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Thread: DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 3 May 2017

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    Default DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 3 May 2017

    Mirex and CEI-RD sign agreement to promote exports
    Nonfinancial Public Sector Debt increases 46.8% in first quarter
    Attorney General travels to US to meet with Sessions and Comey
    Anti-abuse law submitted
    Participación Ciudadana protest political ties of Attorney General  
    Latest rains damage reports
    Santo Domingo North Mayor asks for permanent relocation
    Low tide in Puerto Plata and Samana are “neap tides”
    More rain on the way
    DR in World Tourism Forum Competitiveness Report
    The dark side of the new UASD student president Yimi Zapata
    New preventive custody against Antonio Carbone
    Cuban American found dead
    Dominican Week in the USA
    Ed Calle to perform at Fiesta Sunset Jazz

    Mirex and CEI-RD sign agreement to promote exports
    On Tuesday, 2 May 2017, Minister of Foreign Relations (Mirex) Miguel Vargas Maldonado and Luis Henry Molina, director of the Center for Export and Investment (CEI-RD) signed an agreement to promote exports. 

    The agreement calls for training CEI-RD staff and the development of education programs to improve the effectiveness of commercial officers at Dominican embassies and consulates abroad. The agreement reportedly sets specific goals and outlined activities the ambassadors and consulates will need to meet and carry out.

    Nonfinancial Public Sector Debt increases 46.8% in first quarter
    According to data from the Budget Agency (Digepres), the Nonfinancial Public Sector Debt increased from RD$34.22 billion in the first quarter of 2016 to RD$50.22 billion at the close of the same period in 2017. This is an annual increase of 46.8%. The increase is attributed to the Dominican government taking on more debt than it is servicing. 

    From January to March of 2017, the Executive Branch issued RD$80.46 billion in debt, while it made payments of RD$30.24 billion during the same period.

    Attorney General travels to US to meet with Sessions and Comey
    Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez had no more details for the press other than repeating the announcement he was traveling to Washington, D. C. on Tuesday, 2 May 2017 for meetings with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), James Comey. 

    In a press release, the Attorney General Office said the meeting had been requested on 24 January 2017. The press release explains among the topics to be discussed are criminal prosecution of transnational crimes and the strengthening of legal assistance mechanisms between the two countries. The meeting will also serve to coordinate actions to encourage the exchange of experiences, knowledge and support in the prevention and prosecution of cases of money laundering, drug trafficking and corruption. 

    Rodríguez is traveling with Laura Guerrero Pelletier, Specialized Prosecutor for Administrative Corruption (PEPCA), who has accompanied Rodríguez in the conversations with present and past government officers, suppliers and legislators regarding Odebrecht constructions in the Dominican Republic. There is speculation that the Odebrecht scandal involving alleged bribes to Dominican government officials will be discussed in Washington.

    Anti-abuse law submitted
    On the occasion of World Bullying Day, the deputy for La Altagracia Hamlet Melo, has submitted a project for a new bill that seeks to prevent sexual assaults in public and private schools.

    The project calls for carrying out a survey in each school with the objective to establish measures to prevent, avoid, punish and eradicate violence, harassment and whatever other act considered being abuse against pupils in the schools.

    In a press conference, along with other legislators, Melo expressed his disgust about the latest incidents in several schools, where students have reportedly been abused.

    Participación Ciudadana protest political ties of Attorney General  
    Civic Participation and several other civic society organizations submitted to control agencies of the government a request for investigating whether the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht financed the election campaign of President Danilo Medina.  In the document submitted on Tuesday, 2 May 2017, the same organizations criticized Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez for being a member of the Central Committee of the PLD and a PLD political activist in the election campaign of President Medina, as both appoints are in violation of the Fundamental Law of the Public Ministry. 

    In addition to Participación Ciudadana, other organizations that expressed their concerns about the apparent conflict of interest in the Attorney General’s office were Centro Juan XXIII, Fundación Masada and Santiago Somos Todos. 

    The civic organizations demand an investigation to ascertain whether Odebrecht financed the 2012 presidential campaign, and if the Brazilian company made available resources to finance the change of the 2010 Constitution by re-instating  consecutive re-election clause in the 2015 Constitution that enabled President Medina to run for re-election in the 2016 election. 

