DR1 Daily News next update on 19 February 2018
Public school teachers call a strike to protest method for choosing regional directors
IMF economic development report 2018
One vehicle per inhabitant in the National District
Intrant orders cargo vehicles need to register online
Reminder: DR is likely to experience 7.0 quake
Watch and care for the cigua canaria
Angel Viro aspires to be elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies
Dominicans left without jobs in border towns
Aeroclub Quisqueya president dies in plane crash
Marcha Verde demands Attorney General present evidence in Odebrecht case
Cops catch 10 kids racing on major highway
Violence and transportation industry shows its ugly face
Sentences in the RD$100 million fraud in Santiago Customs
Senator Guerrero apologizes to former President Mejía
Christophe Naudin to serve sentence in France
Onamet says it’s winter and that’s the explanation for the chilly weather
Arte at the National Theater

DR1 Daily News next update on 19 February 2018
The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 19 February 2018. The Monday issue will compile headline news for the previous Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Breaking news can be followed 24/7 in the Forums. See the DR1 Forum at http://www.dr1.com

Public school teachers call a strike to protest method for choosing regional directors
The Ministry of Education objected to the teachers union’s intention to conduct a work stoppage in National District and Province of Santo Domingo public schools. The strike was called by the Dominican Association of Teachers (ADP) that represents public school teachers. The strike will affect thousands of students. The strike was called for Thursday, 15 February and Friday, 16 February 2018.

The teachers are protesting the selection process underway at the Ministry of Education of regional and district directors as called for in Ordinance 24-2017.

In an editorial today, Diario Libre advocates reconsidering the 4% of GDP for public education allotment if public school and university teachers continue to reject being subject to checks and quality controls.


IMF economic development report 2018
In the annual economic development monitoring statement dated 14 February 2018, the International Monetary Fund forecasts 5.5% growth for the Dominican Republic in 2018, supported by reinvigorated credit growth and benign external conditions.

Reporting on the downside risks, the IMF said these stem from higher world oil prices, tighter-than-anticipated global financial conditions, and weaker-than-projected external demand. “The key challenge ahead is to reinvigorate the reform momentum to build resilience to these risks, increase potential growth and further reduce poverty and inequality,” says the IMF in its concluding statements after an IMF mission reviewed the Dominican economic performance.

The IMF states: “The efforts made by the government to strengthen the fiscal position are welcome, but more meaningful consolidation measures are needed to address structural fiscal weaknesses. Recent measures to strengthen tax and customs administration are helping boost tax receipts, but would be insufficient to reverse upward debt dynamics in the face of tightening global financing conditions, increasing oil prices and a growing debt service burden.“

The IMF recommends stronger efforts to rebuild fiscal buffers, with the composition of the necessary fiscal adjustment mindful of its growth and social impact. “This would mean focusing the adjustment on broadening the tax base, including by streamlining tax incentives and exemptions, and simplifying the tax system, while protecting the most vulnerable,” says the organization.

The IMF recommends that ongoing reforms continue the move towards a more flexible exchange rate, including the planned introduction of market infrastructure, should support the economy’s ability to absorb external shocks. The mission also welcomes recent progress to build reserve buffers, with the current strength of the external position (reaching the lowest current account deficit in over a decade) providing an important opportunity to continue these efforts.


One vehicle per inhabitant in the National District
The main complaint about life in Santo Domingo is probably about the time spent in traffic jams to get anywhere. The director of the Urban Mobility Department at the National District City Government (ADN), Jesús D’Alessandro tells why. Data from the National District Mobility Plan (PEDN 2030) says that there is a vehicle for every person who sleeps in the capital city.

In 2016, the number of privately-owned vehicles increased 6.7%. The Medina government has supported the increase in vehicles with low interest loans and numerous car fairs where the attractive financing conditions are offered those who think their own vehicle is how to solve their transportation problems. D’Alessandro says more people will be buying more vehicles and the upward trend is unsustainable. He said school, cargo and public employee transport needs to be tackled to improve the situation and collective transport modes incorporated.

He said that Habitat-United Nations studies call for an area of streets and sidewalks of 30%, when in the National District there is only 18%. He said the situation is worse in the Circunscripción 2 (C2), with its poorly connected streets. The C2 includes the area between the avenues John F. Kennedy (South), Máximo Gómez (East), Isabela River (North) and Santo Domingo Oeste-Los Alcarrizos (West). Circunscripción 1 (C1) is the area between the John F. Kennedy and Malecón avenues.


