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Wednesday 8th November 2006

Seizure of Drugs headed for England

The DNCD (National Drugs Control Agency) yesterday seized 38 packages amounting to 42.9 kilos of heroin or cocaine from four British and one Jamaican citizen. The five people, Gary Singh, Jacqueline Steer, Mark Augustus Mitchel, Michael Anthony Singh and Eulet Cassandra Lewis are now being detained in Puerto Plata. They were due to board a Thomson Fly flight to London, when the packages were found in three suitcases after a canine unit alerted the DNCD officers.

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Pensions Scandal for Dominican Government

A RD$50 million embezzlement was uncovered this week leading to the instant dismissal of the director of the Finance Ministry’s Pensions and Retirements Department, the assistant director, the head of the Informatics section, and 15 other employees. The Reservas bank had recently stated its surprise at the number and value of pensions assigned to young people. The swindlers were cashing checks of pensioners, receiving deceased people's benefits, and claiming other funds which had been lost in red tape. Charges are being filed against all persons found implicated.

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Transportation Tax Protest Shutdown

A protest in Santo Domingo led by over 60 people on horseback and donkeys was shutdown yesterday by police. The protest was against the proposed transportation tax increase. The riders and their animals were detained but later released by police. Transportation union leader Ramon Perez Figueres. said "We are before a government that is intolerant of the expression of its citizens".

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Boom for Dominican Real Estate Tourism

It was anounced by Luis Lopez, president of the National Hotels and Restaurants Association (Asonahores) that there has been a significant increase in real estate tourism in particular, and that many foreigners are buying second homes in the DR. Recent projects such as those in Cabarete, Cap Cana, Roco Ki and Punta Cana have contributed to this.

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5.2 Tremor in North of Dominican Republic

A 5.2 degree (Richter scale) tremor was felt yesterday in several of the northern DR provinces at 10.02am. No damage or injuries were reported. The earthquake was felt in the Santiago, Espaillat, Puerto Plata and San Francisco areas, and originated in the Central Cibao where there was some panic among the inhabitants.

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Tuesday 7th November 2006

53 Businesses Closed by Police

Over the weekend, the police have shut down 53 bars, colmados and nightclubs in response to the308-06 decree. Police also confiscated 24 firearms from owners without correct or current documentation. 78 weapons including machettes, knives and daggers were also seized by police from people in their cars.

During this period, 1981 people were stopped for suspicious behaviour, 3598 vehicles have been confiscated, many due to lack of documentation. A further 2953 motorcycles were also confiscated.

Ramon Font Bernard

The politician, journalist and writer Ramon A. Font Bernard died yesterday aged 86, after a brain hemorage. He was being treated in the clínica Corazones Unidos since 12th October. He will be buried today at 10:30am in the avenida Máximo Gómez cemetery.. Bernard was well known for his weekly column, Sabatinas, in the Today newspaper.


Monday 6th November 2006

Constitution Day Holiday

Monday the 6th of November is an official holiday in the DR - Constitution Day. In Santo Domingo, various events are planned, music bands, parades, a flag event and a special mass. In the evening a parachute event with the Dominican Air Force parachutists will end the day's celebration. President Fernandez will be participating in a debate about Dominican Republic’s Constitution, in the San Cristóbal Government palace at 7:00pm. The debate will be about the "the Constitution of 1844", "the Constitution and the Individual", "the Constitution and the Municipality" and "the Constitution and the Country".

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Police Chief asks for salary increases for his forces

Bernando Santana Paez has requested from President Leonel Fernandez, various improvements in benefits for police officers, in the coming 2007 national budget. These include a salary increase, medical services and housing.

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A further step has been taken by the senate to progress the implementation of the long awaited DR-CAFTA treaty. The senate has approved the required bills and will now send them to the Chamber of Deputies for their approval. Once approved, the President can then make them law. Local politicians are hoping to pass the remaining bills before the 15th December. US officials have indicated that there is a possibility that the trade agreement could come into effect possibly before the end of the year.

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DR Trade Increase with Florida

President Fernandez indicated this week that he wants to increase trade with Florida. The DR already has good ongoing trade relations with Florida, being their second largest trading partner. Strong areas of trade currently are telecommunications and technology.

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Anti-Bribery Law

A new bill has been submitted by President Fernandez that would impose a custodial sentence of two to five years and a fine of at least 50 of the person's salary payments on anyone who is found bribing or accepting a bribe. This includes both those in the public and private sector. This bill is required for the DR-CAFTA treaty.

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US Base in the DR?

The reports yesterday that a US military base is to be built in the Dominican Republic have today been denied by the Rear Admiral Hector Lizardo Jorge, the Armed Forces Minister. He did confirm though, that they have installed equipment donated by the US, and have discussed increased cooperation between the two nations.

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