Medina could seek second re-election in 2020
Canadian change in textile rules of origin is good news for Dominican exports
Salazar Alberti to direct Trade Treaty Agency
School transport is priority of Intrant
New rules for Malecon trucks
New Ministry of Culture fund for the arts
Book Fair to honor Lupo Hernández Rueda and Juan Antonio Alix
How to do business in Jamaica workshop
CAASD director blasts osmosis water
Another tax amnesty in the making?
Attorney General calls for full weight of the law for those having sex with minors
Bernardo Castellanos posts RD$5 million bail
SUV rams into US Embassy facility
Dominican golfers win Hoerman Cup
Juander Santos makes semi-finals of World Athletics Championship
India Culinary Festival at the Hilton Hotel

Medina could seek second re-election in 2020
President Danilo Medina met last week with representatives of minority political of the Bloque Progresista and other politicians that backed his past bid for re-election in the 2016 general election. An alliance with minority parties and past opposition parties, mainly the PRD, allowed for sufficient votes to change the 2012 Constitution that banned consecutive re-election at the time.

Minority party members that were present included: Maritza López de Ortiz (PAL), Jorge Zorrilla Ozuna (PCR), Emilio Rivas (MODA), José González Espinosa (PTD), Juan Cohen (PNVC), Luis Acosta Moreta (UDC), Antonin Polanco (PASOVE), Rafael Peguero (PPC), Marino Collante (DPR) , Trajano Santana (PRI) and Francisco Peña Tavarez (BIS).

Also present were Public Works Minister Gonzalo Castillo and Education Minister Andres Navarro.

After the meeting at the Presidential Palace, former PRD senator turned PLD senator for Azua, Rafael Calderón, announced that if the circumstances were right and the moment in history compelling he saw the possibility of proposing again to modify the Constitution to enable the re-election of President Danilo Medina in 2020. Calderon said that the PLD has to go with the candidate that will guarantee a win. He said this could be with former President Leonel Fernandez, with Vice President Margarita Cedeno or with the president of the Senate Reinaldo Pared Perez.

In 2015, the ruling PLD party maneuvered to gain the necessary votes in the legislature to change the 2012 Constitution that had banned consecutive re-election. The resulting 2015 Constitution establishes that a candidate can run twice and then cannot run again.

The ruling PLD party is absolute majority in both houses of the legislature and the new alliance with the PRD would seemingly make it easier to change the 2015 Constitution to prepare for a re-run of President Medina in 2020.

On Saturday, in an editorial in Diario Libre, keen managing editor Ines Aizpún remarked that with a slow economy and the Odebrecht issues not resolved, to talk about reelection and changes in the Constitution was “an insult to the intelligence of the citizens of this country.”

Canadian change in textile rules of origin is good news for Dominican exports
Haiti and the Dominican Republic stand to gain big from a recent change in the Canadian rules of origin for general preferential tariffs. The new measure is expected to bring a significant increase in the export market for Dominican free zones to the Canadian market for t-shirts and pants.

The change follows months of joint efforts on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Dominican Republic Embassy in Canada and the National Free Trade Zone Council, in coordination with the Haitian Embassy in Canada. The new trade scheme came into effective on 12 July 2017.

The amendment changes the Preferential Tariffs and Rules of Origin Tariff Rules for Least Developed Countries to expand the range of textile products that would benefit from the duty free treatment. Haiti and the Dominican Republic stand to benefit the most from the amendment.

Canada has ruled to allow Haiti to use raw materials and to carry out production in a greater number of countries for the manufacture of t-shirts and pants. This provision applies to joint production in apparel plants operating in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Dominican companies that have joint production plants with Haiti are now able to supply any type of raw material or service for the production of textile manufacturing products (packaging, fabric cutting, yarns and fabrics, for example), as long as together the added value added by the country does not exceed 75% for the production of t-shirts and pants in Haiti.

The Canadian general preferential tariffs change expands a prior 2002 provision that called for support countries falling under the United Nations’ category of Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

Haiti is the only nation in the Americas in this category. Nevertheless, up to now, Haiti has been unable to take advantage of the LDC mechanism the same way countries such as Bangladesh has. For instance, at the beginning of the program Bangladesh exported US$100 million in textiles to Canada, and in 2016 its exports exceeded US$1 billion.

Salazar Alberti to direct Trade Treaty Agency
President Danilo Medina appointed Marcelo Salazar Alberti as the new director of the Foreign Commerce and Trade Treaty Management Agency (Dicoex) of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Small Business (MICM). He replaces César Dargam who recently resigned to take the position as executive director of the National Business Council (Conep). The announcement of the appointment is contained in Decree 264-17.

Prior to this position, Salazar was in charge of the Department Latin American Integration of the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Mirex).

School transport is priority of Intrant
The executive director of the National Transport & Transit Institute (Intrant), engineer Claudia Franchesca de los Santos says her department is working with the Ministry of Education to provide public transportation for school children in several communities nationwide. She said Transit Law 63-17 bans children under eight from riding on motorcycles, so the school busing initiative is especially important.

In a meeting hosted by Diario Libre, de los Santos said that the top priority of the Intrant is to reduce traffic accidents. She said the statistics show that motorcycles are involved in 62% of the accidents, while 19% of accidents involve pedestrians.

The city government of Santo Domingo has also said it is working on collective school transport for the National District in order to reduce traffic congestion and improve the safe transport of schoolchildren.

New rules for Malecón trucks
The National District city government has announced that it will permit trucks to transit on the Malecón (Paseo Padre Billini, Av. George Washington and Autopista 30 de Mayo) until noon on weekdays and until midnight on weekends. Trucks are banned from noon to midnight on the section of the Malecón between Av. Abraham Lincoln and Calle Fernando Arturo de Meriño. On weekends, the restriction is for the entire 24 hours.

An earlier resolution dated 11-2012 had ordered a ban on trucks using the Malecon 24/7. But the measure was not implemented.

The city government says the new hours are transitory until the Circunvalación de Santo Domingo is finished. The Ministry of Public Works has said the bypass is a priority of the government.

New Ministry of Culture fund for the arts
Ministry of Culture announced the creation of a new fund for Dominican arts. The new RD$20 million fund seeks to support the creation, innovation and professional practice of the arts, responding to the constant demands from artists and individual cultural promoters. The fund is available to Dominican citizens. Minister Pedro Verges made the announcement during an event at the Ministry.

He said funds would be provided for the participation in artistic residencies and for participation in national and international programs or activities that lead to a higher degree of professionalism in the arts.

Those interested in participating should apply as of 4 August 2017. For information on the program, see

Book Fair to honor Lupo Hernández Rueda and Juan Antonio Alix
The Ministry of Culture announced the Santo Domingo International Book Fair 2018 would be dedicated to Dominican poet and essayist Lupo Hernández Rueda, a member of the so-called Generation 48. Born 29 July 1930, Hernández is also a lawyer specializing in labor law and university professor. He has received the National Poetry Award on five occasions.

Culture Minister Pedro Vergés said Dominican poet Juan Antonio Alix, would also be recognized during the spring fair. Next year (February 15, 2018) marks the centennial anniversary of his death. Alix, one of the best known Dominican poets of all time, is famous for his short, catchy rhymes.

The Ministry of Culture has yet to announce the dates of the 2018 book fair. The book fair has usually been held in April-May of each year, but in 2017 it was held in September, after the general election.

How to do business in Jamaica workshop
The Roundtable of the Commonwealth Countries in the Dominican Republic is organizing the Seminar on How to Do Business in Jamaica. The objective of the workshop is to help identify new business and investment opportunities for Dominicans in Jamaica. The event is a follow up to the recent visit made by Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica to the Dominican Republic.

The seminar will take place on 23 August 2017, from 8am, at the Santo Domingo Sheraton on the Malecón.

Speaking at the seminar will be Vice Minister of Foreign Relations Hugo Rivera, Dominican ambassador in Jamaica José Ares; general manager of Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) in the Dominican Republic, Guillermo Arancibia; the president of the National Hotel & Restaurants Association (Asonahores) Joel Santos and the executive president of the Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD) Osmar Benitez, among others.

