Daily News

Daily News - Thursday, 26 February 2015 (Archived Daily News)

Nobel laureate calls for Ozama rescue
(Image courtesy of acento.com.do)

DR1 Daily News breaks for Independence Day holiday

Tomorrow, Friday, 27 February 2015 is a national holiday that commemorates Independence Day.

Given the interest in President Danilo Medina's 27th February state of the nation and rendition of government accounts speech, a summary of highlights of the speech will be published in real time on the DR1 Forum.

The speech begins at 10am from the National Assembly at Congress. It will be transmitted by 40 TV channels nationwide.

See http://dr1.com/forums/forum.php

Trams to service parts of Santo Domingo

According to El Caribe, the city of Santo Domingo will have a traditional yet innovative public transport system consisting of the installation of Metrocable, a 5km tram system with the capacity to move 3,000 passengers per hour in 160 trams. This will be the first line of a Metrocable system in the city of Santo Domingo, specifically for residents of the banks of the Ozama River. The system will have four stations and will connect with the Santo Domingo Metro. It will start at the Charles de Gaulle Avenue, go into the middle of Sabana Perdida, across the Ozama, next to the bridge in the sector where it will link with another station at Los Tres Brazos. It will then cross the river again and end at the last station of Line II of the Santo Domingo Metro. The Executive Unit for the Readjustment of La Barquita and Environs (URBE) has issued a call to national and international companies to bid for the design and construction of this project as part of a tender process. Construction is scheduled to take 14 months.

Nobel laureate calls for Ozama rescue

Nobel laureate Mohan Munasinghe, who won the Peace Prize in 2007 addressed the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) yesterday, Wednesday 25 February 2015 and appealed to all sectors of national life to come together to rescue the area surrounding the Ozama River. Munasinghe, a sustainable development specialist, says that there must be a balance between social, economic and environmental elements, which can only be obtained through cohesion between government, civil society and the private sector.

During his speech the Nobel laureate said that all that is needed is to bring "the best of the business community to take part in this project and to rely on its cooperation and active participation."

He said that this proposal for recovery fits perfectly within the framework of the 2015 United Nations plan for halting the negative impact of climate change.

He said that the work methodology should be based on certain principles. "The first of these principles is that we want to have an equilibrium between the social economic and environmental aspects." In the second place he mentioned the role that the Rio Coalition should play as a catalyzing agent for a government-society-private sector triangle.

Tourism minister denies DR discrimination against gay tourism

Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier Garcia has expressed surprise at US Ambassador James W. Brewster's comments that the country was not interested in pursuing gay tourists, as reported in El Caribe yesterday, Wednesday 25 February 2015. Garcia said he has not commented on the issue publicly or privately.

"Really, I was surprised at the statement by the ambassador, who we respect. We have never rejected anyone for their nature," he said.

He said the Ministry of Tourism establishes the nation's tourism policies and that there is no discrimination against the gay community wishing to vacation in the country. He says the tourism promotion is all-inclusive.

He said that no one could question the emphasis the Ministry has placed on promoting family vacations. Garcia said travel to the US was up 7% in 2014, while travel to the DR was up 10%. "The success of our policies is evident," said the Minister.

US Ambassador James Brewster said that the gay market (LGTB) is one known to spend around US1.4 billion.

See more at: http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2015/02/26/turismo-niega-que-haya-discriminacion-comunidad-gay#sthash.d4IdAFWe.dpuf



DR recalls ambassador after Haitians storm Dominican consulate

The Dominican government sent a note of protest yesterday evening, Wednesday 25 February 2015 and recalled its ambassador following an attack on the Dominican consulate in Haiti by violent demonstrators protesting against alleged racism and xenophobia towards Haitians in the Dominican Republic.

In an urgent press conference, Dominican Foreign Minister Andres Navarro said that the country could not accept the aggression against the consular headquarters under any circumstances and recalled his ambassador, Ruben Silie.

During the attack on the Dominican consulate in Haiti, a group of protestors pelted the building with stones and entered the premises, removed the Dominican flag from its pole, climbed on to the roof, raised the Haitian flag and burned and trampled on the Dominican flag.

Minister Navarro said that although the aggression was not necessarily led by the Haitian government, the authorities in Haiti must make a clear statement against the repeated attacks on the consulate and embassy in recent months.

Following the attack, Navarro's Haitian counterpart, Foreign Relations Minister Duly Brutus instead congratulated the instigators of the protest in an official statement on behalf of the Haitian government. He said that the march "should not be interpreted as a demonstration against the Dominican Republic, but as reinforcement of initiatives already undertaken by the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Haiti to say... "No to Barbarism! No to Hate! Respect and peace on the island!"

