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Thread: DR1 Daily News - Thursday, 19 October 2017

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    Default DR1 Daily News - Thursday, 19 October 2017

    DR1 Daily News next update on Monday
    Turkish businessmen invest in the DR
    Men earning more than women
    Environmental permission revoked for Silicon Cabarete, irregularities claimed
    Taiwan concerned about relations with the Dominican Republic
    Rosario Espinal: PLD days are counted
    Dominicans’ deepest concerns: Crime, jobs and corruption
    The case of the murdered lawyer continues
    Chronology of the Yuniol Ramirez murder
    A taped conversation has been released by CDN, Channel 37.
    Brother of murdered Yuniol Ramirez: photograph shows murder happened at the UASD
    Venezuelans arrested
    San Cristobal judge favored Quirinito leaves the country
    Fashion in the Colonial City

    DR1 Daily News next update on Monday
    The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 20 October 2017. The Monday issue will compile headline news for the previous Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Breaking news can be followed 24/7 in the Forums. See the DR1 Forum at

    Turkish businessmen invest in the DR
    President Danilo Medina received Turkish investors Cengiz Cesur and Lonnie Langston at the Presidential Palace. The businessmen recently qualified their companies to operate as tax free industries at the San Pedro de Macorís Industrial Free Zone. They announced they are making a first investment of RD$32 million. They will operate under the company name Void Tech, and will employ 150 at the industrial plant. They will manufacture dunnage bags and flexible bags for wholesale and industrial loads. They expect their first exports by 2018, generating foreign currency of more than US$600,000 a year.

    The company has been a global exporter since 1993. It has three production plants in Turkey, including a specialized room for the manufacture of bags for food wastes and pharmaceutical products.

    During the meeting, the businessmen were accompanied by the executive director of the National Export Free Zones Council, Luisa Fernandez.

    Turkish businessmen have also installed a fishery in the southwest and are looking into steel industry partnerships, as reported recently in the press.

    Men earning more than women
    According to data from the Ministry of Public Information (MAP) via the Administration System of Public Servants (SASP) as of September 2017, in 195 state institutions employ 333,736, of which 101,825 have a salary under RD$10,000, for 30.5% of the total. 16.8% earn between RD$10,000 to RD$19,000 and 22.1% earn between RD$30,000 and RD$39,000.

    Although there are more women than men in total, 63.4% versus 36.5%, when it comes to those who earn more than RD$100,000 a month, 57.78% of them are men.

    Young people are not well represented. Data shows that 63.49% of the public employees are over 40 years old.

    The central government institution with the most employees is the Ministry of Education with 186,658, followed by the Ministry of Public Health with 66,206 and the Ministry of the Presidency with 11,801.

    At the other end of the scale are the Treasury of Social Security with 194, the Santo Domingo Fire Brigade with 396 and the Ministry of Youth with 431.

    The government staff count does not include persons employed in decentralized organizations.

    Environmental permission revoked for Silicon Cabarete, irregularities claimed
    The Ministry of Environment revoked on 17 October 2017 the environmental license issued for the development of Villas La Boca Ecological Lounge by Dreams Endowment Corporation SRL in La Boca, Cabarete, Puerto Plata. The project would be developed at the Yásica River mouth. The stop to construction was issued following recommendations made after Ministry of Environment inspectors visited the site on 29 September 2017 and confirmed violations of the permission to build the residential and technology center.

    As reported in Diario Libre, the inspectors confirmed that some 1,500 meters of dunes were irregularly filled in to build a parking area. Diario Libre reports that Ministry of Environment inspectors saw for themselves that an area within the 60 meters fringe area from the beach had been marked off for a wooden path, affecting a public access area and the dunes. This area was off limits as per the environmental license. The inspectors, reportedly also ascertained where the main dwelling was marked for construction would also violate the authorization, as part of the dunes and area vegetation would need to be eliminated. The inspectors received evidence (videos by drones) from the community that mangroves had been eliminated.

    The project developers propose to create a working and creative center with accommodations for businessmen from all over the world. The heart of the development is Silicon Cabarete, a software technology entrepreneurship incubator where a number of entrepreneurs can work in a highly stimulating environment, where they are able to share and develop their ideas surrounded by like-minded people. The project would consist of a creativity center, villas, and entertainment areas.

