DR1 Daily News next update on Monday
More sovereign bonds to finance Punta Catalina power plant
Ministry of Energy & Mines promotes biomass energy generation
Restoration of Fray Anton de Montesinos monument begins
2 million motorcycles, but only 300,000 licenced drivers
Funds sought for construction of more prisons
You can now obtain passport using credit card
Cesar Mella says President Medina should decide if he goes or stays at IDSS
President attends opening new Korea Embassy offices
US acting ambassador Robert Copley urges to build upon strengths
More fake migration papers
Supreme Court annuls order to demolish Torre de Plata in Los Cacicazgos
55,000 cases of gender violence
Has Quirinito left the country?
Violence against children
Dominican illegal boat trips still too many to Puerto Rico
Police shoot member of gang in San Pedro
Authorities identify man arrested at airport with US$449,000
Chilly weather is here
DR wins gold in rowing in Bolivarian Games
Dominican Winter Baseball Championship wrap up
Cecilia García in Over the Rainbow at the National Theater
It’s all about Black Friday

DR1 Daily News next update on Monday
The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 27 November 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 http://www.dr1.com

More sovereign bonds to finance Punta Catalina power plant
The Presidency sent to the Senate amendments to the National Budget that had already been passed in Congress. The amendments would authorize the placement of sovereign bonds for the financing of the Punta Catalina power plant under construction by a consortium that includes Brazilian firm Odebrecht in Peravia province. The Brazilian export promotion agency would have originally financed the power plant, but the Odebrecht corruption scandal has eliminated this option.

The Presidency also adds RD$1.88 billion to the revenues of the Fondo Patrimonial de las Empresas Reformadas (Fonper), the Empresa de Transmisión Electrica Dominicana (ETED), the Instituto Dominicano de Telecomunicaciones (Indotel).

In a meeting with the president of the Senate, Reinaldo Pared Perez, Minister of Hacienda Donald Guerrero explained the entities would receive additional funds for the programs 911, AgroForestry, Extreme Poverty and Digital Republic of the Presidency. Additional funds are also allotted for wage increases to the members of the Armed Forces, National Police, and other government employees.

Both the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies had passed the 2018 National Budget as received from the Presidency. The ruling PLD party is majority in both chambers.


Ministry of Energy & Mines promotes biomass energy generation
The Ministry of Energy and Mines is promoting the generation of energy by biomass, one of the renewable and sustainable sources of energy that can be used for producing electricity. In a press release, the Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) highlights that biomass can be an instrument to combat inequity, and promote inclusion of the most vulnerable in the country.

The press release highlights the availability of the Statistical and Geographical System for the evaluation of biomass energy potential in the country. The new system is developed in coordination with the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). The project is developed Adrian Ghilardi of the Center for Environmental Geography Investigations of the National Autonomous University of Mexico. The online database would indicate the areas of the country for biomass energy generation. Deputy Minister for Energy Ernesto Vilalta recently participated in the presentation of the project.

In the press release, Minister of Energy and Mines Antonio Isa Conde highlights that the value chain created by biomass is “wonderful” because it starts with energy sourcing crops, taking advantage of organic wastes by commercializing these, offering job and revenue opportunities for locals. Isa Conde said that the production of this type of renewable is becoming more important on a global scale and today represents 10% of the power generated in the world, according to the International Energy Agency. “We have to take advantage of biomass that is more manageable and has more controllable risk factors than eolic or solar energy. He explained biomass has the comparative advantage that it depends more on the human factor and is less vulnerable to nature.


Restoration of Fray Anton de Montesinos monument begins
The Ministry of Culture, the Embassy of Mexico and the City Government of the National District have begun the renovation of the Fray Antón de Montesinos monument. The monument to the precursor of human rights in the Americas was donated to the country in1982 by then President Jose Lopez Portillo of Mexico.

The Ministry of Culture is supervising the works carried out by the City Government of the National District (ADN). The works include improving sidewalks and area city lighting and improved focus on surveillance, cleanliness and the rehabilitation of the internal structures in the area.

