President Medina commemorates Global Environment Day
Paving Puerto Plata streets
Civil registry effort to poor that legally don’t exist
Odebrecht hearing starts for the third time
Did Temístocles Montás sign contracts?
Does the Penal Code need to return to the Chamber of Deputies?
Lidio Cadet of DIGEIG to investigate EdeNorte manager
Bodyguard for Interior and Police Minister’s wife murdered
Dominicans arrested in Boston for drug trafficking
Dominican heroin traffickers arrested in New York
Drug haul in Santo Domingo
Pentathlon Pan Am opens in Santo Domingo
Jarabacoa Flower Festival set for 15-18 June

President Medina commemorates Global Environment Day
To commemorate Global Environment Day on Monday, 5 June 2017, President Danilo Medina issued a press release stressing the importance of conserving the environment and asked the Dominican people to unite with world forces to avoid the contamination of the environment. He also highlighted that the whole of humanity should halt deforestation and conserve water.

President Medina said that 2017 had been declared to be the Year of Forestry Development with the dual objective of increasing agricultural activities and repopulating forests.

He recalled that the period 2016-2020 had been declared the Four Years of Water and that the government was concentrating on the water resource conservation. The creation of the Coordination Table of Water Resources by the Medina administration was inspired by the global recognition of the importance of water conservation.

Paving Puerto Plata’s streets
The Ministry of Public Works has paved several main streets in touristic areas of Puerto Plata as part of preparatory works for the start of the 911 Emergency System. The system is set for inaugural on Thursday, 8 June 2017. Streets accessing Playa Dorada, and in Sosúa and Cabarete have been given a new asphalt cover. 

Sosúa has benefited the most with seven kilometers of streets paved including La Principal, La Unión, Sosúa Abajo, Calle Principal (in Charamico), Playa Chiquita, Doctor Alejo Martínez, Pedro Clisante, Proyecto, El Batey and Camino del Llibre (Urbanización Tavárez). 

Civil registry effort to document poor that legally don’t exist
The Santiago civil registration authorities are reaching out to people in the poorest neighborhoods to correct the situation of people that do not have birth certificates and, legally speaking, do not exist. The Central Electoral Board (JCE) announced a first round of activities in Cienfuegos, in western Santiago, to register thousands who do not have identity documents. 

The JCE is reaching out to families residing in slum areas such as the Santa Lucia (La Mosca) and La Piña barrios in Cienfuegos, on the boundaries of the Rafey garbage dump, where an estimated 30% of those living there do not have identity documents and are in social limbo. 

Judge Miguel Barona said that the project seeks to enable these persons to gain access to social services and medical care. Undocumented individuals may have difficulty receiving basic social and medical services. Barona said that many of those affected are the elderly, but in other cases, several generations of families, from grandparents to infants, do not have birth certificates or national ID cards. 

The pilot project will then be extended to other regions of the country. The program is described as part of a new governmental outreach program to combat extreme poverty.

Odebrecht hearing starts for the third time
The hearing about coercive measures for 10 of the 14 charged in the Odebrecht case began at 10am yesterday, Tuesday 6 June, 2017. Supreme Court Judge, Francisco Ortega Polanco, began the proceedings by changing the venue, selecting a smaller courtroom and only allowing the accused, their lawyers, and the Public Prosecution Service to enter. He also allowed accredited press, cameramen and photographers to enter but not the relatives or friends of those charged. 

The hearing began with the judge asking the representatives of the Public Prosecution Service to conclude with their requests to impose preventive custody on the accused. He then told the defense lawyers that they would have the opportunity to speak in order.

Ortega Polanco has different options for coercive measures. He can order the defendants to remain in preventive custody or he can agree to house arrest with security anklets and periodic court appearances.

The lawyers for Radhamés Segura, Roberto Rodríguez, César Sánchez and Temístocles Montás have stated they will request house arrest for their defendants as they supposedly have health problems that require specialized care. Segura would later contradict his lawyer and said that he does not suffer from health problems. 

The prosecutors asked the judge to impose 18 months on remand in jail for all accused and that serve their detentions in Najayo jail, except Ángel Rondón, who prosecutors requested be sent to La Victoria. The reason for the remand requests was to guarantee their appearance during the process, as they were said to be a flight risk. Other reasons for the strict detention requests from prosecutors included the gravity of the offence, the protection of witnesses and the avoidance of destruction of evidence.

Defending lawyers pointed to several errors in the accusatory document submitted by the prosecutors and argued the innocence of their clients, calling for their simple release. 

At 1am on Wednesday, 7 June 2017, Judge Ortega announced the decisions regarding preventive custody would be issued after 4pm.

Did Temístocles Montás sign contracts?
Contrary to what he stated, that he did not sign any contracts with Odebrecht, Industry and Commerce Minister Temístocles Montás, apparently admitted in his interview with the Attorney General that he did sign contracts related to public works involving Odebrecht.

The information was provided by the prosecutor, Francisco Polanco, when requesting coercive measures against the Minister. Polanco went on to say that Brazilian witnesses, Ernesto Baiardi and Marco Vansconcellos Cruz also confirmed that Montas was one of the government officials who received large sums of money via Ángel Rondón. He added that the Brazilians executives also confirmed that they gave money to Montás for his pre-presidential campaign.

Does the Penal Code need to return to the Chamber of Deputies?
The Senate rejected the veto and observations made by President Danilo Medina to the Penal Code regarding exceptions that would make abortion legal. Many understand the President has ten days to sign the Penal Code into law. 

However, there is confusion whether the legislation needs to be approved by two-thirds of the attending members of the Chamber of Deputies, or whether it will become law given that a bill can only be vetoed twice by the President. 

But lawyers say that the first passing of the bill in the Chamber of Deputies was not legal, as determined by the Constitutional Court, and thus the bill needs to return to the Chamber of Deputies. 

As reported in Diario Libre, Constitution Law expert Ricardo Rojas confirms that based on the changes made by the senators, the bill needs to return to the Chamber of Deputies and be approved by two thirds of the attending deputies.

Meanwhile, after congratulating the government (Executive Branch and Legislative Branch) on the passing of the Penal Code without the exceptions for rape, malformations and incest, the Episcopal Council of the Roman Catholic Church spoke out against corruption in government. There is speculation that the legislators had voted in favor of eliminating the clauses authorizing abortion in order to not infuriate the very influential church representatives that is vehemently against abortion in any form.

Lidio Cadet of DIGEIG to investigate EdeNorte manager
The director of the Agency for Ethics and Government Integrity (DIGEIG), Lidio Cadet said he has opened an investigation into the claims by TV investigative journalist Nuria Piera on alleged irregularities in the wealth statement of engineer Julio César Correa Mena, general manager of EdeNorte. 

Cadet says he is acting based on his organization’s legal mandate of his organization that establishes that the entity could open investigations based on circumstantial evidence, including media reports, as per Decree 486-12 that created the agency that is under the Presidency of the Republic. 

Cadet noted that if the allegations made by journalists are proven correct, or there were administrative oversights, the case would be sent to the Public Ministry and to the Executive Branch for further investigation and possible prosecution, according to the law. 

In two recent weekly TV shows, Piera presented the case for unjustified wealth increases and the fact that Correa has several properties he has not declared in his wealth statement. Piera also presented evidence that several relatives of Correa are employed by EdeNorte or affiliate institutions or benefit as suppliers.

Bodyguard for Interior and Police Minister’s wife murdered
A member of the security detail of the wife of Minister of Interior and Police, Carlos Amarante Baret, was killed on Monday night, 5 June 2017, when he was on his way to his home in the La Venta sector in Manoguayabo.

National Police Corporal, 28-year old Charle Valerio, was killed in a presumed assault to steal his service weapon. He was the bodyguard of Amarante Baret’s wife.

Dominicans arrested in Boston for drug trafficking
On Friday evening, 2 June, 2017, two men were arrested in Attleborough district of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States for allegedly trafficking nearly seven kilograms of cocaine from the Dominican Republic to Boston on a JetBlue flight, as reported in the Boston Globe.

Juan Luis Perez Garcia, a 44-year-old Dominican national currently living in the Bronx, NY, and 43-year-old Juan Artiles Taveras, of Lakewood, NJ, are both facing charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. 

Prosecutors said a cooperating witness worked with investigators to identify members of a narcotics organization based in the Dominican Republic. In June 2015, the witness and an undercover officer attended a meeting of the organization in the Dominican Republic, and learned about someone who could smuggle drugs onto flights bound for the US, authorities said.

The witness told the group that he worked at the Boston airport and could help retrieve the drugs once the flights landed, authorities said. Prosecutors said the witness spoke with Perez Garcia in February 2016 about putting cocaine on a Boston-bound plane from the Dominican Republic.

Prosecutors said multiple attempts were made over the next year to send cocaine to Boston, but none of them were successful.

On Friday, a suitcase containing cocaine was placed on a JetBlue flight from the Dominican Republic to Boston, authorities said. Officials intercepted the suitcase in Boston and found nearly seven kilograms of cocaine inside.

Perez Garcia and Atiles Taveras allegedly met the witness and the undercover officer at a parking lot in Attleborough Friday evening to exchange money for the drugs. Federal agents arrested the two men at the meeting.

Dominican heroin traffickers arrested in New York
Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in the United States and police have arrested ten Dominicans, including two women, who made up a group of drug dealers, and confiscated heroin from them worth US$2 million, along with weapons and cash.  

The group was supposedly led by Wladimir Rosa Reyes, with his accomplices Antonio del Orbe Mercedes, Daniel García Mithill, Antonio del Orbe, Gisela Guzmán Hernández, Norlisa Jiménez, Andy Zayas, Osvaldo Monegro, Alcibíades de los Santos Mateo and José Duarte. They were all arrested during raids carried out on Thursday, 1 June 2017, in the Morrisania area of the Bronx. They are also linked to the deaths by overdoes of at least four addicts who they supplied heroin to. 

The DEA revealed that they had a laboratory for processing the drugs in one of the apartments that was raided.

Drug haul in Santo Domingo
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) has announced that they have confiscated 578 packages of presumably cocaine or heroin in Santo Domingo West. 

Several people have been arrested and the authorities are looking for other people in connection with the matter. 

The operation was carried out yesterday morning, Tuesday, 6 June, 2017, and along with the drugs, the authorities confiscated, a gun, several vehicles and other evidence. 

The drugs were sent to the National Institute of Forensic Science (INACIF) for analysis and weighing.

Pentathlon Pan Am opens in Santo Domingo
The Pan American and Norceca Senior Championships open today, 7 June 2017 with an inaugural event at 10am at the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center. Competitions start on Thursday, 8 June 2017 in Santo Domingo. The modern pentathlon championship will take place through 11 June. The venues are the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center’s Aquatics Center, Fencing Pavilion, warm up track, and the Centro Ecuestre Nitram. 

Athletes will compete in fencing, 200m freestyle, riding on a show jumping course with 12 obstacles and 15 jumps, 3,200m run, stopping to shoot and hit the target five times from 10 meters distance before each 800m leg, repeated four times. 

Teams have come from 12 countries – Argentina, Cuba, Mexico, the United States, Chile, Canada, Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Venezuela, Bolivia, Uruguay and Costa Rica. 

Dominican team members are: Ana Leidys Arias Macías, Gabriel Domínguez, Katherine Garrido, Cristian Valerio, Cecilia Karina and Brayan Almonte. 

The event is organized by the Dominican Modern Pentathlon Federation, presided by Freddy Núunez. The event is a qualifyer for the Central American and Caribbean Games to be held in 2018 in Colombia. 

Jarabacoa Flower Festival set for 15-18 June
The mountain town of Jarabacoa is inviting to its annual Jarabacoa Flower Festival. Jarabacoa is a major flower farming center and during the festival growers show off many known and rare varieties of flowers and plants. Also on the program is a parade of fine gait horses, conferences, talks and artistic presentations. 

In its 8th year, the event takes place at the entrance to Av. General Norberto Tiburcio (La Confluencia). It is sponsored by the Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, the Jarabacoa municipality and private companies.