DR1 Daily News breaks for Corpus Christi holiday
Registrations open for 4 Supreme Court judges
Too many femicides
Reinaldo Pared Pérez travels to Taiwan
Too many traffic deaths
Water rationing in Santiago
Port Authority intervenes after Fenatrado blocks ports
Pleas for help with Haitian ban
Rondón taken to Najayo Jail
Board of Jails: Same conditions for all inmates
Duke University basketball to play in Santiago and Santo Domingo

DR1 Daily News breaks for Corpus Christi holiday
DR1 Daily News will not be updated on the Corpus Christi Day religious holiday, Thursday, 15 June 2017 or on Friday, 16 June 2017, as part of a long weekend. The news will be compiled for the Monday, 19 June 2017 issue. Headline and breaking news may be posted in the DR1 Forums 24/7. http://dr1.com/forums/forum.php

Dominican Republic places US$500 million in bonds to finish Punta Catalina plant
The Ministry of Hacienda announced a placement of US$500 million in sovereign bonds to complete funds needed for the coal-fired Punta Catalina thermoelectric under construction by Odebrecht in southwestern Peravia province. 

Minister of Hacienda Donald Guerrero said the bonds were placed at an interest rate of 5.10%, due 2027. The Ministry says this is the lowest rate the country has achieved for sovereign bonds. “This is an excellent indicator of the confidence of international markets in the country and its authorities, as well as a demonstration of great support to the construction of Punta Catalina,” said Guerrero in a press conference. 

The Punta Catalina thermoelectric central would have been financed by the Brazilian BNDES export agency, but financing was suspended after the Odebrecht corruption scandal surfaced in Brazil and abroad. The Dominican government then resorted to borrowing from a European commercial bank, but funds again were suspended following the hearing of the Odebrecht bribes and overpricing scandal in the Dominican Republic. 

Originally, the government had indicated the Punta Catalina coal-fired plants would be built by international investors. But as matters have turned out, the government has used its own revenues and sovereign bonds financing to advance the construction of the US$2 billion venture. Punta Catalina construction has been accused of irregularities in the tender and construction and of overpricing. 

The Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) that has promoted the project says construction is 70% completed and the plant should go into operation in 2018. 

Registrations open for 4 Supreme Court judges
The National Council of the Magistracy (CNM) announced it is now receiving the portfolios of candidates to replace four Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) judges and the five justices of the Superior Electoral Court (TSE). The portfolios can be presented from 14 June to 29 June 2017, by the individuals themselves or public or private organizations. 

The CNM says it will meet again on 4 July 2017, to review the portfolios and create a short list of candidates.

The members of the CNM are President Danilo Medina, presidents of the Senate Reinaldo Pared and Lucia Medina of the Chamber of Deputies, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice Mariano German, and SCJ judge Frank Soto, the Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez, senator Jose Paliza and deputy Josefa Castillo. Frank Soto serves as spokesman for the group. 


City government to choose the cleanest barrios
With points for community involvement, the city government of the National District announced a contest to choose the best barrios. City Mayor David Collado said that the cleanest barrios will be awarded jobs and barrio improvements. The beneficiaries of the jobs and the barrio construction works will be decided by the winning community representatives. 

Mayor Collado said the contest named “For the Love of My City: I Care and Clean My Barrio” is held to create an better awareness for cleanliness in the National District. 

The city government is making available RD$3 million for barrio improvement constructions for the winning barrios, five jobs in the Municipal Police and five more in the city government maintenance brigades assigned to the public areas of each zone for the winning barrio. 

The second prize-winner will receive RD$1.5 million in public works, three jobs in the Municipal Police and three jobs for workers on the maintenance brigade. 

The third prize-winner will get RD$1 million in barrio improvement works, two jobs in the Municipal Police and two jobs for workers in the maintenance brigade of the zone. 

Too many femicides
During a visit to the province of Sanchez Ramirez, the Minister for Women, Janet Camilo, criticized the high levels of violence against women, noting that it was in this province where another woman recently lost her life.  

