Friday, April 11, 2008

Tanto La Quiero Que Salgo A La Calle Sonámbulo

From the DR newswire:

This happened in the DR?
After so much talk of greedy politicians earning high wages, a report from San Juan province tells of the mayor of Sabana Alta, Carlos Julio Orozco, who has reduced his, and the town councilors', wages in order to prove that progress is possible with a small amount of money and good administration.

The mayor has also stopped taking his allowances and representation costs. As if that were not enough, Orozco also donates his small salary to non-profit organizations and social projects. But his humility isn't enough to spare him the anger of local politicians who are not happy about the salary reduction.

According to the new municipal law, salaries are now RD$9,000, down from RD$12,500. Orozco says that the Sabana Alta municipality receives RD$583,000 a month, which has been used to pave all the streets and sidewalks, complete the construction of a funeral parlor and some other projects.

Young people speak out
Although more often than not young people are apathetic when it comes to politics and corruption issues in government, a group of young activists is proving that this is not always the case. For the second time this year a group of young people gathered in front of the Supreme Court building to protest against the highly controversial Sun Land corruption case.

The group members were dressed up in mime artist costumes, and holding up signs expressing their concerns about the case, which has almost completely disappeared from the radar. A spokesman for the group, Lorenzo Losado, said that the group organized the protest as a way of putting pressure on the SC judges to rule on the case.

Hipolito on the campaign trail
No, you don't have to worry, former President Hipolito Mejia is not running for president in May, but he is throwing his support behind current PRD candidate Miguel Vargas Maldonado.

Mejia was campaigning in San Cristobal yesterday, and he referred to the people who might not vote for Maldonado because of Mejia in his usual blunt manner. "Don't vote: they can go to hell. Those are the same losers as always." Mejia said that yesterday's campaign outing was "just to warm up the engines", and that he would do his best to support Vargas.

The downside of technology
While helping create a more connected world through advances in radio, television and internet technology, Dominican Telecommunications Institute (INDOTEL) president Jose Rafael Vargas believes that these developments have also led to the promotion of sex, violence, prostitution, and domestic violence and abuse.

During a conference on the theme of "New Technologies: Opportunities and Risks in the Family" Vargas called on families to remain alert and supervise the content that children are exposed to. He said that these new technologies aren't meant to replace the values that a child should receive at home. During his speech, Vargas quoted the startling statistics that 11 is the average age for a child to come into contact with pornography for the first time, and that one in seven children get online invitations to join a sex club.

Human rights going to charge
President of the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) Dr. Manuel Maria Mercedes has announced that the CNDH will file charges against National Police Chief Rafael Guzman Fermin next week for "extrajudicial murders" in confrontations with the police. According to Mercedes, the total number of such killings is 160, and not 145 as is claimed by the police.

The human rights campaigner is taking this case a step further by s seeking justice for all extra-judicial murders that have taken place in the last 10 years. Mercedes says that these murders constitute a grave violation of human rights, which are guaranteed by national and international law.

Mercedes, quoted in Hoy, made the claim that from the time of Pedro Jesus Candelier to the current Police Chief's tenure, 5,000 people have been killed extra-judicially and 2,000 of these can be attributed to Candelier.

First food now this
First it was food, and then it was construction materials. Now medicines are the latest products to experience steep price increases. In some cases, according to pharmacies, high demand medicines have experienced 9% and 36% hikes. Although price increases seem to be constant, so are the excuses to justify the skyrocketing prices.

Ho Chi Vega, president of the Dominican Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (Infadomi) and vice president of the Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives, Agents and Producers (Arapf) Fernando Ferreira say that the increase in raw materials and the devaluation of the dollar, among other things, are behind the price increases. Ferreira says that the equation is simple, considering that producers need to find more money to buy raw materials.

No rice for the beans
After much debate on whether price increases in the DR have been real or fictitious, the Dominican Rice Factory Federation (ADOFA) president Miguel de Moya admitted that rice prices have gone up, but tried to downplay the increase by saying that it has only been worth between 12% and 14%.

De Moya says that at this very moment a 125lb. sack of rice costs RD$1,750, up from RD$1,650. He justified the increase on the grounds that fertilizer, which used to cost between RD$500 and RD$700, now costs between RD$1,200 and RD$1,400, and that the price of fuel has doubled, increasing freight and transport costs.

Chickens in Haiti
Listin Diario is reporting that although the ban on Dominican chicken and egg exports to Haiti is still in effect, a loophole is allowing Dominican exporters to get their goods across the border. The paper quotes a report by Agriculture Minister Salvador Jimenez which explains that through secret deals, that aren't necessarily illegal, Dominican exporters are still selling their eggs and chickens to wholesalers in Haiti. Jimenez says that the Haitian government has been lax in enforcing its ban on Dominican chicken and derived products, although there is no indication whether the official ban would be repealed, or when this was likely to happen.

The ban has been in place since January when several bird flu cases were detected in the DR. Jose Lopez, president of the Dominican Chicken Producers Association (ASOPOLLON) says that he has no knowledge of these backroom deals with Haitian wholesalers, while Jimenez added that he doesn't know the volume or the value of the cross-border transactions.

Shower in the rain
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) has issued a 36-hour rain warning for Puerto Plata, Espaillat, Maria Trinidad Sanchez and Duarte provinces. The Meteorological Office (ONAMET) is forecasting rain for between 24 and 36 hours.

Warnings have also been issued for small ships sailing off the Atlantic coast, in the Bay of Samana and through the Mona Passage. COE director Juan Manuel Mendez has warned members of the public to stay away from rivers because of the risk of flash floods.

*smooches...eager to invest my first million towards helping my people out*
and yes, I know I was born here and swear by NYC, but there is something that pulls me to that damned island. Can't explain or deny it...

Title courtesy of Fernandito Villalona, "Sonámbulo"

Thursday's "One Thing Different"-- I did not surf the 'net like a mindless zombie... and all the previous stuff still stands, too :)