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Daily News - Thursday, 15 March 2007

Fernandez prohibits cancellations
Government employees will not be removed from their posts based on the presidential candidate they support. Felix Bautista, organization secretary of the ruling PLD party, announced after a meeting with President Leonel Fernandez at the Presidential Palace that those that had been fired for political reasons would be reinstated. Cesar Pina Torribio, coordinator of the PLD Electoral Committee, and Reynaldo Pared Perez, PLD secretary general were also present. Bautista is quoted in Diario Libre saying that "All colleagues, regardless of the candidate they support, have professional and political merit to be in public office. The announcedment comes after many supporters of presidential candidate Danilo Medina protested they were fired for supporting Medina as the PLD candidate in the 2008 presidential election, and not President Fernandez.

Heads of state come for Drugs Summit
Colombian President Alvaro Uribe will be arriving in the DR today for the Drugs, Security and Cooperation Summit to be held in Santo Domingo. He will join Haiti President Rene Preval, Prime Ministers from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Vincent and Grenada who will be attending the Summit, together with representatives from the United States, Spain, France, Holland, the European Union, Caricom, and the UN.
President Rene Preval of Haiti arrived yesterday and met with Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso, Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado, and investors. Preval took a moment to comment that it is untrue that Haitians are mistreated in the Dominican Republic and said that relations between the two countries are good. Preval is scheduled to meet with President Leonel Fernandez tonight at 7pm at the Presidential Palace. This is the first time that Colombia, the DR and Haiti meet to discuss issues regarding the trafficking of drugs. Colombia is considered the largest producer of drugs in the region and Haiti and the DR are known as major transshipment points for US and European markets.
The opening ceremonies of the Drug Summit will be on 16 March at 10am and the closing ceremonies will at 5pm with the signing of the Santo Domingo Declaration.

Judge Fernandez on SOMO investigations
Central Electoral Board (JCE) Judge Aura Celeste Fernandez is explaining why on two occasions she voted for the exclusion of Judge Roberto Rosario in the investigations regarding the corruption scandal of the Soluciones Modernas (SOMO) civil registry system contracts. Judge Fernandez says that the SOMO case is being handled by the Department for the Prevention of Administrative Corruption (DPCA) and that Judge Rosario, who has had a formal complaint filed against him, is an integral part of the investigations on behalf of the JCE. Rosario was a member of the former JCE board. Fernandez understands that Rosario should remove himself from the investigations because he was on the JCE board that approved and managed the SOMO contracts. She defended his removal would add to the institutionalism and transparency at the JCE.
Clave newspaper writes that Angel Lockward, Artiles, former secretary general of the JCE, previously accused Rosario of having a particular interest in the US$35 million SOMO contract. Fernandez, who has been fighting for transparency at the JCE, said that she made the proposal but did not receive the support of the other JCE judges and thus put into writing her dissident opinion.
Fernandez said in Diario Libre that she went public with her vote when happenings at the Monday session where the matter was discussed were leaked to the media and she wanted other details of the meeting to be known.

JCE and Public Health inaugurate civil registry
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) and the Ministry of Public Health have inaugurated the civil registry department at a maternity ward in a hospital. For the first time in the history of the Dominican Republic a newborn child received his birth certificate when released from the Nuestra Senora de la Altagracia Maternity Hospital, the largest in the Dominican Republic. He received at the same time the number that will become his ID card upon his 16th birthday. This same number will be valid for his driver's license and death certificate.
The new civil registry is located near the reception area and is equipped with computers donated by the Ministry of Public Health. Public Health is promising to work with the JCE to provide this service in other hospitals. The goal is to provide birth certificates to 85% of the children that are born in hospitals in the next three months.
The civil registry will be open from 8am to 6pm and no mother will be allowed to leave the hospital until she has received a birth certificate for her child.
The new service will considerably reduce the number of Dominicans that are never registered by their parents that have 30 days to do so, to avoid the costly and time-consuming steps needed after the deadline. Estimates place the number of undocumented Dominicans at 400,000.

DR presents projects; looks for investments
Today, the Dominican government and representatives from the private sector will present at least 17 different infrastructure projects at the 5th International Infrastructure Forum with the hopes of attracting more investments to the country. The Viadom 2007 project announced by President Leonel Fernandez will be presented as well as the Santo Domingo Metro. Viadom2007 is a plan to use accumulated pension funds to help fund the building of housing and road infrastructure. Housing, highways, hydroelectric energy projects, and drinkable water technology projects will also be presented. During the Forum, the 50 most important infrastructural programs of Latin America will be chosen as well as 10 initiatives for the DR will be announced. During the inauguration Vice President Rafael Alburquerque highlighted the increased amount of judicial security in the country and the positive investment environment of the DR.

Inflation for February 0.31%
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the month of February was at 0.31% compared to January. This brings the cumulative inflation for the first two months of the year to 1.24%. According to the Central Bank the inflation for February wasn't even a third of the inflation of January when inflation reached 0.93%. The report indicates that if petroleum affects aren't considered the inflation rate would be at -0.05% for February. The increase in prices for February is attributed to the hike in fuel. Tobacco products increased 9.01%. Transport and housing showed the largest increases with 1.17% and 0.58%, respectively, also due to the increases in gasoline prices. This was offset by decreases in food prices -0.66% and foods prepared outside the home were down -0.76%. The numbers for hotels and restaurants declined -0.71% due to the decrease in the price of prepared foods.

