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Daily News - Wednesday, 25 June 2014

President inaugurates US embassy
President Danilo Medina attended the formal inauguration of the new US Embassy compound in Santo Domingo yesterday, Tuesday 24 June 2014. He cut the ribbon together with US Ambassador James W. Brewster. The US State Department's Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, the Assistant Director of the Overseas Buildings Office, Heather Townsend, the Deputy Foreign Relations Minister Jose Manual Trullols were also present for the occasion.

The new embassy cost US$193 million and is the main location for almost 700 US embassy personnel who are employed at 18 United States Government agencies. The agencies used to operate across seven different buildings.

Brewster said that the new embassy represented an important symbol of their commitment and relationship with the Dominican Republic across a range of areas including education, the environment, energy, trade, human rights, public safety, consular affairs and others.

US Under Secretary of State Patrick F. Kennedy reiterated the Ambassador's words and thanked President Danilo Medina and the Dominican government for the work they have done for strengthening bilateral relations.

After cutting the ribbon, President Medina toured the consular area of the building together with Ambassador Brewster and the other US officials.

The President was accompanied by Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo, Presidency Administrative Minister Jose Ramon Peralta, and the ministers of Tourism, Francisco Javier Garcia, Agriculture, Angel Estevez, Culture, Jose Antonio Rodriguez and Energy and Mines, Pelegrin Castillo.

Also present were the Attorney General, Francisco Dominguez Brito, the Head of National Police, Major General Manuel Castro Castillo and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations, Alejandra Liriano, as well as other senior civil and military officials, special guests and members of the diplomatic corps.

Construction work on the new United States Embassy started in September 2011. The new compound has several buildings covering a total area of 26,000 square meters, located in the Altos of Arroyo Hondo area in Santo Domingo.

As well as housing consular services, with more than 50 windows for visa services, it also will be the United States Marine Corps residence.

The new compound is also environmentally friendly with solar power and a sewage treatment plant to irrigate the gardens.

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President Medina inaugurates new SIN building
President Danilo Medina visited the new building of the Grupo Servicios Informativos Nacionales (SIN), which produces news and opinion programs for Color Vision television yesterday, Tuesday 24 June 2014.

President Medina congratulated SIN president Fernando Hasbun on the initiative and in return Hasbun said that they would focus on social issues and carry information to Dominicans to help them in their daily lives.

Also speaking at the event were the CEO of Color Vision, Domingo Bermudez, as well as journalist Marino Zapete and the SIN vice president, Alicia Ortega.

Following the inauguration ceremony, President Medina and the SIN executives toured the new facilities.

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President Medina to hand over SICA presidency
President Danilo Medina will hand over the Pro Tempore Presidency of the Central American Integration System (SICA) to Belize during the XLIII Summit for the Heads of State and Government that opens in Punta Cana this Friday, 27 June 2014.

The team from the Belize government headed by Prime Minister Dean Barrow will take over the presidency for the remaining six months of 2014.

The summit will be attended by the eight SICA member countries' presidents: Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernandez, Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, El Salvador, Salvador Sanchez Ceren, and Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega Saavedra, as well as the Prime Minister of Belize, Dean Barrow.

Representatives from observer countries including the United States, the European Union and Taiwan will also be present at the event, along with special guests such as the Ministers of Foreign Relations of Turkey, Morocco and New Zealand.

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Ban Ki-Moon to visit 15 July
United Nations secretary general Ban Ki Moon is scheduled for a 15 July 2014 visit to the Dominican Republic, sources told Listin Diario. The visit is in support of the work being carried out by the Dominican government in defining the migratory status of thousands of undocumented foreigners in the country.

On Monday, 23 June Presidential legal advisor Cesar Pina Toribio announced that the draft of the ruling for the application of Naturalization Law 169-14 had been completed and would be made public.

On 9 June, President Medina hosted a visit by representatives of the United Nations offices in the Dominican Republic including Lorenzo Jimenez de Luis, resident coordinator of the UN Development Program, Maria Jesus Conde of Unicef, and Cy Winter for the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

As reported in Listin Diario, this will be the third visit to the DR by a UN Secretary General. Kofi Annan visited in 2006, during the Leonel Fernandez government, and Javier Perez de Cuellar visited in 1985, during Salvador Jorge Blanco government.

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Riverbank neighborhoods to be improved
The National District local government (ADN), the Office for Special Programs for the Presidency (DIGEPP) and the NGO Alternative City and the Committee for the Defense of Neighborhood Rights (COPADEBA) have signed an agreement for implementing the program to improve the neighborhoods located on the banks of the Ozama and Isabela rivers.

