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Daily News - Wednesday, 30 July 2014

President inaugurates schools in Montecristi and Valverde
President Danilo Medina handed over 149 new classrooms in the northwestern border provinces of Montecristi and Valverde yesterday, Tuesday 29 July 2014, which will mean 5,215 more students can benefit from the extended school day.

The first celebration was held in the Profesora Altagracia Cabreja primary school in Montecristi, and then at the Maria Auxiliadora school in Mao.

Medina also inaugurated the Monte Cristi Polytechnic and the Carlos Navarro, Jobo Corcobado, El Papayo and Nueva Judea primary schools.

In Mao, Valverde province, the Hermanas Mirabal, Guatapanal and Francisco del Rosario Sanchez schools were also handed over.

All of the schools have IT and science laboratories, libraries, administrative areas, bathrooms and disabled access ramps.

The budget for these works was RD$337 million.


President congratulates Julia Alvarez
President Danilo Medina has congratulated Dominican-American author Julia Alvarez on being awarded the National Medal of Arts, presented by the United States President Barack Obama on Monday, 28 July 2014.

In a letter to the novelist from himself and the Dominican Government, Medina said that it was in recognition of her contribution to the world of literature and wished her more and more success in the future.

The Dominican novelist, poet and essayist was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support, and availability of the arts in the United States. This is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the US government. Julia Alvarez was honored for her "extraordinary storytelling". Alvarez rose to prominence with the novels "How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents," "In the Time of the Butterflies," and "Yo!"


President Medina visits Valle Nuevo fire zone
Yesterday, Tuesday 29 July 2014, President Danilo Medina inspected the area affected by a forest fire that has been burning for almost two weeks in the Juan Bautista Perez Rancier National Park in Valle Nuevo in Constanza.

Although it had not rained for months, when he arrived it was drizzling in the central mountain area but the President called on the workers not to slacken in their efforts to put the fire out.

Medina arrived unanounced at around 2:30pm, accompanied by Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta. He spoke with members of the Ministry of Public Works and the Environment who informed him of the scale of the blaze.

Around 700 men are working with different equipment day and night to control the blaze. Medina arrived by helicopter at the control center area, which is close to the fire. He said that it had caused extensive damage, which will take time to recover, and promised to support this process.

National Fire Control director Jeronimo Abreu updated the President on the current situation and said that if there was some rain it would be under control in two or three days, but it could take as long as one or two months for the fire to be extinguished totally.

He said that the fire had been spread by strong winds of up to 60 kilometers an hour but that 80% of the forested area had not yet been affected.

Medina listened to the park rangers, who said that although the fire had affected 25% of the park only 5% was severely damaged.

President Medina spent 15 minutes at the control center and then left for Montecristi and Valverde (Mao), where he was inaugurating schools.

Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo said they were providing all the necessary equipment and teams, as well as a medical center. He said that twelve military patrols were also providing support.

Meanwhile the National Meteorological Office (Onamet) is forecasting more rain in the mountain area over the next 48 hours due to a weather front over the country. They also said they are keeping an eye on a low-pressure system 2,320 kilometers to the east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles, with a good chance of becoming a tropical cyclone over the next few days.


DGII director favors adding new taxes
Director of the Tax Agency (DGII) Guarocuya Felix disagrees with business proposals for the Tax Pact. He feels business wants the government to agree to cut spending as part of the Tax Pact (required by the National Development Strategy Law). Felix says the proposal is that the savings would provide revenues for the government so that new taxes are not necessary.

But Felix says the government demands a more global vision in order to favor the poor and needs the additional tax revenues. He said the proposal for the so-called integral fiscal pact proposed by the National Council of Business would leave out many options for new taxation.

Felix says that there needs to be an increase in taxation all around the country. He says at present most of taxes are paid by individuals and businesses in the National District, provinces of Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata and to a lesser degree by those located in the eastern provinces. He said most other provinces report very low taxation.

Felix made the statements during a conference "New Taxation versus Integral Fiscal Reform" on occasion of an anniversary of the DGII.


Public debt reaching unsustainable levels
Economist Nelson Suarez alerted to the increasing public debt. He said the national debt is reaching unsustainable levels. "The issues of debt service, the quasi-fiscal debt of the Central Bank and the electricity subsidy are three swords of Damocles hanging a top fiscal, macroeconomic and social stability in the Dominican Republic," he said.


