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Daily News - Tuesday, 25 November 2014

International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women
Today, 25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and yesterday, Monday 24 November 2014, President Danilo Medina expressed his wish that no more families should experience the pain of losing a woman at the hands of her spouse.

He praised the hard work being done by the Ministry of Women and other government departments in their quest to eradicate gender violence.

He mentioned the support of the office of the First Lady, led by his wife Candida Montilla, while highlighting a recent educational guide that was produced to contribute to changing from a culture of violence to peace, not only within families but also in the country as a whole. He went on to say that the key to eradicating domestic violence was education and strengthening family organizations.

The International Day of Violence against Women was established by the United Nations in commemoration of the murder of Dominican national heroines the Mirabal sisters Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa, to be celebrated on 25 November each year.


First Lady inaugurates family center
Yesterday, Monday 24 November 2014, First Lady Candida Montilla inaugurated an Integrated Care Center for Families as part of the events her office is organizing during the month of the family and in commemoration of the International Day of Violence against Women.

Technical and Administrative Coordinators at the First Lady's Office, Martha Rodriguez and Luz Marina Alvarez, accompanied Montilla during the event.

The new unit is coordinated by the Family Schools component of the Intelligent Communities Program that helps members of Dominican families to live in peace and harmony. It is located at the Plaza Galerias del Este on Av. San Vicente de Paul in Santo Domingo East.

Program coordinator Luis Verges congratulated the First Lady on the initiative, saying that it was the first time that the family had become the center of a philosophy to solve problems and prevent any type of psychological problems leading to violence.

He said that the new Center provided therapeutic care, a conflict mediation program and a psycho-educational program.

Verges said they also supported people experiencing problems related to adolescence, substance abuse, domestic violence, anxiety and pregnancy.

Monsignor Victor Masalles from Santo Domingo archdiocese blessed the new center.


Budget director: Discretionary funds axed
The director general of the National Budget, Luis Reyes Santos says that the government has eliminated RD$20 billion in discretional funds that had been used by heads of public institutions. Santos called it a revolution in the transparent management of public resources. He said that now everything has to be accounted for in the same way.

He said that there would be no longer be any autonomous organizations, apart from state security institutions, which could continue using special accounts at their own discretion. He went on to say that society could now be secure in the knowledge that public money would be spent with more quality and more transparency. Reyes said that the government was aware that the institutions did not have the budgets they wanted in order to be able to implement what was needed but the budget was what was possible, not what was ideal.


Duty free gift period to begin
The Customs Office has announced that the Christmas duty-free period for returning Dominicans will start on 1 December 2014. The tax exemption on gifts valued up to US$3,000 will remain in effect until 7 January 2015. The legal base for the exemption is Law 9-96 that had authorized gifts for up to US$1,000.

The exemption is granted to Dominicans living overseas who have not been in the country for the last six months. As the airlines restrict the amount of luggage that can be transported over the holidays, the gifts can also be sent separately to the country and then collected when the visitor arrives.

Last year 1,412 people made the most of the Customs deal and saved themselves over RD$25 million in taxes.



Fitch improves rating for DR
International risk assessment firm Fitch Ratings predicts that real economic growth in the Dominican Republic will be 6.2% in 2014 and 5% in 2015-2016. The global financing rating agency also highlights that the 2015 budget will show a reduction in the deficit of 2.4% for the first time since 2007.

Fitch reports that the country is well placed to make the most of the economic recovery in the United States. The DR will benefit through increases in exports, remittances and incoming tourists.

According to Fitch, the reduction in fuel prices, the increase in gold production and increases in tourism should lead to a further reduction in the deficit to 3.3% of GDP in 2014-2016 compared to an average 6.8% in 2007-2012.

Fitch highlighted that they have now raised the Dominican Republic's rating to B+ from B saying that the country has proved itself able to recover even in difficult economic times and has a diversified structure based on a competitive business climate and medium term investments.


Ground transport fares to decrease
As of tomorrow, Wednesday 26 November 2014, fares for passengers on suburban and inter-urban routes will decrease by between RD$10 and RD$15, especially in public transport vehicles that use fuel that is subsidized by the government.

The agreement was reached at a meeting held yesterday, Monday 24 November 2014, between representatives of the Ground Transport Office (OTTT) and a group of transport unions headed by Conatra president Antonio Marte, Alfredo Pulinario Linares from Mochotran, and Juan Marte of the CNTT.

Although the transport sector representatives are still complaining that they are not being compensated for their losses, they agreed on the price decrease to ease the price the general public had to pay for fares.


Number of Haitians coming to give birth for free doubles
Medical records show that 1,849 Haitian women have given birth in the public hospitals of San Juan de la Maguana and Elias Pina in the first eight months of the year, which is twice as many in the same period in 2013. Ministry of Public Health records report 809 Haitian births for that period in 2013.

