Medina inaugurates medical center in Punta Cana
Medina inaugurates hydro generator in Pedernales
World Bank exec visits DR
New attempts to save Bahoruco National Park
France to provide support to Metro
Driver education to be taught in public schools
Pro Competencia says passengers pay overpriced fares
The CEI-RD and the IDB get together on exports
Juan Luis Guerra tours Spain and England
Film critic Armando Almanzar passes away
Numbers 48 and 49: the latest victims of femicide
LIDOM has a new president
Robinson Cano is heroe of the All Stars Game

Medina inaugurates medical center in Punta Cana
President Danilo Medina was in Punta Cana on Wednesday, 12 July 2017, for the inaugural of the International Medical Group Punta Cana health center. He was joined by Minister of Public Health Altagracia Guzman, Minister of Tourism Francisco Javier García and the Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo.

The president of the medical center, Carlos Prato, said the clinic is a US$80 million investment that will cater to medical tourism. He went on to say that this project is expected to contribute to the government goal of reaching 10 million tourists a year by 2020.

The clinic offers state of the art medical services in 29 medical specialties. The clinic expects to be especially competitive in offering plastic and bariatric surgery, cosmetic dental services and eye surgery, among other medical services. It is a 45 bed facility, including five beds in the Intensive Care Unit. The medical center also has five operating rooms and diagnostic laboratories, among other facilities.

Prato highlighted that the center was located in Punta Cana because of the high number of international flights from all around the world that arrive daily in the the Punta Cana International Airport, which receives 500 flights a week. He also says the facility will focus on catering to the Dominican diaspora that can come for medical services and combine this with a vacation for all the family.

The center joins Hospiten, the Centro Médico Punta Cana, among others offering medical services in Punta Cana.

Medina inaugurates hydro generator in Pedernales
President Danilo Medina was in Pedernales on Wednesday, 12 July 2017 for the inaugural of the Mencía Micro Hydroelectric. The system will benefit more than 315 families that live in the communities of La Altagracia and Aguas Negra.

The work was carried out by the Unidad de Electrificación Rural y Suburbana (UERS) at a cost of RD$40 million. It uses the waters of the Río Mulito and is designed to generate power 24/7.

World Bank exec visits DR
Dominican President Danilo Medina received Tasheen Sayed Khan, the director of the World Bank for the Caribbean Region in his office this week. Tasheen Sayed Khan reiterated the commitment of the World Bank to support the Dominican Republic to achieve the goals laid in the vision of the Nation 2030 program, which highlight more inclusive national economic development. She said that the World Bank supports sustainable growth focused on the reduction of poverty.

She told reporters: “The Dominican Republic has the potential to create more and better jobs for that poorest 40% of its population. In the same way the country can improve the quality of education, health services, water and social protection.”

New attempts to save Bahoruco National Park
The Ministry of Environment together with several other government entities, civil society and academics have drafted the guidelines for the co-management of the Sierra de Bahoruco National Park. All this is part of a strategic plan to rescue the southwestern mountain area located on the border with Haiti. It is expected that in August 2017 the necessary agreements will be signed.

The Sierra de Bahoruco National Park contains the largest biodiversity in all of the nation’s system of protected areas, but is under serious threat.

Minister of Environment Francisco Dominguez Brito chaired the meeting, and listened as Deputy Minister of Protected Areas Danneris Santana explained that the co-management system is covered by Environment Law 64-00.

Among the principal threats to the mountainous area is deforestation due to the production of charcoal (that is totally illegal), slash and burn agriculture, and avocado farms together with forest fires, the destruction of nesting areas for the native parrot, the extraction of “guaconejo” wood for perfume-making, among other environmental degradation pressures. Civilian groups such as Grupo Jaragua will take part in the new management plan and will chair the new council.

France to provide support to Metro
French Ambassador in the Dominican Republic José Gomez explained ongoing efforts for the strengthening of commercial ties between France and the Dominican Republic. In an interview with Diario Libre, he said France would continue to support the Dominican Republic especially to expand services of the Santo Domingo Metro, where French technology has been used.

The ambassador told Diario Libre in the interview that the French government would assist the Dominican government in securing low cost French loans to add more cars to the Metro Line 1 that is jam packed with riders at present. User demand for the Metro 1 Line will increase with the imminent completion of the extension of Line 2 that will serve Santo Domingo East, the most populated area of Greater Santo Domingo.

