No agreement on wage increase
Police news censored according to source
Odebrecht loans always had green light in Chamber of Deputies
Penal Procedures Code does not allow Odebrecht homologation
Leonel Fernandez meets with OAS’ Almagro at Funglode
More using credit cards
Judge sends to prison father of sexually exploited child
Grave robbers in Luperón
Rains to continue, provinces on alert
Sting to perform at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
Maroon 5 coming for 9 September 2017
Honoring the work of Rene del Risco at Libreria Mamey

No agreement on wage increase
Yesterday, 18 April 2017, after nearly three hours of discussion between the Labor Minister and representatives of the employers and the unions, no agreement was reached over the proposed 20% minimum wage increase. 

Minister José Ramón Fadul maintains that wages in the country are too low and that there needs to be a wage increase. However, the employers wanted to rollout the increase wages in two phases – a 10% hike effective immediately and another 10% raise in six months.  Union representatives did not agree to this and hence the deadlock continues. 

Labor Minister Fadul said that a next meeting at the Ministry would be held with the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and Small Business to discuss the reclassification of businesses. A 2008 law orders this, but its implementation has been consistently delayed. 

Fadul has a 15-day period, as of Friday 21 April, to make a decision regarding the minimum wage increase.

Police news censored according to source
According to El Dia newspaper, a high-level police official has explained to them that the National Police has begun to restrict information about violent crimes that in the past were regularly shared with the press.  

The Police reports had confirmed the increase in crime, many of which are captured on security cameras, but for the last few weeks the media has not been given access to the information. 

The source told El Dia that the Police is now providing limited information and department heads are no longer allowed to speak to the media directly.  All information coming from the National Police must now originate in the Police Public Relations Department.  

This change in policy coincides with the decision of the National Police not to allow daily reporting of the Easter Week casualties, but simply to report them at the end of the week via a press conference, which has led to doubts in the accuracy of the figures, as reported in El Dia.

Odebrecht loans always had green light in Chamber of Deputies
An investigative report published in El Día newspaper on 19 April 2017 points to the strong support Brazilian funding for Odebrecht public works had in the Chamber of Deputies from 2000 to 2015. 

The Brazilian construction company has admitted to a New York Court that it has paid US$92 million in bribes to facilitate the securing of the contract work that was financed by the Brazilian export bank, BNDES loans from 2001 to 2014. 

The investigative report says that the Brazilian loan bills were not subject to the usual “reading” procedure or to analysis by commission and instead were fast-tracked through the Chamber of Deputies. The report also establishes how amendments to the contracts were fast-tracked through the Chamber of Deputies.

Penal Procedures Code does not allow Odebrecht homologation
Judge Danilo Amador Quevedo of the Third Instruction Court of the National District will decide today, 19 April 2017, to approve or not the agreement Odebrecht has signed with the Attorney General office regarding bribes made by the company to secure contract work in the Dominican Republic. The arguments used by the Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez that sustain the agreement have been much debated. A copy of the agreement has not been made public.

Lawyer Ramón Emilio Concepción said on Tuesday, 18 April 2017, that Art. 34 of the Penal Procedures Code clearly does not allow the Attorney General’s Office to use the “principle of opportunity” to seek the approval of a Dominican court of the agreement Odebrecht has signed with the Attorney General regarding the corruption case in the Dominican Republic. Odebrecht has admitted to paying US$92 million in bribes to Dominican government officers. Concepción says that the Penal Code establishes penalties of three to 10 years in cases of bribery and the opportunity clause only applies to cases where the penalties need to be of less than three years.

Concepción also says the Code establishes that when the public interest is affected, the “criteria of opportunity” does not apply, which is another reason why he claims the Odebrecht corruption case does not qualify for the procedure invoked by the Attorney General Office. 

Concepción was referring to the re-introduction to the Third Instruction Court of the National District of the agreement with Odebrecht that the Attorney General seeks to be approved by the Dominican judiciary. The Attorney General has promoted the judicial approval of the agreement arguing that it will facilitate the naming of the government officers that received bribes between 2001 and 2014 and will reimburse the Dominican government with a sum of US$184 million over an eight-year period.  

