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Daily News - Monday, 21 July 2014

Support for honey and yautia farms
President Danilo Medina visited honey and yautia producers in La Gina, Santo Domingo Norte yesterday, Sunday 20 July 2014 as part of his customary surprise weekend visits in support of small-scale farmers. The producers were offered soft loans through the governmental Special Fund for Agricultural Development (FEDA) business support program with a 5% annual interest rate.

President Medina met with members of the honey producer Asociacion de Desarrollo Agricola y Servicios Multiples who told the President they want to modernize their production facilities.

He also met with members of the Cooperativa La Estrella who grow yautia (malanga).

Rosa Gutierrez of the Cooperativa La Estrella asked for government support to continue farming the yam-like tuber. She told the President that their yautia farms had been abandoned after a fungus affected the crop.

President Medina oversees progress at La Nueva Barquita
President Danilo Medina visited the La Nueva Barquita project yesterday, Sunday 20 July 2014 where families living under the Ozama Bridge are due to be relocated. Some 1,620 residents who had lived in three areas along the banks of the Ozama River are being relocated. Project superintendent, engineer Omar Guzman and architect Patricia Cuevas gave explanations to the visitors. The government seeks to create a model social and human transformation project.

President Medina toured the area and visited a model home in a four-floor building with eight apartments that was built in just one month and 12 days. From the second floor of the building, the President was able to look over the site of a primary healthcare center being built for the Nueva Barquita residents.

Unions want 30% wage increase
Labor union representatives have presented the Ministry of Labor with a proposal for a 30% increase in the minimum wage. The proposal is for an increase for large companies from RD$11,292.00 at present to RD$14,767. For medium-sized companies from RD$7,763 to RD$10,188 and for small companies from RD$6,880 to RD$8,970. In the case of security guards, the unions propose an increase in the minimum wage from RD$9,526 to RD$12,426. Day laborers would receive RD$330 up from RD$234 per 10 hour workday, as reported in Listin Diario.

Help needed to locate literacy students
During his visit to honey and yautia producers in La Gina in northern Santo Domingo on Sunday, 20 July 2014, President Medina asked the residents to help the government locate people who do not know how to read and write and are not yet participating in the government literacy program.

The Presidency reports that President Medina highlighted that of 851,000 people identified as illiterate at the start of his term of office in August 2012, some 626,000 have learned to read or write or are taking part in the Quisqueya Learns with You program. As reported, the President is aware that there are still another 225,000 illiterate people over the age of 15 in the country. He asked for help in locating them so the government can meet its target of eradicating illiteracy in the country by December 2014. The President says that many have not registered in the program due to fear or shame.

1,100 new public schools for August 2014
The Ministry of Education says that some 1,100 new schools built by the Medina administration will be teaching full school days as of August 2014. Minister of Education Carlos Amarante says that the government needs to hire 8,500 additional teachers and has budgeted RD$3.5 billion for this purpose. With the new schools, the public school system will have 1,700 schools teaching from 8am to 4pm, benefiting 800,000 students nationwide. He said that 579 of the traditional schools, which do not have cooking facilities, will be improved to serve meals so that students can stay on for afternoon school activities this year.

In an interview with Diario Libre, Minister of Education Amarante said that the Ministry has a RD$2.3 billion budget allocation for teacher training. He said the Ministry had implemented 38.75% (RD$109 billion) of its budget in the first half of the year. According to the minister, the presidential goal is that by 2016, when the present term of office comes to an end, 80% of the public schools will join the extended school model.

Amarante said that many private schools are asking the government to buy them out because they are having trouble competing with the government's new school model.

Amarante also told Diario Libre that 75% of people who have learned to read and write through the governmental literacy program want to continue studying in adult education programs.


Herman Van Rompuy in the DR
European Council president Herman Van Rompuy arrived in the country yesterday, Sunday 20 July 2014 for a visit commemorating 25 years of the European Union mission's presence in the Dominican Republic. His agenda for today, Monday 21 July 2014, includes a meeting with President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace to discuss the bilateral Dominican Republic-European Union agenda.

