RSSArchive for May, 2009

Hurricane season to be less intense say experts

Experts are predicting that this year’s hurricane season, June 1 until November 30, may be less intense than 2008. They say there will be 12 tropical storms and six hurricanes in the Atlantic, two of which are expected to be severe.

Last year there were 16 tropical storms and eight hurricanes, four of which were severe. Hurricanes such as Fay, Hanna, Gustav and Ike raked across the Dominican Republic last year leaving 12 dead, 65 communities flooded, 15 bridges and highways destroyed and some 40,000 people homeless.

Meanwhile they advise that a better forecast for this season is no reason to relax vigil.

The Miami Hurricane Center has announced the following names for Atlantic storms: Ana, Bill, Claudette, Danny, Erika, Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Joaquín. Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Víctor and Wanda.

The names Gustav, Ike and  Paloma, will not be used again until after 2014 due to the damage these storms caused in 2008.

The following precautions have been published by the Canadian Embassy in Santo Domingo.

According to experts the key to hurricane or tropical storm protection is preparation. By taking sensible measures before, during, and after a hurricane, many lives can be saved and property damage averted.

Although most of the impacts associated with tropical storms and hurricanes occur in the coastal areas, these storms can also affect inland areas. The biggest threat to life and property inland is damage from flash flooding and landslides due to excessive rainfall.

Keep well informed by listening to the latest warnings and advisories on radio, television, or web sites. Many Hurricane centers will issue and update these when necessary. It is also important to follow the advice of local authorities and emergency response personnel, and to know how to contact the nearest Canadian government office.

A hurricane preparedness plan includes three basic things that are important in the threat of any severe weather event, and not just for hurricanes:

1. Maintaining a disaster or emergency supply kit;

2. Securing your home and property;

3. Having a safe place to go in the event of evacuation or prolonged utility outage.

A disaster or emergency supply kit should include the below listed items as a minimum.  It is recommended that you consult the two websites provided at the end of this email for additional information and more detailed lists.

– Water – have at least four litres of water available per person per day for three to seven days

– Food – maintain a supply of non-perishable food that is enough for at least three to seven days.  This should include non-perishable items such as: canned food/juices, food for infants or the elderly, snack foods, a non-electric can opener

– First Aid Kit, medicines and prescription drugs

– Sleeping bags, blankets and pillows

– Flashlights and batteries

– Battery operated radio

– Toiletries and hygiene items – including toilet paper, soap, moisture wipes

– Clothing – put aside at least one change of clothes per person, including rain gear and sturdy shoes or boots

– Telephones – ensure cell phones are fully charged.  Each home should be equipped with a traditional, non-cordless phone

– Cash – bank machines, credit cards, and other forms of electronic commerce may not be available during an emergency

– Important Documents – place essential documents in a waterproof containet (ID, passports, medical records, insurance information, etc)

– Fuel – fill all vehicle fuel tanks in advance of a storm

– Tools – have a set with you during the storm

– Specialty items for the children, elderly. Games, toys, and books to keep you and children entertained.

– Pets – plan for you pets by having a sufficient supply of food and water available for them.  If you need to go to a shelter, have a plan in place for where your pet will go.

We would encourage you to visit the following web sites where further information is available on hurricanes specifically and emergency preparedness in general.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada:

The US National Hurricane Centre:

Canadians abroad are recommended to bring their whereabouts to our attention if they are not already registered with the Embassy. Registration can be completed online at or by visiting the Canadian Embassy in Santo Domingo or the Canadian Consulate in Puerto Plata.

Should you have particular concerns, please feel free to contact the Consular Section of the Embassy at 809-685-1136. After hours, you may place a collect call to Foreign Affairs Canada’s Operations Centre in Ottawa at (613) 996-8885.

