are currently under construction.


Obama responds to Medina; DR-CAFTA will be taken into account
On 1 April 2014, President Danilo Medina received a response to a letter he had sent US President Barack Obama. Medina sent a formal letter to Obama on 27 November 2013 warning that the Trans-Pacific Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) under study in the US Congress would negatively impact the apparel industry in the DR-CAFTA region if certain special concessions were given to the signatories. The TPP is currently being negotiated by the United States with Mexico, Singapore, Peru, New Zealand, Malaysia, Chile, Brunei, Japan, Vietnam, Canada and Australia.

As reported in Listin Diario, in his April 2014 letter President Obama responded by saying he had instructed the negotiating team to take the observations made by the DR-CAFTA signatories into account.

Textile and clothing production in the Central American region, including the Dominican Republic, is largely based on US-made yarn and fabric. Medina had asked the US authorities to consider the TPP in terms of the 'yarn-forward' rule of origin for textile and apparel, as otherwise the products that would come from a country like Vietnam could have duty-access to the US market, even though they are made using raw materials from countries like China that are not part of the TPP agreement.

The TPP would also affect US manufacturers. DR argues that the DR-CAFTA region is the second largest market for exports of US made yarn and fabric. Clothing made in the region contains about 70% of US raw material content.

DR-CAFTA region countries estimate that 100,000 jobs could be lost in Central America and 500,000 in the United States if the bill passes in the US Congress.


JCE detects 92 cases of double identity
JCE president Roberto Rosario says that 92 cases involving people attempting to obtain two identities were detected by the new system in its first days of implementation. Everyone who has an ID (cedula) in the Dominican Republic needs to replace it with the new ones that incorporate technology to prevent identity fraud.

As reported, when the fingerprint and biometric matching system detects duplicate records, it blocks the replacement card from being issued. Rosario said a special commission of inspectors receives the applicants and their real identities are investigated and corrected.

In today's Diario Libre, Monday 26 May the JCE publishes the names of the people with "inconsistencies" in their documentation presented for ID renewal, and invites them to visit the JCE General Secretariat.


Deputies got RD$176 million extra for mother's day
Wasteful government spending continues. Press reports reveal that the Chamber of Deputies approved an extra payment to legislators over the Mother's Day weekend, 24-25 May. The 190 legislators reportedly received RD$176 million to be used to purchase gifts for poor mothers on Mother's Day, which fell on Sunday 25 May.

Diario Libre reported on Saturday, 24 May that the deputies openly announced that they would distribute 82,357 appliances worth RD$176.9 million in 31 provinces and the National District. The appliances were purchased from 19 companies.

The Chamber of Deputies made the announcement saying that this has been common practice in the lower house over the past 15 years.


Defendants get judge vote, Bahia de las Aguilas case continues
Judges Felipe Molina Abreu, Tania Yunes Sanchez and Jose Gregorio Bautista ordered the definite filing of the criminal case against former director of the governmental agrarian institute, Jaime Rodriguez Guzman, his brother Rafael Antonio Rodriguez and his wife Reyna Margarita Martinez on grounds that the case has expired. They are accused of real estate fraud with detected irregularities in the issuing of land titles in the Bahia de las Aguilas, in the Jaragua National Park.

The lands were distributed by a former director of the state agrarian institute under the guise that they would be used for farming, but the prime beachfront lands were later sold to their present titleholders. The case languished in court for more than 17 years, many times with the open complicity by state prosecutors. National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso had argued that the case could not expire because it is an environmental crime.

Today, Monday 26 May 2014, Judge Alba Beard Marcos will hear the case over the irregularities in the distribution of the Bahia de las Aguilas lands. Prosecutors are seeking to annul the property titles that were issued. State prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso says that some 400 million square meters were expropriated. "It will be sad, absurd and unfortunate if this case is not punished, we cannot allow so much impunity," she told Diario Libre.



