Christian schools merge with public school system
Hector Mojica named to direct Omsa
Dominguez Brito says water and Bahoruco are next on the Ministry of Environment agenda
New efforts for forestry at Luperon Bay
3-day strike at public hospitals
Caucedo to be expanded with 400m berth
Nearly everyone has a cell phone in the DR
Dominicans returning in droves from Puerto Rico
Mayor Martinez exposes businesses he says have evaded paying their taxes
Thousands of undocumented Haitians detained
Coercive measures sought in murdered lawyer case
More rains on the way
Dominican Republic wins Norceca Group A
Reaching out to baseball fans

Christian schools merge with public school system
Education Minister Andres Navarro announced that 137 Christian schools will now be operating under the same administrative and pedagogical structures of public schools, while maintaining their Christian curriculum. The Ministry of Education has also integrated several Roman Catholic schools into the public school network.

The new collaboration agreement, that detailed the guidelines for the joint Christian-public school education program, was signed by Navarro and Manuel Estrella, representing the Christian churches.

A Roundtable for Constructive Dialog was created as part of the program to ensure that Christian schools, churches, councils and assemblies can be part of an inclusive, free and quality education, and that no Dominican, because of his physical, economic, cognitive or thought religion is left out of the Educational Revolution, which, as you can see, is also a Christian cause,” Navarro emphasized in the press release on the agreement.

The agreement involves school co-management in 134 Christian educational centers nationwide that will pass to the public sector, with an enrollment of approximately 40 thousand students. The goal is to include 65 more schools in the near future, with another 7,000 students.

Hector Mojica named to direct Omsa
President Danilo Medina appointed Héctor Mojica the new director of the Metropolitan Bus Services Office (Omsa). Former director, Manuel Antonio Rivas, is being held as a suspect in the murder of UASD law professor Yuniol Ramírez Ferreras. Two other employees, including the financial director, have also been accused in the case.

Prior to his new appointment, Hector Mojica was the president of the Council for Coordination of the Special Zone for Border Development since July 2017. Previously, he was the director general of the Technical Ground Transport Office (OTTT) that was integrated into the new National Transit Institute (Intrant) by the new Ground Mobility and Transport Law 63-17.

A Diario Libre back page editorial observes that people in high positions are cancelled when someone dies. In 2013, Diario Libre had revealed alleged major corruption at Omsa, but this was not investigated at the time by the state prosecutors.

Dominguez Brito says water and Bahoruco are next on the Ministry of Environment agenda
Minister of Environment Francisco Domínguez Brito envisions water issues to become the most serious conflict the Dominican Republic will have with Haiti. He said he has pending a visit to speak to the Haitian authorities over the issue. In an interview with Diario Libre, Domínguez Brito said that Haiti has only two important rivers that are Artibonito and Macasia and both have their source in the Dominican Republic.

He said that Port-au-Prince is a 3.5-million inhabitant city that sources its water from underground wells. But at present there are no sewage treatment plants and in 10-20 years this will become a very serious problem.

He explained that Haiti has only one dam, the Peligre, built by the US government some 60 years ago that receives water from the Macasia and Aritonito rivers, but that is affected by erosion. The Artibonito is the longest river on the island of Hispaniola – its source central mountain range in the Dominican Republic and flows into the Gonaive Gulf in Haiti.

He said that something radical has to be done to protect the Masaia and Artibonito rivers. He also sees the need to protect the Peligre dam that sources its water from the Macasia and Artibonito rivers and also produces energy for Haiti.

He says that is a possible solution is the construction of an aqueduct for Haiti. He said Haiti currently cannot afford a desalinization plant, nor is it certain that cost effective technological advances in desalinization will ever be an option for the system.

Dominguez Brito said that even for the Dominican Republic the two most crucial issues are water and deforestation. He says the Ministry is working on a Reforestation Plan 2016-2020, with its impact mostly to be seen in 10-15 years. He said that more than RD$6 billion in investments in reforestation and agroforestry products in San Jose de Ocoa, Independencia, Bahoruco, Azua, San Juan de la Maguana and Barahona will be required.

Dominguez-Brito told Diario Libre: “It is the most ambitious project in the history of the country and calls for the reforestation of more than 740,000 tareas (1 tarea= 629 square meters) and the planting of more than 90 million trees. Of these more than 30 million are endemic and wood-producing and the others produce crops such as avocado, coffee and cacao.

He says the most critical areas they will be intervening are in Hondo Valle, and Juan Santiago in the Elías Piña province on the border with Haiti.