Canadian Embassy Contact Info:

Canadian Consulate in Puerto Plata

Calle Villanueva No 8, Edificio Abraxas

Tel: (809) 586-5761

Fax: (809) 586-5762

Puerto Plata e-mail

Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic

Office of the Canadian Embassy

In Punta Cana

Carretera Veron- Bavaro Km. 2 1/2, Amstar

Business Center, Building 4, office 404.

(809) 455-1730 main line

(809) 455- 1733 Fax

(809) 455-1734

Samana seeks “most beautiful bay” status for two locations

A Dominican delegation participated in the 5th World Bay Congress, held in Setubal, Portugal, with the intention of submitting the Samana and El Rincón bays to the club “The most beautiful bays in the world.”

The club, a French organization sponsored by UNESCO, includes thirty bays around the world in twenty different countries. The goal of the event is to preserve and help these special areas in a sustainable way.

Under the slogan United by Oceans, the event was sponsored by Portugal, the ministers of Environment and Tourism from Portugal, the mayor of Setubal and representatives from UNESCO.

The final decision about acceptance will be announced at the next meeting of the club’s board of directors in September 2009 in Santander, Spain. If accepted, the bays will receiv an official diploma as members of the club during the next General Assembly in 2010 in Vietnam with the right to use the logo for authorized organizations and people.


DR scores as eighth nation in the hemisphere with least crime victims

The Dominican Republic’s crime-victim rate is lower than Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Brazil, Nicaragua, Paraguay, the United States, Guatemala, Bolivia, El Salvador, Venezuela, Uruguay, Chile, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina. It is among seven of the hemisphere’s countries with the least crime victims.

The report “Political Culture of democracy in the Dominican Republic, 2008: The impact of governance” by the organization Barometer of the Americas states that the number of Dominicans who reported being the victim of a crime rose from 6.8% to 16.2% from 2004 to 2006, then fell to 14.8% in 2008.

The groups which reported the highest percentage of victimization by crime were men, youngsters, inhabitants in the big cities and people with a higher level of education.

The research found the region’s lowest percentage of victimization by crime in Jamaica, with 8.3% reports in the last year, followed by Panama, with 8.4%; Belize with 10.6%; Honduras was fourth with 13.7%; Canada, 14.2% and Haiti, 14.3%.

Perception of security

With a sampling of 1,507 people, the poll concluded that the perception of insecurity among Dominicans is relatively moderate, as of the 23 nations in the study, 14 have higher levels, whereas 39.5% of those surveyed said they feel unsafe, to the 54.5% who affirmed feeling “very safe.”

This level of perception of personal insecurity has negative effects on political tolerance, the legitimacy of political institutions andinterpersonal confidence, the report says, and affirms that the population displays “certain confidence” in the judicial system’s capacity to confront criminality, and to capture and condemn the
guilty, but notes a distrust in the National Police’s capacity to protect citizens.

“Only 42% of the Dominicans surveyed said the Police protects, although this percentage was even lower in 2006 (30%).”

The report concludes that in 2008, 48% of the Dominican population
onfides in the Police to capture the culprit of a crime, an average perception which is the highest in Latin America’s other 17 countries, and in the region surpassed only by Jamaica.


Tourism ministry launches know-your-own-country campaign

Dominicans will be encouraged to get to know their own country via a Tourism Ministry project “Tourism for All” to begin in the next few days and includes massive excursions by families, students and employees of various companies to natural attractions in the north, east and northeastern tourism zones.

Tourism minister Francisco Javier Garcia, interviewed by newspaper Listin Diario, said the project includes a national ad campaign and logistics so Dominicans can travel on weekends in as many as 80 buses to know and enjoy tourism spots such as Samaná (northeast), Bavaro (east) and Puerto Plata (north).

He said tourists from Russia, Germany, Canada or the United States often know and enjoy the Dominican Republic more than the natives.

Garcia said there’s a need to create areas of penetration in the national parks, with the Environment Ministry’s approval, to add these attractions to the national tourism.

