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Thread: DR1 Daily News - Thursday, 6 July 2017

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    Default DR1 Daily News - Thursday, 6 July 2017

    Ministry of Public Work details works underway in Puerto Plata
    National Council of the Magistracy pre-selects 85 for higher courts positions
    National District rescinds Triple AAA contract for garbage collection fees
    Hard Rock Santo Domingo could be built under another brand
    DR gets ready to export dairy
    Motorcycles, lots and lots of motorcycles
    PRM dismisses commission’s report
    Local engineers defend Odebrecht
    Bitcoin is alive and well in the DR
    Yeni Berenice Reynoso rejects claims by Blas Peralta
    Feminicide touches upon a Prosecutor clerk
    Pasion Night Club could reopen
    10 Dominicans on MLB All Stars Game roster

    Ministry of Public Work details works underway in Puerto Plata
    The Ministry of Public Works announced that the government is investing RD$3.5 million in 125 public work projects underway in the province of Puerto Plata. The province was hard hit by recent rainstorms. The Ministry says the projects are mainly for the construction of 48 bridges (an investment of RD$1.5 billion), reconstruction of roads, and paving of streets. Works are underway primarily in the city of Puerto Plata and the towns of Imbert, Monte Llano, Altamira, Sosúa, Cabarete and Yásica.

    During an inspection tour, engineer Ramón Antonio Pepín of the Ministry of Public Works said that the construction phase of these works began once the design phase of the projects was completed. He said that 15 bridges are already under construction in the province and 10 of these should be ready before August. He explained the bridges are being built to resist heavy rains in the future. The bridges are being built in the communities of Río Grande Abajo, El Combi, Río Grande Al Medio, Pescado Bobo, El Alto de la Jagua and El Almacén.

    In the Torre Alta neighborhood in Puerto Plata City, heavy equipment was repairing a section of road at the intersection of Circunvalación and F street, near the residence of Bishop Julio César Corniel Amaro. The road was affected by a landslide.

    The Ministry has already paved streets in Copey, restored the Quebrada Honda-Boca de Río Grande and Bellaco road, and the El Jamao-Los Chivos road. The rural road connecting Los Llanos de Pérez-Los Trejos-Los Félix, in Bajabonico, is 90% completed as well as the bridge over Río Bajabonico. In Los Llanos de Pérez heavy equipment is working on the paving of the streets.

    National Council of the Magistracy pre-selects 85 for higher courts positions
    The National Council of the Magistracy (CNM) pre-selected 85 candidates of 184 original candidates to be evaluated in public hearings for the four judge seats available in the Supreme Court of Justice and the five judge seats and their five replacements in the Superior Electoral Court (TSE).

    The candidates will be interviewed in public hearings that will begin on Thursday, 13 July 2017 at 4pm. These will continue on Friday, 14 July and Saturday, 15 July as of 9am. If necessary, they will continue on Monday, 17 July.

    Frank Soto, spokesman for the CNM, said that thereafter, two or three days later, President Danilo Medina would convene the Council to deliberate and vote on the candidates for the two higher courts. He said the list of the 85 pre-selected candidates would be published in print media so that the general public can send in objections over the next three days.

    All members of the National Magistracy Council (CNM) were present for the Wednesday, 5 July 2017 meeting. These were President Danilo Medina, president of the Senate Reinaldo Pared Pérez, opposition PRM senator José Ignacio Paliza and PRM deputy Josefa Castillo; president of the Supreme Court of Justice Mariano Germán, Supreme Court judge Frank Soto, Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez and president of the Chamber of Deputies Lucia Medina.

    The next meeting of the CNM is set for Wednesday, 12 July at 4pm. During that meeting the members will review the objections to candidates in order to proceed with the evaluations.

    National District rescinds Triple AAA contract for garbage collection fees
    The city government of the National District rescinded the Triple AAA contract for garbage collection fees. The announcement was made by councilor Omar Méndez Lluberes who saluted the decision made by Mayor David Collado.

    Méndez said the city government will benefit by keeping RD$150 million a year in commissions that were paid out to Triple AAA every month. He said Triple AAA did not have employees, collection stands or offices, and did everything using the logistics of the city government. He said the origins of the rescinded contract will be investigated. Diario Libre reports that Angel Rondon, in pre-trial detention in the Odebrecht bribes scandal, is the main shareholder of the company.

    Hard Rock Santo Domingo could be built under another brand
    While the project was rejected for violation of municipal zoning rules, Mexican Roberto Chapur, chief promoter of the Hard Rock Santo Domingo says his company has plans to build the hotel in the central city Abraham Lincoln Avenue location but it would be operated under another brand, as reported in Arecoa online portal. The new hotel would not include the casino.

