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Daily News - Thursday, 03 July 2014

First Lady announces program for mentally ill and homeless people
The First Lady's Office has announced a new program for mentally ill and homeless people. The Project for Psychosocial Rehabilitation of People with Mental Disabilities and the Homeless is aimed at helping these people and restoring their human dignity. The First Lady's Office has taken on the responsibility of following up on the results and presenting them in quarterly reports. The First Lady's Office will work closely with the Ministry of Public Health, National District municipality, the Promese community dispensary program and the National Council for People with Special Needs (Conadis). The National District municipality has donated a property in Gualey where the project will be located. Specialist project coordinator for the First Lady's Office, Martha Rodriguez, says it is a pilot program that seeks to provide a psychosocial focus for rehabilitating homeless and mentally ill people. The program aims to provide hospital daycare to people who enter the program on their own initiative or are sent by others. The patients will receive medical and cognitive evaluations and specialists will recommend a recovery program after the diagnosis.

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National Forestry Survey underway
The Ministry of Environment is calling on owners of forestry lands to cooperate with specialist personnel working on the National Forests Inventory (2014-2015). The survey will take place through March 2015 at a cost of RD$80 million. The experts will be measuring the amount, composition, quality of the forests with a physical monitoring and satellite monitoring, to determine the size of the lots, the height of the trees, as well as making other assessments.

The first inventory, which was carried out by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) from 1969 to 1971, established that 23% of the land was forested. However, satellite monitoring in recent years suggests that forestry coverage has increased to 39%.

The Ministry staff members are working alongside specialists from the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ) that is helping with the survey.

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NEO-RD targets 32,000 young people
With the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and its Multilateral Investment Fund, the new Quisqueya Belives in You program will be implemented as as part of the regional Program for New Jobs and Opportunities (NEO). It will be implemented locally by Business Action for Education (Educa). Program participants include the Fundacion Sur Futuro, the Ministry of Education, the Quisqueya Learns With You literacy program, the Ministry of Youth and the Ministry of Public Health. The program has a budget of US$2 million contributed by the MIF and another US$9.5 million from participating public and private entities.

Speaking for Educa, Elena Viyella said that the program focuses on young people between the ages of 15 to 29 from low-income backgrounds living in cities in 13 provinces. It will strengthen technical training for programs targeted at this age group and expects to reach 32,000 young people. The program includes support for teacher training, technical high school programs, vocational schools and internships in companies. She explained that youths that do not receive working experience during their training have a hard time finding jobs. The program seeks to provide youths with specific skills needed in their jobs.

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60 years of Canadian contributions to the DR
Canadian ambassador to the Dominican Republic Georges Boissee has highlighted his country's programs that have contributed to the quality of life of thousands of Dominicans for over US$100 million in development, economic cooperation and technical assistance programs over the past six decades of Canadian and Dominican bilateral relations.

Speaking during the Canada Day celebrations at the Santo Domingo Hilton on Tuesday, 1 July 2014, he also described Canadian investments in tourism, construction, housing, educational, religious, health, food, mining, recreation, banking and sports projects.

He said the DR has a favorable trade balance with Canada of US$1.08 billion with Dominican exports to Canada at RD$1.23 billion compared to US$152 million worth of imports from Canada. Exports include gold, fruits and vegetables, and clothing.

The event also marked 60 years of Canada's diplomatic links with the Dominican Republic.

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DR becomes major coffee importer
The coffee leaf fungus has affected most of Dominican coffee crop in the past couple of years. As a result the Dominican Republic, traditionally a major coffee exporter, has gone from exporting 500,000 quintals of coffee to less than 90,000 in 2013. Today it is importing more than 40% of the local consumption, according to the participants in the Saving Coffee Meeting that took place in Peralta, Azua last weekend, 28-29 June 2014. The rust-colored Roya fungus has destroyed many plantations, both new and old.

Dominican Coffee Council (Codocafe) spokesman Maximo Gomez said that the rust has affected 90% of plantations because they were aging. He said that the fungus could be controlled with new methods and care, fumigation and fungicides and called for the plantations to be renovated.

The coffee farmer population has now decreased to 40,000, from 271,000. UASD professor Milton Martinez criticized the lack of a coffee support culture. He also criticized the effects of taxation on the sector and joined Gomez in calling for support to renovate the country's coffee plantations.

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JAD calls for members to legalize farm workers
The Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD) is warning its members that they are obliged to ensure their workers have legal status, and to make the most of the free regularization process being offered by the government under the National Foreigner Legalization Plan. The JAD board, chaired by its president Pedro Brache and executive president Osmar Benitez, along with Minister of Labor Maritza Hernandez, highlighted the importance of foreign labor in farming, especially Haitian labor, and called for producers to ensure their workers adhere to the legalization plan. Benitez described the plan as one of the most advanced and complete in the region, and warned that anyone who does not adhere to be plan and is not legalized by 15 May 2015 would be subject to deportation.

