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Daily News - Friday, 21 November 2014

Call 911 when it gets too noisy
The 911 Emergency System is swiftly earning a reputation for good and professional service. Now Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo has announced it will also help in cases of excessive noise. Santo Domingo residents will be able to call in with noise-related complaints as of 15 January 2015. According to Montalvo, the measure is aimed at improving quality of life for Dominicans.


Haiti-DR bilateral talks continue in Port-au-Prince
The Sixth Meeting of the Bilateral Dominican-Haitian Commission ended in Port-au-Prince yesterday, Thursday 20 November 2014 with the signing of a Joint Statement that calls for the implementation of several agreements and progress toward other commitments between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Among the agreements, the Ministry of Defense of the DR and the Haitian National Police agreed to carry out joint operations to fight organized crime, violence and international crime, with an emphasis on drug trafficking, people smuggling and trafficking, trafficking in weapons, environmental damage, smuggling of goods, vehicle and livestock theft, and kidnapping. As part of the statement, the parties agreed on measures for promoting investment in farming.

Around 40 government entities from Haiti and the Dominican Republic participated in the technical talks underway in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince as part of the Sixth Meeting of the Bilateral Dominican-Haitian Commission. The meetings took place Thursday 20 November 2014 and were headed by the Foreign Minister of Haiti Duly Brutus. In his opening remarks, Brutus stated that Haiti's development objectives were compatible with those of the Dominican Republic.

This initiative has had the support of the European Union in both countries since its start," said Brutus. "Let us advance toward having the tools ready to motorize new economic, social, commercial and migratory life between both countries," he added.

The agenda includes 26 topics for discussion in the areas of trade and investment, immigration, border matters, health, agriculture, environment, transport, communication, education, sports and culture.

The event also has the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).



The IMF and government spending
In an op-ed piece in Diario Libre today, Friday 21 November 2014, former Central Bank general manager, economist Pedro Silverio Alvarez comments that when the International Monetary Fund "in its politically correct language" urges the government to "improve its fiscal consolidation" or increase taxes to reduce the deficit so it does not have to reduce capital spending, it ignores the current levels of expenditure.

He comments that from January to September 2014 the Medina administration added 25,000 employees to the central government payroll. "If the government had frozen the payroll, even without firing anyone, to the level of 2012 when taking possession, it would have meant RD$35 billion in savings in 2015," he writes. He continues: "Nevertheless, the IMF prefers to ignore that reality and instead suggests increasing taxation so that the government may need to borrow less from abroad. "

Silverio stresses that the IMF does not mention the local debt the Medina government has taken on. "Put in another way, the important thing is for the government to meet its foreign commitments. Issuing debt n both of the central government and the Central Bank n is not a problem that seems to concern the IMF mission.

He criticizes the IMF for omitting to mention the need for the government, including autonomous and decentralized organizations, to have a single debt issuer, which in this case would be the Ministry of Hacienda as has been recommended by international organizations.

Silverio comments that an increase in taxation does not guarantee that the debt will be more sustainable, and will only increase the government's appetite for taking on additional debt.

"A taxation increase will only guarantee that the middle class will continue to be hard-pressed due to the high tax burden that it will inevitably have to bear. "That is why we have the middle class that has made the least progress over the past decade in Latin America."




Women hold purse strings in 54% of households
The recent Central Bank poll on economic and financial culture in the Dominican Republic reveals that women are the main decision-makers when it comes to finances in 54% of households. A total of 2,313 households were visited in August 2014 for the First Survey of the Dominican Republic's Economic and Financial Culture 2014. The poll found that 25.8% of heads of household had university degrees, while 37.6% only had primary education. The poll showed that 96.1% of households had an average income of RD$19.409 a month, while 59.7% received under RD$18,000 a month, as reported in Diario Libre.

