Medina visits DATE, talks about Odebrecht and tourism growth
President Medina takes Punta Cana investors to Bahia de las Aguilas
Visual decontamination campaign begins
4 new industrial parks announced
Poverty down to 30% in DR
Political opposition is almost nonexistent in DR
Attorney General Jean Alain discusses corruption and transnational crimes with Sessions
Jamaica Prime Minister to visit 
More corruption money laundered than drug money
UN’s Maud de Boer-Buquicchio to visit
April deportations: 4,787 foreigners
US Homeland Security head: economic development to fight drug and immigration
Judge Awilda Ines Reyes Beltre fired from judiciary
Memorable evening of Dominican rock



Medina visits DATE, talks about Odebrecht and tourism growth
Interviewed by Dominican journalists during his visit to Cap Cana for the opening of Secrets Cap Cana luxury resort, President Danilo Medina observed that his former election campaign strategist, Brazilian Joao Santana “had said what he had to say,” when commenting on the Brazilian’s relationship with his campaign. 

He made the remarks commenting on recent statements of Santana and his wife Monica Moura, to the Superior Electoral Tribunal in Brazil in which Odebrecht did not make payments for the Dominican electoral campaign. Medina said he did not feel pressured. 

Medina made the remarks when interviewed by journalists when visiting the Dominican Annual Tourism Exchange (DATE) 2017 at the convention center of the Barcelo Bavaro Beach in Bavaro on Thursday, 4 May 2017. 

Medina highlighted the growth of the tourism in the Dominican Republic and said he expected investments to continue. “Tourism is growing. Every year we are closer to the goal of 10 million tourists. Last year we grew 6% and expect to continue growing this year,” he said. 

“Each time we come to inaugurate new hotels or for a ground breaking on new tourism infrastructure, that indicates the investments are coming to the area and tourism will continue growing. Our presence here is to back national and foreign investors that are coming to the Dominican Republic to make investments and book rooms for the rest of the year and next year,” he told journalists when interviewed at DATE. 

https://presidencia.gob.do/noticias/...ria-asonahores
http://www.listindiario.com/la-repub...bre-su-campana


President Medina takes Punta Cana investors to Bahia de las Aguilas
After participating in the morning opening of the formal opening of the 457-suites Secrets Cap Cana resort in Punta Cana, President Danilo Medina flew with key executives of the luxury resort to Pedernales, in the southwest on 4 May 2017. 

The group traveled to Bahia de las Aguilas, a beach area the government has plans to open up to investment arriving at the Cabo Rojo airport in Pedernales. 

The executives were Stephen Walker for the equity firm Ksl Capital Partners Llc; Apple Leisure Group’s Alex Zozaya, chief executive officer and John Hutchinson, chief financial officer; and Gonzalo del Peón, president of Amstar Resorts. Apple Leisure Group is the world’s number one provider of North American leisure travelers to Mexico and the Caribbean. AmResorts operates 14 resorts in the Dominican Republic (1 in Puerto Plata, 1 in Cap Cana, 10 in Punta Cana and 2 in La Romana). 

The government is at present untangling the legal situation of Bahia de las Aguilas, a protected area that right now is off limits for hotel construction.  

The investors held a lunch working meeting at the La Cueva Restaurant that is located on the shore, on the way to Bahia de las Aguilas beach. 

Medina was accompanied by Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia, Environment Minister Francisco Dominguez Brito, Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramón Peralta, Public Works Minister Gonzalo Castillo and general manager of the governmental Banco de Reservas, Simón Lizardo. 

http://eldia.com.do/danilo-medina-pr...e-las-aguilas/
http://elnacional.com.do/presidente-...s-extranjeros/


Visual decontamination campaign begins
The ministries of Environment and Public Works have begun to remove billboards that cause visual contamination on highways in the Dominican Republic. The first to be removed was a billboard on km 28 of the Duarte Highway. 