Water and electricity rationing
Dominicans are experiencing daily rationing of both electricity and water, the former due to financial deficits and the latter due to the drought that is affecting the whole country.

However they are both related as the lack of rain has led to a lack of water in the dams that feed the hydroelectric power stations, which provide the cheapest form of electricity.

At present 5.4% of the energy comes from hydroelectricity, 31.3% natural gas 31.7% fuel oil, 17.2 % coal and 13.5% self-generated by customers.

As the levels of hydroelectricity fall then the distribution companies need to purchase other more expensive forms of energy, not paid for by the consumers but by the government subsidy. In addition around 33% of the energy purchased by the distribution companies is lost in fraudulent hook ups and technical problems.

Hence at present, the distribution companies are reducing the amount of energy they supply to the population in order to lose less money from those who use it and don't pay and also to buy less from the suppliers.

Currently consumers in 'A' circuits, who should have 24 hour power, are enduring blackouts up to six hours a day, and those in 'D' circuits are having 10 hour blackouts per day.

The second form of rationing at the moment is water. In Greater Santo Domingo, the Santo Domingo Aqueducts and Sewers Corporation (CAASD) has reduced supplies by 75% due to the drought. Even the light rain over the last few days is not sufficient to allow the services to improve and CAASD have announced they are arresting people who are using water to wash vehicles, which is not permitted at the moment due to the water shortage.


Few foreigners regularize their status under new plan
According to Minister of Interior and Police Jose Ramon Fadul, who is also president of the National Migration Council, the National Foreigner Regularization Plan has been in effect for two months and so far only 17 people are ready to be checked by investigation agencies, after having submitted all of the necessary documents.

These foreigners will now be checked by the National Investigations Department (DNI), the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) and Interpol.

As of Monday, 28 July 2014, 96,700 people had visited the centers set up around the country and 36,700 have presented some type of document and 260 have completed application forms. The main obstacle to the success of the program is the lack of Haitian documentation presented by the applicants. Most people in Haiti do not have legal documentation and this causes major problems when they immigrate to countries where legal documentation is required.


Juliana Deguis Pierre is now a Dominican
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has announced that the application for an identity card (cedula) for Juliana Deguis Pierre is now complete and she can now collect her cedula.

Deguis Pierre has been at the forefront of Haitians demanding Dominican citizenship but to date had no identity card. The Constitutional Court had determined that her Dominican identity had been irregularly issued. Deguis benefited by expedited naturalization for humanitarian reasons under the process established by Law 169-14.

The Communications' Director of the JCE said that all her data has been confirmed and Deguis Pierre can now go to any cedula issuing office and pick up her card.


Dengue deaths
Cases of chikungunya virus continue to decline in the Greater Santo Domingo, San Cristobal, Peravia, Monte Plata and San Jose de Ocoa.

But official epidemiological reports indicate there has been an increase in dengue fever in the Cibao region of dengue fever, which is transmitted by the same mosquito. The later has now caused 42 deaths, despite the fact that the number of dengue cases so far this year has been much lower than last year, 3,882 as compared to 6,744.

According to the Epidemiology report issued by the Ministry of Public Health, in the last two weeks the number of chikungunya cases has reduced by 28% in the capital and San Cristobal, Peravia (Bani), Monte Plata and San Jose de Ocoa.

The campaign to eliminate mosquito breeding areas is continuing. According to the report as of 12 July, chikungunya had affected 281,850 people with 26,411 being notified in the last week. The number of deaths remains stable, at three.

The report goes on to that ten cases of malaria have been confirmed in the last week: eight in La Barquita in Santo Domingo North, one in Cerros de Sabana Perdida and another in Dajabon. So far this year 140 cases of malaria have been confirmed.


Businessman to fund legal advisors for cases vs. TelexFree
Celso Marranzini, former president of the National Council of Business, announced that a team of lawyers would give free legal counsel to those that claim they have been scammed by the TelexFree operation in the Dominican Republic. He criticized that the alledged Ponzi scheme was widely promoted on radio and TV, and even in the newspapers and that the promoters have not been investigated by the authorities.


