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Daily News - Monday, 04 August 2014

Bertha fills city reservoir
Over the weekend, Tropical Storm Bertha provided enough rain to fill the reservoir that supplies water to Greater Santo Domingo. The Water and Sewage Corporation of Santo Domingo (CAASD) reported that on Monday the Haina-Manoguayabo aqueduct was working at full capacity making it possible to supply the 90 million gallons of water needed by the capital city.

Likewise, the Isa-Mana and Duey system and Jiguey and Valdesia reservoir water levels are also at adequate service levels.

The storm caused flooding that affected land transportation in Hato Mayor Province. Rural communities in El Seibo and San Pedro de Macoris in the eastern part of the country suffered interruptions in electricity service and transport inconveniences due to the storm.

Despite the occasional wet weather in Santo Domingo, the Ministry of Tourism went ahead with the Merengue Festival on the Malecon. While it was originally thought the storm would affect Punta Cana, beachgoers in the eastern beach land were able to enjoy sunny weather almost all throughout the weekend.




Flight cancellations due to Bertha
On Saturday, several flights from the eastern Caribbean were cancelled as Tropical Storm Bertha made its way through the Caribbean. Aerodom announced the cancellations of several flights, including Liat flights to and from Antigua, Air Antilles Express from Guadaloupe to Martinique and Gol flights to Sao Paulo and Campinas. Service was restored on Sunday, 3 August 2014.

Lawsuit declares Decree 250-14 creates "factory for making identities"
The Dominican Committee for International Solidarity with Haiti has filed a lawsuit to the Constitutional Court, the highest court in the Dominican Republic, claiming that Decree 250-14 (that regulates the application of law 169-14 on the special regime for those born in the Dominican Republic and irregularly registered and naturalization) is in violation of the Dominican Constitution.

The committee, made up of private citizens, includes Jose Miguel Armenteros, Consuelo Despradel, Felipe Auffant, Cristina Aguiar, Jose Miguel Vasquez, Ramon Andres Blanco Fernandez, Trajano Vidal Potentini, Mauricio Espinosa and Juan Miguel Castillo Pantaleon.

In the lawsuit submitted to the Constitutional Court, the committee members claim that the Constitutional Court Ruling 168-13 outlined more than a dozen clauses that confirm the limits for the acquiring of Dominican citizenship or residency.

The committee questioned the legality of the recent executive order that enables Dominican nationality to be obtained without verification or a birth certificate, that proves national origin or domicile, as reported in Diario Libre.

Lawyer Cristina Aguiar explained the lawsuit has been submitted on the grounds that the executive order violates the Constitution. She points to the violation of the principle of separation of powers in government. She indicates that an executive order cannot modify a law, nor take on responsibilities already assigned to the Central Electoral Board, that she explained, has been taken totally out of the picture.

She also says it disregards the decisions of the Constitutional Court.

Aguiar says that Constitutional Court 168-13 was very clear and what that decree does is put aside what the court determined when interpreting the Constitution." She expressed that with the easing of procedures, a "factory of identities" has been created.

She said that the Dominican Republic already has a dubious reputation abroad as a center for creating false documents - and now this country will become a "factory of identities where anyone around the globe can create a new identity because now to prove a birth here requires only a notary public act with seven witnesses..



Supermarket sale of identities
Adriano Miguel Tejada, executive editor of Diario Libre, says that the ruling for Naturalization Law 169-14 has created a "supermarket sale" of Dominican nationality with the newly enacted procedures that require presenting documents to authorities that have a very low threshold of proof.

"Any Haitian qualifies for naturalization if that individual can prove that he or she spent time in the Dominican Republic," comments Tejada. He called the proofs "lax". "It's enough for a person to simply present a couple of receipts to satisfy the plan's requirements.

He comments that he would qualify for American citizenship if the same conditions were offered in the US. He says he can show having paid regularly a US-based telephone service.

"One can understand the interest of the government to resolve the problem given the international pressures, but it also must be recognized that the international community must understand the serious motives," he comments.

He said the greatest problem is that the Medina government itself is divided among humanitarians and legalists.

"A firm position of the Dominican government could lead to the signing of an international treaty between Haiti and the DR for regulating workers, in which Haitians can aspire to Dominican nationality who were those born here and that can prove their uninterrupted residence in the Dominican Republic. Anything else will be lead to a "supermarket sale of the Dominican nationality," he writes.


Small business caught in the middle
Hoy newspaper writes today about how the middle class in the Dominican Republic, who own and operate small and medium-sized business, has a tough time here. The newspaper observes that big business benefits from special regulations that provide generous tax exemptions. But smaller businesses that have to deal with the present tax and social security structures have to face the reality that the conditions that are favorable for development and growth are available only for big business and not for them.

