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Thread: DR1 Daily News - Monday, 13 February 2017

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    Default DR1 Daily News - Monday, 13 February 2017

    Medina visits Santo Domingo East Metro links
    Revolutionary transport bill passes, application in doubt
    Navarrete-Puerto Plata road to be expanded
    The rising cost of public pensions
    Superior Education Minister to talks with UASD professors
    Law changes proposed for more controls on asset laundering
    Consultations opened for strengthening relations with Caricom
    More controls promised for rising illegal immigration
    Julio César Castaños’ bluff at the JCE?
    Masalles takes on Baní diocese commitment
    Police sergeant fired for signing Green Book
    Only Piccini continues to serve jail in Embraer aircraft case
    El Nacional blooper goes global
    Flights back to normal after snowstorms
    Víctor Estrella wins Ecuador Open
    Badminton Pan America in Santo Domingo 
    Robinson Canó to captain DR team to WBC
    Lazaro Carreno offers dance master classes
    The New York Band at Hard Rock Live

    Medina visits Santo Domingo East Metro links
    President Danilo Medina toured the construction sites of the Santo Domingo Metro and the MetroCable (skytrain over the Ozama River) connecting western and eastern parts of Santo Domingo on Friday, 10 February 2017.  
    He was accompanied by visiting French Minister of State for Development and Francophonie Jean-Marie Le Guen. The metro and skytrain use French technology. 

    The Presidency press office says that the extension of the Santo Domingo Metro to eastern Santo Domingo is a “revolution in transport” that will benefit more than 287,000 Dominicans in 30 barrios in a highly populated area. It is planned to transport 60,000 persons a day. 

    Barrios that will primarily benefit are Los Palmares, Bello Amanecer, Brisa del Este, Brisa de Los Palmares, La Victoria, Villa Blanca, Salomé Ureña, Los Cerros del Paraiso, La Javilla, Los Restauradores, Los Mina Norte, Los Guandules and Espaillat. 

    The eastern Metro line will run for five kilometers and will have five stations – Charles de Gaulle, Sabana Perdida, La Nueva Barquita, Los Tres Brazos and Gualey linking eastern and western Santo Domingo.

    Revolutionary transport bill passes, application in doubt
    The Chamber of Deputies signed off on the new Dominican Republic transit bill that replaces Law 241 that dates back to 1967. The transport bill now passes to the Presidency for signing and publication. It provides new rules for the organizing of passenger and cargo transport in the Dominican Republic at a time when the country has the highest traffic accident rate in the Americas.  The bill establishes free market for the contracting of cargo and passenger services, and authorizes taxis using Internet platforms. 

    In an editorial on Saturday, 11 February 2017, Diario Libre is skeptical the new norms will be applied and asks for a reality check. 

    The measures included in the extensive bill are intended to drastically change ground passenger and cargo transport and will impact businesses located on streets, parking, and the condition of vehicles allowed to transit. It also has rules for pedestrians. 

    For instance, the new bill establishes a maximum number of passengers that may share a multi-fare passenger taxis (conchos) may transport. Today, conchos will pack six passengers in the back seat and two in the front and the vehicles can be up to 20 years old.  The bill also establishes that motorcycle taxis may only carry one adult passenger and no minors under 8 years old. 

    The bill establishes limits to the age of vehicles offering public transport service. Vehicles older than allowed will not be issued the annual vehicular permits (marbetes). INTRANT is responsible for vehicle inspections. 

    The Diario Libre editorialist wonders: “And who will apply the law?” “Will Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) agents dedicate themselves to dismount the additional passengers, especially in peak hours?”

    An amendment in the Senate reduced the funding for the transport organization effort. The bill assigns 75% of collections for traffic fines to the Attorney General Office and only 25% to the INTRANT. 

    The 96-page and 360-articles Mobility, Ground Transport, Transit and Road Safety Bill of the Dominican Republic and Ground Transit Institute (Intrant) creates the National Institute for Transit and Ground Transport (INTRANT) as the government body in charge of regulating ground transport. It will operate under the umbrella of the Ministry of Public Works and replaces the present Technical Office of Ground Transport (OTTT), the Ground Transport Agency (DGTT), the Council for the Administration and Regulation of Taxis (CART), the Pension Agency for Public Transport Drivers and the Fund for Development of Ground Transport (Fondet). 

