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Daily News - Thursday, 12 June 2014

Mormon Church offers its help to the President
President Danilo Medina hosted a delegation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church) at the National Palace yesterday, Wednesday 11 June. The visitors included Jeffrey R. Holland, who is a member of the church's Quorum of Twelve, Claudio D. Zivic (member of the First Quorum of the Seventy) and who is in charge of the Caribbean area for the Church and Rafael G. Gutierrez, director of public affairs for the Caribbean region.

During the meeting the church leaders told the President they would like to help the government through a range of social programs carried out by the church. Zivic said the church has already contributed to many social programs by providing funds, education and health initiatives and would continue to do so. The visit is part of a general drive by the church and its wide-reaching global humanitarian aid program.

The high-ranking church officials are in the country on a church inspection visit.


Invalidated pre-paid mobile lines to be disconnected today
There will be no extension of the order to disconnect pre-paid cell phones that have not been validated by their owners. The Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) says it had given telecom companies six months to notify their clients and validate their pre-paid mobile line registration. The validation ordered in Resolution 039-13 requires the numbers to have a corresponding Dominican ID (Cedula) or foreign passport number, which must be confirmed by the holder of the identification. Numbers that are not validated will be cancelled as of 12 June 2014.

The validation is being required for security reasons. It is expected that there will be a considerable decline in the number of cell phone robberies once these are validated. Likewise, the authorities expect to leave criminals that use the anonymous phones without their work tool. The effort also corresponds with the start of the 911 emergency line system in the Dominican Republic. Those making nuisance calls will be easier to identify.

The telecom companies had requested a six-month extension. It is estimated that more than four million mobile phones have not been validated. Owners will be able to gradually validate their phones after they are disconnected.

People who have tried to validate their numbers using the online links encountered major difficulties in recent weeks. The telecom companies say the Internet lines are congested and people should try at different times. The alternative is a long wait in line for the validation at telecom shops.

The communications director at the largest provider Claro, Gerty Valerio, says that to date about a million clients have been able to validate their numbers since the public was informed they could carry out the validation online last week.


JCE says Haiti is turning Legalization Plan into money-earner
It will cost US$25 million to the Dominican government, but could generate US$60 million in revenues for the government of Haiti. Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Roberto Rosario has denounced the Haitian authorities for turning the Dominican Republic's Foreigner Legalization Plan into a business. He says that their main interest should be for their citizens who are resident in the DR to be able to legalize their status.

The United Nations UNFPA survey says there are 458,233 Haitians living in the DR, most without legal status that could potentially apply for the process.

The Haitian government continues to levy the high charges for supplying the identity documents that are one of the main reasons most Haitians that immigrated to the Dominican Republic do not have identity documents.

"In contrast with the generous position of the Dominican authorities, it appears that those who should be the most interested in their citizens regularizing their status have turned the legalization process into a business," said Rosario.

He complained that when Haitians go to the consulates they are charged large sums for the documents they need in order to legalize their status in the Dominican Republic. He said the process would not be successful if Haiti does not help its citizens obtain their documents. Applicants for regularization need to have at least one official identity document to prevent duplication of identities or fake identities that are different than those in their country of origin. The government of Haiti charges US$50 for a birth certificate and US$80 for a passport.



Lots of moral support, but no US$ to help legalization process
The president of the Central Electoral Board and national civil registry, Robert Rosario pointed out that the international organizations are exercising pressure on the DR to legalize Haitian immigrants, but are reluctant to help pay for the process.

He said that the ruling for the application of Law 169-14 that grants special naturalization procedures is a sovereign right of the Dominican Republic and foreign entities should limit themselves to making recommendations. On Monday, 10 June 2014, representatives of five UN organizations met with the President to present their positions on the ruling that will enable people who were irregularly registered as Dominicans in the civil registry to be naturalized. Law 169-14 gives the government 60 days to issue the ruling.

