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Daily News - Tuesday, 27 March 2007

New registration for foreign births
Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman, president of the Central Electoral Board (JCE), announced a new procedure for the registration of children who are born to foreign mothers. Castanos said that every child born to a foreign mother, regardless of nationality, will be registered in a book. Later that data will be sent to the Migration Department and the Ministry of Interior & Police in order for those departments to complete the legal and diplomatic requirements so that those children can be properly registered in their parent's country of origin. This will allow those children to eventually receive their birth certificates.
Judge Roberto Rosario has also announced that the JCE will create voting offices in Panama and Venezuela so that Dominicans living in those countries will be able to vote in the 2008 elections.

US$30 million international campaign
International organizations reportedly are preparing to launch a US$30 million international campaign accusing the Dominican Republic of enslaving Haitians that work here and of denying Dominican nationality to Haitians that are born here, as reported in El Dia.
The month-long program is scheduled to kick off in France in May sponsored by Amnesty International, the office of Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe and the artistic group Collectif 2004 Images.
El Dia explains that key figures behind the campaign are Catholic priests, Christopher Hartley, who is related to Spanish nobility and is close to the monarchs of Spain, and Pedro Ruquoy. Hartley was asked to leave the country when his superior Bishop Francisco Osoria expelled him from the diocese on occasion of uncovering Hartley's participation in criminal happenings, as reported in El Dia. Ruquoy left the country shortly after it was discovered that he irregularly served as the father to declare several children of illegal Haitian parents so these could get their Dominican birth certificates. Another key figure mentioned as part of the campaign is the Haitian activist in the DR, Sonia Pierre. Ambassador Radhames Batista, president of the National Border council recently stated that her real name is Solain Pie and that she received an irregular birth certificate as Sonia Pierre because her mother was the undocumented illegal resident Maria Pie. She was declared by Ramon Juan whose cedula No. 20888-23 was forged.
Recently, the Central Electoral Board ruled for the implementation of the Libro de Extranjeria that documents when a foreigner is born here. El Dia reports that the new registration document has been well received by the US Consulate, not so by international organizations that demand that all those born in the DR be granted Dominican citizenship.
In December 2005, the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that those born to parents without permanent residence or citizenship would not be Dominicans at birth.
Given the difficulties in stemming migration at the border, the DR every year receives thousands of new Haitian migrants. Over the years, the Dominican governments have done little to reduce the migration. As the problems in Haiti have increased, more and more Haitians cross the border. While Haitians were initially hired to work in sugar plantations, sugar harvests are being mechanized and today more Haitians are attracted by the many jobs available in construction and as gardeners, housekeepers and street sales. The Ministry of Superior Education reports that there are approximately 6,000 Haitians studying in Dominican universities, and public hospitals are heavily burdened by thousands of Haitian mothers that cross the border to give birth and receive free medical services.

Country launches plan to fight HIV/AIDS
Due to the epidemic that affects 60,000 people in the DR, between the ages of 15 and 49, and has challenged the country's health care system, local and international health authorities have decided to launch the National Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, HIV/AIDS 2007-2015. Humberto Salazar, director of the Presidential AIDS Council (COPRESIDA) made the announcement at seminar and said that the first phase of the program is scheduled to be completed by May of this year. Niky Fabiancic, the United Nations representative in the Dominican Republic, explained that 13,000 people in the country have HIV/AIDS and only 6,000 people receive the necessary retroviral medications to help combat HIV/AIDS. Fabiancic says that though this is a challenge for the DR the situation has improved considering that two years ago no one was receiving the medication. He continued by saying that Haiti and the DR are taking the AIDS epidemic seriously. Health Minister Bautista Rojas added that inequality, poverty, limited sex education, and children engaging in sexual relations at an early age all contribute to the spreading of HIV/AIDS.

Wages impasse continues
Vice President Rafael Alburquerque met, to no avail, with business and worker's unions representatives yesterday. Alburquerque did, however, point out that at this point he wasn't negotiating for either side and that he was just merely listening to both sides and their proposals. Alburquerque listened as the worker's unions explained that they will not continue to negotiate unless the wage increase affects workers making up to RD$30,000 per month. This has been the main hold up in the negotiations. The business sector insists on limiting the increase to the minimum wage. Companies would be free to adjust wages of those making more than minimum wage. The business representatives did increase its minimum wage offer to 15%, up from 12%. This increase would be done in two phases, one increase of 12%, followed by another of 3% three months later.
The worker's unions are threatening not to go back to the negotiating table if the business sector maintains its positions and have scheduled an internal meeting for 2pm today to discuss details of the process.
Alburquerque was joined by Labor Minister Ramon Fadul and Monsignor Agripino Nunez Collado. In an interview with Hoy newspaper, Fadul said that workers in the DR don't receive adequate salaries and urged the business sector to change this. Fadul said that Dominicans can't live with such miserable wages and explained that according to the Central Bank the a family of four needs a minimum RD$18,500 a month.

