Daily News

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

President-elect Morales of Guatemala visits
(Image courtesy of presidencia.gob.do)

President-elect Morales of Guatemala visits

President Danilo Medina is hosting President-elect Jimmy Morales of Guatemala who arrived at Las Americas International Airport at 3pm yesterday, Wednesday 25 November and was met by Minister of Foreign Relations Andres Navarro. Early in the evening, he was welcomed by President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace where a private meeting was held with the visiting delegation.

Last week, President Danilo Medina hosted a visit by the President and First Lady of Panama and took them to see government programs, such as the Surprise visits, the extended school days, and the government centers for children with special needs.

Morales is accompanied by a six-person delegation.



Used car imports up 61%

Customs director Fernando Fernandez says that in the first nine months of 2015, used car imports were up 61% in comparison to last year. He said there has been an increase of more than 20,000 units compared to last year. Fernandez pointed out that the growth of the sector has been 12 times that of the economy. Used car importers are asking to import used cars older than five years.


Christmas gift exemptions

The Customs Department has announced the traditional duty-free allowance for Dominican expats for the Christmas holidays. Returning Dominican expats who have not traveled to the DR in the past six months can do so bringing gifts valued up to US$3,000 for their relatives and friends. The traditional tax-free permit issued by the Department of Customs will begin 1 December and ends on 7 January 2016. The gift items must be transported in the same transport mode selected by the person seeking the tax break.

Most students pass national exams

The Ministry of Education (Minerd) reports that 60.88% of high school students and 66.18% of vocational students have passed the 2015 National Standardized Tests. The Ministry says that of 27,938 students in the general studies program who took the exams, 17,008 passed and were promoted. At the vocational level, 2,227 of the 3,365 candidates who took the test were successful.

Cementos Santo Domingo shows its permits

At a press conference yesterday, Wednesday 15 November 2015, Cementos Santo Domingo showed the mining permits it has received from the government, including an exploration permit valid for five years received from the Ministry of Environment in 2013.

The presentation was made after Minister of Energy and Mines Antonio Isa Conde denied the company a mining permit on the grounds that the permit it had been issued was for exploration only.


US Ambassador Brewster: It's a "doozy" election time

During his traditional address at the American Chamber of Commerce pre-Thanksgiving luncheon, United States Ambassador James Brewster focused on widespread corruption, while highlighting that Dominican and US relations were at their peak.

Brewster told his audience that every businessperson he knows, whether from the United States or the Dominican Republic, mentions the fact that corruption is the greatest problem in the country. He described corruption as a cancer that stunts growth, affects trade and blocks the proper application of the law.

Brewster, who denied that his actions and statements violated Dominican sovereignty, pointed out that "a few politicians have been criticizing the US Embassy and myself and for being too involved in Dominican affairs." Nevertheless, he said that the strong investments and the close relationship between the US and the Dominican Republic give him this right, and called on his critics "to go to the embassy and return your visas."

He commented that the businesspeople attending the luncheon knew that the perception of corruption was affecting the country's competitiveness. The ambassador pointed out that as a promoter of bilateral trade he invited the business community present at the luncheon to continue facing up to corruption as a problem "at the highest levels of your government."

Describing as a "doozy," or unique the electoral times affecting both the United States and the Dominican Republic, he warned that there is no clean money that can come from people in dirty businesses. He urged politicians to back the people of the Dominican Republic by only making alliances with people who are credible and trustworthy and who share their values.

Nevertheless, he stated: "Despite the challenges faced by the Dominican government and its people, I want to make it clear that the relations between the Dominican Republic and the United States have never been stronger or closer than now." He mentioned that there are 1.5 million United States citizens of Dominican descent and that the US consular section continues to break records, with an increase of 50% in non-immigrant visa applications this year compared to last year. He pointed out that 250,000 United States citizens live in the Dominican Republic, and almost two million US tourists are expected to visit this year. The ambassador mentioned that the opening of the Amber Cove Cruise Center would boost US tourism to the country.

He said that bilateral trade is now at US$14 billion and increasing. He encouraged Dominicans to see the marked difference in imports compared to exports from the United States as an opportunity. Brewster said that of the US$1.4 billion in farm imports from the US, 60% are raw material for the agribusiness and construction sectors, wheat for Dominican mills, wood for construction and US tobacco for Dominican cigars.

He touched on the issue of Cuba in his talk, telling Dominicans that it would be decades before Cuba became a major competitor. He said the DR has a strong competitive advantage over other countries because of having experience, proximity to the US, pristine beaches, warmth of the people and excellent infrastructure. "You need to make the most of the opportunity to push your businesses to be more competitive, agile and professional. If you are convinced, as I am, that the Dominican Republic has the best infrastructure, the best attractions and the best people working in tourism, you will be strong competitors and do better," he stressed.