The Ministry of Culture has announced a Taino Museum will be installed in the monument to make it more attractive to national and foreign visitors. The museum operation will be coordinated by the Committee of Friends of Fray Anton de Montesinos, oversight will be provided by businessman Manuel García Arevalo, representatives of the Ministry of Culture and the Embassy of Mexico.

Minister of Culture Pedro Vergés, City Mayor David Collado and Ambassador of Mexico Carlos Tirado Zabala gave a press conference in the halls of the monument to announce the end of the abandonment of the monument. In 2015, the Vatican charged its Dominican Republic ambassador with soliciting sex from shoeshine boys that hung out at the abandoned Fray Anton de Montesinos Monument. Nuncio Josef Wesolowski would die before his trial began.


2 million motorcycles, but only 300,000 licensed drivers
The director of the National Transit and Transport Institute (Intrant), Claudia Franchesca de los Santos recently revealed that while the Tax Agency (DGII) has registered two million motorcycles, only 300,000 persons are licensed to drive these. She said the new institution has opened mobile units nationwide where the motorcyclists can apply for the driver’s license. Motorcyclists are involved in most traffic accidents in the country.

Likewise, De los Santos said efforts are underway with the Metropolitan Transport Authority (Amet) to encourage the motorcyclists to wear helmets. While helmets are used in the National District, outside of Santo Domingo the authorities have been lax in enforcing the safety requirement.

In an interview on El Destapón (107.7 FM), the director of the new entity announced that in 2018 a new system would be put into place that will be able to detect speeding and when a vehicle crosses a red light. The same system will automatically apply the fines.

De los Santos announced the Intrant would be implementing a plan to reduce bottle necks during the Christmas holidays.

Funds sought for construction of more prisons
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez has revealed that together with the Judicial Branch, his department is developing a series of initiatives to gradually reduce the overcrowding in prisons throughout the country. He spoke of a pilot program in which prosecutors and judges will visit the inmates and conduct preliminary hearings in the prisons to determine the legal status of each detainee and speed up the judicial process.

In an interview with Miguel Franjul, director of the Listin Diario, Rodríguez also said his office is looking at the possibilities of building new jails and modernizing the existing ones.

He also mentioned the use of new technology, including electronic tagging and other ways of keeping a permanent monitor on felons who had health issues and those who are considered of a minor flight risk.

Rodriguez said that he was working with the Executive Branch to obtain the necessary funds to build two new jails to replace La Victoria, which was built in 1952 to hold 1,000 people and currently has more than 9,000 inmates.

He commented two new jails, each with four modules holding 1,200 people each, would have capacity for 9,600 inmates. When these were built, La Victoria would be left with 1,200 inmates. Others would move to the new model for penitentiaries jails. He said among advances, a new pay scale for those working in jails had been put into place and some 250 new prison guards were appointed.


You can now obtain passport using credit card
The Passport Office has announced that they now have the facility for those requiring a Passport to pay by credit or debit card. The new measure is available in the Passport office at the Megacenter and will be rolled out to the other offices around the country.

Director General of Passports, Ramón-Monchy Rodríguez said that cash payments are still allowed, and that they continue to modernize their services.


Cesar Mella says President Medina should decide if he goes or stays at IDSS
The director general of the Dominican Institute of Social Security (IDSS), psychiatrist César Mella, has left up to President Danilo Medina his removal from the position. The impasse over the post came about after the president of the PRD, an ally with the ruling PLD into the 2016 presidential election, asked him to resign in order to name another PRD member to the position.

Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramon Peralta has since confirmed that the position is part of the deal the PLD reached with the PRD in order to secure the necessary votes for President Medina to seek re-election in 2016. The 2010 Constitution at the time banned him from running for re-election. But the PRD votes in Congress were enough so that the Constitution could be changed enabling him to run for office again.

President Danilo Medina appointed Mella to the IDSS in June 2016. Mella says he was delivered a government institution that was about to become extinct, but said that effective administration under his watch has revived the institution. Mella has said he wants to see in writing where it says that the IDSS was to be delivered to the PRD as part of a political agreement.

