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Daily News - Thursday, 21 August 2014

Journalism Award for Juan Bolivar Diaz
President Danilo Medina, the Ministry of Education and the Dominican Association of Journalists (CDP) honored 70-year old journalist Juan Bolivar Diaz with the National Journalism Award 2014 at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Wednesday 20 August 2014. Attending were Minister of Education Carlos Amarante Baret and the CDP president Olivo de Leon. De Leon took advantage of the occasion to ask the President to include journalists in critical health conditions, advanced age and long journalistic practice in government-sponsored pension plans. He also complained of the hardships experienced by journalists who he said have to hold down two or three jobs to maintain their quality of life.

"Very few can live in dignity on what media companies pay," said Diaz, reaffirming the difficulties that face honest journalists. He requested his replacement at TeleAntillas TV because he said he didn't want to age in front of the cameras.

During his career in the Dominican Republic he has worked for Amigo del Hogar magazine, Radio HIN, Noti Tiempo (Radio Comercial), Ultima Hora newspaper, Radio Popular and Rumbo magazine. He currently works as a contributor to Hoy and director of information at TeleAntillas (Channel 2 TV) and Uno + Uno interview program also on Channel 2.



The military: all in the family
Of course many children will follow in their parents' footsteps. This is common in the Dominican military forces, says a feature in Diario Libre. The article comes right after President Danilo Medina appointed Major General Jose Matos de la Cruz as head of the Army. He is the son of retired general Ramiro Matos Gonzalez, a former Minister of the Armed Forces.

Likewise, the new commander general of the Air Force, Brigade General Elvis Feliz Perez is nephew of former army head, retired major general Enrique Perez y Perez.

Former minister of the Armed Forces and historian, retired general Jose Miguel Soto Jimenez says that family ties in the Dominican military is an old custom from the early days of the Republic. He said that even General Pedro Santana had a twin, Ramon Santana, who also was a general. He says that the descendants of one of the nation's founding fathers Francisco del Rosario Sanchez were generals.

Also mentioned is the case of former chief of the Police, retired major general Rafael Guillermo Guzman Fermin, whose father, retired major general Rafael Guillermo Guzman Acosta also served as chief of the Police

Other prominent relatives include the former head of the Navy and National Police Admiral Luis Homero Lajara Burgos, whose son, retired vice admiral Homero Luis Lajara Sola was head of the Navy (now the Armada).

Also mentioned are Major General Carlos Luciano Diaz Morfa, who was chief of the Army and whose son is also a general in the Army, Luciano Diaz Morfa. Juan Rafael Folch Hubieral, former director of the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) was the son of Major General Juan Nepomuceno Folch Perez.


BanReservas: the awakening of a giant
Writing in Diario Libre today, Thursday 21 August 2014, financial expert Alejandro Fernandez Whipple says that the governmental BanReservas has broken the mold of giants losing agility and is making waves for its dynamic influence instead. He reports that of every RD$100 lent to companies, households or individuals, 76% was lent by BanReservas over the past seven months. While in the past, BanReservas was known for lending to the public sector, he says that fortunately the figures for the past seven months of 2014 show that private credit is again growing, while public credit is contracting.

He highlights that from December 2013 to July 2014, according to the Central Bank, private credit increased by RD$34.9 billion, while lending to the public sector was down RD$1.5 billion. He said this trend is positive, even though net public borrowing is still higher than its record levels of the past years.

Fernandez writes that BanReservas has 28% of all bank assets in the country in 2012, but only 15% of the loans to the private sector, but this has changed under the new BanReservas administration. As of June 2014, BanReservas lending is now 21.5% of all private loans. He says any banker will say that BanReservas has dramatically influenced the lending rates downwards as a result of its push to attract private borrowers by offering lower rates than its competitors. The main beneficiaries of the lower rates are thousands of households and companies.


AMET revokes RD$500 charge for crash reports
The Metropolitan Transport Administration (AMET) has announced it is suspending the RD$500 charge for issuing traffic accident reports as of today, Thursday 21 August 2014. The report is a requisite for insurance claims.

El Nacional reported on the charge yesterday, Wednesday 20 August 2014, explaining that it was required of both parties involved in traffic accidents.

As reported in El Nacional, when requesting the claim report both drivers were given a number of the AMET account for depositing the funds in the AMET account at the Banco de Reservas (account 100-01-010-238983-7).

El Nacional reported that the charge was illegal because it was not established by the National Congress and had not been publicly reported as required by law. El Nacional says the charge was being applied three months ago and was introduced during the administration of Major General Juan Jeronimo Brown Perez, who was recently replaced by Brigadier General Pablo Arturo Pujols.