Next election term to be six years

(AP) — The next crop of Dominican mayors, legislators and other elected officials will get to serve an extra two years in office under a new measure that aims to cut costs by holding all elections at the same time

Candidates who win in 2010 will stay in office until 2016, according to a constitutional amendment approved late Tuesday by a special government committee. Officials usually serve four-year terms.

The Dominican Republic used to have a single, unified vote for all offices, until fraud allegations tarnished the 1994 presidential election. A new vote for the presidency and vice-presidency was held two years later, and the election cycle has been off-kilter since.

The government has not said how much money it expects to save by re-coupling municipal and presidential elections.

The amendment also moves elections to a Sunday to avoid interrupting
business activities, since a work holiday is traditionally declared to
make it easier for Dominicans to get to the polls.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Bravissimo! Nightclub Show

Ocean World Marina guests enjoy a wide variety of services and truly unique experiences unmatched in the region. By day our visitors enjoy our exciting marine park; by night they can have a sunset dinner overlooking spectacular ocean vistas in several restaurants and bars, enjoy a Vegas-style tropical show, or try one’s luck in the Caribbean’s most glamorous new themed casino.

So if you’re in the area be sure to plan for a great night out at Ocean World. You can book a package including dinner, show and transportation for only $89. See below

OCEAN WORLD CASINO overlooking the Marina is the most exclusive Casino in the Dominican Republic. Guests experience Las Vegas gaming in the setting of a true Caribbean paradise.
Here one can enjoy a choice of the most popular table games and slot machines in luxurious surroundings.
This glamorous building is adjacent to the famous Ocean World Adventure Park, the newest and largest marine park attraction in the Caribbean.
Ocean World Casino Features
•    Open daily starting from 7pm
•    Complimentary national drinks, snacks and cigarettes while playing
•    Valet parking
•    Slot Machines and Table Games (Black Jack, Caribbean Stud Poker, Roulette, 3 Card Poker, Craps, Texas Hold’Em, Baccarat)
•    Scheduled Tournaments every Tuesday and Saturday at 7pm

OCTOPUS BAR & GRILL, the restaurant overlooking the Ocean World Marina, is specialized on light and grilled snacks. Serving premium beverages and variety of premium drinks and refreshing cocktails, this is the perfect place to enjoy drinks with friends.
Octopus Bar & Grill Features
•    Open daily from 9am to 1am, for lunch and dinner
•    Terrace sitting area
•    Pool facilities
•    Swim-up bar
•    Plasma TV

POSEIDON ‘A-LA-CARTE’ RESTAURANT. This stylish modern setting combines sleek architectural features with a fusion of oceanic artifacts, creating an incredible ambiance. This different hot new concept in dining features various mouth-watering international cuisine favorites with a special focus on succulent seafood choices.
Poseidon A-la-Carte Restaurant Features
•    Open Tuesdays through Sundays from 7pm until 12am.
•    102 seats inside
•    Air conditioning
•    International cuisine specialized in seafood
•    Scheduled culinary activities

BRAVISSIMO SHOW is a Las Vegas style dance show with a tropical flair.  Gorgeous performers take guests on an enchanted journey throughout the Caribbean by presenting their interpretive dance collection from throughout the destination, with more that 100 costumes that will leave you breathless.
Bravissimo Features
•    Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 9pm
•    Thursday at 10pm
•    26 dancers
•    No pictures/filming permitted

LIGHTHOUSE LOUNGE & DISCO is with no doubt the most spectacular and classy Lounge & Disco Bar of the island, completely dressed in white, with comfortable sofas where you can relax and enjoy the unparalleled view and the best music.
Lighthouse Lounge Features
•    Open daily from 9am until sunrise
•    Spectacular ocean view
•    Wednesdays: Karaoke
•    Fridays: Ladies Night
•    Saturdays: Party Night
•    Also available for private events


Show Only $45

Dinner, show and transportation $89

Book Online

Drunken German diverts inbound flight

A Condor Boeing 767-300 flying from Frankfurt to Puerto Plata with
263 people on board was only ten minutes in flight when the crew turned to Shannon Airport in Ireland, reporting they had 4 people on board needing to go
Police took one intoxicated man, age 47, from Munich into custody, who has been charged with being intoxicated on board an aircraft.
He pleaded guilty in a court hearing, was fined 100 Euros and was released.
In order to land the plane so early after takeoff, the crew dumped 8 tonnes of fuel.
The airplane resumed the flight after about 100 minutes on the ground and reached Puerto Plata with a delay of 3.5 hours.

