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Daily News - Tuesday, 09 October 2007

Fernandez issues decree
President Leonel Fernandez issued transitory presidential Decree 552-07 providing incentives to create and preserve jobs in the free zone industrial sector. The decree would last over a nine-month period and seeks to prevent further losses of jobs in the free zone industry. An estimated 60,000 jobs have been lost in the sector that has not been able to compete with China prices on apparel contracts.
Article 2 of the decree says that the fund will be managed by the Ministry of Hacienda in coordination with the Dominican Free Trade Zone Association (Adozona) and the National Free Trade Zone Council. The funds will be allotted depending on a company's participation in the market and based on a company's fixed employee force. Article 3 indicates that the Ministry of Hacienda has a period of no more than 15 days to establish the procedures required so that companies can be eligible for the support funds.
Jose Clase, former president of Adozona, was optimistic that the decree would enable the free zones to reinstate 30,000 employees.
Further details on how the fund would operate were not released to the press.

WB gives DGA good marks
The process of modernization at the Customs Department has lead the World Bank to rank the Dominican Republic 4th on a list of Latin American and Caribbean countries with the best possibilities of attracting foreign investment. The International Finance Corporation released the results. Eduardo Rodriguez, technical deputy director at Customs, said that the department is on its way to become the most modern entity of its kind in the region. Among the successes noted is the ability to dispatch. He said the Customs process merchandise in 24 hours. Importers can finish the process in as little as 6 hours. This makes Dominicans customs among the most efficient in the region.

Drivers should be clean
The Technical Transport and Driving Department (OTTT) will present President Leonel Fernandez with a bill that would require drivers looking to get a driver's license to pass a drug and alcohol exam before being given the document. Rafael Tobias Crespo, head of the institution, cited concerns that a large majority of deaths in the country are traffic accident-related and officials are looking for a solution to the problem. Tobias Crespo made the announcement during a ceremony with the National Drug Council to start a campaign for the prevention of drug use for public drivers and motorcycle taxis.

One more hour for drinking
Interior and Police Minister Franklyn Almeyda has announced that 300 establishments in Santo Domingo and Santiago have received permission to sell adult beverages for an hour more than is allotted under the nation's alcohol decree. These establishments are part of pilot program to study whether or not to change the alcohol decree or leave it as is. Last year a limit was set that banned alcohol beverage sales after midnight from Sunday through Thursday, and to 2am on Fridays and Saturdays and holidays.
The decision came after the ministry set new guidelines whereby establishments that meet strict requirements from the Ministry of Public Health, the Police, the Fire Department and the Ministry of Environment are authorized to stay open until 1am on weekdays. Colmados are still limited to the midnight curfew.
The minister also announced that the Barrio Seguro would be extended throughout the province of East Santo Domingo. Villa Duarte, Los Mameyes, Villa Faro, Los Tres Brazos, Los Minas, Cancino, El Tamarindo, Mendoza, San Luis, Los Frailes and Nuevo Amanecer are among the sectors receiving the enhanced security program.

Bautista tries to defend himself
Felix Bautista, director of the Office of Supervising Engineers of Public Works of the Presidency (OISOE), has come out and tried to put his spin on the Sun Land case, finally breaking weeks of silence on the issue. According to Bautista it is the contractors, through the Sun Land Corporation, that are receiving the funds. He said that the funds would later be disbursed by the State through the OISOE budget in 2008, when the public works projects are finished. Bautista, interviewed by Diario Libre, says that this method relieves the government from paying interest on the loan. The interest, in turn, the contractors would deduct the interest payments from the payments they receive from the government. Bautista said that the 19 promissory notes issued to the HSBC Bank, from Panama, are the equivalent of a cession of credit or a guarantee of future payment (an IOU) and compared this process to that used by contractors when they ask for credit at local hardware stores. He threw in a political shot for good measure and said he laments the PRD criticizing the loan on a mere political basis.

