Medina cuts short his trip to New York to be here for Hurricane Maria
Update on Hurricane Maria
Growth forecast revised downwards
Crisis at some public schools
Public hospital medics strike called
JCE closed in Santo Domingo
Legislative mining commission goes to Australia
Turkish Steel Exporters Association mission to visit
Father of Figueroa Agosto murdered in revenge
Cuban Symphony director comes for Manuel Tejada folkloric suite premier
Ted Talk Santo Domingo

Medina cuts short his trip to New York to be here for Hurricane Maria
President Danilo Medina returned to the Dominican Republic around 9:30pm on Monday, 18 September 2017, to be here as Hurricane Maria makes its way west through the Caribbean. He had originally scheduled to return on Thursday, 21 September. But, in New York, he announced that his Tuesday speech before the United Nations General Assembly would be given by Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas.

In New York, President Medina held a bilateral meeting with secretary general of the United Nations Antonio Guterres to discuss climate change, Caribbean hurricanes, and the talks between the Venezuelan government and MUD opposition group brokered by President Medina. President Medina also participated in a meeting to discuss the effects of Hurricane Irma together with representatives of countries that suffered damages. Medina called for creating a solidarity fund for the prevention and reconstruction of Caribbean nations affected by weather disasters.

President Danilo Medina and former President Leonel Fernandez both traveled to New York on Sunday, 17 September 2017, to carry out separate agendas.

Medina was participating in the 72nd General Assembly of the United Nations that started Monday, 18 September in Manhattan. There, on Sunday, 17 September, he met with the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres to discuss the Venezuelan crisis, climate change, the Dominican candidacy for the non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council among other topics.

He is accompanied by his wife, First Lady Cándida Montilla (who has a separate, full work agenda) the Foreign Relations Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado, Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta, Presidency communications director, Roberto Rodríguez Marchena, among others.

The Dominican government mission stayed at the Langham Place hotel on Fifth Avenue.

Meanwhile, former President Fernandez will be taking part in a golf tournament in New York organized by the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (Funglode) of which he is president. He was met at the airport by more than 50 people, shouting “Roar, roar, The Lion,” referring to his possible presidential candidacy for the ruling PLD party in 2020.

Update on Hurricane Maria
According to the National Hurricane Center in the United States, Hurricane Maria is due to track to the north of the Dominican Republic passing closest to the northeast by the early hours of Thursday, 21 September 2017. A major hurricane, Maria is moving to the west northwest at a slow speed of 15 km an hour.

As early as Monday, 18 September 2017, a hurricane watch has been in place for the Dominican Republic from Saona Island to Montecristi.

Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo has met with the National Emergency Committee that is in permanent session in order to coordinate mitigation efforts. President Danilo Medina cut short his participation in the United Nations General Assembly to be present for Hurricane Maria’s passing.

According to forecasts, Maria is expected to be a Category 4-5 storm when it passes the country.

To follow the storm as it relates to the Dominican Republic, see the last posts at

Growth forecast revised downwards
The Dominican government has revised the 2017 growth forecast downwards for the second time this year. According to the most recent report from the Macro-Economic Panorama from the Ministry of Economy and Planning, GDP is expected to grow this year 4.75% instead of 5.25% earlier forecast.

Last June, the Ministry, together with the Treasury (Ministry of Hacienda) and the Central Bank had already cut the projection back from 5.5% to 5.25%.

During the first half of the year, the rate of growth showed a sharp deceleration, down to 4%. To revitalize the economy, the Central Bank announced an injection of RD$20 billion into the economy.

In addition, the Administrative Minister of the Presidency, José Ramón Peralta, announced the release of an additional RD$20 billion pesos for public construction projects, such as housing and infrastructure.

However, economists warn that additional measures will be needed to resolve the economic deceleration and a reactivation of internal demand is needed.

Crisis at some public schools
The school year is affected by teacher work stoppages in several parts of the country. Some schools have not begun classes.

The school year began 27 days ago and last Friday, 15 September 2017, there was already a teachers’ strike. On Tuesday, 19 September 2017, educators will organize vigils around the country and on Wednesday, 20 September, teachers will demonstrate at the Ministry of Education on Máximo Gómez Avenue in the National District.

The strikes and protests are part of the Dominican Teachers’ Association (ADP) strategy to pressure the government to reinstate the 1,818 teachers who were fired this past summer. The teachers were reportedly fired after an investigation showed they were collecting wages for work not rendered.

In Hato Mayor and in Neiba, the school year has not started due to the cancellation of 130 teachers. In San Pedro de Macorís teachers went on an indefinite strike last Friday and in La Romana they are threatening to do the same unless 125 teachers who were dismissed are reinstated.

The standoff between the union and the authorities increased last week when teacher María Rosalba Ureña Arias, from Santiago, committed suicide after she had been removed from the payroll in May. Colleagues and family of Urena Arias said that she was suffering from depression and was not working.

Her family said that the school authorities told her in order to be paid she would have to return to work. Education Minister Andres Navarro received her family in his office and offered his condolences.

Public hospital medics strike called
The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) has called for a 24-hour strike tomorrow, Wednesday 19 September 2017, across all of the public health hospitals in protest for what they call violations of the agreement made with the government last year.

CMD president, Dr. Waldo Ariel Suero, said that more than 5,000 doctors were left out of the second part of the 15% salary increase, which should have been applied in August this year.