The agreement had been first rejected when it was sent for approval to Judge José Alejandro Vargas on grounds that it should be publicly heard in an open hearing given that Odebrecht has already admitted to having incurred in bribery. 

Concepción says that a judge who approves this type of agreement, without allowing due for process or not naming individuals involved, is simply obstructing justice and could be subject to disciplinary action," warned the lawyer during a telephone interview for the  Super 7 morning radio talk show (107.7 FM). 

He observed that Odebrecht has also admitted in Brazil that it moved the department dealing with the bribes to the Dominican Republic at the suggestion of Joao Santana, the Danilo Medina re-election campaign strategist.  It is suggested that by Joao Santana working from the Presidential Palace, there were would be less scrutiny by authorities into the illicit activities.   

In a late development from Brazil, the wife of Santana, Monica Moura declared that Odebrecht funds were used to finance the electoral campaigns of Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil, and those abroad of Panama, Angola, Venezuela. But she denied the funds were used to finance political campaigns in Argentina and the Dominican Republic. 

When asked about Brazilian news story that Odebrecht operated from Santo Domingo an office from where international bribes were managed, Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta has said the government was not aware of this. 

Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta continues to maintain the investigations will clear the Medina government of any role in accepting or facilitating the bribes that Odebrecht has admitted to paying out.  

“We are confident and composed in terms of our actions during the 2012 electoral campaign and that the truth will come out. Our collective conscience is clear, and tomorrow, in a week, or whenever, the truth based on facts will come forth,” he told journalists covering the Presidential Palace beat. 

He said the government will also be exonerated by the investigation into alleged wrong-doings in the construction of the Punta Catalina coal-fired generation plant by a consortium led by Odebrecht.

Leonel Fernandez meets with OAS’ Almagro at Funglode
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro met yesterday, Tuesday 18 April 2017, with former President Leonel Fernández to discuss regional matters. The two-hour meeting took place starting at 9am at the office of the Foundation for Global Democracy and Development (Funglode). 

As reported, Almagro arrived on Monday evening, and was scheduled to fly to Miami on Tuesday afternoon. Almagro had reported via Twitter that he was traveling to the Dominican Republic to meet with Fernández to discuss regional issues. 

The Fundación Global issued a press release after the meeting, indicating that various aspects related to the urgent challenges affecting Latin America and the Caribbean such as organized crime and citizen insecurity were discussed, as well as diverse matters regarding Venezuela and the political situation in that country. 

On Monday, 17 April 2016, the director of the National Investigations Agency (DNI), Sigfrido Pared Pérez, had said the agency would investigate claims that Venezuelans were conspiring against the government of Venezuela from Dominican territory. 

Funglode says that meeting was also attended by Francisco Guerrero Aguirre, Secretary for Strengthening Democracy of the OAS; Gonzalo Koncke, Chief of Staff of the OAS Secretary General; former Vice President of the Dominican Republic Rafael Alburquerque; former Minister of Interior and Police of the Dominican Republic Franklin Ameyda Rancier; and the executive director of Funglode, Marco Herrera. 

Fernández in the past has served as mediator in Venezuelan matters dating back to 2010, when he was part of an international team that successfully negotiated an end to the Colombia-Venezuela border crisis. 

Since last year, Fernandez has participated in mediation between opposition groups in Venezuela and the Maduro administration, under the Democratic Unit Table (MUD) promoted by Unasur. In addition to Fernandez other regional mediators are former President of Panama Martín Torrijos, former President of Spain José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero and a representative of the Vatican. These conversations have not led to an agreement between the parties in the dispute.

More using credit cards
According to the Banking Superintendence (SIB) the amount of money owed on credit cards rose to RD$47.5 billion at the end of February. This is an increase of RD$6.16 billion, some 14.91% compared to the same month in 2016.  

The largest number of credit card holders use classic cards, estimated to be 1,371,117 individuals, which represents 73.58% of all cardholders. These customers account for 30.69% of the total cash owed to credit card companies. 

The second category, gold cardholders, are 336,477, people representing 18.05% of card holders and they owe 21% of the total owed on credit cards. Platinum cardholders, 111.033 people, owe 24.17% of the total.