Venezuela confirms PetroCaribe benefits will continue
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Rafael Ramirez has allayed concerns that the economic problems in his country would bring an end to the Venezuelan-backed PetroCaribe oil deal of which the Dominican Republic is a leading beneficiary. He made the comments speaking during the 14th Meeting of the Council of Energy Ministers of Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries held in Caracas yesterday, Thursday 20 November 2014. PetroCaribe allows regional countries to fund petrol purchases with long-term financing.


Angelina Jolie and Desmond Tutu in stateless campaign
Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie are backing an ambitious global campaign announced on Tuesday, 18 November 2014 to call for an end the plight of at least 10 million stateless people with no country to call home. The campaign is funded by the UN Refugee Agency.

UNHCR argues there are stateless persons living in the Dominican Republic, but Foreign Minister Andres Navarro has denied this.

The Haitian Constitution recognizes blood right whereby Haitians are Haitians if they are born to a Haitian parent regardless where they are born. The problem has been caused by the Haitian authorities delaying the issue of legal documents to Haitians in the Dominican Republic and even to people born in Haiti where it is a costly procedure.

The Dominican government has been very proactive in helping poor people in the Dominican Republic to legalize their status. The Constitutional Court called for the implementation of the National Regularization Plan whereby foreigners can legalize their status for free, but need to present documentation from their country of origin in the cases of people born to foreigners in the Dominican Republic. A complementary law, Law 169-14 also facilitates naturalization. Both the plan and the law were created to resolve the legal limbo affecting many people living in the Dominican Republic. But the laws depend on the cooperation of the Haitian government in providing documentation to its nationals.


Dominican Ambassador accuses RFKennedy Center of bullying
Dominican Ambassador in Washington, Anibal de Castro has published his response addressed to Kerry Kennedy and Santiago Canton of the Robert Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights in Washington following an article published in Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Ambassador Castro expresses his concern over what he calls the "campaign of misinformation and fear-mongering waged by RFK Partners to the detriment of the Dominican Republic and its people". The ambassador writes: "This negative crusade is being pursued with a vehemence akin to animosity, insistently disregarding the realities on the ground and the constructive and far-reaching measures put in place the Dominican Government to reduce the vulnerability of undocumented migrants in the country."

The ambassador responds to the argument that the DR is disregarding its international obligations by contravening the decisions of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the issue of acquisition of citizenship, claims the DR should ignore the 2013 Constitutional Court on citizenship eligibility, and allegations that actions taken by Dominicans that affect the immigrant population are motivated by racism.

Ambassador De Castro explains once again that Haitian immigrants are not stateless because Art. 11.2 of the Haitian Constitution of 1983 explicitly states that all those born of Haitian parents are Haitian citizens.

De Castro argues that the case of the Haitians is not unique in the world. He says that no one has argued that Dominicans are stateless when they are denied citizenship of their place of birth in several countries around the world.

"Your repeated accusations that the Dominican Republic is leaving the descendants of Haitians stateless by not granting them Dominican citizenship are not only false, but inflammatory; these other countries are not at the receiving end of international bullying aimed at forcing them to disrupt the rule of law in deference to external political pressure," he writes.

Regarding accusations of racism, De Castro writes:

"In fact, Dominicans and Haitians live side by side with surprisingly little friction, considering the significant scale of the immigration into the Dominican Republic in the last few decades. Despite the pressures this has put on Dominican public services.... There is no groundswell of opposition to the solidarity consistently expressed through these actions.... Beyond the open door principle of public service providers, there are innumerable facilities and prerogatives available to immigrants, not least in terms of easy access to the health system and the labor courts.

"Please consider this letter an open invitation for you to exchange obsession for cooperation, shortsightedness for a wider vision of the realities of Hispaniola, and to join forces with us in the relentless work of constructing a true democracy for Dominicans and for anyone living under our hospitality. This is a mission that I am sure Robert F. Kennedy would have wholeheartedly endorsed."