OPRET and driver's unions meet
Office for the Reorganization of Transit head Diandino Pena and driver's unions leaders Juan Hubieres, Ramon Perez Figuereo, Alfredo Linares and Antonio Marte will resume negotiations tomorrow after weeks of set backs in the negotiations. The meeting will take place at 9am and Juan Hubieres says that the main issue on the agenda is bus fares.

More privileges for power companies
Electricity expert Bernardo Castellanos criticizes that the government again seeks to grant privileges to foreign companies and their local associates that seek to enter the Dominican electricity market, as reported in the Listin Diario.
He criticized as damaging the contract that has been allotted to Chinese investors for the installation of a coal-fired plant. The contract is up for approval in the PLD-majority Congress. Castellanos said that the country should have learned its lessons and never again grant preferential guarantees to electrical generation contracts. Despite very negative experiences in the past, that the contract that is now pending congressional approval provides the sovereign guarantee of the state and the government also commits to carry out investments of US$70 million in each plant, as it is responsible for purchasing the ground where the plants will be installed and for the installation of the transmission line connection to the national power grid. Furthermore, the contract establishes a penalty of US$600,000 to US$9 million if the CDEEE is late on keeping these commitments.
In addition, the government commits to supply the coal for the operation of the plants, reducing the financial burden of the company.
Castellanos was furthermore critical of the advantageous conditions granted to the new owners of the Cogentrix power plant in San Pedro de Macoris. The deal came about because the previous deal signed by the same present authorities that are negotiating similar concessions with the Chinese made it less costly to keep it shut down than operate it.

Site for heliport found
Santo Domingo Mayor Roberto Salcedo has announced the location for the Santo Domingo heliport. The heliport will be located at the Plaza Omar Torrijos, between the George Washington Avenue and the Abraham Lincoln Avenue. Salcedo said that construction of the heliport could begin within the next month and is estimated to cost RD$6 million. The heliport will have three landing strips with capacity for 6 helicopters. The town municipality has also signed an agreement of cooperation with the Airport Department in which the department will, free of charge, provide assistance and help in securing the necessary permits for the project.

Is dengue fever back?
After spending months out of the headlines, Public Health officials are addressing the recent concerns of another dengue fever outbreak. The Public Health minister is reporting 1,000 new cases up to this point in the year, for an average of 400 dengue cases per every month in 2007. Listin Diario writes that 3 people have died this year due to dengue. Minister Bautista Rojas says that if dengue fever continues to spread unattended it could infect 6,000 people by the end of the year. The ministry nationwide fumigation plans to eliminate the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the fever. Health Minister Bautista Rojas explained that in comparison to 2006, when 52 people died from the fever, the rate of infection has decreased. He also added that the goal is to continue decreasing the rate of infection. On 17 April the Health Ministry will begin its education and sanitation campaign.

Breathalyzer campaign causes confusion
Seems that Dominicans are not ready for the breathalyzer test system. Diario Libre reports that because of the confusion and inconvenience caused by the breathalyzers random examinations have been reduced. The Diario Libre does quote a Transit authority official who says that AMET officials will be conducting breathalyzer tests during Easter Week (Semana Santa) on the nation's highways with the goal of reducing the number of accidents during the long holiday. Also the Diario Libre writes that of a total 71 examinations given to drivers nationwide since the program began earlier this month only 5 people have tested positive for driving under the influence.

Fernandez still the most popular
The fifth version of a poll conducted by the Argentinian firm Carlos Fara & Asociados between 16 March and 19 March showed that President Leonel Fernandez remains extremely popular among possible voters. 1,000 people were polled of which 88.8% said they would vote for Fernandez if he were the PLD's candidate in the 2008 elections. Voters were asked: "If elections were held tomorrow who would you vote for?" and voters overwhelmingly picked Fernandez. In 4 previous polls Fernandez had also received the support of at least 87.4% of the polled voters.

