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Daily News - Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Fernandez in Miami
President Leonel Fernandez began his two-week US tour with a stopover in Miami where he backed a new program to prepare multimedia journalists to cover Dominican communities outside the main cities. President Fernandez announced an inter-institutional agreement with the university to prepare journalists for the provinces through Community Technological Centers (CTC). Another program would offer communication majors in Spanish at the University of Miami, as reported in Hoy.
Susan Kaufman Purcell, head of the University of Miami's Center for Hemispheric Policy commended Fernandez for triggering an 8% annual growth rate and making the country a "star economic performer." During the gathering at the UM center, Fernandez acknowledged that the economic boom has yet to trickle down to the underprivileged.
President Fernandez gave a conference on The Bilateral Agenda DR-Florida during an event organized by the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami. He said efforts are underway to generate more trade with countries such as Brazil, Japan and South Korea that could manufacture their goods in the DR for exporting to the US under DR-CAFTA.
Fernandez highlighted Florida's strategic geographic location, a solid access to corporate finance, a strong labor force and the fact that Florida is highly multilingual making the state attractive for developing trade ties. He also pointed out that 122,000 Dominicans are now living in that state, the third highest urban concentration in the US.
The President later met with business leaders at the event held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, as reported in the Miami Herald. Hoy reports that the President spoke to an audience of about 400 persons. The 5-6pm conference was followed by an hour long reception.
Fernandez, into his second term as President and vying for a third, is also campaigning for the vote of expatriates in the US on this trip.
See for the agenda of the trip and updates: http://www.dr1.com/forums/dominicans-abroad/...

US neglect behind increase in drugs
President Leonel Fernandez said that the US has diverted resources for patrolling Caribbean waters for drug trafficking to focus on the war in Iraq, as reported in Hoy. "I feel that the displacement of the fight against drugs to fight terrorism in the Middle East is behind the increase in drug trafficking in the region," said Fernandez. President Fernandez said the Dominican Republic has asked for increased US cooperation to combat trafficking.
The DR, with a central geographic position, has been a victim to increased crime that has come with the stepped up drug trafficking. Dealers pay in drugs in the DR, and their partners need to market their drugs locally to cash in their profits. This has lead to an increase in local drug addicts that are now resorting to violent crime to afford their vices.
The DR has, because of its geographic location, serves as a shipping point of illegal narcotics from South America with final destination the US or Europe. The DR has received a wave of drug shipments from planes originating in Venezuela in recent years.
The President made the comments in Miami during his participation in a University of Miami activity when asked about a US State Department report that lists the DR as one of the top 20 drug trafficking countries. The US report recognizes the efforts made by Dominicans authorities to fight the illegal drug trade. The report makes the point that the government's institutional weaknesses have impeded more domestic control of the flow of drugs.

Pharmacies want to eliminate Rx
The country's pharmacy owners want to get rid of the Single Prescription Forms (Receta Unica) imposed by the recently launched Family Health Plan (SFS). According to the Pharmacy Union, the group has called on Vice President Rafael Alburquerque to abolish the Single Prescription and allow patients to purchase their medicines from any pharmacy. The Pharmacy Union considers the SFS prescription formula a monopoly that denies patients the freedom to choose.

The man of the cross is at it again
Angel Sosa, who made headlines for his pilgrimage on foot carrying a heavy cross to Santo Domingo in a bid for public works for his hometown, Dajabon, is at it again. This time the Police arrested him for disrupting traffic at the Plaza de la Bandera, where he began a hunger strike to protest for the completion of promised public works for his hometown. Sosa said that it has been a year since the works were promised, and only promises have been received.
The Listin Diario reports that Sosa was first taken to the Km. 9 Police station, then to the Naco station from where an interview at the Ministry of Public Works was coordinated. Carlos Mota, assistant to Public Works Minister Victor Diaz Rua received Sosa and assured him the first phase of the road would be completed in a month's time. Sosa has demanded completion of the Monte Cristi-Dajabon; Dajabon-Santiago de la Cruz; Santiago de la Cruz-Loma de Cabrera highway, for which a first disbursement of RD$52 million reportedly has been made. "Those works will restart and will not stop until they are completed," said Mota. He explained that the Ministry had disbursed RD$17 million for one of the stretches, another RD$15 million would be forthcoming, and another RD$20 million for the Monte Cristi-Dajabon stretch. He said that the Santiago de la Cruz-Loma de Cabrera stretch would be completed in 30 days, and in three months time, the entire border road system should be completed. He said that President Leonel Fernandez has taken an interest in completing the highway.
Sosa told the press he would head back to Dajabon to make sure the works were begun. He said he would give the government until 4 October or he would resume his strike.

The other campaign
A group of youths is organizing "The Other Campaign," in which they will present proposals that they feel politicians should be making. The youths reject the clientelism that is prevalent in the political campaigns that are underway for the 18 May presidential election. "As youths we do not identify with the present electoral campaigns because we understand they have no substance or real proposals for the problems of the DR," they said. The group had made headlines earlier for organizing, "The Other Fair," where the pressing problems of the country were presented contrasting to a lavish exhibition organized by the Presidency to highlight achievements of President Leonel Fernandez into his 10 years in government last September.
"The Other Campaign" kicks off on Tuesday, 25 September at the Manuel del Cabral Auditorium of the UASD Library.
The group advocates a clean campaign, with concrete proposals, without political patronage, without corruption, nor squandering, without the practice of "where's my buck," and adhering to democratic principles and ideals, explains the group in a press release.

