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Daily News - Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Medina inaugurates more public schools
Yesterday, Tuesday 11 November 2014, President Danilo Medina inaugurated the Federico Augusto Gonzalez School in Villa Tapia, the Caobote School in Pimentel and the Gregorio Rivas High School in Arenoso, Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris) province, as well as the Salome Urena High School in La Guazuma and the Rafael Mercedes School in Tenares, Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo) province. The new schools, which will be running the extended day program, have 70 classrooms and will benefit 2,450 children in both provinces.

Education Minister Carlos Amarante Baret, the director of the Office of Supervising Engineers of Public Works, Miguel Pimentel Kareh, Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta, the Governor of Duarte province, Domingo Payero, deputy Afit Rizek, and Villa Tapia mayor Juan Abud also attended the ceremonies.


National Budget passed
Despite opposition from the legislators representing the Revolutionary Majority Party (PRM), the 2015 National Budget was approved by a majority of the members of the Chamber of Deputies, yesterday, Tuesday 11 November 2014.

The RD$630 billion budget was approved in two consecutive readings with 101 in favor and 50 against, and 12 abstentions.

Last week, the Senate approved the budget.


Taiwan donates 480 motorcycles to 911 system
The Taiwanese Ambassador in the Dominican Republic, Tomas Ping-Fu Hou has delivered 480 motorcycles and their spare parts to be used in the 911 Emergency system.

The new motorcycles will be used by the emergency services of the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET), the National Police and the Ministries of Public Health and Defense.

Vice Minister of the Presidency and 911 spokeswoman, Zoraima Cuello and the executive director of the Presidential Commission for the 911 Integrated Emergency and Security System, Dalvert Adolfo Polanco received the motorcycles at a ceremony held at the San Isidro Air Base yesterday, Tuesday 11 November 2014.

Cuello announced that they had also made the first payment for 80 ambulances that are expected to arrive in December, complementing another donation from Taiwan. In addition 1,300 security cameras will be installed in Santo Domingo in October 2015.



Fare cuts now depend on talks with Conatra
Ground Transport Office (OTTT) director Hector Mojica has invited the Conatra transport union president Antonio Marte to a meeting on Friday, 14 November 2014 to evaluate the operational costs of transport. The government recently announced unilateral fare reductions on the main urban public transport routes to match the recent fuel price reductions. Conatra transporters have rejected the fare reduction on the grounds that mainly gasoline prices have gone down; not diesel or propane, the fuels that most public transporters use.


El Nuevo Diario: Deeper changes needed
El Nuevo Diario's editorial writer today, Wednesday 12 November 2014, observes that it is becoming increasingly evident that Dominican society needs changes that go deeper than what we are seeing. The first priority is to restore confidence in believing it is possible to change the track of the nation.

The changes need to be made to the economic model that perpetuates the differences between rich and poor, and to the belief that political patronage can help people move up from spiritual and material misery. "Too few have too much," states the editorialist. "The fight against corruption needs to be firm to improve government and the message needs to be clear."


Hoy editorial and economists call for change
In 2015 the country will again take on debt to finance the fiscal deficit. This is apparent when seeing the approved budget of RD$449.9 billion, with public spending approved for RD$529.3 billion, writes Hoy newspaper's editorialist. "This is part of a vicious circle that mortgages the country's future and puts us at the mercy of our debtors," comments the writer.

"The country cannot continue to compromise its room for maneuver and its economic future," writes the editorialist. "The obligations created by the debt reduce the availability of funds for public investment in human development projects. Economic growth with high debt becomes a difficult burden and does not provide welfare.

Economists Nelson Suarez and Miguel Ceara Hatton said that the Dominican Republic's debt level has now reached 50% of the GDP.

"What we are doing is taking on debt that threatens the quality of life and the population's future development with funds that we know have been put to dubious use, such as the case of Sun Land and other investments that have been overvalued," said the economists. They called for an audit of how the borrowed money has been spent.



Leonel Fernandez swimming against the current
For many years, Leonel Fernandez held immense power and dominated Dominican politics, writes Rosario Espinal in Hoy newspaper today, Wednesday 12 November 2014. She says that former President Joaquin Balaguer allowed Fernandez to rule from 1996 to 2000, and the then-PLD candidate Danilo Medina was defeated by the PRD's Hipolito Mejia in 2000.

Espinal recalls that when Fernandez returned to the Presidency in 2004, the country was in a profound economic and political crisis and the opposition collapsed. Shortly after his return, the economy began to grow again, and the governing group began to amass wealth, while the political opposition entered into self-destruct mode.

She points out that with all that power, Fernandez undertook a constitutional reform that produced the 2010 Constitution.

The "never again" clause that impeded his return to power was eliminated.

Nevertheless, she writes that the "favorable winds" that Fernandez mentions the as central point of his campaign have been blowing.

She says the reasons are:

First, political power is not infinite, it is based on relations. She says that Fernandez should have retired when Medina became President, but he resisted and became the focus of discontent that was generated by a tax increase at the end of 2012. Since Fernandez was President for eight years, he received the blame for the deficit, and has never recovered.

Second, from 2004-2012, the National Budget was inflated, the public debt increased and public works served as political support. In a country without effective controls in public administration, this became the bounty for enriching the political leadership. She highlights that in countries with corruption and impunity levels as high as in the Dominican Republic, corruption is of the public domain and only generates strong winds when there are schisms in the upper echelons of power. The scale of these schisms will be revealed as the case against Felix Bautista progresses, stagnates or collapses. Meanwhile, Leonel Fernandez is in the eye of the hurricane of corruption together with several of his closest aides.

Third, Danilo Medina's followers and all those who aspire to the PLD presidential candidacy know that the lion to tame is Leonel Fernandez. Medina's high approval levels have toppled the idea that there is only one leader of the PLD. The Danilo followers feel empowered and do not want to give up so easily. The other candidates know that they have to weaken Fernandez in order to compete. Finally, the PLD that was devoted to its leader is now fragmented.

Given these obstacles, Fernandez is moving countercurrent with his presidential aspirations, she writes. "Instead of taking shelter and resetting, he is exposing himself and repeating errors. Even with a collapsed political opposition."


Minou Tavarez Mirabal to set up new party
Deputy Minou Tavarez Mirabal has announced that she is starting a series of discussions with the aim of forming a new political party to run in the 2016 national elections.

She said the main objective is to appeal to citizens who are committed to democracy, support ethical politics and want to fight for a new country.

In an interview at the National Congress yesterday, Tuesday 11 November 2014, she stated that the proposed new party already had some candidates, including Andres Fortunato Victoria, who would be the mayoral candidate for Villa Mella, and Paredes Olivero Feliz who aspired to the same position in Barahona. She did not say if she herself wanted to be a presidential candidate.


Abinader would beat Fernandez
According to a recent poll carried out by the Cibao Economic Center, if Luis Abinader were the presidential candidate for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), he would defeat former President Leonel Fernandez if the latter were to run for the ruling PLD party.

The poll showed that Abinader would obtain 41.8% of the votes, and Fernandez, 39.2%. Miguel Vargas Maldonado of the PRD would get 5.4% and 12.6% would not vote.

The poll was carried out among 2,000 people across the country on 10, 11 and 12 October 2014.

The poll highlights that crime is still the number one concern according to 29.3%, followed by corruption at 16.6%, the high cost of living at 15.6% and unemployment 15.4%.

President Danilo Medina is still highly regarded with 84.7% saying his government has been excellent or good. The 2010 Constitution bans Medina from running for reelection.


ECLAC report on immigration
According to a report by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), around 28.5 million people from the region, 4% of the total population, live in countries outside their country of birth, some 70% of them in the United States.

Examining the figures in more detail reveals that the highest number comes from Mexico (11.8 million), which is around 40% of the total followed by Colombia with almost two million, El Salvador (1.3 million), Cuba (1.2 million) and the Dominican Republic (1 million).

Following the United States, which is by far the most popular destination, comes Spain with 2.4 million immigrants from the region, accounting for 8% of the total.

Immigrants to Latin America and the Caribbean countries total 7.6 million, which adds up to 1.1% of the population of the region.

According to ECLAC, 63% of the immigrants come from outside the region and most live in Argentina, (1.8 million), Venezuela (1.1 million), Mexico (968,000) and Brazil (592,000).

The report highlights that immigration to the region from overseas has increased in recent years, especially from Spain, due to the economic crisis there.

The findings are published in the document "Trends and Patterns in Latin American and Caribbean Migration in 2010 and Challenges for a Regional Agenda".

The report published on Tuesday, 11 November 2014, concluded that emigration to destinations outside the region declined between 2000 and 2010 (based on census data) while intraregional migration flows have grown.


Easier to obtain a US visa
According the consul general of the United States Embassy in the Dominican Republic Sylvia Johnson, starting today, Wednesday 12 November 2014, getting a visa will be easier and less costly.

The main change is that the applicant will need to make two appointments in order to carry out the application process for a visa, but the purchase of a PIN is no longer necessary. The appointments can be made online through the www.ustraveldocs.com webpage or by telephone.

The first appointment will be to attend the new Visa Attention Center, (VAC) at the Galeria 360 mall on John F. Kennedy Avenue. There they will have their photograph and fingerprints taken. The second appointment, if required, will be at the United States Embassy for an interview with a consular official.

The visa application fee will cover all aspects of the visa including the two appointments and the delivery of the passport. There used to be an additional fee for the delivery. Johnson said that the interview process at the embassy would be faster because more applicants can be seen each day and, therefore, waiting time for appointments will be reduced significantly.

Renewals of the same type of visa do not require consular interviews.


Yamilet Pena wins gold in Medellin event
Dominican gymnast Yamilet Pena, who placed 6th in the London Olympics in her event, won a gold medal in the Medellin Challenge Cup (2014 Medellin World Cup) that took place from 7-9 November 2014 in Medellin, Colombia.

Gymnasts from Argentina, Colombia, Croatia, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Portugal and Slovenia also competed in the event. 21-year old Yamilet Pena won in the vault event.


DR to the Central American Games
The Dominican Republic will be represented by a delegation of 446 athletes, 206 women and 240 men at the Central American and Caribbean Sports Games in Veracruz, Mexico from 14 to 30 November 2014. The DR came fifth in the previous games that took place in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico four years ago. The DR placed after Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and Puerto Rico. Cuba did not participate in the 2010 games, but will be represented in Mexico.

This year, Olympic champion Felix Sanchez will be absent and the Dominican Republic's other Olympic medalist Luguelin Santos will only be competing in the 4x400 meter relay, as the individual race did not fit in his training schedule for more important events.

Medals are expected from weightlifter Yudelkis Contreras, the Dominican women's volleyball team, Victor Estrella in tennis and men's basketball and baseball.


Fernandez to speak at OAS event
Former President Leonel Fernandez will be the keynote speaker at the 57th Lecture of the Americas. His talk will be on "The OAS, Democracy and Human Rights" at the Hall of the Americas (17th Street & Constitution Ave. NW) in Washington, D.C. tomorrow, Thursday, 13 November 2014 at 9:30pm.

The welcoming remarks will made be by Ambassador Alonso Quinonez, secretary for external relations of the Organization of American States (OAS). Closing remarks will be by Ambassador Pedro Verges, DR representative at the OAS. For more information and to attend the event, write to [email protected]

There will be a live webcast at www.oas.org


Resiliencia at Nader Art Gallery
Nader Art Gallery presents Resiliencia, a collection of the best work by a group of Dominican woman photographers. 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. Nader Art Gallery, Calle Rafael Augusto Sanchez 22, Piantini, Santo Domingo, (809) 544-0878.

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

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