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Daily News - Monday, 01 December 2014

Medina vetoes the Penal Code on abortion articles
The Presidency has returned the revised Penal Code to the Chamber of Deputies for consideration in the next session set for tomorrow, Tuesday, 2 December 2014. The President vetoed Articles 107, 108, 109 and 110.

The Dominican Medical Association had asked for the bill to be observed on the grounds that it did not provide any guarantees for the mother's wellbeing. The revised Penal Code outlaws abortion in any circumstance.

As approved in Congress, the Penal Code did not establish any exceptional situations in which a woman's fundamental rights to life and health would be respected.

According to the President, the bill also compromised respect for human dignity, physical and moral welfare, which are deemed as authentic situations in which doctors should act and be exempt from penalties.

In a letter sent to the Chamber of Deputies, the President said that the Dominican Republic is among the countries in the region with the highest maternal mortality rate, and this is attributed to the effect of widespread unsafe backstreet abortions.

The President believes that if what is established in the Penal Code is maintained, doctors would be restricted from preserving the mother's health to avoid facing stiff penalties, including jail sentences mandated by the Penal Code.


President Medina tours Ozama River
The iconic Ozama River is seriously affected by pollution from industrial and human waste. A private sector and government initiative seeks to reduce pollution in time to save the river. President Danilo Medina toured the river by boat yesterday, Sunday 30 November 2014, accompanied by Father Manuel Ruiz, who is active in the Life on the Ozama project. President Medina recently also visited the Lengua Azul barrio on the south bank of the river, together with Minister of Agriculture Angel Estevez and Fr. Ruiz.


DR to head The Mesoamerica Project
The Dominican Republic will preside The Mesoamerica Project from 1 January 2015 to 30 June 2015. The Mesoamerica Project is an initiative originally supported by former President Vicente Fox of Mexico in 2001. The DR has been a member since 29 June 2009. It represents a high-level political space where the cooperation, development and integration efforts of 10 countries (Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Dominican Republic) are defined by facilitating the management and implementation of projects aimed at improving the quality of life of the region's inhabitants.

In the Dominican Republic, projects are coordinated with the ministries of Environment, Public Health, Industry & Commerce, Energy & Mines, Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel), Civil Defense, Customs and Center for Export & Investment (CEI-RD).

The executive director of the Mesoamerica Project Leyla Zelaya recently visited Santo Domingo where she met with the Dominican project coordinators at the Ministry of Foreign Relations.

The Mesoamerica Project receives support from donors including the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Latin American Development Bank (CAF). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerica_Project


Dominican pedophilia cases to be tried in Poland
Efforts to try Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse in the Dominican Republic have been stepped up with Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito's visit to Poland last week.

At a press conference with Polish prosecutors in Warsaw he said that Polish prosecutors have made progress in the process of representing four minors from the Dominican Republic involved in the case against Father Wojciech Waldemar (Alberto Gil) who served as parish priest in Juncalito, in the province of Santiago. Santiago prosecutor Luisa Liranzo also traveled to Poland to help with preparations for the case.

The case could be heard in Poland in February 2015. Gil is also accused of sexual abuse of minors from Poland. Polish prosecutor Andrej Seremet spoke of the cooperation received from Dominican prosecutors.

The parents of the four minors have presented charges. Lawyers Radoslaw Domalerowski and Marta Chmielewska will represent the Dominican minors.

A bilateral agreement will be drawn up for future situations.

At the time of the presentation of the first accusations against Father Gil, the head of the Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic, Vatican ambassador Josef Wesolowski, who is also from Poland, was also accused of sexual abuse.

The child abuse cases were first revealed in an investigative report by a local Santiago TV station, followed by a national TV report by leading Dominican investigative journalist Nuria Piera. Once the TV programs were aired, both priests left the country.

The cases coincide with the escalating world interest in ending the Catholic Church's protection of sexual abuse by the priesthood. A new Hollywood film Spotlight will portray early cases of clerical sexual abuse and the cover-up by ecclesiastic authorities investigated by Boston Globe reporters in 2001.


Investor confidence improves
The Business Investment Climate Index (Indice de Clima Empresarial n ICE) increased from 54.7% in the second quarter to 55.9 for the third quarter 2014.


Airport to cities security enhanced during the holidays
Minister of Defense and Armed Forces Chief Major General Maximiliano William Munoz Delgado has announced enhanced security measures for travelers with valuables on the main roads to and from the country's airports. Specialized Corps for Airport Security (CESAC) head Aracenis Castillo de la Cruz announced the measures after a recent meeting to coordinate the initiative, which includes increased intelligence measures. Passengers arriving with valuables are suspect to have been selected as targets by insiders as they pass through the airport.

The coordinating team includes Police Prevention Division director General Ney A. Bautista Almonte, Police eastern region director General Hector Garcia Cuevas, Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) director Pablo Arturo Pujols, and Ministry of Public Works Military and Police Commission director Estanislao Gonel Regalado, along with representatives of the intelligence, drug control and migration departments and administrators of local airports.