She said that according to recent data, a Dominican woman is killed every 48 hours. According to the National Police, from January to 12 June 2017, 43 women have been killed in a violent manner. 

Camilo called on Dominican men to examine their consciences and said that more needs to be done to protect the lives of women.


Reinaldo Pared Pérez travels to Taiwan
President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan met with Dominican Senate president Reinaldo Pared Pérez on Tuesday, 13 June 2017 in Taipei, and expressed hope for increased cooperation between Taiwan and the Dominican Republic. The meeting, which took place at the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, came on the same day as Panama, one of the Taiwan’s allies in Central America, severed official ties with Taiwan.

Tsai's meeting with Pared Pérez's delegation was originally scheduled to be open to the media, but after news that Panama broke off diplomatic ties, the Presidential Office closed the meeting to members of the press.

In a statement released by the Presidential Office after the meeting, President Tsai said she hopes to see more industrial cooperation between Taiwan and the Dominican Republic, adding that the government is encouraging Taiwan's textile industry to invest in the country.

She also thanked the Dominican Senate for repeatedly supporting Taiwan's participation in major international organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization, World Health Organization and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and said she hoped they will continue to do so, according to the statement.

Heading a seven-member parliamentary delegation, Pared Perez arrived in Taiwan on 11 June 2017 for a six-day visit aimed at deepening bilateral ties. 


Too many traffic deaths
Reducing the number of traffic accidents in the country continues to be a challenge. In the first three months of this year 397 people died in traffic accidents and 2,625 were injured – most involving motorcycles. 

Figures from the Metropolitan Transport Authority (Amet) and the citizen safety observatory from the Ministry of Interior and Police reveal that 90% of the victims were men and 25% between the ages of 20 and 29 years of age.

Last year in total there were 12,809 accidents with 2,122 deaths across the country.

The president of the Dignity Network Foundation Mario Holguín says that despite Amet saying there has been a 24% reduction in transit deaths and Interior and Police claiming 28%, in reality the number of traffic fatalities is increasing each year. Holguín feared that until new rules under the new Traffic Law 63-17 are implemented there will not be a decrease in the traffic accident numbers.

He said that in 2016 there was a 9% increase in traffic deaths and a 23% increase in accident numbers and those injured.

In addition 62% of the deaths involve motorcycles with Sunday being the day of most accidents between 20 and 23%. 

In the first three months of the year 75% of the accidents were due to collisions, 19% car leaving the road, and 20% people being hit by vehicles.


Water rationing in Santiago
The Santiago Corporation of Aqueducts and Sewers (CORAASAN) announced that they will be rationing water due to a reduction of the levels in the reservoirs and an increase in consumption due to the high temperatures. 

The water authority said that they would try to minimize the effect on consumers, but that the population would notice a diminution in the amount of water supplied. 


Port Authority intervenes after Fenatrado blocks ports
The Dominican Port Authority is warning that they will not allow trucks from the truck owners’ union Fenatrado to prevent access to ports around the country.

On Monday, 12 June 2017, National Federation of Dominican Transport (Fenatrado) trucks blocked the entry and exit of vehicles to and from the Multimodal Caucedo and Andres, Boca Chica ports in response to a conflict they have with the Alba Sánchez engineering company that has not accepted Fenatrado’s unwritten demand that their affiliates transport 50% of any company’s cargo from the ports.

The executive director of the Dominican Port Authority, Victor Gomez Casanova, has said that this is a violation of Port Operations Law 70-70 and the constitutional right to free enterprise in the country.   

Gomez Casasnovas visited the head office of Fenatrado at the Port of Haina. Afterwards, the Fenatrado units stopped blocking the entrance and exit of the port and business returned to normal. 

Last year, a court ruled against Fenatrado’s actions to impose cargo control on companies. 

Likewise, the Dominican Republic Shippers Association (ANRD) expressed concern for the Fenatrado actions that have paralyzed the ports causing major economic losses to companies. In a document, ANRD president Teddy Heinsen said that the actions of Fenatrado are contrary to a free market and an efficient logistics chain at the ports, and affect the competitiveness of the country. 