On 4 May 2017, Environment Minister Francisco Dominguez Brito and director general of the Military and Police Commission of the Ministry of Public Works, General Estanislao Gonell Regalado, announced that reforestation efforts will accompany the actions to eliminate unauthorized road advertising. The Ministry will be removing the illegal billboards, signs and other advertising on highways throughout the country.

Dominguez said the campaign seeks to eliminate visual contamination that creates distractions for motorists and are eyesores on our highways, with the intention to replace these billboards with trees and other green vegetation. 

General Regalado said the initiative seeks to contribute to road safety, reduce traffic accidents and restore the splendor of highways and avenues of the country. The removed billboards will be warehoused by the provincial Ministry of Environment where their owners have 15 days to retrieve these or they will be seized indefinitely. 

Eyla Vargas, the director of the Coordinating Office of the RD-VIAL Trust, that manages the tolls of the highways was also present and is the government entity that should benefit from any commercial exploitation of the highway advertising. 

http://www.listindiario.com/la-repub...-en-carreteras


4 new industrial parks announced
The National Council of Export Free Zones (CNZFE) approved the installation of six companies and four new industrial parks with an investment of RD$4.09 billion. These newsindustries will generate an additional 10,000 jobs and boost yearly foreign exchange in the range of US$11.6 million. Industry, Commerce and Small Business Minister Temistocles Montas made the announcement during the meeting of the council on 27 April 2017. 

The six companies will be investing RD$206.1 million creating 622 direct jobs and US$4 million in hard currency. The four new industrial free zones represent an investment of RD$3.8 billion (US$82.26 million) and will generate hard currency of US$7.6 million and create 9,416 direct jobs. 

https://www.metrord.do/do/destacado/...l-empleos.html


Poverty down to 30% in DR
According to economist Pavel Isa Contreras, poverty in the Dominican Republic is down from 36% to 30%.  But this decline may only be temporary. The UN consultant said that despite the economic growth, unemployment continues high at 13% and wages are stagnated. 

He said farming is declined to 5% of the economy in 2015, down from 12% in 1999. He said government investment in farming sector has been pathetic. 

http://noticiassin.com/2017/05/segun...30-por-ciento/


Political opposition is almost nonexistent in DR
Political analyst Rosario Espinal says that despite the waning popularity of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) that has enjoyed so many years in power, despite the many cases of corruption, including the Odebrecht scandal, the PLD does not yet have real competition. She said that there is yet to come about an opposition party or charismatic leader that could claim the needed 50% of the vote in an election. 

Espinal teaches political sociology at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. In an interview for La Super 7 en la Mañana on 107.7FM said that the Dominican opposition lacks legitimacy and calling ability before society. “The opposition is very fragmented, there are only personal projects that do not enjoy wide appeal in the general populace,” she stated. She explained the focus on individual political projects has not permitted the advancing of the PRM opposition party with the continuing impasse between the two factions of Hipólito Mejia and Luis Abinader. She said the other parties are miniscule parties organized around a person or a family. 

She commented that the anti-corruption movement, Green March, had been successful because it has mobilized the middle class that is justifiably disgusted with all the corruption and impunity in the country. Espinal recommended the Green March leaders connect with popular sectors to expand and gain strength in order to achieve the needed changes in the state. 

She said the ruling PLD and the government are under a lot of pressure as a result of the corruption scandals that undoubtedly affect its principle leaders, including President of the Republic Danilo Medina and former President Leonel Fernandez.

“In the case of the PLD, the party has a great challenge ahead because it needs to make choices. The PLD is a party frozen in time, where two leaders that have been important for a long time, one displaced the other, and the other wants to make a comeback and they are going at each other, but the party has to welcome new ideas, new candidates and leaders, because to return to the past will be an uphill and fruitless venture,” she observed. 

