Restoring The Reefs
'The University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science will team up with the Dominican Republic's PUNTACANA Ecological Foundation to conduct ecological studies of the coastal reefs in the greater Punta Cana area. Researchers and students will work together to strengthen sustainable tourism, environmental protection and enhancement efforts. The teams will investigate ways to restore the reef system, focusing on improving water quality and reducing excessive commercial fishing.' Read more here:
American Youth Unite For Dominican Aid
'Students at three township elementary schools are learning to be humanitarians through a partnership with an impoverished school in the Dominican Republic. Since early 2006 under the guidance of three Centre City School teachers and Williamstown resident Phyllis Hoffman students have participated in the AYUDA project American Youth Unite for Dominican Aid.' The rest of the story follows:
AIDS Vaccine Fails
' A promising experimental vaccine to prevent the AIDS virus has failed in a crucial experiment, with volunteers becoming infected with HIV anyway, leading the drug developer to halt the study. Merck & Co. said Friday that it is ending enrollment and vaccination of volunteers participating in the international study, which is partly funded by the National Institutes of Health...........The experiment, called STEP, began in December 2004 and had enrolled 3,000 volunteers in a number of countries including the DR.' Read more:
Gregorio Luperon: How To Remember A Hero - Weekend News 16th. Sept. 2007
Last weekend marked the 168th. anniversary of the birth of General Gregorio Luperon, son of Puerto Plata, leader in the restoration of the DR after Spanish annexation in 1863 and a national hero. There were celebrations in Puerto Plata, a procession, speeches rendering homage and a schoolgirl's speech extolling Luperon's values and urging that they should be followed now in order to combat corruption. Many of the schoolchildren present for the long speeches had arisen early in the morning, some had not had breakfast and as the hot sun bore down on where they stood they started dropping like flies. The functionaries, meanwhile, were seated under a shaded dais. Albeit not ALL functionaries were present however: El Faro comments on PRSC and PRD no shows but also asks what the justification could be for the absence of PLD functionaries such as Senator Francis Vargas, Deputies Alfonso Crisóstomo, Juan Carlos Quiñones and Félix Castillo as well as Subsecretaries of Tourism Bernardita Abbott de Finke and Luis Paradis, Rafael Augusto Villanueva of Industry and Commerce, Subsecretary of Interior Raymundo Félix, Fiscal Víctor Mueses and Procurator General Félix Alvarez. Maybe, just maybe they were hanging their heads in shame at how Puerto Plata honours a national hero? The photo above is the house on 12 de Julio, Puerto Plata, where Gregorio Luperon lived and died. Luperon was the son of one of probably the first English expats to the DR - his mother was from England and she ran a colmado. Young Gregorio spoke English at home. In later life having been a shortlived President of the DR Luperon lived in the house above which is clearly marked as a national monument by the metal plaque on the concrete plinth. It is likely that many tourists and residents pass by this crumbling ruin in blissful ignorance other than to be careful parking immediately outside in case the upper galeria falls! The house is situated opposite Libreria Ripoll and opposite what used to be Costambar English centre but is now the law offices of the Ripoll company. There is a guardian who sits outside and who obviously sleeps inside judging from the bed, but a museum this is not despite signs inside indicating that it used to be in better days of yore. So, Ayuntamiento, whilst extolling the virtues of Luperon why not a practical demonstration by not letting his house fall down? There probably isn't much time left - one decent hurricane and.......................
Lutz Meyerding was remanded in custody to Najayo jail for three months having been charged with human trafficking and maintaining a pornographic live webcam site. The situation with regard to the other two men accused of involvement in the same offences poses some interesting questions. Vladimir Medinsky, a German, had entered the DR on a tourist visa which had since expired. The Santo Domingo Fiscal, Dr. José Manuel Hernández Peguero, requested of Migracion that he be deported as an illegal alien. On Monday afternoon he was flown out of DR on Copa Airlines bound for Panama with an eventual destination of Germany. The remaining accused, Israeli Samad Payandeh, has not been deported because he has Dominican residencia. However, because of the offence of which he is accused, authorities are looking into whether his residency could be cancelled thus making him eligible for deportation according to El Nuevo Diario. This raises a number of interesting issues for expats: is the accusation of an offence sufficient to enable cancellation of residency followed by deportation? It would appear that neither Medinsky nor Payandeh will have their day in Court to refute any accusations. Whether this is because authorities do not possess enough evidence to make a charge stick or whether the scenario is that Medinsky and Payandeh have avoided being charged by providing authorities with evidence on Meyerding is unknown at this stage. The outcome with regard to Payandeh might, or rather should cause some consternation amongst those expats who operate at the margins of legality in this country. Maybe this is the start of the DR altering its image as a place where expats involved in nefarious activities can seek safe refuge? There are many who would certainly hope so!
