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Daily News - Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Ministry of Foreign Relations gets its oversight committee
In a bid to improve transparency in procurement processes at the Ministry of Foreign Relations (MIREX), the Minister of the Presidency, Gustavo Montalvo has announced the names of the ministry's new Public Oversight Commission members.

The role of the public oversight commissioners is to accompany the ministry in all the purchasing and contracting processes for goods and services, in order to ensure that public resources are used effectively.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations is responsible for maintaining and strengthening relations with other countries around the word, as well as ensuring the correct operation of Dominican embassies and consulates overseas.

The government has invited a mix of professionals, church members, businessmen, non-governmental organizations, journalists and artists to make up the supervisory commissions.

The Public Oversight Commission at MIREX is made up of Julia Lora de Hieronymus, a professional from Santiago de los Caballeros, Rafael Franco Guzman, general manager of Bajo Techo TV, Jose Manuel Lopez Valdez, executive president of the Dominican Commercial Banking Association, Rafael Molina Morillo, director of the El Dia newspaper, Esteban Tiburcio, rector of Eastern Cibao Technological Institute (ITECO), Tamara Mera, representing the Catholic Church, Marilin Orozco, representing the Evangelical Churches.

Minister Montalvo was accompanied at the event by Deputy Minister Luis Henry Molina, the director of Purchasing and Contracts, Yokasta Guzman and Xenia Garcia, legal director at the Ministry of the Presidency.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations was represented by Deputy Minister Jose Manuel Trullols, Deputy Administration Minister Sarah Guemez Naut, ambassador in charge of the Legal Department Miguel Pichardo, and the head of the Administration department, Fernando Padovani.


Oversight commissions at work, but Chamber of Deputies seems to be on its own
Diario Libre journalists have followed up on the list of suppliers that benefitted from the Chamber of Deputies orders for RD$176 million in appliances, as recently announced by the legislative body. The list of the companies that won the tender to supply goods for distribution by the legislators to their constituents on the occasion of Mother's Day, which fell on Sunday 25 March this year, does not contain any companies known for being appliance vendors.

Diario Libre confirmed in actual visits that many of the companies were mainly food suppliers to the state for the Social Plan and several did not have locations that appeared to be functioning as businesses. In several cases, the reported business address did not exist or corresponded to a private home.

Today's Diario Libre, Tuesday 27 May, asks whether the RD$176 million donations of appliances were charity or robbery. Writing in the editorial, Ines Aizpun recalls the deputies have assigned themselves money in the past to distribute so their constituents can make the seasonal sweet beans during Easter, gifts for mom, Christmas gifts, and backpacks at the beginning of the school year. She observes that taxpayers have never openly delegated responsibility to the legislators for everyone's solidarity. "The policies for charity with which they purchase their votes impoverish us all. The deputies believe n cynically that when people talk about the slush funds, we are not referring to all," she comments. She states: "The political class handles too much money arbitrarily and without controls. If the audits of the Chamber of Accounts take six to eight years to be published, what good do they do... and why are they filed away for so long? And, when they are published, nothing happens... what hope do we have?"

She concludes by saying: "The PLD insists on using the poor as an excuse for the personal enrichment of their leaders, while they strangle the little institutionalism that is left so they can stay in power."



ProConsumidor to collect RD$18 million in fines
The executive director of consumer rights organization ProConsumidor, Altagracia Paulino, says she will notify the 21 propane gas dispatch companies owing fines for irregularities in supplying customers. The companies in question will have to pay RD$18 million after the Supreme Court of Justice overruled a court decision that had prevented the consumer defense agency from levying the fines. Paulino said the funds would serve to educate citizens about their rights as consumers.


Chikungunya virus continues to spread
According to the Ministry of Public Health, cases of Chikungunya virus continue to increase throughout the country with a total of 38,000 suspected cases, 5,481 more cases reported over the last seven days.

The province of San Cristobal still has the highest number with 24,368 followed by Santo Domingo with 5,151, San Pedro de Macoris 2,797 and Hato Mayor 1,241.

The other 5,082 cases are in other provinces around the country.

