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Daily News - Tuesday, 18 November 2014

President Dilma Rousseff wants to visit
President Danilo Medina hosted a visit by the president of the Brazilian Lula Institute at his office yesterday, Monday 17 November 2014. Luiz Soares Dulci is visiting the country as the guest of Santiago Senator Julio Cesar Valentin.

Soares Dulci told Medina that Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was interested in visiting the Dominican Republic during Danilo Medina's presidential term to strengthen the good relations between the two countries.

He mentioned the ongoing cooperation initiatives in several areas such as technology, social policy, infrastructure and tourism.

Soares Dulci, who served as Brazil's Presidency Minister from 2003 to 2010, is visiting the Dominican Republic to take part in a seminar on social policy in Santiago. He was a member of the team that designed the social policies that led Brazil to becoming the best performing economy in Latin America and seventh in the world during the Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva government. The conference begins today, Tuesday 18 November at the Centro Leon in Santiago.



Presidential Palace lit up for Christmas
Yesterday, Monday 17 November 2014, the Presidential Palace was lit up for Christmas.

President Medina, First Lady Candida Montilla and Vice President Margarita Cedeno took part in the ceremony.

The Palace itself is lit up and there are thousands of multi-colored light bulbs all over the gardens in the trees, bushes and palm trees as well as an enormous Christmas tree and a Nativity scene.

To remind people of the importance of recycling, there are hundreds of poinsettia plants decorated with plastic bottles collected by the Palace staff.


No stateless people in the country
Minister of Foreign Relations Andres Navarro has responded emphatically to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), saying that there are no stateless people in this country as the international agency is claiming. He went on to say that the government has explained on many occasions that the Constitution and Dominican law do not allow this. He said that UNHCR is referring to Haitians, but this is not possible either due to clauses in the Haitian Constitution.

He said that UNHCR should not ask the country to eradicate statelessness in the country when there is none to eradicate.

He highlighted the actions the Dominican government has taken to uphold and respect human rights.


New meeting with Haiti this week
The Haitian government has announced that the high-level discussions with the Dominican Republic will continue this week in Port-au-Prince. Two weeks ago a bilateral meeting was held in Santo Domingo.

Haitian technical secretariat head Regine Lamur said that the next meeting of the Bilateral Commission would take place on Wednesday 19 November 2014 and Thursday, 20 November in the El Rancho hotel in Petionville. He said there would be six key points to be discussed, including commerce, the border and immigration.

The last meeting was held on 6 November in Santo Domingo and was headed by the Ministers of Industry and Commerce from both countries, Jose del Castillo Savinon and Wilson Laleau. Minister for Haitian Affairs for Overseas Residents Francois Guillaume II and a committee made up of businesspeople from both countries also took part.

According to a joint statement, the Dominican Republic expressed its concerns about the export of poultry products, plastics and cigarettes to Haiti, and Haiti outlined its position on beverages, flour, margarine and soap, as well as transport regulations.


European donors to discuss DR-Haiti talks
The European Union has announced that international organizations will be meeting on 1 and 2 December 2014 to discuss ways of improving their support for the high-level talks between Haiti and the DR that began on 7 January 2014 in the DR. The European Union ambassador in the country, Alberto Navarro, said that the ambassadors of Spain, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands have been convened. Representatives from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Organization of American States have also been invited.

Navarro said that the European Union is the largest donor to bi-national cooperation initiatives between the two countries. "That is why we are organizing a meeting of European donors here in Santo Domingo to see how we can support the high-level talks," he said, as reported in Diario Libre.

He also announced the start of a bi-national program, Green Border (Frontera Verde) in the border province of Elias Pina. The ambassador was speaking to the press yesterday, Monday 17 November 2014 after signing an agreement to support the Chamber of Accounts.


Focus on investments and exports
Jean-Alain Rodriguez, executive director of the Center for Exports and Investment in the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD), says that the country has generated US$20 billion in foreign investment in the last 10 years, US$5 billion of which was in the last two years.

Speaking at a press conference at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Monday 17 November 2014, Rodriguez stated that the country is a leader in regional investment. He attributed this achievement to political stability, judicial guarantees and economic growth.

Rodriguez said that this year he expected exports to total around US$10 billion and that agricultural exports had increased by 18%.

The comments were made during a presentation of three new investment promotion tools - an investment promotion video, an official investment guide and improvements to the cei-rd.gov.do website.



Doing Business in Central America and the DR
The World Bank has just released a study, "Doing Business in Central America and the Dominican Republic 2015" that compares business regulations in the six Central American countries (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama) and the Dominican Republic.

The study focuses on business in the capitals and other cities regarding regulations that affect the three defined stages in the life of a small to medium-size domestic company. The stages are starting a business, dealing with construction permits and registering property. The study also analyzes the indicator of trading across borders, considering seven main ports and three secondary ports. Moreover, it includes a gender perspective based on the study of laws and regulations that impose differential treatment for women.

In regards to where it is easier to do business in Central America and the Dominican Republic, the study found out that there are significant differences between cities in the DR. It observes that the best performing countries in starting a business are the ones that have implemented one-stop shops and online systems. Santo Domingo and Santiago ranked well in starting a business in the region.


Government officials neglect to declare assets
The Chamber of Accounts president Licelott Marte says that only five government officials have complied with Law 311-14 that obliges them to provide personal finance statements. They are the Dominican ambassador in Guatemala, Elic Fernandez, former Minister of Public Health Freddy Hidalgo, former attorney general for the appeals court of the Province of Santo Domingo Matias Minaya Nolasco (retired), the director of the Lands Department (Catastro) Claudio Silver Pena, and the director of the National Institute of Welfare for Judges (Inabima) Yuri Pascual.

