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    Default DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 17 May 2017

    Jamaica PM Andrew Holness visits President and Ciudad Juan Bosch
    Present Medina gives opening speech at Drugs’ Conference
    Investors meet with Central Bank governor
    Telecoms reject tax increase
    Pancake, waffles and French toast mixes withdrawn
    Attorney General says names do not matter in Odebrecht bribes case
    Legislators and students met with violence at the Attorney General Office
    San Pedro de Macorís murders and other unresolved corruption cases
    Two Dominicans die in Puerto Rico
    More rain to come and more provinces under alert
    Santo Domingo Wine Fest

    Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness visits Presidential Palace and Ciudad Juan Bosch
    President Danilo Medina hosted Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday, 16 May 2017. The prime minister was received with a special ceremony at the entrance to the Presidential Palace by President Medina, Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta, Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas, and legal advisor to the President Flavio Darío Espinal. Holness was accompanied by Jamaican Foreign Minister Kamina Jonson Smith and the chargé d’affaires of the Jamaican Embassy in the Dominican Republic, Thomas Allan Marley. Holness had visited previously for the inaugural of President Medina on 16 August 2017. 

    In a joint statement, the heads of government committed to increase trade and bilateral investment in a fair way and increase cooperation in tourism. There is the intention to draft a Memorandum of Understanding on Multi Destination Tourism in the short term. The backing of the Dominican Republic to Jamaica’s hosting the United Nations- World Tourism Organization Conference on Sustainable Tourism was also discussed. The event will be held 27-29 November 2017 and is the first time the conference is held in the Caribbean.  

    The heads of government agreed on promoting exchange programs for professors and students for increased language learning opportunities in both countries.

    President Danilo Medina explained local efforts to regularize the status of undocumented foreigners. 

    The heads of government highlighted the importance of bilateral coordination for a regional agenda, to cover issues such as Brexit and the future of the ACP bloc of nations, with talks pending for a post-Cotonou agreement with the European Union. 

    The Jamaican prime minister and the Dominican president highlighted the traditional good relations between both countries united by geography and membership in hemispheric forums. 

    Holness expressed his interest in Medina administration social programs and following the meetings at the Presidential Palace would visit the Ciudad Juan Bosch, a 25,000 unit residential development carried out by the Medina administration. Holness was interested in learning how the Dominican Republic was implementing the trust mechanism for private investment in low cost housing to implement a similar program in Jamaica. 

    The Jamaican prime minister was also accompanied by the Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett and Jamaican senator Aubyn Hill. Also participating was the Dominican ambassador in Jamaica, José Tomás Ares.

    Present Medina gives opening speech at IDEC Drugs Conference
    Speaking at the opening of the 34th International Drug Enforcement Conference (IDEC) held in Punta Cana, President Danilo Medina appealed to the nations that drive the demand for drugs to take concrete steps to reduce consumption of illegal drugs in their countries. He called drug consumption a public health issue and called for exploring new strategies to combat drug trafficking and consumption. The conference is organized by the Dominican Drug Control Agency (DNCD) in coordination with the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Some 110 countries are attending the conference. 

    Medina said that in the last four years there has been an increase in the amount of drugs seized in direct relation to the increase in the demand of production and consumption in the region. 

    As reported in El Día, President Danilo Medina warned that a stop has to be placed against consumer nations because it is there where the strategies for drug trafficking are planned and where 90% of the profits are received. “The conclusion is clear: more drugs are being produced and more are being consumed. And that is very dangerous,” he said. He highlighted that each metric ton of drugs has the potential to cause 28 violent deaths in Central America and 553 for overdose in the United States aside from strengthening the criminal networks with dozens of millions of dollars.

    Data from the Inter-Institutional Security Force coordinated by the United States, indicate that while in 2013 in Latin America and the Caribbean 132 metric tons of cocaine were confiscated, by 2016 the amount of seized cocaine shipments had increased to 282 tons, more than double the amount in 2013.  

    Talking about the drugs that reached their destination, President Medina said that it has been calculated that in 2016, an average of 2,461 tons of cocaine managed to avoid detection by the authorities.  That means that almost 90% of illegal drug shipments hit the streets in the US and other countries in the region,  Medina called this “a chilling number” that should give all of us pause.

    The 34th International Drug Enforcement Conference that is taking place in Punta Cana is organized by the United States’ Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Dominican National Drug Control Agency (DNCD).

    Investors meet with Central Bank governor
    The Governor of the Central Bank, Hector Valdez Albizu, met with foreign investors interested in the economic performance of the country and perspectives for this year. The companies represented were: Nomura Securities Internacional, Inc., Baillie Gifford & Co., BNP Paribas and Aviva Investors. The Central Bank explained these companies move capital to emerging economies that are considered to demonstrate impressive macroeconomic stability.

    The Central Bank says it highlighted to the firms that the Dominican Republic is the leader in Latin America in growth, with an average 7% increase in GDP over the past three years, low inflation and a process of consolidation of fiscal and foreign accounts. 

    As reported, Valdez Albizu highlighted the robust tourism industry that had generated gross receipts of over US$6.7 billion by the close of 2016, for an inter-annual growth of 9.9%. Valdez also spoke of the favorable climate for direct foreign investment, that registered US$2.59 billion in 2017, the highest level in the past four years. 

    Participants in the meeting were: Mario Castro,  Leandro Infantino, Clare Turnbull for Nomura Securities Internacional, Inc.; Charlie Broughton for Baillie Gifford, & Co., Aaron Grehan for Aviva Investors and Hardeep Dogra for BNP Paribas. Also participating was Jan Ortiz for the Banco del Progreso Dominicano. 

    During the  meeting, Valdez Albizu was accompanied by deputy governor Clarissa de la Rocha; deputy manager for monetary policy Joel Tejeda; the director of monetary programming Julio Andújar and the director of the international department, Rafael Capellán. 

    Telecoms reject tax increase
    Claro, Tricom, Orange, Viva and Wind telecommunications companies expressed their strong opposition to the proposed new legislation that would increase taxes on the sector to help finance the National Emergency and Safety System 911. The bill was introduced to the Chamber of Deputies.  Spokespersons for the telecoms say the proposal is a violation of international agreements and would be a major barrier to growth in the telecommunications sector. 

    In a joint announcement that was delivered to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, the five telecom companies argued the additional costs associated with the tax would place an even greater burden on an already over-taxed telecommunications system. The telecom representatives pointed out they were not even invited to discussion legislation prior to its submission to Congress.

    The companies say they are already help support the 911 Emergency Service. Since 2012, the telecom companies have invested around RD$260 million in the installations, systems and programs required for the implementation of the 911 service. They highlighted that even the 911 calls are free as they do not charge for them, despite their high daily cost.

    The companies also stated that telecommunications services produced the fourth highest amount of taxes paid by consumers and that telecoms pay the second most taxes to the government.

    Finally, the telecommunications group said that the new bill also has other aspects that need to be scrutinized as possible violations of the Constitution and the right to users’ privacy of data.

    Frozen Pancake, waffles and French toast mixes withdrawn
    Pro Consumidor (The National Institute for the Protection of Consumer Rights) has called for stores to remove Aunt Jemina frozen pancakes, frozen waffles and frozen French toast slices for possible contamination with the listeria bacteria. The ban does not affect powdered mixes. 

    The warning was received from the United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after the presence of listeria was detected in the production plant of Pinnacle Foods. 

    Pro Consumidor has asked all providers to remove the packages from the shelves voluntarily and warned that their inspectors will be checking and that those who do not remove the packages will face the sanctions imposed by the government.

    They also advised people to be aware of the symptoms of listeria contamination that include fever, chills, headache, stomach pains, vomiting. It is especially dangerous for small children, older people and those with compromised immune systems.

    Attorney General says names do not matter in Odebrecht bribes case
    Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez said on Tuesday, 16 May 2017, that in regard to the Odebrecht bribes case “it is not a matter of names, but of due process”.

    Rodriguez explained that although he expected to receive the names of those who may be implicated in the Odebrecht bribery scandal, being locked into a specific timeframe to make the announcement is not reasonable and in certain respects, misses the point of the depth of the on-going investigation.  

    Being questioned by journalists when he was participating in the XXXIV International Conference for the Control of Drugs taking place in Punta Cana, Rodriguez said he was waiting for the information and once he had it, he would proceed in due course to bring charges against all those who may have been involved in the scandal.

    He also said he was evaluating the legal declarations of assets by Diandino Peña, former director of the Metro Office (Opret) and should there be any infractions uncovered, the Attorney General’s office would proceed in accordance with the law. 

    On 19 April 2017, with the signing of the approval of the deal reached by the Attorney General with Odebrecht construction company, Rodríguez had said that in less than 30 days he would reveal the list of the persons receiving the bribes.

    Legislators and protestors met with violence at the Attorney General Office
    Yesterday, Tuesday, 16 May 2017, members of the National Police confronted legislators, students and members of the Popular Front (Falpo) who were setting up camp outside the Attorney General’s office to await the list of names of those involved in the Odebrecht scandal. Students had been authorized to do so recently by a deputy prosecutor. The Attorney General had announced the names of government officers taking bribes from Odebrecht would be released on or before 19 May 2017. 

    The group claimed that six members of Falpo have been arrested as they tried to set up the camp. Those detained are Raysa de León, José Silverio, Pablo Esteves, Gabriel Sánchez, Manuel Cuevas and one other only identified as Robin.   

    Jesús Adón, representing Falpo, complained that the arrests were carried out violently and several of those arrested were beaten by the police. In spite of what he called this repression, Adón warned that the protests would continue as “we have all had had enough of the high levels of corruption and impunity in the government”.
    Following the arrests, a committee of deputies came to the scene to try and secure the release of those arrested. However, the commission, headed by Fidel Santana and Fildelio Despradel, were met with tear gas canisters thrown by the police and were prevented from entering the building. Several members of the press were also affected by the tear gas.

    Minister of Interior and Police Carlos Amarante argued the camp would affect free transit in the area where the Supreme Court of Justice and National Congress are also located. 

    The president of the Chamber of Deputies Lucia Medina said she would review the videos to see what actually happened.

    San Pedro de Macorís murders and other unresolved corruption cases
    Sergio Cedeño, member of the Social Reformist Christian Party (PRSC), observes that over two months since the murder of the two radio broadcasters, Leónidas Martínez and Luis Manuel Medina in San Pedro de Macorís on 15 February 2017, no one has been brought to justice by the authorities.

    The former deputy and mayor of San Pedro said that there was a report by the commission designated by the Attorney General’s Office but no one was following up on the recommendations in regards to the murders of the two radio personalities. 

    Cedeño concluded his remarks by saying that the main person accused is still at large, probably because of his friendship with the Executive Branch and that nothing would happen. 

    On a similar topic, MetroRD publishes a report on several acknowledged corruption cases that have made headlines in the Dominican Republic, but have gone unresolved by the authorities.

    These are the cases of corruption listed in MetroRD:
    1. The Office of Supervisory Engineers of the Presidency and the suicide by extortion of contractor David Rodríguez. 
    2. The irregularities in the sale of government property in Los Tres Brazos by the governmental CORDE. 
    3. The death of two broadcasters in San Pedro de Macorís in a case that revealed serious irregularities in the sale of State Sugar Council property. 
    4. The mismanagement of RD$300 million by mayor Raul Mondesí in San Cristóbal. 
    5. The personal businesses of engineer Diandino Peña, former head of the Santo Domingo Metro office, not included in his statement of wealth. 
    6. The names of government officers who may have received bribes from the Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht.

    Geodata Survey poll shows corruption is important to Dominicans
    A poll published in Diario Libre that was carried out by Geodata Survey, a Dominican market research company, reveals that corruption is now becoming an important issue for Dominicans. 37.8% told pollsters there is “a lot of corruption” in the country, while 58.4% said “plenty corruption.” Only 2.9% admitted there was just “a little.” In the past, the interest of Dominicans in corruption was minimal, so little that it did not appear in the important problems to be resolved. 

    When asked which of the governments has been the most corrupt, 43.7% said that of Leonel Fernández, 19.7% that of Hipólito Mejía, 18% that of President Danilo Medina, 8.9% that of Balaguer and 4.6% that of Salvador Jorge Blanco. 

    When asked if the election were today who they would vote for, 41.% said they would vote for Luis Abinader; 25.6% for Danilo Medina [the 2015 Constitution does not allow him to seek re-election], 7% for Margarita Cedeño, 6.9% for Leonel Fernández, 4.8% Hipólito Mejía, 2.6% Guillermo Moreno. 9.5% said they are undecided.   

    Two Dominicans drown in Puerto Rico
    Police in San Juan, Puerto Rico have informed that two Dominican tourist guides who drowned yesterday, when they were caught in a riptide off the beach in Vega Alta in the north of the island. The Dominicans who died were 19 year old Romedarys Mesa Santos, and 34 year old Antonio Santana, who lived in Carolina near San Juan. 

    According to the director of the State Agency for Emergency Management (AEMEAD) the incident happened at 5:30pm when the two guides, along with six American tourists were taking photographs on a large rock on the edge of Cerro Gordo beach when the large wave swept them off the rock and pulled them out to sea. The tourists all survived but suffered various injuries. One of the tourists managed to pull one of the Dominican victims from the sea, but he did not survive.

    More rain to come and more provinces under alert
    The Center for Emergency Operations (COE) has increased the number of provinces under alert to 19, with two on yellow alert and the remainder, green.

    In addition, they announced that 80 people have had to leave their homes and 16 homes have been affected in the community of Rancho Abajo in La Vega due to the heavy rains. 

    The provinces under yellow alert are Puerto Plata and Espaillat; and on green alert are Santiago, San Cristóbal, La Vega, María Trinidad Sánchez, Duarte (especially Bajo Yuna), San José de Ocoa, Pedernales, Montecristi, Monseñor Nouel, Santiago Rodríguez, San Juan de la Maguana, Barahona, Elías Piña, Valverde, Dajabón, Independencia and Bahoruco.

    COE recommends those people living in provinces under alert should follow instructions from the protection agencies, boil water and add chlorine for human consumption, use shoes and eliminate breeding grounds for mosquitoes by disposing of standing water.

    Onamet, the Meteorological Office, forecasts a significant increase in rain over the next 24 to 48 hours due to weather front located over the eastern part of Cuba causing cloud cover over the whole of the Dominican Republic.

    Santo Domingo Wine Fest
    The JW Marriott Santo Domingo is hosting the Santo Domingo Wine Fest 2017, the Sommelier Edition on Friday, 19 May and Saturday 20 May. The keynote speaker of the event is Professor Raimundo Gaby of the Professional Wine Studies at the Culinary Institute of America. The program was created by Karen MacNeil, chair emerita at the CIA. 

    The event includes wine tastings of international and Ocoa Bay wines, tastings at The Bubbly Bar by Ritmo Social, amateur and advanced master classes, wine party and more. 
    Tickets can be purchased on Uepa Tickets.
    Last edited by Dolores; 05-17-2017 at 03:03 PM.


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