    The environmental permission authorized a main villa of two levels, a secondary villa, two operation enters for technology system operations (Silicon Cabarete 1 and 2) of 1,000 square meters each, a spa-gym, two tennis courts, principal entrance and parking for 10 vehicles.

    The leading investor in the project is reportedly Fabrice Grinda, a French entrepreneur, best known for being co-founder of OLX, one of the largest classified ads websites in the world.

    The snag though, is that the chosen site is environmentally fragile. The developers reportedly received Ministry of Environment environmental permission for the project development after three years of requesting the license amid protests that the project potentially threatened wetland, mangroves and dunes in the area known as La Boca, the estuary formed where the Yásica River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. In granting the permission, Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito had alerted that the project needed to be limited to areas where it would cause the least environmental damage.

    The Association for the Protection of Environment and Tourism of Cabarete and Sosua (Asoprocaso) and the Academy of Sciences had alerted of the impact the development could have on the fragile ecosystem.

    Diario Libre reported on 18 October 2017 that as part of the conditioning of the site, 40 tareas (approximately 25,000 square meters) of mangroves and 1,200 of dunes had been affected. Families in the area have complained that the development would cut their access to the beach.

    Taiwan concerned about relations with the Dominican Republic
    Deputy Foreign Minister of Taiwan, Jose Maria Liu is expected this October after a visit in August 2017. Liu's trip is meant to enhance bilateral cooperation, the source noted, as reported in Focus Taiwan.

    The announcement of the visit was made by Taiwan Foreign Relations Minister David Lee who on 22 July had been in the Dominican Republic himself to strengthen relations. During that visit, he did not meet with Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas who at the time was abroad.

    News sources in Taiwan report that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taiwan has closely monitored their diplomatic ties with the Dominican Republic for "a long period of time.” The remark was made by a Taiwanese official in response to a warning that the Dominican Republic could be growing closer to Beijing, as published in Focus Taiwan.

    At a legislative hearing, opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Chiang Chi-chen pointed to signs suggesting the possibility that the Dominican Republic could switch its allegiance from Taipei to Beijing.

    He noted that Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during the United Nations General Assembly this September 2017 and that Vargas did not voice support for Taiwan during the just concluded UN general assembly.

    In response, Foreign Minister David Lee who fielded questions during the hearing, said the ministry has been closely watching the ally for a long time.

    Lee also said that he visited the Dominican Republic in July and Vice Foreign Minister Jose Maria Liu went there in August, and added that Liu is headed there again "right now" to strengthen ties.

    During Lee's trip in July, however, he did not meet with Vargas. Taiwan's Foreign Ministry explained at the time that Vargas was on an overseas trip and had his deputy welcome Lee instead.

    Also, Vargas met with Wang in September because the Dominican Republic is trying to secure a non-permanent member seat on the United Nations Security Council in the future and was allegedly soliciting China's support.

    Rosario Espinal: PLD days are counted
    Dominican political analyst Rosario Espinal, in an op-ed piece in Hoy newspaper on 18 October 2017, writes on how corruption and lack of professionalism have affected Dominican institutions since the 31-year Trujillo regime, through the 22-year government of Balaguer, the 12-year PRD government to the present 17 years of PLD government.

    “The 17 years of PLD government have been a perpetual disagreement between the discourse of modernity and the repeating of dire political policies of the past: corruption, political patronage and caudillismo, hindering the development of democracy and the economy,” writes Espinal, who is also a sociology professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA.

    “Currently, the Dominican state is caught between the demands of the ruling PLD’s own political clientele and those of its allied parties to continue the illegal distribution of public resources. With so much time in power and accumulated robberies, corruption scandals proliferate,” she writes.

    She alerts that these robberies today have become the main threat to overthrow government legitimacy. She says that neither President Danilo Medina, nor the president of the PLD, nor its Political Committee have caught on with precision to the magnitude of the problem. “They assume that as since there are so many people involved in corruption, they can look the other way, and from their positions of power they ignore or justify the scandals, and at best, take lukewarm measures. They, instead of being part of the solution, are part of the problem,” she writes.