Prisoners Cost 300 Pesos Daily
According to an article in Hoy it costs 300 pesos a day to feed each of the DR's approx 14,000 prisoners. Compare with UK statistics as itemised in the 2005-6 National Audit Office Report on prisoner diet and exercise: 'Expenditure on food is determined by each prison governor who sets the budget in terms of a daily food allowance per prisoner. The average daily food allowance for prisoners is £1.87, but there are wide variations ranging from £1.20 at an open prison to £3.41 at a young offenders’ institution.' At today's exchange rate that would mean the UK figures represent an average of 125 pesos per day per inmate on food and a range of from 80 pesos to 228 pesos. Given the higher costs of the UK prison diet (meat and at least two veg.) as compared with the DR prison diet of rice and beans, porridge (no pun intended) and gruel it is surprising to learn that the UK manages to feed its prisoners on a daily basis for less than half of the amount that it costs the DR Government. Or could the Attorney General's figures be a slight overestimation? Does that money go 'elsewhere'? How many non-incarcerated Dominicans spend 300 pesos a day on food? And how many would love to be able to? It should be noted that 300 pesos a day would represent 8400 pesos a month which is way in excess of the income of at least half of the DR's population.
Who's Moving To Puerto Plata?
El Faro comments on the rumours which have been circulating around Puerto Plata for some weeks about new megastores setting up in the town. According to El Faro land between the Malecon and Vista Alegre del Ensanche Luperón and 12 de julio has been sold to La Sirena (Grupo Ramos) who are currently awaiting permission to cut trees on the site. Meanwhile the Tiendas Jiménez chain has purchased land at El Nisperal ( between Isabel de Torres, Virginia Elena Ortea and José Eugenio Kunhardt streets). There is also a rumour that the Carrefour chain are negotiating to purchase land at the entrance to Torre Alta on the Avenida Manolo Tavárez Justo - it would appear that land price is the sticking point here.
Canadian land owner Steven Vepaer was shot and left for dead last Monday afternoon on the Imbert-Luperón road. The assailant was one of his trusted employees Juan Carlos Muñoz Taveras who appears to have incurred a debt and was pressuring his employer for money. Passers by found Mr. Vepaer who was admitted to a clinic for surgery. The employee has been arrested. Meanwhile in a separate event Dutchman Vite Berolme, 60, had a heart attack and died in Centro Medico, Puerto Plata. He had arrived in DR on July 9th. and had been staying in a hotel in Sosua.
5 DNCD At Puerto Plata Airport Fired
DR Drug Trade To Canada
20 Years For Drug Trafficking
On Friday a Court in Santiago awarded a 20 year sentence of imprisonment on each of two men arrested last year in connection with trafficking extasy pills. After the ruling the accused threatened both the judges and the Public Ministry official. This is the first time such a lengthy sentence has been imposed for this offence and according to prosecutor Raúl Martínez the sentence was designed to send a message to all narcotraffickers. It is to be hoped that both the judges and the Fiscals are able to continue sending such a very clear and unambiguous message.
AMET Looking For Mission Statement?