    Hard Rock Santo Domingo was objected for the casino, but also for surpassing the number of floors, lack of sufficient parking, among other violations. The company had already dug up the area for underground parking, when it met with the rejection of residents in the area to the Ministry of Environment granting a needed final permit. This brought the project to a halt. According to the interview, Chapur also announced that 200 rooms would be added to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana.

    DR gets ready to export beef
    The Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD) expects positive results from a livestock program being implemented to restore the capacity of the country to export beef to the United States. The 175 model farms that make up this initiative will have modern equipping to meet the sanitation levels required in the United States market.

    Osmar Benitez, the JAD president said: “The objective is to export US$100 million worth of meat in three years after the project is concluded, in another 18 months.”

    The project also seeks to improve the quality of milk following the best management practices and international standards regarding the handling of this important food source. Benitez explained that 50% of the 175 model farms will work to improve the quality of milk and the remainder will work on improving animal nutrition. Benitez pointed out that these model farms will include cement floors, with roofed buildings and permanent water for carrying out the milking process. He noted that better milk is equal to better prices.

    The cattle ranchers and dairy farmers will receive technical assistance, training to improve their management and production techniques, with particular interest placed on quality, nutrition, reproduction and animal health. In addition the farmers will be trained on the proper use of pastures and forages and in environmental conservation techniques.

    Motorcycles, lots and lots of motorcycles
    The ubiquitous motorcycle has served for all kinds of activities in the Dominican Republic both legal and criminal. Motorcyclists support a large part of the nation’s business sector, including major companies as well as small and micro businesses in the delivery of packages and correspondence.

    The number of motorcycles is reported in the Diario Libre to be increasing much like sugarcane growing in the sugar cane fields. This vast quantity can be seen in the vehicular pool of the Dominican Republic. Motorcycles are 54% of the 3,854,038 vehicular units in circulation.

    This growth is attributed to a strong demand and to the imports from China, a principal manufacturer of motorcycles. As reported in Diario Libre, a company in Hatillo Palma, Montecristi imports the motorcycles in parts and assembles these under the incentives granted by Law 28-01. The company sells motorcycles in all 32 provinces of the Dominican Republic. China, which dominates the market with 73.75% of all motorcycles sold, is followed by Japan that has kept a 20% share of the local market. So far this year, the Dominican Republic has imported 46,314 motorcycles.

    PRM dismisses commission’s report
    The Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) dismissed the report from the commission appointed by the President of the Dominican Republic to evaluate the Punta Catalina 600MW thermoelectric central the government is building Peravia province. The PRM called the report “a useless effort to justify the partiality of the administration of Danilo Medina in granting the contract to Odebrecht.”

    Spokesmen for the leading opposition party argued that many of the recommendations of the commission constitute violations of laws and regulations currently on the books. They called upon the Dominican society to redouble their efforts to demand that impunity should not prevail and that the violations of the laws and regulations should be singularly punished.

    The political party asks “Why does the report protect the interests of Odebrecht and not those of the Dominican Republic?”

    In pointing out several violations, the PRM mentions costly distortions regarding the financial aspects of these coal-fired plants together with the confessions of bribery that were involved in the negotiations and the clear indications of the over-evaluation of the cost of the project.

    The PRM said that the conclusions contribute little to clearing up the violations and irregularities committed in the tender process of this project and regretted that the conclusions of the investigation did not refer to other important violations made by the Brazilian company regarding the tender as well as local legislation related to the contracts for state projects and the alleged associated bribery.

    The PRM cited the fact that “on confessing the payment of bribery Odebrecht violated article 7.1 (D) of the Preclassification Phase that establishes that one of the prerequisites for participating is that the firm (in this case Odebrecht) had not incurred in the payment of bribery either in the country or overseas.” The PRM says that the report coincides with the allegations made by Odebrecht and absolves them of any guilt.

    Local engineers defend Odebrecht
    Representatives of three of the subcontractors hired by the Odebrecht construction company came to the defense of the Brazilian company saying that it had provided a new vitality to smaller, local construction companies. In spite of the admission by the company that they had paid US$92 million in bribes in order to obtain contracts in some 17 projects signed with the Dominican government between 2001 and 2014 and the fact that 14 former officials and legislators have been indicted on bribery charges for having received these bribes, the representatives of smaller construction companies argued for the continued operation of Odebrecht in the Dominican Republic.

