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Daily News - Tuesday, 24 June 2014

President Medina meets swimmers
President Danilo Medina met with the president of the Puerto Plata Swimming Club Juan Carlos Morales and his son Juan Carlos Jr. at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Monday 23 June 2014.

Following the visit, Juan Carlos Morales Jr. told reporters that they had discussed the growth of sports tourism in the Puerto Plata area in open water swimming.

He said that their conversation focused on initiatives by the Puerto Plata Club in a long distance swimming competition to be held in Sosua on July 6, when deputy sports minister Marcos Diaz, famous for his international long distance swimming feats, would be declared an "adopted son" of the club.

He went on to say that open water swimming helped to develop discipline in young people and promoted sports tourism nationally and internationally.


Hospitals to be modernized
The government is embarking on an ambitious construction program with a budget exceeding RD$8 million in the first phase, to rebuild and modernize the country's main public hospitals including Dr. Dario Contreras, Luis Eduardo Aybar, Marcelino Velez and Jose Maria Cabral and Baez.

The program will also include the hospital in Hato Mayor, which will be finished with the addition of operating theaters, the emergency room and consulting rooms.

The program, which will be implemented by the Office of Supervising State Works (OISOE), includes the construction of new specialist hospitals to combine with those already in existence. It is due for completion by the end of the first quarter of 2015.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting hosted by Listin Diario yesterday, Monday 23 June 2014, OISOE director Miguel Pimentel Kareh said that to ensure the work is carried out correctly they will be working in coordination with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the Ministry of Public Health and Social Assistance. He added that the Dario Contreras Trauma hospital would be transformed into a first-class center and as the existing building could not be remodeled they would start from scratch and hoped to finish by January 2015.

He went on to say that the Jose Maria Cabral and Baez Hospital in Santiago would undergo extensive renovations to create a practically new earthquake-resistant interior, with a budget of RD$2.2 billion.

The Luis Eduardo Aybar hospital is also being rebuilt to include a children's hospital that Pimentel Kareh said would rival any health center in the United States.

He said that OISOE would also build 50 of a proposed 100 First Aid Centers with emergency rooms, cardiology, birthing centers, dentist clinics and X rays and would help relieve the pressure on emergency rooms in the main hospitals.


New entities to serve as guarantee for small business loans
The Monetary Board has approved a series of tools that will serve as financial guarantees for small businesses that are requesting loans. The "Societies of Reciprocal Guarantees" (Sociedades de Garantias Reciprocas) and "Guarantee Societies" (Sociedades de Reafianzamiento) will make it easier for small business to access lower-cost financing. Third parties will provide provisional funds for the guarantees, as reported in El Dia. The Medina administration has been actively seeking new ways to support small business.


AES gets CDEEE backing for natural gas plant conversions
The Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) has signed an energy purchasing agreement with the AES Dominicana group's Dominican Power Partners. The six-year contract will enable the implementation of the Los Minas V and VI combined cycle power project. According to the CDEE, the installation of the combined cycle option means that the power plant will increase its power generation from the current 210 megawatts to 324 megawatts. This will represent savings of around US$120 million over the six-year period.


Doctors falling ill with chikungunya
The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) has said that the chikungunya virus has affected more than 200,000 people nationwide causing emergency rooms across the country to overflow.

CMD president Dr. Pedro Sing says that in addition, 20 to 30% of doctors were now infected and he called on Public Health Minister Dr. Freddy Hidalgo Nunez and President Danilo Medina to step up the campaign to destroy the aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus mosquito breeding grounds.

He added that the Health Ministry should set up mobile chikungunya units at the hospitals to relieve congestion in the emergency rooms and appoint more doctors on a short-term basis.

Robert Reid Cabral hospital director Dr. Rosa Nieves Paulino said that the emergency room there was full of children with signs of fever, mostly due to chikungunya, who were sleeping three and four to a bed.

She said that the hospital had 300 doctors but that most had now been affected by the virus, as well as many nurses, security and administrative staff. However she confirmed that they had enough medicine to cope with the demand.


Increase in STIs in teenagers
Early sexual initiation among Dominican adolescents is not only leading to an increase in teenage pregnancies but is also resulting in an increase in sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), previously only seen in adults.

The STDs include syphilis, chlamydia, genital herpes, venereal warts, thrush, trichomoniasis and HIV.

In 2013, the STD department at the Dr. Humberto Bogaert Diaz Dermatology and Skin Surgery Unit diagnosed 3,244 cases of STIs of which 1,515 were in people between the ages of 10 and 24.