    The bill also creates the Transit Security and Land Transport Agency (DIGESETT) that will group the Metropolitan Transport Authorities of Santo Domingo and Santiago, under the umbrella of the National Police. 

    The bill had been approved by the Chamber of Deputies in 2015, but stagnated in Congress until fast-tracked through the Senate and passed in two consecutive readings. Given that some changes were made in the Senate, it was returned to the Chamber of Deputies that gave it their approval on Friday, 10 February 2017. 

    Transport associations are given 18 months to comply with the law once it is signed into law by President Danilo Medina. 

    Read the original version approved by the Chamber of Deputies in 2015:

    Navarrete-Puerto Plata road to be expanded
    The Ministry of Public Works announced on Saturday, 11 February 2017, that work would soon begin to expand the Navarrete-Puerto Plata road to four lanes from the present two lanes. The government is expected to invest US$68 million in the expansion and repairs of the road.  Three companies would be contracted simultaneously to expedite the needed works. 

    Ramón Antonio Pepín, chief of the Ministry of Public Works cabinet, said that assessments of damages to roads and bridges caused by the October and November intense rains has been completed and repairs would soon begin.

    The Ministry of Public Works was responding to protests led by Puerto Plata representatives recently that demanded that the needed infrastructure works no longer be delayed.

    The rising cost of public pensions
    From January to November 2016, the Dominican government paid out RD$24.9 billion in pension plan payments. This is 15.8% of the total government payroll. This was an increase of 2.8% over the payment for the same period in 2015. 

    77% of those receiving government pensions had stipends under RD$6,000 a month, but increasingly, legislators, and autonomous government institution members, including the state university, government finance entities and others are receiving attractive pensions of upwards of RD$100,000 a month.

    Superior Education Minister to talks with UASD professors
    Minister of Superior Education Alejandrina Germán will receive spokespersons of the professors union of the UASD, known by the acronym in Spanish, Faprouasd. Faprouasd professors have been on strike since 29 January 2017, when the first semester of classes at the state university should have started. 

    As reported, the striking professors had requested a meeting with the Minister of Superior Education after talks with Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo did not lead to the pay increase sought by the union. 

    The professors are demanding a 40% increase in wages in 2017, starting with a 15% backdated to January 2017. The UASD professors are already by far the best paid in the Dominican Republic. 

    Meanwhile, the professors are ensuring they get their wages by signing in, and then leaving the classroom. The strike is affecting more than 200,000 university students nationwide. 

    The professors argue that the rector of the UASD could make administrative adjustments to the university’s budget that could free up resources that would funds the wage increases. The union is also demanding that more government funds be allocated to the UASD. 

    Recently, the administrative union at the state university also went on strike demanding a wage increase. 

    The Medina administration had not included a wage increase in the 2017 National Budget.

    Law changes proposed for more controls on asset laundering
    President Danilo Medina sent to Congress a bill that would make amendments to controls on asset laundering in the Dominican Republic, in compliance with international conventions. The bill changes Law 72-02 on Assets Derived from Illicit Trafficking in Drugs and other Serious Infractions. 

    The Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo said the norms seek to comply with 40 recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF or GAFI in Spanish), as well as to designated non-financial businesses and professions, and the capacity to freeze assets of international terrorists identified by the United Nations.

    Consultations opened for strengthening relations with Caricom
    The Foreign Trade Agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Small Business (Dicoex) began a series of consultations with the public and private sectors to determine the principle commercial interests of the Dominican Republic to be presented at the 5th meeting of the Joint Free Trade Agreement CARICOM-DR set for Georgetown, Guyana on 30-31 March 2017. 

    Dicoex director César Dargam highlighted that the consultations seek to harmonize and promote the interests of local producers to present a single stance before the Caricom members.

    Participating in the consultations are the National Council of Free Zones (CNZFE), the DR Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD), and the ministries of Agriculture, Hacienda and Economy. Also representatives of the Commission for Defense Against Unfair Trade Practices, Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel), Central Bank, Dominican Quality Institute (Indocal), Migration Agency (DGM) and Customs Agency (DGA).