From Aviation Herald by Simon Hradecky May 16th 2009 11:08Z

$75M advertising barter deal proposed to hotels

A program for the exchange of advertising services for hotels and companies of the Dominican Republic and Caribbean media in United States, Canada, Europe and international airports around the world, was presented by the Center for Information and Communication (CICOM) and Canadian-based The Media Group (TMG).

TMG and CICOM announced a strategic alliance with an advertising offer to make $75 million (USD) available in exchange for businesses based in the Caribbean, including the main electronic media (TV, radio), newspapers, magazines, online, mobile phones and the like, and a further $40 million on advertising billboards in 207 global markets.

“Our facilities are aimed at advertising hotels, recreational facilities, real estate, restaurants, sports facilities (golf), marinas, hotels, tourism associations, and governments of the countries where these facilities are located,” asserted Cesar Heal, CICOM senior manager, responsible for the project.

Manuel Canales of TMG noted that the companies concerned have access to the inventory of media and other facilities under the program and choose those that are of interest to place advertising.

“Our specialty,” Canales said, “is to provide an alternative to significant cash disbursements, which is to trade hotel-rooms for appropriate promotion to customer needs. After receiving the data from the target market details of the customer, our company develops a marketing and media plan based on demographic and economic provision to be invested by the company concerned.”

This exchange program allows hotels to trade part of its inventory of unsold rooms for advertising in the markets of their interest without making the huge outlays of money required by traditional advertising. Governments may also participate by making arrangements with hotels to provide a program and include some forms of institutional advertising.

For instance, the hotels in Puerto Plata and Samaná could contribute $500 thousand dollars in hotel-rooms, and the government can contribute a similar cash sum for an advertising program in the United States or Canada for Puerto Plata and Samaná.

“In response to the needs of Dominican Republic and the Caribbean, CICOM wanted to stay at the forefront in supporting the development of tourism as a strategic alliance with a company to market advertising exchange room, which is a tool that facilitates and lowers investment promotion,” said Manuel Cedeño Quiteria, president of CICOM.

Government lifts tax to kick-start construction


According to Superintendent of Banks Rafael Camilo, there is a housing deficit of 975,000 units, and the government is taking new steps to help fill the need. According to Diario Libre, yesterday the government issued instructions for the materials used in the construction of housing units with construction costs of under RD$1.4 million to be exempted from income tax, ITBIS (VAT) tax, and other taxes, as part of a plan to get the economy moving via the construction sector.
The exoneration of taxes for materials used in housing construction is expected to “kick-start” the economy through the construction sector that is known to create more jobs and have a trickle-down effect on other industries.
The measures will be implemented through the administration of the Department of Taxes (DGII), while the Congress discusses the legislative proposal that will be sent by the President’s Office today.
The measures come in response to requests from the construction sector and the small and medium business sector. The President and his economic cabinet met with representatives of these sectors yesterday.
Camilo acted as spokesman for the government and told the press after the meeting that it was agreed that the Central Bank is also studying a mechanism that will fix mortgage interest rates on middle class housing for three years. Camilo reported that just what that rate will be is not yet known but the decision could be taken in two weeks time.
Camilo also said that the government is exploring the possibility of donating state lands for the construction of low-cost housing projects.
According to studies, a house that would sell for RD$1.4 million would be between 75 to 80 square meters, and cost between RD$800,000 to RD$900,000 to build with the tax exemptions and the so-called land bonus the government would provide.