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Penal Code bill changes pass in Senate
On Wednesday, 2 July 2014, the Senate passed the second reading on the bill that modifies the Penal Code, consisting of 395 articles. The proposed changes include penalties for contract killings and acid attacks, increases accumulated jail sentences to 60 years, sets fines of 4 to 10 years in jail for adults who make children commit crimes, and penalizes domestic violence with 10 years in prison. It also gives criminal status to invading and occupying property, increases the maximum penalty for femicides to 40 years, sets jail sentences of 20 to 30 years for kidnapping, and penalizes livestock theft.

The bill now returns to the Chamber of Deputies for approval.

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Border security reinforced
The Army says that surveillance cameras and additional patrol vehicles are being assigned to border controls. The measures are aimed at boosting security in order to reduce illegal trafficking of people and goods through the border.

Army spokesman Jose Luis Fernandez says that drivers are now being penalized for trafficking when illegal immigrants are found in their vehicles. He said that 50% of the fines are distributed to the Army that distributes the money to the patrol making the arrest and the institution for the purchase of vehicles and motorcycles for the patrol.

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Bosses say informal wages don't pay taxes or social security
The president of a leading employers' federation, Copardom, Jaime Gonzalez says that wages in the informal sector are better because they are not subject to taxation or social security payments.

He was responding to a report from the Central Bank on Monday, 1 July 2014, which said that people working in the informal sector in the DR make more on average than workers with formal jobs. The Central Bank released findings from the National Workforce Survey (ENFT) that showed an abysmal difference between the formal and informal sector. The survey also found that wages were low in the formal sector. The informal sector represented 50.6% of jobs in 2013 compared to 46.2% in 2000.

Gonzalez observed that the statement by the Central Bank is strange and wondered if it was trying to justify the growing informality in employment.

Salazar says BNV head is 'blackmailing' government
The PLD administration delegated the administration of the once financially-stable National Housing Bank to leading politicians from its ally party, the PRSC. Leonardo Matos Berrido, and subsequently Federico Antun Batlle have headed the institution during the Leonel Fernandez and Danilo Medina administration. Now Federico Antun Battle says he will resign from his post at the BNV to concentrate on his party's work to present its own candidates for the 2016 election. Government audits show the BNV is well in the red. PRSC politician Humberto Salazar is telling that Antun collected a check RD$12 million in advance and that he has a copy. The BNV is being converted to the Bandex bank. Exporters are advocating for a professional with export experience to direct the bank, not a politician. The same news report reveals that the once financially stable BNV now has a debt of RD$1.3 billion that will have to be taken on by the governmental BanReservas.

"I suppose this is blackmail against the government... I ask my friend, President Danilo Medina and Rafael Camilo (Superintendent of Banks) to act and explain to the country what has happened with the National Housing Bank (BNV) funds," said Salazar commenting on the announcement by PRSC president Antun, who said that he was breaking off ties with the PLD.

Interviewed on the program, "Tu Derecho a Saber," Salazar said that in 2004, Chiqui Troncoso handed over management of the bank with only 2% or RD$12 million in problem accounts. Today the problem accounts total 22%, or RD$1.3 billion. Most of the funds will not be retrievable and the debt will have to be absorbed by the BanReservas, according to Salazar.

On Wednesday, 2 July 2014, speaking for the PRSC. Antun Batlle announced the party would have its own candidates in the 2016 municipal, legislative and presidential elections.

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Thieves steal electricity cabling in Puerto Plata
Thieves recently removed over three kilometers of electric cabling at the entrance of Puerto Plata, as well as along Ave. Presidente Caamano (former Colon), Ave. Manolo Tavares Justo and the Malecon seafront boulevard. According to reports, this vandalism takes place during the early morning hours when police patrolling is down to a minimum. The robberies have left these main city thoroughfares without street lighting.

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Airport bomb scare suspect arrested
On Wednesday, 2 July 2014 the National Investigations Department reported that a man named as Ruben Manuel Ciprian Toribio was arrested and sent to justice for a bomb scare hoax. DNI agents carried out the investigation after receiving the information from the Specialized Airport Security Corps (CESAC). They found that on 3:08am on 30 June 2014, Ruben Ciprian contacted his friend Rosandy Miguelina Arias Ventura, who helped him to make a conference call with the airport for the alert call: "Anar Eric Adler, Delta 514, this is a bomb." The call referred to a US citizen with whom Ciprian Toribio had shared a room in the Barcelo Hotel in Punta Cana, but with whom he had a dispute, leading to Adler's early departure. In reprisal, Ciprian decided to try and get Adler arrested for the bomb scare. Ciprian was given a three-month preventive custody order.

Another hoax bomb scare case occurred in May, but it was linked to a 10-year old boy.

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Police make 20,000 arrests
The chief of the Police, Major General Manuel Castro Castillo says that they have arrested and sent to justice around 20,000 suspected criminals during the first six months of the year.

"Together with state prosecutors, we made progress in our investigations and not only have we arrested contract killers and sent them to justice, we have also caught the masterminds and the middle men. We have arrested around 20,000 criminals, many of whom are fugitives from justice and with criminal records, but a good number of them have returned to the streets without being sentenced," he said. He urged the judiciary to fulfill its role. He says there is no point in the Police arresting the criminals if the legal system fails to penalize them for the crimes they have committed.