Foreign Minister Navarro said that the Dominican government has been prudent and patient in the face of this violence. Nevertheless, he warned the Haitian authorities that patience has its limits, "and we have shown the world that we have made the greatest efforts to maintain a productive, healthy and respectful relationship with the Haitian government."

Navarro said that in what is a clearly intolerable situation, the Haitian government has allowed systematic violence and attacks on Dominican consulates in Haiti. "While the Dominican Government seeks to harmonize relations, the Haitian side's behavior is two-faced [...] The Dominican Republic will not yield to blackmail."

Navarro revealed that his government had received a letter of protest sent by Haiti, which includes "unacceptable conditions that must be answered in the same language, but with the real facts." In response, the Dominican government recalled its ambassador in Haiti for consultations and sent a diplomatic note of protest at the violent incidents.

He said that the Dominican Republic has been the victim of an international campaign accusing it of racism, in contrast with the solidarity that the Dominican people and government have shown towards Haiti.

Read the complete statement by the Minister of Foreign Relations here:







Cineas removed from post as Ambassador to Haiti

Haitians living in the Dominican Republic held another demonstration outside their embassy in Santo Domingo on Tuesday 24 February 2015, protesting at the lack of support from the Haitian government in issuing documents that would enable them to regularize their status in the Dominican Republic under the National Foreigner Legalization Plan that expires on 15 June 2015. The protestors outside the Embassy said that Ambassador Fritz Cineas was blocking the process for people seeking to regularize their status. He was appointed to the post in 2005.

As reported in Haiti Libre, on Wednesday, 25 February 2015, Haitian authorities announced that Fritz Cineas was being removed from his post. The newspaper mentioned the handling of the murder of Jean Harry (aka Tulile) and the delays in issuing documentation as the two reasons for the decision.

As reported in Acento.com.do, Cineas will be replaced by Daniel Supplice, a close aide of President Michel Martelly, who had been appointed to the post in March 2013 but the Senate never approved the nomination. Now that Martelly is ruling by decree, after legislative elections have been continually postponed, Supplice was appointed to the post. Supplice is known to have held diplomatic posts during the Francois and Jean Claude Duvalier regimes. Cineas served as ambassador in the Dominican Republic for the past eight years.

Haitian protestors in Santo Domingo complained that despite the fact that the Haitian authorities had agreed to charge RD$1,000 for issuing the documents such as birth certificates, they were being charged RD$4,000 and more. The Haitians also protested that their government only has one documentation center in the Dominican Republic, despite the fact that thousands of people needed their services. Around 150,000 foreigners have already applied for the Foreigner Legalization Plan, but the completion of the process depends on the documentation that their government needs to provide.



Political Party Law to be reintroduced

The three main political parties and the Central Electoral Board (JCE) are renewing efforts aimed at securing approval for the legislative bill on Political Parties, with mediation by former rector of the Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra (PUCMM), Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado. The senior clergyman stressed that they were working towards the approval of a Law of Parties that benefits all the parties, not just one in particular. The PLD, PRD and PRSC party leaderships met for over an hour with JCE president Roberto Rosario and Monsignor Nunez Collado yesterday, Wednesday 15 February 2015. Nunez Collado said that they were trying to enforce the agreement signed by the presidential candidates in March 2012, in which they committed to pushing for the Law of Parties to be approved. "The three parties have met in a spirit of harmony and the conviction that this legislative bill for the Law currently in Congress should not be for one particular party, but that it should be the result of consensus between the parties represented in Congress," he stated.

Participants at the meeting included PRD president Miguel Vargas, PRD legal director Salim Ibarra and the director of the Institutionalism and Justice Foundation, Eduardo Jorge Prats. Deputy Victor Gomez Casanova, a member of the legislative commission that studied the legislative proposal also attended. The PLD was represented by its General Secretary, Reinaldo Pared Perez and former Vice President Rafael Alburquerque. The PRSC was represented by its president, Federico Antun Batlle, who is also the party's presidential candidate, and the political delegate at the JCE, Tacito Perdomo.

Leading PLD members push for decision on reelection

Yesterday, Wednesday 25 February 2015, 120 members of the PLD Central Committee requested a meeting of the Committee to debate the proposal for modifying the Constitution of the Republic to allow for President Danilo Medina's re-election. The PLD members, headed by Santo Domingo Water and Sewer Corporation (CAASD) director Alejandro Montas, asked the Political Committee to agree to its member Ramon Ventura Camejo's proposal to approve consecutive reelection following the model established in the United States Constitution. "This proposal is aimed at getting the party to decide to take the steps that are institutionally needed for modifying the Constitution in order to establish a model based on the US, where the rules allow a President to be elected for two consecutive terms and then never again," they stated.