Mella was interviewed by the Listin Diario after opening up about PRD president Miguel Vargas’ request and statements by Peralta that the position was part of a political deal. Vargas is also Minister of Foreign Relations.

Mella told the Listin Diario: “I am a disciplined man and a man with a track record, and at this time I am dedicating my service to the President of the Republic. My work at the IDSS can be seen by all. I am not the owner of this position, but I have demonstrated that I do not tolerate a lack of respect for my service” he said.


President attends opening new Korea Embassy offices
President Danilo Medina visited the new offices of the Embassy of Korea in the Dominican Republic. The new offices have been operating since August 2017 at the Avenida Enriquillo 72, Urbanización Real in Santo Domingo (Tel 809 482-6505). President Medina was hosted by Korea Ambassador Kim Byung-Yun.
Speaking at the event, the ambassador forecast more Korean firms would be investing in the country. He praised the continued growth of the country. “This country has tourism zones that are better valued than petroleum. The Dominican Republic is a pearl in the Caribbean,” he said.

The Dominican Republic and Korea have 55 years of diplomatic ties. He said the new offices are an expression of the interest in strengthening the relations.

Ambassador Byung-Yun stated: “There is a saying: two mountains do not come together, but two peoples do. We will join efforts to strengthen bilateral relations for mutual benefit. I will promote in Korea the economic power and beauty of the Dominican Republic to attract more companies and tourists."
At the event, Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas said the Korean ambassador has expressed interest in the government of Korea to continue to collaborate in the energy and tourism sectors.

At the end of the event, President Medina received the official stuffed toys for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Games to be held in South Korea from 9-25 February 2018.


US acting ambassador Robert Copley urges to build upon strengths
The acting US ambassador Robert Copley calls for building upon the strengths of DR-CAFTA and tackling the obstacles to development and better relationships in his speech during the Thanksgiving Luncheon celebrated by the American Chamber of Commerce. He urged Dominicans to look to the example of the United States and the strength of its institutions that serve as the driving force for investor confidence and replicate this in the country.

Copley spoke of the contribution of the DR-CAFTA to improving best practices in the country. “The DR-CAFTA agreement is and will remain the cornerstone of our economic relationship, because it is mutually beneficial, but the progress we have achieved to date is not enough. Maybe not everyone will be completely in agreement with me, but since we are celebrating the tenth anniversary of the treaty, I consider it particularly appropriate that we pause to consider where we are today; and then contemplate what we, as two nations with deep historical, cultural and commercial ties, must do in the next ten years.”

On the positive side, Copley remarked that given the continued growth of the Dominican economy, at 4.75% the highest in the region, the DR-CAFTA has contributed significantly. “From its start in 2007, bilateral trade has increased US$2.1 billion,” he observed. He also mentioned that Dominican exports have increased, and foreign direct investment to the Dominican Republic has doubled (from 1 billion in 2005 to 2.2 billion in 2015).

The Gross Domestic Product has grown 44%. “During the last 10 years, the Dominican export sector has diversified significantly, all of you have advanced to improve the business climate, modernizing business practices and improving essential economic institutions,” he told his audience of business people.

Copley says there are gains in the institutional framework. He stated: “The implementation of DR-CAFTA has entailed substantial changes in Dominican laws. Laws related to conflict resolution, labor rights, environmental protection, government procurement processes, telecommunications, competition, taxes and fiscal transparency. With these legal changes, institutional changes came, which include a greater strengthening of property rights and labor protection. Likewise, more dynamics have been created on intellectual property rights and an antitrust office. These institutional changes should not be underestimated. The benefits that we have experienced to date, as a result of DR-CAFTA, are mainly perceived in institutional improvements.”

Copley says there is lots of room for continued growth in tourism. He said two million US citizens visit ever year. He highlighted the US investment in the Amber Cove cruise ship terminal in Puerto Plata.

