Revamped foreign policy in 2015|
President Danilo Medina headed a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Relations yesterday, Monday 1 December 2014 to hear an overview of a Plan to Re-launch Dominican Foreign Policy and the new changes underway at the Ministry of Foreign Relations. President Medina appointed a new minister, Andres Navarro, in 16 September 2014, after accepting the resignation of Carlos Morales Troncoso. Morales would die on 25 October 2014. He had served as Minister of Foreign Relations from 2004 to 2014.
After the hour-long meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Relations, it was announced that the details plan would be presented at the Diplomacy Forum in January 2015 when diplomats from around the world are scheduled to meet in Santo Domingo.
At the press conference, the Foreign Minister and the President said that from the middle of next year Dominicans would be able to feel prouder of, and have more confidence in Dominican foreign policy.
They said that we were living through a historic moment as far as foreign relations are concerned and this new way forward would be more proactive and institutional.
The new plan includes proposals to change the political, commercial, consular, cultural and geographic areas and will create new departments within the Ministry
Petrocaribe debt sold to Goldman Sachs|
Have no doubt, the Dominican Republic's largest foreign debt, the bilateral debt owed to Venezuela and taken on by governments under enticing financial conditions through PetroCaribe, now has to be paid. Venezuela has sold the debt to Goldman Sachs. As reported in El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish affiliate of the Miami Herald newspaper, multinational investment banking firm Goldman Sachs has "generously" offered to buy (from Venezuela) US$4 billion worth of oil debt owed by the Dominican Republic for 41% of its value. "This is a tremendous bargain for Goldman," said one source, as Venezuela is "liquidating the few assets it has, trying to find the cash flow, cash that it does not have."
Presidency to help clean up Duarte Avenue|
National District Mayor Roberto Salcedo says that next year the government and local authorities will start the second phase of cleaning up the area around the city's Duarte Avenue as part of the rebuilding of the main markets in the capital. The city government has looked the other way and allowed a major market of informal vendors to develop at the corner of Duarte and Paris avenues, as well as on the sidewalks along Duarte Avenue.
He said that he would be having a meeting today, Tuesday 2 December 2014 at the Presidential Palace to talk about improving the area between Duarte and Paris avenues. This initiative will have President Medina's support. Salcedo went on to say that this area was one of the major challenges facing the city of Santo Domingo
President Medina congratulates Uruguay's new president|
President Danilo Medina sent his congratulations to the new President-elect of Uruguay, Tabare Vazquez Rosas, yesterday, Monday 1 December 2014. Vazquez won the presidential election in the second round vote. He ran for the Popular Front coalition that won the election for the third consecutive time.
Medina commented on the excellent bilateral relations that exist between the Dominican Republic and Uruguay and said he hoped for more commercial and cultural exchanges.
Small business awards|
The government has presented awards to 15 small and medium-sized businesses for their excellent management and good practices. At an event held at the Presidential Palace yesterday, Monday 1 December 2014, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce represented by the Deputy Ministry of Small and Medium-sized Businesses (Pymes) headed by Ignacio Mendez, ended a week dedicated to the sector with an awards ceremony.
In the innovation category, Packaging Solutions S.R.L. received an award, in the excellence category, Laboratorios Franja S.R.L. and the Specialized Security Service, USP S.R.L. received prizes.
In the industrial category, Impresora Conadex and Rattan Dominicano were both recognized.
Zaura Muniz Pezzotti representing Terra Verde received an award for Social Initiatives, Tourism was awarded to Xiomara Fortuna for Rancho el Campeche, Industrial Business went to Leonor Garcia for Serviconfe and the Technology Business award went to Maurice de Castro for AccountingLive.
The Business Career award went to Gian Luis Pereyra of Kikaboni, and Hector Delgado of Panaderia Rico took the Pymes award.
Boxes filled with goods for Christmas|
The director of the Presidential Social Plan, Cesar Prieto and government spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena have announced plans to distribute 900,000 Christmas boxes and 200,000 bags of food to poor people so they may enjoy a traditional Dominican Christmas dinner.
The distributions will start on 19 December in the country's ten southern provinces, then on Saturday 20 December in the 14 provinces of the Cibao region and Sunday 21 in the six provinces in the east and Santo Domingo and the National District.
The boxes will contain rice, beans, sugar, flour, oil, tomato paste, spaghetti, oatmeal, Christmas sweets, pigeon peas and additional products such as powdered milk, cassava bread and jelly.