    Espinal forecasts that if action is not taken, the PLD will collapse. “At present, the tentacles of corruption have spread everywhere, and robbery has become modus vivendi in Dominican society under the auspices of the state,” she says. She alerts that if the PLD from its top management does not take firm action against corruption, it will die.

    She warns: “No government is immune to collapse, however precarious the opposition. In a crisis of legitimacy, some ‘savior’ will appear, even if he later becomes an oppressor.”

    Espinal says that “stealing, like all human vices, is addictive”. She forecasts that the scandals will become more alarming and frequent. “The excesses of corruption are becoming increasingly bizarre and disgusting; and the sloppiness with which the system of impunity has been organized is becoming horrifying,” she writes.

    She writes that the situation is for all to see and the list is long and known: Super Tucanos, OISOE, CEA, CORDE, Odebrecht, OMSA, etc. etc.

    “All this corruption and the deaths are responsibility of the PLD. “They can no longer cover the sun with one finger, nor use Juan Bosch as a cloak.”

    Dominicans’ deepest concerns: Crime, jobs and corruption
    38% of Dominicans told SIN-Mark Penn pollsters that crime and delinquency are the greatest concerns. In 2012, crime and deliquency had been rated with 15%. Unemployment is the second greatest concern, with 17%. Corruption is third, with 14%. Corruption in 2012 was rated 6%.

    Next follow cost of living, inflation and the economy with 13%, and health with 3%.

    54% of those polled said that the Dominican Republic was not headed in the right direction.

    National District Mayor David Collado as a possible pre-candidate for the PRM than former PRM candidate Luis Abinader running against former President Leonel Fernandez. The numbers of voter preference were 37% Fernandez, 29% Collado and 25% Luis Abinader.

    The same poll revealed that 58% of eligible voters described themselves as independent, 29% say they follow the ruling PLD, 9% the PRM, 3% the PRD and 1% the PRSC.

    The survey was carried out 30 September to 3 October 2017 with 1,000 eligible voters polled in the National District. The margin of error is + – 3.1%.

    The case of the murdered lawyer continues
    The Santo Domingo Public Prosecution Service has accused the former director of the Metropolitan Bus Service Office (OMSA) Manuel Rivas Medina, of being a member of a criminal network that committed acts of corruption, prevarication against the state and murdered lawyer Yuniol Ramírez Ferreras. Prosecutors are asking for the case to be declared complex, which will allow more time to put their case together.

    As part of the request for coercive measures, they state that businessman Eddy Santana Zorrilla had agreed to pay Ramirez Ferreras RD$4 million to drop the case he had filed for corruption against Omsa transactions in the Superior Administrative Court (TSA).

    The request for coercive measures asks for a year in preventive custody in La Victoria against Rivas Medina, José Mercado Blanco, “El Grande”, police colonel Faustino Rosario Díaz and Argenis Contreras González (on th run). However it states that Santana Zorrilla, who is a supplier for OMSA, was the person who handed over the money and contacted the lawyer and university professor several times. Nevertheless, in the preliminary file accusation, Santana has not been charged in connection with the case. [Subsequently, on 18 October 2017, he was arrested in the case.]

    According to the Public Prosecutor, it was colonel Rosario, who took Contreras González, personal assistant to the director of OMSA, to meet with Santana Zorrilla at a gas station on Romulo Betancourt Avenue and was witness to the handing over of the RD$1 million as the first payment for the desisting to the corruption case.

    The rest of the money would be given after the writ was withdrawn on 12 October when the hearing was scheduled. It was later known that Ramirez had been murdered.

    Three days after the university professor was found dead in a stream in Santo Domingo West, the authorities carried out several raids. One was at the home of the man on the run, Argenis Contreras. There they found an arsenal including a 9-millimeter Smith and Wesson pistol, a 12 mm shotgun, and pieces of rifles. They also found military uniforms and several ID cards from the Ministry of Interior and Police in his name.

    On Tuesday, 17 October the authorities found the pickup truck used in the kidnap and murder, left abandoned in a street in Manoguayabo near where the body was found.