He also spoke of the challenges ahead for the next ten years. “Although it is true that to date Dominican exports to the United States have not grown to the same extent as Dominican imports from the United States, it is also true that Dominican exports to the rest of the world have grown substantially, due in large part to the best business practices introduced by DR-CAFTA.”

He acknowledged difficulties found by Dominican exporters to the US. “Here I have to note that I can not say that the willingness to facilitate access to markets has always been reciprocated. Frequently, I hear examples of Dominican importers struggling to import dairy products and other US products due to technical and bureaucratic barriers that contradict the spirit of the agreement. However, we continue to believe in the strength of our collaboration as business partners.”

Taking advantage of the forum provided by the American Chamber of Commerce Thanksgiving luncheon, the US chief of mission stated:
“I am writing to you who are leaders in the private sector and the Dominican public sector, seeking your commitment and your help to answer three difficult questions. It is my opinion that the way in which the Dominican Republic responds to these questions will define how successful we can be and perhaps beyond the next 10 years. The first question is the most important, how can the Dominican Republic significantly reduce corruption? The second and third will not come as a surprise: how can the Dominican Republic increase its competitiveness and third, how to improve the security of its citizens?”

Copley acknowledged the role of the US is as a friend, ally and partner of the Dominican Republic. “It is not our place, although we do have an interest in helping them strengthen their institutions and we also have an interest in the health of their economy and democracy. In this situation, the only thing I can offer is that I know that the strength of institutions in the United States is what drives investor confidence,” he said.

“The polls, the news, and all the other indicators tell us that Dominicans are fed up with corruption. The Dominican Republic ranked 120 out of 176 on the 2016 Corruption Perception Index by a respected NGO. Corruption continues to be a major drag on growth, not only here, but throughout the region and the world. This robs businesses of the predictability of consumers and damages the government's ability to promote good economic policy,” he stated.

Copley also focused on the collapse of the Dominican public education system. “We can not talk about competitiveness without talking about education. As a friend and partner of the Dominican Republic, it is worrisome to see that, according to the Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, the Dominican Republic classified 123 of 138 countries in the quality of their primary education, obtaining a low score in competitiveness,” he wrote. He applauded new efforts of the Medina administration and Education Minister Andres Navarro to advance in this sector.

Copley also addressed the decline in security, while acknowledging rising drug consumption in the United States as the main cause of the rise in crime in the Dominican Republic. “Criminality endangers the Dominican economy at all levels. It is essential that everyone who lives or visits here can enjoy a safe and prosperous island; and the solution must be found as soon as possible,” he stated.

“This plague of insecurity is a systematic action of greater forces that must and can be eradicated collectively, including the reduction of the demand for drugs from the United States, which admittedly includes the very center of criminality in our region. It is worth noting here that the United States government spent more than US$9 billion last year on programs to reduce the demand for narcotics and drug treatment in the United States. In other words, we are making a great effort in my country.”

Copley mentioned US contributions to the 911 emergency system and professionalization of the National Police.

Copley ended his speech calling for the commitment of the business community to take advantage of the strengths. “I know that by working together, we can build on the solid foundation we have in DR-CAFTA and realize our aspirations in the next ten years,” he said.


More fake migration papers
The Migration Department (DGM) has announced that they have confiscated hundreds more false identity cards and copies of the National Foreigner Regularization Plan (PNRE) identity cards as well as foreign passports and Dominican identity cards (cedulas).

Among the documents are 162 fake ID cards, 141 foreign Passports, 67 Dominican cedulas and another 51 identity cards that were discovered in operations carried out in the National District and Greater Santo Domingo.

Last week Migration confiscated another 152 forged documents, 116 at the border in Dajabon and 36 PNRE cards in Santiago, 10 passports and 2 ID cards for foreign students. Migration explained that those carrying the forged documents would be deported.


Supreme Court annuls order to demolish Torre de Plata in Los Cacicazgos
The Second Penal Hall of the Supreme Court of Justice annulled the ruling that had ordered the demolition of the Torre de Plata of the Los Cacicazgos neighborhood. Neighborhood associations had disputed the construction of the high rise on grounds that it violated zoning rulings in the affluent neighborhood.