Prieto said that 25% of the products had been bought from small and medium-sized businesses.
Dominican tobacco claims right to branding in Australia|
The Dominican Republic continues to lobby for the removal of the order for tobacco products to be sold in generic packaging in Australia. Director General of Foreign Trade Katrina Naut, who is representing the Dominican Republic in the case, said that the measure has not reduced smoking in Australia, which was the original reason for introducing plain packaging.
Naut told the press: "By stripping our brands and trademarks from packaging, the policy precludes our tobacco producers from differentiating their premium products from competitors in the marketplace, which has been extremely detrimental to our industry.
"It is our hope that this case will be swiftly resolved at the WTO before other countries consider similar policies that have no impact on public health goals while at the same time putting the livelihood of our economy at risk."
The position of the Dominican Republic is that local producers have made enormous investments n including in intellectual property n to turn the Dominican Republic from a simple tobacco leaf exporter into one of the world's leading premium tobacco products exporters. Industry sources say this is a significant achievement for a small developing economy and has contributed to its economic growth.
The plain packaging, nonetheless, puts this success at risk, as producers can no longer signal their premium quality to tobacco consumers, according to Naut.
The case has garnered global interest as its outcome could impact intellectual property protection for a wide range of consumer goods. A record number of WTO members (35 countries and the European Union) are observers of the disputes. Similar restrictions to trademarks are already being considered as means of curbing consumption of a variety of products around the world.
More money needed to fight AIDS|
According to the director of the National Council for HIV and AIDS (CONAVIHSIDA) Victor Terrero, the Dominican Republic has the second highest number of cases in Latin America and the Caribbean, with Haiti in first place.
According to Terrero, around 45,000 people in this country have the virus, which is a rate of 0.8% and a 35% reduction in cases since 2003. The number of deaths has also reduced from 2,690 cases in 2007 to 1,799 this year.
Speaking on World Aids Day, yesterday, Monday 1 December 2014, he said that the most vulnerable members of the population were gay and transsexual people, sex workers and young people. Most of those infected were between the ages of 15 and 49.
Terrero asked for more funds from the private sector to finance HIV/AIDS programs to buy retroviral medicines and help people who are living with the virus.
Haiti ranked third in global human slavery|
Today, Tuesday 2 December 2014 in Vatican City, Pope Francis and Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist and Christian leaders pledged to use their religions to help stamp out modern slavery and human trafficking by 2020.
Coincidentally, an editorial column today, Tuesday 2 December 2014, Nelson Rodriguez of Diario Libre comments that pro-Haitian campaigners are either "blind or cross-eyed" when ignoring widespread slavery in Haiti. Rodriguez comments that whoever calls Dominicans xenophobic or racist looks the other way when it's about Haiti. He mentions the Walk Free Foundation 2014 Global Slavery Index presents Haiti as third in the world in prevalence of modern slavery. Haiti is ranked third in the world behind Mauritania and Uzbekistan in identified slavery cases. The Dominican Republic is ranked 132nd of 167 countries.
The reason for the high ranking of slavery in Haiti is the prevalence of the restavek system. Children are sent to work for other families, usually because their own parents do not have the means to care for them. Many restavek children experience exploitation in the home of their caretakers, including forced domestic service, and chronic verbal, physical and sexual abuse.
The 2014 Global Slavery Index presents a ranking of 167 countries based on the percentage of a country's population that is estimated to be in modern slavery. This year it has also ranked countries based on what actions their governments are taking to end modern slavery.
Deputies want President Danilo Medina to stay|
Tulio Jimenez, the PLD deputy representing San Cristobal, says that more than 70% of his colleagues support the re-election of President Danilo Medina.
He said that there was a meeting recently of 60 legislators who confirmed that Medina would be the best person to lead the party in the 2016 elections, due to his domestic and international popularity rating of more than 90%.
He said that President Medina should listen to the people who wanted him to stay in the Presidential Palace for another four years.
The Dominican Constitution bans Presidents from consecutive re-election. On the other hand, the ruling PLD party holds the majority in the Congress. In the past 10 years, two Presidents have changed the Constitution in order to accommodate their possible return to power, Hipolito Mejia with the 2004 Constitution and Leonel Fernandez with the 2010 Constitution.
