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Daily News - Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Herman Van Rompuy meets with President Medina
European Council president Herman Van Rompuy has congratulated President Danilo Medina on the work he has done towards reaching a consensus on the special law on naturalization.

Van Rompuy was at the Presidential Palace in Santo Domingo at 11:30am yesterday, Monday 21 July to discuss bilateral issues with the President. After the meeting he said that the European Union wanted to help strengthen Dominican-Haitian relations where they may be found to be helpful, reported the Presidency.

He expressed his support for President Medina in the high-level discussions with the Haitian government and acknowledged that no other country could be more concerned about Haiti's future, or stood to benefit so much from its stability and economic growth than its closest neighbor, the Dominican Republic.

He went on to talk about the importance of these factors in the process of integration of the Caribbean and Central American region and emphasized that the European Union is convinced of the advantages of systemic regional cooperation based on recognizing common interests and overcoming challenges for overall prosperity. He highlighted that as a member of SICA (Central American Integration System) and Cariforum (Caribbean), the Dominican Republic plays an important role as a bridge between Central America, the Caribbean and Europe.

"The Dominican Republic's signing of the Lome IV Convention was an unprecedented event that should be highlighted on the occasion of its 25th anniversary in order to give a new push to our relations," he stated at the press conference at the Presidential Palace.

Van Rompuy is scheduled to meet with President Medina and President Michel Martelly of Haiti at the Hard Rock Hotel in Punta Cana at 10am today, Tuesday 22 July 2014. As reported in Diario Libre, the European Union has indicative plans for Haiti and the DR as well as a binational plan. The Dominican Republic is being represented at the meeting by the Minister of Economy Temistocles Montas, Minister of Industry Jose Manuel Castillo, Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo and Administrative Minister Jose Ramon Peralta.



President Medina thanks the EU
Speaking at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Monday 21 July 2014, President Danilo Medina declared that the European Union's main contribution to our country and the world was not its support for development and trade, but its example and inspiration.

He said that it is difficult to speak of the decline of the welfare state at a time when the Dominican Republic is taking decisive steps to build its own and provide education, health and public transport to its citizens.

"We hope that the renewed energies in our country and all of Latin America may serve to return to Europe the inspiration and enthusiasm that Europe has provided to us for decades," he stated, speaking at the Presidential Palace in the presence of European Commission president Herman Van Rompuy.

Medina remarked that when speaking of building a social and democratic state with a rule of law, we look towards Europe where there are free public services, and the same when thinking of quality education, health, solidarity and gender equality.

The Dominican President went on to talk about his surprise visits and their importance in improving production in rural areas and reducing poverty.

He said that he hoped the country would continue to receive support from the European Union in the push to improve education and teacher training and he thanked the EU for its support over the past 25 years.


Free school uniforms
Student Welfare Institute (Inabie) director Rene Jaquez has announced that the distribution of 600,000 uniforms, shoes and backpacks would start today, Tuesday 22 July 2014 in four provinces in the south of the country, in preparation for the new school year which begins on 18 August.

He said that the program, which has a RD$614 million budget, would benefit almost half of the country's primary school students.

Several trucks laden with the uniforms arrived in Azua yesterday, Monday 21 July 2014 where Inabie has a distribution center for Barahona, San Juan and Bahoruco. In those four provinces Inabie will hand over 325,036 uniforms, including 62,963 pairs of trousers, 61,573 shirts, 72,837 socks, 35,941 pairs of girls' shoes and 29,876 boys' shoes, 55,418 backpacks containing notebooks and other items for primary school students and 6,428 for kindergarten.

Jaquez said that the distribution would be focused on the children with the greatest need, whose names had been already provided by the school principals.

Jaquez said that the government's investment in education had meant that they would distribute more than 1.6 million school meals this year, for breakfast, lunch and tea, and they also had programs for dental health, sight and hearing tests.