The Supreme Court hall decided on the annulment on grounds that the right to defense of the tower owners was not adequately heard and that new documentation has been presented in the case. The court ordered new review of the evidence.


55,000 cases of gender violence
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez says Dominican authorities have received more than 55,000 complaints of intra-family, gender and sexual violence. He spoke during a meeting with national and international experts on gender violence. He said so far this year there have been 80 femicides and called all social sectors to join to end the problem.

The Attorney General Office recently launched its National Plan Against Gender Violence that seeks to create awareness of the problem and strengthen the system directed by the Public Ministry to support and assist the victims.


Has Quirinito left the country?
According to the director of the National Intelligence Department (DNI), Admiral Sigfrido Pared Pérez, “there is a strong possibility” that the fugitive of justice, Pedro Alejandro Castillo Paulino alias “Quirinito”, has left the country via the Haitian border.

He said that “Quirinito”, condemned for the murder of a Spaniard in 2008, and who then faked his death, is no longer in the Dominican Republic. He also said that he could not have left by air as if he had done so this would have been registered. Pared Perez said his department has not given up hope of finding Quirinito. He said in cases like this some associate or family member would travel to meet him and then he could be arrested.

Meanwhile, Peravia province senator Wilton Guerrero said he suspects Quirinito is still in the Dominican Republic, protected by mafias that he said operate within the Police Department. Guerrero mentioned the case of former Police lieutenant Fernando de los Santos (alias La Soga), accused of multiple crimes, including homicide, and against whom an international capture order had been issued, in reality was in Santiago “protected by Police officers.”

“I have no doubt that Quirinito is also protected by the mafias that are within the National Police,” said Guerrero. He argued that Castillo Paniagua, who was last known to be in domiciliary arrest in San Francisco de Macoris, could be in a residence or farm residence of a Police officer.

As part of the investigation into the disappearance of Castillo Paniagua, the authorities have requested the international capture of Castillo Paniagua. Castillo’s wife, Jennifer Estefani Dominguez, assures that he died in July, victim of mouth cancer while he was in domiciliary arrest.


Violence against children
According to the NGO, Coalition for Childhood, some 67% of children and adolescents in the country suffer from some type of physical or psychological violence. The NGO reveals that around 330,000 children are working in the formal or informal job market. Coalition for Children observes that 37% of the female children are carrying out a role they were not prepared for, as they are marrying before the age of 18.

Tomás Polanco, the NGO coordinator, called on the ministries of Work, Health, Education along with the Attorney General’s Office and the Dominican Municipal League to work against all types of violence towards minors.


Dominican illegal boat trips still too many to Puerto Rico
The Commander of the Dominican Armada (Navy), Vice Admiral Miguel Enrique Peña Acosta, has said that during the month of November 2017, the Armada has confiscated 40 boats from groups who made illegal boat trips to Puerto Rico.

Peña Acosta said that the operation was carried out together with the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), which confiscated ten tons of cocaine in the middle of the ocean from a group of drug dealers, both Dominican and foreigners. He said that although Puerto Rico is experiencing difficult times following the big hit by Hurricane Maria, many Dominicans are still trying to go there, risking their lives as well as paying a lot of money to the illegal traffickers.

Admiral Peña called on Dominicans not to go to Puerto Rico and said that not only were they risking their lives but they would never get back the money they paid to the “mafiosos”.

He went on to say that over the last few weeks they have had to double their look out forces in Samana, Miches, Higuey and Sabana de la Mar due to the number of boats leaving.


Police shoot member of gang in San Pedro
Police officers have killed a man in San Pedro de Macorís who was accused of being part of gang that had killed three men, one of whom was found tied to concrete blocks in the Higuamo River with several gunshots. In a press release, the police say that 27-year old Rafael Batista Bialis (aka) Bobolita, was killed in the Blanco neighborhood of San Pedro in a shootout with police. Bialis used an illegal weapon in the exchange of gunfire.