Rosario said the suggestions made by the UN organizations on Monday at the Presidential Palace were presented to the government commission that is working on the ruling, made up by the legal consultant Cesar Pina Toribio, Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo, Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul, director of Migration Jose Ricardo Taveras, and Luis Henry Molina, Deputy Minister of the Presidency. El Dia says that lawyers Olivo Rodriguez and Flavio Dario Espinal, Constitutional expert and former Dominican Republic lawyer to the OAS and the United States are being consulted.

Rosario said that while the country has been under a great deal of international pressure for the solution of the problem, it has not received much in the way of funding for implementing the process. "The Dominican Republic has received a lot of solidarity and moral support, but little material support," he said.

The JCE head commented that regularization processes in other countries have received generous funding from the United Nations and other international organizations, but "no one has given a cent for the Dominican Republic to regularize its foreign residents."

Rosario said: "Their support should be total, this is a country that needs help, we are not a wealthy nation. They should not just come to make demands, they should contribute," he said in reference to the international organizations meeting with President Medina.

Rosario commented that no other country in the world has helped irregular residents with the legalization process as the Dominican Republic is doing. "There is not a single plan in the world that is free, the cheapest was Bolivia and they charged US$200 to regularize foreigners; all legalization plans have a cost for the legalization," he stated.

He pointed out that legalization in the United States costs thousands of dollars, as reported in El Caribe. El Dia reports that while the Dominican government is spending US$25 on regularizing the immigrants, the Haitian government is charging its citizens for the documents they need and could reap US$60 million in revenues taking into account the more than 450,000 that the UNFPA says are potential beneficiaries of the process. The Haitian government charges US$50 for a birth certificate and US$80 for a passport.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Relations says it has offered all facilities to help the Haitian government to issue documents to their citizens. The Ministry was responding to comments by Haitian Ambassador Fritz Cineas who explained the delays at the Haitian missions were because their work plan had met with obstacles like a lack of visas for Haitian officials who were going to work on the program and that Dominican authorities had not authorized the importation of needed equipment. The Ministry said precise instructions had been given for one-year visas for the Haitian officials with multiple entry visas for the accredited staff. The Dominican Republic offered to donate equipment previously used for the old identity cards to document the Haitians when President Medina met with Haitian President Michel Martelly in April 2013. Foreign Relations Ministry Staff later met with OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza who pledged to back the documentation process with Haiti. At the time Haiti supported the initiative. The Ministry stated that in February 2014 an agreement was signed with the OAS for a diagnostic study on providing identity documents to Haitians. The results of the study were presented on Friday, 6 June. The Ministry says that several meetings have taken place in Haiti and the DR on the matter, always with the participation of the OAS and the International Organization for Migration (OIM).



Senate approves naming Loma Miranda a national park
The Senate has approved a first reading of the bill aimed at naming Loma Miranda in La Vega a national park. The status will prevent commercial activity from taking place within the park. Votes in favor of the park were cast by senators Reinaldo Pared Perez, Cristina Lizardo, Euclides Sanchez, Adriano Sanchez Roa, Julio Cesar Valentin, Rafael Calderon, Manuel Guichardo, Manuel Paula, Luis Rene Canaan, Prim Pujals, Juan Olando Mercedes, Felix Vasquez, Eddy Mateo Vasquez, Jose Rafael Vargas, Dionis Sanchez, Francis Vargas, Aristides Victoria, Ruben Dario Cruz, Wilton Guerrero, Amilcar Romero, Ivonne Chain, Amarilis Santana, Carlos Castillo and Charlie Mariotti. Senator Felix Nova of Monsenor Nouel, who voted against, said the bill violated the property owners' rights to fair compensation. He said the bill was a strong blow to foreign investment. Xstrata Falcondo owns property on the hill where they seek to develop a mining concession.

A second reading is necessary and then the bill would need to return to the Chamber of Deputies because changes have been made. The senators increased the cost of mining licenses in order to generate funds to compensate property owners. Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez says that the Loma Miranda experience is strong indicator that the country needs to define its mining policies. The former UNDP representative in the country, Valerie Julliand, expressed the same opinion prior to leaving the DR, after UN consultants rejected the environmental impact study presented by Xstrata Falcondo.