Intrant orders cargo vehicles need to register online
The National Transport and Transit Institute (Intrant) is calling for all owners of cargo vehicles to register these in the Registro Nacional de Vehículos de Transporte de Carga. Each vehicle will be assigned an ID (CIV). There is no cost for the registration.

Intrant says that all non-passenger-transporting vehicles need to register. This includes those listed as: carga, volteo, furgoneta, camioneta, maquina pesada agricola e Industrial, remolque, semiremolque, trailer, montacargas and grua.

The registration needs to be made online using the available form for cargo vehicles at http://www.intrant.gob.do

Reminder: DR is likely to experience 7.0 quake
The president of the Dominican Society of Seismic Engineering and Seismology, Leonardo Reyes Madera, recently warned of the vulnerability of the country in the face of an eventual earthquake. He based his statements on the apparent “fragility” of the overall preparedness of schools and hospitals.

Engineer Reyes noted that the island of Hispaniola that is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic could suffer at any time a magnitude 7.0 or greater earthquake possibly followed by a tsunami with waves between seven and nine meters high.

Reyes Madera made the remarks to the international press here on a visit sponsored by the European Commission on Humanitarian Assistance (Echo). The visitors were shown diverse disaster risk reduction projects underway and different aspects of assistance and prevention programs.

Reyes highlighted the 14 geological fault lines that are currently active on the island and surrounding seabed. He said the two main faults that could cause a major earthquake are: Enriquillo that extends across the southern part of the island and into the Caribbean and the Septentrional del Este that extends from East to West across the northern part of the country.

The geological expert said that a sample taken from the Index of Hospital Safety shows that 84 of the 184 public hospitals of the country do not comply with the requisites required to obtain the certificate of “Safe Hospital.” He noted that the problems are not necessarily structural but rather deficiencies that would appear in the basic services required to attend patients, for example, water, electricity and logistics.


Watch and care for the cigua canaria
The cigua canaria is one of the bird species that, although is small in size, can be easily observed from a distance, given its distinct appearance. Its brilliant black and yellow colors distinguish the bird from its surroundings. The small birds are olive green on top and yellowish on the bottom.

The cigua canaria (Icterus dominicensis) is endemic to the island of Hispaniola and just a short time ago, sightings were frequent. However, due to the drastic destruction of its habitats and the onslaught of the parasitical cowbirds that invade their nests, the population of cigua canaria has plummeted.

Domingo Siri, a biodiversity expert at the Ministry of Environment, said this bird eats fruits and contributes to the distribution and reforestation of important trees. These birds occupy the same habitat as the Dominican national bird, the cigua palmera ( Dulus dominicus).

In Santo Domingo these birds can be seen in the Plaza de la Cultura as well as the Botanical Gardens. They can also be found on Saona Island in the East and in the central mountains. This species is listed on the National Red List as being highly vulnerable.


Angel Viro aspires to be elected to the Italian Chamber of Deputies
A Dominican-Italian has been nominated by his party to become a deputy in the Italian parliament. The Movement of Overseas Italian Association has presented the candidacy of Angelo Viro to the Italian Chamber of Deputies as the representative for citizens of Italy who reside in North America, Central America and the Caribbean. This is the first time that a Dominican-Italian citizen has been nominated to represent the overseas Italian population in the Italian parliament.

Elections in Italy will take place on 4 March 2018, but citizens who reside overseas can cast their ballot vote now and until 1 March.

Viro has lived in the Dominican Republic for 40 years and is currently the president of an important company as well as the vice president of the Casa de Italia in Santo Domingo. He is also the vice president of the National Association of Importers (ANI) and he has chaired the Dominican-Italiano Chamber of Commerce. He also represents the Movement of Overseas Italians in their relations with governments of Central America and is a counselor to the committee on overseas Italians and represents Panama and the Dominican Republic. He was one of the leaders in the fight to reopen the Italian Embassy in Santo Domingo.