Fleet cardholders, 18,542, owe the balance. 

Statistics show that there has been an increase in the number of classic cards circulating and the total amount owed for these types of cards, while the number of platinum and gold and fleet cardholders have decreased.

Judge sends to prison father of sexually exploited child
Judge Dayanara Peralta of the Permanent Instruction Court in Santiago Rodríguez province ordered three months preventive custody to Salvador Rodríguez, father of a 14-year old child who was living with the mayor of Villa Los Almácigos Inocencio Carrera Espinal (Tony). 

The court has evidence the parents of the child had consented to a cohabitation relationship between the mayor and the child since she was 11 years old.

Grave robbers in Luperon
On Monday, 17 April 2017, unknown persons removed the remains of a woman who had been buried at a cemetery in Luperon. The grave belonged to Francisca Polanca (Doña Olga) and was located in the cemetery in Ranchito de Los Vargas in the municipality of Luperon.

According to the complaint, issued by her son, Hugo Eduardo Erickson Polanco, the tomb had been opened, the coffin removed and his mother’s remains taken away. The family has asked the police to catch those responsible.

Rains to continue, provinces on alert
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) alerted to heavy rains and electrical storms across 22 provinces and Greater Santo Domingo.

Onamet states that there is an alert in place for those living close to rivers in Puerto Plata, Espaillat (especially Gaspar Hernández), Hato Mayor, El Seibo, María Trinidad Sánchez (Salcedo), Monseñor Nouel (Bonao), La Vega and Santiago.

Rains are also expected in Dajabón, Elías Piña, La Romana, La Altagracia (Higuey), San Pedro de Macorís, Samaná, Monte Plata, Sánchez Ramírez (Cotuí), Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís), San Cristóbal, San José de Ocoa, Azua, Independencia, Barahona, Bahoruco and Greater Santo Domingo.
Small boats have been told to stay close to the coast from Montecristi in the northwest to Cabo Engaño in the east due to towering waves and strong winds. Swimmers are also alerted. 

At least 21 communities were cut off as a consequence of the intense recent rains that have caused increases in the level of rivers and streams.

According to the latest report from the Center for Emergency Operations (COE), the communities cut off in the province of Sánchez Ramírez are: Los Tres Pasos de Chacuey, El Duey, La Herradura, La Hondonada and Los Jobo, Batero, Cigual, Sabana Abajo and Yunita.

In the province of María Trinidad Sánchez, cut off are: Las Palmitas, Villa Alegre, Los Cerros, Guazaro, Arroyo al Medio, Los Jengibres, El Guayabito and Alemania, Vuelta Larga, Cinta Negra, El Papayo and El Higüero.

Sting to perform at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana
Sting, formerly of Britain’s The Police rock group, will visit the Dominican Republic for a third time as part of this “57th & 9th Tour”. The many times Grammy-award winning singer will perform at the Fillmore hall of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana on 13 May 2017. He will be accompanied by guitarists Dominic Miller and Rufus Miller, Josh Freese (drums). He will be performing new works in his latest album, first of the pop genre.  

Tickets are for sale at

Maroon 5 coming for 9 September 2017
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana will be presenting the American pop-rock group Maroon 5 on Saturday, 9 September 2017. They will be performing greatest hits and singles from the new album, “V”. The band is a three-time winner of the Grammy music awards. 

Among the best hits are: “This Love”, “She Will Be Loved”, “Makes Me Wonder”, “Moves Like Jagger”, “Payphone” and “One More Night”.

Honoring the work of Rene del Risco at Libreria Mamey
On Wednesday, 19 April 2017, at 7:30pm at the Librería Mamey in the Colonial City, Colombian poet Gonzalo Mallarino will be joining Dominican poet Soledad Alvarez to speak about the life work of Rene del Risco, who will be honored at the Santo Domingo Book Fair that opens 20 April at the Plaza de la Cultura. Soledad Alvarez is the winner of the 2016 National Poetry Award. They will be discussing “Ahora que vuelvo, Ton” by Rene del Risco Bermúdez.