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Daily News - Friday, 27 April 2007

DR1 breaks for Labor Day
The DR1 Daily News digest will not be published on Monday. The compilation of news from Friday through Monday will be published on Tuesday, 1 May. The DR1 Forums remain open 24/7 for posting major breaking news or comments at www.dr1.com/forums
Monday, 30 April is a holiday. The Ministry of Interior and Police also announced that the 12 midnight limit on alcoholic beverage sales that normally applies on Sundays, will not be in place, and that there will be no limit on alcoholic beverage sales on Sunday, 29 April.
The Dominican Republic is commemorating Labor Day that actually falls on Tuesday, 1 May. This means that Dominicans are enjoying a long weekend starting today, Friday, 27 April. Travelers should avoid peak traffic hours, such as traffic returning to Santo Domingo from the east and the north on Monday afternoon. For more information on long weekends and holidays in the DR, see http://dr1.com/travel/prepare/holidays.shtml

Castanos makes proposal
Central Electoral Board (JCE) president Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman is proposing a summit meeting between the political parties to discuss the application of guidelines and limits for spending on their political campaigning and publicity. Castanos's proposal comes after it was revealed that the PLD pre-presidential candidates had spent RD$118 million on their primary campaigns, which led to widespread criticism. Total political party spending on their primaries alone is said to have amounted to over RD$350 million. The JCE president said the summit should be held once the PLD and PRSC primaries are over. The PLD primary is set for 6 May, and the PRSC primary is scheduled for 10 June. Castanos also defended the JCE's right to reveal campaign funding figures, saying that these figures are public, not government property. Castanos also defended the actions of JCE judge, Dr. Jose Angel Aquino, who revealed the figures earlier this week, after weeks of reticence from the normal channels in the JCE.

Jose Tomas drops out of race
With only a few days to go for the PLD internal elections, Jose Tomas Perez has announced that he will be dropping out of the pre-presidential campaign and says that he will be supporting President Leonel Fernandez's re-election campaign. Perez made his announcement through a document titled "Agreement for the PLD's unity and triumph' - 'Acuerdo por la unidad y el triunfo del PLD," in which he urges the public to turn out and vote for Fernandez as the PLD's candidate for the 2008 presidency on 6 May. He said he decided to back President Fernandez because most surveys show that Fernandez is the candidate who has the greatest support within and beyond the party.
President Fernandez's main contender for the PLD presidential nomination, Danilo Medina reacted to the announcement that Jose Tomas Perez has allied himself with President Leonel Fernandez by saying that the move doesn't really change anything and that he will win the 6 May convention with more than 60% of the vote.

PRD calls for cheaper cedulas
The PRD is asking the Central Electoral Board to reduce the cost of obtaining a Dominican "cedula" identification and voting card for Dominicans living abroad. The card costs US$45 and the party is making the proposal in a bid to attract more Dominican expatriates to vote in the 2008 elections. Party secretary Orlando Jorge Mera made the announcement on behalf of the PRD, saying that the price discourages Dominicans living abroad from taking the trouble to renew their Dominican ID cards.

DR increases business in the DR
During the XIV Hispanic Business and Consumer Fair - Feria de Negocios y Consumidores Hispanos held in Florida, business relations between the DR and the state of Florida were strengthened. The fair is considered the largest of its kind in the US with the attendance of 30,000 people and 510 businesses. Angel Baez Camacho, director of ABC Consulting, explained that as a result of meetings during the fair ABC will be making an initial investment of US$10 million in projects in Santo Domingo and Punta Cana. Camacho also announced that ABC plans to invest US$5 million to expand their motorcycle assembly plant located in the DR. Ramon Ojeda, head of the Orlando Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said that US$100 million worth of business relations were consolidated during the fair. The trip by the Dominican delegation to Florida was organized by the DR Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD) with the aim of diversifying and maximizing business and trade opportunities for the DR.

DR and Korea signing agreement?
Listin Diario writes that South Korea would like to sign a free trade agreement with the DR similar to the one they signed with Chile. The paper explains that South Korea has already begun the process towards the agreement. South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Ho Young explains his positive outlook towards the discussions, especially after President Leonel Fernandez's visit to South Korea last June. The South Koreans are also hoping to obtain the DR's support for their bid to stage the 2014 Olympics.

