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Daily News - Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Presidency: Celebrate Christmas!
The Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta declared yesterday, Tuesday 18 November 2014 that the Christmas season has begun and that President Danilo Medina's greatest wish is for people to feel happy and to get what they need in order to enjoy the holidays in peace.

He pointed out that people can improve their living conditions now that fuel prices at gas stations are down, 236,000 new jobs have been created in the free zones, construction and tourism industries, and inflation is low, thanks to disciplined economic management.

He commented that with the implementation of the Extended School Day, 800,000 children are now being provided with lunch and snacks at school. He said that the government aims to increase that figure to two million. The extended school day helps working mothers.

Peralta went on to say that in the last two years the government has taken more than 537,000 people out of poverty, and that the Medina administration's priorities were education, health and employment.

The administrative minister recently announced that the government would pay the Christmas salary on 5 December 2014.


Four new ambassadors
Yesterday, Tuesday 18 November 2014, President Danilo Medina received credentials from four new ambassadors. They are Domingo Santacruz Castro from El Salvador, Carlos Jesus de la Nuez Lopez from Cuba, Pedro Reinaldo Sanchez from Paraguay and Pablo Quintero Luna from Panama.

President Medina was accompanied by Vice President Margarita Cedeno and Minister of Foreign Relations Andres Navarro.


Superintendence of Electricity to Samana
The Superintendence of Electricity has announced that it will intervene in the internal crisis affecting the Luz y Fuerza power company in Las Terrenas, Samana. Differences between company shareholders have caused a major power crisis that has become violent and is affecting business and daily activities in the beach town that depend on the service.

So far there have been two deaths and several acts of vandalism since the unrest revved up on Friday, 14 November 2014, as reported in Diario Libre. The Superintendence announced that a commission would monitor the company's operations. Luz y Fuerza is the leading generator and distributor of power in Las Terrenas.

The conflict has also caused major power cuts in Las Terrenas.




Revised Penal Code passes in Congress
After 14 years of discussion, the National Congress has finally passed changes to the Penal Code. The new Penal Code revokes 51 laws and rulings and has 395 articles that were modified by the Senate and approved by the Deputies.

They include an increase from 30 to 40 years for contracted murder. A person with more than one murder charge could receive a sentence of up to 60 years.

Other key changes are the inclusion of penalties for damage caused by chemical substances, elimination of imprisonment for defamation, and penalizations for pyramid schemes and livestock theft.

Deputies agreed with the changes made in the Senate and voted in favor by 132 to three and eleven abstentions yesterday, Tuesday 18 November 2014.

The bill will now be sent to the Executive Branch.


Supreme Court rejects property restraint order
Yesterday evening, Tuesday 18 November 2014, Supreme Court Judge Frank Soto ordered the lifting of legal restraint orders on transactions with properties identified as belonging to PLD Senator Felix Bautista's company, Rofi SRL.

He said that the Attorney General Office had violated the legal process when placing the orders without a warrant from a judge.

He went on to say that Bautista's fundamental rights as guaranteed by article 50 of the Dominican Constitution had been violated independently of the crimes under investigation.

Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito responded by saying that the culture of impunity persists and that it was irresponsible to lift the notice of warning regarding the sale or transfer on 112 properties belonging to Inmobiliaria Rofi, SRL whose main shareholder is senator Felix Bautista. Bautista is the ruling PLD party's organizational secretary.

He is under investigation by the Attorney General Office for large-scale wealth accumulation during his term as director of the Supervisory Office of Public Works of the Presidency during the Fernandez administrations.


Haitian women in labor smuggled into the country
According to Deputy Demostenes Martinez, Chamber of Deputies Justice Committee chairman, an illegal organized structure that he described as a "mafia" is bringing women into the country to give birth in Dominican hospitals. Most are taken to the Cabral y Baez Public Hospital in Santiago.

He quotes hospital director Rolando Baez and the head of Obstetrics as saying that 26% of births in the hospital were to Haitian women. He said that treating the Haitian mothers cost 74% more than Dominican women because they arrived malnourished, with no pre-natal care, no vaccinations and many are suffering from serious health conditions.

Martinez was speaking on the El Poder de la Tarde television program, yesterday, Tuesday 18 November 2014, following the concerns expressed by Public Health Minister Altagracia Guzman Marcelino and the Dominican Medical Association (CMD) president Pedro Sing, who recently commented that something must be done to reduce the flow of thousands of pregnant women who come over from Haiti to give birth in the Dominican Republic.