"We have here the "sandwich" effect where on the social scale they are not poor nor rich and thus have no influence. The fiscal exemptions and other support to investors have been created for big capital investments (often from foreigners) in the areas of mining, energy, tourism, free trade zones, select technological innovation firms, and construction of mega works.

As a result, many businesses are crammed into an unproductive financial space like "sardines" and are pushed towards bankruptcy or into the informal business sector.


DGII closes 14 businesses in Las Terrenas
The Tax Agency (DGII) confirmed that 14 hotels, restaurants, bars, hardware stores and other businesses were closed from 28-31 July 2014 in Las Terrenas, Samana last week for lack of compliance with the DGII regulations. A DGII spokesperson said that prior to the closing of the businesses, the owners were notified that they needed to regularize their status with the DGII. The DGII says that many of the businesses were charging consumers for the ITBIs tax and not paying it to the DGII.


Remittances up 5.4% in 2013
The Dominican-French Chamber of Commerce (CCDF) reports that remittances received in the DR reached US$4,262.3 million in 2013, which was US$216 million or 5.4% more than in 2012. In a talk entitled, "Remittances and Development," Sociologist Cristina Sanchez sponsored by the chamber of commerce, Sanchez highlighted that the DR is the fifth largest receiver of remittances in the Americas. She said that 65.4% of the remittances are sent from the United States, while 12.5% came from Spain.


PLD top committee to meet tonight
The top brass of the Political Committee of the ruling PLD party will meet tonight. The 35 members will decide who will preside over the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Political Committee is led by party president, former President Leonel Fernandez, party secretary general Reinaldo Pared (today president of the Senate), President Danilo Medina and Vice President Margarita Cedeno, who is the wife of former President Fernandez.

The meetings are to be held behind closed doors.

The PLD has majority control of the both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

Reinaldo Pared has indicated that he will not continue as president of the Senate so that he can dedicate time to his expressed desire to win the PLD presidential candidacy in the 2016 election.


Guillermo Moreno: PLD doesn't deserve to stay in power
Former National District attorney under the President Leonel Fernandez government, Guillermo Moreno is re-launching his candidacy for the Presidency. He says the time has come for changes in politics. Moreno noted that the ruling party has been leading the government for 14 years, and has certainly not earned the right to stay in power.

"Let us [begin this campaign] immediately, in each barrio, in each town, municipality and province," said the president of Alianza Pais upon announcing the start of the Campaign for the Million Friends of Alianza Pais at the Centro Cultural Narciso Gonzalez.

He said this country requires new responsible, honest leadership with a real commitment to society and democracy that is able to overcome the inertia of our citizens, and get our nation moving on. He called for a stop to the embezzlement of public funds; abolishing of illegal taxes; stopping the sale of our natural resources to predator mining projects; restoring order in public institutions and in transport; arresting the serious deterioration of the health system and social security; addressing the deep inequality in the distribution of wealth; and eliminating other ills generated or advanced by the party leaders that have directed the state since 2004.



Victor Estrella makes headlines in US media
The achievements of a Dominican professional tennis player, Victor Estrella, have generated press coverage in a number of newspapers, including the Washington Post and The New York Times. The reporters have been particularly intrigued by Estrella's success on the courts, given that Mr. Estrella is 33 years old. He will soon turn 34. Reporters interviewed Estrella after he won his first two matches at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. competing against players with higher ranking and that are much younger than he is.

Playing in the Citi Open in the Washington, D.C., in his second game, Victor Estrella (ATP ranked 87th) defeated Feliciano Lopez of Spain (ranked 25th) to advance in the tournament. Estrella is now expected to move up to a career best 80th ranking into the next tournament, the US Open in New York City.

Estrella became the first Dominican tennis player to break into the top100 ATP rankings after he won a Challenger tournament in Salinas, Ecuador.

The US reporters promised to follow Estrella's matches when he plays in the US Open in New York City that begins 25 August 2014.

This is the first time a Dominican player will participate in the 128-player tournament.

Estrella has been playing in the top 100 since February 2014. He played in the main draw of two Grand Slam events, the French Open in May and at Wimbledon in June, losing in the first round both times.



Jose Antonio Molina: reggaeton is not music
Announcing the Wednesday, 13 August Paquito de Rivera concert at the National Theater, the director of the National Symphony Orchestra Maestro Jose Antonio Molina said on the TV program D?Agenda on Channel 11 on Sunday, 3 August that reggaeton is not music. "Music is a portrait of society, and that music reflects the deterioration of society. The lyrics encourage to violence and are poison for society," he said.

Molina directed the concerts of the late Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti for 10 years and has directed stars such as Liza Minnelli, Celine Dion, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Vanessa Williams and Andrea Bocelli.

He is passionate about the need to motivate more youths to attend the concerts of the National Symphony Orchestra. While the venerated conductor's efforts have led to a small up-tick in the number of younger people attending National Symphony Orchestra concerts, he acknowledged that at present these concerts are mostly attended by senior citizens.


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