Orca observed in La Romana waters
A killer whale (Orcinus orca) has been spotted in the waters south of the Dominican Republic off the coast of La Romana. On a dolphin-watching trip organized by the Fundemar foundation that supports dolphins in their natural habitat in the region, one of the researchers on board used his smart phone to record 15 seconds of footage of the whale and her calf in Dominican waters. Scientists say that despite their name, wild killer whales are not considered a threat to humans. They got their name because they are sometimes known to kill other whales as well as hunting in packs, so they are also known as the "Wolves of the Sea."

Fisherman turned dolphin researcher, 27-year old Alido Luis Baez, said that his father, an experienced fisherman, had told him he had spotted an orca at sea many years ago.



Attorney General: returning drug dealer will not enjoy all his wealth
Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito says that property confiscated from Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara Diaz (Maconi), an accomplice of drug-ring leader Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo will not be returned, as reported in Diario Libre. He said the national authorities are exploring the possibility of leveling other accusations against Maconi as he cannot be tried on the same charges for which he served a five-year sentence in Puerto Rico. Anti-Asset Laundering director German Miranda Villalona said that they have prepared a case file with drug trafficking-related asset laundering accusations.

"What was confiscated, was confiscated," said Dominguez Brito when journalists asked him if Maconi could enjoy his wealth upon returning to the DR.

Dominguez Brito highlighted the importance of Congress passing the Bill for the Extinction of Domain that would serve as a main crime-fighting tool. He said that drug traffickers often put their assets in the names of third parties who cannot justify their wealth.

Dominguez Brito also said that a pre-agreement for changes in the United States Extradition Treaty has been reached and both governments need to ratify it so it can be sent to both congresses.



30 years for murder of elderly couple in Evaristo Morales
The First Collegiate National District Court has imposed a 30-year sentence on the niece of a maid who worked in a home in Evaristo Morales neighborhood and a man accused of murdering her employers, the elderly couple who lived in the house, on 13 November 2012. Judges Felipe Molina, Delio German and Gregorio Bautista found Josefina de los Santos Valenzuela (La Sophy) and Roberto Quezada guilty of murdering 82-year old Jose Vicioso Vendrell and 83-year old Teresa Maria Matos and their maids Josefina Suero Contreras and Lourdes Valenzuela. The motive was theft. The robbers took RD$30,000, US$13,000 a gold ring and bracelet and revolver.

The judges ordered the man to serve his sentence in La Victoria jail, while the woman was sent to Najayo-Mujeres. The niece had been told that the couple had cash in the house.


Jail for 18-year old who gave beer to her baby
Children bringing up children... 18-year old Estephany Taveras Estevez who posted photos of herself on Facebook giving beer to her baby daughter was sent to three months preventive custody, as reported in Diario Libre.

Lawyers and legislators commented to Diario Libre that the decision was too severe. The president of the Chamber of Deputies Abel Martinez said that instead, the family should have been helped. He said instead of condemning the mother, the state should ask "what has it done for young women like Estephany who become pregnant when they are children, when the system should guide and advise them, guarantee their education and basic services," he said. Lawyer Mario Fernandez believes that the judge's decision was excessive and abusive. The family says that Estephany was just playing with her daughter and that her error was to post the photo on Facebook. Neighbor Maria Rosario said that the young woman should be released so that she can complete her high school studies. She studies in the evenings at the Liceo Nocturno Emma Balaguer. Sociologist Xiomara Garcia, a counselor for the Women's Support Group in Santiago, told Diario Libre that this is one of many cases that occur every day in poor urban and rural areas where parents boast about giving alcohol to their children. Sociologist Manuela Vargas told Diario Libre that it is a serious citizen education problem. Mildred Mata, a social worker at the Attorney General Office said that the baby was being sent to live with an aunt who said she was willing to raise her.


