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Daily News - Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Salcedo is now Hermanas Mirabal
President Leonel Fernandez signed Law 389-07 that changes the name of Salcedo Province to Hermanas Mirabal Province at a ceremony in Ojo de Agua, the three sisters' hometown. The legislation honors national heroines Maria Teresa, Patria and Minerva Mirabal, who were murdered for their political beliefs during the Trujillo dictatorship on 25 November 1960. Every year the international community honors their memory by celebrating the International Day of Non-Violence Against Women on 25 November. The provincial capital will still be the city of Salcedo, and the other main towns in the province are Villa Tapia and Tenares.

Pan Am health experts arrive
A commission of experts from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) began arriving yesterday to look at the current leptospirosis epidemic that is affecting hundreds of people and threatening thousands more. So far, 29 deaths and a total of nearly 300 cases have been reported. The specialists will reinforce local doctors who are tackling the epidemic. The experts will work in Santo Domingo, the National District and Barahona, the areas with the highest incidence of the disease. According to Dr Bautista Rojas Gomez, the Minister of Public Health, the rate has slowed a bit compared to a few days ago. He said, "The situation is controlled, because it is nothing like it was last Thursday or Friday." He pointed out that more cases could still appear, since there is an incubation period before the symptoms show up. Disease control experts have warned that the unsanitary conditions created by the flooding that was caused by Tropical Storm Noel could well bring about marked increases in other diseases such as dengue or malaria. El Caribe says that last year there were 846 cases, but this year so far, there have been 1,200 cases of leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is endemic within the animal population, especially rodents, and can only be transmitted through contact with either fecal material or urine. Open cuts or sores that come into contact with contaminated objects, ingestion of contaminated food or a lack of personal hygiene are the main causes of contracting the disease.

Senate approves US$15 million loan
The Dominican Senate has approved a US$15 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The money will go towards establishing an emergency prevention program and for the shoring up of the national statistics system. In yesterday evening's session, the Senate gave its approval after receiving a report from the Treasury Committee, headed by PLD senator Tommy Galan from San Cristobal. Five million dollars will be used to provide cities with teams for environmental management, risk evaluations and equipment to provide disaster relief. The remaining ten million will go towards improving the collection of statistics, including personnel training and new computer equipment.

Parties greet JCE halt on regulations
The main political parties have welcomed the Central Electoral Board (JCE) magistrates' decision to postpone the application of the Rules for the Election Campaign that had been approved by the full JCE board. The president of the board, magistrate Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman, told reporters from El Caribe that the full board decided not to apply the regulations for this presidential election cycle due to the negative response from the political parties. According to Castanos Guzman, this decision is proof of internal democracy in the JCE.

An end to conflict in Dajabon
The Defense Committee for the Development of Dajabon Province, together with local authorities and the Specialized Frontier Security Corps (Cesfront), have put an end to the conflict that generated a lot of newsprint over the past week. The centerpiece of the controversy was frontier controls and the regulation of commercial activities at the bi-national market that is celebrated twice a week in Dajabon. During the meeting held at the local Catholic Church community center, agreement was reached on several points. This included allowing Haitian traders to cross the border the day before the bi-national market opens, in order to set up merchandise. In addition, Cesfront agreed to reinforce patrols along the banks of the Massacre River, and to deploy two patrols to detect any acts of corruption by unit members. Father Regino Martinez, Father Roberto Guzman, Provincial Governor Arturo Socias and Cesfront commander General Adriano Silverio were the principal figures at the meeting.

Infant mortality rates up
The Demographic Health Survey (ENDESA) for 2007 study shows a slight increase of 1% in the DR's infant mortality rate, but on a more positive note, a decrease in post-partum death rates. The study, sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank, was carried out by the Center for Social and Demographic Studies. A total of 32,341 people were interviewed for the fifth version of this study. On infant mortality, the study shows that in 2002 there was an infant mortality rate of 31/1000 and in 2007 the rate was put at 32/1000 live births. The results "reverse a trend that had been observed for decades that showed a diminishing infant mortality rate." The survey also showed a reduction in the birth rate.

