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Daily News - Friday, 13 June 2014

President Medina meets with Pope Francis, then visits IFAD
Pope Francis met with Dominican President Danilo Medina during an around 30-minute private audience at the Vatican this morning, Friday 13 June at 10:30am. They discussed the Dominican government plan for legalization and naturalization of foreigners underway since 2 June 2014. The legalization plan is being applied to people who were not born in the country but who entered the country legally and who overstayed their permits as well as to children of parents who are/were in the country illegally after entering the country without proper documents, as reported in El Nuevo Diario.

During his visit to Rome, President Medina also visited the headquarters of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), the specialized agency of the United Nations that operates as an international financial institution. At the IFAD, the Dominican delegation was received by IFAD vice president Michel Mordasini. Mordasini praised the harmony between Dominican government policies and those of the IFAD. President Medina asked for the collaboration of the IFAD to secure new markets for Dominican products. "There is no sense in increasing production, if we do not have markets," said President Medina. The meeting at the IFAD was coordinated by Mario Arvelo, ambassador at the Dominican mission at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome.

President Medina is expected back in the Dominican Republic on Sunday.




Time is up to validate 'burn' phones
The government ordered that starting at midnight, Thursday 12 June the telecom companies suspend service of the pre-paid cell phones whose owners had not updated their ownership. During a press conference at the Presidential Palace, the 911 Emergency Response System spokeswoman and Deputy Presidency Minister, Zoraima Cuello, read a statement that decreed that starting at midnight tonight "the telephone operators should suspend the service of these lines, in compliance with Resolution 939-13 issued by the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel)."

Cuello said that "a high percentage of the pre-paid lines in the country are not properly identified with corresponding names and ID documents of the real owners, which has serious consequences for public safety and the better operation of institutions such as the new 911 National Emergencies System." She said that for this reason the suspension of the services of these pre-paid phones "provides a conclusive solution."

DR leads in Caribbean and Central America in renewable energy
The executive director of the National Energy Commission (CNE) Enrique Ramirez has announced that the Dominican Republic is the Caribbean and Central American country where the most investments have been made in renewable energy in 2012-2013. The investments are from companies based in the Netherlands, the United States, Spain, Germany, British Virgin Islands and Chile. He estimated that investment in renewable energy sources underway this year at more than US$150 million. Ramirez highlighted that the Dominican Republic ranks eighth in Latin America on the 2013 Climascope Score, only surpassed by Nicaragua in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The ranking measures countries for clean energy policy, power market structure, clean energy-rural electrification programs, renewable installed power capacity and renewable generation, biofuel production and production growth rate and price attractiveness. Climascope profiles the state of clean energy and climate-related business development in 26 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Speaking at an international forum on renewable energy at the Dominican Republic Center for Export and Investments (CEI-RD), Ramirez said that in the past six years some US$700-US$800 million has been invested in renewable energy. The most outstanding of the projects are the wind farms in Pedernales and new ones underway in the area of Bani in the southwest and Luperon in Puerto Plata province on the north coast. He also mentioned a biomass project underway in San Pedro de Macoris to generate 75 megawatts.



Once again, the Standardized Scholastic Tests
Over a third of a million students are being called in to take the National Standardized Scholastic Tests for students in the eighth grade of primary school and the fourth year of high school (also called "basic" and "middle"). Nearly 345,000 students will be taking the tests between 16 and 27 June. According to a report in Listin Diario, the Quality Evaluation Department at the Ministry of Education (Minerd) says that 151,000 primary school graduates and 35,000 adults in the third cycle of their education will be sitting the examinations. Some 138,000 high school seniors were invited to the general tests and 19,000 to the technical professions tests. The exams cover four basic areas - in general - which are Math, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Spanish Language.

More than 80% of fathers do not register children
More than 80% of the 130,000 children born over the past ten years were born to single mothers and were not recognized immediately by their fathers when they were registered in the Civil Registry. In light of this situation documented by the National Statistics Office (ONE), Higher Electoral Tribunal judge Jose Manuel Hernandez Peguero has presented the National Congress with a legislative proposal on "Responsible Paternity" that establishes a judicial procedure to identify the fathers of the children of single mothers so that they fulfill their child support, assistance and protection obligations.

The legislation has far-reaching effects. First, the proposal would allow the 158 Justices of the Peace now in place to deal with cases of recognition of paternity, which are currently handled by the 37 chambers for Boys, Girls and Adolescents at the Courts of the First Instance. Second, the Justices of the Peace would establish the amount of the child support, custody and visitation rights. This would change the current procedures in which cases go through the courts, often causing difficulties for the mother.

A push to care for newborns
Given the increase in the suspected cases of the Chikungunya virus in newborn babies and small children, the health authorities are advising health professionals and the general public to pay particular attention to newborns, with or without symptoms, children of mothers who have shown signs of the disease during the birth or four days before. Also, special attention should be given to babies under the age of one and elderly people over the age of 65, as well as people with preexisting conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular conditions, kidney problems, TB, HIV/AIDS, sickle-cell anemia or other blood conditions. Another recommendation is to treat patients with respiratory problems, strong abdominal pains and persistent vomiting, convulsions and bleeding from body orifices.

