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Daily News - Tuesday, 01 July 2014

Vice President in Panama
Vice President Margarita Cedeno de Fernandez is in Panama representing President Danilo Medina and the Dominican Republic at the inauguration of President-elect Juan Carlos Valera, which is taking place today, Tuesday 1 July 2014.

She left on a private jet from the San Isidro Air Force base yesterday evening, Monday 30 June 2014, accompanied by Deputy Minister of Foreign Relations Jose Manual Trullols. Valera was elected for the period 2014-2019.

The ceremony starts at 10am at Panama City's Rommel Fernandez stadium and will be followed by an official luncheon at the Palacio Las Garzas.

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Electricity prices won't rise
The Superintendence of Electricity says that the government will not raise electricity rates during July. The Superintendence says that the central government will cover the RD$1.29 billion deficit in July alone bringing the total subsidy for 2014 to an estimated more than RD$8.65 billion.

The regulation body, headed by Eduardo Quincoces, released a statement saying that although the prices of fuel oil, natural gas and coal have risen as well as the exchange rate against the dollar, the increases do not merit a rate change.

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JCE asks for more money
Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Roberto Rosario says that an extra RD$200 million is needed in order to complete the audit that will decide who qualifies for the special regularization plan fast-tracked procedures. So far, the cost of covering the National Foreigner Legalization Plan and the new identity card issuing process and the audit has come from the institution's 2014 budget.

Rosario said that the JCE has taken on what he described as the three most ambitious projects the nation had ever carried out. He said they were working hard to implement them within the 2014 budget, but they are running short.

Roberto Rosario made the comments when showing diplomats how the audit would work. He said that so far 60,869 foreigners with 118 nationalities have been registered and 92 have been audited. Of these 72 cases of forged data were found.

He went on to say that he had asked civil society organizations and groups that support people of Haitian descent such as Reconoci.do and Centro Bono to participate in the audit as observers, but they had not accepted.

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Issuing of Haitian documents
In response to a request by President Danilo Medina and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe of Haiti, the Organization of American States (OAS) has prepared a working document entitled "Diagnostic on the Identification of Haitian Migrants Residents in the Dominican Republic," as reported in Haiti Libre.

The OAS is asking the appropriate authorities from each government to make observations and suggestions on the document. Based on this feedback, the OAS will seek financial assistance from the international community.

As stated in the document, the sole authority for providing national documentation to Haitian nationals, including birth certificates, national identity cards and passports, lies exclusively with the Government of Haiti.

During a press conference to introduce the Project for Identification and Documentation of Immigrant Haitians (PIDIH), Ambassador Cineas and Minister of Haitians Living Abroad (MHAVE) Francois Guillaume II guaranteed that in less than a month, the PIDIH would get underway to ensure the provision of birth certificates, passports and identity cards to Haitians residing in the Dominican Republic at a cost of RD$2,500 pesos (US$58) per adult and RD$150 pesos for children. They also said that the Haitian Government had not received any financial assistance from Venezuela or the OAS, and that the $10 million needed for this program will come from the Haitian public treasury.

Meanwhile, the Haitian community in the Dominican Republic, represented by a number of organizations of Haitian immigrants, workers, students, traders, businesspeople and professionals went to the Embassy of Haiti in Santo Domingo and handed over a petition calling on the Haitian authorities to show responsibility and implement a special emergency staffing process for the documents, which should be free for Haitians living in the Dominican Republic.

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Bank merger approved
At their latest meeting, the Monetary Board approved the merger of Banco BHD and Banco Leon effective 1 July. Banco Leon reports that now that the legal and regulatory framework has been approved, the actual process of merging the operations and the technical side of the businesses can begin, as well as the consolidation of the countrywide branch network and new brand development. They expect the process to be completed within three months.

During this time, customers of both banks can continue to use their branches as usual.

The key officers at the Banco BHD Leon are president Luis Molina Achecar, general manager Steven Puig, and vice president of the administrative board, Carlos Guillermo Leon.