Heinsen called for Fenatrado to resolve its problems using the legal instruments that are available and not the illegal blocking of the ports. The president of Fenatrado is under arrest accused of homicide. 


Pleas for help with Haitian ban
The National Confederation of Agricultural Producers (Confenagro) has asked the Dominican government for a firm position on trade with Haiti. In a press release they say that the instability has caused the loss of millions of pesos not only in agricultural, but also industrial products.

Hecmilio Galván, executive director of Confenagro, said that they cannot continue to deal with the arbitrary nature of Haitian authorities regarding when they will or will not allow imports. This instability, he said, is making the Haitians pay exorbitant prices now for products they could obtain cheaper from the DR. 

He called for clear rules on both sides in regard to the on/off ban on the part of Haiti of products from the Dominican Republic including potatoes, onions, peppers, meat, plantains, eggs, chicken, lemons, cabbage and others.


Rondón taken to Najayo Jail
The Attorney General’s office confirmed that the location for his preventive custody had been changed from La Victoria to Najayo following a request from his lawyers and family members amid fears for his safety in La Victoria. On Tuesday, 13 June 2017 he was taken to the Najayo men’s jail where he will join seven others sent there accused of taking bribes in the Odebrecht construction company scandal. 

Rondón is accused of being the “bag man” for Odebrecht operations in the country. He acted as commercial representative for the company and said that he had received an amount similar to US$92 million Odebrecht has described as bribes for Dominican government officials and legislators. But Rondón has maintained his innocence, and says the money was in payment of his services to secure contracts for Odebrecht in the Dominican Republic. 

The Attorney General’s office has also accused Rondón of putting around RD$574,112,406.37 in the name of his daughter. The money is supposedly part of the bribes money paid by the Odebrecht construction company. The prosecution file against Rondón explains that his 37-year old daughter is a shareholder in her father’s companies. Some RD$574,112,406.37 and US$14, 720,413.00 were deposited in her bank accounts from 2007 to 2017, according to a press release from the public prosecution service.

The release states that Kelly Rondón, a cousin of Rondón, also deposited an amount of RD$50,883,292.48, when he was the legal adviser to the Aqueduct and Sewage Corporation of Santo Domingo (CAASD) with a monthly salary of RD$40,000.00.


Board of Jails: Same conditions for all inmates
The Board of Jails said that Odebrecht inmates should be treated strictly by the law and criticized any special privileges that they may be afforded. “It is the duty of the Attorney General Office to guarantee the continuity of the New Penitenciary Model and its fundamental base that is that conditions are the same for all the inmates”. The board called for the group of those accused in the Odebrecht scandal be provided with all the necessary measures to guarantee their safety, physical integrity and human dignity. 

The media has carried reports of special preparation of cells for the accused in the Odebrecht scandal, with comforts such as new beds and furnishings, air conditioning, new tiles in bathrooms, among other renovations. 

Members of the board are Archbishop of Santo Domingo Francisco Ozoria, priest Aristides Jiménez Richardson; businessmen Abraham Selman Hasbún and José Luis Corripio; lawyer Elías Rodríguez Rodríguez, and journalist Luis Eduardo (Huchi) Lora. 

The Board said it trusts the government will follow through with its commitment to provide the resources to build the necessary centers to house the 9,000 inmates at the La Victoria jail. The move is important step to complete the jail reforms, where advances in human rights have served for recognition by the United Nations and the international community in general, states the press release. 


Duke University basketball to play in Santiago and Santo Domingo
With training sessions scheduled for the Carol Morgan School courts in Santo Domingo, Duke University Blue Devils announced it will play two exhibition games against the Dominican Republic National Team. The first will be in Santiago on 20 August, the second in Santo Domingo on 23 August 2017. The team travels to Santo Domingo on 17 August and will return to North Carolina on 24 August.  It will be Duke’s first international tour since 2011, when the Blue Devils visited China and Dubai. 

Blue Devils coach is Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K), who has lead the US Dream Team to three consecutive basketball Olympic gold medals (Beijing, London and Rio) and the past two world cups (Turkey and Spain).