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Daily News - Wednesday, 11 June 2014

New schools in Azua
President Danilo Medina inaugurated 10 new schools in the southwestern province of Azua yesterday, Tuesday 10 June, providing a total of 5,075 students with 145 new classrooms. The government says it has spent RD$542 million on the new facilities.

Medina inaugurated the first school in Padre Las Casas and then moved on to La Bombita to open Altagracia de la Cruz Feliz school. During the visit to Padre Las Casas, President Medina promised the reconstruction of the Padre Las Casas-Bohechio road.

The other schools are Silvestre Antonio Guzman Fernandez in the Quisqueya housing development, Estebania in the municipality of the same name, Jose Nunez de Caceres in Las Charcas, Hatillo, Juan Pablo II in the municipal district of Las Yayas, Alejandro Cabral and Santiago Luciano in Guayabal, Los Naranjos, and the Profesora Martina Feliz high school in Dona Emma and Santa Teresa de Jesus high school in Sabana Yegua.

All of the schools have IT laboratories, libraries, kitchens, dining rooms, recreation and administrative areas.

The Minister of Education, Carlos Amarante Baret made the main speech, followed by the Minister of Public Works, Gonzalo Castillo.

Provincial governor Luis Vargas also spoke, as did Altagracia de la Cruz Feliz School principal Juan Bautista Diaz and student Crisleidy Ciprian.


President Medina to meet the Pope
President Danilo Medina leaves on the Air Europa evening flight from Santo Domingo to Madrid, connecting to Rome today, Wednesday 11 June. He is scheduled for a special audience with Pope Francis on Friday, 13 June.

He is accompanied by Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo, the head of the Presidential Security Corps, Major Adan Caceres Silvestre, his personal assistant Carlos Pared Perez and Presidency Communications director Roberto Rodriguez Marchena. When they arrive in Madrid they will be joined by the Administrative Minister for the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta. In Rome they will the guests of the Dominican Ambassador to the Holy See, Victor Grimaldi.

The President is scheduled to return to the country in the afternoon of Sunday, 15 June.



Vocational scholarships at military schools
Vice President Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez met with the Minister of Defense, Admiral Sigfrido Pared Perez yesterday, Tuesday 10 June and agreed to extend the teaching at the Vocational Schools of the Armed Forces and the Police to enable 3,000 people from low-income families to be able to graduate under the Progress with Solidarity (Prosoli) program.

During the meeting, the Vice President reiterated her commitment to supporting families through Prosoli with this type of project.


Issue of identity cards exceeds expectations
Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Roberto Rosario says that since the new identity card (cedula) process began some 19 days ago, around 700,000 people have attended the issuing centers and around 600,000 have received new cards with their biometric data.

Because such large numbers have already been issued, he said that it is likely the process will only take a year to complete and not the 18 months that was originally projected.

He asked people to try and attend the centers in the afternoons between 2 and 6pm when there were fewer people.

He went on to say that they would be installing the necessary equipment in some of the overseas offices, which reopened following requests from Dominicans living overseas, and that by the end of this month or the beginning of next, offices in the United States and Europe would be able to issue the identity cards.


Defense Minister says border wall is "utopian"
Minister of Defense Sigrido Pared Perez has described the proposal to construct a wall on the border with Haiti as "utopian". He said the best wall was education and development, which is the Ministry of Defense's main focus in border towns. He said that the Haitian government initiative to build a wall was their right. Pared Perez said that the Haitians want to be able to levy taxes on imports. The lack of a physical border is conducive to both people smuggling and contraband. The Defense Minister denied that the start of the National Foreign Legalization Plan had increased immigration from Haiti. He said the Ministry had increased security as a preventive measure, not in response to any increase in illegal immigration. As reported in Listin Diario, Pared Perez was in favor of building a wall in areas where it is difficult for the authorities to control illegal immigration.


New military base in Pedernales
Progress is being made on the construction of a new military base for the Specialized Terrestrial Border Security Corps (CESFRONT) in Pedernales.

The building has an area for soldiers, officers, a kitchen, dining room, medical area and canine unit. It is being built to help control contraband and people coming from Haiti into Pedernales. Engineers Major Lleudy Antonio Bueno Valdez and Second Lieutenant Annis Esther Cuevas Nin from the Dominican Defense Ministry are in charge of construction of the base, which is scheduled for inauguration this August.

CESFRONT has military bases along the length of the border and in the last few months they have confiscated garlic, cigarettes, cleren rum (bootleg) and juice.


Humanitarian exercise in Barahona
The multinational exercise Beyond the Horizon 2014 is underway in Barahona Province, and United States Marine Corps General John F. Kelly, commander of US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), and Dominican Minister of Defense Admiral Sigfrido Pared Perez have recently visited the soldiers, Marines and airmen participating in the humanitarian and civic assistance mission.