Meanwhile, yesterday, Thursday 12 June the health authorities continued implementing a series of measures aimed at eliminating the breeding grounds of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which causes the Chikungunya fever and dengue. This time it was the turn of Senate president Reinaldo Pared Perez, who accompanied Public Health Minister Freddy Hidalgo Nunez on a visit to the poor barrio of La Cienaga to advise residents on how to prevent the virus and eliminate mosquito breeding grounds. The number of suspected Chikungunya cases has now exceeded 77,300, according to official Ministry figures. The advice includes using mosquito netting and spreading chlorine around the sides of water storage tanks.

Drought hits new low, affecting Santo Domingo water supply
The Santo Domingo Water and Sewer Corporation (CAASD) director, Alejandro Montas said yesterday, Thursday 12 June 2014 that the low water levels in the Valdesia Dam and in the Haina, Isa-Mana and Duey rivers are now "critical and of great concern." These low levels have caused a reduction of some 70 million gallons of water a day and more than 30 sectors have not received water in recent days. Montas said that the "big problem" facing the CAASD is that the Valdesia reservoir has gone down to "alarming levels", reducing its flow by 13.42 cubic meters a second. As a result, the aqueduct of the same name has produced 295.24 million fewer gallons than it did in the same two-week period last year.

"The big worry for the CAASD is that the water levels at the reservoir behind the Valdesia Dam keep dropping. On Thursday, 12 June it had nearly 300 million fewer gallons and the Valdesia aqueduct has gone down 50% in its production; the flow is critical. The situation is very worrisome," stated Montas. He said that they are taking measures to ensure that residents of Greater Santo Domingo receive water from an expanded fleet of tank trucks since it will be difficult to re-channel the water because of the low production at Valdesia where these switches take place. Since the beginning of the week, 29 tank trucks have been supplying free water to the municipalities of Santo Domingo East, North and West, and more than 15 of the worst affected sectors of the National District.

Regional survey shows optimism about progress in the DR
Dominicans feel their country is headed in the right direction, according to the CID/Gallup Public Opinion Poll for Central America and the Dominican Republic. The poll was taken in February-May 2014, with results released this month. 56% of Dominicans feel the country is headed in the right direction, compared to 54% for Panama, 53% for Nicaragua, 37% for El Salvador, 32% for Honduras, 23% for Costa Rica and 19% for Guatemala.

The survey was taken by The CIDoGallup Latinoamerica and released yesterday, Thursday 12 June. Respondents who feel strongest about the country are young people under the age of 25, people with a university education, and PLD party members. For the poll, some 1,200 people were interviewed.


AmCham: Congressional decision on Loma Miranda will set precedent
The American Chamber of Commerce in the Dominican Republic (AmCham) issued their response to the decision to make Loma Miranda a national park on Thursday, 12 June. The leading business organization sent letters to the president of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies asking them to consider three important elements: The right to private property; judicial security and due process. According to AmCham, the decision to approve the legislative proposal to proclaim the area a National Park will "set a precedent in terms of the guarantees for national and international private investment." The letters spell out each one of the three elements with references to the Constitution and existing laws.

US Vice President visit confirmed for 18 June
US Vice President Joseph Biden and his wife are scheduled to arrive in the Dominican Republic for a two-day visit on Wednesday, 18 June for the official inaugural of the new US mission compound in Santo Domingo. His visit has been postponed previously. His schedule includes an 11am meeting with President Danilo Medina to discuss bilateral and regional issues. The Embassy and Consulate offices are now located at Av. Republica de Colombia in northern Santo Domingo.

After 75 years in Gazcue, at the corner of Cesar Nicolas Penson and Leopoldo Navarro streets in Santo Domingo, the United States Embassy is moving this weekend, along with the Consulate, to the Arroyo Hondo address. In an emotional ceremony prior to the move, the Stars and Stripes were lowered for the last time by the US Marine Corps and delivered to Ambassador James Brewster, to be raised at the new diplomatic seat next week. Starting on 16 June the Embassy and the Consulate will function on Avenue Colombia. The Consulate will be accessed through the entrance on Colombia Avenue.


Martelly expresses appreciation for Haitian status legalization
"This is the first step, but we are far from solving all of the problems, but we have a lot of faith in the projects that we are implementing in Haiti, this process also gives us hope," President Michel Martelly is quoted as saying in a statement issued during his visit to Punta Cana this week.

In the statement released yesterday, Thursday 12 June 2014, Martelly thanks his Dominican counterpart Danilo Medina for the approval of the naturalization law, and the startup of the National Foreigner Legalization Plan that will mostly benefit Haitians living in the Dominican Republic illegally. "The President is a man who honors his word, as the situation we have experienced could have been worse, but the President has intervened and promised to help with the solution of the problems," said Martelly during a visit to Punta Cana Group president Frank Rainieri on Wednesday, 11 June, to discuss tourism investments, according to the press release.