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Teachers ask for pay rise
The Dominican Teachers Association (ADP) is demanding better working conditions for teachers, including wage increases to bring salaries to RD$60,000 a month.

Union vice president Julio Canelo says that they are committed to providing high quality education, but at the same time they need to be paid quality salaries.

Celebrating Teachers Day by laying a wreath at the Homeland Altar yesterday 30 June 2014, he said that they needed decent salaries in order to be professional and encourage the children's talent.

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Too many babies born with HIV
The executive director of National Council for HIV and AIDS (CONAVIHSIDA), Dr. Victor Terrero has revealed that 4.6% of children in the country are born with HIV.

He said that it was an unacceptable number and called on people to start a national crusade to stamp out HIV in newborn babies.

Terrero was talking at the "VII Perinatal Health Congress in the XXI Century" held yesterday, Monday 30 June 2014, by the Federation for Latin American Associations of Perinatal Medicine attended by specialists from several countries.

He said there was a need for a national educational campaign and that one of the challenges was to improve the quality of counseling for people who take HIV tests, both before and after as well as antiretroviral drug provision and patient monitoring.

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Prices increasing rapidly
Shopkeepers' representatives are describing price increases of between 8 and 18 % over the last two weeks as alarming.

Antonio Cruz Rojas, president of the National Council of Shopkeepers and Businesspeople in the Dominican Republic (Conacerd), and Rafael Santos, of the Dominican Council of Grocery Retailers (Codepro), mentioned increases in basic food items like rice, oil, salt cod, beans, dried herring, garlic, potatoes, plantains, chicken, milk and tomato paste.

Cruz Rojas said that over the last two weeks the prices of beer, condensed milk, and cooking oil had risen by 13%, salt cod and dried herring by between 8 and 11%, beans by 14%, as well as sugar and onions. Pork and beef had gone up from RD$70 or 80 a pound to RD$80 and 90, and salami was up from RD$75 a pound to more than RD$100.

The Codepro president said that beans were up by between 5 and 8% a quintal, potatoes up by 25%, and plantains between 10 and 15%. Garlic was now selling at between RD$100 and 130 a pound, an increase of between 10 and 15%.

Chicken was now at RD$45 to 50 a pound, up by 10% and the most popular brands of milk as well as evaporated milk were all up from between 10 and 15%.

Tins of corn were up by between RD$5 and 8, liquid seasoning up by RD$8 to 10, liters of soda increased from RD$25 to 30, juice had gone up by RD$10, now selling at RD$70, as well as a RD$5 increase on tins of beans.

Salt cod, which used to be RD$115 a pound was now RD$135, a pound of cheddar cheese has gone from RD$80 or 90 to RD$110 or 120. Other products affected by price increases included stock cubes, sardines, tuna, toilet paper, bottled water, paper napkins, margarine, vinegar, coffee, chocolate, and diapers.

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Cotui residents protest mining
Hundreds of farmers from the communities of La Pinita, La Cerca, La Laguna and El Naranjo in Sanchez Ramirez province have called for the government to provide a rapid solution to claims for compensation for the damage they say has been caused to the health of the inhabitants, rivers and farming as a result of Barrick Gold mining in the area. At a demonstration held in Santo Domingo today, Tuesday 1 July 2014, they called for investigations into alleged deaths of farm animals and diseases caused by pollution as a result of the mining. Farmers' spokesman Ludovico Fernandez complained about river pollution and said there had been an increase in cancer rates in the area.

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Hit men are condemned by Supreme Court president
The president of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) Mariano German has called for everyone to contribute to eliminating the phenomenon of hired hit men and condemned the killings carried out for payment.

He said that everyone had a role to play in getting rid of hit men, including judges, investigators, legislators, the family, the Church and society.

However he said it was a complex problem and that hit men were the worst elements of what is supposedly a civilized society.