Seeds law would limit state funds
Civil society group Foro Ciudadano is warning the Chamber of Deputies, President Danilo Medina and society in general about the "National Seeds Bill" that was fast-tracked in the Senate on 23 and 30 April 2014. FC says that the bill promotes the privatization and centralization of the food trade through the creation of a National Seeds Office (ONASE) that would rule the certification of seeds used for planting in the Dominican Republic. The bill was submitted by former Minister of Agriculture Amilcar Romero, a high-ranking employee in the Ferquido fertilizer and seed importing company. In his online profile, it says he is corporate vice president for sales and marketing for Ferquido.

The Foro says that the bill promotes a monopoly in favor of national and foreign firms that sell certified seeds. The civic group says that the bill would create mechanisms to expropriate the seeds that local farmers have used for generations. The bill establishes in its Art. 56 that no government body could finance farm projects that do not use seeds with the duly certified patents. The Foro says this violates the Constitution by creating monopolies.





Latest cold spreading in DR
So far almost two thirds of the more than 30,000 cases have been concentrated in the south-central province of San Cristobal, but the hard-to-pronounce chikungunya virus is spreading to other parts of the country. Infected mosquitoes spread the disease that typically causes fever combined with arthritis-like joint pain. There is no vaccine or medication to protect against the disease.

In a TV interview yesterday, Sunday 25 May, Infectologist Clemente Terreno said that seven million of the ten million people living in the Dominican Republic could catch the virus as it makes its way through the country. He said there is no local immunity to the disease, there are no vaccines and it is difficult to stop mosquitoes from breeding here. He said that greater local awareness must be created for people to prevent the mosquitoes from breeding. Terreno was interviewed on Detalle Semanal on Teleradio America Channel 45. He said the virus was spreading and that hospitals were treating between 40 and 50 patients a day.

After being bitten by an infected mosquito, onset of illness usually occurs between four and eight days but this can range from two to 12 days. Treatment is mainly aimed at relieving the symptoms, including joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that basic precautions must be taken by people in high-risk areas, including use of repellents, wearing long sleeves and pants and ensuring rooms are fitted with screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering.


Victor Estrella plays first French Open game for the DR
In the first game by a Dominican competing in a Grand Slam tennis tournament, 33-year old Victor Estrella Burgos (ranked 98th by ATP) was able to snatch a set to 6'8 tall Jerzy Janowicz of Poland (ranked 23rd by ATP) in the first round of the French Open on Sunday, 25 May. Estrella is the first Dominican who has made it to the top 100 of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) rankings enabling him to play in several prestigious tennis opens. The game went 1-6, 6-4, 6-7 and 6-4.

"This day, I'll remember. I'm never going to forget," Estrella Burgos, who saved a match point in the third-set tiebreaker, told the press.

He said he would stay in Paris to train for his next matches in Wimbledon.

Another Dominican, Manuel Morales, was also eliminated in the first round.




Mango fair in June
The Ministry of Agriculture and the Dominican Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute (IDIAF) have announced that the annual Expo Mango 2014 festival will take place from 5 to 8 June with most activities open to the general public at the Bani Central Park.

According to the Agriculture Ministry, mango exports totaled more than US$11 million during 2013 with production on over 64,200 tareas (9975 acres) that include 1,300 plantations. Most of the commercial plantations are in the provinces of Peravia (Bani), San Cristobal, Azua and San Juan.

Most mangos are exported to the United States and the United Kingdom although negotiations have taken place to sell mangos to Japan for another US$5 million.

Expo Mango 2014 is celebrated in Bani, also known as "Mango City," and is aimed at promoting and incentivizing the production, processing, marketing and consumption of mangos.


Venus in Furs at the National Theater
Venus in Furs (La venus de las pieles) will be staged at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater in Santo Domingo on 6, 7, 8 and 13, 14, 15 June. The play is directed by Mario Lebron and produced by Teo Terrero, starring Laura Lebron and Josue Guerrero. The play, based on the infamous erotic novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, was translated into Spanish by Eduardo Villanueva.

Andres Cepeda at Palacio de los Deportes
Colombian singer-songwriter Andres Cepeda will give a concert at the Palacio de los Deportes on Saturday 7 June. He is including the Santo Domingo stop on his greatest hits world tour. Winner of a Latin Grammy, he sings pop, boleros and ballads. He is best known for his songs "Se te nota" and "Tengo ganas".



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

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