President Danilo Medina visits the Pomier Caves in San Cristóbal
41,123 get to work for safe 2017 Easter Week holidays
DR and Cuba sign framework for Partial Scope Trade Agreement
Nearly 2,000 scholarships available for university studies abroad
Ministry orders illegal billboards to be taken down
20% minimum wage increase is not in effect yet
Dominican Air Force assists ailing cruise ship passenger
Green kites fly for Easter as part of protest against impunity
World Bank releases report recommending more prudent spending
US citizen accused of sexual exploitation of minors
US citizen to jail for sexual abuse of an 11-year old 
German caught when trying to assault exchange house in Puerto Plata
Women assaulted crossing Av. Tiradentes



President Danilo Medina visits the Pomier Caves in San Cristóbal
During a visit on Sunday, 9 April 2017, President Danilo Medina ordered the installation of electricity in Pomier Caves (Cuevas de Pomier) in San Cristóbal. The electrical service would be installed by EdeSur. The Pomier Caves, the largest cave system in the country with over 4,000 cave drawings and petroglyphs, is open to the general public.  

During his visit, President Medina also ordered a police station be set up to protect the caves and visitors and the surrounding areas. 

As part of the visit, President Medina met with artisan groups of the province and agreed that the government would offer them assistance in improving their businesses in order to compete with imported arts and crafts.  He pledged to fund the installation of a gift shop where local artisans could sell their crafts to tourists. 

http://www.listindiario.com/la-repub...-san-cristobal


41,123 get to work for safe 2017 Easter Week holidays
The Center for Emergency Operations announced 41,123 military, brigade workers and volunteers will be working to guarantee safety and prevent accidents and crime during the peak domestic vacation week, Easter Week. Schools were closed on Thursday, 6 April and will reopen on Monday, 17 April. 

The peak traffic days are expected to be Thursday, 13 April and Sunday, 16 April. 

The COE is overseeing 2,600 help stations and 346 motorized units on the most heavily trafficked roads. 

Minister of Public Works, Gonzalo Castillo, reminded Dominicans to drive safely during Easter so as not to have to lament accidents during the vacation time. 

This year, the awareness campaign was begun before Easter Week with activities in the Puerto Plata for the north, San Juan de la Maguana (for the southwest), La Altagracia (for the east) and Santo Domingo. 

http://www.mopc.gob.do/noticias/exho...-semana-santa/


DR and Cuba sign framework for Partial Scope Trade Agreement
Cuba and the Dominican Republic signed an agreement framework for the start of talks leading to the signing of a Partial Scope Trade Agreement between both countries for increases in trade, economic and cooperation ties. The DR has a similar PSA agreement with Panama. 

The agreement was signed at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo by Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas and Cuban Deputy Minister for Foreign Relations and Foreign Investment Ileana Núñez represented the Cuban government. 

Vargas called the initiative “a historic moment for Cuban-Dominican relations”. 

He said bilateral trade between both countries was US$91 million in 2015, including US$53 million in Dominican exports to Cuba and US$38 million in imports.

Vargas explained the agreement framework seeks to establish a negotiation schedule for the signing of the Partial Scope Trade Agreement in the short term. He said the agreement will facilitate economic cooperation, taking advantage of the production capacities of both countries. 

The Partial Scope Agreement will eliminate non-tariff restrictions on bilateral trade, which will contribute to an increase trade between Cuba and the Dominican Republic. Vargas said the ongoing talks will generate financial instruments to stimulate and strengthen trade, with the creation of policies that will offer guarantees to the exporters of both countries. 

“Without doubt, we are the two most important islands in the Caribbean”, Vargas stressed.  He said that the shared cultures, music, gastronomy, art and sports highlight the strong bond between two countries. The Foreign Minister said historically trade was carried out without tariffs and obstacles. He explained that diplomatic ties were begun in 1902, and although trade was interrupted from 1959 to 1998, “we always maintained close relationship of friendship and brotherhood.” 

http://www.mirex.gov.do/medios/notic...libre-comercio


Nearly 2,000 scholarships available for university studies abroad
The Ministry of Superior Education says there are 1,978 scholarships available for studies at 30 universities in 16 countries, including the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Russia, Cuba, Chile, Paraguay, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Colombia, Argentina and the United States.  