AMET writes a lot of tickets
The Metropolitan Transit Authority (AMET), those much feared green-uniformed traffic cops, have handed out nearly 150,000 tickets to drivers in the National District and the province of Santo Domingo over the last three months. This is the result of the first three months under the leadership of General Latif Miguel Mahfoud Rodriguez. Of all those tickets, one fifth of them were for running a red light (30,270). The fine for running a red light, according to an article in Diario Libre, is RD$884, but the offender must attend a Traffic School. The general also told reporters that his agents do not discriminate, pointing out that 593 military and police officers have received traffic citations.

Food prices up
Traders selling farm goods at the two largest open markets in Santo Domingo say that they are having to spend more to renew their stocks due to rising prices for the main Dominican food staples. Plantain, sweet potato (batata), cassava (yuca), lettuce and eggplant prices have gone up by as much as 100%. Reporters from Hoy newspaper visited the markets at Villa Consuelo and Ciudad Ganadera. Traders said that their operating capital was no longer sufficient to keep stocking their usual amount of goods. Most of them blamed the effects of Tropical Storm Noel for the increase in prices. One stall holder, Ramon Garcia, told reporter Aleida Plasencia that he had to spend RD$40,000 to replace RD$20,000 worth of agricultural products that he had purchased the previous week. One vendor at the Villa Consuelo market told the reporter that he used to purchase cassava at RD$6.00 and sell it for RD$8.00 per lb, but now had to buy it at RD$8.00 and sell it for RD$10.00. Plantains are now being sold for as much as RD$10.00 each.

Red and Yellow alerts still in effect
The National Meteorological office is warning of a frontal system over the south coast of the Dominican Republic, and another system located to the north of the country and moving in an east-southeasterly direction, combined with a low pressure system. According to a report in Listin Diario, this combination will lead to even more rainfall. As a result, thunderstorms and strong gusts are expected over large areas of the Dominican Republic. The Red Alert against flash flooding is maintained for the provinces of Hato Mayor, El Seibo, La Altagracia, Monte Plata and San Pedro de Macoris. Most of the Cibao Valley is still subject to a Yellow Alert.

Fine art comes to Santiago
The French embassy and the Ministry of Culture officially opened the Images from the Louvre exhibition at the Grand Cibao Theater last night. High-quality photographic reproductions of some of the finest works of art from the Louvre Museum in Paris can be seen along the fence surrounding the frontal area of the theater. The exhibition is supported in part by the Carrefour Cultural Center, the Alliance Francaise (Santiago) and Multimedios del Caribe among others. Centro Leon is also sponsoring a series of workshops connected with the exhibit.

Baseball update
Last night the Aguilas Cibaena took their first win over the Azucareros del Este with the lopsided score of 10-1. The victory kept the Aguilas in second place, one and a half games behind the Tigres del Licey. Johnny Cueto improved his pitching record with an impressive five innings of six-hit, one run work. Cueto is now 4-0 for the season.
Licey traveled to San Pedro de Macoris to face the Estrellas Orientales. In a game that was called after seven and a half innings due to unruly fan behavior, the Tigres beat the Estrellas 5-1. Local fans were unhappy with the chief umpire who had thrown the Estrellas manager and catcher out of the game for arguing balls and strikes. When fans started pelting players and umpires alike, the umpires called the game, granting victory to the Tigres.
In Santo Domingo's Estadio Quisqueya, the cellar-dwelling Leones del Escogido played host to the Gigantes del Cibao. Unfortunately for the Gigantes, the Leones were not very good hosts, defeating the visitors 7-3. Most of the work was done by "a spectacular lack of control from the opposing pitchers," and the exciting base running of Freddy Guzman.
Current Standings
Team Win Lost Percent Games Behind
Licey 15 9 .625 --
Aguilas 14 11 .560 1.5
Gigantes 13 11 .542 2.0
Estrellas 11 14 .440 4.5
Escogido 11 15 .423 5.0
Azucareros 11 15 .423 5.0
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