Judge defends right to call your kid ‘Dear Pineapple’ if you want

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — A judicial panel says Dominicans are free to name their kids “Dummy,” “Dear Pineapple” or anything else for that matter. The Central Electoral Commission has rejected a proposal that would ban any names that could be confusing or give no indication of gender, such as Querida Pina (Dear Pineapple) and Tonton Ruiz (Dummy Ruiz); both of these being real examples.

Judge Jose Angel Aquinas had called for a crackdown on unusual names after the country’s civil registry showed some families were naming their offspring after cartoon characters and car brands. One family named their girl Mazda Altagracia

But the commission concluded it is not appropriate for the government to dictate what parents name their children.


Amnesty International rails against anti-abortion law

Constitutional and legal reforms now underway in the Dominican Republic could lead to violations of women’s human rights, Amnesty International warned today. The measures may be used as justification for criminalising abortion in all circumstances, including where the life or health of the woman is at risk or where the pregnancy is the result of rape.

Dominican congress is considering a new constitutional provision that includes a reference to the inviolability of the right to life “from conception to death”. The constitutional amendment is widely thought to have been introduced to bolster efforts to criminalize and prohibit abortion in all cases. The Dominican Congress is also considering an amendment to the penal code which would increase the penalties for persons involved in carrying out an abortion and explicitly providing for the imprisonment of women pregnant as a result of rape, incest or involuntary assisted fertilization who seek or cause their own termination of pregnancy.

International human rights law and the Constitution as it is currently in force already protect prenatal life. Amnesty International calls on the Dominican Republic to give effect to this obligation in a manner compatible with the rights of women, including their rights to life and health.This may include measures to prevent miscarriage and stillbirth, the provision of antenatal, emergency obstetric and post-natal care and skilled attendance at birth. Pregnancy cannot be used as an occasion for suspending the concerned woman’s human rights. The protection of the foetus does not invalidate women’s human rights claims.

In order to give effect to its obligations under international human rights law, Amnesty International calls on the Dominican Republic authorities to reform the Penal Code to ensure that women and girls are not subject to criminal sanctions for seeking or obtaining an abortion under any circumstances. In particular, Amnesty International calls on the Dominican Congress to eliminate the proposed Article 239 which targets rape, incest and involuntary fertilisation victims for criminal punishment for abortion. The reform must also ensure that medical practitioners are not criminalised solely for providing abortion services that are safe. The Dominican Government must take all necessary measures to ensure that safe and legal abortion services are accessible without unreasonable restrictions to all girls and women who require them in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest and in circumstances where continuation of pregnancy would put the health or life of the woman or girl at risk.


Abortion is criminalized under the current national legislation (Penal Code). In August 2006, the executive branch decided to develop a new penal code and tasked the national congress with revising and correcting “incongruities” in the text. After one year a bicameral commission was formed to evaluate the penal code revisions and in July and August 2007 public hearings were held for arguments on decriminalizing abortion.  This review process is still ongoing.

Article 8 of the Constitution as it is currently in force only mentions the “inviolability of life”. The current constitutional reform proposal was introduced to Congress by the President of the Dominican Republic, Mr. Leonel Fernandez, in October 2008. The proposal is currently being examined by the Congress sitting in its capacity of “parliamentary assembly for the revision of the constitution” (Asamblea Revisora). The assembly votes article by article in first reading. The text will be then subject to a second reading, in which any changes will be voted.

The proposed Article 30 of the constitutional reform has provoked concerns among women organizations, the medical profession and other civil society organizations. In particular, the Dominican Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists expressed its concerns that the impact of the article could “be catastrophic on maternal mortality”, as a consequence of the restrictions that the interpretation of the article would impose to the medical sector.