Trucker killed in Multimodal Port cargo conflict
The dispute over which association of truckers gets the privilege of transporting the cargo at the Multimodal Caucedo Port continues. Yesterday, Thursday, 20 November 2014 one trucker was killed and two were injured when rival groups used their guns to settle their differences. The truckers are challenging the right to the cargo, while maintaining an oligopoly that has been strongly disputed by the cargo owners over the years. The cargo owners accuse the government of being lenient with the trucking association owners.

The victim was identified as 51-year old Miguel Felix, who was affiliated to Fenatrado, the largest truckers' association. Diario Libre quoted witnesses as saying that an argument between Joel Garcia, the Fenatrado representative at the port and Mario Vandepool, led to the shooting.

Awards for Dominican-made films
The Dominican Movie Industry Professionals Association (Adocine) announced the winners of the annual cinema awards at the closing of the 8th Funglode Film Festival yesterday evening, Thursday 20 November 2014. The La Silla Awards are in their second year. Codigo Paz, directed by Pedro Urrutia was the winner of nine awards. It won best film, best script (Luis Arambilet), best producer (Carlos German), best director (Pedro Urrutia), best male and female supporting roles (Hector Anibal and Nashla Bogaert), best make up (Ana Maria Urrutia), best sound design, and best editing (Jose Delio Ares and Pedro Urrutia).

The second most awarded film was De pez en cuando that received honors as best comedy, best lead actor (Luis Jose German), best soundtrack (Mozart La Para and Nitido en Nintendo) and best costumes (Gina Terc).

Biodegradable by Juan Basanta received three awards, including best art direction (Rafi Mercado), best visual effects (Jonathan Menendez) and best cinematography (Claudio Chea).

The best actress award went to Melymel for "Locas y atrapadas". The best short film went to Jean Gabriel Guerra for "A tiro limpio" and the best documentary was won by "Blanco" by Ricky Glusky.

The 9th Funglode Film Festival was announced for 10 to 18 November 2015.

Juan Luis Guerra CD is No. 1 in sales
In its first few weeks of sales, the 12th album "Everything has its Time" (Todo tiene su hora) by Latin music trailblazer Juan Luis Guerra has reached the No. 1 slot on the Tropical Airplay Chart.

In an interview with Billboard, Guerra said:

"I always seek excellence and do everything I can to achieve that. I did the same in this album. I sing to society, to our political system here in the Dominican Republic. I sing to the Lord Jesus in "El Capitan" (The Captain). But it's a romantic album above all else. And all the love songs are for my wife, Nora."

The single, "Tus besos" (Your Kisses), has spent four weeks at No. 1 on the Latin Airplay chart, also has unusual instrumentation.


Jarabe de Palo on 22 November
Hard Rock Cafe at the Blue Mall in Santo Domingo presents Spanish singer Pau Dones and his Jarabe de Palo in concert tomorrow evening, Saturday, 22 November 2014. Tickets are RD$1,795 general admission and RD$2,705 VIP. Tickets are for sale at ticketexpress.com.do and at Hard Rock. Tel 809 686-7771.

Jarabe de Palo's greatest hits include "La flaca", "Bonito" and "Depende."



Funglode Film Festival extended for a week
See the films "Amor indigo", "Dior and I", "Leviatan," "Las anafabetas" "Sueno de invierno," "El capital humano," "Musaranas," "Tom at the Farm," "Coming Home, "Two Days One Night" and "Welcome to New York" during the extended days of the 9th Funglode Film Festival. The festival will continue through 26 November at the Palacio del Cine at Santo Domingo's Blue Mall. Local films "Despertar", "Amin Abel" and "Tu y yo" will also be screened.

Festival director Omar de la Cruz says that the selection includes the films in most popular demand.



Sly & the Latin Bars at Fiesta Sunset Jazz
On Friday, 21 November 2014 at 8pm, Sly & the Latin Bars will be playing the Rhythms of the Night concert. Free admission. Dominican Fiesta Hotel, Santo Domingo.

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

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