Blackouts are financial
A report released by the Dominican Association of Electric Industries (ADIE) based on data from the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) establishes that blackouts this year are not due to any lack of generation capacity. The Report on Performance of the Dominican Electricity Sector says that the power distribution companies did not buy sufficient energy to meet the demand.

The report found that from January to June 2014 the installed electricity generation capacity was 3,662 megawatts and 57% of this is generated by fuel oil. Nevertheless, that fuel, the most expensive only provides 36% of the demand of the power distributors. 60% of power is generated by plants operating on natural gas, coal, wind and water. The report established that for the first half of the year, the power distributors did not supply 1,259 gigawatts of power, when the generation companies had 1,898 gigawatts available, as reported in El Dia. This resulted in blackouts when there was excess generation capacity.

The report established that power generators sold electricity at an average cost of 16.63 cents (US$). The power distributors resold this at 18.51 cents, with a margin in their favor of 1.87 (US$) per kilowatt.


Chikungunya up to a million
According to Dominican Medical Association (CMD) president Dr. Pedro Sing, the chikungunya virus has now affected more than a million people in the Dominican Republic.

Dr. Sing said that the Ministry of Public Health should do more to eliminate the breeding grounds of the mosquitoes responsible for transmitting both chikungunya and dengue fever, Aedes Aegypti and Aedes Albopictus.

He went on to say that although official figures from Public Health say around 260,000 people have been affected by the virus, his records show that more than a million have been to hospitals.

In provinces like Monsenor Nouel (Bonao), La Vega, Santiago, Espaillat (Moca), Puerto Plata, Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris), Valverde (Mao), Montecristi and Dajabon, the epidemic is currently at very high levels.

However in the National District, Santo Domingo, San Cristobal and San Pedro de Macoris the numbers attending hospitals and clinics with the virus have declined by 50%.

The latest bulletin from the General Epidemiology Council (Digepi) from Public Health cites 251,880 cases in 19 provinces, with the Cibao region currently at the top of the list. Doctor Sing said that he thinks that it will go on to affect more than five million people in the country.

Ministry of Public Health communications director Eduardo Rosario said that they were meeting with the drivers of the trucks that delivered water to neighborhoods in the National District and Santo Domingo province to instruct them how to chlorinate the cisterns and tanks.

Health Minister Dr. Freddy Hidalgo Nunez has said that they will continue running campaigns to destroy mosquito breeding grounds and to fumigate around the country.


Consular section closed on Monday at US embassy
The United States Embassy has announced that its consular section was closed yesterday, Monday 21 July 2014 because of technical difficulties with the air conditioning system.

Immigrant visa Monday appointments were rescheduled for Wednesday, 23 July at the same time as the original appointment.

The Embassy reopened at 7am on Tuesday, 22 July 2014.

The embassy and the Visa section apologized for the inconvenience and advised people to go to their web page or their Facebook page.



China to fund major development bank
The New Development Bank is likely to become a mini-IMF with China as the biggest overall contributor. David Jessop of the London-based Caribbean Council comments the Caribbean should follow this development closely given that China has become a significant regional player and major investor in infrastructure and the funder of Chinese private sector-led ventures across the Caribbean. The new bank seeks to rival the IMF and the World Bank and is created to establish a counterweight to Western-dominated financial institutions in its capacity to fund infrastructure projects and serve as a reserve fund to support economies facing currency and balance of payment crises.

The government of China has made it clear that China will not impose any political conditions or interfere in the internal affairs of the recipient countries.

A China State Council policy paper notes that already China has provided the Caribbean with concessional loans totaling around US$1.5 billion mainly for the construction of infrastructure projects. Works have been carried out primarily in Antigua, Dominica, Grenada and Cuba.

As reported President Xi Jinping of China made it clear in an address to the Brazilian Senate last week that China intends through CELAC to promote a strategic alliance with the Latin America n and Caribbean region. "Our objective is to strengthen and take a leap forward in China's relations with Latin America and the Caribbean."

