Thursday, March 06, 2008

No Doctors, More Avian Flu and JLG & Mana Rock The Vote

News from the DR newswire:

Peacemaking at Rio Summit
Hoy is quoting unnamed sources that claim that during today's meetings, heads of state at the XX Rio Summit will discuss the recent tensions between Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador.

Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso says that President Leonel Fernandez has spoken to the Colombian and Venezuelan presidents and is confident that both will act responsibly. He added that Fernandez has spoken to leaders of the South American neighbors with a view to helping reach a solution to the tensions.

Aside from trying to mediate South American troubles, coordinators have released the rough draft of the Santo Domingo Declaration, covering the topics of discussion for the Summit. These include energy, natural disasters and development. According to vice Foreign Relations Minister Jose Manuel Trullols, coordinators met over a two-day period, in closed sessions, in order to draw up the Summit agenda. He explained that once the coordinators had selected the topics, foreign ministers had to give their approval.

These topics will be presented to the leaders tomorrow. It is expected that 14 of the 19 heads of state of the Rio Group countries, and two prime ministers, will be attending the Summit. El Caribe reports that the Foreign Ministers will hold an initial meeting in the Ministry's Green Room at 9:30 today. The Summit will begin three hours later.

Today's work will finish at 5pm followed by a special dinner for the heads of state at the Presidential Palace at 8:30pm. On Friday, the heads of state will meet at 9am and the official Summit photo is scheduled for 9:30am. President Leonel Fernandez will make the inauguration speech followed by an address by Guyanese President Bharat Jagdeo. Then at 4pm President Leonel will hand over the Pro Tempore Rio Group Ministry to Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

Doctors keep promise
Doctors went on strike yesterday, as promised, but some patients still made their way to hospitals in the hope of seeing a doctor. Hoy is reporting that many of the country's hospitals were empty yesterday and that many patients, even the elderly, had to return home without receiving treatment.

Robert Reid Cabral, Dario Contreras, Padre Billini, Francisco Moscoso Puello, Luis Eduardo Aybar and Salvador B. Gautier Hospitals experienced almost complete work stoppages. Dominican Medical Association (CMD) president Waldo Ariel Suero described the strike as a success, while pointing out that doctors did treat patients who needed emergency care. The strike is expected to continue today in 188 hospitals and no word of any truce or any dialogue has been announced.

The Alternative Social Forum and some of the transport unions are supporting the strike. State sector doctors are fighting for a wage increase, among other things, and say they should be receiving a monthly salary of RD$59,000.

Bird flu worse than feared
Initially dismissed as an isolated incident in Higuey, the appearance of the H5N2 virus or avian flu in fighting cocks is causing concern as animal health officials admit that it is a nationwide problem. Nine separate cases of bird flu have now been confirmed by the Department of Livestock.

The first case was detected in Higuey in December and was thought to be isolated, but cases have continued to appear, the latest announced in late February. All chickens and roosters that have tested positive for bird flu have been killed and in some cases birds with no trace of the disease have also been culled as a precaution.

So far cases have been found in Barranca, La Vega, Santiago, Bani, Barahona, San Juan de la Maguana, Pedernales, La Otra Banda, Santo Domingo and San Pedro de Macoris. Fears about bird flu led Puerto Rican and Haitian officials to ban Dominican chicken and egg imports. PR eventually lifted the ban, but Haiti has yet to lift the ban.

JLG rocks the vote
Dominican music superstar Juan Luis Guerra is teaming up with Mexican rock group Mana to host a concert in Miami, Florida as a way to get Hispanic/Latino voters out to the polls for the US presidential election in November.

The concert will be held on 11 March at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami. Tickets for the show will sell for between US$200 and US$350, and proceeds will go to the "Ya es hora, ve y vota," campaign. The concert is being sponsored by Democarica USA and "Mi Familia Vota," among other groups.

*smooches...hoping none of my peeps on the island need medical attention or eats chicken"
I wish I could be in Miami for that concert- you know how absolutely AWESOME Juan Luis and Mana must be on stage together? I'm jealous!