He was asked about the recent case of the Councilor from Bayaguana, Renato de Jesus Castillo whose murder was allegedly ordered by the Bayaguana Mayor, Nelson Sosa, but he refused to comment.

The ruling PLD party's Political Committee has strongly condemned the murder as well as the criminal practice of employing contract killers. It said in a statement that they hope the rigor of the law will apply the maximum sentence to the guilty party.

The latest cases of murder for hire have been carried out by hit men who are not very professional and hence the police have been able to catch them quickly.

According to Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito, most have been arrested and sentenced to 30 years in jail, and they have been young men from poor backgrounds who have taken money to kill someone they don't even know. He said it was a sad reflection that they would take the life of a human being for money and cause so much pain to a family.

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Official Vatican version of Wesolowski case
The Vatican Information Source says that Monsignor Josef Wesolowski, under investigation for accusations of sexually abusing children in the Dominican Republic, has been granted relative freedom of movement, as he awaits the verification of the accusations made against him by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

The former apostolic nuncio in the Dominican Republic, Josef Wesolowski has two months to appeal the canonical trial that ended with the sentence for the prelate's laicization, says the Vatican Information Service. The official Vatican news service says that the trial before the Vatican judicial authorities will continue as soon as the canonical sentence has been made definitive.

The official Vatican release does not mention the charges of pedophilia made against the former representative of the Vatican in the Dominican Republic.

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Dominican girls win U18 Norceca championship
The good news is that the feeder groups for the national women's volleyball team are just as good as the team itself. The Dominican women's volleyball team has been consistently ranked in the world's top eight. On Sunday, 29 June 2014 the Dominican Republic under-18 girls won the Norceca Continental Championship held in San Jose, Costa Rica. Outside hitter Natalia Martinez was selected the most valuable player. Her teammate Vielka Peralta was voted best spiker.

This is the first time that the Dominican Republic has won the Norceca Girls' U18 tournament. The win was decided when the Dominican Republic defeated defending champions United States 3-1 (25-14, 25-21, 20-25, 25-20).

In the game, the US committed 42 unforced errors to the DR's 24. Both teams were equally efficient in blocking (8-8) and service points (5-5) while US held a minimum advantage in spikes by 43-40.

"I'm very happy, we are making history. We prepared ourselves especially to face the US, it was hard work and the result is a team effort; we really played our hearts out," said Dominican Republic captain Yokaty Perez.

US captain Kathryn Plummer said: "The Dominicans executed well, I congratulate them. This is a learning experience and losing is always difficult."

Dominican Republic coach Alexander Ceccato said: "It's a great accomplishment for various reasons, making history with the first gold ever, defeating the US and finally because the players are seeing the results of their hard work".

"I sincerely congratulate the Dominican Republic, they are a very good team," US coach James Stone II said. "Certainly I'm disappointed with the loss, but not with my team, it's a group of very talented players and they become a better team for having played this match, they made a wonderful effort."

This win means that the Dominican girls will go on to play in the 2015 Girls' U-18 FIVB World Championship.

The prize-giving ceremony was led by NORCECA president Cristobal Marte Hoffiz, who is regarded as the man who created the platform that has kept Dominican Republic women's volleyball at world-class levels.

That same day, the national women's team placed second in the China Women's International Tournament held in Ningbo. Host team China won the gold medal at the event.

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A century of art in the Dominican Republic
Art lovers will have an opportunity to view 200 works from the Fernando Baez Guerrero art collection this month. The Museum of Modern Art opened an exhibition showing the collection on Wednesday, 25 June 2014. "A Century of Modern Art in the Dominican Republic" features 93 Dominican artists. The exhibition curator is Amable Lopez Melendez who says that the works of art have been divided into four halls. One area shows works that are characterized for their elasticity and eclecticism. Other works are grouped from 1914-1950, 1950-1970, and 1980-2010. The Museum of Modern Art is located in Plaza de la Cultura at Av. Pedro Henriquez Urena in Santo Domingo.

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

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