National District mayor Roberto Salcedo, DIGEPP director Pedro Luis Castillo, COPADEBA president Andres Cepeda, and COPADEBA general coordinator Antonio Paez signed the agreement.

The plan is to improve quality of life for residents in the neighborhoods and introduce all the government initiatives such as the Adult Literacy Plan, "Quisqueya Learns with you".

The areas that will benefit include Guachupita, La Cienaga, Gualey, 27 de Febrero, Villas Agricolas, Maria Auxiliadora, Villa Francisca and Los Guandules.

There are also plans to build a fire station and a funeral parlor to service the area.


AES gets CDEEE backing for natural gas plant conversions
Herrera Industries Association (AEIH) president Victor Castro has criticized the government for going ahead and signing a new contract with an electricity stakeholder, AES Dominicana prior to the start of the national discussions for the Electricity Pact.

The Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) recently announced the signing of 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.

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Renew your cedula in New York or Madrid
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has announced that Dominicans abroad can renew their cedulas in New York and Madrid starting in mid-July. These two cities have the largest expatriate Dominican populations. JCE president Roberto Rosario said the plan is to install 32 overseas centers.

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Haiti announces citizen documentation program
The Haitian Embassy in the Dominican Republic has announced the start of its Program to Identify, Document of Haitian Immigrants (PIDIH). The program aims to provide identity documents to 300,000 Haitians living in the Dominican Republic. They will, however, have to pay RD$2,500 for the identification documentation. Because of high costs and red tape in Haiti, for many years most people in Haiti did not register and many moved to the Dominican Republic without any legal documentation.

Minister of Haitians Living Abroad Francois Guillaume and Haitian ambassador in Santo Domingo Fritz Cineas made the announcement yesterday, Tuesday 24 June. They said that the Haitian government has made US$10 million available in order to kick-start the program.

Haitian citizens have been asking for the documents to be issued free of charge, as is the case in the Dominican Republic, but the Haitian authorities insist they need to charge so the program can be self-sustainable.

The program will begin in Santo Domingo and Barahona. It will also be implemented for Haitian residents in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, the US (Miami), Suriname and other countries with large Haitian immigrant populations.

The Haitian nationals' lack of documentation has been flagged as the main obstacle to the success of the foreigner legalization plan in the Dominican Republic, which offers free and fast-tracked status legalization for foreigners applying prior to 15 May 2015.

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Merengue is the national music
The Chamber of Deputies has converted a bill into law declaring that merengue should be the national music of the Dominican Republic.

The bill, which was introduced by Deputy Victor Sanchez, states that it is essential to preserve and promote national music to ensure that it remains an integral part of Dominican society and helps develop the cultural identity of the Dominican people.

The Ministry of Culture will be in charge of organizing events that will ensure that Merengue is promoted as the National Music of the Dominican Republic.

Merengue has been around for over 150 years, since 26 November 1854 when it was heard for the first time in the country.

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4G TD-LTE network announced for Wind Telecom
Wind Telecom has contracted the construction of what is described as "the first 4G TD-LTE network in the Dominican Republic" with ZTE Corporation of China.

The high-speed network would enhance mobile broadband services for consumers and businesses in the Dominican Republic. ZTE reports that its unified platform EPC and eNodeB solutions, based on their proprietary Cloud Radio technology.

"This next-generation network is an investment in the future of the Dominican Republic," said Jose Clase, Chairman of the Board of Wind Telecom. "This platform will help bridge the digital divide and raise the economic competitiveness of the Dominican Republic by helping to lift the standard of education. The high-speed network connectivity will also deliver an enhanced user experience for consumers."

As a global provider of industry-leading solutions, ZTE developed an end-to-end Turnkey solution for Wind Telecom after analyzing the operator's existing networks. With the help of ZTE, Wind Telecom's 4G TD-LTE network will serve consumers and businesses and help make Dominican transition to the wireless broadband era, meeting higher data bandwidth needs.

Under the multi-year contract, ZTE will help Wind Telecom deploy a 4G TD-LTE network in 2.5 n 2.7 GHz spectrum covering major cities and rural areas of the Dominican Republic, as well as provide 4G mobile devices that will appeal to users and help them to make the most of the broadband capabilities of the new network.

Embassy Suites by Hilton opens in Santo Domingo
Hilton Worldwide has announced the opening of its second hotel in Santo Domingo, the Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo at Av. Tiradentes. The 150 all-suite full service hotel is located in the Silver Sun Gallery, a shopping, entertainment and offices center located in the tallest building in Santo Domingo. Guests are being lured in introductory rates starting at US$99.