Dominicans polled on work
Dominicans may like to work, after all. A poll taken by the Funglode National Institute of Public Opinion (INOP) reveals that 45.3% of Dominicans would like to dedicate more time to their jobs while 22.7% are fine with the way things are and 15.1% would like to work less. Also, 52.1% of Dominicans believe that the only objective of a job is to win money. The poll reveals that a large percentage of Dominicans, 72.1%, would like to work independently or as private employees. The poll indicates that 47.4% of the population feels that they are well paid while 33.1% would disagree. For the poll 2,880 households were chosen for a total of 1,958 people interviewed. The poll was conducted between 25 November and 15 December 2005.

Police apprehend bomb throwers
Police Chief Bernardo Santana Paez described as terrorism, the throwing of a home made so-called Molotov bomb into a non-striking employee bus. He announced the arrest of Eddy Alejandro Alvarez Mateo and Antonio Modesto Arredondo as suspects who may have thrown the bomb. Others accused are Wellington Lora Hernandez and men who go by the aliases Zorillo, William, Cheche la Bolanta, Juan Pablo, and Culiquitaca. Seven people suffered injuries and burns, including a pregnant woman. Vice President Rafael Alburquerque said that the government will prosecute those responsible for this act. Interior & Police Minister Franklyn Almeyda said that the government would cover all medical expenses, including plastic surgery.

911 in the DR
The US government, through USAID, has donated US$600,000 to the Ministry of Interior Police Ministry with the objective of development a 911 program in the DR that would allow for fast and efficient response to emergencies. The funds will be disbursed once US Ambassador Hans H. Hertell and Interior and Police Minister Franklyn Almeyda sign a cooperation agreement. Hertell says that the funds will help the country's security agencies to provide better service to citizens.

American doctors help children
Doctors from the United States performed operations on 28 children in Santiago who suffered from deformations and burns. The free surgeries were part of a plastic surgery program and were carried out at the Unidad de Ninos Quemados Doctora Thelma Rosario at the regional hospital Doctor Arturo Grullon. The operated children came from Santiago, La Vega, Monte Cristi, Santiago, Rodriguez, Puerto Plata, and Dajabon among others.

Breathalyzers not reliable
Lawyer Julio Cury has called the Transit Authority's breathalyzers "toys" and says that the US Transportation Department has not certified the breathalyzers being used, CDP 6000. This means, he explained, that the results of those breathalyzer tests have no legal validity. Cury, in an interview in the Listin Diario, criticized that the breathalyzers will only serve as a means of prevention and guidance. The lawyer goes on to say that the breathalyzers are so unreliable that even spokesmen from the Ministry of Interior and Police have admitted that different factors like smoking or air quality could affect results. Nevertheless, Cury said he agrees with the initiative.

Construction on bi-national market begins
Representatives from the European Union, international organizations, and representatives from the Dominican and Haitian governments, inaugurated the construction of the RD$210 million binational market in the border province of Dajabon. This will be a place where Dominican and Haitian merchants can trade. The inauguration took place where the site will be erected, at the edge of the Masacre River. The river acts as a border for the two countries. Dino Sinigallia, chief of the European National Authorizing Office (ONFED) delegation in the DR, Onofre Rojas, provincial governor Arturo Socias and Haitian Work Minister Frank Verela all spoke during the ceremony. Sinigallia says that this is the first border project inaugurated by ONFED funds and that the project has been in the works for many years. He forecast that the market would contribute to the development of the border areas.

Subero robbed by man he knew
Preliminary results from investigations reveal that the robbery and shooting of businessman Jose Miguel Subero was done by a man he knew and trusted. Hoy writes that on late afternoon Tuesday Subero was relaxing in his villa at Barranca No.9 at Casa de Campo when a group of men, armed with an Uzi and pistols, entered Subero's villa. The men took Subero in his Land Cruiser SUV, robbed him, shot him twice and left him for dead in the batey Cacata near Casa de Campo. Subero managed to stand up and was spotted by one of the security guards. Using the security guard's phone, Subero called his wife, Lourdes Hernandez de Subero, who called retired colonel Pedro Julio "Pepe" Goico. Goico arranged for a plane to transport Subero to Santo Domingo to receive care. Police explain that Rafael Alexander Alejo Diaz, who was Subero's driver, admitted that he planned the robbery attempt and facilitated his accomplice's access to Subero's villa. Police Chief Bernardo Santana Paez explained that as Subero's driver, Alejo Diaz, who had a previous criminal record, had an access card that gave him access to Casa de Campo residential area and to Subero's villa. Six men have been arrested in connection to the robbery and attempted murder. Casa de Campo officials released a statement assuring that the complex has always been characterized by their strict security measures. They continued by saying that all who enter and exit Casa de Campo must be identified.
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