Legal consultants for the mining sector, including Eduardo Jorge Prats, president of the Dominican Geology Society Eduardo Verdeja and Jose Sena, president of the Mining and Petroleum Chamber and Falconbridge Dominicana legal advisor Jose Caceres said that the hill should be protected but at a lower level, not as a national park. Jorge Prats said that studies have not been carried out to support the validity of declaring the hill a national park. He said the focus of the bill approved in the Senate, more than to protect the area, is to ensure that certain owners in the area receive compensation. Verdeja added that the bill has serious technical errors that could confuse the general public, such as the amount of water resources. Sena said there were conditions under which mining could take place while protecting the environment.

Jose Caceres argued: "What is correct, according to the constitution, is for the branches of government to work to develop principles that are in harmony and guarantee that the best use is made of mining resources."

One of the strongest factors against Xstrata Falcondo's bid to continue mining is the dire state of the areas around their previous mining site, Loma Peguero in Monsenor Nouel province.

The Medina administration, that has been pro mining seeing it as an important revenue-generating sector for the government, recently appointed a new Minister of Energy and Mines as part of a push to reorganize the mining sector.



Get your ID in your barrio
Santo Domingo Mayor Roberto Salcedo and the president of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) Roberto Rosario have signed an agreement whereby ID renewal centers will be set up in high-density barrios. This will bring the facility near to people's place of residence in order to speed up the issuing of the document.


City honors Mary Marranzini with street name near Rehabilitacion
The Santo Domingo street across from the Dominican Rehabilitation Association (ADR) headquarters where Dona Mary Perez viuda Marranzini has spent so many hours now bears her name after 50 years of philanthropic work. "I have no words to thank all who have worked with me, during those 50 years," said the ADR founder. She had special thanks for the volunteers, the 27 directors of the ADR affiliates nationwide, and the government officials who have supported the nation's leading rehabilitation association.

The Dominican government recognizes Mary Perez viuda Marranzini who turned her son's personal challenge into a lifelong commitment since 1961 to help others who needed rehabilitation support.

At the ceremony, her son Celso Marranzini, who has been president of the Dominican Republic Industries Association and the National Business Council said that he hoped that one day the name of the Center for the Disabled would be changed to Center for People with Special Capabilities. He thanked the President of the Republic, the Senate and deputy Manuel Jimenez who had the idea of naming the street and senator Ramon Dario Cruz who backed it in the Senate. ADR director Arturo Perez Gavino and Minister of Culture Jose Antonio Rodriguez also attended the event.

The street is a stretch of the Calle San Francisco in the Miraflores neighborhood of Santo Domingo. The Senate approved the naming of the street on 25 September 2013 by Law 154-13.

Jose Miguel Martinez and a commission of city councilors were present for the commemorative event.

Mary Perez has also been awarded the Order of St. Sylvester Pope by Pope John Paul II, the Duarte, Sanchez and Mella award by the Dominican government and has been named a distinguished citizen by the Santo Domingo city government.



Thousands of Haitian children cross the border to study in DR schools
Dominican schools receive thousands of Haitian children who live in border towns. The children were enrolled in schools located in the border provinces of Montecristi, Dajabon, Santiago Rodriguez, Elias Pina, Bahoruco, Pedernales after the 2010 earthquake devastated their schools. A report in Listin Diario mentions that the students study in both public and private schools with all the benefits granted to Dominican students by the Ministry of Education, which can include free textbooks, notebooks, backpacks, and school supplies.

Border authorities allow the children to cross at any time on the sole condition that they wear school uniform and are accompanied by their parents if they are under the age of eight.

As reported in El Nacional the schools are located in several cities and towns, including Montecristi, Pedernales, Jimani, Comendador, Restauracion, Loma de Cabrera, Rio Limpio, Guayajayuco and Mencia.