Haitian businessman favors regulation
In his editorial column today, Thursday 21 August 2014, Diario Libre executive editor Adriano Miguel Tejada shares comments made by a "rich, educated resident of Boston" who happens to be a Haitian national and who sat next to him during a recent flight back to the DR. The Haitian blamed the Haitian-DR problem on Dominican businesspeople who encouraged Haitian immigration in order to have cheap labor for farming and construction and the government for tolerating this situation. He said order was needed and the Dominican government has to do so because once the doors to economic improvement have been opened, it is difficult to close them.

"Haiti has the problem that everyone there wants to leave, and after they leave, they abandon Haiti completely; they do not invest in the country because of the lack of order, peace and security. That is why it is so difficult to attract foreign investment, which is essential for development," he commented.

The Haitian added: "The Dominican Republic cannot continue to spend so many resources on the health of the immigrants who often only come to be treated or to give birth at the hospitals without regulating the process in some way. It has to do so because the Haitian politicians are not going to do so. That is why policies have to be adopted independently of negotiations or agreements."

Tejada says that when comparing the opinions of the Haitian businessman with those of some Dominicans, he gets the impression that there are many people here who cannot distinguish the problem clearly, especially that what is legal, fair and humane are not in contradiction.

Haitians demand free identity documents from Haiti
Hundreds of Haitians protested outside the Haitian Embassy yesterday, Wednesday 20 August 2014 demanding that President Michel Martelly order Haitian identity documentation to be issued free of charge. They need the documentation in order to apply for the National Foreigner Legalization Plan in the Dominican Republic.

As reported in Diario Libre, the group marched down Avenida Maximo Gomez from Nicolas de Ovando Street to the Haitian Embassy on Calle Juan Sanchez Ramirez, near the UASD University in Santo Domingo, to demand that the Haitian government issue them with birth certificates, passports and identity documents free of charge. They believe that the Haitian government owes them a social and economic debt because it had contracted them as temporary laborers to work in sugar cane fields in the Dominican Republic.

Jesus Nunez was the spokesman for the cane field workers.

A commission of the cane workers was received by Haitian Ambassador Fritz Cineas who said he would channel the request to President Martelly.



Castro Castillo gives overview on National Police
Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo has called for an end to lenience by the courts at a time when 89 police agents have been murdered and another 130 injured by criminals. In an interview with El Nuevo Diario, Castro said: "It's a war." He said the criminals do not respect uniformed police on the beat.

He reported that the Police have arrested 40,342 people for crime. 22,000 were arrested for robbery and muggings. "But many of them are let out of jail easily," he said.

Castro Castillo called for a more active judiciary that applies the laws and codes because "if Justice played its role, there would be less crime."

He said that while the Police starts the investigation into a crime, it is the prosecutor who validates the proof. If there is an error in the paperwork, then the prosecutor should tell the police to correct it, he said.

He went on to say that what happens is that the criminals kill agents, fire at them and many of them get out by paying as little as RD$2,000.

The Police chief said that in Villa Maria recently, a police patrol tried to stop criminals who had mugged a group of young people in the early hours, and the criminals fired at the police. "In any other country, when they saw the Police those criminals would throw their firearms to the ground and would go to jail for at least five years. Here they fire at the Police and remain on the streets," he said.

The Police chief said that homicide rate in 2013 was 20.3 in every 100,000 and this has dropped to 18.4, which is significant.

Commenting on the reasons behind crime in the country, he mentioned that the Police had seized 1,610,824 grams of narcotics. But he recalled that a General from the US Southern Command had told the US Congress that the United States had lost the war against drugs, and that the Caribbean route would increasingly be used by traffickers for sending drugs to Europe and the United States.

Castro said that drug trafficking set up shop here a long time ago, and has grown to the point where it generates 75% of crime. "Other organizations like the National Drug Control Agency are not criticized and no one talks about their deficiencies," he complained. He defended the National Police by saying it is one of the law and order institutions that worked the hardest and with the greatest efficiency.

In his opinion one of the best ways to guarantee citizen safety is through education. He said that President Danilo Medina was "planting" schools. "The more education there is, the less crime there will be," he said.

"There are 8 to 12-year-old girls and boys in the barrios who are already addicted to drugs and are potential criminals," said Castro. He also called for more responsible parenting.

Castro called for more funds for the police in the 2015 National Budget. He said that a police agent should not earn RD$6,000 a month. He said that instead the wages should be RD$18,000 or RD$20,000 a month. He said this would enable the police to attract better candidates for police officers. He said the Police would soon have a Police University to train new recruits in coordination with the Ministry of Higher Education (MESYCT).

He announced that he is working to reform the Police by establishing a new culture and creating police agents who are closer to the community, and are less repressive. But he said that criminals often leave the police with no other option than to fight against them and respond in kind.

In his defense of the Police, he said that the force is working proactively and investing in intelligence, especially to combat contract killers and organized crime.

He said there was transparency in procurement and that the processes were monitored by government-appointed oversight committees. He commented that the Police had already been congratulated by the Ministry of Public Administration for being the government entity that has been most open to small and medium-sized business in procurement.

