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Thread: DR1 Daily News - Friday, 9 June 2017

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    Default DR1 Daily News - Friday, 9 June 2017

    911 Emergency System launched for Santiago and Puerto Plata
    DR performs best in direct foreign investment 
    No inflation in May 2017
    Operating licenses and ground transport biggest snags for logistics hub
    Virgilio Alcántara named Dominican ambassador in Portugal
    Cleaning up Santiago
    Angel Rondón’s family supervises conditioning of his La Victoria cell
    Deputy Fidelio Despradel demands that Rubén Jiménez Bichara of CDEEE be questioned
    3-5 judges of Supreme Court have voted to favor those accused of corruption
    PC calls for fewer errors and more action to reduce corruption and end impunity
    Man who slapped AMET agent, had won RD$7.5 lottery prize
    Alejandro Fernández booked for Channel 5 extravanganza

    Santiago and Puerto Plata get 911 Emergency System services
    The Presidency launched on 8 June 2017 the north division of the 911 Emergency Service. President Danilo Medina was in Santiago on 8 June to inaugurate the new headquarters for the operation. The service covers police, transit, medical and fire emergencies.  

    An estimated one million people resident in Santiago, Navarrete, Puerto Plata, Montellano, Sosúa, Luperón and Cabarete will be served 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.   The Santiago call center has 180 operators and 150 emergency dispatchers. 

    The Presidency says the northern division will render the same quality service people in Greater Santo Domingo, Haina, San Cristóbal and Nigua have received.  

    For the installation of the service, public health, police, Metropolitan Transport Authority, Ministry of Public Works and firemen government agencies received additional funding. Some 2,000 jobs have been created to provide the service. 

    Speaking at the inauguration, Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo said that the government plans to bring the service to other municipalities in the province of Santiago, and to the cities of Moca and La Vega, also in the Cibao. Montalvo said that in 2018, the service would be extended to Villa Altagracia, San Pedro de Macorís and Baní.

    DR performs best in direct foreign investment 
    The Dominican Republic outperformed other Caribbean countries in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2016. The country reported US$2.4 billion in FDI in 2016 compared to US$2.2 billion in 2015. This is approximately a 10% increase at a time when overall FDI for the region declined. 

    The numbers are presented in the UNCTAD World Investment Report 2017 that presents trends and prospects at global, regional and national levels. The report also looked into internationalization patterns of digital multinational enterprises and the effect of digitalization on global companies across all industries. 

    The main foreign investment in the Latin American and Caribbean region came from the United States, Spain, Holland, Luxembourg, Canada, United Kingdom, Chile, Germany, Japan and Mexico.

    No inflation in May 2017
    The Central Bank reports that inflation in the Dominican Republic in May was negative with a decrease in the general price level of goods and services during the month. The Consumer Price Index for May was -0.14%, as reported by the Central Bank. Accumulated inflation for January-May 2017 was 0.96%, and inter annual inflation, measured from May 2016 to May 2017 was 3.11%, well within the forecasted 4.0% ± 1.0% established in the country’s Monetary Program.

    Operating licenses and ground transport biggest snags for logistics hub
    The president of the Association of Shipping Companies of the Dominican Republic (ANRD), Teddy Heinsen, said on 8 June 2017, that the main challenges the country needs to overcome to become a logistics hub are the streamlining of approval of company operating licenses and the market opening of the cargo transport system, still controlled by the unions. 

    Heinsen said the granting of the operating licenses takes months here to be approved, while in other countries these are granted in two or three weeks. "When a potential client comes from another country to see if he can establish a logistics center to not only to distribute (goods) locally but to also resell goods to another site in Latin America, the client will ask how quickly the company can be up and operating. If our reply is “three or four months”, the client may elect to go elsewhere their business can be in operation in two weeks," explained Heinsen during the breakfast-conference organized by the ANRD with the collaboration of the Customs Agency (DGA), the American Chamber of Commerce and the Dominican Association of Operators and Logistics Centers.

    The event was held at the Dominican Republic Association of Industries Torre Empresarial meeting hall. Presentations were made by the director of the Customs Agency Enrique Ramírez, and logistics shipping experts Salvador Figueroa Sánchez, Alexander Schad and Carlos Flaquer. 