The government says that more than 34,158 children born in Haiti or residents in Haiti are studying in the pre-school to high school grades. A total of 1,503 students were registered in pre-school in Dominican schools, 21,521 in elementary, 3,573 in middle school.

The Ministry of Education exempts the students from having to present ID documentation through 8th grade, and they may be admitted to a school by just giving their names and those of their parents. For high school students (9th+) the students need to present their birth certificate.

El Nacional reports that the schools admit the children half an hour late, until 8:30am and 2:30pm for the afternoon session taking into account the long distances they have to cover to get to the schools from Haiti.

Shefalia Valcin Pierre, an 11-year old girl from Ouanaminthe who is in 4th grade at the Jose Ramon Lopez public elementary school in Dajabon said when she finishes high school she will travel to Santo Domingo to study medicine at the UASD, the state university. The state university treats Haitians and Dominicans equally and does not charge students from the Dominican public school system or the Haitian public school system for tuition.

Another child, Dahiana Maldonado, 11, the daughter of a Haitian furniture-maker, told Listin Diario that every day they walk eight kilometers from Anse-a-Pitre to Pedernales to study at the Hernando Gorjon School. At that school, of 1,228 students, 304 are Haitians or children of Haitian residents in the Pedernales barrios. The school principal, Wilton Alberto Feliz Perez, says that he has given instructions for the Haitian children to be given double school breakfasts. Feliz says that no one in Pedernales denies a child admission on grounds of nationality.


Competitiveness reforms on hold in DR
The representative of the World Bank International Finance Corporation (IFC) Ary Naim says that the Dominican Republic's competitiveness indicators have stagnated since 2010. He said this was because the required changes have been on hold.

He said that despite the DR being among the 50 countries that improved their ranking in the Doing Business listing from 2006 to 2012, this process stagnated after 2010. He said that it is not that there were no changes; it is just that other countries have been more aggressive in their changes, as reported in Listin Diario.

He made his comments yesterday, Wednesday 11 June during closing words of the breakfast meeting organized by the American Chamber of Commerce legal committee that focused on Doing Business Indicators for the Dominican Republic: Opportunities and Challenges. Naim said that the country urgently needed to focus on business growth and development, by carrying out the necessary reforms of the business and investment climate and implementing broader and stronger strategies.

Much of the focus was the status of new bankruptcy law and the general customs law.

Deputy Minister of Competitiveness Management at the Ministry of Economy Juan Reyes, deputy director of the National Competitiveness Council Laura Castillo, and lawyers Mary Fernandez, Maria Esther Fernandez and Yudith Castillo for the AmCham Legal Committee also spoke at the event.


DR is bullish market for franchises
In his lecture entitled "Franchises, model for business expansion" visiting business specialist Juan Manuel Gallastegui highlighted the advantages of the franchise model for micro, small and medium-sized business. He made the point that franchises boost the business development process. He said the Dominican Republic has enormous potential for franchisees. Gallastegui forecast the business model would show a double-digit increase in coming years. He said the DR is the country with most capacity to grow the franchise business in the Central American and Caribbean region. The speaker added that businesses choosing this model should have the support of a consultant because while the model is not complicated it is complex because it involves matters such as strategic planning, financial models, legal framework, the need to follow manuals with specific requirements, marketing systems, technical assistance programs available, and others.

Attending were more than 100 businesspeople interested in franchise opportunities. The event was organized by DMK Abogados Central Law.

Enrique de Marchena Kaluche and Llilda Solano from the firm also spoke at the event.


Free zone model now used for farm exports
Dominican Free Zones Association president Aquiles Bermudez says that farming activities are now an active part of Adozona with exports in tobacco (cigars and cigarettes), chocolate and produce grown in controlled environments (including peppers and tomatoes). He said that farmers in Santiago will soon be exporting vegetables to the United States using the free zone platform.

Bermudez pointed out the diversification process that has taken place in free zone exports. He commented that the country has become a leader in footwear in recent years, with exports at 14 million pairs of shoes in 2013, compared to 14 million pairs of shoes from mainland China.


