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Daily News - Wednesday, 08 October 2014

Spanish headhunter to seek talent in DR
President Danilo Medina met with Esperanza Aguirre and Luis Conde of Seeliger y Conde at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Tuesday 7 October 2014. Seeliger y Conde is described as the leading Spanish corporate executive talent search company. Aguirre is also a former president of the Madrid Autonomous Community.

The Presidency reports that they discussed current Latin American and Spanish issues and the President received a first hand description of the work of the headhunting company that is opening an office in Puerto Rico that will also cover the Dominican Republic.


Baby deaths to be investigated
President Danilo Medina says he is appalled by the deaths of 11 babies in the Robert Reid Cabral hospital over the weekend of 4-5 October 2014.

Presidential spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena said that the President was in a state of shock and conveyed his condolences to the parents of the deceased children. In order to establish exactly what happened, the President has set up a committee made up of Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito, National Investigations Department (DNI) director Sigfrido Pared Perez, National Police chief Major General Manuel Castro Castillo and National Health Insurance (SENASA) director Altagracia Guzman Marcelino.

Rodriguez Marchena added that if the report revealed any negligence then sanctions would follow.

He said that the President had deliberately omitted the Minister of Public Health, Freddy Hidalgo so that the committee would be impartial.

According to staff at the hospital, the babies died due to a failure in the integrated oxygen supply system and the breakdown of elevators meaning that oxygen tanks could not be provided for them, but this was denied by hospital director Rosa Nieves Paulino.


Dominican Republic economy to grow more than world average
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just released its "World Economic Outlook", which forecasts global growth to average 3.3% in 2014 - unchanged from 2013 - and to rise to 3.8% in 2015 that is weaker growth than expected. The IMF says that the outlook for 2014 reflects setbacks to economic activity in the advanced economies during the first half of 2014, and a less optimistic outlook for several emerging market economies. Olivier Blanchard, Economic Counselor and head of the IMF's Research Department, explains that in advanced economies, the legacies of the pre-crisis boom and the subsequent recession, notably high debt burdens and unemployment, still cast a shadow on the recovery, and low potential growth ahead is a concern. As a result, several emerging markets will need to also adjust to lower potential growth.

The IMF reports that growth in general for Latin America and the Caribbean would be on average 1.3% for 2014 and 2.2% for 2015. Growth for the DR, boosted by high government spending and borrowing, is set at 4-5% in 2015.


Is the DR doing what the World Bank warns against?
The Dominican Republic is doing just what the World Bank advises countries in Latin America to avoid.

The latest semiannual World Bank report, "Inequality in a Lower Growth Latin America" forecasts a deceleration in general for the region. Panama leads with an impressive 6.6% growth for the year and Bolivia, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guyana, Nicaragua, Paraguay, and Suriname are expected to grow by more than 4%, well above the regional average.

The World Bank warns that there is a temptation for countries to take the path of least resistance, keeping aggregate consumption and government spending high and borrowing to finance the associated fiscal and external deficits.

It adds that this path might be encouraged by highly liquid international markets seeking higher yields.

The World Bank economists warn, however, that the short-run gains would carry a high price: lower long-run growth due to a more vulnerable balance of payments or an uncompetitive real exchange rate."


US says DR made minimal advances in eradication of child labor
According to the US Government annual assessment of child exploitation, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica and El Salvador made notable progress towards eradicating child labor in 2013, but only minimal improvements have been made in Uruguay, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The 958-page "2013 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor" is published by the US Department of Labor and assesses the prevalence of child labor in 143 countries that benefit from preferential trade terms with the United States.

At a press conference, US Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said that more needed to be done to stop child labor, and he mentioned the progress made in Chile where they have approved a law giving free education to children up to the age of 18 and have almost tripled the inspections looking for children working.

The report was critical of the Dominican Republic, which they described as making minimal advances, especially in education opportunities for certain population groups, mainly children of Haitian descent.



New paternity law proposed
A judge at the Superior Electoral Court and a former National District prosecutor, Jose Manuel Hernandez Peguero, has delivered a proposal to Senate president Cristina Lizardo Mezquita to introduce a Responsible Paternity law that will benefit more than 100,000 children who are born to single parents every year.