As reported in El Nacional, 24 Haitian mothers gave birth at the Alejandro Cabral Public Hospital in San Juan in 2013. This compares to 289 in 2014.

At the Rosa Duarte Public Hospital in Comendador, Elias Pina some 424 births to Haitians were recorded in 2013. In 2014, there were 773.

A total of 63 births to Haitians were registered at the Hondo Valle Public Hospital in 2013. In 2014 this increased to 164.

200 Haitian mothers gave birth at the Banica Hospital in 2013, but in 2014 this had increased to 376.

The medical authorities say they do not know who is transporting pregnant Haitian women to the public hospital emergency rooms to give birth. These health services are free. Doctors complain that the women often arrive with health complications and are difficult to treat because they have not received any antenatal care and do not have medical records.


Some cases against Felix Bautista are archived
The Supreme Court of Justice has ordered the corruption case brought against Felix Bautista by the National Convergence of Lawyers (Cona) to be archived. It also ordered that Supreme Court Judge Esther Agelan Casasnova's decision to bring the case out of the archives should be ignored. The SCJ also agreed to provisionally archive the accusations made by the deputy Attorney General and former director of the Unit for Prosecution of Administrative Corruption (DPCA) Hotoniel Bonilla.

The court, made up of Miriam German Brito, Frank Soto, Alejandro Moscoso Segarra and Hiroito Reyes, agreed to a request from Bautista's defense team, lawyers Abel Rodriguez del Orbe, Marino Feliz Rodriguez, Juan Antonio Delgado and Ramon Emilio Nunez.

Current DPCA head Laura Guerrero deposited a 100,000-page document with all the evidence of the corruption charges against Felix Bautista at the Supreme Court of Justice, and the judge fixed the trial for December 3. The charges are for 11 crimes including money laundering and making money illegally.

The court revoked an order to reopen the cases issued by judge Victor Jose Castellanos.

The cases had been archived by Hotoniel Bonilla.



Major drug haul for DNCD
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) has announced that in a joint operation with the Dominican Armada (Navy) it confiscated 775 packages of what is presumed to be cocaine or heroin being transported on a speedboat by three Venezuelans to Saona Island in the east.

DNCD spokesman Dario Medrano said that the Armada detected the boat once it came into Dominican waters and was intercepted by a specialist DNCD team that had flown to Saona Island on an Air Force helicopter.

Medrano said that the speedboat was equipped with satellite radio and that the packages were inside 31 sacks that had now been taken to DNCD headquarters before being sent to the National Forensic Science Laboratory (INACIF). The Venezuelans are under arrest.

Medrano also informed that the DNCD had arrested two men in Puerto Plata with 10 packages of a white powder, again thought to be cocaine or heroin as well as a car and a pistol.

The arrested men are believed to be members of a drug dealing gang that imports the drugs before exporting them to the United States in false-bottomed suitcases on commercial flights from airports around the country.


Suspect Italian drug dealer refused entry
The National Investigations Department (DNI) recently stopped a 37-year-old Italian citizen named as Lucas Finocchiaro from entering the country after verifying that he is suspected of being a drug dealer.

Finocchiaro was identified by DNI officials and sent back to Italy after he tried to enter the country on a flight from Panama.

Although he has been banned from entering the Dominican Republic since May 2010, DNI officials discovered that he had entered the country several times. The authorities suspect that this occurred with the collaboration of Immigration officials.


Quiet hurricane season coming to an end
According to US meteorologists, the Atlantic hurricane season that ends this Sunday, 30 November 2014 was a relatively quiet one, compared to the Pacific region, where the storms were the most active in two decades. Although 2014 was more eventful than 2013, the two years combined represent the calmest period in the Atlantic since 1995, says US forecaster Gerry Bell.


Dilia Mieses returns to teach merengue, salsa and bachata
Dancesport (New York) certified dance teacher Dilia Mieses is giving salsa, merengue and bachata lessons at the Centro de Orientacion Psicologica y Educativa (Cope) at 1018 Av. Winston Churchill in Santo Domingo (Tel 809 565-0187). The introduction to merengue, salsa and bachata lessons are on Saturday 6 and 13 at 2:30 to 5pm. Salsa I and II classes will be on Tuesday and Thursday 2, 4, 9, 11 and 16 December from 7 to 9pm.

Her most outstanding students when she worked teaching dance in Santo Domingo at Ritmos include Zoe Saldana who has since taken Hollywood by storm after her starring role in Center Stage.

EJazzSon at Fiesta Sunset Jazz
This Friday, 28 November 2014 at 8pm, EJazzSon concert. Free admission. Dominican Fiesta Hotel, Santo Domingo.

Car racing and motorcycle races at Mobil 1 Race Track
The Gran Finale of the Mobil 1 car and motorcycle speed racing of the year will take place this Sunday, 30 November 2014 on the track on Las Americas Expressway, east of Santo Domingo. Drivers from Puerto Rico, Cuba, Haiti, the US and Panama are coming for the event.


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

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