Miguel Vargas meets UN’s Antonio Guterrez in New York
Foreign Minister Vargas meets David Harris of AJC in NYC
DR is regional leader in aviation transport and safety
Ministry of Environment enforces ban on farming in Los Haitises
Vice President tours rain-affected areas in San Cristobal
Aqueduct repairs to cost RD$318 million
Trauma victims drain medical care resources
Huchi Lora: Need for a top to bottom clean up in the judiciary
US pressuring for cracking down on government officer impunity in the DR?
Mango exports on the rise
Roman Catholic Church’s nuncio approves sale of property to Downtown Center
Venezuelan crisis mediators meet in Santo Domingo
1,065 kilos of drugs seized in El Seibo
More rains forecast for this week
Contemporary Dance in Santo Domingo
Peter Cetera coming for Puerto Plata concert

Miguel Vargas meets UN’s Antonio Guterrez in New York
Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas, in New York City as part of activities for the Dominican Week USA, met with Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres and pressed the need for the international community to express their solidarity to Haiti in actions rather than words. 

Vargas detailed to Guterres the humanitarian campaigns carried out in the Dominican Republic under the Medina administration to benefit the Haitian people. He explained the status legalization process carried out in the Dominican Republic that has primarily benefited the undocumented Haitians, carried out at a very high cost for the Dominican government.

“The Dominican Republic is and has always been the country that has been in the highest levels solidarity with Haiti, understanding that the development of our neighbor country mitigates the social pressure related to migration in the Dominican Republic,” said Vargas. 

Vargas says they also discussed regional topics, such as the political crisis in Venezuela. 


Foreign Minister Vargas meets David Harris of AJC in NYC
Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas met in New York with the executive director of the Global Jewish Advocacy organization (AJC), David Harris to discuss international politics and various issues related to Dominicans living in the United States. A press release from the Ministry of Foreign Relations highlights that Harris spoke of the interest of the AJC in establishing mechanisms to strengthen friendship ties with the Dominican people and the Jewish community in the country. The Dominican Republic is part of Jewish history worldwide for hosting Jewish refugees during the World War II in the Puerto Plata community of Sosúa.  

Vargas took advantage of his stopover in New York to participate in Dominican Week in the United States to meet with Harris. 

AJC describes itself as the premier global advocacy organization, and on its agenda is the advancing of the well-being of Israel, combating anti-Semitism, monitoring the condition of Jewish communities, and promoting intergroup and interreligious understanding.


DR is regional leader in aviation transport and safety
Alejandro Herrera, director general of the Dominican Civil Aviation Institute (IDAC), says that the Dominican Republic is at the vanguard of air passenger transportation and safety among Latin American countries. 

Herrera said the country has come a long way after recovering its classification category 1 from the International Aviation Safety Assessment Program that was established by the US Federal Aviation Administration.  The air safety program monitors a country’s adherence to aviation standards and recommends practices for aircraft operations and maintenance as described by the UN technical agency for aviation, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  

“Today, 10 years after when Dominican flag airplanes were banned from flying to US territory, we stand proudly at the apex of civil aviation safety, within Latin America and the Caribbean, “ he told Listin Diario journalists. 

Herrera said the advances came with the creation of the IDAC for which the country is constantly praised. He observed the country is ranked 14th among 191 countries in the world by the ICAO. He said the DR went from 86.1% to 90.69% in regards to meeting safety standards recognized by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the US FAA. 


Ministry of Environment enforces ban on farming in Los Haitises
The Ministry of Environment removed undocumented farm workers in Los Haitises last week. Minister of Environment Francisco Domínguez Brito reported that around 50 undocumented farm workers were removed from the National Park Los Haitises as part of efforts by the National Environmental Protection Service and the Migration Agency (DGM). 

The Los Haitises National Park is a major water source for the country, supplying water to the provinces of Santo Domingo, San Pedro de Macoris, Monte Plata, Hato Mayor, María Trinidad Sánchez and Duarte.

Domínguez Brito said that farming is banned in the National Park to both foreigners and Dominicans alike. “We have to rescue Los Haitises and it is vital to end to all farming in the area. There cannot be farming in Los Haitises,” he said. 

At the beginning of April, the Ministry of Environment gave four months to farmers in El Coco, Caño Dulce, Higuerito, California Arroyón and Trepada Alta to harvest and leave, and 10 months to farmers in Los Limones, Pilancón and Laguna Cristal to harvest their crops. 


Vice President tours rain-affected areas in San Cristobal
Vice President Margarita Cedeño visited communities in San Cristóbal that have been affected in recent weeks by heavy rains, the Vice President’s Office reported in a press release. The Vice President heads many of the public assistance programs of the Presidency. 

As reported, the Vice President was in the Madre Vieja Norte, Moscú and San Francisco barrios where she oversaw medical assistance and distributed fortified food rations. She also was there for the installation of a mobile kitchen to supply food to 69 homeless families until they are relocated. As reported by her office, she also visited 37 families that have sought refuge in the Barrio Moscu communical center after their homes were devastated by the Nigua and Yubazo river floods. 

Cedeño had aspired to be the presidential candidate for the ruling PLD in the 2016 general election. While in previous years she had used her married name “de Fernández” in recent press releases she is now using only her maiden. 


Aqueduct repairs to cost RD$318 million
The Santo Domingo Aqueduct and Sewage Corporation (CAASD) director Alejandro Montas said that early estimates of repairs to various aqueducts in Greater Santo Domingo damaged by heavy rains are RD$318 million.  
Montas reported on three main aqueduct systems. He said Duey will continue out of operation until the third week in May for repairs. Duey services western Santo Domingo and areas in the National District. Regarding Haina-Manoguayabo, Montas said it is operating partially after the flooding of the Haina River. Regarding Isa-Mana, Montas he said it is still shut down because of the high level of mud in the waters. The communities in these districts are being serviced by water trucks.


Trauma victims drain medical care resources
Trauma specialist, Dr. Alejandro Soto Méndez says that hospital care for victims of traffic accidents costs the government around 1.8% of the Gross Domestic Product. He said that the greatest part of the nation’s medical budget is being dedicated to care for trauma victims.  

Dr. Soto Mendez said the 911 Emergency System has improved first aid and transport reducing deaths and permanent injuries caused by the traffic accidents. The Dominican Republic is the second leading country in the world in traffic accident deaths and injuries. 

He spoke to kick off a series of workshops to prepare Dominican staff at the UNPHU Medical School for emergency care and response. The training workshops are organized and led by the Centro de Operaciones y Simulación Médica Objetivamente Sistematizada (COSMOS) of the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña (UNPHU). Participating are experts of the Dominican Chapter of the Trauma of the Dominican Society of Surgeons, now authorized by the United States American Surgery Society to train Dominican physicians. 

Dr. Soto Mendez lamented that there may be up to 40,000 traffic related fatalities of 15 to 45 year over the next 20 years if the current trends are not reversed.


Huchi Lora: Need for a top to bottom clean up in the judiciary
Commenting on the accusations of violations of ethics that motivated justice officials to bar Judge Awilda Reyes from serving on the bench for the next five years, journalist Huchi Lora said that the same charges should apply to the Supreme Court of Justice judges. 

Lora said that the judiciary is rotten "from top to bottom." He called for removing from the system politicians that are also judges, noting that these judges have acted to guarantee impunity.

Lora urged the population to continue to support the Green Movement (Marcha Verde) with their scheduled protests calling for an end to impunity. 

The case against Awilda Reyes will now be heard in the appeals court of the National District. 


US pressuring for cracking down on government officer impunity in the DR?
Diario Libre questions the purpose of the visit of Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez and Anti-Administrative Corruption Prosecutor Laura Guerrero Peletier to Washington, D.C. for meetings with colleague Jeff Sessions and FBI director James Comey.  The newspaper speculates that during the meetings, the US authorities may have expressed concerns about the delays in the prosecution of the Odebrecht and Embraer corruption cases. 

The US judiciary has obtained rulings against the Brazilian companies that were accused of providing bribes to government officials throughout Latin America that effectively prevented US businesses winning contract work in Latin America.  The Dominican Republic is included among the list of Latin American countries that Odebrecht and Embraer officials had used brides to gain contracts. The accusations of local government officials accepting bribes were reported in October (Embraer) and December 2016 (Odebrecht) in US courts. 

Diario Libre speculates many experts believe the US officials are concerned about the integrity of the on-going investigations in the Dominican Republic of corruption associated with Odebrecht and Embraer cases and whether justice will be served. 

The newspaper’s investigation revealed that on 15 February, Rodríguez traveled to Brazil to meet with Brazilian judicial officers and there is an expectation the names of those receiving the bribes in the Dominican Republic would be soon released. The Attorney General has carried out extensive investigations into the case, but so far there have been no arrests. 

Diario Libre observes that demands by local civic society and organized groups such as the Green March Movement have been gaining a following to the call for an end to impunity for government officers. The newspaper reports that there is concern that the corruption in the government will only become more entrenched, given the control of the ruling PLD party on the judiciary. The control wielded by PLD across the branches of government severely weakens the fight against of corruption.  The ruling PLD political party also has absolute majorities in the lower and upper legislative chambers.  The newspaper points to several examples cases in which against government officials for corruption or mismanagement of government resources have not been fully prosecuted.  

Rodríguez had announced that 30 days following a meeting between the Attorney General’s Office and officials from Odebrecht, the names of those individuals who allegedly accepted bribes would be revealed. 

Political analyst Guarionex Rosa of the Listin Diario, commenting on the closed door meeting of Rodríguez and Guerrero with Sessions and Comey in the United States said: “It is unusual that meetings of this kind are arranged with a ministerial level officer. He observed the Rodriguez’s remarks saying that the meeting with Sessions was “fruitful” may indicate that the information exchange was not of a routine matter. In the case of the meeting with Comey, Rodríguez said that they agreed to strengthen cooperation for more effective fighting of organized crime. “I can assure you that these visits with the US authorities were productive and very positive for our country,” Rodriguez told reporters, as reported in Listin Diario. 


Mango exports on the rise
Producers representing Bani Mango Producers Association (Abapromango), the largest in the country, say mango harvests generate exports worth US$6.9 million per season. 

During the meeting “Perspectives for Dominican Mango Exports”, Rafael Leger of Abapromango said that exports have increased from 300,000 boxes in 2000 to an estimated 580,000 boxes this year. Most mangoes are exported to Europe, the United States and Caribbean islands. 

Onesimo Mejía, president of Abapromango, said that most of the exported mangos are of the Keith variety, representing 65% of the total mango harvest. The mango harvest season will be in full force in June. 


Roman Catholic Church’s nuncio approves sale of property to Downtown Center
Vatican nuncio Jude Thaddeus Okolo defended actions taken by retired Cardinal Nicolas Lopez Rodríguez in which the Roman Catholic Church sold part of its property on Av. Núñez de Cáceres. The property had originally been set aside for the construction of a seminary. The large Downtown Center is located now on those lands. 

The nuncio responded to questioning by Monsignor Miguel Santana Marcano, president of the Tribunal Eclesiastico de la Conferencia del Episcopado, who requested an investigation into the sale of the property and the use of the sale money by the church. The nuncio made his remarks when attending the funeral of Monsignor Amancio Escapa. 

The Archdiocese of Santo Domingo said that with part of the funds received for the sale of the Av. Núnez de Cáceres and Av. Rómulo Betancourt property they acquired a larger property at Km 14 of Duarte Highway, on the northern side, which is more appropriate for the construction of the church seminary. 

It was reported that the remaining funds were used to purchase certificates in the Central Bank and bonds in the BanReservas. The church announced that the Casa Sacerdotal Cardenal Beras would soon begin operating together with the construction of the Seminario Menor Buen Pastor. 


Venezuelan crisis mediators meet in Santo Domingo
Former Presidents José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of Spain and Martín Torrijos of Panama arrived early on Saturday, 6 May 2017 to the Dominican Republic for talks with their colleague, former President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández on the crisis in Venezuela. The former statesmen would leave that same day. 

The three have been commissioned to serve on the Dialogue for Peace committee, in order to find a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela. 

Fernández had met on 23 April, with President Nicolas Maduro at the presidential palace in Caracas. Earlier, on 18 April, Fernandez had met in Santo Domingo with OAS secretary general, Luis Almagro. 

As reported on Saturday, the three former presidents met for three hours at the headquarters of the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Funglode) in Santo Domingo. In a brief note on the meeting outcome, Funglode reported that various aspects on the political situation of Venezuela were examined. 

1,065 kilos of drugs seized in El Seibo
The National Drug Control Agency reported the seizing of 1,065 kilos of cocaine or heroine. Five persons were arrested, including three Dominicans, a Colombian and a Venezuelan during the operation in El Seibo province. The DNCD reported that three vehicles were also seized. Spokesman for the DNCD, Carlos Devers, said that investigations are ongoing to find other accomplices in the drug trafficking network. 

The drug packages were sent to the Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Forenses (INACIF) to determine the type of substances and their exact weight. 


More rains forecast for this week
The National Weather Service (Onamet) says a large front moving slowing from Cuba will be affecting the Dominican Republic at least through Wednesday, 10 May 2017. The front will bring rains nationwide to a land already saturated by heavy rainfall. The western side of the island will be the most affected, according to Onamet. 

Contemporary Dance in Santo Domingo
The Ministry of Culture announces performances by the National Contemporary Dance Company with the world premiere of the production “Defilló” inspired by the art of the late Dominican painter Fernando Peña Defilló. The show is choreographed by the director and founder of the company, Marianela Boan. 

It will be performed at the Palacio de Bellas Artes on Friday, 26, Saturday 27 May at 8:30pm and on Sunday, 28 May at 7pm. Tickets are RD$300 at the Bellas Artes box office from 9am to 2pm, Tel 809 221-6380. 

Peter Cetera coming for Puerto Plata concert
Peter Cetera will perform for the first time in the Caribbean with a show booked on 10 June 2017 at the Puerto Plata La Puntilla amphitheater. 

The legendary singer of “The Glory of Love” (Karate Kid) and “You Are My Inspiration” will entertain the audience in the new 3,000-seat Puerto Plata amphitheater at La Puntilla, with the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean and the San Felipe Fort and a 500-year old lighthouse. The performance is scheduled for 10 June 2017 at 8pm. 
Cetera will perform songs from his solo career and his career with Chicago (1967-1985), including "Restless Heart", "Baby What a Big Surprise", "Stay the Night", "If You Leave Me Now", "You're the Inspiration", "Still Getting Over You", "The Next Time I Fall in Love", "No Explanation", “Wishing you Were Here”, among others.

His visit is part of his Latin American tour that recently took him to perform at Viña del Mar in Chile to an audience of 12,000. 

The event is one of the attractions of the Puerto Plata DR Open 2017, part of the Latin American golf tour organized by the PGA. 

Package deals including the show will be offered by Puerto Plata hotels for RD$10,000, RD$5,000 and RD$3,000. For more information, Tel. 809 604-3736 and 809 707-3988. 


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