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Daily News - Monday, 20 October 2014

NY Governor Andrew Cuomo visits
President Danilo Medina met with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Presidential Palace on Friday, 17 October 2014. Cuomo's visit to the Dominican Republic, his first, was reportedly planned as part of his re-election campaign, given the significant links between the Dominican Republic and New York. New York City is the second largest "Dominican" city based on the number of Dominican inhabitants. Elections in New York will be held on 4 November 2014.

During his visit, Cuomo announced that the Dominican Republic could benefit from Global New York, a planned state import-export program aimed at developing markets for New York businesses. Cuomo expressed a desire to see more joint ventures or trade agreements, reflecting the importance of the Dominican community in New York.

The program is aimed at expanding trade between New York companies and foreign countries and will be led by former Morgan Stanley CEO John J. Mack who is now a senior adviser to Morgan Stanley and an economic development adviser to New York state.

Cuomo said that he discussed a range of issues with President Danilo Medina, from economic and educational aspects for early childhood to university education.

Administrative Minister Jose Ramon Peralta, Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo and Foreign Relations Minister Andres Navarro were present at the meeting. Cuomo also toured the Presidential Palace during the visit.



Public Health: sector overhaul in process
In an interview with El Dia published today, Monday 20 October 2014, the recently appointed Minister of Public Health Altagracia Guzman Marcelino announced an overhaul of the public health system. With a focus on increasing revenue, decentralizing health providers and increasing prevention plans nationwide, she said the process would require the whole nation's cooperation.

The overhaul includes two plans: collective health, which is the Ministry's responsibility, and backing of the Regional Health Service (SRS) that is entrusted with providing a range of services including primary care, diagnostic, therapeutic, rehabilitation and preventive medicine services.


Progress on naturalization and legalization plans
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) civil registries director Cesar Feliz Feliz is reminding foreigners that Naturalization Law 169-14 allows a period of 90 days for the regularization process that expires on 23 October 2014.

The JCE says that of the 60,869 foreigners with Dominican IDs in the civil registry, 7,501 have been able to renew their IDs, of an initial list of 13,281 who have been audited, made up of people with 18 nationalities.

Feliz says that 80,000 Haitians have applied to regularize their status under the National Foreigner Legalization Plan.

Of this total, 199 cases of identity fraud have been detected among the Haitian applicants seeking to regularize their status. The JCE says computer systems that matched facial and fingerprint data showed they already had Dominican IDs after having adopted names of Dominican origin. Dominican IDs will not be granted in proven cases of identity fraud.


Government adds 20% more employees, payroll up 52.5% in two years
The government payroll has increased by 52.5% in the first two years of the Medina administration, as reported in Diario Libre. The Central Government payroll has 440,898 employees as of August 2014. This is 20.5% more than in August 2012, at the start of the Medina administration. This means the Medina administration has added 75,138 new employees. When retired government employees are included, the total is 607,530 people receiving government wages every month.

Diario Libre says the government paid RD$5.15 billion in payroll in August 2012, which had increased to RD$7.85 by August 2014.

Diario Libre says the General Controller Office (CGR) provided the information after a request was made through the Office of Free Access to Public Information. The General Controller Office said it did not have access to the payroll information for employees in the city municipalities or decentralized government bodies.


Senators receive RD$1.84 billion slush fund in past five years
The 32 Dominican senators have received RD$1.84 billion to distribute to their constituents since 2009 as part of the Social Management Fund, better known as the "barrilito." The Congress created the fund by law to eliminate the many non-governmental organizations that the legislators had created for their "charity" works.

The fund was created in the Senate and Chamber of Deputies by then presidents of the houses, Reinaldo Pared Perez and Julio Cesar Valentin. The legislators receive assignments ranging from RD$420,000 to RD$900,000 per month, depending on the number of inhabitants in their province.

As reported, current Senate president Cristina Lizardo, senators Reinaldo Pared Perez of the National District, Julio Cesar Valentin of Santiago and Tommy Galan of San Cristobal receive the largest sums for representing the provinces with the largest populations. Each has received amounts ranging from RD$49 million to RD$51 million over the past five years.

Others receiving large allocations are senator Felix Bautista of San Juan de la Maguana who received RD$31 million, Jose Maria Sosa of San Pedro de Macoris RD$33.6 million, Rafael Calderon of Azua RD$29 million, Eddy Mateo of Barahona RD$28 million, Aristides Victora Yeb of Maria Trinidad Sanchez RD$25 million, Euclides Sanchez of La Vega RD$42 million, Prim Pujals of Samana RD$27 million and Wilton Guerrero of Peravia RD$31 million.

Amilcar Romero of Duarte RD$37 million, Charlie Mariotti of Monte Plata RD$33 million, Heinz Vieluf of Montecristi RD$28 million, Ruben Dario Cruz of Hato Mayor RD$26 million, Antonio Cruz Torres of Santiago Rodriguez RD$24 million, Luis Rene Canaan of Salcedo RD$28 million, Felix Nova of Monsenor Nouel RD$30 million, and Manuel Guichardo of Valverde RD$28 million.

Carlos Castillo of San Jose de Ocoa RD$22 million, Sonia Mateo of Dajabon RD$23 million, Orlando Mercedes of Independencia RD$22.5 million, Yvonne Chain Sasso of El Seibo RD$22 million, Dionis Sanchez of Pedernales RD$23 million and Manuel Paula of Bahoruco, RD$23 million.

Amable Aristy Castro of La Altagracia RD$28 million, and Felix Vasquez of Sanchez Ramirez RD$30 million.

As reported, the senators do not want the funds assigned to the Social Management Fund to be diverted to increase the Public Health Ministry budget, as called for in a social media campaign. The deputies agreed to relinquish just RD$50,000 a month for the cause, or around RD$114 million a year.