Hernandez Peguero said that if the bill is approved, single mothers would be able to use a simple, fast and obligatory procedure to register the fathers of their children on their birth certificates and the fathers would thus have to comply with their obligation to pay child support and help and care for their children.

He highlighted that in order to have simple and effective access to the law, 158 judges would have to be trained to hear the paternity recognition cases, as opposed to the current situation where the 37 Courts for Children and Adolescents hear the cases.

He went on to say that he was aware of the problems experienced by Dominican women in ensuring their children's rights, and proposed that judges should now decide on paternity, the level of child support and visitation rights to save mothers having to go to different courts several times.

The proposal also allows for the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONANI) to design and implement awareness campaigns to explain to the public about the procedures to be undertaken and the mothers' rights to know the identity of the father, their registration on birth certificates, and the promotion of proper fatherhood and responsibility with regards to raising children.


DR to train drug dogs for Latin America
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) inaugurated new facilities at the Regional Canine Training Center in Bonao yesterday, Tuesday 7 October 2014. The unit began in 1998 when the US donated 15 trained dogs.

The center will train dogs for detecting drugs, explosives and money. The US Southern Command contributed US$1.5 million for the construction of the center as part of its support for combating drug trafficking. The Office for International Narcotics Affairs of the US Department of State contributed an additional US$300,000 for the purchase of 40 dogs.

The center will train handlers and dogs for operations in Latin America. It is located at Km. 63 of the Duarte Highway and has added capacity for 24 additional dogs to the 66 dog total. It also has housing facilities for Dominican and foreign dog handlers in training at the center.

US Ambassador James Brewster attended the event together with the DNCD president, Major General Julio Cesar Souffront.



Visa procedures to change at the US Embassy
The US Embassy in Santo Domingo will implement several changes to the visa application process, effective from 12 November 2014.

Specifically, applicants for B-2 Tourist Visas will need to follow a multiple-step process:

(i) they will first have to go to the US Embassy's webpage and complete a Form DS-160 online, (ii) they will then have to complete an online profile with the Visa Assistance Center (VAC), (iii) they will then pay the visa application fee at Banco Popular, (iv) they will then go to the VAC to present qualifying documentation and complete biometrics, and (v) applicants will then complete an in-person interview at the US Embassy where they will be informed whether or not their application was approved.

Applicants will no longer have to pay to schedule a visa appointment, which currently costs US$16 if made by phone and $10 when made on online.

This initiative is expected to be extended to other visa categories starting 1 January 2015.


Violent deaths reported in Santiago
The bodies of four people were discovered in Santiago province yesterday, Tuesday 7 October 2014, bringing the total to eight violent deaths in the province in a week.

The body of an unidentified woman was found in a garbage dump in Rafey, decapitated and with her limbs mutilated. The case is under investigation by assistant prosecutor Miguel Ramos and the police.

The authorities also found the body of a private security guard, Cristian Antonio Vargas, aged 29, who had been shot in the chest. He was discovered in a parking lot near Leon Jimenes Park in Santiago.

The body of a Haitian man was found in the Ulises Francisco Espaillat canal. He had been beaten and stabbed, but he was not identified, as he was not carrying any documentation.

Finally Kelvin Antonio Garcia died after being shot by persons unknown.

Throughout Santiago, the population is becoming concerned at the escalating nature of the violence in the city.

Five days ago a man shot and killed his former partner and then committed suicide in Los Guandules de Hato del Yaque in Santiago. On Sunday night, 5 October, another woman was killed by her former partner in Las Charcas.


Denials over child kidnapping for organs
The National Institute of Transplant Coordination (INCORT) has issued a statement in response to recent rumors that children are being kidnapped for their organs. The Institute states that the situation is impossible given the complex process of organ donation and transplant.

INCORT director Dr. Fernando Morales Billini explained that carrying out a transplant was a highly complex process involving more than 30 specialists for a kidney transplant, more than 80 for a heart transplant and around 100 in the case of a liver transplant. He said that every so often, myths and legends appeared about the kidnapping of children and adults to take their organs for transplant purposes but they really were urban legends that generate fear in society and have a negative effect on people who need a transplant in order to survive.

Morales Billini said that in order for someone to donate their organs they need to have died in an Intensive Care Unit and be connected to a life support machine, to enable their organs to continue to receive oxygen after they have died. This in itself means that it is impossible to use any organs obtained by any other means.