Suero said that despite the fact they had spoken with the authorities, nothing had been done and, in addition, the situation of deterioration across most of the hospitals was getting worse. He said that more medical staff was needed to serve the hospitals there was aneed to improve the situation of retired doctors. Suero went on to explain that on Wednesday only emergencies cases would be attended to, but they would return to work on Thursday at 6am to prepare for the passing of Hurricane Maria.

JCE closed in Santo Domingo
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has informed the public that it will closed until further notice the Central Office of the Civil Registration, located in the Centro de los Heroes in Santo Domingo, due to a problem with the sanitation system caused by the rains over the last few days.

The JCE explained that the brigades from the Santo Domingo Corporation of Aqueducts and Sewers (CAASD) and the JCE personnel are working to find a quick solution to the problem so that the offices can reopen.

Meanwhile those who need legalization work urgently can go to the Legalization Center in Santo Domingo East, located in Plaza Island, Kilometer 8 ½ on Carretera Mella, where the administrative measures have been taken to accommodate the expected increased demand for services.

Legislative mining commission goes to Australia
A delegation of senators and deputies, members of the Commission of Natural Resources and the Environment from the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, has travelled to Australia, invited by Perilya mining company to learn about the development and the advances made in underground mining as well as the advantages of this type of mining from an environmental point of view. The company seeks to exploit a copper/gold operation at the Cerro de Maimón Concession in the Dominican Republic. It already operates the Broken Hill mine in Australia. The Guardian reports on the transition in Broken Hill from being an abandoned mining town to a major site for renewable energy.

The delegation is headed by Senator Félix María Nova and other members are Senators Euclides Sánchez, Antonio Cruz Torres, Félix María Vásquez and Deputy Ricardo de Jesús Contreras Medina. They will visit the mines of Broken Hill and Potosi, both located in Broken Hill, Australia.
During the tours they will receive explanations about underground exploration and the importance of preserving the environment, as in the case of the Cerro de Maimon Concession, which could be changed from open cast mining to underground. Also with the commission are Jonathan Ruiz Lizardo, operations manager of Cerro Mine and Elizabeth Mena, legal manager.

El Nacional reports that the mission will also meet with the mayor and governor of Broken Hill and discuss matters about responsible mining, occupational safety and health and managing the environment. They will also visit the New South Wales Parliament and officials from the Department of the Environment.

Turkish Steel Exporters Association mission to visit
A trade mission with 20 of the most important Turkish steel manufacturers will be participating in a meeting with Dominican businessmen scheduled for 6 October 2017, at the Hotel Embajador in Santo Domingo. The mission will be meeting with local industry representatives and with government officials. The mission will also be visiting logistics centers such as ports and free zones to sign alliance and investment agreements to accelerate the development of the steel sectors of both countries.

The mission will be headed by the president of the Turkish Steel Exporters Association, Namık Ekinci, members of the board of the association and officials from the Ministry of Economy of Turkey. The meetings are scheduled for 9am to 5pm at the Hotel Embajador.

The mission is on a Latin American tour and previously will have carried out a similar visit to Colombia and Panama. For more information, contact Lara Guerrero at [email protected]

Father of Figueroa Agosto murdered in revenge
According to the Puerto Rican newspaper, El Vocero, the father of drug dealer José David Figueroa Agosto was executed in what is being called a revenge killing, because his son gave information to the authorities about his partners involved in drug dealing.

José David Figueroa Suárez, aged 74, and better known as “Cuqui”, took no notice of rumors that his life was in danger and carried on with his normal routine restoring motor vehicles in a workshop in Bayamon.

As El Vocero stated, last Thursday, 14 September 2017, he told his partners that he would return to the house having bought gasoline, and the security cameras at the gas station recorded him arriving and leaving.

It is then assumed he was kidnapped by hit men who took him to La Cuchilla sector where he was shot twice in the head and his body set on fire. The corpse was discovered the following morning.

Figueroa Agosto, aged 53, is well known in the Dominican Republic. He was accused of trafficking thousands of kilos of cocaine between Puerto Rico, New York, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic and was sentenced to 30 years in jail. However he made a deal and he, along with his brother Luis and other family members, is currently under the federal witness protection program.

In the Dominican Republic Figueroa Agosto became a legendary figure due to his luxurious lifestyle. He had many friends in influential social circles and in the security services that enabled him to carry out his drug dealing without interference.

Cuban Symphony director comes for Manuel Tejada folkloric suite premiere
Maestro Enrique Pérez Mesa, director of the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, will be conducting the National Symphony on Wednesday, 18 October 2017, during the premiere of the Folkloric Suite El Sueño de mi Padre for Symphonic Orchestra and Folkloric Percussion by Maestro Manuel Tejada. Henry Kramer is the invited pianist. Other pieces to be performed that evening will be Johannes Brahms’ Concert No. 1 in D minor, Op 15 for piano and orchestra, and Symphony No. 3 in F mayor, Op. 90.

Ted Talk Santo Domingo
Tedx Santo Domingo will take place on 11 November 2017. Tickets are RD$3,000.
In the spirit of TED’s mission, “ideas worth spreading,” the TEDx program helps communities, organizations and individuals produce TED-style events at the local level. TEDx events are planned and coordinated independently, on a community-by-community basis, under a free license from TED.

The Ted Talk organizing team for the Santo Domingo event are Freddy Ginebra (Casa de Teatro) and Carlos Miranda Levy.