Danny Hughes, senior vice president, Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America, Hilton Worldwide made the announcement. He said, "We are excited to open our second Hilton Worldwide hotel in Santo Domingo, a perfect complement to our already successful Hilton Santo Domingo. With its distinct design and unique brand proposition in the city, this fine Embassy Suites hotel will welcome travelers to all this flourishing business district has to offer."

The hotel features 150 spacious two-room suites equipped with a separate living area, private bedroom. Guests have access to complimentary fitness and business centers.

Targeting both business, leisure and event guests, Embassy Suites by Hilton Santo Domingo offers more than 22,500 square feet of indoor meeting space, including two ballrooms, break out rooms, and a meeting room. More than 4,000 square feet of outdoor events space is also available for business and social functions. A 24-hour business center completes the facilities.

The new hotel introduces the brand's signature features such as an inviting atrium environment, where guests will have access to complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast and evening manager's reception with complimentary appetizers and beverage.

The Silversun Gallery is a three-level shopping mall with retail shops, movie theaters, food court, children's entertainment area and five levels of underground parking.

Hilton has a management agreement with Desarrollos RDC, S.A., a real estate development company.

Spat between Judge and Prosecutor is archived
The Head Prosecutor for the National District Court of Appeal, Jose Del Carmen Sepulveda, has archived the case of the writ brought by Judge Margarita Cristo Cristo against prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso, for insulting a public official.

He said that that the writ, issued on 6 May 2014, was not a penal offence under the law.

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Kidnap victim 'traumatized'
According to Yolanda Canela, mother of the rescued kidnapped victim, Eddy Junior Luna, her son has been traumatized by the experience and says he was tortured during his 22 days in captivity.

He says that he heard the kidnappers threatening to dismember him and send his mother parts of his body if they did not pay the US$260,000 ransom money.

She thanked God and the authorities for rescuing her son, and said that the kidnappers had told her that for trusting so much in the police they would send her son's body to her so that she could bury him with two policemen at her side.

Referring to Ingrid Cecilia Mateo, who is accused of planning the kidnap, she said she could not imagine how someone who had been so close to her family, and who was one of her first customers at the gymnasium and with whom she had never had any problems, could have been capable of this crime. She said that she thought Mateo may have done it due to jealousy.

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What's with Joseph Wesolowski?
Former papal nuncio Joseph Wesolowski is again making headlines in the Dominican Republic. The Auxiliary bishop of Santo Domingo, Monsignor Victor Masalles, who is visiting Rome, reported via his Twitter account @VictorMasalles that he had seen the disgraced former nuncio walking along a Rome street.

"I was surprised to see Wesolowski walking along the Via della Scrofa in Rome. The silence of the Church has injured the people of God," he wrote.

Wesolowski left the Dominican Republic abruptly at the end of August 2013 and an investigation was opened into pedophilia charges. Dominican prosecutors have provided evidence of wrongdoings with young men from low-income families in the Dominican Republic.

The Vatican has said the case is under investigation.

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Charges dismissed against bachata singer
A United States Federal Court has dismissed charges of drug dealing and conspiracy against Dominican bachata singer Ramon Alberto Galvez (El Gringo de la Bachata).

He had been arrested in Panama and extradited to the US for alleged links with drug dealing but had always maintained his innocence.

The court dismissed all charges for lack of evidence.

The singer had said that it was a case of mistaken identity, but prosecutors in Hartford, Connecticut insisted that Ramon Galvez (Tanky) was the same person as El Gringo de la Bachata.

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BTC at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel
The Bolsa Turistica del Caribe (BTC), now in its 18th year, is being held at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel in Santo Domingo from 26-28 June 2014. The event is being organized by Luis Felipe Aquino and is an opportunity to network, buy tourism services, and learn more about the DR and international tourism markets easily accessed from the Dominican Republic.

Burlesque Show at Blue Mall
The musical Hotel Burlesque will be staged at the Blue Room of the 5th floor of the Blue Mall in Santo Domingo on Thursday 26 June and Saturday 28 June at 8:30 pm.

National Choir and Symphony Orchestra concert
A Summer Choral Concert is being held in the Santo Domingo Cathedral on Thursday, 26 June 2014. The concert, which starts at 7:30pm, is dedicated to Dominican teachers at the end of the regular school year. This will be the first time the Missa in Angustiis by Franz Joseph Haydn, known as Mass of Lord Nelson, is performed. National Choir director and associate director Simon Cesar and Edwin Disla say that guest director Angel Herdz will conduct the premiere of Obertura Maestra. The event is being sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, the Department of Bellas Artes and the Fundacion Coro Nacional.

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

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