On Tuesday, 22 July 2014 President Medina and Rompuy will meet with Haitian President Michel Martelly at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana to discuss European Union aid and projects for both countries. El Dia reports that the European Union will provide technical assistance so that Dominicans and Haitians can harmonize their customs systems. During the meeting with Martelly, two new bilateral trade agreements will be signed in coordination with the ministries of industry and commerce and customs departments.

A gala concert is planned for this evening, Monday 21 July at the National Theater in Santo Domingo to celebrate 25 years of European cooperation.

The European Union is the Dominican Republic's second largest trading partner and the main cooperation partner and source of foreign investment.


Ministry organizes all about hydrocarbons in the DR
Minister of Energy and Mines Pelegrin Castillo has ordered an inventory and digital databasing of all related to hydrocarbon matters in the Dominican Republic. Information from explorations carried out over the years is being compiled in order to give an overview of the state of explorations and assess the potential of the country. Castillo also called for the contracting of an external advisor to the Ministry on hydrocarbon matters to assist in the defining of a national hydrocarbons strategy and development plan. He appointed a commission at the Ministry headed by deputy minister Alberto Reyes, the director of the National Geological Service, deputy director of Hydrocarbons at the Mining Agency to carry out the inventory and assessment in 10 days of all existing information on the subject in the private and public entities.

New ambassadors present credentials
President Danilo Medina received the letters accrediting new ambassadors in the Dominican Republic for Uruguay, South Korea, Japan and the Order of Malta today, Monday, 21 July 2014.

Raul Juan Pollak Giampietro represents Uruguay. He previously served as his country's ambassador to Guatemala.

Oh Han-Gu is the new South Korean ambassador. His last posting was as ambassador to Angola.

Takashi Fuchigami now represents Japan. He previously served as consul general in Barcelona, Spain.

Frank Rainieri Marranzini is the new ambassador for the Order of Malta. He is the president of the Grupo Puntacana in the Dominican Republic.

Vice President Margarita Cedeno and Deputy Foreign Relations Minister Jose Manuel Trullols were also present at the ceremony.


Lawyers sustain naturalization ruling violates local laws
The 21 article ruling for the application of naturalization law 169-14 has at least 18 violations of the Constitution, seven of the Law 659 on civil acts, other violations of the Migration Law, Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 and the essence of the naturalization law, say jurists who studied the ruling after the President opened it up for public comment.

As reported in El Caribe, the lawyers called for the government to correct the violations that are in conflict with the rule of law, juridical security and prevalence of the Constitution.

The legal report was prepared at the request of the Dominican Committee for International Solidarity with Haiti, and its members Armando Jose Armenteros Estrems, Jose Miguel Vasquez Garcia, Pelegrin Castillo, Manuel Nunez, Consuelo Despradel, Denise Reyes and Trajano Vidal Potentini.

The lawyers who prepared the report were Juan Miguel Castillo Pantaleon, Juan Miguel Castillo Roldan, Cristina Aguiar and Jose Miguel Vasquez.

They stated that the ruling violates the rule of the law because it allows anyone to be able to declare having been born here without having to prove their parents' identity or nationality. They said that the weakness in the ruling would open doors for an indeterminate number of people to manufacture identities with all the risks that such an absurd situation may entail.

They also pointed out that another of the violations is the fact that the Presidency has taken on the drafting of the ruling assigning this to the Ministry of Interior and Police rather than the Central Electoral Board (JCE).

Law 169-14 mandated that the ruling needed to be approved by this Wednesday, 23 July 2014.

The jurists criticized the wide discretionary powers of an operating unit that would be created to implement the naturalization law.

The text of the ruling can be downloaded and read on the Legal Advisor to the Presidency website at http://www.consultoria.gov.do/listadet.php?codigo=140


Government favors small business; Labor Ministry 'an obstacle'
Herrera Industries Association (AEIH) president Victor Castro says that while the government announces its support to small business, at the same time, regulations issued by the Ministry of Labor create obstacles to job creation in the country.

He mentioned Ruling 522-06 on Security and Health in the workplace and other resolutions that complement this ruling that create double costs for small companies. "This problem and the 'mafias' of lawyers that create complicated labor legal cases against companies, are of more concern than the issue of the severance payments and other topics that the big business have been handling," he commented.