Espinal said that more important than the Bill of Political Parties is the Electoral Regime Bill that should be debated first because it establishes the rules of the game. She said the key issues in both bills are the public and private financing of campaigns so that donations to politicians will be transparent. In the Dominican Republic none of the parties are interested in transparency, she said. 

http://www.7dias.com.do/portada/2017...olitologa.html


Attorney General Jean Alain discusses corruption and transnational crimes with Sessions
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez met yesterday with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington, D.C. In a press release, the Attorney General Office said that the Odebrecht corruption case and the need for collaboration on transnational crimes were discussed. The press release mentions the meeting served to strengthen the close ties between both countries and the importance to continue strengthening mutual juridical assistance in penal matters.

Attorney General Rodríguez stated that “with almost two million Dominicans living in the United States in 2015, and more than 2.1 million US travelers visiting the Dominican Republic in 2016, it is inevitable that there be situations that require the intervention of the penal authorities of our nations and that affect common interests”. He mentioned the revised extradition treaty that went into effect in 2016 that now has a legal framework to penalize drug trafficking, asset laundering and fraud. 

“The transnational nature of modern crimes requires that there be open and effective channels for criminal persecution and facilitating this international cooperation is essential,” said Rodríguez. 

During his trip he was accompanied by the Specialized Anti-Administrative Corruption Prosecutor, Laura Guerrero Pelletier. 

http://www.listindiario.com/la-repub...neral-de-ee-uu


Jamaica Prime Minister to visit 
Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness will be visiting the Dominican Republic on 15 May 2017, announced Fernando Gonzalez Nicolas, president of the Commonwealth Round Table in the Dominican Republic. He said the visit is an indication of the interest Jamaicans have in political and commercial ties with the Dominican Republic. 

Holnes explained that Jamaica is one of the leading commercial partners of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean. He said trade is US$103 million a year, with Dominican exports to Jamaica at US$ 56 million, and imports at US$47 million. 

He spoke of the significant Jamaican investments in the country in the financial and agroindustrial sectors in recent years. He mentioned Banco JMMB and Jamaica Producers that manages banana plantations in the northwest. He said Dominicans have investments in Jamaica in the fertilizer sector and a Dominican company is the largest private generation company in Jamaica. 


More corruption money laundered than drug money
Speaking at the 8th Bancamerica Anti-Laundering Congress, Juan Carlos Medina Carruitero, corporate vice president for compliance for the Venezuelan Grupo Financiero B.O.D., the holding corporation for Bancamerica, commented that today the laundering of government money associated with corruption outstrips the amount of money laundered in illegal drug deals. 

“Not all laundering is about drugs,” Medina told MetroRD in an interview. He said corruption money is now in the lead and is a scourge that is exploding in the country and in the Caribbean region. “

“The Dominican Republic is not exempt from the blight of corruption that is affecting many countries,” he said. He said putting a stop to this type of crime is the responsibility of all, not just the government. 

Medina said asset laundering occurs when financial assets, such as money, illicitly obtained enters into the formal economic and financial systems of a country. He mentioned the laundering of the assets in a range of sectors, including stock exchange houses, real estate, casinos, vehicle dealers, among others. 

He observed the large number of dealer operations in the country and asked how many of these have implemented asset laundering prevention schemes. He said cash purchases of vehicles should not be allowed.   

Medina observed the Dominican Republic needs to create entities to take measures to reduce asset laundering and strengthen the financial analysis and oversight systems, prevent laundering of money through nonfinancial sectors and reduce the use of exchange of cash in some transactions. He said this year the country is going to be monitored by the International Financial Action Group.

He stated: “Until we [the state and private banking] don’t reach an agreement, money laundering is going to continue and we will all end up losing,” he warned.

As reported in MetroRD, laundering of assets represents 7% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2015 in Latin America. 

The event is held 4-5 May 2017, at the JW Marriot in Santo Domingo. Speakers from Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Perú, México, Venezuela, Costa Rica and Dominican experts addressed the prevention of asset laundering during the event.

https://www.metrord.do/do/destacado/...ctivos-rd.html


UN’s Maud de Boer-Buquicchio to visit
UN specialist Maud de Boer-Buquicchio will be visiting the country from 8 to 15 May for talks with the Dominican authorities on the situation and obstacles authorities face in confronting child sexual exploitation. Boer is the special rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. 