    The civic organizations are demanding an investigation into whether the ruling PLD party received funds from Odebrecht S.A. through the companies Polis Caribe SRL and “CINE&ART2013, SRL”, both owned by Brazilian publicist Joao Santana. The civic organizations believe that Odebrecht officials have admitted during judicial hearings held in Brazil to having made these types of payments in the Dominican Republic. 

    The groups say that the ties between Odebrecht and the PLD are made after the party directors selected Joao Santana as their campaign advisor.  However, financial statements presented to the Central Electoral Board (JCE) indicate that there is no evidence of payments being made to Santana. Both Santana and his wife have been sentenced to eight years in prison in Brazil. 

    As reported, the claim presented by the civic organizations describes the tracing of bank transfers from Swiss and Peruvian banks to the Dominican Republic. 

    In the Dominican Republic, Jean Alain Rodriguez has been at the head of the judicial investigations of the Odebrecht bribery and overpricing scandal case and has yet to implicate anyone in the scandal.  The lack of movement on the bribery case in this country is in contrast to rapid pace of investigations that are occurring in other Latin American countries where similar accusations against Odebrecht and government officials have been made. 

    The complaints were deposited at the Chamber of Deputies, Central Electoral Board, Controller General Office, Audit Chamber and the Public Defendant Office.

    Latest rains damage reports
    The Center for Emergency Operations (COE) in its Tuesday, 2 May 2017 report issued at 6pm, says that two provinces continue in red alert – Duarte and San Cristóbal. 

    In its wrap-up for the day on the heavy rains affecting the nation, the COE stated that almost 17,000 had to leave their dwellings, 65 communities are incommunicated and 39 aqueducts have been affected. Yellow alerts continue in place for Monte Plata, Monseñor Nouel (Bonao), San José de Ocoa, María Trinidad Sánchez, La Vega (Jarabacoa), El Seibo, La Altagracia, Hato Mayor, San Pedro de Macorís, Sánchez Ramírez. Green alerts were issued for Samaná, Santiago, Peravia, Barahona, Greater Santo Domingo, Azua and Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo). 

    Earlier, the Ministry of Public Works (MOPC) had reported that at least 42 bridges have collapsed, 13 roads damaged, 16 countryside roads affected and numerous retaining walls destroyed in the south of the country due to the rains.

    MOPC say they are now working on quantifying the damage in San Cristóbal, including in the communities of Cambita and Garabito. According to MOPC spokesman, Ramón Antonio Pepín, MOPC has begun to repair the roads that link San Cristóbal with Cambita.  

    Gloria Ceballos, director of the National Weather Office (Onamet) said that the heaviest rain events over the weekend were in Samaná province with 239.4mm following by Villa Altagracia with112.0mm; Arroyo Barril Airport with 106.8mm and Juma-Bonao with 103.6mm. Bonao and Cabrera also received a lot of rain with 98. 8mm and 98.5mm being recorded, respectively. 

    The intense rain lead to the flooding of the International Airport in Punta Cana and a light aircraft was flipped over by the wind. There were no reports of injuries with the car park being the most affected, and airplane traffic continued normally. 

    Many areas are without water, including more than 30 neighborhoods in Santo Domingo West, due to damage to the Haina Manoguayabo aqueduct. The director of CAASD, Alejandro Montás, has asked for patience and understanding from the population as the agency repairs the damage caused by the storms.

    Santo Domingo North Mayor asks for permanent relocation
    The mayor of Santo Domingo North, René Polanco, has proposed to the government that they move 340 families in the Las Cucarachas and Los Coordinadores areas of Sabana Perdida, who have had to leave their homes as the Ozama River rises after rain for more than 10 days.

    Lamenting the situation and the effect on the families, he visited the area together with the director of the Presidency Social Plan, Iris Guaba and authorities from the State Canteens, who provided food rations to those affected.

    Once there, Polanco took the opportunity to suggest to President Danilo Medina that the only way to solve the situation was to move the affected residents in the same way as was done with La Vieja Barquita. He went on to say he would send a new report to the President to see how a permanent solution could be found for the 66 families in Las Cucarachas neighborhood and 274 in Los Coordinadores, both in Sabana Perdida.