    In the accusation, the Santo Domingo prosecutors say that Police coronel Faustino Rosario Díaz, who was also the financial director for Omsa, was in charge of the illicit operations managed by Manuel Antonio Rivas Medina. When the later traveled abroad prior to the murder, Rosario kept contact with Argenis Contreras González for payment operations and organized and supplied the means for the murder of the lawyer.

    Chronology of the Yuniol Ramirez murder
    The Santo Domingo province court under Judge Leonarda Quezada meets on Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 2pm to hear pre-trial custody measures against the three suspects involved in the murder of UASD law professor Yuniol Ramirez that took place in Santo Domingo on Wednesday, 11 October 2017. A fourth suspect, Argenis Contreras, is believed to have traveled to the United States.

    The media has shared the written statement to the case prosecutors by Jose Antonio Mercado Blanco (El Grande) who participated in the kidnapping of Ramirez and has said that Argenis Contreras fired the deathly gunshot. Both were employees at the Oficina Metropolitana de Servicios de Autobuses (Omsa) state bus agency.

    Yuniol Ramírez was murdered on Wednesday, 11 October 2017. On the next day, Thursday, 12 October he had a scheduled hearing against the Omsa bus agency and later cancelled director Manuel Rivas. Ramírez had demanded the delivery of documents regarding Omsa suppliers.
    Listin Diario and other media have published a chronology of events. Here is the English version.

    6 June 2017
    Yuniol Ramírez asks the Omsa for information on their suppliers, persons in hire, and reconstructed buses. The request is made supported by Free Information Act. The request was received by Silvia Durán. Incomplete documentation was provided.

    19 June
    Yuniol Ramírez sends an act of bailiff, via Manuel E. Batista, repeating the request for the purchase orders to the companies Martisdom, Tech Solution, Venditio Line, Josafap Inversiones, Soluciones Thiaubaa for bus reconstructions. He also requested the Omsa contracts for Eddy Santana and Lillian Suárez.

    4 July
    Yuniol Ramirez sends another act of bailiff, signed by Manuel E. Batista, requesting information from Omsa on grounds of the Free Information Act. He requests certificates of the repair of buses.

    13 September
    Yuniol Ramírez filed with the Superior Administrative Court (TSA), the government court in charge of reviewing the correctness of government actions, a recourse for violation of the right to information, in the name of the Convergencia Nacional de Abogados (CONA). He had requested the contracts signed with Omsa suppliers Eddy Santana and Lilian Suarez.

    A day in September
    José Antonio Mercado Blanco “El Grande,” admitted to the authorities that a day in September (he did not specify the date) he went to the UASD main campus in Santo Domingo accompanied by Argenis Contreras. In his confession he said that the visit was to check out the owner of a black SUV.

    28 September
    The Superior Administrative Court (TSA) sets the date for the first hearing for 28 September in reply to the request made by Yuniol Ramírez of Cona. On the same day, it reschedules the hearing for 12 October 2017.

    2 October
    Yuniol Ramírez is convened to a meeting in the lobby of the Hotel Embajador where, according to statements by the accused, the “negotiations” began.

    4 October
    Another meeting was held at the Hotel Embajador so that an offer could be made to the lawyer so the later desist from the legal case. Present at that meeting was businessman Eddy Santana Zorrilla, who supposedly was sent by Manuel Rivas to reach an agreement, in case it were necessary, on the sum so the lawyer desisted from the legal action.

    6 October
    Police colonel Faustino Rosario Díaz, also Omsa financial manager, would have agreed with businessman Santana Zorrilla that to deliver the advance of RD$1 million he would be accompanied by Argenis Contreras, personal assistant to the now cancelled Omsa director, Manuel Rivas.

    State prosecutors say that on 6 October the advance payment was delivered in a fuel station located on Av. Rómulo Betancourt.

    11 October
    Argenis Contreras González and Mercado Blanco (El Grande) meet in a parking area of the UASD waiting for the law professor to finish his classes to kidnap him.

    The prosecutors say that Contreras González called the professor so that he leave the classroom. It is known he cut the class short. Once they get close, Argenis Contreras speaks to him and Mercado Blanco grabs him by the back and forces him inside the Ford Ranger pickup, while he is held up by firearm.

    The route used by the vehicle was captured by 911 surveillance cameras.

    Lawyer Yuniol Ramírez is reported missing. His vehicle was found parked in the university.