Jessop writes that for the Caribbean this is yet another challenge in relation to future positioning. "Governments will have to consider how and where to insert themselves into not just the expanding and overlapping relationships implied by the various meetings in Brazil, but also decide how to balance this with traditional relationships, the political potential of CELAC, the bilateral economic significance of China, the growing importance of more proximate neighbors in Latin America and the smallness of much of the Anglophone part of the region."


Convention results to be contested
PRD presidential hopeful Guido Gomez Mazara says that he will contest the results of the convention held on Sunday 20 July 2014, where Miguel Vargas Maldonado was declared the winner.

At a press conference held yesterday, Monday 21 July 2014, he said he would hand over the necessary documents to the Convention Organizing Committee and then the Higher Electoral Court (TSE) no later than tomorrow, Wednesday 23 July.

Gomez Mazara called on society to protest, saying that the party must stop being part of a financial scheme that would always keep them in opposition.


Arrests following convention
National Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo says that around 15 people have been detained following the incidents that occurred during the opposition PRD party convention on Sunday, 20 July 2014.

He said that the police were trying to establish who was responsible for the violence that left more than 20 people injured.

In addition to the arrest, he said that the police had confiscated several pistols, revolvers and knives.

In a statement yesterday, Monday 20 July, Castro Castillo said that he had more than 15,000 officers posted around the country to ensure that the convention passed off peacefully but that a shootout outside the PRD headquarters when presidential candidate Guido Gomez Mazara arrived, quickly marked the beginning of the violence elsewhere with suspension of voting, and late opening of the polls complained about in 10 provinces.


US citizen killed in car accident
According to the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET), a 72-year old US citizen was killed on Monday 20 July 2014 after being hit by a local passenger bus on the Duarte highway at the Cruce de Controbas between La Vega and San Francisco de Macoris.

The victim was named as Alfred George Milton. The bus was being driven by Franklin Antonio Aquino who is currently under arrest.

Milton was taken to the nearby Professor Juan Bosch trauma hospital, but died of his injuries shortly afterwards.


Rain on the way
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) says that a weather front will bring more rain and storms to the provinces of La Altagracia (Higuey), El Seibo, La Romana, San Pedro de Macoris, Hato Mayor, Monte Plata, Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris), La Vega, Monsenor Nouel (Bonao), Elias Pina (Comendador), Dajabon, Santiago Rodriguez and Valverde (Mao).

Rains will be lighter on Wednesday 23 and Thursday 24 July 2014 due to a high-pressure system crossing over the area. Short showers are forecast for Los Haitises, the central mountain area and the border region in the afternoon and night.

Onamet also informed that tropical depression number 2, located around 1,580 kilometers to the east of the Lesser Antilles and moving west at 26 kph is not expected to cause danger to land.


Investment conference in September
The Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD) says that more than 200 investors have registered to participate in the "Invest in the Dominican Republic" forum for 4-5 September 2014. The event will be the first to take place at the new JW Marriott at the Blue Mall in Santo Domingo. CEI-RD is coordinating the event with foreign missions and chambers of commerce from around the world that has offices in the Dominican Republic.


Paquito de Rivera at the National Theater
World famous saxophonist Paquito de Rivera will be taking part in the 41st anniversary celebrations of the National Theater on Wednesday, 13 August 2014 at the Santo Domingo venue's Carlos Piantini hall. He will be playing a special concert for saxophone composed by Dominican orchestra director Bienvenido Bustamante (Concierto en La menor para saxofon alto y orquesta). He will be accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra directed by Maestro Jose Antonio Molina.

The program also includes "Tres imagines folcloricas" by Ramon Antonio (Papa) Molina and Merengue-Fantasia by Jose Antonio Molina. Tickets are RD$1,200, RD$600 and RD$300.

Reik, Jesse & Joy and Jean Carlos Canela in concert
Latin pop sensations from Mexico and Cuba, Reik, Jesse & Joy and Jencarlos Canela, are booked for their first joint performance ever at Santo Domingo's Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center's Volleyball Palace. Tickets are for sale at ticketexpress.com.do




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

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