Taiwan wants FTA
Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian has asked the DR to reignite the negotiation process with the hopes of signing a free trade agreement. Chen made his comments to Vice President Rafael Alburquerque while the two held a 45-minute conversation at the Presidential Office in Taiwan. Chen said he would continue pushing for an agreement to be signed between the two nations.
President Chen furthermore said that Taiwan and the Dominican Republic have completed the first round of negotiations on a free trade agreement. He hopes work will continue to enable the eventual signing of a free trade agreement between the two countries, providing benefits to the business communities of each country and bolstering exchanges. This is in the mutual interest of both nations, he said.
President Chen used baseball as a metaphor to describe relations between the two nations. The president noted how both Taiwan and the Dominican Republic are extremely passionate about baseball. Taiwan ace Chien-ming Wang has put in an outstanding performance as a pitcher for the New York Yankees, a team that also has many players from the Dominican Republic. The players from the different countries cooperate in the pursuit of an even better performance for the team as a whole. The President said that this is like the cooperation in the diplomatic and economic spheres between Taiwan and the Dominican Republic, which has created a platform to offer even greater benefit to the two countries.
Vice President Alburquerque said he hopes the two countries will continue to push ahead with negotiations that will ultimately lead to the signing of a free trade accord. This will enable the substantive friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries to continue to develop. Furthermore, mutual cooperation in the international arena will expand benefits for both countries, he said.
Vice President Alburquerque and President Chen Shui-bian also discussed international cooperation, bilateral relationships and Taiwan capital investments in the DR.
President Chen said that as the Dominican Republic is seeking to serve as a temporary member on the United Nations Security Council in 2008 and 2009, it has been unable to publicly express its support for Taiwan's application to gain membership in the UN, as reported in the Taiwan Presidency web site. Privately, however, the government and people of the Dominican Republic have provided significant assistance in helping Taiwan to participate in international organizations and activities. The president expressed his thanks to Vice President Alburquerque for this.
Vice President Alburquerque also met with Taiwanese Vice president Annette Lu. Lu will accompany the Vice President during an exposition today in front of more than 100 investors. Alburquerque will speak of the advantages of investing in the DR.

Radars up and running
The radar system at the Las Americas International Airport (AILA) is back up and running after an electrical failure caused damage to the system in early 2006. The primary and secondary systems repair cost US$547,000 and was entrusted to the Thales ATM company, according to Jose Tomas Perez, head of the Civil Aviation Institute.

Leasing out the dunes?
Peravia province authorities are protesting the intentions of Bani city officers to lease more than 55,000 meters of land of the Bani dunes to a mixed Dominican and foreign capital company for a hotel development, as reported in the Listin Diario.
Senator Wilton Guerrero said that the authorities should preserve the national patrimony and he asked that the Ministry of Environment request the documentation the Bani Municipality has on the deal. He urged that efforts be made to stop the deal.
"The authorities of the municipality should come forth and promptly explain to Bani what's the deal that compromises this important natural resource," said Guerrero. Reportedly, mayor Chacho Landestoy is behind the negotiation. As reported in the Listin Diario, on 13 August 2007, the Bani city council approved a request for the lease to Miramar International of a lot within the dunes located in Salinas de Puerto Hermoso for a 10 year period. The city hall authorization, nevertheless does not establish the extension of the property, nor identifies the representatives of the company making the lease, nor establishes the worth of the property, nor the use that will be given to it. The dunes are a National Cultural Monument where construction is banned.
Disputing the lease also are Alianza Banileja, Sociedad Ecologica Banileja, Club de Leones, Fundacion Educativa Cultural y Ambientalista, among others that are requesting that the local district attorney office and the Ministry of Environment investigate this abuse.