    Heinsen added that other obstacles for the country becoming a logistics hub are the high cost of domestic ground transport that discourages companies from entering the Dominican market. 

    During the conference, the director of the Customs Agency, Enrique Ramírez, said that from a Customs perspective the country is ready – there are clear rules and only some adjustments yet to be made to the system. He said some advances are being made, citing the receipts collected at the logistics center regime came in at RD$409 million over the past three months, from 850 transactions. 

    Ramirez said from 2004-2016 the connectivity index of the Dominican Republic was 24.55, above the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. But he said that despite the advances, there is a long way to go to reach connectivity levels of Mexico, Colombia and Panama.

    Virgilio Alcántara named Dominican ambassador in Portugal
    President Danilo Medina appointed journalist-turned diplomat Hector Virgilio Alcántara as the country’s new ambassador to Portugal. Alcántara has been the Dominican ambassador in Canada. 

    Alcántara has also served as Dominican ambassador in South Korea (1998-1999), ambassador and general consul in Japan (1993-1994), as well as representative to the United Nations (1990-1993), among other positions.  

    He was director and founder of Hoy newspaper (1980-88), Ultima Hora newspaper (1970-1980) and was information director during the first government of President Leonel Fernandez (1996-2000).

    Cleaning up Santiago
    Hoy newspaper reports that brigades of the Santiago municipality have been removing obstacles to the free pass of pedestrians on city sidewalks. The sidewalks had been taken over by small businesses.  

    The report highlights how the new mayor, Abel Martínez, has been successful at removing around 3,000 street vendors that occupied the sidewalks in commercial and residential areas. The cleanup operations have removed bars, betting shops, repair shops, cafeterias, beauty salons, tire repair shops from the sidewalks along the 27 de Febrero, Estrella Sadhalá, Imbert, Bartolomé Colón, Circunvalación Sur and other main roads. Among one of the most notable to removed installations on the sidewalk was “Kukara Macara near the Santiago Monument. 

    Abel Martínez was also in the news after rumors circulated that his US visa would have been removed. Martínez was president of the Chamber of Deputies from 2010-2016.

    Angel Rondón’s family supervises conditioning of his La Victoria cell
    The wife of accused commercial representative of Odebrecht, Ángel Rondón and their sons were at La Victoria Jail on Thursday, 8 June 2017, a day after Rondón was ordered to preventive detention for a year, to check out the conditions of the space where Rondón will be detained. 

    The media reports that he will have a bathroom for himself in an air-conditioned second floor office space reportedly being habilitated for Rondón. During the visit, the wife was accompanied by lawyer Rafael Ureña who during the Odebrecht case has represented Ruddy González and his said to be a personal friend of the family. 

    During the hearings, Rondón has gone on record saying he received a similar sum of US$92 million from Odebrecht, but that this was for his services as a lobbyist.  

    Likewise, Diario Libre reported that air-conditioned cells are being prepared at Najayo jail to receive others accused in the Odebrecht corruption case. The newspaper says that new tiling is being placed in bathrooms that will be exclusive for the new inmates, and there are repairs of walls, paint job, plumbing, electrical installation, telephone and cable TV installations, as well as new beds. Diario Libre says that the inmates will not be using the usual bunk beds. 

    The Odebrecht scandal inmates so far: former Minister of Public Works Víctor Díaz Rúa, his lawyer Conrad Pittaluga, the president of the PRM opposition party, Andrés Bautista; the Minister of Industry and Commerce Temístocles Montás, former deputy Ruddy González; former CDE director general César Sánchez and former director of EgeHID Máximo De Óleo.

    Deputy Fidelio Despradel demands that Rubén Jiménez Bichara of CDEEE be questioned
    Deputy Fidelio Despradel (Al País) called for the executive vice president of the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE), Rubén Jiménez Bichara, to reply to the statement by state prosecutors in the Odebrecht bribery scandal that bribes were paid for the contracting of the coal-fired Punta Catalina thermoelectric power central. 

    Punta Catalina is the most important public work carried out by Odebrecht in the Dominican Republic. 

    Despradel deposited a submission for legislators to question Ruben Jiménez Bichara on the tender and execution of the contract for the construction. 