    Mayor Polanco also ordered food aid to the residents of Brisas del Este, El Manguito, Hacienda Estrella, among others, also affected by rising rivers.

    Low tide in Puerto Plata and Samana are “neap tides”
    The extreme low tides in Puerto Plata and Samaná beaches are attributed to a neap tide, according to the Civil Defense director for Puerto Plata, Wuascar García. He said this is an annual spring time phenomenon. The tides can be repeated in the morning and the evening. The tides were evident in beaches such as Sosua and Cabarete in Puerto Plata and Las Terrenas in Samaná. 

    As explained, neap tides happen when the sun and moon are at right angles to each other. They occur when the gravitational forces of the Moon and the Sun are perpendicular to one another with respect to the Earth and the ocean is “pulled” back and forth by the gravitational forces during their monthly and yearly orbits. Neap tides occur during quarter moons. 

    There was concern in Puerto Plata and Samana that this could be a warning of a tsunami.

    More rain on the way
    A weather trough located at medium and high levels of the atmosphere is covering the whole country meaning the high probability of more strong rain and electric storms for the north east, south east, central mountain area and border region.  According to the National Weather Office (Onamet), the trough will slowly leave the country but the rains will continue throughout almost all of the country. In fact Onamet warn that the rains are expected to continue during the whole month of May. 

    Onamet has maintained its alert against floods due to overflowing rivers and streams, as well as mudslides, in communities such as San José de Ocoa and Bajo Yuna (San Francisco de Macorís).

    Also for  La Altagracia, Santiago, La Vega, Monseñor Nouel, María Trinidad Sánchez, Hermanas Mirabal, Duarte, Samaná, Sánchez Ramírez, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, San Cristóbal, San José de Ocoa, Monte Plata, San Pedro De Macorís, San Juan, Barahona, Peravia, Azua and Greater Santo Domingo.

    DR in World Tourism Forum Competitiveness Report
    According to the Regional Center of Sustainable Economic Strategies (CREES), between 2010 and 2016 tourism was responsible for 79% of the service exports of the Dominican Republic. CREES reports that over the last 10 years, the number of hotel rooms has increased by 18% and the number of jobs in the sector by 67.4%. CREES highlights that tourism is one of the most important economic services in the country, stimulating domestic consumption. 

    However, among the weaknesses and challenges facing the sector are violence, homicides and “the low level of confidence in the police services”.

    Citing the Report on the Competitiveness of Travel and Tourism 2107 published by the World Economic Forum, CREES highlights that the number of hotel rooms has been increasing since the middle of the 1980s, when there were 5,394 rooms.  Current statistics indicate that there are now 74,981 hotel rooms.

    In the last 36 years income from tourism has increased by an average of 10.7% each year and by 2016 income was around US$6,723.3 million. 

    There are now 88,777 direct employees in the tourism sector and when indirect employees are added, the number increases to 315,153.

    The dark side of the new UASD student president Yimi Zapata
    Investigative journalist Alicia Ortega has revealed details of the accusations by 17 students from Baní involving the recently elected president of the UASD Student Federation (FED) that serves as voice of students in the state university. Yimi Zapata replaces the long time president of the FED, a professional medical student with more than 25 years carrying out these studies at the state university. 

    According to the investigation by Ortega, a group of students have accused Zapata of being part of a ring that promoted their participation in the UN Global Classroom under the disguise of the Funlifo foundation. The students said they paid upwards of US$1,200 to participate, only to be arrested when arriving to the United States and accused of visa fraud. 

    The TV investigation speculates that the students served as “a bridge” for the smuggling of other people that were not students in Peravia province. The group was deported from the United States. 

    The case is being heard in the National District prosecutor office after being transferred from 23 March against Luis Baez, Yimi Zapata, Jorge Luis Tavares, Quelmis Rivera of the Funlifo. Yimi Zapata served as secretary of Funlifo. 

    Despite the accusations and the case pending in the judiciary, the UASD organizing committee of the election allowed his participation. Zapata received 11,575 votes and announced he would return the prestige to the student federation. 