It looks like AMET are unsure of their role. On Wednesday Listin Diario reported AMET's intention to crack down hard on traffic violators including the naming of those who run red lights in the media (doubtless this will mean extra pages for the newspapers concerned). Then on Thursday AMET Chief General Latil Miguel Mafhoud Rodríguez announced a change of plan - AMET will not act repressively but will 'assist' citizens, according to El Nuevo Diario. But in case you were starting to get warm and fuzzy (if confused!) feelings about the new AMET Chief, it would be advisable to check his actual words. 'Assistance' is defined as 'I don't want to see a single officer thumping the bonnet of a vehicle, nor the roof'. Well............it's a start! Meanwhile an editorial in Puerto Plata Digital suggests that if the names of those who go through red lights are to be published, then other violators should also be named and shamed. They ask what of the Senators and Deputies who have one hand extended at the front and another at the rear (wonderful imagery!) who enjoy the perks of new jeepetas and generous dog food allowances? And what of those governmental functionaries who make more in a month than most citizens will make in a lifetime of honest toil? And what of donations to political parties? They suggest that 'named' should be the source of whence these come and perhaps more importantly where they go to.
Banco Central's Gonna Party!
Fiddling while Rome burns? Or tinkling the ivories? It would appear that Banco Central has spent 10 million pesos on entertainment for its 60th. Anniversay celebrations. Pianists Richard Clayderman and Raul Di Blasio will be paid way above their normal fees. Clayderman normally charges US$25,000 and will be getting US$80,000 and Di Blasio normally charges US$15,000 and will be getting US$65,000. Or will they.................?
Sport And Hunting Tourism
Historic Artifacts In Samaná
'DEEP BLUE MARINE, INC. is pleased to announce that company divers working "under the auspices and existing contract that Tracy Bowden has with the Government of the Dominican Republic, and working under the supervision of the Marina de Guerra Dominicana, and an inspector from the Oficina Nacional de Patrimonio Cultural Subcuático," have completed a 14-day tour of duty on the recovery of the "Scipion," a French vessel that sank October 18th 1782, in Samaná Bay, the Dominican Republic. Divers have located and or recovered several important and historical artifacts, including but not limited to: cannons, anchors, cannon balls, silver flat wear, silver buckle, brass, pewter and bone buttons, rigging, block and tackle, wood dead eyes, tools, glass bottles, plates, pottery, copper sheathing, brass nails, musket balls, several coins, and other items from the period.' More here:
Ocean Bavaro Spa Bought By Barcelo
'Playa Hotels & Resorts S.L., has added a third resort in the Dominican Republic with the acquisition of the Ocean Bavaro Spa and Beach Resort in Punta Cana, the company announced today. The amount paid for the resort, the second acquisition in the Dominican Republic in two months, was not released. The all-inclusive resort on Bavaro Beach has 738 rooms, including 93 suites; 3,121 square feet of meeting space and a business center; a European-style spa; a theater and new casino that was completed in June. It is located about 12 miles from the Punta Cana International Airport. Playa Hotels & Resorts, formed in 2006 by Grupo Barcelo in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, said the property would be rebranded and operated as the Barcelo Dominican Beach Resort.' The rest of the story is here:
The One-Legged Kiter
'I had spotted the one-legged man as I jogged around the sandy headland on Kite Beach in Cabarete. My excitement at the prospect of my first kite-surfing lesson in the warm waters of the Dominican Republic was suddenly tempered by sympathy for this poor man's predicament. After losing a leg in a motorbike accident, he now spent his mornings hopping among rock pools collecting conch shells to sell to passing tourists. But within an hour any pity I felt had evaporated into a green mist of envy. While I played tug-of-war with a small practice kite on the safety of the shore, the man cut a lone figure as he raced across the waves on a custom-made board, his kite flying proudly above him. Arching his back against the wind, he controlled the 12m (40ft) sail with one hand with amazing dexterity while wiping the salty spray from his brow with the other. It was breathtaking stuff. I already felt self-conscious in a bright red helmet and protective vest that screamed "beginner", but to see this total mastery of the kite by someone who was physically impaired was humbling.' Read the rest of the story here:
Cana Bay Beach Club
'Raminova announces plans to invest approximately $650 million in tourism-related projects in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Panama City, Panama; Los Cabos, Mexico; and Puerto Penasco, Mexico, within the next year. Future expansion plans will also include projects in U.S. cities, such as New York and Miami. Raminova's expansion plan, as well as its first project in the Dominican Republic, Cana Bay Beach Club & Golf Resort, is featured in this month's issue of Smart Money magazine.' The rest of the story follows: