Efforts to launch country brand resumed
The spokespersons for the leading parties in Congress chosen
65th anniversary of Dominican TV
Taxi unions want pensions for drivers over 65
Breastfeeding Week in the Dominican Republic
Jesuits support Green Movement
Three Odebrecht accused can attend PLD Political Committee meetings
More developments in the Odebrecht case
DNCD nabs 1,074 packages of suspect cocaine at sea
PRM does not support Venezuela
Consumers are the big winners in BR-BHD Leon ATM deal
Italian-Canadian to remain in jail
Many Dominicans in jail in the United States
Shooting in San Francisco de Macoris leads to protests at the UASD
Sonido Fresko at La Espiral 313
OMD at Hard Rock Live

Efforts to launch country brand resumed
Industry, Commerce and Small Business Minister Nelson Toca Simó, Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García and the director of the Center for Exports and Investment (CEI-RD) Luis Henry Molina signed an agreement to relaunch the national country brand strategy, attract new exports and promote exports. The agreement was signed during the 1 August 2017 meeting of the board of the CEI-RD that gathers representatives of the public and private sector.

Toca Simó said exports and investments are a priority of the present government. Javier called the agreement a win for the Dominican Republic. Molina said that the agreement is part of the initiatives of the government to promote exports and attract investments.

Also present for the meeting of the CEI-RD board were: Economy Minister Isidoro Santana; the director of the National Council of Export Free Zones, Luisa Fernández; the executive vice president of the National Business Council (Conep), César Dargam; the president of the Dominican Exporters Association (Adoexpo), Álvaro Sousa; the executive director of the Dominican Agribusiness Council (JAD), Claudia Chez; and the executive director of the National Competitiveness Council (CNC) Rafael Paz.


The spokespersons for the leading parties in Congress chosen
The PRM opposition party chose Alfredo Pacheco (National District) as its spokesman in the Chamber of Deputies. Pacheco is accused of accepting bribes in the Odebrecht bribes scandal.

The PLD has selected Ruben Maldonado as spokesman in the Chamber of Deputies and re-elected Reinaldo Pared Perez as spokesman for the Senate.

The PRSC announced Máximo Castro Silverio would be the spokesman for the party in the Chamber of Deputies and José Hazim would be the spokesman for the Senate.

The government ally, the PRD re-elected Radhamés González as spokesman. The PRD does not have a representative in the Senate.


65th anniversary of Dominican TV
On 1 August 2017, the state television channel celebrated the 65th anniversary of the first television transmission in the Dominican Republic. In 1952, the station opened as La Voz Dominicana. Dominican television followed the start of radio that began in 1943 with the same program founded in Bonao by the brother of Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, best known as Petán Trujillo.

The television station would move to the capital to its new headquarters at the Palacio Radiotelevisor where it is still located now under the name of State Corporation of Radio and Televison (CERTV). CERTV operates Channel 4 RD and the radio stations Dominicana FM, Quisqueya FM and Radio Santo Domingo. All of these media outlets are government-owned.

The first private television channel was founded in 1959 by Pedro Pablo Bonilla, called Radio HIN Television (Rahintel, today Antena Latina) transmitting on Channel 7. Until 1969, all broadcasts in the country were in black and white. In 1969, Color Vision (Channel 9), a Santiago-based company owned by the Bermúdez family, was the first television station to broadcast in color.

In the following years more channels followed with a great expansion in 1982 when Telecable National began offering cable TV service in the country.

In 1995 Telemicro, Channel 5, arrived and more stations moved to UHF followed by High Definition.

To celebrate the anniversary, the director of CERTV, Ramón Tejeda Read, said that Channel 4 would be looking to make their programs more internationally available so that Dominicans living overseas could rediscover their roots.


Taxi unions want pensions for drivers over 65
Spokesmen for the taxi unions are calling for the government to award pensions to the taxi drivers that under the new Transport and Transit Law 63-17 will no longer be authorized to drive public transport vehicles. Santiago Zamora, spokesmen for the union of touristic taxis (Codotatur), explained that Art. 101 of the new law prohibits that those over 65 years of age drive taxis. He estimated there are around 80,000 taxi drivers in service. Zamora said that there are around 15,000 taxis in the touristic sector alone and a majority of these drivers are over 65 years old.


Breastfeeding Week in the Dominican Republic
Only 4.7% of mothers in the Dominican Republic exclusively breastfeed their infants as recommended during the child’s first six months, according to the National Household Survey (Enhogar-MICS 2014). This is well below the average of the 30% breastfeeding rate for Latin American and Caribbean.

The discussion of the report was meant to highlight World Breastfeeding Week sponsored by the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), that is taking place 1-7 August 2017. The week-long activities seek to raise awareness of the importance of breastfeeding for the physical and mental development of babies.

In the Dominican Republic, breastfeeding is suppressed by the widespread practice of distributing free samples of formula and baby bottles in hospitals, the large number of working moms, the three-month pregnancy leave restrictions, and a general culture that makes breastfeeding an inconvenience.

Unicef encourages that hospitals contribute to promoting breastfeeding by training their staff in facilitating breastfeeding and instate the practice of immediately providing newborns in contact with mother’s skin no later than an hour after birth.


Jesuits support Green Movement
Father Mario Serrano, national director of the Company of Jesus of the Catholic Church (the Jesuits), has expressed his organization’s support to the Green Movement. Serrano stated that as Jesuits they are accompanying the Dominican people in the search for justice and better democracy.

He said that he did not agree with calls made during the National District Green March for President Danilo Medina to resign. But he observed that the document requesting Danilo’s resignation did not come from the Green Movement. Serrano did insist that the President commit to the total transparency and independence in the investigation of corruption and authorize swift action against those accused of wrongdoing.

Being interviewed on the radio program El Sol de la Mañana he went on to say that with all citizens taking an active role is supporting democracy, the Dominican Republic will be a better nation. The El Sol de la Mañana talk show is known for its strong support for the Medina administration.

Recently, the Catholic Church has spoken out against the Medina administration after the government backed including exceptions to abortion in the Penal Code under revision in the Congress.


Three Odebrecht accused can attend PLD Political Committee meetings
The Political Committee of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) agreed that Temístocles Montás, Radhamés Segura and Julio Cesar Valentin could continue in their duties within the committee, despite being charged in connection with the Odebrecht corruption case.

The three PLD officials had asked to be suspended from the committee, but the decision was taken on Monday night, 31 July 2017, to request their attendance at the next meeting that should be on the first Monday in September.

President of the Senate Reinaldo Pared Perez said that the law had the principle of presumption of innocence that must be applied to everyone.

Montás and Segura were arrested at the end of May and spent a month in jail and in the case of Julio Cesar Valentín, he was not arrested as he has parliamentary immunity.


More developments in the Odebrecht case
The Attorney General’s Office has announced that in connection with the Odebrecht bribery scandal new and valuable information has been provided to the AG’s office by the Brazilian government. The information includes emails, fictitious contracts and testimonials from four of Odebrecht executives based in Brazil.

This information supposedly identifies those Dominican public servants who had received bribes as well as detailing transfers of money to overseas Banks.

The Office highlighted that this evidence was obtained as part of an agreement signed with the company which was used so that the judge from the Supreme Court, Francisco Ortega Polanco, could issue the arrest warrants which lead to the arrest of 10 citizens implicated in the case.
Two of these individuals are still in preventive custody, while the others are under house arrest or out on bail under conditions that require their periodic appearances in court. None of the accused are allowed to leave the country.

The Office also said that more information from Brazil was forthcoming and the investigation is continuing, although the exact details of the inquiry are still confidential.


DNCD nabs 1,074 packages of suspect cocaine at sea
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) announced the seizing of a shipment of more than a thousand packages of a white powder suspect to be cocaine off Azua on the southwestern coast. The DNCD has not provided details, but advanced there are five foreigners arrested in the case.

The DNCD says that with this shipment, they have seized almost three tons of cocaine in less than a month. The drugs were seized in two operations along the Azua coastline, resulting in the seizing of a shipment of 274 packages and another of 800 packages confiscated from two speedboats at sea.


PRM does not support Venezuela
The Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) has expressed its disagreement with the Maduro administration’s recent political maneuverings in Venezuela. On 30 July 2017, the Maduro-led government carried out a controversial and widely unpopular election to name representatives to a Constituent Assembly that would essentially allow Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to further consolidate his power in the crisis-torn nation.

In a document signed by PRM president Andrés Bautista and general secretary Jesús Vásquez, the party calls on the Dominican government not to recognize the results of the Venezuelan elections and backed a proposal from the Peruvian government to convene a meeting of the Foreign Relations’ Ministers on 8 August 2017 to evaluate the situation in Venezuela.

The PRM condemned the violence that occurred during the elections in Venezuela that caused several deaths and many injuries. The party goes on to say the Venezuelan constitution was violated along with universal democratic principles.


Consumers are the big winners in BR-BHD Leon ATM deal
The 2.5 million Banreservas customers and the 1 million BHD Leon customers are benefitting from the agreement whereby they can use the ATM machines at either of the banks without an additional charge. According to Diario Libre, the BR has 669 ATMs and the BHD León has 652, making for a network of 1,321 ATMs nationwide, more than their main competitor, the Banco Popular that had 913 ATMs.

The agreement was signed on Monday, 1 August 2017 by Simón Lizardo Mézquita, general manager of Banreservas and Luis Molina Achécar, president of the Banco BHD León.

Italian-Canadian to remain in jail
A National District court has rejected a request to free the Italian-Canadian businessman, Antonio Carbone, held in remand in jail accused of attempted murder of the General Manager of Dreams Casino Corporation, Fernando Báez Guerrero, in 2014.

Carbone had claimed he was being held in jail illegally but this was rejected by the judge.
He is also being investigated by the Public Prosecution Service, for the international scandal of
Dream Casinos Corporation.

Carbone was jailed in preventive custody in January 2015 following an accusation by the Public Prosecution Service that he, together with his brother, Francesco Carbone, had attempted to kill Fernando Báez by placing a bomb in his car that exploded in October 2014.

Carbone was arrested trying to leave the country from Punta Cana airport. His brother and another alleged foreign accomplice are still on the run from justice.


Many Dominicans in jail in the United States
According to data from the legal and citizen services department of the Dominican General Consulate, of a total estimated 15,000 Dominicans in jail in the United States, there are 1,734 in immigration detention centers.

Most of those in jail are serving sentences for serious offences such as murder, drug dealing, gang membership, arson, fraud, extortion, and illegal entry to the United States following deportation, domestic violence, rape, repeat traffic offenses, bribery among others.

Not many of them are naturalized Americans, and once their sentences are complete they will be deported to the Dominican Republic.

However, many maintain their innocence and their cases are being looked into by the legal department at the Dominican consulate and an organization called Project Innocence.


Shooting in San Francisco de Macoris leads to protests at the UASD
Protests erupted at the UASD following the shooting and death of an ex-party leader of the Popular Front (Falpo), Bladimir Lantigua, in San Francisco de Macoris, yesterday, Tuesday 1 August, 2017.

Lantigua was shot in the back, supposedly by a member of the police during protests in San Francisco where there is a 48-hour strike demanding the Government carry out a series of works.

According to a fellow Falpo member, Lantigua was standing at a corner when he was fatally wounded. Falpo leadership has called on the public to express their outrage at the murder of Lantigua.

Businesses in the town center were closed and police were out in force trying to stop the protesters from blocking traffic.

The president of the Federation of Dominican Students (FED), Yimi Zapata, complained that the protestors at the UASD were threatened by the National Police and that the police had been shooting at them. The demonstrators threw stones and burned tires.

Lantigua was also a party leader for the Student Front to Free Amin Abel (Felabel).

Due to the protest, the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) closed the tunnel on Ortega and Gasset.


Sonido Fresko at La Espiral 313
La Espiral 313 lounge-bar invites to an evening with the music of Karibik Underwater, Marimba and Estacion Sub Trópico on Friday, 4 August 2017 stating at 9pm. Tickets are RD$200 at the door and includes a welcome drink.

OMD at Hard Rock Live
Orchestra Maneuvers in the Dark (OMD) English band is performing at the Hard Rock Live of Blue Mall in Santo Domingo on Saturday, 5 August 2017. Showtime starts at 9pm with Grupo Peaje. Tickets are for sale at UEPA tickets for RD$2,950 to RD$5,000.