Superior Education Minister Alejandrina Germán said Dominican students are invited to apply for the scholarships up to Thursday, 29 April 2017. The information on the scholarships is available on the MESCyT website at http://www.mescyt.gob.do .  


Ministry orders illegal billboards to be taken down
The Ministry of Environment has given businesses 15 days as of Sunday, 9 April 2017, to remove illegal billboards and signposts on highways. Minister Francisco Dominguez Brito says the action seeks to rescue the ecological corridors of the country. He says once the term expires, they will remove these eyesores all along the nation’s highways. 

According to Dominguez Brito, by ordering the removal of illegal signage, the Ministry of the Environment is applying provisions in Traffic Law 241-67 and Environment Law 64-00. 

He said that the Ground Transit Agency (DGTT) will set the maximum dimensions of the signs and other advertisements and strictly enforce regulations that establish the minimum allowable distance between signs along the highway.

http://ambiente.gob.do/iniciaran-pro...as-autopistas/


20% minimum wage increase is not in effect yet
The Ministry of Labor has clarified that Resolution 05/2017 does not order the implementation of the 20% minimum wage increase agreed upon by government and labor representatives who comprise the National Salaries Committee together with employers. What the Resolution does is define protocols in which those who are opposed to the wage increase can present their objections. Employers have said they will oppose the increase. 

The Ministry of Labor, nevertheless, says the final decision on whether the wage increase goes into effect will be made solely by Minister of Labor Jose Ramon (Monchy) Fadul.  Fadul has already expressed his support for the increase. 

On 31 March 2017, labor and government officials agreed to a new monthly minimum wage of RD$15,447 for those working in companies with assets of RD$4 million or more; RD$10,620 for those working in companies with assets of less than RD$4 million to RD$2 million; and RD$9,411 for those working in companies with assets of less than RD$2 million. Minimum wages for watchmen now start at RD$13,032.  

https://www.metrord.do/do/noticias/2...larial-20.html


Dominican Air Force assists ailing cruise ship passenger
While traveling on the Atlantic Ocean waters north of Puerto Plata, a Harmony of the Seas cruise ship passenger, 38-year old Chebby Younes, fell ill.  The ship’s medical staff determined that Younes required medical assistance that could not be offered on the ship. 

The cruise ship contacted Dominican authorities and the sick passenger was transferred by Air Force helicopter to Clinica Bournigal in Puerto Plata. The request for medical assistance from Dominican authorities came as the health of Younes, who is a Tunisian national, deteriorated rapidly before being evacuated. 

The Air Force press release reports that the commander of Puerto Plata airbase sought authorization for the transfer. 

https://www.diariolibre.com/noticias...cero-EY6771688


Green kites fly for Easter as part of protest against impunity
Green March followers were on the Guibia Park on Santo Domingo’s Malecón on Sunday morning to fly symbolic green kites as part of the Green Easter Week activity they named the “chichiguazo.” 

The protest movement seeks to create civic awareness to call for an end to impunity for corruption in government. The movement gained momentum throughout the country following a declaration during proceedings in a New York City Court in which a Brazilian construction company officials admitted to having paid US$92 million in bribes to Dominican government officials to secure contract work. 

The Green March group organizers said they will be distributing green flags and flyers at strategic points on highways as the peak domestic vacation week unfolds. 

The protest activities will continue a week after Easter Sunday, with a march scheduled for 23 April 2017, in San Francicsco de Macorís. This march will be followed by gatherings of protestors in the afternoon of Monday, 24 April, in town squares in several major cities through the country.

On 21 May, the organizers will host the protest in Azua for the southern region. On Sunday, 11 June, the protestors will meet in San Pedro de Macorís. 

http://eldia.com.do/dan-inicio-a-sem...azo-en-guibia/
https://www.metrord.do/do/republica-...cion-joao.html


World Bank releases report recommending more prudent spending
The World Bank released a report on Friday, 7 April 2017, in which it counsels governments in Latin America and the Caribbean to spend wisely, not necessarily more. The World Bank says that the region can dramatically improve its infrastructure by better assessing priorities and improving spending efficiency. 

The recommendations are in the report: Rethinking Infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean – Spending Better to Achieve More. The report indicates that the region trails others in infrastructure investment – 3% of GDP compared to 7.7% of GDP in East Asia and Pacific. 

Jorge Familiar, World Bank vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean, highlights that infrastructure investment can be a powerful engine for growth in the region. “In today’s tight fiscal context, it is essential that investments are as efficient as possible, and that the full potential of the private sector be tapped.”
The report advocates for putting in place effective ways of addressing these needs and developing clear rules for deciding when taxpayers should finance services, instead of users.

The report indicates that spending more efficiently could have enormous benefits. The report highlights that in the case of the energy sector, where transmission and distribution losses are high, LAC would need US$23 billion per year if it were to follow the same investment path of the past. Costs would at least be halved under an approach that favors efficiency, climate resiliency and renewable energy solutions.

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/pre...-the-caribbean


US citizen accused of sexual exploitation of minors
In the third case in the past month, a US citizen Benjamin Elisha (aka Angelo), was accused of commercial sexual exploitation of minors. As reported, he paid the minors in cash and goods for their services. 

The Police and the Specialized Prosecutors Office Against the Trafficking of Migrants and People said the foreigner took advantage of the vulnerability of these minors and absence of responsible parents. 

In a legal document requesting preventive custody in the case, Elisha is accused of offering a minor near the Plaza Juan Barón in Santo Domingo RD$1,000 for sexual favors. The foreigner will be charged with violations of the Code for the System of Protection of Fundamental Rights of Boys, Girls and Teenagers, Law 136-03.  If convicted, Elisha faces a jail sentence of 3 to 10 years. 

http://hoy.com.do/otro-extranjero-ac...ual-a-menores/


US citizen to jail for sexual abuse of an 11-year old 
The Police reported the arrest last week in Puerto Plata of US citizen 59-year old John Kevin Zachary accused of sexual abuse of an 11-year old with the complicity of the child’s father, Hilario de la Rosa.

Zachary was sent to preventive custody for six months as his trial is prepared. 

The 11-year old became pregnant and was subject to an abortion arranged by her father who is accused of delivering the minor to the foreigner. 

Both adults were caught red handed by members of the Migratory Control and Trafficking in People of the Police together with the Specialized Prosecutors Office for Trafficking in People and the Unit of Gender Violence of the Province of Puerto Plata. Zachary was arrested in Sosua. 

http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2017/04/0...-menor-11-anos
http://dr1.com/forums/showthread.php...of-11-year-old


German caught when trying to assault exchange house in Puerto Plata
Workers at the Wally exchange house on the main street in Cabarete thwarted the attempt of a German to hold up the exchange house.  The German was identified by the Police as 52-year old Norbert Schwad.  

As reported, Schwad said he was jobless and he held up the business at gunpoint to get cash.  The employees of the exchange but managed to rush into a separate room, activate the security system to shut down the exchange house and impede the man from leaving until the Police arrived to arrest him. The gun turned out to be a toy gun. 

http://dr1.com/forums/showthread.php...exchange-point


Women assaulted crossing Av. Tiradentes
Four women who were crossing the street in front of SuperFresh supermarket on Av. Tiradentes in Santo Domingo were assaulted on Friday, 7 April 2017. The action was videotaped and is circulating on social media. 

As reported in El Caribe, two armed men on a motorcycle assaulted four employees of Super Fresh on Av. Tiradentes around 2:30pm. The director of communications of the supermarket, Miguel Canaan, said that the employees were crossing the avenue to return to work after lunch. The assailants took their handbags and mobiles and escaped on their motorcycle. The security cameras captured the moment. 

The assault coincides with the unveiling of joint patrol program of the Ministry of Defense and the Police that is hoped will improve security in cities. Most of the robberies have been carried out by motorized bandits. 

Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta said that the government is hard at work to improve security. He said these efforts are under Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo and Minister of Interior and Police Carlos Amarante. Peralta said the safety issue is right now the priority of both citizens and the government. 

Meanwhile, a report in Listin Diario focuses on the increase in security measures at city malls. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYUoMfiadEY
http://www.elcaribe.com.do/2017/04/0...cuatro-mujeres
http://elnuevodiario.com.do/app/article.aspx?id=529520
http://www.listindiario.com/la-repub...idad-en-plazas