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Daily News - Wednesday, 18 June 2014

DR1 News takes a break for Corpus Christi long weekend
DR1 Daily News will be taking the long weekend break starting tomorrow Thursday, 19 June. Thursday is a public holiday in the Dominican Republic in celebration of Corpus Christi Day. While Friday 20 June is a working day, many will be taking the day off to get a break from the summer heat. Headline news will be compiled for the Monday, 23 June 2014 issue. For breaking news and commentary, see the DR1 Forums that are open for updates 24/7 at http://www.dr1.com/forums

President Medina asks Haiti to help its nationals
President Danilo Medina says he expects the Haitian government to provide its nationals with identification documentation and asked for their cooperation in the process to regularize the status of Haitians who have migrated to the Dominican Republic. The lack of identification is the greatest obstacle to the regularization of their status in the Dominican Republic.

He said that both countries should work to speed up the process. He commented that while he is aware of the problems Haiti has with issuing personal documentation he also knows that the Venezuelan government is providing support for the development of a Civil Registry.

President Medina made his comments yesterday, Tuesday 17 June 2014 as he was leaving the Savica funeral parlor during a condolence visit to the Director General of Prisons, Tomas Holguin and his family following the death of his brother, Jose Francisco Hernandez.

For more on the topic in Spanish:



Haiti finishes wall built to raise taxation
Haitians living on the border near Comendador, the capital of Elias Pina province, are complaining that their income has declined after the government of Haiti built an eight-foot high wall near the Customs and Migration offices, where they charge taxes for merchandise exported from the DR to Haiti. Haitian traders import the goods to sell them in Haiti. As reported in El Dia, the wall was built to reduce informal trade. Traders who walked through the formal entry points now have to pay up or use other, more difficult crossing points to evade Haitian taxes.

The Haitian government started building the wall in October 2013. It starts at the Carrizal River and ends at the Haitian Veladero military post. It is 600 meters long and eight feet high and is topped with barbed wire. El Dia publishes a photo of the wall stretch on its 18 June 2014 front cover.

The newspaper reports that according to the Migration Agency representative on the border with Haiti, Paulino Lorenzo, only 10% of the Haitians who cross the border do so with a Haitian passport. He said the wall should be extended as a way of controlling contraband. However, the mayor of Comendador, Luis Minier told El Dia that the money could be better spent on other areas like health and potable water. They also spoke of the high cost of public health for the Dominican government at the Rosa Duarte Hospital to treat illegal migrants who cross the border for healthcare. All patients are treated for free at the hospital, regardless of their status. El Dia reports that of 10 births at the hospital, eight are to Haitian mothers.

For more on the topic in Spanish:


Amidst rumors, Biden visit and SICA meeting on Foreign Ministry agenda
President Danilo Medina and Minister of Foreign Relations Carlos Morales Troncoso met at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Tuesday 17 June 2014 to discuss details of today's visit by US Vice President Joseph Biden. Biden is scheduled for a meeting with President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace tomorrow, Thursday 19 June. Another top agenda item is to finalize the details for hosting the Summit of Heads of State and Government for the Central American Integration System (SICA) that will take place in Punta Cana from 25 to 27 June 2014. Minister of Foreign Relations Morales Troncoso told the press: "We are sure that Vice President Biden's visit will contribute to strengthening cooperation relations that are currently at a stellar moment."

Biden is coming for the inauguration of the new US Embassy compound.

The Ministry of Foreign Relations and Presidency spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Lamarcha have denied rumors that the Minister of Foreign Relations will resign on 16 August 2014, as reported in acento.com.do. The local news media has been following up on alleged dismissals at the Ministry of Foreign Relations after a visit to the Ministry by Controller General Rafael Germosen Andujar on Thursday, 12 June 2014. As reported, the Controller was looking into alleged irregularities, lack of transparency and corruption evidence, unnamed sources told reporters from acento.com.do.

In another Ministry of Foreign Relations related event, the Chamber of Deputies has sent a bill for restructuring the Ministry to the permanent commission for foreign relations-related topics, as reported in Diario Libre. The bill had expired on several occasions after it was first sent by the Executive Branch in 2011. Deputy Minou Tavarez Mirabal re-introduced the bill on 23 March 2014, explaining that it had expired because of lack of political will. The proposals in the bill include limiting political appointments to 50%, and for the rest to be career diplomats.

For more on the topic:






No more flashing lights and sirens
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) has warned that it is prohibited to use sirens and flashing lights known as "centellas" in vehicles that are not part of the police or emergency services as they create confusion, especially since the 911 Emergency and Security System was introduced.

