DR1 breaks for the Three Kings holiday
Boat scrappers need to leave Ozama and Isabela river areas
Police announce arrest of Brayan Félix Paulino
Notable absence from National Security meeting
Did the former General try to warn his son?
Three days left for vehicle tax sticker
AMET is hiring now
La Canela pineapple farmers happy with MD-2 variety
Pretrial custody requested for foreigners with cloned credit cards
Costambar explosion puts three in hospital
Member of Presidential Guard shot
Pablo Pichardo found dead in Puerto Plata
Victor Estrella to play in Australian Open
The Bench by Alex Gelman at Sala Ravelo
Inflatable rides at Megacentro

DR1 breaks for the Three Kings holiday
Three Kings Day has traditionally been a time to focus on spending time with children. This year, the government has ordered that the festival is to be celebrated on Monday, 9 January instead of on 6 January 2017. Thus, an especially long weekend is happening. School does not reopen until Tuesday, 10 January and many businesses are working at a slower pace. DR1 editors will gather headline news from Thursday through Monday for the Tuesday, 10 January issue.

The DR1 Forums remain open for postings on news and events 24/7 at http://www.dr1.com/

Happy Three Kings Day to all!

Boat scrappers need to leave Ozama and Isabela river areas
The Ministry of Environment says there will be no extension for the order issued to boat scrapping companies to leave the Ozama and Isabela river basins in Santo Domingo where they have operated for years. The companies argue that they provide regular employment for over 400 people who would lose their jobs. The Ministry had issued Resolution 13-2016 that prohibits the boat scrapping for export of metals and repair in the river area as an environmental protection measure.

“The rehabilitation, recovery, preservation and sustainable use of the high, middle and lower river basins is of high interest and a national priority for this Ministry of Environment and for all the country. We will continue this work until we achieve the recovery of the rivers,” said Julia Ramírez, representing the Ministry of Environment. She said the companies have been given enough time to find alternative sites for their operations. The companies were given until 1 January 2017 to leave the area. Resolution 13-2016 states that the rivers have been affected by high pollution levels.

El Dia reports that Naviera Rio San Juan, which operates on the Ozama River said it stopped its boat scrapping operations a month ago. Another company, Metales Antillanos, still has four boats supposedly undergoing repairs on the Isabela River and another on the Ozama River, according to El Dia. Metales Antillanos submitted a legal recourse to the Superior Administrative Court (TSA), which reviews government actions to check for their adherence to the laws. Their appeal is aimed at putting a stop to the measure that orders the company to stop its operations in the river basins. The court will review the case on 17 January 2017.

Minister of Environment Francisco Dominguez Brito, nevertheless, said that the legal recourse submitted by the companies operating in the river basins does not put a stop to the order for the companies to leave the area. He said their work permits were not removed and thus they are operating outside the law, as reported in Diario Libre. He said that 241 companies, including the boat scrapping and repair companies, have been notified to stop dumping waste in the Ozama and Isabela rivers.


Police announce arrest of Brayan Félix Paulino
The most wanted fugitive in the Dominican Republic, Brayan Félix Paulino was arrested on Tuesday, 3 January 2017, the Police reported. Security agents arrested him at Km 22 after a 10 km chase along the Duarte Highway that ended in the municipality of Pedro Brand, as reported in Diario Libre.

According to reports, he did not resist arrest after he stopped his vehicle and was taken to the Police headquarters in the National District. He was arrested by a joint contingent of Police and the Armed Forces agents after a search in National District and the provinces.

On Tuesday, a hotel in the northwestern town of Dajabón, on the border with Haiti, had been searched after the authorities received tips that he might be there.

Félix Paulino was sought as an accomplice of John Percival Matos who was shot dead last week after his suspected involvement in four bank robberies in 2016. One security guard was killed and several others were injured in the robberies.



Notable absence from National Security meeting
President Danilo Medina chaired a meeting at the Presidential Palace with the Ministry of Defense, Ruben Paulino Sem, and the director for the National Investigation Department, Sigfrido Pared Perez on Tuesday, January 3, 2017.

According to Diario Libre, it appears that Mayor General Nelson Peguero Paredes, director of the National Police was not present at the meeting, which raised eyebrows given that the National Police is key in national security.

The Presidency did not report on the meeting. There is speculation that it focused on the developments after the fatal shooting of bank robbery suspect John Percival Matos and the hunt for his main accomplice Brayan Felix Paulino.


Did the former General try to warn his son?
Several audiotapes have come to light of a telephone conversation when the retired General Rafael Percival Peña is apparently talking to a mechanic asking him to warn his son, the late John Percival Matos, who he calls “the doctor”. Percival Matos was killed by the National Police on 28 December 2016.

In one of the tapes, a telephone conversation can be heard, with what is presumably Percival Pena’s voice saying, “Hello, good day” (someone says good day back), then Percival says that they will arrest his son that day or the next, and to tell him to move from where he is.

In another tape Percival Peña says that he has to go to Miami to speak to the “doctor’s” mother and tells the person on the other end – presumed to be his son as he calls him father – that he should go to Haiti and that everything is going well.

When asked about the tapes, Percival Peña did not deny that it was his voice but said that it was a “counter intelligence” tactic, having been monitored previously by the intelligence organizations.

However, he denied he was speaking to his son.


Three days left for vehicle tax sticker
As of Wednesday, 4 January 2017, there are only two days left to replace the vehicle taxation sticker (marbete). The Department of Motor Vehicles at the Tax Agency (DGII) says that around 79% had been renewed, or around 856,578 vehicles out of the 1,080,856 that need to get the sticker.

The process that began on 3 October 2016 ends on Friday, 6 January 2017. From the next day there will be an additional cost of RD$900 for renewing the sticker.


AMET is hiring now
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) has announced that it is recruiting for new members. There are vacancies for high school graduates who are ready to begin training at the Metropolitan Transport School and who are aged between 18 and 25.

Potential candidates should go to the head office on Expreso V Centenario Avenue with San Martin in the Villa Juana sector of Santo Domingo to deposit CVs, plus their high school certificates and a birth certificate, along with a copy of their identity card and that of their parents, a letter of recommendation from a neighborhood group and one from a member of the Armed Forces or the National Police as well as six photographs. Applicants who pass that stage will be assessed by AMET human resources staff.

The applicants must be a minimum of 5 foot 5 inches tall for man and 5 foot 2 inches for women.
Interested applicants can call 809-686-6520 ext.303 or 809-685-5729.


La Canela pineapple farmers happy with MD-2 variety
Some of the most experienced pineapple producers in the country are from La Canela, Santiago. Several generations of farmers from this community have mainly grown the Red Spanish Pineapple and the French Smooth Cayenne pineapple varieties.

When the Ministry of Agriculture wanted the growers to experiment with a new type of pineapple called MD-2, the producers refused, leading the ministry to carry out the experimental trials itself. However, farmers became interested in the variety when they were able to see its development and its resistance to the drought that was affecting the La Canela area at that time.

Juan Ramon Hidalgo (Joselito), the vice president of the Association of Pineapple Producers from La Canela (Apropica), now says he is very grateful for the Ministry of Agriculture’s insistence in the MD-2 variety. He says they are selling at a better price and have a good market.

The only drawback of an MD-2 plantation is not a concern for La Canela producers. The variety is sensitive to fungal diseases (Phythophtora spp). But La Canela is located in a semi-arid zone with low rainfall, making it an environment less suitable for development of fungi. Traditionally, the farmers have not had problems with fungal diseases.


Pretrial custody requested for foreigners with cloned credit cards
A National District prosecutor has asked for pretrial custody for two foreigners, one Bulgarian and one Portuguese arrested in the act on 22 December 2016. They were caught removing money from the BHD bank ATM at the El Embajador Hotel in Santo Domingo using a cloned credit card.

The coercive measures were requested against Bulgarian Yordanov Jordan Dimitrov and Portuguese Pascoal Florentino Gervasio, who were arrested in possession of nine cloned cards and RD$25,000 in cash.


Costambar explosion puts three in hospital
Three people were injured on Tuesday, 3 January 2017 when a pressure valve in a generator at the San Felipe power plant in Costambar in Puerto Plata exploded. They were taken to a private clinic for treatment.

Of the three, the most serious injuries were suffered by Wellington Ramírez, whose body received 50% burns from the explosion. He was taken by helicopter to the Burn Unit at the Doctor Ney Arias Lora Public hospital in Santo Domingo North.

Israel Castillo was injured by steam inhalation and Ariel Capellan injured his knee and an ear. Both were taken to a private clinic in Puerto Plata.

The San Felipe generator has been switched off since the beginning of last year, but technicians are always carrying out preventive maintenance.


Member of Presidential Guard shot
The National Police are investigating the death of a member of the Presidential Guard. 55-year old Lieutenant Juan Antonio Terrero Medrano was found shot dead on the old Duarte Road at kilometer 23 in Pedro Brand.

He had been shot several times. His body was taken to the National Institute of Forensic Pathology for an autopsy.

A major police and military operation has been launched in Pedro Brand and Los Alcarrizos to establish who killed him and took his service weapon on the night of Sunday 1 January 2017.

The operation involves officials from the Criminal Investigation Department, Army Intelligence, and the National Investigation Department (DMI).

He was last seen in a public shared taxi when he left work at the National Palace to take the route 22-28 to go home. His body was found with four gunshot wounds near a garbage dump in a street in the Azul neighborhood off the old Duarte road.


Pablo Pichardo found dead in Puerto Plata
The general manager of a well-known finance company in Puerto Plata, Pablo Pichardo was found dead inside the Venus Apartahotel in Cofresí, Puerto Plata on Tuesday, 3 January 2017. He had a bullet wound in his head. The Police suspects that he committed suicide. He worked at Inversiones al Día (Inverdisa) on 12 de Julio Street in downtown Puerto Plata.

According to the Police, Pichardo was at his office on Tuesday where he held meetings with several clients before leaving. He was found at the motel several hours later. According to some reports he left a letter asking for his relatives to forgive him.

In the letter he observed that there was no money to make interest payments to clients and could not bring himself to face clients to tell them that the company was going through difficult times.

The body that has a bullet wound in the head was taken to the Forensic Sciences Institute (INACIF) for autopsy.


Victor Estrella to play in Australian Open
The best Dominican tennis player of all times, 36-year old Victor Estrella will be playing in the Australian Open that begins on 16 January 2017 at Melbourne Park. Because of the difference in time zones, the game can be seen in the DR from Sunday, 15 January in the evening. The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam tournament of the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour.

Estrella had not qualified in the first group because he was ranked 102nd and only 100 players are seeded. However, three players retired from the event, enabling him to play for the second time.

Estrella has a career high of 43rd in the world reached on 13 July 2015. This is the third time he will play in the Grand Slam at the start of the season and the 12th consecutive year he plays the tournaments.


The Bench by Alex Gelman at Sala Ravelo
“The Bench” (Banco de Parque) will be staged as of 9 February 2017 at the Sala Ravelo, the drama hall of the National Theater in Santo Domingo. The dramatic play by Alex Gelman, the Russian-born US theater director is being presented by Teatro Mandrágora. It is described as “an emotional striptease between a man and a woman who meet in a park and little by little share their in-depth thoughts.”

The leading roles are played by veteran actors María Castillo and Manuel Chapuseaux. María Castillo is the producer.

The play is being staged in tribute to late actor Angel Haché with whom María Castillo starred in the play some 30 years ago.


Inflatable rides at Megacentro
Megacentro is advertising free rides on large inflatables from 7 to 9 January 2017, from 4 to 8pm at the Plazoleta del Sol area at the Megacentro. Megacentro is the leading shopping mall in Santo Domingo East.

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