Read the complete speech in Spanish here: http://www.listindiario.com/la-republica/2015/11/25/397728/embajador-eeuu-dice-corrupcion-en-rd-es-un-cancer-que-retrasa-el-crecimiento-y-afecta-el-comercio

Chamber of Deputies honors Dr. Puello Herrera

Deputy Lucia Medina Sanchez said: "Every hero who builds a society deserves to be honored by society itself." The deputy, the Vice President of the Chamber of Deputies headed a large ceremony yesterday, Wednesday 25 November 2015 recognizing the contributions of Dr. Jose Joaquin Puello Herrera.

Dr. Puello Herrera, the leading neurosurgeon in the Dominican Republic, was honored not only for his contributions to medicine but also as a leading sportsman and exemplary citizen.

The ceremony, held in the National Assembly Hall of the National Congress, included not only deputies and senators but also a constellation of the nation's leading businesspeople, sportspeople, teachers and politicians very rarely seen under one roof. Puello Herrera spoke of his life and mentioned everyone who had helped him throughout his career, including Dr. Ney Arias Lora who gave him the opportunity to study neurosurgery in England. He told the audience "I am a hospital doctor."

Unesco meeting to discuss the Internet

The Dominican Republic is hosting the First Regional Meeting of experts, legislators and representatives of civil society in Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss the Internet: "The Challenges of the Internet: governance and ethnical dimensions of the society of information. On the way to a comprehensive agenda for Latin America and the Caribbean."

The event is being held on Friday, 27 November 2015 following the launch of the Unesco Internet Study presented at the 38th Unesco General Conference that ended on 18 November 2015. The study title is "Keystones to Foster Inclusive Knowledge Societies: Access to Information and Knowledge, Freedom of Expression, Privacy and Ethics on a Global Internet".

Delegations from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Grenada, Paraguay, Peru and St. Kitts and Nevis will be taking part.

Deputy Director General of the United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) Getachew Engida is in the Dominican Republic for the event that will take place from 8:30am to 6:30pm at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Santo Domingo.

Engida's visit follows that of Irina Bokova, UNESCO director who visited in January 2015, says Dominican Ambassador to the Unesco Laura Faxas. Engida is accompanied by Boyan Radoykov, head of Unesco's Communication and Information Sector (CI).

Discussion panels will debate societal, ethical and legal challenges posed by the Internet such as civil rights, the digital divide, copyright, freedom of expression, privacy and "darknet." Issues to be tackled also include the challenges for integration processes in Latin America and the Caribbean through the Internet and the Internet Telecommunications Industry. The participants will be studying the regulatory landscape of the Internet in Latin America and the Caribbean.

A Statement of Santo Domingo on the Governance of the Internet and Ethical Dimensions of the Society of Information will be produced at the end of the discussions. Likewise, a set of guidelines for a possible action plan is expected to result from the discussions.

The Ministry for Regional Integration Policies, the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel), the Presidential Office of ITC (OPTI) and the Dominican National Commission for UNESCO (CNDU) are coordinating the meeting, with support from the Dominican delegation at UNESCO.


Organizations call for protection for renewable energy

The Association of Energy Efficient and Renewable Energy Enterprises (Aseefeer) and the National Committee to Combat Climate Change (CNLCC), Justicia Climatica, the Institute of Lawyers for the Protection of the Environment (INSAPROMA) and other organizations are protesting that while the world is marching toward clean and renewable energies, with a summit for Climate Change set for Paris this month, the Dominican government insists on imposing an Electricity Pact with a coal-fired and traditional generation base, with a highly negative environmental impact.

The organizations say that during last week's Electricity Pact discussions, government representatives headed by the Ministry of Energy and Mines, vetoed the consensus to reestablish tax incentives of Law 57-07 that were in effect prior to Fiscal Reform of 2012 to promote clean and renewable energy. They say that the National Energy Commission was the only exception among government representatives. The government proposed to postpone the talks until the conclusion of discussions for the Tax Pact, scheduled for after the May 2016 general elections.

The organizations say that with the veto, the government has shown clear signs that it is setting its sights on coal instead of on clean and renewable energy.

The organizations protested that for the past two years the government has held up the 11 wind energy concessions that would contribute around 1,300 megawatts without the public sector having to invest a cent and that would compete with the traditional sector forcing better prices.