Through the French Develoment Agency, France would participate in a study on public transport in the Dominican Republic, Mobilize your City (Movilice su Ciudad) to define needs in the local market.

Gómez said that the Dominican government has held high-level meetings with the government of France. He mentioned the visit of John Pierbell, special envoy of the French Presidency who came for the French Week in October 2016, and that of John Marie Bockel, Secretary of State for Cooperation and La Francophonie, both whom met with President Medina and Minister of Foreign Relations Miguel Vargas. Gómez said that as a follow up to those visits, Minister Vargas visited the Minister of Foreign Relations of France in Paris in April 2017.

Gómez said that France has exported to the DR around US$144 million in 2016, with Dominican exports at around US$153 million, but that trade is increasing. He said around 230,000 French tourists visited the Dominican Republic in 2016.

Driver education to be taught in public schools
Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo told reporters this week that the Presidential Commission for Highway Safety has recommended that driver education be part of the regular public school curriculum. The subject would be taught in the afternoon session of extended school day program.
A former deputy Minister of Public Works, Claudia Franchesca de los Santos, is the new director of the Transport Agency (Intrant) that groups all local transport government agencies.

Pro Competencia says passengers pay overpriced fares
The users of the nation’s public transportation system pay more than they should. A recent study ordered by ProCompetencia attributes the difference in prices to market distortions caused by the predominant transport associations that impede competition in passenger and cargo transport.

The transport associations charge their members high fees for the use of specific routes and in exchange keep competitors at bay. The study on the Competitive Conditions in the Ground Transportation Market of the Dominican Republic (Condiciones de Competencia en el Mercado de Transporte Terrestre de la República Dominicana), published by the National Commission for the Defense of Competition (ProCompetencia) was ordered after the Superior Administrative Court (TSA) issued ruling 416-2016 against the monopolizing of public transportation, said Yolanda Martínez, president of ProCompetencia.

The study revealed that regarding passenger transport, the users of shared taxis (conchos) pay four to nine pesos more on fares than estimated market value. These fares vary from RD$20 to RD$45. Likewise, bus riders pay between RD$4 and RD$15 more than they should on fares of RD$20 and RD$75. The ubiquitous motorcycle taxis (moto concho) demand between five and ten pesos more than they should on fares of RD$20 and RD$50.

According to the study, these same price distortions occur with freight transportation. The study revealed that the cargo transport associations impede companies from using their own cargo vehicles or place restrictions on how these can be used.

For the study, four national surveys were carried out, in which 147 shared taxi (concho) drivers were interviewed, 143 moto-concho drivers, 69 operators of buses operated by the transport associations, among others.

Nevertheless, commenting on the study findings, the president of one of the largest transport organizations, Conatra, Antonio Marte said that the researchers did not consult with the transport union. “If Yolanda Martínez wants real information, her technicians should have come to us to get the correct numbers,” he said.

The CEI-RD and the IDB get together on exports
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Dominican Association of Exporters (Adoexpo) and the Center for Exports and Investment of the Dominican Republic (CEI-RD) presented the results of the report “The Dominican Republic: Promoting Exports to Improve the Quality of Life” during Dominicana Exporta. The event brought together the public and private sector for the relaunching of the export sector.

Present were Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramon Peralta and Minister of Industry and Commerce Nelson Toca Simo, as well as the representative of the IDB Flora Montealegre, and the president of Adoexpo Álvaro Sousa Sevilla.

The report prepared by the IDB says exports could increase by as much as 50%, converting this sector into one of the prime movers of economic growth and employment in the Dominican Republic. The report focuses on the weak linkages of the successful export free zones with the local market. Central Bank statistics indicate that free zones purchase only 7% of their materials from local suppliers.

The report points that in order to take advantage of these opportunities, it is necessary to carry out a strategic re-focusing regarding the promotion of exports. This would begin with the transformation of the CEI-RD into a professional agency that is proactive in assisting national producers, something that is now underway.

Luis Henry Molina, director of CEI-RD said: “To make this vision a reality and to better assist exporters, it is essential to improve the capacity of CEI-RD to carry out its basic role as an agency specialized in information, promotion and follow up for exporters in new markets.”

Alvaro Sosa Sevilla, the president of Adoexpo, stressed that the export sector seeks to “promote the benefits and importance of international business,” while at the same time promoting the attributes of the Dominican Republic and trying to get more entrepreneurs to export and encourage direct foreign investments, especially in areas that generate exports.