Dominicans left without jobs in border towns
Haitians are taking over the jobs in Dajabón on the border with Haiti. El Nacional reports that there are more Haitians than Dominicans employed as farm hands, construction workers, free zone workers, teachers and domestic workers. In the Codevi free zone, of 16,900 employees, 11,900 are Haitians, around 5,000 are Dominicans. Provincial governor Ramona Rodríguez and Dajabón mayor Miguel Cruz expressed their concern at the alarming increase in undocumented Haitians in the region. Rodríguez said that in the historic municipality of Restauración, the majority of the population is Haitian. Governor Ramona Rodríguez says that 95% of the students in many Dominican public schools on the border are Haitians.


Aeroclub Quisqueya president dies in plane crash
The president of the Aeroclub Quisqueya, Ramón Peralta, died when his crop duster aircraft he was piloting crashed in Bonao. The plane, N2451J Cessna A188B, crashed after making contact with a high-tension cable in Sabana del Puerto-Jima in Bonao.


Marcha Verde demands Attorney General present evidence in Odebrecht case
Spokespeople for the Marcha Verde civic movement asked the Public Ministry (Attorney General Office) to demand that Odebrecht present the evidence it committed to deliver to trace the whereabouts of the US$92 million in bribes the Brazilian corporation admitted in a New York City court to have paid to expedite the granting of government contract work in the Dominican Republic from 2001 to 2014.

The movement representatives say that the documentation needed to determine the local responsibility in the case can be obtained from documents in possession of Brazilian authorities, in the documentation for the ongoing construction of the coal-fired Odebrecht thermoelectric power central and in bank transfers carried out by those responsible.

Marcha Verde demanded an explanation from the Public Ministry as to whether the document received from the Brazilian judicial authorities includes the list of those who received bribes that served to justify the Dominican Attorney General undersigning “an impunity pact” with Odebrecht.

In a press conference, Marcha Verde said that the Attorney General has the obligation to present the numbers of bank accounts where the bribes were paid; evidence on the transfer of the money; financial instruments used, as well as to identify the public works linked to the bribes.

“The Odebrecht case will not be complete if the relationship between President Danilo Medina and international criminal Joao Santana is not established,” said Marcha Verde. The organization says Santana is responsible for laundering the money for the company in several countries.

Marcha Verde also called for following up in the statement by former minister of Industry & Commerce Temístocles Montás, one of the accused of receiving bribes, who said that he received funds from Odebrecht to “illegally” finance the electoral campaigns of former President Leonel Fernández and President Danilo Medina.

Last week, Supreme Court of Justice judge Francisco Ortega Polanco gave the Attorney General Office four more months to continue the investigations into the bribes case.

The first accused by the Attorney General Office are PLD senators Julio César Valentín and Tommy Galán; PRM deputy Alfredo Pacheco; businessman Ángel Rondón; former Public Works minister Víctor Díaz Rúa; the president of the Partido Revolucionario Moderno (PRM), Andrés Bautista García, among others.


Cops catch 10 kids racing on major highway
The San Cristóbal police commander announced the arrest of 10 young men who were caught betting and racing on the 6 November Highway. The motorcycle races are notorious for their high rates of accidents and fatalities. The accused men will appear in court on charges relating to this illegal activity.

Police commander, Colonel Oscar Tejeda Baez, these reckless and illegal bike races are a danger to both the racers and the general public who use the highways and secondary roads where the races are often staged. The official warned that he would keep a watch on the highway to ensure that others did not continue this practice.

These men are not playing for pennies, as the bets ranged from RD$30,000 to RD$80,000 pesos, it is known.

Almost daily, newspapers report on the death of motorcyclist related to racing. El Nacional reports the racing has escalated to the point where some of the racers apparently ingest drugs in order to compete in ever more dangerous races.


Violence and transportation industry shows its ugly face
In Santo Domingo a former police sergeant, one of those accused of forming part of a gang of hitmen headed by Arsenio Quevedo of the Union Nacional de Transportistas y Afines admitted yesterday before the Second Collegiate Tribunal of the National District that he killed two drivers in 2015 on the route of the Federacion de Transporte la Nueva Opción (Fenatrano). The drivers that he said that he killed are Angel Javier and Overnys Guerrero, who belonged to the El Toro transportation route, whose station is at the corner of an of Valverde and Juana Saltitopa in the National District.

The confession brought tears to the eyes of family members of the victims who were present in the court. Besides the so-called “transportation business executive” Arsenio Quevedo and Cristino Cabrera and other of the accused there is also a former city councilmember Erickson Delos Santos under indictment.