But the organizations say that for the development of the clean and renewable sources, the restitution of the incentive of 75% tax deduction on income for self-producers as established in Law 57-07 needs to be reinstated.

They are also claiming that the government veto violates DR-CAFTA, which establishes that environmental protection cannot be reduced to favor a particular business.

The entities declared that the Punta Catalina coal-fired power plant was an obstacle to clean and renewable energy, which has to be imported.

The entities say that the DR has all the conditions for clean and renewable energy to meet 85% of the power demands in the country by 2030, with reductions in cost and fuel imports.

They criticized the Dominican government for adopting coal as the country's main energy production source, saying that by doing this it was turning its back on the international community's efforts to reduce global warming.

They highlighted that during the recent consultations sponsored by the United Nations Human Development Program from 3-10 November 2015, Dominican civil society and local organizations called for the elimination of the use of coal-fired plants and the establishment of clean and renewable energy in fulfillment of Art. 27 of Law 1-12 of the National Development Strategy. They called on citizens to join the world march for climate scheduled for this Sunday, 29 November 2015, with a rally in Santo Domingo's Independence Park starting at 3pm.


Bernardo Vega: To debate or not to debate

Historian, Central Banker and former Dominican ambassador to Washington, D.C. Bernardo Vega is advocating for President Danilo Medina to break local politicians' reticence towards participating in political debates in election years.

Bernardo Vega says the DR and Haiti are the only two Latin American countries where the presidential candidates refuse to debate. He recalls that former Presidents Joaquin Balaguer, Leonel Fernandez, Hipolito Mejia all refused to debate their opponents.

"Will the spell be broken and we can have debates before May between Medina, Abinader and the others, or will we remain as only country in the region that votes without debates and only based on advertising spots and campaign convoys?" he asks.

He says that the best-positioned candidate is President Medina, but if the traditional wisdom is that the best candidate does not debate, he speculates that Medina will also reject the debate, especially when his refusal to address the issues is a key topic in the electoral criticism of his government, observes Vega.

"It looks like we may have to wait until 2020," he concludes.


Air Force helicopter makes forced landing in Azua

An Air Force helicopter, piloted by Lieutenant Francisco Jimenez Polanco and with two unnamed passengers on board, was forced to make an emergency landing in the southwestern province of Azua yesterday, Wednesday 25 November 2015. The helicopter landed on Km. 15 of the Azua-Bani highway, in front of Cemento Santo Domingo, the company that belongs to the Abinader Corona family that coincidentally has been very much in the news after the Ministry of Energy and Mines denied the company a mining permit despite the fact that it has been operating in the area for many years. The Ministry said that the company had been mining the limestone deposits using an exploration permit issued years ago. When the company sought to regularize its status, the permission was denied because it falls within a protected area.


Fireworks seized in Santiago

The National Police has announced the seizure of more than 3,000 firecrackers from a residence in Santiago owned by Marco Antonio Pichardo Pandelo. Some 3,287 fireworks were seized in the Casilda neighborhood in Gurabo yesterday, Wednesday, 25 November 2015.

The authorities searched the house with a warrant and included members of the criminal intelligence division of the Cibao Central Command, and brigades of the Fireworks Control Department of the Ministry of Interior and Police, accompanied by state prosecutors.

Personal use of fireworks is outlawed in the Dominican Republic.

Read more in Spanish at: http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2015/11/25/ocupan-miles-fuegos-artificiales-durante-allanamiento-santiago

Miguel Vargas, judge Francisco Arias deny accusations, Reyes calls in sick

PRD president Miguel Vargas has denied that an agreement to release Pedro Brand councilor Ericson de los Santos was part of the political deal between his party and the PLD in which the PRD legislators voted in favor of changing the Constitution to allow President Danilo Medina to run for re-election.

He denied having anything to do with the release order issued by judge Awilda Reyes. Supreme Court of Justice president Mariano German has said that the judge told him she did so following "orders from high up." The accusation against Miguel Vargas came from Reyes' lawyer Tomas Castro.

Meanwhile, resigning judge Francisco Arias Valera, accompanied by his lawyer, leading criminal law expert Carlos Balcacer, also denied heading an alleged ring of judges dedicated to favoring drug traffickers, asset launderers and other accused criminals. He denied paying judge Awilda Reyes Beltre for releasing Pedro Brand councilor Ericson de los Santos, accused of carrying out contract killings for the transport unions.

Meanwhile, suspended judge Awilda Reyes did not report for questioning by the judiciary inspectorate as scheduled, on the grounds of illness.