The president of the Roundtable of the Commonwealth Countries in the Dominican Republic, Fernando González Nicolás said the workshop is timely given that the Caribbean regional market should be a natural and attractive market for Dominican products. He said there are advantages to identifying the synergies for touristic and farm sectors with Jamaica.

CAASD director blasts osmosis water
The director of the Santo Domingo Water and Sewage Corporation (CAASD) Alejandro Montás says that tap water in Santo Domingo has important nutrients that are eliminated in osmosis treated water widely sold in bottles. He says tap water in Santo Domingo has a potability index of more than 98.5%. He says that it is the same water that is sold in small bottles and five gallon bottles, and used to manufacture soft drinks and alcoholic drinks in Greater Santo Domingo.

In a TV interview on Revista 110 with Julio Hazim, Montas said that in Greater Santo Domingo, only 30% of users pay for the tap water service. He urged for rational use of the water and for customers to pay for the service.

He said Greater Santo Domingo does not need new aqueducts. What is necessary is to execute a program to reduce water losses.

Another tax amnesty in the making?
The Minister of Hacienda, Donald Guerrero, says the government is preparing a Bill for Assets Transparency. El Dia questions why this would be allowed at a time the tax administration is making efforts to reduce tax evasion.

Guerrero had noted that the legislation would allow persons without assets or goods that have not been declared to pay less than what they would have paid.

“This recourse is of interest to those who have turned tax evasion into a culture who knowingly do not pay their taxes. Many of these people are waiting to benefit from an amnesty that brings the benefit of starting a new,” writes the El Dia editorialist.

The editorial warns that the danger with this measure is that it creates a vicious cycle in which people simply choose not to pay taxes and simply wait for another governmental back tax amnesty to be announced.

The editorialist says that the measure would discourage those who regularly pay taxes to rethink their observance of the law.

Attorney General calls for full weight of the law for those having sex with minors
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez called for Dominican prosecutors to be drastic in applying Law 136-03 that protects the rights of Boys, Girls and Teenagers against adults found to have had sexual relations of any kind with them.

Rodriguez expressed his indignation with how commonplace pregnancies of young girls in the country. The recommendation to the prosecutors is in order No. 03004. “As a father I am alarmed at what is happening in our country. Every day, more girls and teenagers are seduced by irresponsible adult men resulting in pregnancies and bringing children into the world, that for no fault of their own, will suffer the devastating consequences of an absentee father,” said the attorney general.

Bernardo Castellanos posts bail in Odebrecht case
The instruction judge for the Odebrecht bribes case, Francisco Ortega Polanco set a RD$5 million bail for Bernardo Castellanos de Moya, the 14th man who faces charges in the Odebrecht bribes case. The judge ordered he present himself to the Specialized Prosecutor Office for Administrative Corruption (PEPCA) once a month and cannot travel abroad for the eight months duration of the pre-trial measures.

Castellanos was working in Panama when the Odebrecht charges were presented. Because he was abroad, Castellanos’ case will be heard separately from the 13 others charged in the Odebrecht bribes case. The others are Temístocles Montás, Víctor Díaz Rúa, Conrado Pittaluga, Andrés Bautista, Ruddy González, César Sánchez, Máximo De Óleo, Radhamés Segura, Roberto Rodríguez Hernández, Julio César Valentín, Tommy Alberto Galán and Alfredo Pacheco.

Bernardo Castellanos was director for hydroelectric projects for the Empresa de Generación Hidroeléctrica Dominicana (EgeHID) from 2000 to 2004. The Attorney General accuses him of having received money from Odebrecht lobbyist Angel Rondón to give a favorable opinion on the construction of the Pinalito hydroelectric. Castellanos said that the construction of Pinalito began after he left the post. He has said he acted as a technician, without a role in the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) and thus did not have a deciding vote in the implementation of the project.

SUV rams into US Embassy facility
Work was temporarily interrupted at the US Embassy in northern Santo Domingo after a woman, approximately 50 years of age, identified as Luz del Alba, rammed into the building. She was driving a blue Nissan SUV.
She crashed into the protective barrier of the building.