“Bobolita” was being hunted for supposedly having participated in the murder of Rafael Aquino Vargas (aka) Aris, which took place on 18 October, in San Pedro de Macorís and whose body was found in the Higuamo River. He was also being sought for the murders of Francisco A. García (aka) Mingo, which happened on 28 July; of Daniel Salas (aka) Casi Loco, on 22 October, and for shooting and injuring Víctor Manuel Méndez Santos (aka) La Marrana, on 9 September, and Mariela Deogracia Germán 18 days ago.

The police stated that already arrested and awaiting a court appearance for supposedly belonging to the same gang is Ángel Esmal Martínez (aka) Dos Veinte, and that they are still looking for Daniel Martínez Almánzar (aka) La Leyenda, Carlos Alfredo Quezada Thomas (aka) Cucutín, Ricardo José Mateo Benítez (aka) Richard, and so called Bullé, Carlito El Gupi, Bibolo and El Gato.


Authorities identify man arrested at airport with US$449,000
The authorities have identified the man trying to leave the country with US$449,600 from Las Americas airport as Venezuelan Maikel Antonio García y García. He is now under investigation along with two Dominican who took him to the airport. He tried to get on a flight to Caracas, Venezuela on Monday 20 November 2017, when the money was detected by the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), the Specialized Corps of Airport Security (CESAC) and customs’ agents in his suitcase.


Chilly weather is here
The National Metereology Agency (Onamet) forecasts sunny skies for most of the country. Green alerts are no longer in effect and there will be less rain showers. Chilly temperatures in mountain areas are reported, including an 11 degree C temperature in Manabao, Jarabacoa in La Vega. Temperatures have descended to around 20 degrees C in Cibao cities. For Thursday, 23 November 2017, and the weekend, Onamet forecasts clear skies with isolated showers, mostly in the afternoon that may affect the northern and central regions of the country.


DR wins gold in rowing in Bolivarian Games
In rowing, Ariel Jiménez won gold in the 1,000 meters men distance (C1) with a time of 4:28:90. The duo of Cristian Guerrero García and Rafael Enrique Feliz Abreu in the 1,000 meters Kayak (K2) won with a time of 3:32:63. Cristian Guerrero won silver in 1,000 meters Kayak (K1) with time of 3:54:02.

In track and field, after winning gold in his main event, the 400 meter run, Luguelin Santos placed third on Wednesday, 22 November 2017, in the 200 meters in a time of 20.95. The winner did 20.27. Santos had qualified third for the race.


Gigantes del Cibao lead in baseball championship
Including games up to 22 November 2017, the San Francisco de Macorís team, Gigantes del Cibao is leading the 2017-2018 Dominican Winter Professional Baseball Championship with 18 wins and 11 losses. The Estrellas Orientales from San Pedro de Macoris are second with 16 wins and 11 losses. The Aguilas are a close third with 16 and 12 losses. The capital city teams Leones and Licey are 13-16 and 13-17. The Toros del Este of La Romana have not yet found a way to move up from the last place and now post 10 wins and 19 losses.

Follow the standings at:

See the next games schedule at:

Cecilia García in Over the Rainbow at the National Theater
Singer-actress Cecilia García will be performing the musical "Al final del arcoiris" (Over the Rainbow", made famous by Judy Garland) at the Carlos Piantini main hall of the National Theater in Santo Domingo. The performance marks her 50 years in the arts.
The musical opened on 22 November 2017 and will be staged throughout the weekend until Sunday, 26 November. Wednesday to Saturday shows are at 8:30pm, on Sunday, at 6:30pm.

It’s all about Black Friday
In previous years, Thanksgiving activities at hotels and restaurants received much attention. But once one store celebrated Black Friday, the activity caught on and now Black Friday is probably the biggest shopping event, celebrated for days before and after in the DR. Expect traffic to be more intense than usual as shoppers hit the stores for that one big ticket item they have been saving for. The malls are advertising big sales, too.