The statement was read out at a press conference attended by the controller general of the Republic, Rafael Germosen, director general of passports Iris Guaba, Minister of Youth Jorge Minaya, Hato Mayor Senator Ruben Dario Cruz, Reformed Companies Assets Fund (Fonper) director Fernando Rosa and National District City Council president Winnie Terrero, as well as several deputies and dozens of party sub-committee chairpersons. They said that the Constitution establishes democratic mechanisms for its modification without altering the country's institutionalism, reiterating that President Medina has a 90% approval rating with 70% of voters in favor of his reelection.

Caricom ministers meet in Bahamas

The Dominican Republic's return to the Caricom meeting place is on the agenda of the 26th Intersessional Meeting of Caricom heads of Government in Nassau, Bahamas today, Thursday 26 February 2015. The DR was suspended from Caricom when Caribbean ministers rejected Constitutional Court ruling 169-13 that confirmed an earlier Supreme Court ruling on not automatically issuing Dominican citizens to children born to parents with illegal status in the country. The largest immigrant community affected is the Haitian community. The current Caricom president, Prime Minister of the Bahamas Perry Christie, supports reopening talks with the Dominican Republic.

The DR has a free trade agreement with Caricom, but held observer status in the meetings with the member countries.

The meeting can be followed live today, Thursday 26 February at http://www.livestream.com/znsbahamas

Student food poisoning causes alarm at Children's Hospital

32 students were admitted to Santiago's Dr. Arturo Grullon Children's Hospital all at the same time yesterday, Wednesday 25 February 2015. The students at the city's Our Lady of Carmen School became ill after drinking milk. El Nuevo Diario reports that the children presented symptoms of stomach distress, some with vomiting and others with diarrhea. Hospital staff said that the students arrived at about 11:30am after drinking the milk supplied by the Ministry of Education as part of the school breakfast. They said that 19 of the 32 students were treated and sent home and only three are being kept in the hospital for preventive observation. On Tuesday 23 February 2015, there were reports of 55 students suffering from similar food poisoning in a school in Puerto Plata province.

Felix Bautista defends himself in court

Attorney General Francisco Dominguez Brito and the Senator for San Juan de la Maguana, Felix Bautista clashed yesterday, Wednesday 25 February 2015 during the preliminary trial for alleged corruption and money laundering against the legislator and another six defendants. In the morning, Bautista interrupted the Attorney General's address, defiantly calling him irresponsible. During the afternoon session he defended himself against the accusation, calling it slanderous and arbitrary and describing it as an abuse of power. This was completely out of the normal in a pre-trial hearing, but Bautista was not cut short by the presiding judge.

"This accusation is a text taken out of context... for the highest form of slander, capriciousness and abuse of power." He cited the Sun Land Case as an example, saying it was the same as the Imperial Hemisphere Consortium and accused the Justice Department of disguising it in order to give the impression that these were two different cases. He said that "a gross double jeopardy" was being exercised against him, since he insists that they are dealing with the same incidents that were dismissed in a Supreme Court decree. He also denied any connection with the companies that he is accused of owning. "I only appear in five of the 46 that they say are mine. It's not true, they only want newspaper headlines." He said that the source of Constructora Rofi's funds, which the Justice Department attributes to illegal activities, are the result of loans from several banking entities and from projects in Haiti.

He told the court that the Justice Department had committed mathematical errors, adding repeated numbers and overvaluing prices. He said that these errors have led to an overvaluation of RD$516 million. In response to the accusation of money laundering, Bautista said that, "the slander is the size of the Supreme Court building," stating that the Attorney General had included State bank accounts belonging to the Office of Supervising Engineers of State Projects (OISOE) in the accusation. He said that they had included bank transfers from Haiti to the Dominican Republic used to purchase construction materials as part of an alleged money-laundering network. He added that his companies, Inmobiliaria Rofi, Constructora Rofi, Constructora Hadom (formed in Haiti), and Seymeh Engineering have paid RD$54.7 million in taxes in the Dominican Republic.


Rain damaged Navarrete n Puerto Plata highway

Heavy rainfall over the past week has damaged the Navarrete to Puerto Plata road, mainly as a result of landslides that caused the paving to collapse. In the stretch between Altamira and Puerto Plata the highway sank under the weight of heavy vehicles passing during the heavy rains. The landslides began to cause serious collapses in the roadway similar to those that have occurred on the Gregorio Luperon Touristic Highway. Vehicles are forced to use the very edge of the highway in order to get through. "Even the new paving that was recently laid was lost with the rains. A complete reconstruction is what is needed", said Santiago Santos, a truck driver. Reports from other communities in the Cordillera Septentrional area point to widespread damage to drainage and road surfaces as well as to the bridges in Maimon and Guananico.

To read more news, see the DR1 News Archives at: http://dr1.com/premium/news/2015/index.shtml