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Daily News - Wednesday, 02 May 2007

Diandino vs. Huchi
Following last week's court decision obliging the metro office (OPRET) to hand over the geological studies for the metro, OPRET director Diandino Pena has warned journalist Huchi Lora that he will bear full responsibility for any future terrorist attack on the metro as a result of the publication of what he considers confidential information. Pena has argued that nowhere in the world are plans for a metro, an airport or government headquarters released to the public. Pena announced that he received the court documents yesterday and that his lawyers were studying the case to ascertain whether the court had interpreted the Law on Free Access to Information correctly.
Yesterday, Pena visited the Presidential Administrative Secretary's office and spoke to the press afterwards.
Lora obtained a positive verdict from the court requiring Pena to release the information in accordance with the Free Access to Information Act. Lora explained that what he is seeking to determine is whether the plans have been duly approved by the Ministry of Public Works, or if the metro department was working on its own. Lora has requested to see the appropriate Ministry of Public Work certification of the plans for the Villa Mella overpass, the protective plating in the underground tunnels, the stations, and the approved plans for the avenues that border the Isabela and Ozama rivers.
Geologist Osiris de Leon has frequently criticized the lack of adequate studies that would have reduced the amount of improvisations that have been necessary, adding to the cost of the project.
Meanwhile, Senate president and PLD congressional spokesman Reinaldo Pared Perez commented on the geological studies in an interview with Listin Diario: "If the geological studies were carried out, they should be made public. If they were not carried out, they should just admit this, because it is a very important project and the point is that it needs to be carried out correctly, with all the studies that ensure that in the future, once it is in operation there are no accidents or catastrophes."

Corridor becomes garbage dump
Diario Libre reports that the residents in the Hoyo de la Zurza slum have found a way to take advantage of the landfill that the metro builders constructed as the base for a corridor along the Isabela River, a project that has been on hold for about a year now. Diario Libre reports that improvised garbage dumps prevail in the newly created space and mountains of garbage are now apparent. The newspaper reports that the new improvised garbage areas add to the pollution of the river and that the garbage slips into the river when water levels rise. Geologist Osiris de Leon said that the road site was chosen as a solution for dumping the earth that was dug up to build the metro, in violation of the protected area. De Leon said that the extension of Avenida del Puerto alongside the Isabela River was subsequently abandoned when the builders found they would have to dynamite the ground by the La Zurza area.

Numbers, instead of ideas
Today's Espejo de Papel column in Diario Libre comments on DR politics. The columnist goes back to the origins of politics in the time of the ancient Greeks to mention that in those days it was all about being a good speaker and communicating ideas to the people. "One had to think to convince others," the author comments. He says that Dominican politics is very different. It is physical, not verbal. "Rhetoric doesn't count. What counts are the marches, to mobilize and concentrate people. Numbers, not ideas."

Reaching out to Dona Chucha
The government has delivered a RD$243,000 check to the Dona Chucha girls' orphanage in Santo Domingo. The funds correspond to the subsidy that the orphanage was due for January, February, March and April, and that had been eliminated in the reshuffling of funds by the Congress. Furthermore, the Presidency Administrative Secretary announced that the government would reinstate the subsidy bringing it to RD$58,000 a month and that the National Lottery would provide an additional monthly fund of RD$80,000 and would make a contribution so the orphanage could replace its electrical appliances. The government was responding to reports of the orphanage's plight published in Listin Diario last week. The situation at the orphanage had become so critical that the director had threatened to go on hunger strike as a last resort prior to closing the orphanage.

Jose Tomas Perez votes to be annulled
The organizing committee of the PLD primary that is set for 6 May has said that any vote that is marked in favor of former senator Jose Tomas Perez will be annulled. Perez was one of the candidates in the primary, but last week he announced he would support President Leonel Fernandez's re-election aspirations. He alleged that surveys carried out on PLD party members and voters in general showed a marked preference for Fernandez versus his leading contender, former Presidency Secretary Danilo Medina. The vote would not be annulled if the voter also chooses either Danilo Medina or Leonel Fernandez. In that case, the vote would go to Medina or Fernandez. A vote for Perez alone would be annulled because he is no longer in the race.

Customs declarations must be online
As of 21 May, all Customs declarations need to be made online. The Customs Department (DGA) says that this system will reduce the number of incorrect declarations it receives, as well as reducing tax evasion. From now on, the DGA's role will be to physically verify the merchandise.
See www.dga.gov.do/portal.net/DefaultDesktop.aspx?tabid=1

A society behind bars
Today's editorial in Hoy newspaper comments on how more and more Dominican families and businesses have had to install bars and security systems for self-protection, and reminisces about the old days. The newspaper points to the need for increasing Police funding, which would include better-paid policemen as a way of preventing corruption. "To guarantee good work and effective surveillance with poorly paid policemen is a utopia that is costing us more than if we paid decent wages to those who need to battle the criminals," writes the newspaper. "On the other hand, it is necessary to identify the weaknesses of the judicial system that seems to protect the criminal more than its victims. "Without questioning the judiciary, somewhere in the machinery of justice the conditions are there to facilitate record time releases," writes the newspaper. It concludes: "There is a widespread loss of security that has obliged our society to live behind bars, without trust and elusive, under the burden of fear and suspicions."

Mother's Day sales
Several of the leading stores in Santo Domingo have already announced their Mother's Day sales. These include Ferreteria Cuesta with a 20% discount storewide this Friday, 4 May and Saturday, 5 May from 9am to 9pm. Radiocentro is also advertising its sales, with super discounts on items that have suffered minor damages. Arbaje Soni furniture store is advertising sales prices on its mattresses. Anthony's and Oscar de la Renta's shop in Plaza Central are advertising 50% off sales. Likewise, Supermercado Nacional is offering its Cuisinart appliances program, in which customers shopping at the chain during the month of May can get major discounts on these appliances. Expect more sales to be forthcoming.

Caribbean Golf Classic
Casa de Campo is hosting the Caribbean Golf Classic starting Wednesday, 2 May. The Dominican Golf Federation (Fedogolf) and the Caribbean Golf Association are organizing the event. Golfers have come from the Bahamas, Barbados, the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Trinidad, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Virgin Islands to compete against their Dominican hosts. The golfers will tee off on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with three rounds playing Stableford rules. Teeth of the Dog, The Links and Dye Fore courses will be played.

Spiderman opens in DR
Spider-Man III is premiering at the Palacio movie theaters in Santo Domingo and San Francisco de Macoris starting this Thursday, 3 May. Palacio theaters are located in the Bella Vista neighborhood, the Malecon Center movie halls on the Malecon and at the Palacio halls on Avenida Venezuela, in eastern Santo Domingo. Palacio theaters in the northeastern city of San Francisco de Macoris will also be screening the popular film.

Yoryi Morel at the Museum of Modern Art
Yoryi Morel is considered one of the best Dominican artists, and a reduced collection of the original exhibition of his work at the Bellapart Museum in Santo Domingo and the Centro Leon in Santiago has now opened at the Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo. "Autonomia y Trascendencia," is adapted for the Plaza de la Cultura museum. The exhibition will be open to the public through 19 July on Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 6pm on the second floor of the Museum of Modern Art.
The exhibition should be combined with the visit to the Santo Domingo Book Fair, the year's main cultural event, which features multiple functions and events along with the country's largest exhibition of bookstore stock.
For more on upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar
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