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Daily News - Friday, 05 December 2014

Government starts paying Christmas wage
Expect traffic in cities to get worse as the Medina administration starts paying the Christmas wage today, Friday 5 December 2014, and city stores are advertising sales to attract consumers early in the Christmas shopping season.

The Medina administration announced that it would be disbursing RD$9.9 billion in extra wages to 440,000 government employees and public sector retirees from 5-10 December. This number does not include employees of decentralized government entities and municipalities. It does include military and Police agents who will be the first to receive the Christmas wage, followed by employees of the Education and Public Health ministries, the largest public sector employers.

Meanwhile, the Municipality of Santo Domingo East announced that it paid RD$29 million in Christmas wages to its employees on Thursday 4 December. The Municipality under mayor Juan de los Santos prides itself in its financial management that includes budgeting for the Christmas wage and not having to appeal to the government for loans at year's end due to overspending during the year as is usual for many city governments.

Businesses are happy. Ernesto Martinez of the National Organization of Shopping Malls (ONEC) said that Black Friday sales were better than last year as shoppers made the most of the shopping day deals. He said that it had kick-started the holiday shopping season. He expects sells to rev up again with the extra cash in circulation.



Military hospital has Ebola treatment unit
The Ministry of Public Health has prepared an isolation ward at the Ramon de Lara Military Hospital, announced National Ebola Commission coordinator Jorge Marte Baez yesterday, Thursday 4 December 2014. The facility has been set aside exclusively for treating Ebola cases. The hospital is located in the San Isidro Air Base east of Santo Domingo.

Marte said a second unit could be installed at the Ney Arias Lora Public Hospital in Santo Domingo East.

Interviewed on the Channel 37 TV program, Enfoque Matinal, he pointed out that the probability of the disease reaching the country was very low.

Marte informed that the Ministry of Public Health had issued an order banning airlines and tour operators from selling tickets to passengers from the five West African countries affected by Ebola, and that immigration officials have also been trained to detect any potential cases. He said the early symptoms of Ebola are similar to those of a bad cold and that they were working to educate medical and paramedical staff, including nurses, lab technicians, cleaning staff and technical support staff on the disease.

Marte said that six Ebola prevention units have been installed at the border with Haiti and in Azua. "We have done this because we know that the border with Haiti is more virtual than real," he said.


European Union: EUR983 million in 25 years
The new challenge for the next 25 years is to work on aligning European aid with the Dominican Republic's National Development Strategy, according to the European Union.

The statement by European Union representatives was made during a presentation of research on 25 years of European Union cooperation with the Dominican Republic at the UASD's Pedro Mir Library in Santo Domingo. The research was carried out by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (Funglode), the think tank presided by former President Leonel Fernandez.

The presentation, which was coordinated by the National Authorizing Officer for European Development funds, engineer Antonio Vargas Hernandez and the head of the European Union delegation in the country, ambassador Alberto Navarro, was attended by diplomats, academics, government officials, researchers and development cooperation specialists.

European Union Delegation Communications and political officer Jonathan Pitts and Funglode researchers Triana Aybar and Stephanie Rodriguez also made presentations during the event.

During the 25 years of cooperation, around 200 programs and projects in social sectors, environment, health, trade and others have been implemented with a budget of around EUR983 million.

The European Union is the Dominican Republic's second largest trading partner and the main cooperation partner and source of foreign investment.

Commemorative events for the 25 years of cooperation conclude today, Friday, 5 December 2014 with a concert at the Plaza Espana with a concert by David Armengod, Manuel Jimenez and Orchestra, Roldan, Xiomara Fortuna, Grupo Maniel, Danza Kalalu among others.




Malecon section closed for drainage works
The Ministry of Public Works has announced that the stretch of the Malecon (Av. George Washington) between Alma Mater and Maximo Gomez avenues in Santo Domingo will be closed to traffic on Friday and Saturday (5-6 December 2014) from 10pm to 6am. The city waterworks agency (CAASD) is making improvements to the city's drainage system.


Cash awards for medal-winning athletes
Winners of gold medals in the Central American and Caribbean Veracruz 2014 games will receive a RD$100,000 bonus from the government. Silver medalists will be awarded a RD$50,000 cash prize and bronze medalists RD$25,000. In the past, gold medal winners have been given a government apartment. The deputy Minister of Sports Anibal Portorreal said that the winning sports teams, including women and men's volleyball, women's softball and men's basketball, will each receive RD$1 million cash prizes. The teams that won silver (women's hockey, women's fencing, and men's handball) will receive RD$300,000. Women and men's judo, baseball and racquetball teams that won bronze will receive RD$200,000.

Portorreal said that the funds had not been initially budgeted and that they are working on identifying a source of funds for awarding incentives to the coaches of the winning athletes.