According to Santo Rosario, director of the Integrated Guidance and Research Center (COIN), syphilis is now more prevalent than HIV. This was borne out by a study by the Office of the Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS (DIGECITSS), which looked at high-risk groups such as sex workers, homosexuals and transsexuals in several areas of the country and discovered that syphilis affected between 9 and 13% of these segments and was as high as 16% in Santiago and Puerto Plata.

According to DIGECITSS director Dr. Ernesto Feliz Baez, HIV affected between 3.6 and 6.9% of the group, Hepatitis B 0.3 to 4.3%, Hepatitis C from 0 to 2.2%, chlamydia up to 20% in some areas, trichomoniasis 7.8% and gonorrhea 6.2%.

Victor Terrero, director of the National Council for HIV and AIDS (CONAVHSIDA) said that they had conducted a nationwide survey and the increase in young people with STDs is alarming and is the result of early sexual relations.

He said that in the 1980s they used to find pre-cancerous cells in women usually over the age of 35 but that they were now common in women under the age of 20, many having to have hysterectomies.

The experts all called for sex education in schools and for families to instill the right values in their children.


Farmers call for new road
Yesterday, Monday 23 June, farmers, community leaders, residents and representatives from various authorities in San Jose de Ocoa province protested outside the National Palace in Santo Domingo demanding that the government construct the second phase of the Cruce de Ocoa-Piedra Blanca highway.

According to the provincial deputy Esther Minyetti, the second phase is 58 kilometers long and goes through Nizao, Rancho Arriba, Juan Adrian and Piedra Blanca.

She said that the current poor condition of the road is causing great losses to local farmers and is an inconvenience to everyone who has to use it.

She went on to ask President Danilo Medina to sign the agreement with the Brazilian bank that is due to finance the work, pointing out that Congress approved the budget last year.


Ban on pig imports
The Haitian government has temporarily banned the import of live pigs from the Dominican Republic and other countries due to the presence of Viral Porcine Diarrhea, which affects pigs but not humans.

In a press release, the Haitian Agriculture Minister said that the disease was caused by a virus which is present in the Dominican Republic, the United States, Canada, Brazil and Mexico and that they did not want it to come to Haiti as they had over a million pigs and a new disease would have a significant effect on the national economy. In Santo Domingo, the Dominican Livestock Commission confirmed that there had been cases of Porcine Diarrhea in some areas of the country but that it was now under control.


Journalists arrested
The international press freedom campaign group Reporters Without Borders says that they are shocked at the heavy-handed arrests of two journalists by drug police during separate operations in the past two weeks, and the arrests of the daughters of a third journalist in one of the incidents, especially as violence against journalists is rare in the Dominican Republic.

In both cases, local prosecutors endorsed the arrests by members of the National Drug Control Organization (DNCD), whose actions were condemned as "anti-journalistic, anti-democratic, anti-citizen and illegal" by Olivo de Leon, the head of the Dominican Journalists' Union (CDP).

When contacted by Reporters Without Borders, DNCD spokesman Miguel Medina defended the DNCD's actions.

In the first incident, Gerardo de Jesus Abreu, producer of the "Tiempo Informativo" program on local TV station Valle Vision Canal 10, was arrested while filming a drug raid in the central province of La Vega on 11 June.

The DNCD took his camera and mobile phone, handcuffed him and detained him in his own car while continuing the raid. The prosecutor in charge of the operation, Leonidas Suarez, told him: "You journalists have a nerve, you just spoil other people's work. You need a good beating." De Jesus was eventually released.

The DNCD spokesman's only explanation for the journalist's arrest was his presence.

In the second incident, DNCD officers led by prosecutor Cindy Burgos accosted and arrested journalist Genry Morel outside the home of well-known radio presenter Ramon Sanchez in Santiago on 14 June. Then they went into Sanchez's home and harassed and arrested his two daughters, Gissel and Saihya Sanchez, who had been filming Morel's arrest.

The prosecutor subsequently offered to release them in exchange for their promise not to file a complaint against her.

Medina claimed that Morel had refused to show any ID to the police, while the two sisters attacked one of the police officers.

The Dominican Republic is ranked 68th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.


Kidnapped boy rescued
A 16-year old boy who was kidnapped on 31 May has been found under a bed in an abandoned house in La Caleta, Boca Chica, with his hands and feet bound.