National District prosecutors have asked for a sentence of 20 years against Arsenio Quevedo and Cristino Batista and for 30 years against Amaurys Cabrera, former city councilor Erickson de los Santos and Danilo Reynoso.


Sentences in the RD$100 million fraud in Santiago Customs
A Santiago court has imposed prison sentences to three in the case of fraud detected at Customs (DGA) at the Cibao International Airport in 2010. The case involved two sons of influential government party members. At the time, the DGA desisted from pressing charges, but the case was continued by Santiago prosecutors. The case was first heard at the Santiago court in September 2015.

The Second Collegiate Court of the Penal Chamber of Santiago cleared three persons of charges, while convicting three others for fraud. The judges determined that Héctor Manuel García Ortega, Herald Estévez Peña and Miguel de Jesús Lazala were not guilty. Miguel Ángel Lazala was the son of Petra Cabrera, who at the time was deputy director at ProIndustria.

Those found guilty were José Rafael Marte, Gilbrand Abukarma Martínez and Adalberto Rosa who were sent to prison for eight, five and two years, respectively.

Marte and Abukarma Martínez were sentenced for asset laundering drug trafficking activities, while Rosa was sentenced for illegal weapon possession. Rosa is the son of former director of the Tobacco Institute.

Those accused were employed at the DGA in Santiago. The fraud was estimated at RD$100 million when it was uncovered in 2010.


Senator Guerrero apologizes to former President Mejía
Senator Wilton Guerrero (PLD-Peravia) retracted his statement linking former President Hipólito Mejía to Mexican drug traffickers. Guerrero apologized saying at the time he did not confirm the information when it was received. The apology is part of an agreement with the Supreme Court of Justice and former President Mejía who had sued the senator for defamation.

With the public statement, the SCJ ordered the filing of the suit that dates back to 2012. Guerrero apologized to Mejía for making the statement when the later was running for President in the 2012. Guerrero had declared in a press conference that the former Dominican president had traveled to Mexico on a plane facilitated by the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. El Caribe newspaper carried the story. Mejía demanded indemnity of RD$50 million from the newspaper, but eventually the SCJ excluded El Caribe director, Osvaldo Santana from the case.

After receiving the apology, Mejía said he was satisfied. “Politicians have to learn here that they cannot play around with the moral and dignity of others saying everything you want,” he stated.

Mejía said he still believes in justice and submitted to a five and a half year lawsuit to prove a point. "I believe in the dignity of the people and I want my children to be proud that their father did not lend himself to crooked deals," said the ex-ruler.


Christophe Naudin to serve sentence in France
Frenchman Christophe Rene Henri Naudin was authorized to travel to France on Thursday, 15 February 2018 to serve the five-year jail sentence ordered by a local court. Naudin was sentenced for assisting in the escape of French pilots Jean Fauret and Bruno Armand Odos (Air Cocaine case), who had been sentenced to 20 years in jail. The Attorney General said the option is part of an agreement signed with the French judicial authorities in 2009. Naudin also paid a fine of RD$1.5 million for violation of the illicit drug law.

Naudin was extradited to the Dominican Republic from Egypt in 2016 at the request of the Public Ministry (Attorney General Office).


Onamet says it’s winter and that’s the explanation for the chilly weather
The National Metereological Office (Onamet) alerted that those living in the mountain areas of Constanza and Jarabacoa can expect lows of 8°C this weekend. Nearby, in the Duarte Peak, temperatures are expected to go below 0°C. Lows of 18°C are forecast for Santo Domingo.

Weather forecaster Julio Ordoñez said the lows are the result of an anticyclone weather phenomenon or high pressure system caused by wind flowing clockwise. He said this is not caused by a cold front, but rather is part of the effects of La Niña that in addition to low temperatures brings abundant rains. He said there will be less rains this weekend than during the past week.


Arte at the National Theater
French writer Yasmina Reza’s award-winning comedy, “Art” will be performed at the Sala Ravelo of the National Theater on Thursdays and Sundays -- 1, 4. 8 and 11 March 2018 at 8:30pm and 6:30pm on Sundays. The play opened in Paris in 1994 and has been translated to 35 languages.

The play revolves around male friendships and the subjective valuing of artistic talent. What is art for some is garbage for others.

The play is directed by Elvira Taveras and the lead parts are by Henssy Pichardo, Francis Cruz and Richard Douglas.

Tickets are for sale at the National Theater box office for RD$1,000.