Three jailed for commercial paper fraud

The Fourth Collegiate Tribunal of the National District has issued sentences of six and two years to three men who operated a stock market office that cheated their investors of more than RD$50 million. The District Attorney's office reported that defendants Dionicio Homero Cabral Pimentel and Jose Ramon Attias Pena were sentenced to six years in prison together with Samir Cabral Pimentel who received a two-year sentence after being found guilty "of committing fraud worth millions of pesos to the detriment of dozens of people." The men were convicted of violating regulations issued by the Superintendence of Values, receiving assets for more than RD$50 million for which they issue commercial paper, making their clients believe that their businesses were functioning as a stock market seat that was duly authorized.

As long back as 2005, these men had been notified that they were not authorized to serve as intermediaries for assets. The company named Attias-Engineers n Architects, S A, had issued commercial paper offered to the public for an amount of no less than RD$51,474,580. This was purchased by 66 investors.

The emission of the commercial paper was structured and administered by the stock market firm of Transacciones Global, S.A., headed by Dionisio Homero Cabral Pimentel and managed by Samir Cabral Pimentel. The due date of the paper was 11 April 2006, which was not fulfilled, said prosecutor Karina Concepcion during the hearing. Despite being suspended in March 2007 the Transacciones Global firm together with Attias Engineers n Architects, S.A. continued to issue commercial paper without authorization.

Earthquake shakes felt in the DR

The earth shook yesterday evening, Wednesday 25 November 2015 at around 8:38pm. The earthquake was felt from Punta Cana to the southwest coast. According to reports, it registered between 4.8 and 5.0 on the Richter Scale with its epicenter at a depth of 10km (6 miles) northeast of Palmar de Ocoa, in the south west of the country. A second shake measuring 4.9 was felt about an hour later, at 9:49pm, slightly more inland at 16 km from San Jose de Ocoa.




Keep your umbrella handy

The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) announced yesterday, Wednesday, 25 November 2015 that light rains would affect the provinces of Montecristi, Dajabon, Santiago Rodriguez, Valverde, Puerto Plata, Santiago, La Romana, El Seibo, Hato Mayor and La Altagracia for the next few days. On Thursday and Friday, 26-27 November 2015, a passing frontal system is expected to weaken giving way to a frontal trough, which is expected to bring moderate rains nationwide with occasional heavy rains and electrical storms. Wave action is increasing along the Atlantic coast and small craft warnings are in place with recommendations to remain close to the shoreline.

Rascacielos at Casa de Teatro

After a very successful season in Cuba, Skyscrapers (Rascacielos) opens at Casa de Teatro in Santo Domingo this evening, Thursday 26 November 2015. The play tells the stories of four very different couples and their relationships. Directed by Jazz Vila, the play stars Dania Splinter, Camila Arteche, Catherine Nunez, Omar Rolando, Yaniel Castillo, Lulu Pinera, Raymundo Pinera and Gabriel Ricard. It will be performed on Thursday 26, Friday 27 and Saturday 28 November 2015 at 8:30pm. Tickets are RD$100.

Black Friday craziness

Expect traffic to be heavy in Santo Domingo tomorrow, Friday 27 November 2015 as the city braces itself for the busiest shopping day of the year. The biggest sales are at the large stores that are luring shoppers with what they promise are the best offers of the year. Shopping hours have been extended and many stores will be open from 7am to midnight. It will be a day to shop until you drop.

El Mayor Clasico y sus amigos at Hard Rock

El Mayor Clasico (Emmanuel Reyes) will be performing his urban music at the Hard Rock Cafe at the Blue Mall in Santo Domingo tomorrow evening, Friday, 27 November 2015 at 9pm.

Listen to his music at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdB4mAYdU5c

Dinasty Fest 2015 at Sans Souci

An evening of urban music is scheduled for Friday, 11 December 2015 at the Marinita Sans Souci in Santo Domingo East. Dinasty Fest 2015 brings together Arcangel (la Maravilla) from Puerto Rico and local urban stars Don Miguelo, Mark B and El Messiah. This is a night for lovers of urban music, dembow, hip-hop and reggaetton.

Tickets are RD$1,000 to RD$4,000 and available at the door or online at http://Ticketexpress.com.do

Carmina Burana at the Fortaleza Ozama

The National Dominican Ballet presents "Carmina Burana" on 12 December 2015 as part of activities organized by the Ministry of Culture for the Long Night of Museums in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo. That evening, museums remain open until late and admission is free. The ballet will start at 7:30pm at the Fortaleza Ozama on Calle Las Damas. The production is by Mercedes Morales.

Read more about upcoming events at http://www.dr1.com/calendar

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