The Ministry has announced that the Primary Health Care Units (UNAP) will remain open to 7pm to help people affected by the virus.

Minister Freddy Hidalgo confirmed that they had the necessary medicines and trained personnel in place.

He said that in 98% of cases, people suffering from the virus did not require hospitalization and would be given the medicines to treat the symptoms at UNAP centers.


Luis Manuel Pellerano elected to new World FZO
Luis Manuel Pellerano has been elected first vice president of the newly created World Free Zone Organization (World FZO). Pellerano is a past president of the Dominican Free Zones Association.

World FZO seeks to "transform the way in which many economies around the world operate". The launch of the new global non-profit organization that brings together all free zones around the world took place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. While it was established in 2013 in Geneva, it will be headquartered in the Dubai Airport Freezone. It seeks also to enhance public and general knowledge and the perception of free zones, and will help to increase awareness of the advantages of free zones in terms of economic and social development, foreign and direct investment.

UAE-based Dr Mohammed Alzarooni will be the chairperson of World FZO, which also includes officials from the Dominican Republic (Luis Manuel Pellerano), India and Ireland.

Manzanillo Port expansion announced
Tradebe recently signed a joint venture with existing terminal operator Aguarda Investment Company S.A., to expand its facility in Manzanillo port in Montecristi in the northwest of the country.

The expansion will have access to a 15-meter draft berth, suitable for fuel oil and distillate products.

The new facilities are expected to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2015.


Chayote being exported
Chayote (tayota) farmers in Jarabacoa have begun to export the vegetable with the help of financing approved by President Danilo Medina and issued by the Special Fund for Agricultural Development (FEDA).

Chayote Producers Association president Luis Cruz said that they had already started exports to Canada, and that it had helped to revitalize the economy and the farming community.

Cruz said that they were sending at least one container a week at the moment and in September they would be sending two containers a week to the United States.

Chayote farmers in Jarabacoa have cultivated around 840 tareas, equivalent to 130 acres and employ more than 2,000 people in production and export.

With the RD$18 million approved by the President in September 2013, the growers planted a new variety of chayote imported from Mexico, which can be planted every two weeks and harvested all year round. It also has a better flavor and appearance and can compete in the international markets.

Chayote farmers in Palo Blanco, Jarabacoa also make cookies, jams and other products with chayote, which is said to have medicinal properties such as helping to control diabetes and high blood pressure.


Demand for Narcisazo trial
Several organizations have asked Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito to reopen the trial of those accused in connection with the disappearance and possible murder of Professor Narciso Gonzalez (Narcisazo).

The request was made by on the 20th anniversary of his disappearance by Anselmo Ramirez, National Council member of the Narciso Gonzalez University Workers' Front, at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD), Sixto Galvan, general secretary of the Narciso Gonzalez Legal Thinktank, and Socrates Schyra, general secretary of the Narciso Gonzalez cultural and sporting area.

In the document, the organizations highlight that the suspects include a general who was in charge of Air Force intelligence at the time, a lieutenant colonel who was director of operations for Air Force intelligence as well as a major general who was secretary of state for the Armed Forces.

They maintain that neither the Dominican state nor the judiciary have clarified the facts nor offered a definitive version of what happened to the university professor 20 years ago.

They recalled that on 27 February 2012 the Inter-American court of Human Rights (ICHR) declared that the Dominican Republic was intentionally responsible for the kidnapping and disappearance of Narciso Gonzalez.

During a commemorative event, Olivio de Leon, president of the Dominican Journalists Union (CDP) said that Narciso Gonzalez was murdered on the orders of former president Joaquin Balaguer, due to his stand against his abuses of power.

He also questioned why former president Leonel Fernandez had done nothing about the investigation during his time in office and deplored the fact that the state has not paid the Gonzalez family the US$450,000 ordered by the CIDH or the US$331,000 ordered by the court to pay the Gonzalez family lawyers.



Amet officer murdered, her firearm stolen
The police have announced that they have one suspect in custody in connection with the murder of 41-year old second lieutenant Mercedes del Carmen Torres Baez assigned to the Metropolitan Transport Authority (Amet).

