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Daily News - Monday, 08 December 2014

President Medina travels to Veracruz Summit today
President Danilo Medina traveled to Veracruz, Mexico to attend the 24th Ibero-American Summit today, Monday 8 and tomorrow Tuesday 9 December 2014. The Presidents of Uruguay, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Costa Rica and Ecuador will also be taking part. Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez will not be attending for health reasons but Cuban President Raul Castro is expected to be there.

This is the first time that King Felipe VI of Spain will be at the annual Latin American gathering of presidents and heads of government. It is regarded as an important networking event, a joint initiative by Mexico and Spain created in 1991. The conference serves as a forum for political dialogue and cooperation by bringing together 22 Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries (19 Latin American and Spain, Portugal and Andorra from Europe).

As reported, President Medina is accompanied by Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo, Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta and Foreign Relations Minister Andres Navarro.


Speed controls on eastern highways
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) has announced that in coordination with the National Police and the Ministry of Public Works it will now be using breathalyzers and speed radars on the highways linking the east and Santo Domingo, including the Las Americas highway.

AMET chief General Pablo Arturo Pujols said that the use of the breathalyzers and radars is aimed at reducing traffic accidents and deaths. While the speed limit is 100 km, drivers are known to regularly travel above 120 km on many highways.

Some 21 radars will be posted along the highways to the east. "We are determined to reduce traffic accidents over Christmas, when there is an increase in alcohol consumption," said General Pujols.


Follow the discussion on the dr1 forums - http://dr1.com/forums/general-stuff/57845-no-more-drinking-while-driving-dominican-republic-6.html#post1514253

Government bonds index published by BVRD
The Dominican Republic Securities Exchange (BVRD) has started publishing the Government Bond Index as of Friday, 5 December 2014. BVRD general manager Felipe Amador said that the index serves as a market reference on the prices and yields of government bonds that after being issued in the primary market are renegotiated in the secondary market. The bonds have been issued either by the Ministry of Hacienda or the Central Bank.

As reported, as of November 2014, in the Centralized Deposit of Values (Cevaldom), bonds for RD$318 billion were issued by the Central Bank and another RD$133.4 billion by the Ministry of Hacienda. Cevaldom accounts for 95.8% of all bonds issued by the government.


Economists protest 2015 National Budget spending
Three economists are urging the government to change the focus of public spending. The economists criticized the 2015 budget for maintaining the same focus and spending as the 2014 budget and for not being aligned with the National Development Strategy law. Economists Isidoro Santana, Jorge Ulloa and Manuel Robles presented the findings of their analysis of the 2015 budget comparing it to the 2014 budget.

The law establishes that 2.8% of Gross Domestic Product should be allocated to public health, when the budget assigns only 2% of GDP to this sector. They also criticized the government for cutting spending on university programs by 0.6%, which means that the scholarship programs will be affected. They also commented that the government will be spending 46.5% on social programs, less than 46.8% of GDP in 2014. In addition, they criticized the government for choosing to increase the assignments to the decentralized institutions, which will receive RD$34.3 billion in transfers, or RD$4 billion more than in 2014. "That part of the spending is one of the least transparent and hardest to monitor," said the economists.

They also commented on the high Dominican public debt that has been carried over and increased significantly since the Baninter banking collapse in 2003.


Abortion: Public Health vs. religion
The debate over whether allowing abortion is a matter of public health or religion continues in the media.

President Danilo Medina has taken the official position that abortion is a public health issue, in contrast with the Roman Catholic and evangelical Christian churches that call for a ban on therapeutic abortion.

Supporters of the right to choose say that the wealthy can travel abroad for an abortion, while the poor are forced to have unsafe procedures.

Writing in Hoy newspaper, Juan Bolivar Diaz says that the right to choose is a human right that should not be affected by religious dogma.

The government position on the ban on abortion in the 2010 Constitution is that there need to be exceptions to respect the mother's human rights.

President Danilo Medina recently vetoed the changes to the Dominican Penal Code on the grounds that it did not provide exceptions to the total ban on abortion in the country to guarantee the wellbeing of the mother.

The churches are organizing campaigns and protests against the President's veto to pressure Congress to override it.




Luis Abinader named candidate for PHD
47-year old Luis Abinader, who was the vice presidential candidate for the PRD in the 2012 presidential election, has been chosen as the presidential candidate for the Partido Humanista Dominicano. The party, founded by Elexido Paula, backed former President Hipolito Mejia of the PRD in the 2012 election. Abinader is a businessman who seeks to provide an alternative to long-established politicians. In his presentation, Paula said that Abinader has a vocation for reaching a consensus and has a low rejection rate.

