Government to re-launch literacy program
Constitutional Court gets to keep the entire building
Awards for water projects
DR is biggest importer in Caribbean
Tax reforms are famous for using the “whip”
Tax Agency reviews taxation for small business
CMD keeps schedules, accepts 25% wage increase
Attorney General sends Blas Peralta back to La Romana
Zoila Medina describes her abduction
Police shuts down bar for imprisoning women
Dominican candidates looking good in US elections
Competition for cultural funding from US Embassy
Dominican seeks to preside IFAD
Flooding in Puerto Plata
Rains continue to cause floods
Children’s Christmas Show: Santa’s factory

Government to re-launch literacy program
During a meeting chaired by President Danilo Medina at the Presidential Palace on Monday, 7 November 2016, Vice President Margarita Cedeño, Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo announced that the government is re-launching the National Literacy Plan (Plan Nacional de Alfabetización Quisqueya Aprende Contigo) this time with a target of 5% illiteracy in the Dominican Republic.

In December 2015, the government reported that the initiative for teaching adults to read and write had reduced illiteracy from 14% to 7% in the past three years.
The government estimates that 185,000 people still don’t know how to read and write, while 591,603 already learned to read and write in the program that began in 20012.

During the meeting, the government also announced a new monitoring system for presidential goals, which is being set up with a mechanism for following up and ensuring accountability of government departments in line with the objectives of government. They will be jointly monitored by the the Ethics and Government Integrity Department (Dirección General de Etica e Integridad Gubernamental - Digeig), the Controllers Office, the Presidential IT and Communications Office (Optic) and the 311 Government Complaint Line.

Constitutional Court gets to keep the entire building
The Ministry of Public Works has announced that it will relocate Inespre, a government division that should have been shut down but hasn’t, in order to make more space available for the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court shares the second floor of the two-story building with Inespre.

On Monday, 7 November 2016 Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta and Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo visited the president of the Constitutional Court Milton Ray Guevara at the building to announce the forthcoming renovation.

The Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo said the government initially considered relocating the Constitutional Court, before deciding that it would be better to move Inespre. The Constitutional Court will now be extended next door to the Central Electoral Board (JCE), the Center for Export and Investments (CEI-RD) and the Ministry of Defense.

With the relocation of Inespre, the Constitutional Court will be taking over the ground floor for its needed office space, and room to build a new hall for hearings, plus added parking spaces.

Minister of Public Works said that Inespre would be relocated to its installations on the Isabel Aguiar Avenue. He said renovation works would start as soon as Inespre hands over the building to the Ministry of Public Works.
Inespre’s outdated role is of “stabilizing prices” and counteracting price increases, but with the implementation of free market pricing the raison d’etre of the government agency is dubious and seen as simply offices for political patronage positions.

Awards for water projects
Four projects that help promote water conservation by preserving river sources and encouraging efficient water use were presented with the Ecological Award for Planting Water (Premio Ecológico a la Siembra de Agua) on Friday, 4 November 2016. The award is sponsored by the Fundación Sur Futuro.*

The winners of the award, now in its third year, were Proyecto de Manejo Forestal Sostenible La Celestina in San José de las Matas, Plan de Manejo Forestal Luis Piña in Constanza, El Tetero de Don Nilo in Azua and Desarrollo Integral Comunitario Sostenible in San Jose de Ocoa.*

The winners received their awards from President Medina and Melba Segura, president of Sur Futuro.
President Danilo Medina has declared his second term as a four-year period for protecting water sources. Minister of Environment Francisco Domínguez Brito, who also attended the ceremony, called for people to look after water sources and forests.

DR is biggest importer in Caribbean
Speaking in London, Minister of Industry and Commerce Temístocles Montás highlighted that the Dominican Republic is a big market for British products. He said the DR has become the leading importer of goods in the Caribbean. In 2015, the DR imported 28% of all imports in the region.

He said the DR was followed by Cuba (25%), Trinidad & Tobago (13%), Jamaica (8%) and Haiti (5%).

In exports, the DR is second to Trinidad & Tobago, a major exporter of petroleum and gas products. Cuba and Jamaica are third and fourth in exports, according to data provided by Montás.

Montás said that in 2015, the Caribbean trade with the UK was US$136 billion.

Of this, the DR traded in US$25.7 billion. Of this 45% of the trade was with the United States, followed by China (10%), European Union (9%) and Canada (4%). Other leading trading partners are Haiti, Venezuela and Mexico.
Montás presentation on “Infrastructure and Logistics: Keys to Dominican Competitive Development” was delivered during the fifth celebration of the UK Dominican Week promoted by the Dominican Republic Embassy in the UK.

Tax reforms are famous for using the “whip”
A report in El Caribe highlights how the past five fiscal reforms carried out in the Dominican Republic all have the shared feature of significant increases in tax collections. This has been accomplished by adding new taxes or increasing already existing ones. The past fiscal reforms are 288-04, 557-05, 495-06, 139-11 and 253-12.

The World Bank refers to them in a recent study on taxes in the country: “Fiscal Policy and Redistribution in the Dominican Republic.”