    12 October
    The body of Yuniol Ramírez is found near Manoguayabo River on the same day the case he carried against the Omsa would have been heard at the Superior Administrative Court (TSA).

    A taped conversation on the Yuniol Ramírez murder has been released by CDN
    NCDN, Channel 37, has released the taped conversation between Argenis Contreras González and José Antonio Mercado Blanco (El Grande) supposedly after the murder of UASD law professor Yuniol Ramírez took place.

    Contreras is accused by state prosecutors of firing the shot that killed the lawyer. In the taped conversation, Contreras expresses his confidence that all went well and that the only loose thread was a cell phone that got left behind where the body was disposed of. Argenis minimizes that where the body was left, a mobile was lost, saying that the phone was hardly used, albeit it was in his name. “If things continue as they are, all is perfect,” Argenis reportedly told El Grande.

    El Grande asks about the pick up in which Yuniol Ramírez was murdered and where Argenis left this. Argenis responds that he sent it to a shop to get work done on it because too many people had seen it. He explains that the pick up would then be passed on to someone else.

    Argenis also instructs El Grande to get RD$30,000 from his spouse, Heidy Carolina Peña.

    Mercado Blanco told prosecutors he had been offered RD$100,000 to participate in the kidnapping of the lawyer.

    Against Argenis Contreras González there is reportedly an international capture order. In his conversation with El Grande he says he has traveled to Miami, USA.

    In the murder case under arrest is the cancelled director of the Omsa, Manuel Rivas, and the financial director of the Omsa, police colonel Faustino Rosario Díaz, in addition to El Grande.
    Manuel Rivas, former director of Omsa, has denied his participation in any way in the murder of Yuniol Ramírez.

    Brother of murdered Yuniol Ramirez: photograph shows murder happened at the UASD
    Lawyer Ramón Ramírez, brother of murdered UASD professor Yuniol Ramírez, told El Caribe on Wednesday, 18 October, that his brother was murdered at the UASD. He said that visuals that are part of the investigation prove that when the Ford Ranger blue pickup left the university campus, it already had a bullet hole in the right glass window. He said the surveillance video shows that together with Ramírez four other persons were in the vehicle attired in military or police uniform. He said most likely a gun silencer was used. The image was captured by a security camera at 4:29pm. The Ford Ranger was found on Tuesday, 17 October near the Los Cerezos residential area in Manoguayabo.

    The vehicle had been described by José Antonio Mercado (El Grande) in questioning by the prosecutors. Mercado said that Argenis Contreras González fired the shot that killed Ramírez on 11 October 2017. Argenis Contreras is on the run.

    Legal experts have remarked this evidence could merit that the case now be heard in a court in the National District and not in Santo Domingo West.

    Venezuelans arrested for theft
    The police has announced that they have arrested four Venezuelanas, including a woman, accused of robbing RD$1,065,000 from a citizen in the National District.

    According to the police report, those arrested are Joaquín Edwardo Proda, aged 40; Manuel Bravo, 32; Gregorio Medina, 29, and Norma Cecilia Martínez, 34.

    The money was inside a backpack in a vehicle that belonged to the unidentified victim.

    San Cristobal judge favored Quirinito leaves the country
    A San Cristobal Judge who was suspected for changing the jail of Pedro Alejandro Castillo Paniagua (Quirinito) could not be interviewed yesterday, Wednesday 18 October 2017 as he has left the country.

    Willy de Jesús Núñez left for Panama last Monday, 16 October. The media reports he is due to return to the country on Friday, when he will be interviewed by the Public Prosecution Service who have changed the appointment to then, given he did not turn up for this interview today.

    The media has reported the judge was away to attend a professional course in Panama.

    Fashion in the Colonial City
    Mayor David Collado cut the inaugural ribbon for Dominicana Moda 2017, the leading fashion week in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. In its 12th year, the collection of runway shows and beauty and fashion exhibit this year is happening from 18-21 October 2017 in the Colonial City, with the runways at the Fortaleza Ozama on Las Damas Street.
    See the schedule of events for Dominicana Moda at:

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    Did they murder Lawyer Yuniol Ramírez because he did not accept the bribe.....


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