The PRD, PRM and now the PHD have agreed to present a political candidate by consensus by 29 March 2015. Other possible candidates include Hipolito Mejia for the newly formed PRM and PRD president Miguel Vargas Maldonado.

When accepting the nomination, Abinader said: "I guarantee to unify the opposition and to work together to defeat corruption."

Luis Abinader is the son of businessman and PRD politician Jose Rafael Abinader. He studied economy at the INTEC university in Santo Domingo and is a graduate in project management from the Arthur D. Little School of Management in Massachusetts. He also studied corporate finances and financial engineering at the University of Harvard and management at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire.

Ramon Alfredo de la Cruz: new rector at PUCMM
The rector of the Northeastern Catholic University (Universidad Catolica Nordestana, UCNE) in San Francisco de Macoris, Father Ramon Alfredo de la Cruz Baldera has been promoted to rector of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) by the Roman Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic.

He will replace Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado who has headed the university since 1970, turning it into by far the largest Dominican private university over the past 44 years. Nunez Collado entered the university as a professor when it was founded in 1962, and was promoted to vice rector in 1963. He is also known for his role as a national mediator.

Father De la Cruz is also president of the Association of Rectors of Dominican Universities (ADRU).

In September 2013, Monsignor Agripino Nunez revealed that former papal nuncio Josef Wesolowski had been replaced after being accused of pedophilia, while the high-ranking echelons of the Roman Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic were denying the charges.

Haitian women immigrants have low schooling levels
Approximately 70% of the Haitian women who have migrated to the Dominican Republic have very low levels of schooling or none at all. Only 22.4% have middle school studies (7-8th grade), and only 6.5% have university level studies, according to findings from a recent poll.

The National Statistics Office (ONE) says that the low levels are due to the fact that most emigrate with no educational qualifications because they are coming for economic reasons and because of the language barrier.

The ONE made the observations when analyzing results of the First National Immigrants Poll (ENI-2012).

Nevertheless, the study showed that of the Haitian immigrants who come to study, there are more women (10.6%) than men (6.1%).

The poll says that around 458,000 Haitians are living in the DR of whom 35.6% are women, and the average age is between 15-45. Most emigrate seeking jobs and better living conditions.

When the poll was conducted, 50% of the Haitian women said they were jobless, 36% had work and 13% were unemployed and looking for work.

51% of the Haitian women were living with a spouse but were not married, and 26% were single, 15% separated, 6% married and 2% said they were widows.

Gathering to protest corruption
Fundacion Masada, supported by dozens of social organizations, is calling for a protest nationwide and in public parks tomorrow, Tuesday 9 December 2014 to mark the celebration of the International Anti-Corruption Day, created by the United Nations in 2003.

To mark the celebration, award-winning writer Juan Bolivar Diaz comments in Hoy: "In our country for a long time corruption has metastasized in the social body and not only defines the way politics is carried out in a caricature of excessively costly democracy but it has been the source of enormous fortunes, some of which compete with capitals amassed over decades."

"There is a general feeling of embarrassment and indignation among the most sensitive and educated people when it comes to corruption, which nevertheless has roots among a wide segment of the population that seeks to benefit from some form of embezzlement. There is also a great complicity from private entrepreneurs who take bribes and obtain benefits from financing candidates at all levels," he writes

Nevertheless, he writes that the massive wasteful spending that has led to the duplication of costs of public works, procurement and contracting is saturating the patience of citizens as expressed in recent polls.

In addition, the DR is ranked 115th out of 175 countries in perception of corruption, according to Transparency International. There are only seven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, of 35, where the population perceives that corruption is greater. Likewise, the DR is ranked among the bottom three in wasteful spending and favoritism exercised by government officials in the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Forum ranking.

Fundacion Masada is urging everyone to turn on the lights of their vehicles during the day and the night, lamps, candles and flashlights and to visit public parks and squares as of 6pm to demonstrate their rejection of administrative corruption and impunity in the Dominican Republic.

The movement's supporters in the US and Spain have also organized public support demonstrations have been organized in New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut in the United States, and in Madrid and Barcelona in Spain.



Supreme Court orders corruption proof to be shown to Felix Bautista lawyers
Supreme Court of Justice judge Alejandro Moscoso Segarra, hearing the preliminary case for the corruption hearing against senator Felix Bautista (PLD-San Juan de la Maguana) ordered the government administrative corruption department (PEPCA) and the Attorney General Office to provide the defendants with all the proof of corruption so they can prepare their defense beforehand. The case has been postponed until 15 January 2015.