Tax Agency reviews taxation for small business
The Tax Agency has announced that a simplified version of the small business tax reporting system (Procedimiento Simplificado de Tributación – PST) is forthcoming as part of a review of tax collection procedures to make them more efficient and functional, with a focus on micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs). The procedures will be discussed with representatives of the SMAEs. This week, DGII director Magin Diaz met with Issachart Burgos, director of Codopyme, which represents this sector.ón-.aspx

CMD keeps schedules, accepts 25% wage increase
After long months of negotiations, the Dominican Medical Association (CMD) has achieved a 25% wage increase and has managed to keep doctors’ shortened working hours in public hospitals. The wage increase will be paid in two parts – the first 15% starting 10 January and the second 10% as of 15 August 2017. The agreement between the Dominican government and the CMD is scheduled for signing on Tuesday, 8 November 2016 after eight months of negotiations.

Dr. Waldo Ariel Suero expressed satisfaction at having obtained additional incentives for another 20%, on top of the overall wage increase, and some doctors will get a 60% wage increase.

The government’s aim was to require doctors to work the legal six hours or at least four hours.

In an interview with El Día, Dr. Suero said that they had agreed on pensions for 1,800 doctors, with 100% of the wages and incentives. He said this means that a doctor making RD$50,000 will be retired on that wage, if he or she has two jobs, the pension will be RD$90,000. The pension agreement will then set the bar for subsequent public hospital retirement plans.

He said the government will also be allocating RD$20 million to the Dominican Medical Association health plan, among other gains.

Attorney General sends Blas Peralta back to La Romana
Following strong opposition to the transfer of the former head of the Fenatrado cargo cartel, Blas Peralta, who is accused of murder, Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez announced the reversal of the decision and that Peralta would be returned to the La Romana jail, Centro de Corrección y Rehabilitación Cucama.*

Peralta’s transfer to the low security jail in Haras Nacionales was met with widespread outrage. There is a great deal of evidence in the case against him for the murder of former UASD rector Mateo Aquino Febrillet.*

Attorney General Rodríguez initially defended the transfer on the grounds that Peralta was in poor health. The transfer occurred over the weekend. Then, on Monday, 7 November 2016, Rodríguez announced that Peralta would be returned to La Romana in “the next few hours.” Rodríguez told the press that a medical team had evaluated Peralta and determined he had “recovered”.

Over the weekend, Peralta’s fellow transport cartel leader, Juan Hubieres went public saying that the government was not revealing the full story behind the transfer and that it was a lie the transfer was for health reasons as stated by attorney general Jean Alain Rodriguez.

The family of the late rector had called a vigil outside the Attorney General office in protest.

The media described the comfortable conditions in the Haras Nacionales jail, mainly used for older prisoners who had already fulfilled a greater part of their jail terms.

Protests against the transfer turned violent at the UASD campus in Santo Domingo, leading to the closure of the Ortega y Gasset north-south tunnel.

A back page editorial in Diario Libre refelects the widespread skepticism about the reasons the Attorney General Rodríguez gave for transferring Peralta. “…privileges don’t solve matters, and in the end justice will be served. Whether by God or by man.”

Zoila Medina describes her abduction
Initial details of the ordeal experienced by the ombudsman, 75-year old Zoila Martínez, are now emerging as she has recovered from the shock that kept her from speaking to the press. She says she was abducted at around 9pm on Saturday evening, 6 November 2016, and released several hours later with RD$200 of the cash they had taken from her “for a taxi” and dropped off on the Malecón.

Martínez said that a car crashed into the rear of vehicle as she was returning from the movies at the Bella Vista Mall, on Sarasota Avenue. When she got out, the criminals forced her to hand over her keys and her SUV vehicle. She tried to resist and hit her attacker, but then two other men came out and pushed her into the back of the vehicle. She said she was taken to a place she described as a garage where the vehicle was dismantled.

When she was released around 1am, it was raining, and she said that a “good Samaritan” helped her out, took her to his house from where she called her family.

The Police are looking for her white Toyota Prado SUV, model 2013, license plate G290140. Colonel Antonio Cabrera Sarita, commander of the Police Stolen Vehicles Investigations Department is leading the investigation.

Speaking on Z-101 she said she was not physically harmed. She said her captors even gave her instructions for filing a Police report against them.

She said she would now travel with the bodyguard who has been assigned to her.

The Senate selected Martínez for the post of ombudsman 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 and led the investigation into the murder of José Rafael Llenas Aybar in 1996. She lives in Los Cacicazgos.

Police shuts down bar for imprisoning women
The Police and state prosecutors have closed the Bar La Gasolina in Monción, Santiago Rodríguez province after confirming that three women were being kept there against their will. The women who were being sexually exploited were Venezuelan and Haitian. As reported in El Nuevo Diario, Alejandra Mercado, who managed the brothel-bar, is under arrest as part of the investigations.

