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Daily News - Wednesday, 22 October 2014

234 new public school classrooms
The Medina administration inaugurated 15 new public schools located in Montecristi, Santiago Rodriguez, Sanchez Ramirez Monsenor Nouel, Puerto Plata and Hermanas Mirabal yesterday, Tuesday 21 October 2014, at a cost of over RD$471 million. They will be used by 7,910 students, and 234 classrooms will be able to run the extended school day.


Official day of mourning for Oscar de la Renta
President Danilo Medina has declared today, Wednesday 22 October 2014 an official day of mourning for Oscar de la Renta, the Dominican fashion designer who died on Monday, 20 October 2014. The national flag will be flown at half-mast on public buildings across the country.

President Medina also designated a special group that will represent the Dominican government at the funeral ceremonies, made up of First Lady Candida Montilla, Culture Minister Jose Antonio Rodriguez and the Dominican ambassador to the US, Anibal De Castro.

The President expressed his sorrow at De la Renta's death and said that the whole country, as well as the fashion world, was in mourning. He said that De la Renta was irreplaceable.

The President also sent a letter to his widow, Anne France Engelhard de la Renta, expressing his condolences on behalf of himself, First Lady Candida Montilla and the whole of the government. He also sent a message to his son Moises de la Renta and other family members.





Deputies give up toy fund
Chamber of Deputies president Abel Martinez has announced the elimination of a RD$75 million fund that they had assigned to legislators for purchasing toys for distributing to their constituents on Three Kings Day (6 January). This is the second extra allocation the deputies have had to relinquish following criticism that the many extras would be better spent on public hospitals that are operating in deficit.

The deputies recently agreed to cut another slush fund (known as the "barrilito") of RD$114 million allocated to legislators for distribution to their constituents for social works.

The deputies will still receive allocations for Mothers Day, Easter sweet beans and Christmas gifts, along with other perks that come with the job.

Some legislators were in favor of the decision although others said it should have been discussed and voted on by all, rather than a unilateral decision by Martinez.


Casabe for school breakfasts
The National Council for Agricultural and Forestry Research (CONIAF) is helping communities improve their production of cassava bread (casabe) so it can be included in the school breakfasts. Traditionally, schoolchildren have been given cupcakes and wheat bread, but the cassava bread alternative is much more nutritious and helps small industry in the community. Coniaf reported that a workshop was given to cassava bread-producing groups in San Juan de la Maguana. Peanut butter and fruit marmalade will be added to the cassava bread.


Big government reflected in high payroll
An editorial in Hoy newspaper today, Wednesday 22 October 2014, comments that political patronage continues to prevail. The newspaper says that in a country where the government constantly needs to borrow in order to fund the national budget, unjustified increases in the public payroll are just unforgivable indolence.

The editorialist comments that from August 2012 to August 2014 the Ministry of Education added 20.5% more staff, Public Works added 13.6%, Industry & Commerce 189.9% and Public Health 9.2%, just to name a few.

The editorialist also observes that aside from the increase in the number of employees, there were many cases where wages were assigned above the average for the post.

"During those same two years, strategically important public institutions like the Judicial Branch and the Central Electoral Board received insufficient budgetary allocations and the public hospitals entered into crisis as a result of the deterioration of their infrastructure and lack of funds for supplies.

Dominican Republic to be leading shoe manufacturer
General Shoes from Taiwan is opening a factory in the Santiago Free Zone. A US$10 million investment over a period of three years, the new installation will employ 3,000 people.

General Shoes president Robert Tsai met with President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Tuesday 21 October 2014, and promised to help attract more foreign capital and turn the Dominican Republic into the Caribbean's leading shoe manufacturing location.

Tsai said that the country was positioned to become the next China and Vietnam as far as the shoe industry is concerned.

Industry and Commerce Minister Jose del Castillo Savinon said that the new factory would make large numbers of international brand shoes and was part of the work the Dominican government is doing to encourage investment in the sector.

He announced that with support from the Taiwanese industry and government, they would work to set up a National Shoe Institute to train Dominican operators and improve shoe-manufacturing processes. The Taiwanese factory will produce at least three million pairs of shoes a year. In the first year, after an investment of US$2 million, the first factory will produce one million pairs of shoes for the US and European markets. Five manufacturing plants will be installed in the Santiago free zone over a period of three years.

The team from General Shoes was accompanied by the Taiwanese ambassador in the country, Tomas Ping-Fu, economic advisor at the embassy, Jose Luis Lin, as well as Rex Deming, Andrew Blight, Jose Diaz, Dave Magness, Jay Tauer, Edilberto Rodriguez, James Yao, John Galli, Ralph Amabile and Ming Tung.

The Dominican government was also represented by Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta, National Free Zones Council executive director Luisa Fernandez, Free Zones Council promotion head Silvia Cochon and Dominican Free Zones Association president Aquiles Bermudez.



Ban on travelers from countries with Ebola
The Dominican Republic has joined the list of countries that have closed their doors to anyone who has visited a country that the World Health Organization has declared as having Ebola in the last 30 days.

Public Health Minister Altagracia Guzman Marcelino made the announcement at a press conference yesterday, Tuesday 21 October 2014, accompanied by national security coordinators and a representative from the Emergency Operations Center.