Task Force Larimar Commander, US Army Reserve Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Dziubek, and Colonel Andres Santos Melo, commander of the Dominican Republic's 5th Infantry Brigade, briefed Kelly, Perez and other military leaders in attendance on the status of construction projects and medical assistance during BTH.

Engineering projects during this mission include building schools and medical clinics while the medical and dental services for the locals range from providing pre-natal vitamins to filling cavities and root canals.

During two-week iterations, both Army Reserve and Air National Guard engineers from across the United States as well as international partners from Brazil, Venezuela, Chile, Peru and the Dominican Republic worked on five construction sites to improve the quality of life for the local people. Also, medical and dental specialists from the US Army Reserve and Canada provided care for people who might otherwise not visit a dentist or doctor.


Fewer Haitians than previously thought, says UNFPA
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) says that the 2012 National Immigrant Survey (ENI) that found that 12% of the Dominican population was Haitian is actually incorrect.

UNFPA representative Sonia Vasquez now says that the current Haitian population in the Dominican Republic is around 5% of the population, some 458,233 people.

The First National Immigrant Survey had a sample of more than 68,000 homes.

Vasquez went on to say that the number of first generation Haitians is 209,912, and that the figure of 668,145 previously used included their descendants.

The survey shows that immigrants from more than 60 countries are living in the Dominican Republic.


Remittances on the increase in the Caribbean
Remittances to the Caribbean region increased by 3% in 2013, according to a new report from the Inter-American Development Bank's Multilateral Investment Fund.

Remittances to the region totaled US$8.519 billion, a 3% improvement in US dollar terms, an 8.9% increase in local currency and a 3.3% improvement in local currency and adjusted for inflation.

The Dominican Republic received US$3.333 billion in 2013, a 5.5% improvement, and the largest increase in the area. They were followed by Jamaica, which received US$2.065 billion and Haiti, which received US$2.017 billion.

Trinidad and Tobago was next with US$131 million in remittances.

The Latin America and Caribbean region received a total of US$61.251 billion last year, with the United States the source of about 75% of remittances to the region.


Dominicans spend RD$300+ million a day on gambling
Optimistic Dominicans risk at least RD$300 million a day in the hope of hitting the jackpot. El Dia reports that the Ministry of Hacienda has 30,750 registered betting shops in operation, but says the number could be greater if the country's many informal establishments are taken into account. The estimate is that there are 60,000 betting shops in operation. The Ministry estimates Dominicans gamble around RD$185 billion a year, once the illegal betting shops are included in the calculations. The Ministry is working to close down the illegal betting shops.

US Embassy Consular Section closes to move to new location
The United States Embassy's Consular Section in Santo Domingo is closed as of today, Wednesday, 11 June and is scheduled to reopen on Monday, 16 June. Consular appointments are being rescheduled. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will be resumed on 17 June.

The new Embassy and Consulate compound is located in the sector of Arroyo Hondo at Av. Republica de Colombia 57 in Santo Domingo.

After the move, the Consular Section will continue to operate with the regular schedule Monday through Thursdays from 7am to 4:30 pm and Fridays from 7am to 11am.

In the event of an emergency, please contact the Embassy main number 809-221-2171.

Protests lead to arrests in Cibao
Fifteen people were arrested during the protests throughout the Cibao region yesterday, Tuesday 10 June 2014, organized to highlight the poor state of the roads, lack of water and to demand improvements in the electricity supply.

The protests took place in El Ahogado and Palo Verde, in Montecristi province, Imbert, Rio Grande, Palmar Grande, La Jagua, El Higuero and La China, in Altamira municipality, in Puerto Plata province.

During the demonstrations in Palmar Grande, La Jagua and Rio Grande de Altamira, hooded protestors shot at the police who had been sent in to control the situation. No injuries were reported but six people were arrested.

In Palo Verde and El Ahogado, nine people were arrested for throwing garbage and setting fire to tires.

Juan Urena, representing the protesters, said that they would continue to protest if those arrested were not released.


Victor Estrella wins in the ATP Master 250
The Dominican Republic's best tennis player of all time, 33-year old Victor Estrella, ranked 95th in the world by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), has become the first Dominican to win a game of the ATP Master 250 championship. Yesterday, Tuesday 10 June, Estrella defeated 32-year old Julien Benneteau (ranked 46th in the world) 6-7 (3), 6-3, 706 (3) in the first round of the Aegon Championship (Queen's Club) in the UK, with prize money of EUR809,600. Benneteau is a doubles winner of the Roland Garros tournament who has won US$6.7 million in his career compared to Victor Estrella's US$355,485, as reported in Diario Libre.

Miley Cyrus includes Santo Domingo in her Bangerz Tour
Controversial pop starlet Miley Cyrus has included Santo Domingo in her Bangerz Tour for this year. She will perform at the Quisqueya Ball Park on Saturday, 13 September, says SD Concerts, the promoters.



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