Felix Bautista is the most prominent rags-to-riches cases involving high-ranking PLD officials. Nevertheless, the judiciary has repeatedly used legal recourses to block the case from being heard in court and on several occasions has resorted to filing and closing the cases prior to any accusations being heard in court.


Victor Diaz Rua corruption case closed and filed by Appeals Court
The Court of Appeals has confirmed the decision that annuls the investigation into corruption by former Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua. The decision was adopted by judges Eduardo Sanchez Ortiz, Doris Pujols Ortiz, Antonio Sanchez Mejia and Mariana Daneira Garcia. The court turned down an appeal by prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso and the Fundacion Primero Justicia on a decision that was enacted on 29 August 2014. The case was closed and filed prior to the hearing of the accusations taking place, as reported in Diario Libre.


Former beauty queen accused of embezzlement in Miami
A Dominican former contestant in the Miss World pageant, 23-year old Sally Aponte Tejeda is facing bank and credit card fraud charges in Florida, together with 20-year old Gabriel Perfecto Salcedo, 22-year old Allen David Salcedo and 28-year old Jerry Tejeda. The four Miami residents were arrested during an investigation by the Coral Gables Police Department, the United States Secret Service and the Attorney General's Office of Statewide Prosecution. They face sentences of more than 40 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Detectives say that the group had made bank withdrawals and then claimed that unauthorized persons had removed the money from their accounts. They are also accused of cloning credit cards.

The affected banks are First Bank Florida, Coconut Grove Bank, Total Bank, JP Morgan Chase. The fraud is said to total US$100,000.

According to an update in Diario Libre, Aponte Tejeda has been released from jail.



New management of Las Americas Race Track
IMCA has announced it will no longer be managing the Las Americas Race Track. Company spokesman Pedro Esteva said it would still be promoting the Mobil lubricant brand, however.

In a press release, the company announced it would not continue being responsible for the races at the course that is located outside Santo Domingo. The company has managed the racetrack since 2008, organizing races in a wide range of vehicles including motorcycles, go-kart and car racing categories.

The racetrack belongs to Juan Lopez and Cristobal Marte, who is also known for being the president of the National Volleyball Teams project and a leading force behind the world-class Dominican women's volleyball team, ranked sixth in the world as of December 2014. He is also the first vice president of the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), president of Norceca (North, Central America and Caribbean volleyball confederation) and the Pan-American Volleyball Confederation.



Eduardo Canela swims 76 km in 24 hours straight
Setting a national record, Dominican swimmer Eduardo Canela swam 76 kilometers over 24 hours on Saturday, 6 December 2014. He broke the previous record set by Miguel Portes, of 61 kilometers in 24 hours.

He was accompanied by Dominican swimmers during the event. The feat took place at the 25-meter 5-lane pool at Club Paraiso in Santo Domingo from Saturday at 10am to Sunday at 10am. At the end of the swim, his body temperature had descended from a normal 37 degrees C to 28 degrees C.

Canela, 27, an ultra long distance swimmer, who as a child competed for Los Delfines del Naco, now also competes for Santo Domingo Masters but mostly swims in open water races. His coach is Augusto Garcia, who took Marcos Diaz to achievements such as the English Channel crossing. Swim data records were kept by Jose Dandrade, while Dr. Benjamin Payano, head the medical team monitoring the race.

Sony Xperia smartphone was the lead sponsor of the swim.

Dominican Rock Show
Casa de Teatro in Santo Domingo's Colonial City presents 13 Dominican rock acts in concert this evening, Monday, 8 December. 8pm. Tel 809 689-3430

Benny & The Cupids at Lulu Tasting Bar
Rigo Zapata is back at the Lulu Tasting Bar in Santo Domingo's Colonial City for an evening of all-time classics - Blues, Pop, R&B, Rock and more. Zapata is on vocals and bass together with singer Benny Hiraldo, Sly De Moya on the drums and guitarist David Losada. This evening, Monday, 8 December at 9pm.

Bobby Delgado in a performance at Casa de Teatro
Composer and singer Bobby Delgado is booked for performances this Friday, 12 December at Casa de Teatro in Santo Domingo's Colonial City. 9:30pm.

Tel 809 689-3430.

Wason Brazoban at Hard Rock Cafe
Wason Brazoban is booked for a concert at Hard Rock Cafe at the Blue Mall in Santo Domingo on 18 December 2014. This is a repeat of his successful 14 November concert.

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

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