President: students must study the Constitution
Interview with Minister of Foreign Relations Vargas
Dominguez Brito visits Pedernales
US$1.4 million for birth control
Prevention of diseases urged
Pro Consumidor vehicle brand alert
Degrees of the 32 senators in the DR
E-commerce 2% of total sales
Jail transfer for cargo cartel former boss accused of murder
Five-year-old boy drowns in Espaillat flood
AMET announces arrest of bike lane violator
Ombudsman is victim of mugging
Jail transfer for cargo cartel former boss accused of murder
Santiago Cruz in Santiago
EliaCim in concert

President: students must study the Constitution
President Danilo Medina has issued Decree 310-16 declaring the promotion of Constitutional values in the school system to be treated as a matter of high interest. Studying the Constitution should be obligatory in elementary and high school curricula, according to the President. The issuing of the decree coincided with the 172th anniversary of the Dominican Constitution on 6 November 2016.*

The decree instructs the Ministry of Education (Minerd) to take the necessary steps to implement this measure through the National Education Council.

Interview with Minister of Foreign Relations Vargas
Diario Libre has held a detailed interview with Minister of Foreign Relations Miguel Vargas Maldonado, who was appointed to the post in August 2016. In the interview published on Monday, 7 November 2016, Vargas speaks of the modernization plans underway for the Ministry and initiatives aimed at strengthening bilateral relations. He advanced that an IT platform is being implemented for improving communications with the embassies and consulates.

Vargas mentioned contacts being made in the Caribbean, especially with Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten, which are considered important markets for the country.

He said that in the bilateral meetings the country is asking for support for Dominican Polibio Rodríguez who is seeking election for the administrative presidency of the United Nations, as well as for Josefina Stubbs, a candidate for presiding the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations. The vote will take place during the IFAD annual meeting 14-15 February 2017.

He also highlighted the progress made towards establishing a pre-clearance terminal at the Punta Cana International Airport to allow US Customs and Migration clearing in the Dominican Republic.

He spoke of triangular cooperation agreements with Canada, France, the US, Panama, the Caribbean and the European Union for opening up trade with Haiti. He reaffirmed that one of the first results of the strengthening of diplomatic relations with Haiti had already been achieved with the lifting of the ban on 23 Dominican overland exports to Haiti.

Vargas added that the government was following up on a project to build three hospitals on the Dominican border with Haiti as a buffer against diseases entering from Haiti. He said the hospitals would serve Haitian women who travel to the country seeking free and better quality birthing services. The Minister said that more than 30% of the Dominican public health budget currently goes on providing services to Haitian patients.
He favors the signing of a partial scope or free trade agreement to formalize trade and guarantee tax collections for Haiti.

Vargas also spoke of the plan to create 12 institutes for expatriate Dominicans like the existing ones in Puerto Rico and New York. He said that others would be set up in the US states of Massachusetts, New Jersey and Florida, and in Washington, D.C., as well as in Spain and Italy. He said they would not replace the work done by the consulates and embassies but would serve to “maintain the essence of the Diaspora.”

He said the Ministry of Foreign Relations has asked the US State Department to give the reasons for revoking Central Electoral Board president Roberto Rosario’s visa to travel to the US.

Dominguez Brito visits Pedernales
Minister of Environment Francisco Domínguez visited the southwestern border province of Pedernales on Saturday, 5 November 2016 to meet with fishermen and visit Bahía de las Aguilas and Isla Beata. He held a meeting in the town of Juancho to review regulations to ensure the sustainability of coastal resources.*
According to reports, an agreement was reached with the Asociación de Pescadores with the participation of senator Dionis Sánchez, Pedernales province governor Cruz Adán Heredia and the Environment Ministry’s municipal director in Juancho, Henry García.

As reported by the Ministry, Domínguez encouraged the fishermen to look after what he described as “the goose that laid the golden eggs,” i.e. the natural resources of the region. The fishermen were also warned of the dangers of using methods like high-pressure air compressors and seine nets. Domínguez said that the death rate among fishermen using air compressors was very high.

The Ministry is also proposing to build accommodation for the fishermen and to install a Ministry of Environment control post to supervise their activities, protect turtle nesting and prevent off-season fishing in Isla Beata (Jaragua National Park).

The Minister stressed: "The off-season ban should be a priority for you who benefit from the abundance. It is not worth making twice as much in sales during the off-season now if not be a single lobster is left in two years time,” he said.

During his tour of the area, Minister Domínguez was accompanied by the deputy minister for protected areas, Danerys Santana, biologist Yolanda León of Grupo Jaragua, Jorge Brocca of the Ornithological Society, environmentalist and photographer Marvin del Cid, and others.