Martelly recalled that since the Constitutional Court decision which ordered the implementation of the foreigner legalization plan and confirmed the criteria for nationality, he has met with President Medina on several occasions, and that he always promised to take the best measures to safeguard the people who could be affected by the high court decision.

Haitians in the Dominican Republic have criticized the Haitian government for obstructing the plan by charging US$50 for a birth certificate and US$80 for a passport, when the Dominican authorities are offering the legalization procedure for free.

Haitians describe problems getting ID docs in Haiti
Sano Bocio, of the Human Rights and Civilian Protection Brigade in the Northwest of Haiti, says that after monitoring the legalization process in Santiago the main complaint from Haitians is the requirements demanded for the legalization. "Unfortunately, in our country half of the population does not have identity documents, it is almost as if they had not been born. To get a birth certificate and an identity is very difficult, because all the bureaucracy is concentrated in Port-au- Prince," he said, highlighting the plight of people born in Haiti.

Bocio said that many Haitians are concerned that they will be deported once the 18-month term is over if they have not obtained their documents.

The president of the Haitian Force for Human Rights (FADH), Dieubon Bien-Aime said that activists have visited the Haitian government offices in the country.

Bien-Aime expressed his appreciation to the Dominican government for the plan.

In a commentary in today's Hoy, Friday 13 June, Fabio Herrera Minino says that the Haitian government's covert plan is to make it so difficult for Haitians to obtain documents that the Dominican government will further relax its documentation requirements. Others have commented that the Haitian government sees the issuing of documents to its citizens as an opportunity to generate revenue.




Chikungunya prevails in 10 provinces
85% of cases of the chikungunya virus are in 10 provinces and the National District. The National District and Santo Domingo province are reporting the highest number of cases. The Ministry of Public Health has registered 77,230 cases of the virus that is transmitted by a mosquito. Other provinces where the virus prevails are San San Pedro de Macoris, San Cristobal, Independencia, Barahona, Monte Plata, Hato Mayor, San Juan, and Bahoruco. People who have caught the virus will develop immunity, according to experts.

The virus is treated with acetaminophen to control fever and joint pains.

The virus can be avoided by preventing mosquito breeding and using repellent.


Sex trade clampdown expected in Boca Chica
Attorney General Francisco Domingo Brito has instructed the specialized corps for illicit trafficking of migrants and people to prosecute anyone suspected of engaging in sexual exploitation in Boca Chica. He said the department should request the deportation of foreigners who own brothels. Dominguez Brito has ordered investigations into the operation of brothels and sexual procurement, recruitment of people for sexual exploitation and related issues in Boca Chica.

He said authorities should neither allow nor tolerate situations where people from abroad use Dominican territory to set up this kind of business that affects the image of Dominican women, where women and young people are exploited, many of whom are sent abroad to work in prostitution. The Attorney General criticized foreigners who come here to promote the country as a 'sex tourism paradise.'

"That practice needs to be tackled vigorously," he said. Dominguez Brito added that he has seen how many young girls are used for the sex trade and then sent to work in criminal structures that operate abroad. He said many of them are offered fake contracts and promises of work, and then have to experience an unacceptable ordeal, forced to work as prostitutes with a life of great suffering. This has to be stopped," he said.

He said the anti-laundering division would confiscate the properties and place them at the service of the community or the victims themselves as a way of preventing them from being reopened to continue the practice. He mentioned the case of a German national named as Erwin Seitel who was the owner-manager of the Caribbean Men's Paradise Night Club located on Av. Pedro Clisante in Sosua, Puerto Plata who was deported for sexual procurement. He also mentioned the case of a business that was closed down on Av. Pasteur, in Gazcue in Santo Domingo.


Missing woman turns up safe and well
The National Police reported on Friday, 13 June that Claudia Patricia Sarante Camacho is alive and well. Earlier in the week she left her Ford Explorer on the Malecon and went missing. It was suspected she could have committed suicide, but a video showed she had walked away from the Guibia Park that faces the Caribbean Sea. Her father was convinced that she would show up.

As reported, she contacted her family, according to the Police. She asked to be picked up at Calle Santiago in Gazcue, near Guibia. The Police say that family problems led her to take the decision to disappear. They said she was taken to see a doctor but was found to be in good health. Police spokesman Mateo Moquete says no further details are available. Sarante owns a beauty clinic and studies business administration, the Police had reported.


The Liborio Mateo story at the National Theater
The National Ballet will put on a performance dedicated to Liborio Mateo, an almost mythological character from the early 20th century in San Juan de la Maguana. "El Quito de San Juan" is booked for a show on 2 July 2014 at the main hall of the National Theater in Santo Domingo. This dance will feature the graduates of the national school of classical dance. The show will take place in the second half of the evening, after the students' graduation ceremony. It is a production by Aidita Selman and Marinella Sallent. Tickets are RD$300.

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

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