Portorreal said that the country's performance at the Mexican Games that took place last month was "acceptable." The DR came fifth with 77 medals (20 gold, 34 silver and 23 bronze).


The great language divide
Executive editor of Diario Libre Adriano Miguel Tejada writes about the real differences between Haitians and Dominicans in an editorial today, Friday 5 December 2014. "The Dominican and Haitian nations had very different political and economic processes that created people of different natures. Race is the least of the differences between both nations," he highlights.

He quotes Jose Nunez de Caceres, who proclaimed the country's first independence in 1821: "all the politicians... have always considered the diversity of language, the practice of ancient legislation, the power of the customs that are ingrained since childhood and the differences in customs from the way people eat to the way they dress... Words are the natural instrument for people to communicate: If they cannot be understood by voice, there is no communication, and that is a wall that is natural and invincible...."

He writes that renowned 19th century Puerto Rican educator Eugenio Maria de Hostos saw it as clear as day, and quotes: "the struggle that the Dominican people sustained against Haiti was not a vulgar war. The Dominican people were defending, more than their independence, their language, the honor of the families, the freedom of trade, the morality of marriage, hate of polygamy, a better destiny for the race, better luck for their work, the school of their children, the respect for the religion of their ancestors, individual security... It was the solemn fight of customs and principles that were diametrically opposed..."


Anadegas calls for lower fuel prices
The Association of Gasoline Retailers (Anadegas) says that the government should cut fuel prices to comply with the Hydrocarbons Law that establishes that local prices should be set according to the fluctuations in world market prices.

At a press conference yesterday, Thursday 4 December 2014, Anadegas representatives pointed out that international fuel prices have declined by around 35% in the past six months.

Emilio Vasquez and Rafael Polanco, president and former president of Anadegas said that fuel prices in the DR are significantly padded when taking into account the cost of a barrel of oil as reported by the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, the benchmark for oil pricing chosen by the Dominican government to establish local fuel prices.

They said that the gallon of premium gasoline should be selling for RD$177 instead of the current RD$226.80. Regular gasoline should be priced at RD$166 and not RD$209.30. Premium diesel should sell for RD$147 instead of RD$188.10 and regular diesel for RD$143 and not RD$180.90 the gallon. The gallon of propane gas should sell for RD$73.45 instead of the RD$100.30 at present.

Anadegas added that there is no longer a reason for the government to maintain the fuel subsidy to transporters.


David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Tournament
David Ortiz is hosting the Seventh Annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic in the Dominican Republic from 4-7 December 2014. The tournament takes place at the Punta Espada golf course, a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course in Cap Cana. The host hotel is the Alsol Luxury Village in Cap Cana in Punta Cana. Ortiz invites celebrities and athletes to join him and his guests for a memorable experience that benefits a worthy cause.

A Black Jack tournament was held on the first night at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Punta Cana with a cash prize of US$100,000.

In its first six years, the Classic has raised approximately US$1.5 million to help save lives both in the United States and the Dominican Republic. In New England, the David Ortiz Foundation sponsors the David Ortiz Children's Fund Dedicated to Providing Pediatric Critical Care.



Coca Cola Christmas Trees
The Coca Cola-sponsored 70-foot Christmas tree is all lit up at the Plaza de Espana in Santo Domingo's Colonial City. The tree was designed by theater set designer Fidel Lopez. This year, a second tree has been installed at the Colinas Mall in Santiago.

Cinderella at the National Theater
Choreographer Gracielina Olivero, theater director Luis Marcel Ricart and art director Marcos Malespin-Estevez of Theamus Teatro present the Dominican version of the famous Rodgers and Hammerstein Broadway musical, Cinderella at the National Theater in Santo Domingo on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 December at 5:30pm. Tickets are for sale at the National Theater box office for RD$1,200, RD$1,000, RD$800 and RD$600.

In the Heights at the Palacio de Bellas Artes
"In the Heights" the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical on Dominicans in New York City, is back at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo this evening Friday 5 December and tomorrow Saturday 6 December 2014. This is an Amaury Sanchez production.

Tickets are RD$1,600-RD$1,100 and are for sale at the Bellas Artes box office.

Starring Javier Grullon, Laura Lebron, Checho Lora, Dolly Garcia, Hector Anibal, Diana Pou, Ian Castillo, Sonia Alfonso, Diomaris La Mala, Karla Fatulle, JJ Sanchez and Alejandro Moscoso. Directed by Waddys Jaquez, choreography by Isadora Bruno. Music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda and the book by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegria Hudes.

"In the Heights" tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York's Washington Heights neighborhood n a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music.

It's a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind. The musical won the 2008 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Choreography and Best Orchestrations.

Listen to music from the original musical at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hSQFjtszBYg

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

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