Police spokesman Colonel Jacobo Mateo Moquete said that the late Torres was directing traffic on the Jacinto Peynado bridge on the Villa Mella side around 7am on Monday 26 May when two men on a motorcycle shot her in the back, stole her service weapon and rode off. Ironically, she was directing traffic passing by the installations of the army support command in Villa Mella.

Mateo Moquete described Torres as an excellent officer who had worked in public relations for the police before being assigned to Amet. She had served in the Police for 20 years and leaves four children between the ages of 11 and 19. She was a single mom and also primary care-giver for her 75-year old father.

The police spokesman promised that the murderers would be caught and brought to justice as soon as possible.

El Dia reports that criminals have killed 14 police agents for their firearms so far this year.


Drugs found at port
Agents from the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) have confiscated 20 packets of either cocaine or heroin packed inside a container bound for Puerto Rico in the ship Wellington Express at the Caucedo Multimodal Port.

DNCD spokesman, Miguel Medina, said the discovery was made following a long intelligence operation involving several intelligence and security agencies and that the Public Prosecution service was continuing its investigations to find out who was responsible.


Sobeida asks for freedom
Sobeida Felix Morel, who has one year and one month to serve of her five-year sentence in Najayo Women's jail in San Cristobal, has returned to court in an attempt to gain her conditional release. This is her fourth request.

Sobeida argued that her children would be returning from overseas and she wanted to be free to be with them. The judge set the date of June 4 to hear her case.

Her previous appeals have been denied as it was said that she had not yet compensated for the damage she had caused to society.

Felix Morel was jailed for her complicity with drug capo Jose Figueroa Agosto, who is serving a jail sentence in his native Puerto Rico.


German captured with Dominican citizenship ID
The police announced the capture of a German national, named as Domini Roland Goeppner, 24, yesterday, Monday 26 May. He was on the run from Germany accused of fraud and wanted by Interpol.

He was captured in Sosua, and used several false identities such as Domini Roland Boehmert, Fabian de la Cruz, Danny Van de Rest and Dominik Roland Wunder.

He will be repatriated to Germany shortly.


Velas Santo Domingo 2014 at Don Diego Terminal
See the tall ships from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico as they unfold their sails off the Malecon in Santo Domingo after participating in a regatta circumnavigating the South American to cross through the Panama Canal to the Caribbean. They will be mooring at the Port of Santo Domingo, Don Diego Terminal, and can be visited on Sunday 1 June from 4-10pm and Monday 2 and Tuesday 3 June from 9am to 12 noon and 2pm to 10pm. A series of events being held to coincide with their visit includes concerts by leading popular musical performers in the evenings. The Dominican Navy (Armada), Ministry of Tourism, and the National District City Government have organized the events with sponsorship from Presidente Beer.


Pan American Weightlifting Qualifier
The best weightlifters in the Americas are competing in the Toronto Pan Am Games qualifier being held at the Parque del Este this week. The Dominican Republic is aiming to win four to five of the available slots, said Weightlifting Federation president William Ozuna. In the women's competition, he said they expect six or seven medals and qualifiers for the Toronto Games. Dominican competitors in the Pan Am Games are:

Yudelquis Contreras (53 kilograms), Candida Vasquez and Georgina Silvestre (48 kg), Yineisy Paola Reyes (58 kg), Ernestina Familia (63 kg), Crismeri Santana (69 kg) and Veronica Saladin (75 kg).

The men's team members are: Ronald Pena (56 kg), Efrain de la Rosa and Jose Alberto Peguero (62 kg), Nelson Severino (69 kg), Juan Pena and Francis (77 kg), Evaristo Gonzalez (85 kg), and Jose Familia (105 kg).


La pajara pinta at Bellas Artes
The National Folk Dancing Group presents the colorful and action-packed children's show, "La pajara pinta" at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo this weekend. There will be shows for schools at 10:30am and at 7:30pm on Friday, 30 May. On Saturday 31 May and Sunday 1 June the shows will be at 7:30pm. Tickets are RD$250 per person.

The show is choreographed by Elizabeth Crooke.

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

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