Dominican candidates looking good in US elections
While all the attention is on the US presidential election between former First Lady, New York Senator and US State Secretary Hillary Clinton and businessman Donald Trump, the local media is reminding Dominicans to follow how Dominican politicians in the US fare in the general election on Tuesday, 8 November 2016.

As reported in El Día, several candidates of Dominican descent are running for the Democratic Party in New York are likely to be the winners on Tuesday.

They are:
Adriano Espaillat is the Democratic nominee for the US House of Representatives for New York’s 13th congressional district. If elected, he would be the first Dominican-American member of the US Congress.

Marisol Alcántara is running for senator for the 31st New York State Senate district.

José Peralta is seeking reelection to the New York State Senate 13th district.

Carmen de la Rosa:
Chief of Staff at NYC Council & District Leader for 72nd Assembly District is competing in the New York State Assembly.

As reported, 4,927,363 people are registered to vote in the Big Apple. Of this total, the number of Dominicans eligible to vote is 250,122, of which an estimated 90% is expected to vote for the Democrats.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are 1.8 million Dominicans living in the US, of which 8 of every 10 live in the northeast, with 47% in New York.

Meanwhile, the US Embassy in the DR shares this web page for more information on the general election.

Competition for cultural funding from US Embassy
The Cultural Section in the Public Affairs Section of the US Embassy in Santo Domingo in coordination with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Cultural Heritage Center of the United States is accepting project proposals for the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) 2017 Competition.

The deadline for submitting an application is Friday, 9 December 2016. The Cultural Section will receive proposals up to US$200,000.

Through the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP), the U.S. Department of State supports eligible countries with the preservation of cultural sites, cultural objects, and forms of traditional cultural expression in more than 100 developing countries around the world.

AFCP-supported projects include the restoration of ancient and historic buildings, assessment and conservation of rare manuscripts and museum collections, preservation and protection of important archaeological sites, and the documentation of vanishing traditional craft techniques and indigenous languages. Cultural heritage endures as a reminder of the contributions and historical experiences of humanity.

Past beneficiaries in the Dominican Republic have been:
Conservation of the 20th Century Fresco, "Haitian Massacre, 1937," by Dominican Artists José Ramírez Conde and Roberto Flores.
Conservation of Mid-20th Century Textiles at the Mirabal Sisters House Museum in Salcedo.
Restoration of the Altar of the Holy Relic in the 16th Century Cathedral of Santo Domingo.
Preservation of the Collections in the Museum of the Resistance.
Inventory Collections at the Museo del Hombre Dominicano.

The deadline to submit proposals to the US Embassy cultural section is Friday, 6 December 2016.

For details, see:

Dominican seeks to preside IFAD
Dominican Josefina Stubbs is campaigning for the post of next president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations. Candidacies are being accepted through 1 December 2016 and the vote will take place on 14 February 2017.

In her quest for the position, Stubbs has received the support of the Medina administration. In a recent interview with Diario Libre Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado announced that Dominican missions were actively campaigning for her candidacy.

Flooding in Puerto Plata
Heavy rains have been affecting Puerto Plata province on the north coast, especially after the Obispo River burst its banks, flooding 350 houses in the communities of La Yagüita and La Pangola, in Imbert municipality. The Bajabonico River destroyed several dwellings in Angostura, Belloso in the same area.

A stream in La Cucaracha in the La Unión housing project also overflowed, affecting the José Morel Polytechnic School and the Professor Jeremías Kerry Green School that were flooded by rising waters.

Rains continue to cause floods
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) reports that at least 6,760 people have had to be evacuated or move to homes of friends and relatives due to the recent heavy rains. The COE reports that 1,352 homes have been affected, and three destroyed by the rains. In its Monday morning bulletin on 7 November 2016, the COE said five provinces were on yellow alert and another 13 on green alert due to the risk of flooding and mudslides.

The provinces on yellow alert are María Trinidad Sánchez (Cabrera), Espaillat (Moca), La Altagracia (Punta Cana and Higuey), Puerto Plata and Monte Cristi.

The provinces on green alert are Sanchez Ramírez (Cotuí), San Pedro de Macorís, Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís), Monseñor Nouel (Bonao), San Cristóbal, Monte Plata, Greater Santo Domingo, La Vega, El Seibo, Hato Mayor, Santiago, Dajabón and La Romana.

Children’s Christmas Show: Santa’s factory
The popular Mexican Christmas show, “Santa’s Factory,” will be staged in Santo Domingo on 17 and 18 December 2016. The production by Encayapa Producciones is described as one of the leading children’s Christmas shows in Mexico, with 16 years of performances. As part of its first tour of Central America and the Caribbean, the show will be staged at the Hall of Fame Pavilion auditorium in the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center.

The story unfolds as the children discover that the snow is melting due to pollution caused by humans, delaying the production of toys in Santa’s factory and endangering the Christmas celebrations. The children help Santa Claus and the elves to recycle, reduce and reuse and thus save Christmas and the planet.

Producer Rodrigo Renovales said that Dominican actors were being included in the production for cultural symbiosis.

Tickets are for sale on Ticket Express.

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