Challenges to overcome for business competitiveness
During a meeting with the Corripio Communications group yesterday, Wednesday 11 June, the Dominican Free Zones Association (Adozona) criticized the government's tolerant approach towards the country's cargo transport monopoly. Adozona calls for a definite solution to the problem. "The government needs to take action to end the harmful practice that affects the right of companies to choose how to transport their goods and increases transportation costs, affecting future investments in the transport sector."

In the interview, Adozona president Aquiles Bermudez said that companies pay excessive rates for domestic transport and it is time to end that. He gave the example of a freight container transport that costs RD$24,000-RD$26,000 from the Caucedo Multimodal Port when it could cost RD$18,000 if companies were allowed to use their own fleets. The Fenatrado monopoly obliges, through the use of vandalism, companies to transport at least 50% of their cargo using their services.




Prosecutors ask for 30 years jail in case of Jordi Veras
State prosecutors are asking for a 30-year jail sentence for Franklin Javier Reynoso Moronta, for the attempted murder of lawyer and TV commentator Jordi Veras, as reported in Diario Libre. Reynoso facilitated the court use a recording he had made of his conversations with Adriano Roman, the alleged mastermind of the contract to murder Veras. The tape was presented to the court when Roman refused to pay for the "service". Reynoso and the killers had told Roman the tape would be used as evidence, but this did not motivate him to pay, as reported in Diario Libre. As reported in Diario Libre, during this time the Police confiscated the recordings in a visit to the office of defendant lawyer Carlos Balcacer.

The tape is evidence of the participation of Roman in the attempted murder.

Veras was the lawyer of Roman's former wife, Miguelina Llaverias, in the case of her kidnapping and sexual abuse. Roman had ordered one of his aides to rape Llaverias in his presence after they had recently divorced. Roman was the godfather of one of Reynoso's children, who had been born when both of them were in jail.

Reynoso was removed from Rafey jail in Santiago to the Moca jail.

In the case, the accused of the material murder attempt suspects are Engels Carela Castro, Candy Caminero Rodriguez, Roberto Zabala Espinosa and Arturo Ferreras del Castillo.


Police investigates possible suicide case near Guibia
Police Chief Major General Castro Castillo says that a missing woman, Claudia Patricia Sarante, may have committed suicide throwing herself into the Caribbean Sea. A Ford Explorer SUV was found parked outside the Plaza Guibia park in the afternoon of Tuesday, 10 June. A farewell letter addressed to family members was found inside the vehicle, as well as the missing woman's identification documents. The police say that investigations are underway.

On Wednesday, 11 June, nonetheless, her family expressed optimism that she would show up. Her father Rafael Sarante described his daughter as hardworking, saying that she owns a beauty clinic and studies business administration. He said the security camera video shows she got out of the vehicle with a black bag in her hands and walked towards Maximo Gomez Avenue. He does not believe that she could have committed suicide because the security cameras showed her walking away from the seafront.



Hotel Burlesque at Blue Mall
Hotel Burlesque is showing at the Blue Room of Santo Domingo's Blue Mall at 8:30pm this evening, Thursday, 12 June and tomorrow evening, Friday, 13 June. It is a repeat after its first successful performance on 22 May. The show brings back all the color and fantasy of the 1920s. The show, produced by Luis Marcel Ricart and Marcos Malespin, has received good reviews in the media. The Blue Mall is located at the intersection between Gustavo Mejia Ricart and Winston Churchill avenues.

World FIFA Cup
Dominicans nationwide can tune in to Telemicro Channel 5 and Digital Channel 15 to see the opening game of the World FIFA Cup in Sao Paulo at 4pm. The game will be between host team Brazil and Croatia. Brazil is the favorite to win the cup, to tell by the popular betting markets. Other favorites are Argentina, Spain and Germany. It is expected that anywhere there is a TV the game will be showing as in recent years football fever has caught on in the Dominican Republic.

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

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