He announced more patrols for Santiago, with 50 new pickups being sent to the province this week. He said they were part of 704 police patrols at the service of the 911 System. He said that 400 more motorcycle patrols would be added in September. Next the Police will add new vehicles for patrols in Puerto Plata, San Cristobal, Peravia (Bani) and Barahona.

The police chief said that the 911 system has reduced murders by 60% in the province of Santo Domingo and Greater Santo Domingo. He also mentioned the increase in equipping the Police including the major donation of motorcycles for the patrols from Taiwan.

Regarding kidnappings, he said they have disappeared because the Police have taken strong measures against this kind of crime.


Jose Miguel Cuevas to be tried in ordinary justice
Prosecutor Jose Miguel Cuevas has resigned after the Prosecutor General Office determined he was guilty of trying to set up a suspected criminal. Cuevas appeared in a video planting a firearm under a bed during a search of the home of a suspected drug trafficker in Ocoa, Erin Manuel Andujar (Pena). No drugs were found during the raid.

He will be judged by the ordinary courts in San Jose de Ocoa after losing his privileged status.


Drug mules network dismantled
The National Drug Control Agency has announced the dismantling of an international network that recruited drug couriers known as "mules" in Colombia, Venezuela and Peru to transport drugs to the Dominican Republic, where local people were contracted to transport the drugs to Europe and the United States. The smugglers swallowed the pellets of drugs that they transported in their stomachs.

As reported by the DNCD, several young men in San Pedro de Macoris were recruited. The DNCD says that an intelligence operation led to the arrest of four Dominicans, including the group leader who was identified as 58-year old Carlos Manuel Martinez Vizcaino (El Viejo).

DNCD spokesman Miguel Medina said that the young men were paid US$700 to US$1,000 per trip, in addition to travel and accommodation expenses.

The young Dominicans would be recruited here and travel to Colombia to receive the drugs in their stomachs. The network would also recruit people who already had visas or US residency to transport the drugs to the US in the same way.

The DNCD said that El Viejo, who lived in Residencial Villa Real II, Altos de Arroyo Hondo, was arrested in La Venta de Herrera on 14 August 2014. He was deported to the DR from the United States on 5 January 2011, after serving a six-year sentence for drug trafficking.

The DNCD said that the mules included Carlos Leandro Colon Arias, an electronic engineer, who was arrested at Las Americas International Airport on 25 May 2014 after returning from Colombia. He was found to have 27 liquid heroin packages weighing 770 grams in his stomach. He expelled them at the Armed Forces Central Hospital in Santo Domingo.

Another mule was identified as 19-year old Johnny Omar Sanchez Giron (Moreno), who was arrested at Las Americas International Airport when attempting to travel to New York City on 17 May 2014 with 34 packages of cocaine weighing 380 grams in his stomach.


Dominican songwriter to be compensated for Shakira song
A New York federal judge has accepted claims by Dominican songwriter Ramon "Arias" Vasquez that his song "Loca con su tiguere" was plagiarized by Shakira who turned it into the hit song "Loca" from her 2010 album, 'Sale el sol.' Hollywood Reporter covered the story.

Loca con su tiguere was inspired by his sister's relationship with a street-tough boyfriend.

The song reached Shakira after another singer, Eduardo Edwin Bello Pou (El Cata), recorded it and made it famous. Arias told the judge he had introduced Bello to the song, but Bello denied this had happened and said that Loca con su tiguere was his song, inspired by his relationship with his ex-wife.

Shakira's version of the song featured Bello singing some sections.

The copyright lawsuit focused mainly on the Spanish version, with the judge finding responsibility with SonyATV Latin and Sony/ATV Discos that distributed the Spanish version of "Loca" in the US.

The case now moves to a trial phase to determine damages to be paid, as reported in Hollywood Reporter. The New York Post reported that the ruling is a big win for plaintiff Mayimba Music, which holds the rights to Vasquez's work and sued Sony Corp of America and affiliates in 2012.



Hamlet at the National Theater
Globe to Globe Hamlet from London presents "Hamlet" by William Shakespeare at the National Theater in Santo Domingo on Saturday, 30 August 2014. The three-hour stage production is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the United Kingdom Embassy in the Dominican Republic.

The play, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, has a cast of 10 talented actors of different nationalities. The performance at the National Theater is part of a world tour by the theatrical company.



Acorde Final at the National Theater
Acorde Final, a play directed by Manuel Chapuseaux, starring Dolly Martinez, Mario Peguero, Patricia Munoz, Patricia Banks and Sergio Cabral, will be performed at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater in Santo Domingo.

Performances start this evening, Thursday 21 August and every night until Sunday the 24th, resuming on the 28th and continuing every night until 31 August 2014. The Thursday to Saturday performances are at 8:30pm, Sundays at 6:30pm

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

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