Article 4.1 of the American Convention on Human Rights uses language similar to that of the proposed constitutional amendment, providing that “[e]very person has the right to have his life respected. This right shall be protected by law, and, in general, from the moment of conception.” According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, state parties to the Convention that dopermit abortion in law and facilitate access in practice are notin violation of the Convention. The President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has commented: “In certain cases, such as when continuing the pregnancy would endanger the life of the woman, or when the pregnancy is as a result of rape, the criminalization of abortion would cause a violation of the obligation of the state to protect the life of the woman”.

Amnesty International regrets to note that the proposed reform of Article 30 does not follow the human rights-affirmative approach taken by the Constitutional Court of Colombia in its 2006 judgment invalidating the complete ban of abortion, an approach which distinguished the right to life of the woman from the state’s duty to protect prenatal life in international human rights and constitutional law.

John F ousted for Juan B in street name change

Puerto Plata city council has voted to change the name of a main downtown street,  John F. Kennedy Ave., to Profesor Juan Bosch. The proposal was tabled by city councillor Dr. Rafael Santana along with a 200-name petition and was passed by a large majority of votes.

Juan Bosch was a politician, historian, short story writer, essayist, educator, and the first cleanly elected president of the Dominican Republic for a brief time in 1963. Previously, he had been the leader of Dominican opposition in exile to the dictatorial regime of Rafael Trujillo for over a quarter century. To this day he is remembered as an honest politician and regarded as one of the most prominent writers in Dominican literature. He is the founder of both the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) in 1939 and the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) in 1973.

Before being named in honor of John F. Kennedy, this street was originally called Calle de Comercio, or Commerce Street.

Yale says DR is world’s 33rd greenest country

Santo Domingo. – A recent Yale University study ranked Dominican Republic 33rd among the greenest countries, Environment minister Jaime David Fernandez Mirabal said Thursday.

“To be among the world’s top 35 greenest countries is a recognition of the efforts by nongovernment and government organizations, academies and the Dominican people to benefit the environment and natural resources” Fernandez said.

He recognized however that it also represents “a challenge because from now on it’s necessary to improve that position.”

Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) evaluated carbon and sulphur emissions, water purity and conservation practices.

Fernandez, taking part in the closing of the 8th technical meeting of the Biological Corridor of the Caribbean, said the project seeks to integrate Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica, among others islands in a common effort to draft joint policies to defend the biodiversity, protect nature and develop the natural resources’ common potentialities.

In the meetings during three days in the Santo Domingo Technological Institute  (INTEC), the technical delegations proposed a Joint Operation Plan among the corridor’s current members.


North coast drug scandals pit Dominican Police, Justice Ministry

SANTO DOMINGO. – The Justice Ministry yesterday accused Police agents of being accomplices of drug trafficking in Puerto Plata, forming “a serious stumbling block” to the prosecutors’ work to fight it, charges expected to unleash a confrontation between the heads of those departments.

Contrary to Police chief Rafael Guzmán’s allegation that it’s the zone’s prosecutors who conspire with drug traffickers, a report by Assistant prosecutor Ramon Arístides Madera says Police, antinarcotics (DNCD), and some Armed Forces agents destroyed and contaminated evidence, didn’t carry out Justice Ministry instructions, switched drugs sent to the forensics lab to protect narcotics traffickers and didn’t investigate bloody crimes in that zone.

“There was no way to break the inertia of those corrupted agents.” says the report given to Justice minister Radhamés Jiménez, and defends the actions of the prosecutors Grimilda Disla, Wilfredo Martinez and Ramon Núñez, “who have done their part, acted responsibly and heroically when denouncing and confronting the evil of drug trafficking in Sosúa and Puerto Plata.

It states that it was those prosecutors’ efforts that uncovered the actions 31 police agents who were fired for serious offenses.

On February 16 Guzmán denounced that the three assistant prosecutors had links with and provided protection for rings of narcotics traffickers in Sosúa, and made reference to taped telephone conversations between alleged narcotics traffickers and prosecutors.