Transport business owners move to politics
The three leading transport companies are now seeking to receive part of the millions in funding to political parties distributed by the Central Electoral Board (JCE). This would be in addition to billions in subsidies they have finagled from the government over the years, as reported in Diario Libre.

Antonio Marte of Conatra has created a political party called the Movimiento Primero La Gente (MPG). Diario Libre reports that as of July this year his company has received RD$373.93 million in fuel subsidies. Since December 2007, the organization has received subsidies worth RD$2.34 billion.

Blas Peralta of cargo company Fenatrado has created the Partido de la Esperanza Nacional (PEN). As of July 2014, Fenatrado had received RD$244.2 million in fuel subsidies. Since December 2007 it has received RD$1.6 billion.

Juan Hubieres is already a deputy for the province of Monte Plata and is seeking recognition for his Movimiento Rebelde party. He is the president of the Fenatrano transport union that controls most of the minibuses in Santo Domingo. The company received RD$244.2 million in subsidies since July. From December 2007, he has received RD$1.53 billion in subsidies.

Political analyst Freddy Angel Castro says that the political parties operate to defend business interests. The transport leaders oppose a reduction in public transport fares. Castro commented that this goes against the political aspirations of the transport business owners.

Generous National Budget allotments have turned politics into the most lucrative business in the Dominican Republic.


Cell phone signals being blocked
The Attorney General's office has started a system to block cell phone signals in jails around the country. It has begun with the jail in Azua, which houses more than 600 inmates, and now no calls can be made from there using cell phones.

Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito provided more details about the system saying that Azua was a pilot program that will now be rolled out to other prisons to try and limit the contact of inmates with people on the outside. Several criminal plots involving contract killings, fraud and drug dealing have been uncovered were masterminded from inside the jails.

According to the figures there are currently 25,812 inmates in jail, with 10,182 on remand in traditional jails and 6,641 convicts. The new model prisons have 4,952 on remand and 4,037 convicts.


Former San Jose de Ocoa prosecutor out on bail
A court of appeal in San Cristobal has freed on bail the former prosecutor of Ocoa Miguel Jose Paulino, who is accused of planting evidence in the home of a self-confessed drug dealer.

The terms of his bail are RD$500,000 as a guarantee plus periodic appearances at the public prosecution office. The court said there was no reason to keep him in jail on remand, as he was not a flight risk.

The case made headlines earlier this year when a video showing Paulino planting evidence in the home of an alleged drug dealer in San Jose de Ocoa did the rounds on social media.


Drinking culture starts early
An 18-year old mom has been arrested for posting photographs on Facebook showing her baby daughter drinking from a beer bottle. Santiago prosecutor Luisa Liranzo told Diario Libre that the baby was sent to a Ministry of Public Health home administered by the National Council for Children and Teenagers (Conani). Attorney General Office spokeswoman Tessie Sanchez said that the young woman, Estephany Taveras Estevez was arrested after she posted five photos of herself holding a bottle of beer in her baby girl's mouth on Saturday, 15 November 2014. Together with the images, the young woman commented: "My baby in the afternoon having a drink"

In another photo the baby can be seen with a plastic cup with yellow liquid, presumably beer, and the young mom wrote: "My daughter is not left behind when drinking a beer" (Mi hija nosekeda atraa bebiendose un trago d frias").



Police break up wake protest
The police broke up a group of residents who were blocking the road in Boca Chica yesterday morning, Monday 17 September. The residents were holding a wake for one of the four people who were killed in a traffic accident on Sunday. One person was injured during the protest.

The protestors are asking for a pedestrian bridge and traffic lights to be installed at kilometer 28 where the accident that killed Jeison Cedeno Castillo, 19, Jose Rodolfo Perez, 22 and Silvia Perez, 23 occurred.


Key gang members arrested
The Los Trinitarios gang in Villa Liberacion, Santo Domingo East, has been dealt a blow by the National Police after the arrest of two of their leaders.

Police spokesman Colonel Jacobo Mateo Moquete announced that Fenix Scott Polanco (Fenix) and Jorge Alexis Perez (El Zurdo), believed to be the gang leader and what was described as "head of discipline" have been arrested and their homemade firearms were confiscated.

Mateo Moquete said that the gang is thought to have 27 members who make and distribute homemade weapons known as 'chilenas' for sale to other criminals as well as for their own use.

He added that they were still searching for other gang members with the aim of eliminating the gang completely, saying it was a threat to young people as once they join a gang it is almost impossible to leave.


National Symphony at the Teatro Nacional
The National Symphony Orchestra presents a benefit concert for the Escuela Domingo Savio tomorrow evening, Wednesday, 19 November 2014 at 8:30pm at the Carlos Piantini Hall at the National Theater in Santo Domingo.

Tickets: RD$1,200, RD$700, RD$400 and RD$150.

Ibero-American Children and Youth Theater Festival
Basilio Nova presents the Festival Iberoamericano de Teatro Infantil y Juvenil (FITIJ) at the National Theater in Santo Domingo starting today, Tuesday, 18 November through Sunday, 30 November 2014. The Monday to Friday shows are at 10am, Saturdays and Sundays at 6:30pm. On Tuesday, 25 November only at 6:30pm, on Wednesday, 26 November at 10am and 6:30pm. Tickets: RD$300.

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

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