Police agents rescued Eddy Junior Luna yesterday, Monday 23 June 2014 and took him to the Police hospital where he was found to be suffering from dehydration.

At a press conference, the police said that the kidnappers had demanded a ransom of US$125,000, which his family had been willing to pay. However the authorities then had a good lead as to where Eddy Luna was being held and hence the ransom was not paid.

Five people are under arrest, all La Caleta residents, and the police have accused them of being part of a gang led by Jacobo Solis and Juan Joseph Toussaint, who are both on the run.

Police spokesman Jacobo Mateo Moquete said that the boy had been kidnapped by Johensi Perez Frometa and Eddy Colon Perez at the orders of Isabel Perez Castillo. All three have been arrested as well as Jose Manuel Castro and Luis Enrique Frometa.


Contract killer arrested again
The Police have announced the arrest of Santos Bautista (Julito Kilo) who has been presented by the Police on numerous occasions as the head of a dangerous gang of contract killers to whom the Police attributes the death of at least seven people in the eastern region. He was arrested in San Pedro de Macoris. He had been sent to justice in October 2012 for the murder of Juan Gabriel Salas Polanco, but the judge released him on bail. He is accused of killing at least three people in September 2013 and injuring one other. In 2013 he was accused of killing Luis Alberto de los Santos Marte (Cama Larga) in San Pedro de Macoris, who he suspected was working for a rival contract killer group.

He is also suspected of involvement in the death of Abel Oller in 2011, Juan Gabriel Salas Polanco (Tetelo), Nicolas Salas Polanco (Tono), Pedro Feliciano Dominguez (Negro), Ricardo de Jesus Sierra (Rico) and Francisco Jose Peralta. He is accused of injuring more than five people. Police spokesman Mateo Moquete says that Julito Kilo served drug traffickers by carrying out debt collections for drug transactions. He also received shipments of drugs in high seas and on land.

El Dia reports today that the violence is due to the struggles for the predominance of the eastern area now that Jose David Figueroa Agosto and Antonio del Rosario Puente are held in jail in Puerto Rico.

US citizens arrested with drugs in shoes
National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) agents have confiscated 20 packets of what is thought to be heroin or cocaine from the insides of 10 pairs of sports shoes found in two suitcases owned by a couple from the United States.

They were both arrested when planning to board a plane to Atlanta, Georgia at the Las Americas International Airport on Sunday, 22 June 2014.

The man and woman were detained pending investigation.


UNESCO to help with shipwreck
UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Science and Culture office) has announced that it will be sending a team of experts to Haiti to ascertain whether the shipwreck found off the coast is indeed Christopher Columbus' Santa Maria, discovered by US explorer Barry Clifford.

According to a press release from Unesco, the team will be attending at the request of the Haitian Culture Minister, Monique Rocourt, to evaluate the wreck.

UNESCO director general Irina Bokova said that they were concerned that items from the wreck might be pillaged as it had been visited several times since 2003 and at least one 15th century cannon has now disappeared.


Warm weather to continue
The National Meteorological office (ONAMET) says that the high temperatures are forecast to continue with isolated thunderstorms in the provinces of Santiago and Dajabon.

They are advising the public to wear light clothing and drink sufficient liquids to prevent dehydration.


World Cup fever intensifies
Football fever has caught on in the Dominican Republic in recent years and fans can cheer on their favorite teams at local movie houses. Palacio de Cine is showing the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 games live on giant screens with HD at several cinemas nationwide.

The selected movie houses are Palacio Blue Mall (Santo Domingo), Palacio Bella Terra (Santiago), Palacio Multiplaza (Higuey) and Palacio Palma Real (Bavaro).

Fans can also tune in to Dominican television channels Telemicro Channel 5 and Digital Channel 15 that are broadcasting all the matches live with commentary in Spanish.

Carlos Luis at Casa de Teatro
The bohemian stage at Casa de Teatro in Santo Domingo's Colonial City has announced a concert with Dominican-Cuban Carlos Luis on 4 July at 9pm. He will be singing with Minister of Culture Jose Antonio Rodriguez, Yuy Ramirez and Pedro Delgado Malagon.

Zion y Lennox at Blue Mall
Reggaeton duo Zion y Lennox will be at Hard Rock Cafe Santo Domingo at the Blue Mall. The show will take place on Saturday, 5 July from 11pm. The cafe is located on the fourth floor of Blue Mall at Winston Churchill and Av. Gustavo Mejia Ricart.

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

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