Defense Minister Lieutenant General Maximo William Munoz Delgado also attended the press conference, along with Migration Director Jose Ricardo Taveras, the Civil Aviation director, airport authorities and others.

In addition RD$70 million will be transferred into the Ministry of Public Health account to set up a national procedure for starting Ebola prevention and training campaigns.


Felix Bautista case delayed again
Supreme Court judge Frank Soto has withdrawn from hearing the case about the property company Rofi, represented by shareholder Senator Felix Bautista.

He took the decision after being disqualified by the president of the National Lawyers' Grouping (CONA), Junio Ramirez, who said that Soto had met with Bautista's lawyers. He also claimed that like Bautista, Judge Soto was a member of the PLD Central Committee.

The case has therefore been adjourned until the Supreme Court of Justice appoints another judge or decides to let Soto hear the case.

Soto said that Ramirez was speculating that he had met with the Senator's lawyers on Monday 20 October 2014, saying that he was in Cedimat for health reasons, and then had dinner with his wife and went home.

As far as the allegations that he was a member of the PLD, he said that he formally resigned from the Central Committee in 2009, when he entered the prosecution service, and asked the PLD to amend their records, as the list of members still includes people who have died.

The request to disqualify the judge was made after the Senator's lawyers, Juan Antonio Delgado, Marino Feliz Rodriguez, Ramon Nunez and Pedro Balbuena asked the court to dismiss CONA, the Citizen's Movement against Corruption (C-3) and the Dominican Alliance Against Corruption (Adocco) saying that they were not part of the process.


Priest Wojciech charged for sex abuse in Poland
The case of the Polish priest who served in the community of Juncalito, Santiago for several years has been referred to a district court in Wolomin, 12 miles east of Warsaw, according to the public prosecutor's office in the Polish capital.

As reported, the priest stands accused of 10 offences, eight of which relate to sexual abuse of boys under the age of 15.

"Two acts were committed in 2000-2001 in Poland, the others at various times over the years 2009-2013 in the Dominican Republic," said Przemyslaw Nowak, spokesman for the Polish judiciary.

He said that the priest is also accused of possession of pornographic material involving minors, a firearm and ammunition without the necessary permits.

"We have ample evidence in this case, including the testimonies of over 100 witnesses, and over a dozen reports by experts," he noted.

Father Wojciech Gil could face 15 years in jail for the case.

This is the second high profile child abuse case connecting Poland and the DR, with the first involving the former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic, Josef Wesolowski whose case is being heard in the Vatican.


More yolas stopped
Over the last couple of days, members of Naval Intelligence have prevented three illegal journeys to Puerto Rico and arrested 46 people including 36 Haitians.

Naval spokesman Captain Daniel de la Rosa Mendez said that the boats were intercepted in Celedonio in Miches, Boca de Yuma in Higuey and the third in Nagua.

Along with the 36 Haitians, nine Dominicans and an Ecuadorian man who had arrived in the country as a tourist were arrested. All of the foreigners were handed over to the immigration authorities and the Dominicans were questioned before appearing in court.


Drugs confiscated in Haina Port
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) has confiscated 73 packages of a substance believed to be either cocaine or heroin at the port of Haina, inside a container on a ship that arrived from Cartagena, Colombia.

DNCD spokesman, Dario Medrano said that the case was being investigated to see who was responsible as there was a supposed network of drug dealers, both Colombian and Dominican who were using ships from South America to bring drugs into the country.

The operation was carried out by the DNCD together with the Tactical Division for Sensitive Investigations (DITIS), in coordination with the Information and Coordination Center and the K-9 unit.


Women photographers exhibit at Blue Mall
The 4th floor gallery at Santo Domingo's Blue Mall presents Resiliencia, a collection of the best work by a group of Dominican woman photographers, opening on 4 November 2014.

Images by Alejandra Oliver, Angelita Casals, Ariadna Canaan, Carmen Herrera Von Wrangell, Carmen Ines Bencosme, Decia Bodden, Dennise Morales Pou, Gabriela Ortega, Guadalupe Casasnovas, Ileana Montero, Margo Moral, Mariajose Garcia, Marjorie Ariza, Mary Rosa Jimenez Amblard, Pamelia Matos, Silvia Pesquera, Valerie Le Moustre and Victoria Thomen will be on show.

Oktoberfest at the Centro Dominico-Aleman
Germans and guests are invited to enjoy Oktoberfest in Santo Domingo at the Centro Dominico-Aleman, the German community center, at Calle Isabel la Catolica 212, opposite the Telecommunications Museum in the Colonial City.

The event is scheduled for Saturday 25 October 2014 at 10am.

German food, German music and lots of fun-loving German people.

For more information, call Stephan Weinzierl at Tel 829 548-1112.

Talk on Maria Callas
Maestro Eduardo Villanueva (writer, actor, choreographer, critic and lyrical singer) will be lecturing at 7pm on diva Maria Callas: "The Spell of Maria Callas: Myth or Reality" as part of the Cultural Saturdays organized by Segunda Casa, first floor, Torre AIRD, Av. Sarasota 21, Santo Domingo. The contribution is RD$400. Tel 809 563-1040 or email [email protected] or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/segundacasa.do/info

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

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