Rains cause death and damages
Continued heavy rains have been blamed for the death of four people in the province of Duarte (San Francisco de Macoris) and the Weather Department says that the heavy rains will continue until at least Thursday. Hoy writes that 3,000 homes have been flooded and that 15,000 other homes have been affected by the heavy rains in the northern part of the DR. The rains have also caused the Emergency Operation Center (COE) to move up the emergency warnings from green to yellow for the provinces of Puerto Plata, Santiago, Moca, Duarte, Salcedo, Maria Trinidad, Sanchez, Monte Plata and most of the Cibao region. COE director Colonel Juan Manuel Mendez Garcia explained in Hoy that in Santiago and Puerto Plata 700 and 1,200 homes respectively have suffered flooding. Rains also affected Santo Domingo on the southern coast, worsening the already difficult traffic situation.
Flooded zones and flood victims in Puerto Plata, Santiago, Maria Trinidad, Sanchez and other provinces in the northern part of will receive RD$20 million from the government. Emigdio Sosa, director of the Presidency Social Plan, gave the news and said that President Fernandez has been following the developments in the affected areas. Sosa said that the government will provide the aid as long as it necessary and that crews are working to get affected families out of flooded zones and into shelters.

Government pays for chickens
During a meeting by poultry farmers it was announced that a miscalculation lead to an increased production of chicken this year. Farmers produced 845,000 extra chickens, each weighing 4 pounds, and now the government will buy the extra chickens for a cost of RD$45.9 million (RD$55.00) in order to avoid a collapse of the sector. Chicken farmers asked the government for help for the sector that, according to the Listin Diario, transacts about RD$20 billion per year. The Listin explains that the country has 232 incubation machines with the capacity to produce 23 million chickens per month compared to a demand of only 14 million chickens per month, creating the problem of overproduction. Though there were accusations during the meeting, Enriquillo Rivas, representing Pollo Cibao, the largest poultry producer in the nation, with half the chicken market, said that without government intervention the sector would collapse.

Youth gangs promise peace
Ten youth gangs from the Buenos Aires and Canada de Guajimia sectors have handed over their weapons. Among the weapons that the youths had were 4 rifles, 4 revolvers, 2 pistols, 50 machetes, 3 knives, 25 chilenas (hand made weapons), and 25 rifle cartridges. The gang leaders, according to Julio Espinosa, head of the Movimiento Vision Estrategica Nacional, promised to keep the peace in the areas where the live. They reached the agreement with Santo Domingo East Police General Reinaldo Moreno and the help of community leaders.

Chinese Dominicans have success
The table tennis doubles team of Luis Lin Ju and Nieves Xue Wu won the mixed doubles championships at the XVII Latin American Table Tennis Championships which were held in Brazil. The Dominican team beat the Cuban team with a final score of 11-6, 11-6, 11-8. On the way to the championship, the pair beat teams from Brazil, Venezuela, Barbados and Cuba.

DR becomes a soccer nation?
Despite not having played in an official international match this year, Dominican soccer received some great news from FIFA, soccer's governing body. The Dominican Republic will now be ranked 135th in the world rankings ahead of El Salvador (138) Vietnam (139) Indonesia (146) and India (165), countries in which soccer is extremely popular. The news is a welcome sign for a team that was beat 4-0 by Guyana the last time they played an international match. The Dominican Republic's best world ranking was 116th achieved in 1996 and its worst ranking was 186th in June of 2006.
FIFA also announced that it will increase by 51%, the amount of funding and investment in less developed nations. The Dominican Republic will benefit from the funds. FIFA will provide US$690 million, up from US$457 million.
Dominican soccer has benefited from increased FIFA investments in the country, to the tune of US$250 million a year. This includes the construction of fields, coaching resources, and other needs. For an overview on soccer in the DR, see

Casandra awards tonight
The Casandra Awards, that honor the best in show business in the DR, will be presented tonight at the National Theater. The ceremonies begin at 7pm with the red carpet parade. The awards ceremony begins at 8pm and will be televised on Telecentro (channel 13) in the DR and in the United States through Caribe NDTV from Direct TV.
The online show can be seen at http://www.acroarte.com.do
This year there are 186 nominees and the likes of Paulina Rubio, Aventura, Monchy & Alexander, Johnny Ventura, Sergio Vargas, Milly Quezada are among the invited guests. The event is sponsored by Claro Codetel this year.
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