Mirador criminals to jail
Three young men accused of robbing picnickers in Santo Domingo's Mirador Sur park have been sent to Najayo jail. Horacio Garcia Bautista, Daniel Garcia Sanchez and Henry Lorenzo were charged with dressing up as military personnel or students and robbing park visitors. As a result of these incidents National Police have increased police patrols in Mirador Sur from 70 to 100 officers. Officers will patrol on foot and in small golf carts. The increased patrolling will also include other public areas where robberies are common.

Kidnapped child rescued
Alexis Salcedo Marte, son of Javilla Tours owner Francisco Alejandro Salcedo and Miguelina Marte, was rescued by police in Cayetano Germosen in Moca province yesterday after being held by abductors for one day. Diario Libre writes that Carlos Santiago Hidalgo Polanco, Robin Sanchez del Rosario, Mercedes Melendez and Ruth Esther Diaz were all arrested in connection with the case. In a strange twist, Hoy writes that the boy's mother was also charged after Hidalgo claimed that she was part of the plot. Francisco Alejandro Salcedo, the father, explained that Hidalgo, the leader of the abduction scheme, was a person he had trusted. He had worked for him doing vehicle maintenance work. He continued by saying that the most important thing is that his son is safe. The child was seized from Puerto Plata's Residencial Codetel at 9am yesterday. The kidnappers had been asking for US$100,000 in ransom.

Tourism workers also get raises
Following the wage increase agreement that was finally reached between the business sector and the workers unions yesterday, workers in the tourism industry will also be included. Diario Libre explains that the National Salary Committee (CNS) has approved a 12.5% wage increase to the minimum wage for workers in the tourism sector. Their wage levels will now be RD$3,600, RD$4,000 and RD$5,575.

Tourism losing opportunities
USAID director Richard J. Goughnour says that the DR is losing out on a great opportunity to use its culture as part of its tourism offer. Goughnour, quoted in Listin Diario, said that hotels should open their doors to the country's culture and include it as part of the country's tourist attractions. The director said that tourism is very competitive and that better tourism packages are being offered each day. Including culture in the tourism package could make the DR more distinctive. Goughnour said that the all-inclusive package is good but that the country is losing out on benefiting from the island's beauty and riches. He continued by saying that there should be more work with communities, ecotourism and crafts workshops and said that the all-inclusive package doesn't allow tourists to appreciate Dominican culture.

Search and rescue operations intensify
Search and rescue operations have intensified to find the 20 remaining members of the ship Abracadabra that sunk of the coast of Montecristi earlier this week. A US Coast Guard unit, as a well as the Civil Defense unit, the Dominican Navy and the Dominican Air Force are conducting searches of the area hoping to find any survivors. So far 19 people have been rescued but as the days go by, all hopes of finding survivors is fading. Hoy writes that a C-130 search plane from the US will be used, beginning today, in the search operation and Captain Valentino Cano said that the DR is asking for Haitian cooperation on the matter because of the possibility that some survivors might be in Haitian territorial waters.

Dominican students standout at Model UN
A group of 20 Dominican students who took part in a Model UN Conference have won first place for their role as conflict negotiators. The group managed to win seven different awards, more than any other delegation from the other participating countries.

Dominican success at Billboard awards
Musical performers Aventura, Anais and Luny Tunes all walked away with prizes last night during the presentations of the Billboard awards held in Miami, Florida. Aventura took away three awards, while Anais received two and Luny Tunes received one.

Slamming Sammy
After weeks of hearing criticism for his slow start this season, Dominican slugger Sammy Sosa began to silence his critics yesterday. The slugger belted two homeruns out of Jacobs Field, in Cleveland Ohio. This was the 44th park that Sosa homered in his major league career and it was his 69th multiple homerun game, third only to Barry Bonds and Babe Ruth. The dingers were 593 and 594 of his career and Sosa now needs only six more homeruns to make the famed 600-homerun club, a guaranteed ticket to Cooperstown, the Hall of Fame.
It took one monster swing from Willy Mo Pena to give the Boston Red Sox their win yesterday, and Pena did it in grand fashion. With the Red Sox down 2-1 to the Baltimore Orioles, Pena stepped up and with the bases loaded sent a shot to straight center field, giving the Sox a 5-2 victory.
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