Dominguez Brito explained that the country has kept a good pace in conservation of some areas and incorporated others, but the problem is complex. He stressed the difficulties of sharing the island with Haiti, where 98% of the land is deforested. He said this makes for the need for the Dominican authorities to work for the environmental welfare of both countries.

Speaking of climate change, he said that droughts that have affected the country are worse than the floods. But he said the best protection is to ensure the forest cover of the mountains. “There is no dam, no wall that can have a better effect than dense forestry in the mountains,” he said.

Referring to the Bahoruco Mountain Range, Dominguez highlighted that very strong economic interests prey on the mountain range. “There are very powerful people there with lots of interests, but it must be understood that deterioration of the Bahoruco Mountain Range is unacceptable, no matter the wealth of those opposing our conservation measures,” he said. He highlighted that the state needs to be strong and not desist because it has the political power. “When a decision is taken, it needs to be complied with, be it in Los Haitises or Valle Nuevo,” he said. He said the decision that needs to be taken will undoubtedly cause disruption in certain sectors. But no one sector’s private interest is more important than it the state’s.

New efforts for forestry at Luperon Bay
The Ministry of Environment announced efforts to reforest expansive areas in Luperon (Puerto Plata province) with native species. Environment Minister Francisco Dominguez Brito says the area has the potential of being one of the most visited spots by sailors in the Caribbean. “We are going to promote this “Sailor’s Bay”, as the best opportunity for development that Luperon has to offer.

Dominguez Brito said the Ministry is discussing the final steps for the construction of a hotel there that he believes will kick off development in the area. He spoke prior to a reforestation action in the area on 15 October 2017.

He said they are looking into planting mangrove trees, stopping deforestation, training local residents in ecotourism services, unifying criteria with other government entities for inspections and tax and tariff charges, regularizing boat traffic in the bay, organizing government offices so they install one-stop windows to simplify red tape, using new technologies for the authorization of entry and departure of sailboats, completing the water treatment plant for sewage and making residents more aware of the need to care for the environment of Luperon.

After meeting with local authorities, Dominguez Brito said there are opportunities for growth and for doing business, always thinking that if there is not environmental sustainability there will not be development and vice versa, as reported by the Ministry of Environment in a press release.

3-day strike at public hospitals
The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) ordered a three-day strike at public hospitals nationwide starting on Tuesday, 17 October 2017 at 6am. The strike would continue until Friday, 20 October at 6am.

The strikers are demanding the government fulfill agreements signed. Health Minister Altagraica Guzman has said she would meet with the physicians a month after they call off the strike. The president of the CMD, Waldo Ariel Suero said they are open to restart talks with the minister.

The strike affects the indigent and the poor that are the primary users of the public hospital network affected by the strike.

Caucedo to be expanded with 400m berth
DP World plans to expand its operations at the Caucedo MultiModal Port in eastern Santo Domingo, expanding its logistics park as well as quayside facilities with a 400-metre berth. This is expected to better ensure Caucedo’s future as a regional trade hub. In July of this year, Ikea became the first multinational to set up a logistic hub at the Caucedo Logistics Center at the Caucedo Multimodal Port. Ikea opened the hub based on the strategic geographic location and the expedited customs procedures in the country.

DP World Caucedo, is a leading port in the area for international trade. Trade between Dubai and the Dominican Republic during the first half of 2017 was worth almost US$13 million, as reported.

As reported in Port Technology online portal, DP World’s Group Chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, also met with President Danilo Medina recently to discuss plans to attract more foreign investment to the country during a recent visit to the Dominican Republic.

He said: “President Danilo Medina is working hard for his people and country, and the stable economy and political environment here will go a long way to attract more foreign investors.

“The Dominican Republic has tremendous potential as a logistics hub and we’re pleased to be working in partnership with the local government to maximize on these opportunities.”

Nearly everyone has a cell phone in the DR
The president of the Dominican Telecommunications’ Institute (Indotel), José del Castillo Saviñón, revealed that 89 out of every 100 Dominicans have a cell phone, equivalent to 9.3 million people. He said that most of the mobile devices allow for Internet connections. He called this the base of the revolution that is supported by the government program, “Digital Republic”.

Being interviewed by Adriano Sánchez Roa on “Desafíos” on Digital 15 and Telemicro, Channel 5, he explained that “Digital Republic” would begin next year and would change everything leading to a positive effect on the economy, education, health, child development and would make it easier for users to carry out business.