He said that the rulings in effect that oblige small companies to provide onsite medical examinations for their employees, hire occupational specialists and open medical service at the workplace are a burden for small business.

Miguel Vargas Maldonado to stay as PRD president
Following its party convention held on Sunday 20 July 2014, the main opposition party, the PRD, says that at the close of the preliminary vote count, Miguel Vargas Maldonado was leading the vote with 169,002 votes for 87.31% of the total. Guido Gomez Mazara received 14,089 votes for 7.27%, Francisco Pena had 8,051 votes for 4.15% and Juan Santos obtained 2,415 for 1.27%. The organizing committee declared Junior Santos general secretary. Other candidates, Andres Lugo and Carlos Gabriel Garcia resigned. Anibal Diaz Belliard was ahead in the vote for national organization secretary with 79,976 votes for 67.19%, followed by Francisco Rosado with 17,150 votes for 14.97% and Fausto Liz with 27,407 votes for 17.81%. At a press conference held after the reading of the first election result bulletin, Miguel Vargas said that the results confirmed he is the winner of a new term as party president, with more than 85% of the votes.

The convention was marked by violence and according to reports, 15 people were injured at several events nationwide.

Rafael Vasquez of the PRD said that the shooting "was part of the Dominican political folklore" as reported in Diario Libre.

El Dia reports that the convention was marked by disturbances, shootings, injured, stolen ballot boxes, suspension of voting in several voting centers and obstructing the work of journalists. According to the newspaper, when voting opened at around 8am nationwide in several centers only known followers of Miguel Vargas Maldonado were being admitted. The director of Noticias SIN, Manuel Quiroz said he would denounce the confiscation of footage recorded by Victor Vicente showing the shooting at the voting center. A similar incident was reported by Degnis de Leon of El Dia whose mobile phone was confiscated to erase the images of the violence that she had recorded on her cell phone.


Green area in El Morro affected by fire
Montecristi Civil Defense spokesman Maximo Ventura reports that on 9pm on Friday, 18 July 2014 a fire broke out shortly after a light rain shower accompanied by lightning, thought to have caused the fire. The fire destroyed Guatapanal bushes and gutted the wooden stairways leading up the Morro hill. This made it difficult for firefighters to extinguish the blaze on Friday evening. The fire was put out after daybreak early on Saturday morning. The government had recently spent RD$3 million on building the staircase.

Expo Taiwan
The Embassy of China (Taiwan) in the Dominican Republic is inviting the general public and members of the business community to the Taiwanese trade show at the Salon Ambar of the Dominican Fiesta Hotel in Santo Domingo. The exhibition is being held from Thursday 24 July to Sunday 27 July from 10am to 9pm.

Products featured in the exhibition include: vehicles, bicycles, mobiles, motorcycles, external memories, security cameras and systems, machinery to work wood and bamboo, bamboo furniture, electrical materials, footwear and bag-making machinery, hardware goods, green construction materials, car and motorcycle parts, solar energy solutions, solar water heaters, textiles, hair and cosmetic products.

Johnny Ventura and Wilfrido Vargas go on tour
Two of the greatest merengue music legends of all times in the Dominican Republic, Johnny Ventura and Wilfrido Vargas have announced a nationwide tour with several concert dates. The Megamerengue World Tour starts 9 August and ends 15 October. The event is sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism.

The two legendary merengue masters will play at hotels in Puerto Plata, Sosua, Cabarete, Las Terrenas, Portillo, Samana, Santiago, Jarabacoa, Constanza, Boca Chica, Juan Dolio, La Romana, Bavaro and Santo Domingo.

Caramelos de Cianuro at Hard Rock Cafe
Popular Venezuelan rock group Caramelos de Cianuro will be playing at the Hard Rock Cafe at the Blue Mall in Santo Domingo on 15 August 2014. Tickets are for sale at Uepa tickets (uepatickets.com), Movie Max, Supermercados Jumbo or Nacional for RD$1,000 general admission and RD$1,500 VIP.

For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar

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