Politicians in key posts
Today's Diario Libre editorial, Monday 1 December 2014, focuses on the consequences of the government appointing politicians to key financial supervisory posts. The column mentions the cases of the Superintendence of Insurance under Euclides Gutierrez Felix and the Superintendence of Banks under Luis Armando Asuncion Alvarez.

Last week, in what should have been a thing of the past, the Banco Peravia collapsed, the foreign owners left the country and depositors were affected by the crash.

Adriano Miguel Tejada writes that the Superintendence of Insurance admitted that the company had been intervened in August, but the situation was not made public. In the case of Banco Peravia, the authorities' slow reaction time allowed the people in charge of the bank to leave the country and evade justice.

"One of the serious problems of supervision in our country is that it places the interests of the system and the high-ranking executives above those of the depositors. In some cases, due to the links of complicity that are created, and in others for believing that they are doing a service to the system by hiding realities that will become public sooner or later," he writes.

In his conclusion, he states: "It goes against common sense to place politicians in positions of that sort of responsibility. They do not think as supervisors, but as politicians."

Asuncion Alvarez is a graduate of the O&M University Accounting School. He lists being a member of the ruling PLD party Central Committee on his biography on the Superintendence of Banks website. Superintendent of Insurance Euclides Gutierrez Felix is a member of the PLD political and central committees.

El Dia reports that the Banco Peravia case is at a standstill while National District prosecutors await a technical report by the Superintendence of Bank. Several complaints against bank president Jose Luis Santoro Castellano and vice president Gabriel Arturo Jimenez Aray have been already placed at the prosecutor's office. Both men have left the country.




DR ranks high in English proficiency
The Dominican Republic is ranked as a country with moderate proficiency in the Education First English Proficiency Index, the world's largest ranking of English skills, but its 23rd place of 63 countries and territories puts it only second to Argentina in Latin America. In the executive summary of the index, the analysts state: "There are strong correlations between English proficiency and income, quality of life, ease of doing business, Internet usage, and years of schooling. These correlations are remarkably stable over time."




DR ends in fifth place in Central American and Caribbean Games
The most celebrated win in the Central American and Caribbean Games that took place in Veracruz, Mexico over the past two weeks was probably that of the Dominican women's softball team, which won the gold after defeating Cuba 6-5. The Dominican men's volleyball team defeated Puerto Rico on the last day, Sunday 30 November 2014, 25-22, 23-25, 23-25, 25-22 and 24-22.

Cuba, which did not take part in the Mayaguez, Puerto Rico games in 2010 on the grounds of insufficient security measures for the team, was the winner of this year's championship. The DR came fifth with 77 medals (20 gold, 34 silver and 23 bronze). Skeet and shooting, boxing, karate (6 gold medals), taekwondo, judo, women and men's volleyball, men's basketball, women's softball, hockey, made the difference for the DR to pass Puerto Rico and Guatemala for fifth place on the final medals table.

Cuba won with 254 medals (including 123 gold), followed by Mexico with 332 medals (115 gold), Colombia 223 medals (Including 70 gold), Venezuela with 245 medals (56 gold). Puerto Rico was sixth with 84 medals (15 gold), followed by Guatemala with 77 medals (15 gold), and Bahamas with eight medals, including four golds.

The next regional commitment is the Toronto Pan-American Games to take place 10-26 July 2015 in Canada.




Red poinsettias mean Christmas
Popular seasonal decorations in family homes and at festive events, red poinsettias are one of the main symbols of Christmas in the Dominican Republic. A report in Diario Libre says that around 150,000-200,000 plants are produced every year, and are sold for prices ranging from RD$150 to RD$800 depending on size. On average sales reap RD$67 million, according to engineer Bernabe Manon, speaking on the TV program "Cuidando el Huerto."

Manon said there are around 10-15 commercial growers. The plant is cultivated at Rancho Arriba in San Jose de Ocoa, and there are also many farms in Hato Mayor.

Inmaculada Bobea of Viveros Inmaculada recommends that after purchase, a poinsettia should be transplanted to a permanent pot and placed away from drafts. The plant should be watered every two days to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. When kept indoors, the plant should receive sufficient natural light.


Frank Reyes and Sergio Vargas at Jet Set
Tonight, Monday, 1 December, bachata, merengue and bolero stars Frank Reyes and Sergio Vargas will be playing a joint concert at the Jet Set Club on Santo Domingo's Av. Independencia starting at 10pm. The show promises to include their greatest hits.

Diario Libre's 3D show
If you are passing by the Diario Libre media company HQ on Santo Domingo's Abraham Lincoln Avenue, be sure to look out for the 3D video projection mapping display that creates an optical illusion and animates and playfully reworks the building with outstanding results. The display will be on show from 6:30pm to midnight throughout the month of December.

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

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