This is Boer’s first visit to the Dominican Republic since she was appointed in 2014. She will make stops in Santo Domingo, Dajabón, Puerto Plata, Sosúa and Boca Chica to meet with the authorities. 

The focus of the talks will be on child sexual exploitation in the tourism sector, for domestic household work, child marriages, and abuses and sexual exploitation on the Internet. She is compiling information for a complete report that will be presented at the Human Rights Council in March 2018. 

http://hoy.com.do/onu-enviara-relato...ematica-en-rd/


April deportations: 4,787 foreigners
The Migration Agency (DGM) reported the deporting of 4,787 foreigners from 12 countries in April 2017, most for their irregular status. These were from Germany, Cuba, Guyana, Haiti, India, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Russia, Serbia and Venezuela, according to a DGM press release. 

http://www.7dias.com.do/portada/2017...os-paises.html


US Homeland Security head: economic development to fight drug and immigration
Participating in an event organized at the Atlantic Council-Latin America Economic Growth Initiative on 4 May 2017 in Washington, D.C., US Homeland Security secretary John Kelly went on record stating that the drug flow to the United States is “entirely due to the drug demand in the United States.” In his remarks, he expressed the US has done little to depress the demand for methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine outside of rehabilitation of addicts and “arresting our way out of it.” 

He told participants in the event on The New Strategy for Engagement in Central America that US President Donald Trump had asked him to fix the immigration problem. He said the new vision of the department is to make a difference by working to counter the situation giving priority to economic development initiatives below the border. 

Kelly was the US Southern Command chief, for 39 months where he learned the importance of partnering with Central American countries to stem the flow of drugs. 

He said the drugs traffic has in turn lead to the breakdown of society in Central America and ineffective policing. He admitted that the US has done little to effectively deal with the drug problem. 

To make a difference, the new Homeland Security Department is now promoting initiatives for economic development and more investment in the countries as the solution to reduce US illegal migration and drug issues. 

Kelly spoke of how today intimidation, corruption, and cartels that are horrifically violent hold neighborhoods and cities in Central America in the grip of fear. Kelly said he mentioned all this to raise awareness “so we can start to make a difference in Central America.” 

Kelly said that President Trump is aware “that securing our southwest border begins 15 hundred miles south of the border. He stressed the US Homeland Security Department is about complying with the law and if the US Congress is not happy with implementing these laws, they should change them. 

Kelly highlighted the economic development efforts that then would be complemented by efforts to secure the border with a physical border, technology and patrolling. 

Kelly said the US would be implementing the laws humanely and respecting the dignity of those that are apprehended, but the laws will be enforced. If a citizen feels that immigration laws are unfair, then it is up to that citizen to request Congress the law. “I have no choice but to carry out the law,” he stated on 4 May 2017 in Washington, D.C.  

Kelly announced that illegal border crossings are already down 70% this year. He stressed that this means 70% less people have not been victimized by human traffickers, not paying their life savings to come to the smugglers to then be paid low wages in the United States. 


Judge Awilda Ines Reyes Beltre fired from judiciary
The Council of the Judicial Branch (CPJ) fired judge Awilda Ines Reyes Beltre of the Fourth Hall of the Penal Chamber of the First Instance of the National District on Thursday, 4 May 2017. The judge had made several controversial decisions from the bench that benefitted a number of individuals, including persons accused of drug trafficking and murder. 

Resolution 08/2017 orders that she not be allowed to offer her services to the government for the next five years. She was declared guilty of serious ethics violations while exercising her duties as a judge. 


Memorable evening of Dominican rock
Don’t miss the performances of Pavel Núñez, Aljadaqui and Transfusion rock singers this Friday, 5 May 2017 at Hard Rock Live at Blue Mall in Santo Domingo. Showtime is 9pm. Tickets are RD$1,500 person at the door. 

For more on ongoing and upcoming events, see http://www.dr1.com/calendar