Drug conspirator pleads guilty
The former chief operating officer of the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) pleaded guilty on Tuesday, 29 July 2014 to US charges that he conspired with drug traffickers to transport cocaine into the United States.

At a hearing in US district court in Manhattan, Francisco Hiraldo Guerrero, 54, admitted being part of the traffickers' conspiracy. He said he had reached an agreement with prosecutors and was waiving his right to a trial.

Hiraldo Guerrero had pleaded not guilty to the charges last year.

Prosecutors alleged that Hiraldo Guerrero used his position at the Dominican Republic's National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) to protect cocaine shipments, including some to New York.

About 6% of the cocaine that is smuggled to North America and Europe passes through the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, according to the US State Department's 2014 narcotics control report.

Authorities in the Dominican Republic arrested Hiraldo Guerrero in October 2012, and he was later extradited to New York to face US charges.

He faces a prison sentence of at least 10 years under US law. He also agreed to forfeit about US$1 million to the US government.

US District Judge John Keenan said he would sentence Hiraldo Guerrero on 3 November 2014.



Santiago police agents arrested for taking bribe
Officers from the Cibao Regional Headquarters of the National Police arrested members of a police patrol who have allegedly accepted more than a million pesos and US$15,000 in bribes to allow an alleged criminal to go free.

The criminal carried out an armed robbery on a moneylender last Thursday in San Cristobal who had RD$30 million and an unknown quantity of dollars.

Police spokesman Colonel Damian Arias Matos said that he did not know the names of the police officers who supposedly took the bribes, but that they were in custody at the Police Internal Affairs, in Santo Domingo.

It appears that after committing the crime, the alleged criminal went to a hotel in Santiago, and the employees at the hotel were suspicious of his behavior and informed the police.


Victor Estrella defeats German in ATP Citi Open
Playing in the Citi Open taking place in Washington, D.C. Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour, Dominican tennis player Victor Estrella (ATP ranked 87th) defeated Tobias Kamke of Germany (ATP ranking 77th) 6/2 4/6 and 7/6 to advance in the tournament. Today, 30 July 2014 at 4pm he will match Feliciano Lopez of Spain, ranked 25th in the world. Estrella is the first Dominican tennis player to break the 100th barrier of the ATP. The event has prize money of US$1,399,700.

To follow the tournament, see http://www.atpworldtour.com/share/event-draws.aspx?year=2014&eventid=418&draw=ms

The Bachelorette chooses Josh in Punta Cana
27-year old lawyer Andi Dorfman, the star of The Bachelorette, the popular ABC reality show, chose 29-year old former baseball player Josh Murray to be her life partner over Nick Viall in the popular dating game finale. The episode was filmed in Punta Cana.


Jaume Vilaseca Trio to close Santo Domingo Jazz Festival
Spanish jazz group, Jaume Vilaseca Trio and their concert, Jazznesis II will be closing the 2014 Santo Domingo Jazz Festival at Casa de Teatro tomorrow, Thursday, 31 July 2014. The group has converted the music of the British rock group, Genesis to their own kind of Spanish jazz. 9pm at the Sala Cristobal de Llerena of Casa de Teatro and giant screen of the Cafe Teatro bar. Tickest: RD$500 for the theater hall and RD$300 for the bar area.


Jose Garcia Cordero exhibits at Casa de Teatro
See the works of famous Dominican painter Jose Garcia Cordero at Casa de Teatro. The exhibit is open from 23 July 2014. The artist resides in France.His exhibit is named "XXXXX Exhibition of Jose Garcia Cordero." Casa de Teatro is at Calle Arzobispo Merino 110, Colonial City. Tel 809 686-7840.

Husbands are always the last to know at the Bellas Artes
The comedy by Franklin Dominguez, "Los maridos son siempre los ultimos en enterarse," (Husbands are always the last to know) opens at the Palacio de Bellas Artes on Friday, 1 August 2014 through 10 August. It will be staged nightly at 8:30pm. Dharma Oriach has the lead role, with Carlos Gil, Jose Rodriguez, Harold Gil, Franklin Margarin, Francisco Calderon, Pilar Pineda, Elizabeth Ovalle, Leonel Garavito among others.

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

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