Juan Luis Guerra tours Spain and England
Singer-songwriter Juan Luis Guerra began on 12 July 2017, a series of concerts in Spain as part of his “Todo tiene su hora” (Everything in Good Time) tour. The tour kicked off with the concert in Sevilla and will continue in Tenerife, Marbella, Coruña on Saturday, 15 July.

The first stop is at the Palace of Exhibitions and Congresses in Sevilla on 12 July. On Saturday, 15 July, Guerra is off to Tenerife for a performance at Golf Costa Adeje. On Tuesday, 18 July, he will perform at the Starlite in Marbella. On Thursday, 20 July, he will perform in La Coruña.

He is scheduled for a tour closing performance in London, on Saturday, 22 July, when he performs at the Hola London! Latin Music Festival 2017 accompanied by Juanes and Sebastian Yatra from Colombia and David Bisbal from Spain at The O2.

One of the Dominican Republic’s most recognized artists, Guerra is a Grammy Award winner and has sold more than 30 million albums.

Film critic Armando Almanzar passes away
The Dominican cinema lost one of its greatest champions when Armando Almanzar passed away yesterday, 12 July 2017, at the age of 82. Almanzar was a key figure in the renaissance of Dominican cinema, as he helped Dominicans to appreciate and support quality domestic cinema. Few knew 82-year old Armando Almanzar was sick. He died from complications from pneumonia.

The writer and movie critique had won the National Literature Award in 2012. He began writing about films for the Listin Diario shortly after the fall of Trujillo in 1963. In the 70s, two of his short stories would appear in an anthology of Latin American stories published by Harper & Row.

Almanzar is best known for his insights and recommendations on films that he continued to share on the Matutino Alternativo morning talk show. His wake will be at Blandino funeral home.

Numbers 48 and 49: the latest victims of femicide
Sadly, Silveria Mercedes Taveras Acosta, 48 years old and a hotel worker, together with nurse Belkis Rodríguez Constanzo, 44, now become just two more numbers in the ongoing tragedy of gender violence in the Dominican Republic. Both women were killed by a man they knew, Reyito Morales, who then committed suicide.

In what reporters are calling a love triangle, Morales shot Silveria three times in her house in Bavaro and then he went to El Seibo where he shot Belkis in her house in Villa Guerrero. Silveria, his current mistress, was killed, according to the local coroner at about 10:40pm. Morales then went to El Seibo where he appeared at the house of Belkis Rodríguez Constanzo at 12:15am.

The authorities say that after killing Belkis, Morales, 55, shot himself in the head, although the homicide weapon did not appear at the scene of the crime. He had set fire to his vehicle before killing his victim so that she would come out of the house. Authorities were only able to collect a mutilated shell casing for a 9 mm pistol as well as the box of matches next to the body of Morales.

At least 49 women have been murdered so far in 2017, with 22 of the victims in the north of the country and the remainder in the South, the capital and the East. In the case of Morales a Restraint Order had been issued because of his threats to Belkis Rodríguez and he served seven months in preventive custody.

Lidom has a new president
The Professional Baseball League of the Dominican Republic (Lidom) has a new president, Vitelio Mejia Ortiz. Mejia received the unanimous vote from Lidom club presidents in the 11 July 2017 election.

Mejía replaces Leonardo Matos Berrido, who held the position for 26 years. Previously, Mejía has been the vice president for legal affairs of the organization since 2011.

Speaking after he received the support of the six teams of the Dominican baseball league, Mejía said he would make changes to improve fans’ baseball experience at the ball parks. At the same time, he said that he would propose changes to the statutes and rules that govern winter league baseball.

Mejía said he would strengthen relationships with the players who are the principal attractions of the tournament, and make everything possible.

Robinson Cano is hero of the All Star Game
On Tuesday 11 July 2017, Major League Baseball played its 88th All-Star Game at Marlins Park, in Miami, Florida. The American League defeated the National League in extra innings by a score of 2-1. Dominican Robinson Canó of the Mariners sealed the American League win by hitting a 10th-inning homerun.

The media reported that Cano's home run was the first extra-inning blast in exactly 50 years -- Tony Perez, who, coincidentally, threw out one of the game's first pitches, was the last to do it.

Perhaps the lightest moment of the All Star Classic came when Dominican Nelson Cruz, an outfielder for the Mariners, pulled out a cell phone as he stepped into the batter’s box and asked the opposing team’s catcher (Yadier Molina of St. Louis Cardinals) to take a picture of himself alongside veteran umpire Joe West.