    The owners of these small local construction companies insist that Odebrecht be allowed to continue to operate since these small businesses benefited more from Odebrecht’s capacity to manage large construction projects while providing important sub-contract work for smaller firms. Jose Olivo, a spokesperson for these small businesses told reporters from the Diario Libre that with Odebrecht the construction sector has been well served by the quality of the construction of the projects as well is the participation of local companies (especially smaller companies) that have had the opportunity to work in these mega projects.

    José Olivo went on to say that there were some 450 sub-contractors for Odebrecht. He noted: “We trust Odebrecht more, they share out the cake more evenly…. Because here (in the DR) the medium-sized company, the big company, the little company and everyone has had the assurance that in 30 or 40 days they will receive a payment from Odebrecht.”

    Another owner of a construction company, Geraldo Mendez, says that apart from the fact that the bribery, Odebrecht is the “ only entity in the sector that while being a huge company with large equipment, issued tenders to other companies at the national level, which is something, he says, the big Dominican companies do not do, regrettably.” He explained big Dominican construction companies are all-inclusive, contrary to Odebrecht that subcontracted smaller companies.

    The spokespersons representing the small companies said they worked for Odebrecht in projects such as the Cibao- Sur Highway, the Autovia del Este and the highways to Constanza and Jarabacoa. One of the engineers said that “we grew from 40 employees to 150, and now we have about 110 employees.”

    Bitcoin is alive and well in the DR
    Although recent statements by the Governor of the Central Bank Hector Valdez Albizu stressed the fact that Internet currencies such as Bitcoin and others are not protected under current monetary legislation in the Dominican Republic, as many as 15 persons a day operate an ATM located in a commercial establishment on Maximo Gomez Avenue at the corner of Peña Battle, in the National District. There they use the ATM to play video games identical to those available in local casinos but in this case payment is made in Bitcoin. Instead of payment being made in dollars or pesos or from a credit card, payment is made with electronic money such as Bitcoin and any winnings are also paid in Bitcoin or in pesos or dollars.

    In Bitcoin there are many platforms, according to the Listin Diario, one which will double your pay such as the pyramid that doubles the investment in 90 days and in order for this you need to have an electronic portfolio with a Facebook account.

    This type of virtual money is not regulated, as strongly voiced by Valdez Albizu, by any of the financial laws of this country, and all operations are irreversible, so there is no way for clients to file claims. One client, who refused to give his name, said that Bitcoin Cash attracts persons with the promise that their money will be multiplied and at the end of 60 days their investment could grow by 300%.

    “They are in the Internet, on Facebook, on WhatApp, they make you believe that everything is legal and that you are a leader.”

    Since it is not an official currency, authorities can’t respond to any complete or significant change in the value of the currency, and in some other countries it has been indicated that Bitcoin is used in illegal operations such as fraud or money laundering.

    Arielle Garcia, the owner of Tattooarium, located on the second floor of Plaza Enriquillo, where the ATM is located, says that is the number one page for buying and selling Bitcoins in the Dominican Republic where this activity has been going on for more than a year.

    Listin Diario reports there is also an ATM at a hotel in Boca Chica that provides an additional service to hotel guests, especially people from Spain who request this service. According to one person who did not want to be identified for the Listin Diario story, the service eliminates third parties, which is to say banks, from such financial transactions.

    The Central Bank responded to the Listín Diario story indicating that banks and regulated financial institutions that carry out operations with Bitcoins or other virtual non-regulated currencies face fines. The Central Bank has alerted that the virtual currencies have no legal backing in the Dominican Republic putting those who transact in these at their own risk.

    Bitcoin is described as a digital currency that operates on an open-source peer-to-peer system. Its value is determined by people engaging in Bitcoin transactions and is a rival to government-regulated monetary systems. Bitcoin offers the promise of lower transaction fees than traditional online payment mechanisms and is operated by a decentralized authority, unlike government-issued currencies.

    Yeni Berenice Reynoso rejects claims by Blas Peralta
    The hearing of witnesses in the 11 March 2016 murder of former UASD rector Mateo Aquino Febrillet continues. The District Attorney has accused Fenatrado truckers association president, Blas Peralta of the murder.

    Peralta had maintained his innocence until two witnesses (Geraldo Bautista and Franklin Venegas) who were in the vehicle with him on that day, gave their version of the murder that incriminates Peralta. Following the testimonies of these two, Peralta came forth to admit his responsibility in the murder, but denied he had intentionally tried to kill Mateo Aquino Febrillet. He would later confirm this in a paid advertisement in the local media on Monday, 2 July 2017.