    Participating for the private sector are leading business and trade organizations, including the Dominican Republic Association of Industries (AIRD), the National Business Council (Conep), the Dominican Association of Exporters (Adoexpo), Association of Industries of Herrera (AEIH), Dominican Free Zone Association (Adozona), Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD), Dominican Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Business  (CODOPYME), among others.

    The Dominican Republic-Caricom Free Trade Agreement has been in effect since 2001.  Republic signed a free trade agreement with Caricom.

    More controls promised for rising illegal immigration
    Minister of Interior and Police, Carlos Amarante Baret said last week that the country will strengthen its migratory controls given the “avalanche” of foreigners, mostly Haitians and Venezuelans that have been entering and staying illegally in the country. “We have a migratory regime and we need to establish controls,” he said. “Those who do not have their documents in order do not have the right to walk around the streets of the Dominican Republic,” he warned. 

    He observed that the Venezuelans are displacing Dominicans in the labor market. Likewise, MetroRD reports that in recent months the Police have arrested several Venezuelans accused of robbery and assaults nationwide.

    Nevertheless, Amarante Baret said he would never have a xenophobic position against migration. He argued that people have always migrated, in the same way Dominicans travel seeking other horizons.  

    In Santiago, city Mayor Abel Martinez has complained about the increase in undocumented Haitian immigration. A recent article in Listín Diario corroborates the city mayor’s observation and reports major problems caused by large numbers of child and teenage beggars circulating on city streets. 

    A commission of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) met on Friday, 10 February 2017, with Santiago Mayor Abel Martinez regarding the cases of Haitians in possession of forged Dominican citizenship documentation. 

    Members of the Army reported on Friday having arrested 170 undocumented Haitians in Dominican territory. Among the new arrivals were men, women and children detained at the military checkpoints of Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Santa María and Copey in  Montecristi, and Cañongo and Don Miguel in Dajabón. These persons were taken to the army headquarters in Dajabón for return to Haiti by the Migration authorities.

    Senator Dionis Sánchez of the border province of Pedernales complained that his town is every day being more taken over by undocumented Haitian immigrants. He said they are filling the places of hundreds of Dominicans who are leaving the province because of the lack of jobs.

    Julio César Castaños’ bluff at the JCE?
    A back page editorial in Diario Libre on Saturday, 11 February 2017, wondered if the president of the Central Electoral Board, Julio César Castaños Guzmán, like his predecessors, is bluffing when he says he will not authorize political party fund disbursements without requisite accountability.

    The editorial observes that the JCE is requiring that the PLD and its general election ally, the PRD, comply with the reporting of the use of the funds received for the general election campaigns in 2016 in order to receive new funds allotted to the political parties in the 2017 National Budget. 

    In the past, the JCE has disbursed the funds to political parties even without the presentation of the required financial statements.

    Masalles takes on Baní diocese commitment
    55-year old Monsignor Victor Masalles officially was instated as Bishop of Baní in the province of Peravia on Saturday, 11 February 2017. The ceremony took place at the Joaquín Sergio Inchastegui plaza in Baní.

    Previously Masalles had served in the Roman Catholic Church in the Santo Domingo archdiocese as second in charge and was responsible for Televida Channel and other media of the Church and of an important parish in the Cuesta Hermosa neighborhood in northern Santo Domingo. He will now be responsible for the diocese of Bani, San Cristobal San Jose de Ocoa provinces. 

    Among others, attending the ceremony for the Roman Catholic Church were Holy See Nuncio Jude Thaddeus Okolo and for the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, the former Archbishop of Santo Domingo. 

    Attending the official ceremony were government ministers José Ramón Peralta and Education Minister Andrés Navarro. 

    In his first mass as bishop, Masalles said he would serve the poor, the simple and the humble. He spoke of his concern for crime and delinquency. He said one of his priorities is to defend the water sources in the diocese entrusted to him. 

    Masalles was appointed in December 2016. He had been a leading candidate to be named Archbishop of Santo Domingo. He had been ordained a priest on 7 July 1991. While born in Spain, he has lived most of his life in the Dominican Republic. 