AMET director, Brigadier General Juan Geronimo Brown Perez, said that no one should have this sort of vehicle and whoever has installed the lights and sirens did so without authorization.

He said that people had 10 days to remove them or their vehicles would be confiscated.

The law will not be applied to ambulances, emergency service vehicles, fire engines or police cars and tow trucks would only be allowed to use flashing lights when they had a vehicle on board.

For more on the topic in Spanish:



Falcondo asks for prudent decision-making regarding Loma Miranda
The mining company Falcondo Xstrata has asked Congress and the Presidency for restraint and prudence when they make a decision on whether or not to declare Loma Miranda a national park.

At a press conference, Falcondo operations director Juan Jose Fana said that if the decision is taken to ban mining on Loma Miranda it would not only affect the national mining industry but also the whole business climate in the country.

He said that he did not believe that any investor would be motivated to invest in a country where there was no judicial security and where the right to private property was not respected.

He went on to say that the decision would also affect income for the government as the Dominican state would receive 55% of the company profits.

Fana said he did not understand how on one side the Dominican state has promoted mining with the creation of the Ministry of Energy and Mining and on the other side another group is proposing a law against mining. The Medina administration has identified mining as positive for its capacity to generate revenues for the government and has been promoting mining ventures abroad.

Falcondo legal adviser Rafael Caceres asked the legislators to consider the negative consequences if Loma Miranda were to be declared a national park.

For more on the topic in Spanish:


European support for banana industry
The European Union has donated 12.5 million euros (US$16.9 million) to the Dominican Republic's banana industry with the aim of increasing competitiveness and improving workers' living conditions.

Just under half of the money will be used for institutional strengthening while the rest will be put in a fund to aid growers. Technical assistance will also be provided as part of the support package.

The government has also pledged an additional RD$440 million (US$10.1 million) through the Banco de Reservas to improve productive capacity and stimulate exports.

It will also contribute technological support and advice on the environment and climate change, along with targeted training for growers and technical institutions.

The program, which will benefit more than 20,000 producers, aims to increase exports by 10%, increase labor by 20%, and reduce chemical use by 50%.

The support is part of the EU's Bananas Accompanying Measures (BAM) program that benefits industries in certain African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.

The agreement was signed in the Dominican Republic by the Agriculture Minister, Angel Estevez, Environment Minister Bautista Rojas Gomez, and the Deputy Minister for Economic Planning and Development, Juan Reyes.

The banana industry provides some 28,000 jobs directly, and an extra 54,000 in seasonal work.

More than 347 metric tons of the fruit were exported in 2013, generating around US$164 million in foreign exchange and making the crop one of the country's leading agricultural exports.

For more on the topic:


Make the most of demographic peak, says Viyella
Speaking during a Shippers' Association luncheon meeting yesterday, Tuesday 17 June, former Dominican Republic Industries Association president Elena Viyella said that the Dominican Republic should make the most of the demographic peak the country is experiencing. As reported in Listin Diario, she said that there are now more economically active people than dependent people. She says this is a circumstance that needs to be taken advantage of, which is not happening at present. She stressed the development opportunity for the so-called demographic bond, but commented that half of this population is described as the "generacion nini" that is neither working nor studying.

She said this positive demographic window would not last forever and needs to be maximized in order to generate growth rates that will achieve higher levels of development.

For more on the topic in Spanish:


Swiss nationals sentenced in DR can serve jail back home
The Chamber of Deputies has approved an agreement between the governments of Switzerland and the Dominican Republic to allow Swiss nationals sentenced for crimes in the Dominican Republic to be repatriated to serve their sentence in Switzerland, as reported in Diario Libre. The agreement was dated 16 January 2013, according to deputy Ramon (Papo) Fernandez.

DR has highest rate of motorcyclist death per capita in Latin America
The Dominican Republic has the highest rate of accidents involving motorcyclists. A Report on Safety of Motorcyclists in Latin America: Trends and Opportunities for Action by the Mapfre Insurance company says that 1,258 deaths and 4,010 injuries were caused by motorcyclists in 2013. As reported in Diario Libre, this is the highest ratio of deaths to inhabitants in the region.

The report presented by the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) says that motorcyclists were involved in 3,819 of the 6,637 traffic accidents in 2013. Juan Gondres, in charge of regulation at AMET, said that in these cases the rider may not have been wearing a helmet, or had crossed a red light, was driving in the wrong direction, was zigzagging among vehicles, was driving at excessive speed, was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or was carrying more than one passenger.

Gondres said that the report assessed the situation in 12 countries in Latin America and found that the Dominican Republic has the highest ratio of deaths per capita: 149 deaths for every one million inhabitants. He said the ratio is four times that of Brazil and Colombia.

