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Daily News - Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Drinking time to 1am?
The Ministry of Interior and Police has caved in to pressure and announced that it would extend the official time limit for selling alcoholic drinks to 1am at selected restaurants and businesses in Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo, the country's two largest cities. The government has relaxed the measure already in tourist destinations. Minister Franklin Almeyda Rancier made the announcement on Friday. He said that the extension is not being applied nationwide, but at authorized centers. He said that anyone who would like an extension should apply at the Ministry of Interior and Police, and their businesses will be evaluated by the fire service and public health ministry officials to determine whether they qualify. Last year the government instituted time limits from Sunday to Thursday to midnight, and on Fridays and Saturdays and holidays to 2am. The measure was welcomed by parents, but criticized from some quarters on the grounds that that the DR lived off tourism and people came here to party. The Police backed the curfews, saying that most gun fights occurred between people who were under the influence of alcohol.

City to rescue mistreated horses
The Santo Domingo Municipality has announced plans to rescue mistreated horses being used for transport and sale of farm products. Twenty-six horses found to have been abused by their owners were rescued by the city authorities and taken to the First Brigade of the Army, where they were examined by vets before being sent to a private horse ranch located in El Higuero, in Santo Domingo Norte. Colonel Damaso Pina, in charge of the operation, said that only horses that transport tourists on the Malecon would be excluded, because these are not mistreated. Horse breeder Angela Brower said that most of the horses have been stolen and then resold for use as working horses. "They are leased out for RD$500 a day, and that is why they do not feed them, give them water or care if they become ill," she said. The operation has the support of the National Cattle-Ranchers Board and the Paso Fino Breeders Association. Brower said that some of the most mistreated horses would be put to sleep to end their suffering and others would be sent to the National Zoo and military riding facilities.

Ministers agree on disaster fund
During the Eighth Ministers Council, held over the weekend in Casa de Campo, finance ministers from Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic agreed to increase efforts to harmonize tax schemes within the region. Outgoing council president, DR Treasury Minister Vicente Bengoa explained that in the current year the Council has created two documents that meet this goal: the agreement to prevent double taxation and the agreement for good practices for incentives. Bengoa said that those documents should be formalized in the next months, and added that it was a vital part of making the integration of the DR-CAFTA countries a reality. During the conference, the IMF, World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank agreed to create a disaster fund for Central America and the DR. Bengoa said that Mexico would be included in the fund because of its geographical location. The Ministers designated a representative from each country to meet at the IDB, World Bank and IMF Conference in Washington, D.C.

DR presents credentials in Thailand
Ambassador Hans Dannenberg Castellanos presented diplomatic credentials to Thai Deputy Foreign Minister Sawanit Kongsiri at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday, 28 August 2007. Dannenberg was assigned to the position on 22 March 2007. Dannenberg, who is based in the Indian capital, New Delhi, is the first Dominican Republic ambassador to Thailand. Deputy Foreign Minister Sawanit spoke of his intention to promote bilateral ties and to expand cooperation between the two countries. Thailand and the DR established diplomatic relations on 18 September 1967. The DR is a significant export and investment market for Thailand. Trade volume between Thailand and the DR reached US$52.3 million in 2006, of which US$46.3 million was a trade surplus on the Thai side. Major products imported from Thailand include rice, canned seafood and pick-up trucks. Potential areas for investment include tourism, spas, hotels restaurant, shrimp farming and orchid cultivation.

The Pilgrim gets it done
Work on the highway from Santiago de la Cruz to Loma de Cabrera and Santiago de la Cruz to El Pino has resumed, thanks in part to the efforts of Angel Sosa, "the Pilgrim." Sosa was in Santo Domingo threatening to go on hunger strike if work on the highway wasn't resumed as promised and Diario Libre is reporting that work is now moving along speedily. Sosa's political activism reached its peak last year when he walked from Dajabon to Santo Domingo carrying a large cross. Last week, after a long period of inactivity on the public works project, Sosa decided to put his activism to work again. Sosa set up shop at the capital's Plaza de la Bandera and was then taken to meet with Public Works Minister Victor Diaz Rua who promised that work would resume.

Ten "jeepetas" for the JCE
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) took out an advertisement in Saturday's Listin Diario, inviting tenders for the purchase of 10 luxury SUVs for its staff. Companies are asked to submit their offers and the requirements are that the 2008 luxury SUVs should have six to eight-cylinder turbo diesel engines, leather seats, double air-conditioning, refrigerator, sunroof and 4 x 4. The vehicles will be used for staff members working on preparations for the May 2008 presidential election. The bid was published by the Central Electoral Board's Administrative Chamber, and offers will be accepted through 7 November. This bid comes in a year when the Presidency has introduced an Austerity Law and the price of petroleum is getting closer to US$100 the barrel.

Baseball and the pope
Over the weekend, the politicians went abroad... PLD presidential candidate, President Leonel Fernandez pitched the first ball at the New York Yankees versus Toronto Blue Jays game in New York. PRD presidential candidate Miguel Vargas was in Miami where he threw the first ball in the Mets versus Marlins game at Dolphin Stadium, a game in which Pedro Martinez was the opening pitcher. Meanwhile, Amable Aristy Castro, presidential candidate for the PRSC was received by Pope Benedict XVI, together with party vice president Federico Antun Batlle and former Chamber of Deputies leader Rafaela Alburquerque. The Pope received the political delegation at his official residence at Castelgandolfo. Aristy Castro was visiting the Vatican as part of a visit by Social Christian movement leaders. The event took place on Wednesday 19 to Friday, 21 with the participation of Social Christian doctrine leaders from around the world.

Eduardo Estrella to be candidate
Eduardo Estrella, who lost the PRSC presidential primary to Amable Aristy Castro, is persevering. He will now be the presidential candidate for the Social Democrat Revolutionary Party (PRSD), the political party formed by Hatuey de Camps when he became a PRD dissident after former President Hipolito Mejia chose to change the Constitution so he could run for President in 2004. Upon making the announcement, Estrella said he would seek to attract the non-partisan vote. He estimated that four or five million voters are not affiliated to any political party. He said he would seek the voters who do not want "more of the same." The party now will wait for other minority parties to choose him as their candidate, and then a proclamation of his candidacy could be made either on the 21 or 28 of October in Santiago. He will run under the Cuarta Via (Fourth Way) coalition of parties.

Transfer those vehicles
Listin Diario is warning vehicle owners who are selling their vehicles to ensure that the registration is passed on to the purchaser prior to completing the transaction. The newspaper warns that according to Dominican law, if the vehicle is in any way involved in an accident or theft, the legal owner will be held responsible, even if he can show proof he sold the vehicle several years ago. In case of an accident, if it can be proven that the driver was responsible, the driver will be held responsible if he admits to causing the damage, but in the meantime, the owner of the car may also be held responsible.
The procedure for transferring the registration is stated in Law 241 on Transit in its Art. 17A. To transfer a vehicle, the new owner needs to secure a sales contract duly notarized and registered in the Attorney General's office as the first step. Next, one has to go to Plan Piloto for a review of the vehicle's status, in order to determine if it has been stolen, for instance. This costs RD$55 and could take between a day and a week. The Police will issue a certification authorizing the transfer. The third step is to take this certification to the Departamento de Traspaso de Vehiculos (Vehicle Transfer Department) at the Tax Office (DGII) and pay the taxes, which come to 2% of the vehicle's total value based on its make and year. This information is provided by the DGII and does not relate to the sales price. Fourth, once the taxes are paid, the DGII will issue a registration transfer document in the purchaser's name in about three hours.

Pornography center in Palmar de Ocoa
The quiet seaside vacation community of Palmar de Ocoa has made headlines with the arrest of a pornography ring. As reported in Saturday's Listin Diario, police officers arrested five French citizens for trafficking in minors and pornography. In a raid on the Palmar de Ocoa residence that served as the group's center of operations, dozens of videos showing children masturbating and having sex, consuming narcotics. The bust took place on Thursday, 20 September, according to judge Pedro Quezada from Bani. The police and prosecutors arrested the house's owner, his wife and four other French adults, and a 17- year old minor who was found in possession of marijuana. In the midst of the raid, a taxi arrived with a woman and a 16-year old girl, from Bani, some 36 kilometers away. Listin Diario reported that the woman had apparently brought the girl to take part in the filming. Judge Pedro Quezada said that the four Frenchmen and the owner of the residence were sent to jail for three months, while the wife was let out on bail, as she claimed to be pregnant. The 17-year old youth was sent to the special court for children, where he will serve a month.

Official gets house arrest
Captain Anderson Antonio Rojas and Corporal Wilkinson Novas Diaz have been sentenced to three months house arrest at the 27 de Febrero Naval Base for their role in the assassination attempt on Major Joran Jose Baez Fernandez. Both men have denied their role in the plot and their lawyers have said that they would appeal against the decision. Initial reports in Diario Libre indicate that Major Baez had recently been in the process of stopping many drug and contraband shipments at Las Americas International Airport, angering criminal figures and leading to the development of the murder plot. Diario Libre also writes that the civilians ordered to kill the Major would have received RD$500,000 for their services.

UASD students recovering
Awilda Cuevas and Johanny Garcia, the students who were run over by a bus last week, are doing better. Both could be taken out of the intensive care unit today. Cuevas suffered severe head trauma while Garcia had four broken ribs and a fractured leg.

Convicted rapist denied entrance
Dominican authorities would deny entry to Jose Rodriguez Salvador, a Spanish national who was convicted and sentenced to 311 years in jail, but was recently released. In regards to a Spanish press feature whereby one of the options of Rodriguez Salvador would be to relocate to a nuns' convent in the Dominican Republic, DR Attorney General Radhames Jimenez Pena said that it is unacceptable for a person of that nature to enter the country. Jimenez said that once the details of the case are read, an official verdict will be passed and the DR AG will speak to his Spanish counterpart to get all the details. Diario Libre is quoting Spanish newspaper reports that Rodriguez, known as the Vall d'Hebron rapist, served 16 years in jail for the rape of 16 women. He was charged with committing more than 40 rapes between 1990 and 1991. Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso is also opposed to allowing Rodriguez to enter the country. Morales Troncoso, quoted in Hoy, said that, "the DR doesn't accept rapists - not yesterday and not today".

Fake lawyers conning investors
The President of the Dominican Lawyers Association (CARD), Julio Cesar Terrero Carvajal, says that there are around 3,000 fake lawyers conning investors out of money, most of whom are active in the eastern part of the DR. Terrero says that the results were discovered after CARD's books were researched, revealing that many lawyers had received their certification in an illegal fashion. Terrero is asking judges to ask lawyers to present their CARD identification card when carrying out any legal work. Terrero also explained that CARD has received more than 800 complaints and have returned more than RD$55 million in cash and goods to people who have been conned.

Puerto Plata Festival program
POP is getting ready to merengue. The long-awaited Merengue Festival hits Puerto Plata this coming 28, 29 and 30 September. This series of free merengue concerts will bring the biggest and best exponents of the most famous Dominican musical genre to the "Pearl of the Atlantic" for three days of fun. A stage will be set up at La Puntilla, where the Malecon of Puerto Plata ends. For Friday, 28 September, Grupo Fantasia, Miguel Angel, Kiko (El presidente) and closing with Los Hermanos Rosario. For Saturday, 29 September, Francisco Ulloa, Cherito of the New York Band, Kinito Mendez, and Jeffrey. The closing event, Sunday, 30 September calls for the star performance of Milly Quezada, Las Chican, El Prodigio, and Eddy Herrera. On schedule before the big name performers, are presentations of the folklore ballet group of the Ministry of Tourism. Brugal Rum is sponsoring the festival.
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