He went on to say that there also needed to be compatibility between the donor and recipient and a complex network of highly qualified surgeons and the right mode of transport for the organs. INCORT Transplant Coordinator Dr. Celia Perez said that organ donation was an act of love, and that people should have trust and confidence in the process, which will allow thousands of Dominicans who need a transplant to improve their quality of life and continue to live, thanks to the Dominican families who had agreed to donate their organs after death. She appealed to the media to stop publishing information that only leads to confusion.


Press can attend senator Bautista hearing
Supreme Court of Justice judge Frank Soto says that the press can attend the hearing when Inmobiliaria Rofi, SRL, owned by Senator Felix Bautista (PLD-San Juan de la Maguana) asks for the judicial blocking on his property to be lifted.

Bautista did not want the press to be present but Laura Guerrero, director of the Specialized Prosecution Service for Administrative Corruption, did not oppose the decision, saying that the media could see the transparency of the process in the fight against corruption. Bautista is the organizational secretary of the ruling PLD political party and is best known as one of the most prominent rags-to-riches cases in the Dominican Republic. During most of the Leonel Fernandez administration he was the head of the Presidential Office of Supervisory Public Works that operates as a quasi-Ministry of Public Works. Earlier, the judiciary ordered the definite filing of a case that would have been heard for corruption in the use of public funds under his management.

The new hearing is scheduled for next Tuesday, 14 October 2014.

The lead story in today's Diario Libre, Wednesday 8 October 2014, reveals that the Attorney General has blocked the titles of 155 properties said to be owned by Bautista through several companies and estimated at RD$3 billion.




DR to play China, Brazil in FIVB World Championship
For the first time in history the Dominican Republic women's national volleyball team has made it to the Round of Six in the FIVB World Championship, the leading volleyball tournament outside of the Olympic Games.

Ranked 10th in the world into the tournament, the DR is the underdog and will face Brazil (ranked 1st) and China (ranked 5th). The DR's first game in the final round robin is on Thursday, 9 October 2014 against China at 11:30am (Dominican time). On Friday, 10 October 2014 it will play against Brazil at 11:30am (Dominican time). The top two teams of the round will advance.

Coach Marcos Kwiek commented on the team's satisfaction at having made it so far. "We have a difficult group, but at this level all teams are difficult and it is not easy for any team," he said. The other teams playing in the Group of Six are Russia, the United States and Italy.

FIVB reports that the achievement has "Dominicans stepping on the toes of giants."

In a press release, the leading world volleyball organization reports:

"The Dominican Republic, a tiny country in the middle of the Caribbean Sea with a population of roughly 10 million people living in 48,442 square kilometers, represents Lilliput while China, Russia, United States, Brazil and Italy are the giants of the story."



Dominican wins bodybuilding contest
Ana Rita Contreras of the Dominican Republic has won the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness Central American and Caribbean Championship that took place from 2-4 October 2014 in St. Martin. Some 300 athletes from 28 countries competed in the event. Contreras, an architect by profession, is the first Dominican to be crowned IFBB Bikini Pro. In 2009 she won the title of Miss World Dominican Republic.


Fall National Symphony Orchestra concert
Jose Antonio Molina conducts the National Symphony Orchestra in its fourth fall concert on Wednesday, 8 October 2014. Guest soloist is violinist Luis August Martinez.

On the program:

Samuel Barber: Adagio for strings, Op 11


Bela Bartok: Violin Concert No. 1, Sz 36


Johannes Brahms: Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op 73


The concerts are part of the National Symphony Orchestra's fall season with six concerts in September, October and November 2014. Tickets are for sale at the National Theater box office (Tel 809 687-0504) or can be purchased by calling the National Symphony Orchestra foundation at Tel 809 532-6600 or writing to [email protected] Ticket prices range from RD$1,000 to RD$200. Tel: 809-687-0504 ext. 2213-2215

Carlos Sanchez at Hard Rock Cafe
Stand up comedian Carlos Sanchez will be at Hard Rock Cafe at the Blue Mall at 9pm this evening, Wednesday 8 October 2014 with his new show, Carlos Sanchez, unplugged. Tickets are RD$800 and can be purchased in advance from Uepa Tickets or at the Hard Rock Cafe.

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

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