US$1.4 million for birth control
The Ministry of Public Health has announced that it is spending US$1.4 million on the purchase of contraceptive devices to prevent teenage pregnancies. Condoms and other methods are available at public hospitals and from the Promese low-cost governmental pharmacies. Birth control is also distributed at public hospitals and primary care centers.

On Friday, 4 November 2016, Minister of Public Health Altagracia Guzmán Marcelino said this policy was part of the ministry’s strategy to combat the serious problem of teenage pregnancies and maternal mortality. She said that the health providers (ARS) do not cover the cost of contraception because there is no National Social Security Council resolution obliging them to do so.

She said, nevertheless, that more awareness on the use of contraceptive devices in the family and society in general was essential.

Dr. Guzmán said that the average sexual initiation age for girls was lower every year, with a high risk of pregnancies because of the lack of sex education.

Prevention of diseases urged*
Cardiologist Tirso Roa Castillo is urging the Dominican authorities to modify chapters of the Public Health budget to prevent catastrophic diseases, which he said were swallowing up the Ministry’s funds. He said that many of these catastrophic diseases that are a burden on the state and often plunge families into poverty could be prevented. Dr. Roa made his comments while being interviewed by journalists José Carmona and José Campusano on the Channel 6 TV show Frente al Mundo.

Dr. Roa said that catastrophic diseases eat up RD$2.5 billion of the public health budget every year, and the amount is on the increase.

Dr. Roa heads a foundation (Fundación Nacional de Cardiología y Asistencia Médica) that carries out prevention work in Las Matas de Farfán.

He pointed out that the high rate of sudden deaths that occur in January and February are caused by overindulgence by high-risk heart patients during the festive season.

He also discouraged young people from using hookahs and sexual stimulants, thought to be significant factors in heart attacks and strokes among young adults.

Pro Consumidor vehicle brand alert
The Consumer Protection Agency (ProConsumidor) has issued a warning about problems affecting several brands of vehicles sold in the Dominican Republic. The affected brands are Honda, Citroën, Subaru Legacy and Outback.
ProConsumidor says that the air bags in several Honda models are defective. The automatic braking systems (ABS) have been recalled in Citroën vehicles. The Subaru Legacy and Outback models also have braking system failures that could pose imminent risks for consumer safety.

ProConsumidor has already issued warnings about General Motors Corporation models Chevrolet Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban and Corvette on sale in the Dominican Republic, all of which are reported to have factory problems.

ProConsumidor director Anina del Castillo says that vendors should suspend the sale of faulty vehicles or act to replace or repair the defective parts or systems.

Degrees of the 32 senators in the DR
Diario Libre provides its readers with a list of the degrees obtained by the 32 senators representing Dominicans in Congress, as follows:
Pedro Alegría, San Jose de Ocoa: business
Amable Aristy, La Altagracia: law
Felix Bautista, San Juan de la Maguana: engineering, law and economics.
Luis Canaan, Salcedo: medicine
Rubén Cruz, Hato Mayor: law
Rafael Calderón, Azua: sociology
Tommy Galán, San Cristóbal: business
Wilton Guerrero, Peravia (Baní): philosophy and literature, and natural sciences
José Hazim, San Pedro de Macorís: medicine
Cristina Lizardo, Santo Domingo: education*
Charles Mariotti: law
Edis Mateo Vásquez, Barahona: social sciences
Sonia Mateo, Dajabón: 5th semester of economics
Juan Mercedes, Independencia: electromechanical engineering
Felix Nova, Monseñor Nouel (Bonao): marketing
Jose Paliza, Puerto Plata: law
Reinaldo Pared, National District: doctorate in law
Manuel Antonio Paula: agronomical engineering
Prim Pujals, Samaná: law
Amilcar Romero, Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís): agronomical engineering
Adriano Sánchez: agronomy, economics
Dionis Sanchez, Pedernales: accounting
Euclides Sanchez, La Vega: civil engineering
Amarilis Santana: dentist with postgraduate studies in orthodontics
Julio Valentín, Santiago: law
José Vargas, Espaillat: law
Felix Vásquez: farming
Hans Veiluf: business
Aristides Victoria, María Trinidad Sánchez: law

E-commerce 2% of total sales
Alexander Schad, president of logistics at Schad says that the Dominican Republic’s Internet purchases are the Latin American and Caribbean regional average, at 2% of total sales. According to Schad, e-commerce is growing by around 20% a year, still far from the 12% of total sales volume in the United States.

Schad said: “The DR has the opportunity to innovate. Internet sales are going to be a key part of the retail sector and any competitive country should have a clear plan of action,” he told El Dia.