Each senator receives a base wage of RD$125,000 plus RD$50,000 in expenses, RD$25,000 in per diems and RD$3,500 for each work session attended.


Cargo truckers' conflict costly to industry
The row between two truckers' associations that service the Multimodal Caucedo Port, which began on Friday, 17 October 2014 is proving costly for cargo owners. The port charges cargo owners 10% in penalties for the storage of uncleared cargo or about US$120 per container per day. Some 350 merchandise freight containers were affected. Normally, 200 freight containers are dispatched every day through the port, the largest in the country.

Federacion Nacional de Transporte Dominicano (Fenatrado) is in dispute with the Sindicato de Transporte de Furgones y Afines de Boca Chica, which also wants control of cargo.

AIRD (Dominican Republic Industrial Association) vice president Circe Almanzar, shippers association president Teddy Heinsen and business spokesman Eduardo de Castro all called for the authorities to end the monopolistic practices by the cargo transporters that affect commerce, competitiveness and consumers.


FAI: Unmask the transport unions
Industrial Associations Federation (FAI) president Ramon Porfirio Baez says that the Dominican Republic has the most expensive cargo transportation in the region. He believes that trucker unions should become formal companies, pay taxes, social security and be subject to labor severance clauses.

"First I think their masks must be removed: they are not unions, but profit-making business associations," he commented on the Esferas de Poder show on Santo Domingo TV.



Tornado causes millions in farm losses in Villa Tapia
A tornado in Villa Tapia, in the north-central province of Hermanas Mirabal has damaged more than 900 tareas (56.25 hectares) of farmland planted with plantains causing RD$7 million in losses to farmers in El Coco Uno, Dos, Coco Centro and Las Jayas. The tornado, which hit the area on Thursday, 16 October 2014, also damaged avocado trees, cassava (yuca) plantations and tamarind trees. Several houses lost their zinc roofs, but no deaths or injuries were reported.


Woman accused of extortion in child abuse case
La Romana prosecutors have convinced a court to impose coercive measures, including an exit ban and regular court appearances, on a mother who allegedly received half a million pesos to allow her underage daughter to have sexual relations with an adult. The girl became pregnant.

La Romana prosecutors, under judge Richard Guilamo Cedano and judge Andrea Familia of the Gender Violence Unit say the mother received RD$500,000 to desist from penal action against a man named as Felito Paredes. He also received coercive measures for having sex with a minor. A check he had written out to the woman was presented as proof, as well as court statements where the woman said she was aware of her daughter's relationship with Felito Paredes and the damage the relationship had caused the victim.

The prosecutors established that the mother had extorted Paredes.

Prosecutor Guilamo Cedano said that he had orders from Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito to prosecute parents or guardians who accept payment in return for desisting from penal action for sexual abuse of minors.

The mother is accused of violating Arts. 60 and 355 of the Penal Code on seduction, complicity and sexual abuse of minors.


Dominicana Moda opens at Hotel Embajador
Indian-American fashion designer Naeem Khan is the special guest at Dominicana Moda 2014, the leading fashion week in the Dominican Republic. The event opens today, Monday 20 October 2014 at the Hotel Embajador in Santo Domingo and will continue through 25 October. Khan, who will present the closing runway show, is known for his romantic designs marked by embroidery. The event is being sponsored by the Ministry of Tourism.

Outstanding Dominican-based designers also exhibiting on the Dominicana Moda runway this year are:

Leonel Lirio, Giannina Azar, Jose Jhan, Moises Quesada, Jacqueline Then, Sissy Bermudez, Larissa Salcedo, Carlos de Moya, Luis Dominguez, Karlos Nunez, Jusef Sanchez, Arcadio Diaz, Yndra Rodriguez, Keyter Estevez, Angie Polanco and Miguel Genao. The brands Camila, Blue Country, Cosita Linda, Cayena, Chacabanas Dominicanas, Pamplemousse, and Mango will be holding runway shows, too. Children's shows include fashion by Blue Island by Madelaine Morel, Rayuela Kids and Vittoria by CDM.

This year's emerging designers are: Mayle Vasquez, Ingrid Recio, Michelle Ortiz, David Dovente, Michelle Cruz, Maria Fernanda, and Estefania Lozada.

The program also includes a Chef a la Moda runway show with Rafael Rivero.

Runway shows have a cost, but the general public can attend the exhibition hall where more than 50 fashion-related companies will be exhibiting.



See Naeem Khan's designs at: http://www.style.com/slideshows/fashion-shows/spring-2014-ready-to-wear/naeem-khan/collection/1

In the Heights opens 7 November at Bellas Artes
The first Spanish version of the Tony Award-winning musical "In the Heights" that brings the characters of New York City's Dominican Washington Heights neighborhood to life will premiere in Santo Domingo on 7, 8, 9 November and 14, 15, 16 November at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8:30pm, Sunday performances at 6:30pm.

In the Heights is the story of a bodega owner from the Dominican Republic who chases the American Dream in New York. It premiered on Broadway in 2008 and played for 1,214 shows before closing in early 2011.

The Dominican production is by Amaury Sanchez under the direction of Waddys Jaquez. Choreography is by Isadora Bruno.

Javier Grullon will star as Usnavi in a cast that also includes Diana Pou as Vanessa, Hector Anibal Estrella as Benny, Laura Lebron as Nina, Jose Lora Checho as Kevin Rosario, Dolly Garcia as Camila Rosario, Sonia Moreno as Abuela Claudia, Diomary la Mala as Daniela, Karla Fatule as Carla, Ian Castillo as Sony, Alejandro Moscoso as Piragua Guy and JJ Sanchez as Graffiti Pete.

In the Heights also won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations (Alex Lacamoire and Bill Sherman).


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

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