    He is one of the Catholic Church’s most strong advocates against abortion in any form in the Dominican Republic. 

    Masalles’ predecessor, Monsignor Freddy Bretón, was recently promoted to be archbishop of the Archdiocese of Santiago.

    Police sergeant fired for signing Green Book
    Sergeant Abel Maria Brisita Cepin was relieved of his duties with the Police Department on Friday, 10 February 2017, after officials discovered that he had signed the Green Book Against Impunity. The director of human resources of the Police, Brigade General Franklin Vittini Duran cited “bad conduct” as the reason for the firing of the sergeant. 

    Mario Arturo Fernandez, coordinator of the non-political civic group, Santiago Somos Todos called the action “an abuse of power” and said this should not be accepted by Dominican society. 

    “This citizen, independently of his being a policeman, has the same rights as others to ask that in the Dominican Republic there be justice, that the law be applied, that there be a state of law, decency in the management of public funds, and thus his expression as such should not be punished,” said Fernandez. 

    He said that the Police have a uniformed officer at Parque Duarte in Santiago documenting and photographing everyone who signs the Green Book against Impunity. 

    The Green Book has 120 points nationwide including 29 places in Santiago. 
    A regional march has been organized for 26 March to demand an end to corruption and impunity in government. 

    The Green Book seeks to motivate the government to end impunity for government corruption acts. 

    As reported, Brisita Cepin received the telephone message from Vittini on Friday notifying him of his firing. In comments reported in 7 Dias online news service, Brisita said he signed the book without the intention of offending anyone. He said he identified with the movement against punishing those that wastefully spend public funds. The sergeant who lives in San José de las Matas, Santiago in a rented house says he has received some job offers. He said he will soon graduate in psychology and has studied forensic psychology during the 12 years he was in the Police. 

    More than 132,000 have signed the Green Book nationwide. Online signing is now possible at

    Only Piccini continues to serve jail in Embraer aircraft case
    While the Odebrecht construction scandal has taken up most of the corruption scandal headlines, the Super Tucano case, another Brazilian originated scandal, languishes in the background.

    Diario Libre reported that Judge Danilo Amador Quevedo ordered that former Air Force Colonel Carlos Piccini Núñez continue to serve pre-trial custody in the eight Super Tucano aircraft overpricing and bribes Embraer case. 

    Others named in the case are former Defense Minister Pedro Rafael Peña Antonio and businessmen Daniel Aquino Hernandez and Daniel Aquino Mendez who have been authorized bail.

    El Nacional blooper goes global
    A local daily, El Nacional apologized for inadvertently including a photograph of actor Alec Baldwin impersonating US President Donald Trump instead of the real Donald Trump in a news story. The newspaper used the photo to illustrate a wire story headlined “Trump says settlements in Israel don’t favor peace.” The photo of Baldwin/Trump appeared next to one of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

    The newspaper posted a correction online on Saturday, 11 February 2017, apologizing for the error. It was carried in the Sunday, 12 February print issue. 

    In addition to LA Times, the blooper story was also carried by CNN and went viral in the Dominican Republic social media.

    Flights back to normal after snowstorms
    The good news is that local airports report that flights are back to normal with the weather improving in New England, United States after the passing of the Niko snowstorm. 

    In a press release, Aerodom that operates Las Americas and Puerto Plata international airports, reported that flights to and from the United States were back to normal as of Friday, 10 February 2017. The snowstorm caused thousands of cancellations of flights from New York, Boston, and New Jersey. 

    The bad news is that another snowstorm in the New England USA is expected to again cause flight cancellations as of Wednesday.

    Víctor Estrella wins Ecuador Open
    Top ATP-ranked Dominican tennis player Víctor Estrella (ranked 156th at the time of the tournament) once again came from behind in a match, this time defeating Italian Paolo Lorenzi (ranked 46th) 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 in the finals of the Ecuador Open to win the championship. The win improved Estrella’s ranking to 93rd. 

    Earlier in the tournament Estrella knocked off Andrej Martin of Slovak Republic (ranked 145th) 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 to reach the third round.  Estrella then defeated Ivo Karlovic of Croatia (ranked 18th) 6-7, 7-6 and 7-6 in the round of 16. Federico Gaio of Italy (ranked 179th) fell victim to Estrella, 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. The semi-finals saw Estrella outlast Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil (ranked 100th), 7-6, 7-6. 