Del Castillo Saviñón said that according to studies by the International Labor Organization (OIT), by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (BID), for every 10% increase in Internet usage in the country, there is an increase of 3% in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), a reduction of unemployment of around 2% and a consolidation of competitiveness of 1.9%.

He said that as part of Digital Republic program, 890 points across the country, including hospitals and parks, would become Internet hotspots offering free Wi-Fi.

Dominicans returning in droves from Puerto Rico
Thousands of Dominicans continue to return to the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico, due to the difficulties on the island as a result of the effects of Hurricane Maria. Even after several weeks since the hurricane passed over the island, there are frequent and widespread blackouts and a lack of communications, fuel, food and health services. The government says it could take four years before the road transportation infrastructure is fully functional. Although the ferry service between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico has been restored, getting off the island remains a challenge.

In addition to Dominicans, Puerto Ricans and foreigners of other nationalities, such as Venezuelans, Cubans and Americans living in Puerto Rico, have visited the Dominican Consulate to obtain visas to travel to the DR for longer stays. The Dominican consulate, located on the 5th floor of a commercial building on Ponce de León Street in San Juan, suffered significant damage.

Nevertheless, Consul General Franklin Grullón said that most of the documents were protected inside cabinets and drawers. He said they are operating out of an apartment on the first level of the same building so they can assist Dominicans who want to return home.

Mayor Martinez exposes businesses he says have evaded paying their taxes
Santiago Mayor Abel Martínez has carried out one of his threats, to publish on a giant billboard the names of companies, which, according to City Hall, have not paid their taxes. The list, which is located on a corner between the very central Juan Pablo Duarte and Salvador Estrealla Sadhala Avenues, includes the names of McDonald’s, Coca Cola, Orange Dominicana, Kukara Macara, Hotel Aloha Sol, Plaza Internacional and Provocón VI.

According to spokesman for the mayor, Fernando Ramírez, they will also be taken to court if they continue to refuse to pay.

Thousands of undocumented Haitians detained
Over the last 48 hours, agents from the Migration Agency (DGM) have detailed around 1,500 undocumented Haitians in the northern area and some tourist locations in the country.

The raids were carried out in rural communities in Santiago Rodríguez, María Trinidad Sánchez, Espaillat, Las Terreras, Samaná, Constanza and other areas.

The agents were supported by members of the Specialized Corps of Tourist Safety (CESTUR) and the Public Prosecution service, as well as others.

At least 151 of the Haitians were handed over to the authorities from their country and the rest were taken to the Refugee Detention Center.

As reported, the border has been reinforced with the departure of the Minustah United Nations troops that were stationed in Haiti.

Coercive measures sought in murdered lawyer case
The Public Prosecution service has announced they will seek coercive measures for those detained in the murder of the lawyer and UASD university professor, Yuniol Ramírez.

At present, under arrest are the director of the Metropolitan Autobus Office (OMSA) Manuel Antonio Rivas Medina, and OMSA employee José Antonio Mercado Blanco, Omsa financial director and Police captain Faustino Rosario Díaz, and businessman Eddy Rafael Santana Zorrilla.

Still on the run is Argenis Contreras González, another OMSA employee, who is accused of physically committing the crime along with Mercado Blanco.

The accused are being held at the Police Investigation Department with the exception of Manuel Rivas, who is at the Unit of Complex Crimes.

The prosecutors preliminary investigation revealed the murder was carried out because of the extorsion that allegedly the deceased demanded of the former director of OMSA for desisting of a legal recourse against corruption at the Omsa and for which he would have made a first payment of RD$1 million of RD$4 million.

Meanwhile, the Administrative Minister of the Presidency, José Ramón Peralta, has assured that President Danilo Medina will take a decision about the OMSA corruption case and that if there is evidence of corruption at the institution then consequences will follow.

Peralta said that in cases of this nature, it has to be asked who actually carried out the crimes and who the intellectual author of the crimes was. He said President Medina had always taken action when the situation was clear and that he always acted responsibly against any situation that affected the integrity of all government agencies and any government official accused of misdeeds – and this case not being an exception.

Lawyer Yuniol Ramírez was found murdered in the Manoguayabo River. It is known that he abruptly left a class he was giving after receiving a call on his mobile. State prosecutors have accused the Omsa employees of the murder, and the motive was that he was bribing the director of Omsa, Manuel Rivas, a claim that has been disputed by the family of the deceased.