    Despradel says almost every detail about the Punta Catalina project is questionable, including the fact that the project has twice the amount of land it needs and the doubts about the thoroughness of the environmental impact study of the coal-fired power plant.

    Despradel called Jiménez Bichara responsible for promoting and signing the contract for US$2,010,744,751, he should respond to the claim made by the Public Ministry based on confessions by Odebrecht executives in Brazil. 

    He observed that from 2014 to present, the CDEEE has spent important sums of money for the implementation of the public work without detailing where the funds are coming from. 

    Despradel observed that only some of those who allegedly accepted bribes are under arrest and that there are many more government officials missing from the list, particularly those in the higher political hierarchy. 

    “The judicial case of Odebrecht is a result of the citizen mobilization challenging a system rife with impunity directed from the highest echelons of political power in the Dominican Republic,” he said. “We cannot permit that a case of this magnitude, the most costly public work of Odebrecht in the country, not be investigated, and much less when it is the same Public Ministry that ensures that in the contracting of the work, Angel Rondón paid out bribes to government officials,” said Despradel after submitting the request for questioning of Jimenez Bichara in the Chamber of Deputies. 

    Despradel says it is a duty of the National Congress to control government resources and the supervision of public policies. 

    Diario Libre reports that banks that have lent money for the Punta Catalina thermoelectric center construction have recently withheld transfers. Jiménez Bichara considered it reasonable that European banks have stopped the disbursement of resources for the power plant project until the results are known from the bribery judicial investigation. "I think it's understandable and common sense," he told Diario Libre reporters on 8 June 2017. 

    Up to February 2017, Jiménez Bichara had reported that the construction of the plant was up by 70%, with the goal then being for the power plant to be operational by the middle of 2018.

    3-5 judges of Supreme Court have voted to favor those accused of corruption
    Three of five Supreme Court judges charged with hearing the accusations for corruption in the Odebrecht bribes scandal have a record of releasing those accused in similar scandalous cases, reports Diario Libre. The opinions most frequently used by judges to dismiss these corruption cases are that there are insufficient grounds or evidence for continuing judicial proceedings. 

    The Odebrecht scandal case is being heard in the Supreme Court of Justice because of the high standing of the accused. 

    Diario Libre recalls the track record of the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice Criminal Court in an analysis published on 8 June 2017, that includes details of the Supreme Court judges background and notable corruption crimes and their opinions, with a special mention to the corruption cases that were closed against senator Felix Bautista (PLD-San Juan de la Maguana), former Minister of Public Works, and former Bienes Nacionales director Elías Wessin Chavez. 

    The three judges known for their lenient rulings in favor of those accused of corruption are:  
    Fran Soto Sánchez is known for his rulings favoring San Juan senator Felix Bautista (OISOE), former Minister of Public Works Victor Díaz Rúa and Elías Wessin Chavez when he directed the Bienes Nacionales office. 

    Juan Hirohito Reyes also ruled in favor of the dismissing the corruption case against San Juan senator Felix Bautista and Víctor Díaz Rúa. He is also known for voting in favor of La Altagracia senator Amable Aristy Castro who had been accused of corruption when he directed the Dominican Municipal League when closing the case. He also voted in favor of Elías Wessin Chavez corruption case. 

    Alejandro Adolfo Moscoso Segarra is known for preparing the case regarding the accusations of corruption against Senator Felix Bautista and others accused, concluding there were no grounds for it to be heard.  He also voted in favor of Senator Amable Aristy Castro regarding corruption at the Dominican Municipal League and voted favorably for the release of Elías Wessin Chavez. 

    Esther Agelán Casasnovas is known for her dissenting vote in the case of Víctor Díaz Rua and Senator Félix Bautista. 

    Miriam Concepción Germán Brito is also known for her dissenting vote in the case of Víctor Díaz Rua and Senator Félix Bautista.

    PC calls for fewer errors and more action to reduce corruption and end impunity
    Participación Ciudadana (PC), a local chapter of Transparency International, says there are unjustifiable errors and exclusions in the Odebrecht bribe scandal file. 

    Judge Francisco Ortega on Wednesday, 8 June 2017, issued pretrial detention, house arrest and bail against 13 of 14 former government officials and businessmen accused at the opening of the case. 

    Following this decision, PC said in a statement that although the Public Prosecutor's file "showed sufficient evidence" against the accused, "it was an ominous sign that the documents drafted by the prosecutors were littered with unjustifiable errors.  Although these errors did not affect the requests for pretrial detentions or prevented the investigations from moving forward, PC worries that the overall case may eventually be weakened by the errors.  The PC reminded the public that this is most important case in the country and demanded that the prosecutors develop the strongest cases possible.  

    PC is optimistic that the errors can be corrected during the eight months the Public prosecution will now have to complete the investigation and file an indictment. PC alerts that care should be taken to not commit any new errors. 

    PC also commented on the concentration of arrests on two projects that only represented 5% of the total investment in the 17 public works.  The civic groups criticized that the prosecutors did not identify the senator and deputy who allegedly had received bribes for the passing of the funding for the Punta Catalina thermoelectric power plant, the largest Odebrecht project in the country. 

    The civic group also criticizes that the documents received from Brazil do not present the list of all those receiving bribes, but this list was the justification for the impunity deal signed with Odebrecht. The deal established the company would pay US$184 million, or the double of the US$92 million in bribes, would reveal the names of the beneficiaries, in exchange for Odebrecht employees and associated companies not to be tried in the Dominican Republic.

    “The multiple implications of the Odebrecht scandal reveal the level of decay and corruption of the party system, the overpriced cost of politics and the failure of the country's oversight and control agencies," PC said. PC called for actions now to implement structural reforms to avert the enormous corruption and impunity that overwhelms the country. 

    Those under pretrial detention are:
    Former Minister of Public Works Victor Díaz Rua and his legal advisor Conrad Pittaluga: nine months in Najayo jail. 

    Former deputy Ruddy González, former president of the Senate and president of the PRM opposition party Andrés Bautista and Minister of Industry and Commerce Temístocles Montás, six months in Najayo Jail.

    Former administrator of the CDE César Sánchez and former manager of EgeHID Máximo de Oleo, three months in Najayo Jail.

    Commercial representative of Odebrecht, Angel Rondón, one year in La Victoria Jail.

    Former executive vice president of the CDEEE, Radhamés Segura and former director of INAPA, Roberto Rodríguez Hernández, nine months house arrest. 

    Senators Julio César Valentín (Santiago) and Tommy Galán (San Cristóbal), and deputy Alfredo Pacheco (National District), bail of RD$5 million, and a ban on these leaving the country. 

    The case against former technical director of EgeHID Bernardo Castellanos was separated from the others and will be heard when he is captured. An Interpol arrest order has been issued. He is known to be in Panama. 

    All those accused in the case have defended their innocence.

    Man who slapped AMET agent, had won RD$7.5 lottery prize
    It is now come to light that Tomás David Feliz Pineda had, in 2015, been the happy winner of RD$10 million in cash from the Leidsa Lottery. At the time, Feliz was employed as a janitor at the V Centenario Race Track.  Of the total, he received RD$7.5 million. 

    But yesterday, in Barahona, a court sentenced him to two months in preventive custody, ruling in favor of Officer Marvin Cuevas Minyetti’s demand. 

    In the trial, Feliz said he acted that way because he was tired of being harassed for money. “It is not a secret for anyone that I won RD$10 million in the lotto and the government gave me RD$7.5 million,” he said. 

    The incident occurred in the city of Barahona city and was captured on video where people can observe Feliz slapping the Amet officer and brandishing his gun to intimidate the officer. It was later ascertained his license to carry the gun was expired. Minutes after, a police patrol restrained Feliz Pineda and took him into custody.

    Alejandro Fernández booked for Channel 5 extravaganza
    Mexican romantic songs singer Alejandro Fernandez will be joining many merengue, salsa, bachata and urban music stars in Santo Domingo for the “Viva la Musica” event organized by Telemicro, Channel 5, to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The event is set for Saturday, 8 July 2017 as of 5pm at the Felix Sánchez Olympic Stadium of the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center. The show, a production by Edilenia Tactuk, is free, but tickets need to be picked up at the TV station. 
    Last edited by Dolores; 06-09-2017 at 10:13 AM.


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