    Estrella is now a three-time winner of the ATP 250 Ecuador Open. 

    The Ecuador Open is the first clay court tournament of the ATP World Tour season and also the opening leg of the five-tournament swing through Latin America, aptly coined the "Golden Swing". 

    Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic won his first ATP World Tour title at the inaugural staging of the event in 2015.

    Badminton Pan America in Santo Domingo 
    Santo Domingo is hosting the 11th Panamerican Badminton Championship at the Gioriver Arias Volleyball Pavilion of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center. The tournament is sponsored by the Ministry of Sports and the Dominican Olympic Committee. 

    The Dominican Federation of Badminton announced that athletes from Brazil, Canada, Jamaica, Peru, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United States will be competing with Dominicans in the event that opens on Thursday, 16-19 February 2017.

    Robinson Canó to captain DR team to WBC
    Robinson Canó, the second baseman for the Seattle Mariners, famous for leading the team to win the World Baseball Classic in 2013, will be the captain of the Dominican team in the WBC in 2017. 

    In the 2013 championship, Cano won the tournament's most valuable player award. José Reyes it the only player to be on all four of the Dominican Republic teams to the World Baseball Classic. Others who will be playing again for the team are Nelson Cruz and Fernando Rodney. Tony Peña is the team management and Moisés Rojas Alou repeats at the head of the team management. 

    The Dominican Republic will begin to defend its World Baseball Classic title in Miami against Team Canada on 9 March 2017. The first round for the Dominican Republic will be played 9-12 March at Marlin Park in Miami. 

    The country's official roster, announced Wednesday on MLB Network, features overall 10 returning players from its 2013 championship team.

    With this team roster, the Dominican Republic has a good shot at repeating the championship. On the roster are: 
    Catchers: Wellington Castillo (BAL), Alberto Rosario (STL)

    Pitchers: Johnny Cueto (SF), Carlos Martínez (STL), Wily Peralta (MIL), Edinson Volquez, starting pitchers. Relievers Dellin Betances (NYY), Santiago Casilla (OAK), Alex Colomé (TB), Samuel Deduno, Jumbo Díaz (CIN), Jeurys Familia (NYM), Hector Neris (PHI), Hansel Robles (NYM), Fernando Rodney (ARI), Enny Romero (WSH). 

    Infielders: Adrián Beltré (TEX), Robinson Canó (SEA), Manny Machado (BL), Hanley Ramírez (BOS), José Reyes (NYM), Carlos Santana (CLE), Jonathan Villar (MIL)

    Outfielders: José Bautista (TOR), Nelson Cruz (SEA), Starling Marte PIT), Gregory Polanco (PIT), Mel Rojas Jr. (ATL).  

    Designated Pitcher Pool if the DR sees the second round: Fernando Abad (BOS), Bartolo Colon (ATL), Edgar Garcia, Ivan Nova (PIT), Alex Reyes (STL), Bryan Rodríguez, Luis Severino (NYY), César Valdez (ARI). Tony Pena repeats as manager. 

    The WBC Classic was won by Japan in 2006 and 2009, and the Dominican Republic in 2013. 

    The World Baseball Classic runs from 6-22 March 2017.

    Lazaro Carreño offers dance master classes
    Cuban master dancer Lazaro Carreño is leading a ballet workshop for members of the National Dominican Ballet (BND) at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Also participating are students of the National Dance School (Endanza) and the corps of dancers of the Ballet Concierto Dominicano. 

    Carreño is regarded as the best dancer of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba and is a member of the UNESCO-International Council of Dance. 

    The New York Band at Hard Rock Live
    The New York Band is booked for an evening of merengue classics at the Hard Rock Live hall of the Blue Mall. Friday, 24 February at 9pm. Tickets are for sale online at Ticket Express (Tel 809 563-1111) or at Hard Rock Café 809 686-7771. 

    For information on upcoming events:

    Archived News stories:

    Archived Travel News stories:
    Last edited by Dolores; 02-13-2017 at 09:43 AM.


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