He said that in its first month the new 911 security system has led to a 70% reduction in crimes, especially in the Greater Santo Domingo area, according to statistics. He said that 24 deaths at the hands of criminals were recorded in June 2013, compared to June 2014 when there were only six. He also attributed the reduction to the new police patrols.

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Police announce arrest for journalist's murder
Police in Barahona have arrested the main suspect of the murder of journalist and lawyer Napoleon Rojas Vicioso who has died of wounds sustained during an armed robbery in his grocery shop in Santo Domingo Este in May. 26-year old Edwin Andres Montero Feliz was arrested yesterday, Wednesday 2 July in Platon, Paraiso in Barahona province where he had been in hiding from the authorities. The Police say that Montero has admitted his role in the crime. Rojas Vicioso was seriously injured while trying to resist an armed robbery on 6 May and died of his wounds one month later, on 7 June 2014.

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Czech citizen arrested for fraud was Interpol fugitive
The Police have announced the arrest of a Czech national who is wanted for crimes in his home country in the Brisas del Este sector in Santo Domingo East. OCN-Interpol Dominicana agents arrested Jaromir Jindra, 45, on accusations of commercial fraud. The Prague Municipal Court had issued an arrest warrant against him. He was sentenced to two years in jail in the DR but will be deported to his country of origin.

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Sosua bar owner deported for pimping
The Attorney General and the Migration Agency have announced the deportation of US citizen Robert Anechiarico following allegations of pimping and promoting sexual tourism to the Dominican Republic. Anechiarico was the owner-manager of the Rumba Bar in Sosua, Puerto Plata. He was deported to the United States via Las Americas International Airport. Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito requested his deportation after the authorities established that Anechiarico was residing in the DR illegally.

"The Attorney General Office has instructed the Special Prosecutors Against the Illicit Trafficking in persons and immigrants to arrest anyone who promotes the country as a sexual destination, and to deport them," said Dominguez Brito.

Multi-million contracts signed for DR baseball prospects
Major League Baseball signed at least 30 Dominican ball players for more than US$20 million on Wednesday, 2 July, reports Listin Diario. The top five getting the most lucrative contracts were Adrian Rondon, signed by the Tampa Rays for US$3.3 million, and Gilbert Lara, signed by the Milwaukee Brewers for US$3.1, and Nelson Gomez who signed with the New York Yankees for US$2.25 million, Christopher Acosta, a pitcher who signed with the Boston Red Sox for US$1.5 million, and Pedro Gonzalez, signed by the Rockies for US$1.3 million.

The newspaper adds that others who have signed contracts are: Orlando Cedeno, Oscar Gonzalez, Leonardo Rodriguez (Cleveland), Yeremy Rosario and Huascar Ynoa (Minnesota Twins), Ervin Zabala (San Diego Padres), Julio Martinez (Detroit), Sandro Fabian (Giants), Yandry Contreras (Pirates) and Felix Mercedes, Amado Nunez, Ricardo Mota and Johandro Alfaro (Chicago White Sox).

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Free filmmaking course
The governmental Cinema Department (DGCine) and the Multimedia Global Institute have announced a free workshop on developing ideas for film with Yolanda Barrasa (Spain) and Tanya Valette (DR) from 4-15 August 2014. Sessions are from 9am to 6pm and participants need to be able to attend 100% of the classes.

To register, send a CV, a one-liner with the idea for a project, a long synopsis of the project (3 to 4 pages), 2 pages on the reasons why the idea could become a good film or documentary and two pages indicating why you are the right person and team to carry out the project. Registration application is by email to [email protected]

Applicants must be over 18, have a connection to audiovisual production, be a student or graduate of audiovisual communication or dramatic arts degrees, or have an interest in receiving training in scriptwriting management and audiovisual production.

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Robertico Carcasses at the Casa de Teatro jazz festival
This evening, Thursday 3 July, Cuban jazz pianist Robertico Carcasses and his Quartet will be playing at Casa de Teatro in Santo Domingo's Colonial Zone as part of the 2014 Santo Domingo Jazz Festival. The concert starts at 9pm. He is the son of veteran jazz musician Bobby Carcasses.

Anthony Rios and Johnny Ventura
Las Vivencias del Combo Show is booked for Saturday, 12 July at the Salon La Mancha of the Barcelo Santo Domingo Hotel (former Lina). Ballad singer Anthony Rios, one of the earliest singers in Johnny Ventura's merengue band, will be taking the stage with Johnny Ventura for a memorable evening. They promise to sing classics such as Viejo amigo, Una noche no es bastante, Pudiera ser, Morir de amor (by Anthony) and El tabaco, Amorios, Cana dulce, cana brava and others by Johnny Ventura. Reservations can be made by calling Tel. 809 682-3009 and at the Barcelo Santo Domingo, Tel 809 563-5000.

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

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