Documenting the undocumented
The Central Electoral Board and the Ministry of Education announced a program to provide birth certificates to an estimated 17,899 school children that currently lack the document. Adults that do not have cedulas (ID and voting cards) will also benefit from the program. In the DR there are hundreds of thousands of children that cannot get their birth certificate because their parents do not have cedulas. It is estimated that 600,000 Dominicans, adults and children, don't have any form of legal identification.
The program is part of an agreement signed with the World Bank.
Education Minister Alejandrina German explained that the program would begin immediately with government funding.

Haitian births in DR high
A report by the Ministry of Public Health reveals that 50% of the births in hospitals located at the Dominican border are to Haitian women. The Social Security Law obliges public hospitals to provide this service gratis.
The report also indicates that 22% of births in Santiago are to foreigners. Overall, 15% of babies born in the DR are to foreigners. Central Electoral Board Judge Roberto Rosario explained in Diario Libre that children born to non-resident foreigners are being registered in the Foreign Registry Book now available at all hospitals. The registration enables the parents then to request a birth certificate to proceed with a subsequent request to pass their nationality on to their children. Children born to resident foreigners are issued birth certificates.

Fallen soldier gets citizenship
Slain 22-year old Dominican soldier Juan Alcantara has received his US citizenship. He was killed in Iraq by a roadside bomb on 6 August. His parents said that Alcantara had always dreamed of becoming a US citizen, but the posthumous citizenship award "just doesn't make any sense." He leaves behind his fiancee and the baby daughter he never met.
His mom, Maria Alcantara, who spoke in Spanish as her daughter translated, said her 22-year-old son would be alive today if his tour in Iraq had ended as originally scheduled in June. Instead, his tour was extended by three months as part of President Bush's surge policy that added troops. The young soldier from New York City had asked to return home for the birth of his daughter, Jaylani Marie, on 29 June. His request was denied, as reported in the New York Daily News.
New York Representative Charles Rangel presented the certificate to Alcantara's family during a ceremony at City College.

Geraldo de los Santos promotion
Major General Rafael Radhames Ramirez Ferreira, president of the National Drug Control Department (DNCD) clarified that General Geraldo de los Santos Mora, in charge of intelligence at the DNCD, was promoted, not dismissed. News reports had indicated that he had been dismissed in connections with investigations into the cocaine bust in Durham, Canada. Major General Ramirez said that General De los Santos Mora was promoted to the post of army intelligence chief.
He said that the change was not related to the Canadian cocaine bust. General De los Santos Mora was replaced by Rear Admiral Victor Rodriguez Martinez, through presidential decree 549-07.

Kidnapped lady rescued
The Police has reported that kidnappers released Nita Sue Rash, who lives with her husband David Rash in Las Galeras, Samana. 12 persons were arrested, according to Diario Libre. Reportedly, the kidnappers had asked for a ransom of US$1 million, that they latter dropped to US$500,000. The woman was abandoned by the Police at 6:30 pm in the place known as Las Cuevas Boca del Diablo, in Las Galeras, when the kidnappers noted their hideout had been discovered. A ransom was not paid.
Diario Libre reports that the Police is accusing Juan Trinidad, who had been deported from the US for drug trafficking; Amado de la Rosa/Julio Laureano de la Rosa (Amadito) and July Perez Reyes (El Bizco) who had relocated in Las Galeras, fleeing from the Police in Puerto Rico.
Sue Rash was kidnapped on Saturday at 2 pm when returning home in an Isuzu pick up. The vehicle was later abandoned in Los Corozos, Samana.

Customs finds money
The Customs Department (DGA) seized US$500,734.77 in cash on Saturday, which was brought to the DR by Dominican-born US naturalized citizen Roberto Perez Reyes on the Puerto Rico/DR ferry. The money was hidden in a sofa imported in a 1986 SML Chevy van, reports Diario Libre. Perez had traveled on the ferry four times over the last two weeks, which made authorities suspicious. Customs, National Drug Control Department and DGA agents are investigating to determine if the cash can be traced to drug trafficking or asset laundering, and whether the vehicle had been used for illicit acts. This is the fourth money shipment seized by authorities on the ferry to Mayaguez, Puerto Rico in the last two months. Perez was sent to jail for three months as his case in prepared to go to court.

The Louvre in SD
World famous art from The Louvre of Paris is on exhibit in Santo Domingo starting today. This is a premiere for the Louvre. Walk or drive around the Independence Park in the Colonial City to view the full-sized reproductions of some of the museum's most famous paintings. "Images from the Louvre" displays six centuries of European paintings, from the Middle Ages to the first half of the 19th Century, with 122 reproductions and artwork from the greats such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Rafael Sanzio and Diego Velasquez, and Dominican-born Theodore Chasseriau. El Caribe presents a special edition on the works of art to its subscribers. The issue will be available to those who attend the opening of the exhibition today at the Independence Park. The outdoor exhibit will be open to the public until 15 November.
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