    The District Attorney of the National District, Yeni Berenice Reynoso, disregarded the regret expressed by Blas Peralta in the paid advertisement of an open letter. She said the “mea culpa”, did not contain a single word of truth as the witnesses have proven. She said that it is not true that Blas Peralta was a friend of the former rector of the UASD, Mateo Aquino Febrillet, such as he said at the latest hearing. She also said that it was not true that Peralta did not know who were in the vehicle against which he admitted firing shots.

    The District Attorney said that neither is it true that the one who initiated the argument in the Mirador del Sur Park restaurant was the former candidate for deputy Eduardo Montas. She pointed out that the meeting was held in this public place because of the violence that Peralta had exhibited during the electoral campaign. She said that the transportation impresario set the tone for the violent arguments. She said: “This sort of conduct, according to the Penal Code becomes criminal and is called murder and the Code punishes it with 30 years in prison.” She said the prosecution would ask for the maximum jail term of 30 years.

    Diario Libre reports that witness Eduardo Montás declared on Tuesday, 4 July 2017 in court that he saw Blas Peralta point a gun to the vehicle in which he was driving with former UASD rector Mateo Aquino Febrillet and later heard the shots that injured him, a secetary and killed Aquino Febrillet.

    He said when they approached the police station located in the Parque Mirador del Sur was when the shots were fired. “I look, see that vehicle, and whom is sitting in the front seat moves as if he had a gun and I see that it is Blas Peralta. I saw that it was Blas Peralta, he was sitting in the front passenger seat. I got down. Immediately after I got down the shots were fired, two or three. Two shots. One hit the secretary, another injured me in the arm,” he stated.

    During the same Tuesday hearing evidence was presented, including the telephone tapes of the conversations between former colonel Rafael Herrera Peña with Geraldo Bautista (who accompanied Blas Peralta in the vehicle), and that of Geraldo Bautista with Blas Peralta and his lawyer, and another of Herrera Peña with Peralta. The telephone conversation where he admits he fired the shots was taped because Peralta inadvertently left the line open.

    Feminicide touches upon a Prosecutor clerk
    36-year old National District Prosecutor’s office employee, Heidy Rosanna Martínez Villar, died from gunshot wounds from her former spouse, 31 year old Alexander Espinosa Matos in the Invi de Caballona neighborhood, of Santo Domingo West. Espinosa would later commit suicide, shooting himself in the head, as reported by the Police. MetroRD reported that neighbors of the deceased, had reported that the woman had separated from her spouse after he appeared in social media with another woman. Espinosa reacted violently to Martinez’s decision to leave him.

    Listín Diario says that adding up media reports and official reports, so far this year there have 43 feminicides.

    Pasion Night Club could reopen
    Judges of the Second Collegiate Court of Santiago acquitted on Tuesday José Benjamín Gómez Díaz, one of the owners and cashier Juan Pablo Estrella of Pasion Night Club in which authorities suspected of being a venue for prostitution and human trafficking. Prosecutor Luisa Liranzo said she would appeal the decision. Their lawyer Felix Portes said the decision was correct because not a single victim of sexual exploitation have accused his clients. He said as soon as they have the decision in hand they will submit a legal recourse to request the opening of the night club. In January 2017, the Specialized Unit for Anti-Laundering of Assets of the Santiago Prosecution Office seized furnishings and equipment at Pasion Night Club, located on Autopista Duarte in Canabacoa.

    10 Dominicans on MLB All Stars Game roster
    There will be 10 Dominicans on the roster for the Major League Baseball All Stars Game set for 11 July 2017 at the Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. The DR is the foreign country with the most players. First time players in the All Stars Game for the Dominican Republic are pitcher Luis Severino, catcher Gary Sánchez and third baseman Miguel Sanó.

    The Dominican players on the All Stars Game roster are:
    American League:
    José Ramírez, third base, Cleveland Indians, first appearance
    Dellin Betances, pitcher, New York Yankees
    Ervin Santana, pitcher, Minnesota Twins
    Luis Severino, pitcher, New York Yankees
    Gary Sánchez, reserve catcher, New York Yankees
    Starlin Castro, reserve second base, New York Yankees
    Miguel Angel Sanó, reserve third base, Minessota Twins
    Nelson Cruz, reserve designated hitter, Seattle Mariners
    National League:
    Marcell Ozuna, outfielder, Miami Marlins
    Carlos Martínez, pitcher, St. Louis Cardinals
    Last edited by Dolores; 07-06-2017 at 08:12 AM.


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