Apology sparks debate
Yesterday's apology released by Bishop Diomedes Espinal for the massacre of more than 15,000 Haitians at the border in 1937 has sparked a debate among historians. Historians Hugo Tolentino Dipp and Franklyn Franco, speaking in Hoy, consider the apology a great gesture. Dipp said that it raises the stature of Dominicans when a Dominican institution is capable of expressing a mea culpa. Both historians backed the petition for pardon of bishop Diomedes Espinal de Leon of Mao-Montecristi in the name of the Catholic Church and Dominicans, saying that the Dominican people did not support the order by Trujillo and have never felt hatred to the Haitians. The bishop made the statement on occasion of the 70th anniversary of the killing, as reported in Hoy.
Historian Manuel Nunez disputes the asking for pardon from the Haitian people for the mass murder of thousands of Haitians called for by Dictator Trujillo in 1937, in further comments in Hoy. Nunez says that the blame for the event is solely that of the dictator. He said that previously, Haitian dictator Dessalines carried out a mass murder in 1805 in Moca, for which Haiti has not asked pardon from the Dominican people. He said that the bishop asked for the pardon because he was not familiar with historic details. "What happened in 1937 was due to failure on the part of Dominicans and Haitians. Trujilllo called several times for Haitian President Stenio Vincent to control the en masse migration at the border that occurred after Cuba expelled 85,000 Haitians. Nunez commented that the flow of Haitians was such that five border province would have been lost to Haiti.
Moreover, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez considered that the Dominican people do not have to ask pardon for the killing because the person responsible for the killing, Trujillo, is dead. He said that the Dominican people were not to blame. "In that case, it is Trujillo who we have to hold accountable, he was the criminal. Honestly, I do not think the Dominican people are to be blamed," said the Cardinal.

Creepy findings become science project
The remains uncovered at the Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Moca will be sent to the University of Indiana, in the US and Leiden, in Holland, for DNA, Carbon 14 and pathological studies. Diario Libre writes the studies will be done with the cooperation of the Dominican Museum of Man. Rafhael Panhuysen, a forensic pathologist in Holland, will be in charge of the studies at Leiden. At the moment 37 burials have been identified at the park and construction has been halted until the excavation is finished. On Friday the Museum of Dominican Man held a press conference and released the names of the original families that founded Moca in 1722. Many of the death certificates for the families were held in the archives of the church. Diario Libre writes that six memorial tombs will be built in memory of the original settlers and Guarocuya Cabral, mayor of Moca, said that the 6 memorial tombs will help preserve the city's history.

Interpol helps in case
Officials from the International Police (Interpol) are assisting Dominican officials in capturing a Colombian national who is believed to be responsible for the murder of Angel Christopher Martinez, then head of the Aero navigability Department at Civil Aviation in 2006. Though the suspect's name wasn't immediately released, Acosta explained in Diario Libre that the suspect had fled to Colombia after killing Martinez. Adding to the difficulties of the case is the fact that a witness would have led police to the suspect's arrest much sooner, but days after giving authorities information on the whereabouts of the killer(s) he too was murdered. Santo Domingo province Attorney General Acosta said that the arrest of the suspect is in Interpol's hands now.

Three Dominicans found dead
The bodies of three Dominican women were found on the northern shores of Puerto Rico by authorities from that country. Reports indicate that foul play was not involved and that the women could have died from dehydration. The women were trying to illegally enter Puerto Rico and had made the treacherous ride across the Mona Passage in a home-made boat. Police arrested 15 others who landed at the Esperanza beach in Manati, PR.

End of an era: Yanks lose
A threat by Yankee owner George Steinbrenner wasn't enough to save the New York Yankee's season. The Bombers faced elimination on Monday night and with a loss almost certain guaranteed that Joe Torre would not be back as manager, and so the end of an era. The Yankees lost to the Cleveland Indians last night 6-4. Alex Rodriguez's high paid bat went silent again last night, though he did hit a solo homerun. Robinson Cano also hit a solo shot, but it wasn't enough for the Yanks. The Cleveland Indians now move to face the Boston Red Sox, in the AL Championship Series, while the Arizona Diamondbacks will face the Colorado Rockies for the NL Championship Series.

Baseball City in 2008
The DR is poised to have one of the world's third largest baseball facilities with the eventual completion of Baseball City in 2008. Baseball City will house 6 MLB baseball teams (Diamondbacks, Cubs, Twins, Reds, White Sox and a team TBA). It is being built on a 400-acre plot of land located on the 26th kilometer of the Las Americas Expressway at a cost of more than US$60 million, according to Diario Libre. Only Tucson Electric Park and Peoria Sports Complex, both in Arizona will be bigger. Those parks have 12 and half baseball fields, Baseball City will have 12.

Dominican Taekwondo does well
The Dominican Tae kwon do youth delegation brought home 5 medals in the Pan-American Tae kwon do tournament held in Daytona. Dayse Monte De Oca, in the 68 kilo weight class, won gold in the tournament. Dominican Edgar Sanchez won a silver and Elkys Robles, Luis Monta and Orquidea Herrera won bronze.
 
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