He said that the most active online buyers are millennials - men and women between the ages of 25 and 34. “This type of consumer is always seeking ways of buying goods at the best price,” said Schad. He pointed out that drones were now being used to send packages purchased online in order to reduce transaction time. He said it was just a matter of time before drones started providing the service in the Dominican Republic.

AMET announces arrest of bike lane violator
A driver of a Mitsubishi SUV who used the bike lane to escape congestion on Av. Winston Churchill on 4 November 2016 has been identified and arrested. He was named as José Miguel Rodríguez. The vehicle was found in La Cordillera de Manoguayabo and towed to an Amet (Metropolitan Transport Authority) compound.

The action was filmed and shared on social media, provoking widespread condemnation.

Amet spokesman Diego Pesqueira said the man would be fined between RD$1,000-RD$1,600.

Ombudsman is victim of car theft
The people’s defender, Zoila Martínez Guante, was robbed in the afternoon of Sunday, 6 November 2016. As Martínez was leaving the movies, she was intercepted by criminals who forced her to hand over her keys and her SUV vehicle. As reported in Listín Diario, she was left in a state of shock and didn’t feel up to speaking with journalists.*

Martínez was chosen for the post of ombudsman by the Senate on 15 May 2013. She graduated in Law in 1967 with a specialty in criminal procedures. She has served as a prosecutor in the National District and as Dominican ambassador in South Korea. She has also worked with street children. She was responsible for investigating the murder of José Rafael Llenas Aybar in 1996. She lives in Los Cacicazgos.

Jail transfer for cargo cartel former boss accused of murder
The former leader of the Fenatrado cargo transport cartel, 60-year old Blas Peralta, who is accused of the murder of former rector of the UASD University Mateo Aquino Febrillet on 11 March 2016, has been transferred to the Haras Nacionales detention center. The Attorney General office justified the transfer from La Romana Jail on the grounds of health. Peralta, who is diabetic, is being held in pre-trial custody for a year.

This is his second transfer from jail. He was originally sent to the Higuey jail in March before being transferred to La Romana.

Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez defended the transfer saying it was temporary and for medical reasons. However, lawyers representing the relatives of the late Mateo Aquino Febrillet said that Peralta did not qualify for being sent to the Centro de Correccion y Rehabilitación para Adultos Mayores en Haras Nacionales. The center is for inmates who have already been sentenced and have served part of their sentence. Peralta was moved to Haras Nacionales on Saturday, 5 November 2016.

Lawyer José Parra said that Peralta should be in a high-security jail, pointing out that this is not the case of Haras Nacionales, from where he could escape. Mateo Aquino Febrillet’s widow Rita Solis said she was surprised and anxious and could never gave imagined that the case would be handled in this way despite all the evidence. The start of the trial has been repeatedly postponed.

As quoted in Diario Libre, the UASD Law School director, Antonio Medina described the move as “unfortunate, alarming and suspicious.”

Five-year-old boy drowns in Espaillat flood
Five-year old Yeimy Hiciano is reported to have drowned in floodwaters in a gully in Quebrada Honda, Espaillat (Moca) province in the northeast. His body was retrieved on Sunday, 6 November 2016. Around 3,300 people were evacuated and 600 houses damaged due to the torrential rains that fell over the weekend of 4, 5 and 6 November. The Emergency Operations Center (COE) says that four areas (Las Colcoba, Los Toros, Los Cachimbo and Majagual) in María Trinidad Sánchez (Nagua) were cut off by the heavy rains caused by two troughs associated with a frontal system moving across the country from the west. On Monday, 7 November 2016, the rains are expected to continue.

The COE has issued alerts for 16 provinces: Sánchez Ramírez (Cotuí), La Vega, Montecristi, El Seibo, San Pedro de Macorís, Hato Mayor, Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís), Santiago, Monseñor Nouel (Bonao), Puerto Plata, San Cristóbal, Dajabón and Monte Plata. A yellow alert is in place for María Trinidad Sánchez (Cabrera), Espaillat (Moca) and La Altagracia (Higuey and Punta Cana).

Santiago Cruz in Santiago
Colombian singer-songwriter Santiago Cruz presents his concert “Vidas de mi vidas” at the Gran Teatro del Cibao in Santiago on Thursday, 10 November 2016 at 8:30pm. Tel. 809 583-1150.*

EliaCim in concert
Nominated for Best New Artist in the Latin Grammy Awards, 27-year old Dominican EliaCim is booked for a performance at the Escenario 360 at Galeria 360 in Santo Domingo at 9pm on Friday, 11 November 2016. Tickets from RD$1,410 to RD$1,950.

Listen to his music at:

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