Union leader accused of masterminding Metro attack
According to a source at the National Department of Investigations (DNI), the recent arson attack on the Santo Domingo Metro has taken a new turn as the man accused of the crime, 21-year old Franck Kelin Holguin Medina, has apparently confessed that he was paid to carry out the attack by a leading member of a transport union. They say that he was offered one and a half million pesos and legal protection.

Holguin Medina was arrested at the end of last month and said he was a law student. He refused to answer any questions, saying he would only speak in front of a judge and that he was not afraid.

However the authorities say he appeared depressed and has tried to commit suicide.

Investigators are now checking video footage to try and find out who he met with.


Oxfam criticizes inequality
Oxfam's director in the Dominican Republic, Rosa Canete Alonso says that 50% of the country's wealth is concentrated among the 20% richest, and that social inequality is on the increase.

Speaking at Oxfam headquarters in Santo Domingo yesterday, Tuesday 18 November 2014, Canete revealed data from a new study called "Even It Up: Time to end extreme inequality".

She said that the level of inequality in the Dominican Republic is one of the highest in Latin America and it has not been reduced in the last decade. The Oxfam director concluded that solutions needed to be found that focus on social policy and investment in health, education, employment and social security.


Fire at Cibao ball park
A major fire has caused major damages at the Cibao Stadium, home of the Aguilas baseball team in Santiago.

The fire is believed to have started in the offices at the stadium at around 7am this morning, Wednesday 19 November 2014, before spreading to other parts of the stadium, including the second and third level stands. Firefighters struggled to control the fire because of the inaccessibility of some of the affected areas.

Aguilas general manager Winston "Chilote" Llenas says that the fire has caused millions of pesos in losses and that the damage has not yet been fully assessed.

He said, however, that baseball games would continue to be played at the stadium.

According to Llenas, the fire mainly affected the administrative offices, the press area, the area where the trophies were kept, and the area from where the games are transmitted. The firefighters brought the fire under control later in the morning and no deaths or injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire is not yet known.


The Cibao Stadium has the highest levels of attendance in the country.



Create your own jobs!
The executive editor of Diario Libre writes that young people should become entrepreneurs because these days, fewer jobs are to be found. In his page two editorial today, Wednesday 19 November 2014, Adriano Miguel Tejada encourages young people to seek economic independence and concludes: "The era of the job has ended."

He says the newspaper receives countless contributions to the "Letter to the President" section from people looking for jobs. Likewise, he says their human resources department is swamped with applications. He says this is the same for many other companies. "Everywhere one feels the desperation of spending months without finding a job, often in the case of families that they have to support," he writes.

He observes that the educational system should create entrepreneurs. "Not everyone can be Steve Jobs, but all need to be able to experiment with the risks of a company," he writes. He says that getting a job is more comfortable, but professionals need to concentrate on developing their own skills.

Sand Dollars wins in Cairo Film Festival
The Dominican film Sand Dollars (Dolares de arena) has won the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) Award at the 36th Cairo International Film Festival. The film by Israel Cardenas and Laura Amelia Guzman stars Geraldine Chaplin and Yanet Mojica. It tells the story of an older Englishwoman who falls in love with a young Dominican woman who has to struggle to make ends meet.




Colonial Fest starts 21 November
The business community in Santo Domingo's Colonial City comes together again to organize the annual Santo Domingo Colonial Fest, a series of cultural events. The activities are scheduled for the weekend of 21, 22 and 23 November 2014. It is a celebration of art and music with events scheduled from 10am to 1am. Events are planned for the Calle Las Damas, Plaza Espana and the Fortaleza Ozama. There will be a historic walk, music festival, art festival, gastronomic tour, restaurants, lounges and bars and discos offering special deals. There will be clowns and mime artists throughout the Colonial City. The museums will stay open until late.


Stefan Bauer and Jean Carlo Urena concert
The German Embassy in the Dominican Republic, in partnership with the Goethe Institute in Mexico, is organizing a concert "Two Generations n One Music" with Stefan Bauer and emerging Dominican artist Jean Carlo Urena Gonzalez. They will present an evening of jazz, top international hits and contemporary music marked by harmony, improvisation, rhythm and groove. Enjoy the interaction between the vibraphone and the marimba, masterfully played by these two musicians of two different generations and two very different cultural backgrounds. The concert will take place on Tuesday, 25 November at 7pm at the Juan Francisco Garcia Hall of the National Music Conservatory, Av. Cesar Nicolas Penson at the corner with Av. Alma Mater in Santo Domingo. Admission is free. For more information, see http://www.santo-domingo.diplo.de and http://www.stefanbauer.net/videos/

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

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