As reported, there are 1,678,979 motorcycles in circulation in the Dominican Republic in addition to 1,536,794 four-wheeled vehicles.

For more on the topic in Spanish:



Dominicans repatriated from US
The United States Immigration and Customs Service (ICE) deported 69 Dominicans yesterday, Tuesday 17 June 2014, which brings the total so far this year to 862.

The group of Dominicans consisted of 68 men and one woman, all of whom had completed prison sentences in the United States for drug dealing, homicide, assault, forgery and less serious crimes.

They were accompanied by 10 FBI and DEA agents who handed them over to members of the Migration Department, the Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESAC) and the National Investigations Department (DNI) at Las Americas International Airport.

They were taken from the airport to the Migration Department for processing and checking to see if they had outstanding arrest warrants in this country.

Around 8,500 Dominican citizens still remain in jail in the United States.

For more on the topic in Spanish:


Candy Caminero gets 30 years in Jordi Veras case
On Tuesday 17 June 2014 a Santiago court presided by Judge Annelis Torres issued the sentences in the attempted murder case of lawyer Jordi Veras.

Candy Caminero Rodriguez was sentenced to 30 years for being the person who actually shot Veras and Adriano Roman, Engel Carela Castro, Franklin Reynoso, Arturo del Castillo and Roberto Zabala each received 20 years in jail.

Francisco Carela Castro was only given a 10-year sentence as he was said to have collaborated with authorities during the investigation.

In addition the judge ordered them to pay RD$100 million in damages to Jordi Veras for trying to kill him in 2010.

After hearing the sentence, Jordi and his father, Ramon Antonio Veras (Negro) burst into tears and hugged each other. They had spent four years fighting for justice in the case.

Jordi Veras dedicated the verdict to the other victims of the hit men who had not had the luck to survive a long case whereas his father thanked the former prosecutor for Santiago, Yeni Berenice Reynoso and Brigadier General Hector Garcia Cuevas and his team for the investigation.

The investigations established that the motive for the attack was vengeance by Adriano Roman who had previously been condemned to 20 years for trying to murder his ex wife, Miguelina Llaverias, whose lawyer was Jordi Veras.

The sentences can be appealed.

For more on the topic in Spanish:



Lawyer accused of homicide released on bail
The Court of Appeal for Santo Domingo province has released businessman and lawyer Julio Cepeda on bail, set at RD$10 million. In addition he is not allowed to leave the country and must make periodic court appearances.

Cepeda Urena is accused of being involved in the murder of the niece of the president of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD), Natasha Sing and another young woman, Suleika Flores.

The Public Prosecutors had asked for bail to be denied, saying that he was a flight risk but the judges, Manuel Hernandez Victoria, Dario Gomez and Victor Mejia Lebron disagreed.

Natasha Sing's father, Jose Sing, said that he was disgusted by the decision.

For more on the topic in Spanish:


French pilots out on bail
Four French citizens, including two pilots have been granted bail after being held in pre-trial detention for over a year on suspicion of drug smuggling at the private aviation terminal of the Punta Cana International Airport.

They will be tried along with 14 other suspects after being formally charged with attempting to smuggle drugs in a private plane.

The accused have been told they cannot leave the country.

Prosecutors claim the 18 people were part of an elaborate bid to stow 700 kilos of cocaine on a plane piloted by two of those charged. Among those accused are Dominican military, customs and airport security agents.

Their defense team has welcomed the decision to grant bail, but maintain that the case is unfounded.

French authorities have expressed concerns about court proceedings since their arrest on 20 March 2013.

For more on the topic:



Diego El Cigala gets Police accreditation
In an interview with Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Diego El Cigala, the famous Spanish Flamenco singer who received Dominican nationality earlier this year and moved to the Dominican Republic to live in Punta Cana, stated how pleased he is with his move. In the interview he points out that he has even received Dominican Police accreditation and is now an honorary policeman.

The interview has been criticized in the local media and on talk shows. Diario Libre's editorial today, Wednesday 18 June (signed Adriano Miguel Tejada) describes it as "the stuff of national sycophancy")

For more on the topic in Spanish:





Sergio Vargas and Ramon Orlando at Lucia
Lucia is a bohemian spot in Santo Domingo's Colonial City that fills up with people enjoying a good Latin music dance or good performances by local artists in an extraordinary 16th century house. Now Sergio Vargas and Ramon Orlando, two of the best merengue and bolero singers of all time, are booked for a concert on 4 July. Tickets are RD$800 (pre-sale) or RD$1,000 at the door. The concert is "Piano and Vocals" and promises to be memorable with the greatest hits by both popular musicians. The show starts at 9pm.

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

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