Attorney General says Vatican to decide in Wesolowski case|
The Dominican Republic is working closely with Polish prosecutors in the case of Polish priest Wojciech Waldemar (Alberto Gil) accused of sexual abuse in Juncalito in Santiago province. However, Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito says the prosecution of former papal nuncio Josef Wesolowski has been delegated to the Vatican. Dominguez Brito was speaking at a press conference held in Warsaw, also attended by his Polish counterpart Andrej Seremet and Santiago prosecutor Luisa Liranzo.
Wesolowski was the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the DR from 2008 to 2013, when he left the country abruptly after a Santiago TV show aired an investigative report on Wojciech Waldemar that also showed the priest had a close friendfship with Wesolowski. TV investigative journalist Nuria Piera also carried out an investigation into Wesolowski's relations with low-income boys with whom he would meet in the area around the Montesinos monument in Santo Domingo.
Dominguez Brito said the Dominican state could not prosecute a former papal envoy suspected of child sex crimes because treaty obligations give the Vatican full jurisdiction.
"Under the Vienna Convention, the prosecution of diplomats lies within the jurisdiction of the country that issued their accreditation."
Jozef Wesolowski is in custody after being defrocked in June 2014 on charges of abusing children when serving as papal nuncio in the Dominican Republic.
In Warsaw during the press conference with Dominguez Brito, Poland's Attorney General Andrzej Szeremet said that Polish prosecutors could gather their own evidence in the Dominican Republic regarding Wesolowski, who is a Polish citizen.
"The Vatican's prosecution of the case does not rule out Poland also conducting its own investigation," Szeremet said at the joint press conference.
If convicted, Wesolowski could face a seven-year jail sentence.
In January 2014, the United Nations condemned the Catholic Church for failing to stamp out child abuse and allowing systematic cover-ups by moving clergy suspected of pedophilia to posts in other countries.
Man accused of stealing from construction pension fund|
National District prosecutor Luis Gonzalez is asking for a protective custody term for a man accused of stealing more than RD$50 million using high technology, fraud and illegal access to the pension fund for Construction workers (FOPETCONS).
The accused is Moises Rigoberto Pena Espinal who is currently in preventative custody at the Palacio de Justicia in Ciudad Nueva, after being arrested on Saturday, 29 November 2014.
It is alleged that he took the money from the pension fund, as shown on security cameras and he is accused of making five transfers of RD$10 million each.
Drug mule arrested at Las Americas International|
National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) agents at the Las Americas International Airport (AILA) have arrested a Dominican man who arrived from Colombia with 29 packets of white powder, presumably cocaine or heroin, in his digestive system.
DNCD spokesman Dario Medrano said that the 25-year old man from San Francisco de Macoris had arrived on a flight from Bogota. The stomach implants were detected using X-ray equipment.
The man, whose name has not been released by the authorities, was sent to the Armed Forces Hospital to expel the packets that were later taken to the forensic laboratory for weighing and analysis.
Frenchman on trial in Punta Cana drug case|
The trial of four Frenchmen accused of trying to smuggle 700 kilos of cocaine to France in a private plane in 2013 resumed yesterday, Monday 1 December 2014. It should have started on 22 September but the defense lawyers had asked for more time.
Pilots 44-year old Pascal Jean Fauret and 54-year old Bruno Odos, and flight attendant Alain Castany, 67, as well as a 38-year old passenger, Nicolas Pisapia, appeared in court in Santo Domingo together with 10 Dominican immigration and customs agents.
The accused Frenchmen have always declared their innocence saying they had no knowledge of the drugs in the 26 suitcases on board the plane that belongs to French businessman Alain Afflelou.
The accused were arrested at Punta Cana International Airport on 20 March 2013 and spent one year three months in custody during the first part of the process. They were released on bail on 17 June when it was decided there was sufficient evidence against them for the case to proceed to trial.
Professional tennis tournaments|
The Dominican Tennis Federation (Fedotenis) has announced three professional tennis tournaments in the country this December that will count towards the world rankings. Prize money over the three events will total US$45,000. Fedotenis president Persio Maldonado says that the first event, from 1 to 6 December 2014, will be hosted by the Santiago Tennis Association, with 64 players competing. The tournament director will be Gustavo Gomez.
A second tournament will be held at the Santo Domingo Tennis Club from 8 to 13 December with 128 players and the tournament director will be Mrs. Fernandez de Garcia and a third at the Pabellon de Tenis del Parque del Este, also in Santo Domingo, from 15 to 20 December.
The events will be supervised by the International Tennis Federation.
For more on upcoming events, see http://dr1.com/calendar
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