According to the authorities he was murdered by workers at OMSA as he was supposedly bribing the director of the institution, Manuel Rivas, a claim which has been disputed by the family of the deceased.

In 2013, Diario Libre had published details of alleged corruption at the OMSA, but despite the evidence, the Medina administration ignored the claims. The Diario Libre article focused on millionaire debts, privileges and illegalities at Omsa.

More rains on the way
The National Meteorological Office (Onamet) has forecast that the rains will continue due to a tropical wave moving over from Haiti, a low presssure in the north of the country and a front moving over the Canal del Viento.

The thunderstorms are affecting the north, northeast, northwest and southeast and the central mountain area.

The rains are more likely to occur in the late afternoon.

Onamet also warned of an area of low pressure to the north of the country that has a 40% chance of becoming a tropical storm in the next 48 hours.

Dominican Republic wins Norceca Group A
On 15 October 2017 in the final game, the Dominican Republic volleyball team defeated Puerto Rico 3-0 (26-24, 25-21, 25-15) during the Norceca Group A Qualification that took place in Santo Domingo over the weekend. Both teams were already qualified to the FIVB Women’s World Championship set for Japan in 2018.

Norceca reported that Annerys Vargas,who finished the match with 13 points, including 6 blocks, was the best scorer for the winners while Bryaelin Martinez contributed 11 points in the victory. Gina Mambru and Bethania de la Cruz added 9 and 8 points, respectively.

The winners led in blocks 12-9 while the losers out-served their opponents 5-0.

Marcos Kwiek, Coach of Dominican Republic: “I think we played to win 3-0, but we started bad in the first set. We know that we have a lot of power in attack but at the beginning we couldn’t receive. When we stabilized the reception we were able to adjust our offense working with our middle blockers, In the third set I noticed Puerto Rico was tired and we could close the match.

Bethania De la Cruz, captain of Dominican Republic: “Puerto Rico is always competitive and despite being so young, they have a surprising amount of match experience. The matches between these two teams are always a battle and today it was no different.”

Javier Gaspar, Coach of Puerto Rico: “I think we battled for the first two sets, played well and we could have won one of the two sets. Our serves were consistent but in the third set we could not keep their rhythm. They are a very strong team. We did not have the rhythm in different plays and we paid the price”.

Natalia Valentín, captain of Puerto Rico: “We played well through the whole match until we reached the 20-point plateau when we didn’t execute. The Dominican squad rose to the challenge and got support from the home crowd.

Brenda Castillo took the Most Valuable Player plaque, and recognition as the best libero, best digger and best receiver. Dominican teammates Brayelin Martinez and Bethania de la Cruz received their plaques as first and second outside hitter, Annerys Vargas as first middle blocker, Gina Mambru as best opposite and Yonkaira Peña as best server. Puerto Rico’s Natalia Valentin and Daly Santana were selected as best setter and best scorer, respectively.

Reaching out to baseball fans
The new president of the Dominican Winter Professional Baseball League (Lidom) Vitelio Mejía promises that this 2017-2018 season experience for the fans will be much better than in the past. He says they are aware that fans can watch the games on TV in comfortable settings, so the league has to work harder to draw the people to the ball parks. He said this year the fans will find attractive prices at the snack bars, security inside the stadium and outside in the parking areas, lit parking lots, and ease of purchasing tickets at the stadium or online.

Mejia announced that speaking for the Quisqueya Ball Park, home club to the Escogido Lions and the Licey Tigers, this year are being serviced by five feeder routes by Omsa buses connecting the fans in key areas of the city before and after the game. He said two buses will be transporting fans departing from outside the Freddy Beras-Goico station of the Metro for Av. Tiradentes commuters.

Tickets this year for Aguilas games at the Cibao Ball Park in Santiago run from RD$920, RD$800, RD$600, RD$400 and RD$200. The games will be broadcast by Channel 29, Channel 4, Channel 5 and on Teleunion and Tricom HD. Escogido and Licey games at the Quisqueya Ball Park in Santo Domingo start at RD$1,200, RD$750, RD$450, RD$250 and RD$100. Games will be transmitted by Ame 47, Digital 15, HD Tricom.

San Francisco de Macoris games at the Julian Javier Ball Park cost RD$550, RD$300 and RD$75. They are transmitted by CDN Sports Max on Claro and Altice.

La Romana games at the Francisco Micheli ball park cost RD$500, RD$300 and RD$75.

San Pedro de Macoris games at the Tetelo Vargas ball park cost RD$450, RD$350 and RD$50.

See the schedule for games at: