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Daily News - Monday, 03 December 2007

Samana - Santo Domingo Hwy update
Minister of Public Works Victor Diaz Rua and Armin Garcia have signed the papers marking the start of construction of the second phase of the highway between Santo Domingo and Samana. The new route that covers the roadway between Nagua, Sanchez and Samana will cost US$103 million. It will also include a highway to Las Terrenas and El Catey. A total of 123 kilometers of highway will be constructed. Once completed, the road will cut traveling time between the capital city and Samana vacation area by more than half.

JCE 2008 budget: RD$7.7 billion
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has submitted its budget for 2008, a presidential election year. The total of RD$7.73 billion does not include the funds for the political parties' campaign activities, estimated at over RD$1 billion. Slightly more than 50% of the budget will go towards staging the May 2008 elections. Over RD$225 million will go towards encouraging Dominicans who live overseas to vote. JCE chief magistrate Julio Cesar Castanos Guzman detailed each and every line of the budget for reporters from Hoy. In his budget request, Castanos Guzman reminded President Fernandez that the contribution to the political parties should be, according to the Election Law, equivalent to 0.5% of the GDP for election years and an additional 25% of this sum if a second round of voting is required.

Ambiguity affects protected areas
The Minister of the Environment admitted on Friday that he has "great difficulty" implementing the Sectorial Law on Protected Areas due to the fact that some of these areas are not clearly defined. On the maps, some of the coordinates do not even exist. Meanwhile, a researcher from INTEC, Yolanda Leon, told Hoy reporters that the National System of Protected Areas (SINAP) is in danger of disappearing if the areas are not properly defined. Currently, 86 areas are marked on the map of protected spaces in the Dominican Republic. The biologist told Hoy reporter Odalis Mejia that the government is not respecting the protected areas, since it is awarding construction permits for areas that should be dedicated to conservation. Deputy Minister for Protected Areas, Danneris Santana, pointed out that the map of protected areas showed some areas that were not "reasonably defined." He called for an "urgent modification in order to rectify these situations."

Energy theft prosecution postponed
Electricity Superintendent Francisco Mendez has announced that the personnel who work for the power distributors will not pursue electricity thieves, for now. Although the 90-day grace period that was given in August has expired, according to Mendez, the authorities have decided to extend the grace period for another three months since the program to discourage people from stealing electricity has not been put into effect. Mendez told Diario Libre reporters that following a "consensus" from the distributors, his people have decided not to apply the aspects of the modified General Law on Electricity that criminalize electricity theft. Only after the RD$40 million publicity campaign has been put into effect will the law be enforced. In addition, a special prosecutor and several assistants are needed in order to conduct the criminal cases, and these have yet to be appointed.

Diesel issues still pending
The government's decision to subsidize diesel fuel for public transport and cargo vehicles has met with opposition from some quarters. The government's move came in response to record diesel prices that threatened to force increases in bus fares and cargo costs. However, business groups called the measure "discriminatory". The head of the National Gasoline Retailers Association (ANADEGAS) and former CONEP president Elena Viyella de Paliza were in agreement on this issue. Viyella said that the measure was contradictory as well as discriminatory, but she also said that, "the measure could become a "tremendous source of administrative corruption." This opinion was echoed by Manuel Diez, head of the Dominican Industrial Association (AIRD). Other voices included union leader Juan Hubieres, and Freddy Mendez, the head of the Bus Owners Union. Because the government proposes to pay the diesel subsidy directly to the transport unions, these entities feel that they are being discriminated against. Even some of the beneficiaries of the provisions of Decree 677-07 are not completely happy. Union leaders Juan Perez Figuereo and Antonio Marte told Diario Libre reporters that one million gallons of subsidized diesel was only a third of the required amount needed by the transportation system. In fact, according to Marte, his Conatra union uses three million gallons of diesel per month.

The lesser government "sacrifice"
The "sacrifice" made by the government in accordance with Decree 677-07 will only be a little over RD$95 million pesos over the three-month period that officials have laid out for the subsidy program. Just RD$31.8 million each month will be lost in revenues. The price of diesel under the subsidy will be just RD$102 pesos per gallon. Business sectors and unions not favored by the measure criticized the latter indicating that the special privileges were but a form of political patronage.

Auto Fair a big success
According to all today's newspapers, the Auto Fair held in the Banco Popular parking lot in Santo Domingo was a major success. Over RD$850 million were financed at rates of 12.95% to 14.95% for one or two years. Twenty percent down was the rule. Nearly a thousand loans were processed by five o'clock on Sunday afternoon, and lots of people were able to drive away in a new car.

Flea market millions
The Sunday market that takes over the southern end of Luperon Avenue generates RD$40 million each week, according to a report in Hoy newspaper. About 6,900 people go there to sell stuff, and local authorities have had to put a freeze on new permits. The same thing has happened in Santiago where 10,000 newly unemployed people have applied for licenses to become informal salespersons. According to market manager Jose Manuel Caro, 20,000 requests have been received for permits to enter the Luperon flea market as well as 10,000 requests in Santiago. National unemployment figures are at 16% and informal workers are believed to make up some 35% of the workforce, according to the World Bank. The markets have been so popular that the major telecommunications companies send mobile units that offer cellphone service packages and call cards.

Court convicts Baez Cocco
Marcos Baez Cocco, the former vice-president of Banco Intercontinental (Baninter), has been found guilty of violating Dominican Monetary and Finance Law. He was sentenced to eight years in prison, and ordered to pay 25% of what Ramon Baez Figueroa has to pay (RD$45.469 billion) to the Central Bank and RD$50,082,450 to the Superintendent of Banks. He also has to repay RD$18.743 billion to the Baninter accounts. During the trial's sentencing phase, the magistrates also decreed a RD$2.0 million payment to the government. Baez Cocco's lawyers have 20 days to appeal the conviction and sentence.

Rapists get 20 years each
Noted magistrate Esther Agelan headed a three-judge panel that handed out twenty-year jail terms to two men convicted of raping young girls. Both men were the stepfathers of the children involved. Jose Guron was convicted of raping his 15-year old stepdaughter in their house in Gualey. In the other case, Yoryi Quezada confessed to raping his wife's two daughters, aged six and ten. In both cases, the wives were the principal witnesses to the accusations.

Water scarce in some barrios
Long weeks after Tropical Storm Noel damaged major aqueducts in the southern Dominican Republic, many people are still without drinking water. At first, the continuing rains enabled people to collect rain water to drink and wash, but after a week of clear skies, even this water is in short supply and people are getting very anxious. In Los Alcarrizos in Santo Domingo province, in Padre de Las Casas in Azua province and other places, people are using any water they can find to fulfill their needs. According to sources at the Santo Domingo Water Works (CAASD) the aqueduct that connects to El Duey will not be reconnected until mid-December.

Last Mirabal injured in fatal crash
Belgica de la Cruz Mirabal (Dede), the last surviving Mirabal sister, and mother of former Vice-President Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal, has been injured in a crash that left one person dead and another injured. The accident occurred on the highway between Nagua and Cabrera. Fernandez Mirabal was driving a vehicle that hit a small motorcycle driven by Justo Cruz Guarionel Paredes, 46. Motorcycle passenger Noelia Norberto Ramos, 22, was killed as a result of the crash. According to the national press, Dede Mirabal suffered a broken wrist and other injuries, which, at her age, 83, can be considered serious. News reports say that the accident occurred when the moto driver abruptly turned to retain a fallen baseball cap, not noticing a vehicle was behind him.

Keep fireworks away from kids
The Dominican Society of Plastic Surgery is urging parents to not allow their children to set off fireworks "of any kind." Dr. Jean Paul Giudicelli, speaking for the organization, said they are "all dangerous." Speaking at a press conference with the chiefs of plastic survery of the public hospitals Robert Reid Cabral, Salvador B. Gautier and Juan Bosch, he recalled that in the days leading to the holidays hospitals need to treat more than the normal number of burns, injuries. There is also an increase in patients requiring amputations and that suffer serious eye injuries due to the use of the fireworks.
Dr. Giudicelli says that since the government does not have adequate legislation nor capacity to police the production, import or marketing of fireworks, it is up to the parents to keep their children safe.

Baseball update
In Friday night's action, the Toros from La Romana were leading the Aguilas Cibaenas when rain started to fall, and in a last-gasp effort the Aguilas managed to tie the game 5-5 when the umpires called a halt. The game will be finished at a future date. Meanwhile, in Santo Domingo the Gigantes del Cibao continued to play very good baseball. They defeated the Leones del Escogido, 6-5. After a five-run sixth inning, the Gigantes managed to stave off efforts by the Leones, who scored two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth to come within one run of tying the game. In a surprise turnaround, the Estrellas Orientales, victims of an eight-game losing streak, shut out the league-leading Tigres del Licey in a game played in the Tetelo Vargas Stadium in San Pedro de Macoris. The final score was 7-0. The efforts of Radhames Liz and Danny Bautista, who combined for seven scoreless innings, were the key factors in the Estrellas victory. The recently acquired Willie Otanez went 3-5 with a homerun and two runs batted in.
On Saturday, the Aguilas Cibaenas went to visit the Leones del Escogido in Santo Domingo. They won with a dramatic five-run rally in the eleventh inning, 9-4. Over in La Romana, the Toros del Este (not the Azucareros anymore) lost a dramatic game to the Tigres del Licey, 5-4. Poor base running cost the Toros a chance to tie up the game in the eighth inning. Alejandro de Haza hit a big home run for the Toros to give the home team a one run advantage. However, Timoniel Perez gave the Tigres the lead for good with a clutch, two out hit in the seventh.
In San Francisco de Macoris, the Gigantes continued to roll on as they took on the Estrellas Orientales. The Gigantes, firm in second place in the standings, beat the Estrellas 5-3, when a four-run sixth inning broke open the game that was tied 1-1 at that point.
In Sunday's games, the Leones del Escogido defeated the Tigres del Licey and guaranteed at least a tie for the City Championship. In pre-game ceremonies, Anaheim Angels owner Arte Moreno threw out the first pitch, and Anaheim manager Mike Sciocia served as catcher. Sciocia played in the Dominican Winter League during his playing days. In other action, the Gigantes del Cibao defeated their regional rivals, the Aguilas Cibaenas 3-2, to climb within half a game of first place in the standings. In San Pedro de Macoris, one run in the very first inning gave the Estrellas Orientales all the scoring they needed to defeat the Toros del Este 1-0.
Current Standings
Team Win Lost Percent Games Behind
Licey 22 13 .629 --
Gigantes 21 13 .618 0.5
Aguilas 17 16 .515 4.0
Escogido 16 19 .457 6.0
Estrellas 14 21 .400 8.0
Azucareros 13 21 .382 8.5

Games today:
Estadio Cibao - Toros del Este vs Aguilas Cibaenas
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