    The lawyer of the students said he notified the university of the case. 

    Zapata studies industrial psychology at UASD and is from Peravia. 

    The lawyer said that the US Consulate also revoked the US visas of all the members of the Funlifo foundation that organized the fraudulent trip to the UN Global Classroom.

    The lawyer said the students discovered the fraud when they were arrested like common criminals by the migration authorities. 

    Yimi Zapata refused to give explanations about the aborted trip by the students when interviewed for the Informe de Alicia Ortega.

    New preventive custody against Antonio Carbone
    A three-month pre-trial custody order was imposed on Canadian Antonio Carbone, while National District prosecutors continue to investigate the international scandal around Dream Casinos Corporations SRL. As reported, the Sixth Instruction Court of the National District ordered the custody after a complaint presented by Canadian Andrew Michael Pajak, representing Dream Casinos Corporation. 

    As reported in El Nacional, Carbone, together with his fugitive brother Francesco Carbone, Ivelise del Carmen Báez, Zeljko A. Zderic, who is mentioned with several names; Brenda Kover, fugitive Jorge Andrés Kan Lijtenstein, Miguel Angel del Orbe Disla and Lorenzo Then, are accused of fraudulent actions to take hold of shares of Dream Casinos Corporation SRL.

    Andres Kan and Francesco Carbone are accused of failed murder attempt against the manager of Dream Casinos, Fernando Báez Guerrero.

    Cuban American found dead
    A man, originally Cuban but a United States national has been found dead in a cabaña in Embrujo II in Santiago.
    The body of Carlos Álvarez Villanueva was found in room 42 in the cabaña Villa del Sol.  Villanueva’s documents indicated he lived in Texas in the United States and was a member of Hogar Crea in the Dominican Republic that is a drug rehabilitation facility. To date the cause of death has not been established.

    Dominican Week in the USA
    In its 25th year, Dominican Week in the United States (SemDomUSA) will be held 8 to 12 May 2017 in Washington, D. C. and New York City. The event was founded by the law office of the late Luis Heredia Bonetti, but organization would later be continued by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmChamDR). 

    The event seeks to strengthen economic, commercial, academic, social and cultural ties between the United States and the Dominican Republic. 

    Minister of Foreign Relations Miguel Vargas will be part of the Dominican delegation to Washington, D.C.  Activities are planned at the US Chamber of Commerce that will focus on Dominican trade and development policies. Vargas will speak at Georgetown University during the week. 

    Also participating is the president of the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel), Jose del Castillo. The mission will also participate in an activity on Monday, 8 May at the InterAmerican Development Bank on innovation, connectivity and the digital economy. 

    Also participating, is Cesar Dargam, director of the Foreign Trade Agency (Dicoex) who on Thursday, 11 May will participate in a panel organized by Dominicans on Wall Street (DOWS). Also traveling with the mission is Felix Jimenez, president of the Dominican Petroleum Refinery.

    Ed Calle to perform at Fiesta Sunset Jazz
    Venezuelan jazz musician Ed Calle will perform together with Sly de Moya Quartet at the Fiesta Sunset Jazz on Friday, 19 May 2017 as of 8:30pm at the penthouse night club of the Dominican Fiesta Hotel. 

    Calle is the 2015 Latin Grammy Award Winner for Best Instrumental Album and 5X Grammy nominee. Calle is a renowned musician, composer, orchestrator, scholar, professor, and civic leader. Throughout his legendary career, Calle has become one of the most recorded saxophonists in history appearing on more than 1,200 albums, almost 9,000 singles, and countless television and movie soundtracks with artists ranging from Frank Sinatra and Celia Cruz to Sylvester Stallone and Andy Garcia. 

    Other Sunset Jazz performances scheduled for May are: 
    Carlito Estrada Quartet on Friday, 5 May; Ernesto Núñez Quartet on 12 May and 4inTune, Friday, 26 May. 

    For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see
    Last edited by Dolores; 05-12-2017 at 08:41 AM.

  2. #2
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    Hi Dolores - Did you notice that we are now in May, or has time slipped back a month?

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