Witnesses that were in line to request visas recounted how at around 6:45am, the woman, who was driving along Avenida República de Colombia, accelerated her vehicle prior to crashing into the protective barriers. They observed that if the barrier had not been there, there would have been serious injuries, as reported in El Caribe.

The woman was detained and taken to the Central de Inteligencia Delictiva (Dintel) for investigation. Police and Amet agents helped restore order to traffic in the area.

Normal consular services were restored a short time after the incident.

Dominican golfers win Hoerman Cup
The Dominican national amateur golf team won the Hoerman Cup at the 61st Caribbean Amateur Golf Championships that took place at The Links Golf Course in Casa de Campo, La Romana. Eighty golfers from 8 countries competed.

This is the third straight year the Dominican Republic has won the cup. In 2015, Jamaica was the champion, and in 2014, the Bahamas.

The Dominican team finished with a score of 1,151 followed by Puerto Rico with 1,158, Cayman Islands with 1,193 and Bahamas with 1,209.

Puerto Rico with a score of 588 won the women’s George Teale Cup, followed by the Dominican team with 600. Trinidad & Tobago was third with 638, followed by Barbados with 661.

Puerto Rico won the overall cup, the Arthur Ziade Cup, followed by the DR in second place.

Juan (Manita) Campusano was the most outstanding player for the Dominican Republic. He finished tied for first with Puerto Rican Jeronimo Esteve with a score of 282.

Juander Santos makes semi-finals of World Athletics Championship
Juander Santos, brother to Luguelin Santos, the Dominican 2012 London Olympics 400 m silver medalist, made it to the semi-finals of the 400 m hurdle in the IAAF World Championships taking place in London, United Kingdom. He is one of 24 athletes competing in the semi-finals on Monday, 7 August 2017. His personal best is 48.92 run in Puerto Rico in April 2017.

In the report on the qualifying heats, International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) reports:

“Norway’s European U23 champion Karsten Warholm is an improving athlete and is considered a medal prospect. He implored the crowd to get behind him when he was announced to the stadium prior to heat four and after slowly settling into his blocks, ran a swift 250m, chasing down Juander Santos, who was outside him. Santos, the 22-year-old brother of Luguelin, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist over 400m, finished the stronger of the two however, to record 49.19, while Warholm looked around nervously as he tired.”

India Culinary Festival at the Hilton Hotel
The India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) under the Ministry of Tourism Government of India, and the Embassy of India in Havana, Cuba is bringing a week of Indian cuisine to Santo Domingo. The Hilton Hotel & Suites, Santo Domingo is hosting the Indian Food Festival at the Agatha Restaurant from 6th to 10th August 2017.

Chef Rubal Pupneja and Mahender Kumar, Demi Chef de Partie have traveled to the country to prepare for Dominican gourmands signature dishes like:

Jhinga Malai Curry
This is a mouthwatering delicacy from the kitchens of the “Nawab’s of Awadh” consisting of fresh prawns cooked in a creamy saffron flavored curry.

Murgh Makhani Andaaz
A delicious chicken preparation of world fame from “Punjab the land of five rivers in North India” wherein boneless chicken chunks are simmered in tomato gravy finished with fresh cream.

Gosht Rogan Josh
Is an aromatic lamb dish cooked with select spices and is one of the signature recipes of ‘Kashmiri’ cuisine. Rogan means ‘clarified butter’ while josh means ‘hot, boiling, or passionate’. Rogan Josh thus means meat cooked in oil at intense heat. Rogan Josh was brought to Kashmir by the ‘Mughals’ whose cuisine was in turn influenced by Persian cuisine.

Lazeez Gosht Biryani ‘Dum Pukht’
A delicacy of lamb and aromatic basmati rice cooked with whole Indian spices which traces its history to the kitchens of the ‘Nawab Wajid Ali Shah’ of Awadh where Dum Pukht style of cooking originated: ‘Dum’ means to ‘breathe in’ and ‘Pukht’ to 'cook' so that all the flavors are sealed in, usually eaten with ‘Raita’ and ‘Kachumbar’ salad.

For desert, an ensemble of sweet offerings is presented, known as Mithai ki Tashtari.