President Medina asks big business to help fix competitiveness issues
President Medina recognizes journalist Osvaldo Santana
Intrant will use breathalyzers to reduce DUI incidences
54% losses affects water supply in Greater Santo Domingo
Political parties take charge of professional associations
Green March asks to start political trial against Medina
Beware whom you invite to visit
One year pre-trial custody for businessman accused of attempted murder his former spouse
Police says murder of couple in Cotuí related to drug trafficking
Tanker crashes into parked truck at dawn
Crismery Santana wins silver and two bronze in World Weightlifting Championships
Anthony Santos benefit to help breast cancer survivors
Big Band Núñez at the Jaragua

President Medina asks big business to fix competitiveness issues
President Danilo Medina has delegated to the chief executive officers of some of the largest corporations in the Dominican Republic the task of turning around the poor and dropping competitiveness rating of the country. The appointments were made shortly after the poor results by the Dominican Republic in the World Economic Forum 2017-2018 Global Competitiveness Report were revealed.

In the most recent Global Competitiveness Report, the Dominican Republic declined 12 positions, and is now ranked a very poor 104th of 137 countries. The same report pinpointed, nevertheless, that government actions or lack of actions are what are keeping the Dominican score low.

The DR scored 129th of 137 countries for its institutions in the Global Competitiveness Report. The three most problematic factors for doing business in the Dominican Republic singled out by the report are corruption, inefficient government bureaucracy and tax rates. Other negative factors are inadequately educated workforce, crime and theft, access to financing, restrictive labor regulations, poor work ethic in national labor force and tax regulations.

The DR is in the bottom ten for the indicators of: diversion of public funds, public trust in politicians, judicial independence, favoritism in decisions of government officials, efficiency of government spending, reliability of police services, and ethical behavior of firms.

Interestingly, big business did not score well in the Global Competitiveness Report. The Dominican Republic ranked 110th in ethical behavior of firms (corporate ethics).

President Medina, nevertheless, chose to pass the ball to the top businessmen to resolve the competitiveness issues. On Monday, 4 December 2017, in a very formal event at the Presidential Palace, he swore in the members of the Advisory Board of the National Competitiveness Council (CNC). The members were appointed through Decree 389-17 dated 23 October 2017.

President Medina tweeted that for the first time the Competitiveness Council and its Advisory Board had met as part of the recently appointed strategic alliance between the public and private sector. President Medina tweeted that the group would work together to eliminate obstacles and open paths for the Dominican economy to be more competitive creating more opportunities for the people.

The leading businessmen named to turn around competitiveness are: Pedro Brache (Rica), Fernando Capellán (Grupo M), José Miguel González Cuadra (Supermercados Nacional + Jumbo), Manuel A. Grullón (Banco Popular) y Luis Molina Achécar (Banco BHD-Leon), Frank Rainieri (Grupo Puntacana), Manuel E. Tavárez (Piisa) and Felipe Vicini (Inicia) and Ligia Bonetti (MercaSid). Also assigned to the task are businessmen Miguel Barletta (Santo Domingo Motors), Rafael Blanco Canto (Viva Resorts), Roberto Bonetti (Mercasid), José Clase (free zone), Samuel Conde (Multimodal Puerto Caucedo), José Luis Corripio Estrada (Corripio) and Manuel Diez.

And Pedro Esteva (Imca), Manuel Estrella (Codelpa), Félix García Castellanos, Carlos Guillermo León and Franklin Leon (E Leon Jimenes), Celso Marranzini, Carlos José Martí (Tropigas), Ramón Menéndez (Costasur), Marcial Najri (Delta Comercial) and Monsignor Agripino Núñez Collado (PUCMM). Also Mercedes Ramos (Grupo Ramos), Héctor Rizek (Grupo Rizek), Samir Rizek (Grupo Rizek), Gustavo Tavares, Juan Manuel Ureña, Bernardo Vega, Juan Vicini (Inicia), Máximo Vidal (Citibank), José Vitienes, and Aquiles Bermúdez, Jose Singer and Elena Viyella.

In turn, the members of the advisory board for the government are: Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo; Administrative Minister of the Presidency Jose Ramón Peralta; Economy and Planning Minister Isidoro Santana. Also Hacienda Minister Donald Guerrero; Tourism Minister Francisco Javier García; Agriculture Minister Angel Estevez; Industry & Commerce Minister Nelson Toca Simón, and the director of the Center for Exports & Investment (CEI-RD), Henry Molina.

On the positive side, the DR scored in the top half of the 137 countries regarding the following indicators: business costs of terrorism, quality of roads, quality of port infrastructure, quality of air transport infrastructure, available airline seat kilometers, gross national savings, inflation, government debt, malaria incidence, business impact of malaria, business impact of tuberculosis, business impact of HIV/AIDS, intensity of local competition, prevalence of foreign ownership, business impact of rules on FDI, burden of customs procedures, availability of financial services, ease of access to loans, soundness of banks, regulation of securities exchanges, availability of latest technologies, FDI and technology transfer, Internet users, domestic market size index, GDP (PPP), local supplier quantity, state of cluster development, and extent of marketing.

In an analysis of the same Global Competitiveness Report, the International Trade Barometer of the PUCMM university prepared the Informe Especial Instituciones y Competividad: Resultados del Indice Global de Competividad para República Dominicana.

President Medina recognizes journalist Osvaldo Santana
For his 45-year career in journalism, and his contributions to the defense of democracy and human rights, journalist Osvaldo Santana was awarded the National Journalism Award that is sponsored by the Ministry of Education and the Dominican Association of Journalists (CDP).

At present, Santana is the executive editor at the El Caribe newspaper. In the past he has worked at the Listin Diario, CDN TV news channel, and at the El Siglo and Ultima Hora newspapers that are no longer in circulation. He is a founder of El Nuevo Diario and was editor in chief at the Rumbo magazine, also out of circulation.

President Danilo Medina presented the award to Santana at the Presidential Palace yesterday. Also present were Vice President Margarita Cedeño and Santana’s wife, Ana Reyes. Santana remarked upon receiving the award:

"This type of recognition makes one assume our citizen duties with a greater sense of responsibility," said the veteran journalist. He pointed out the media limitations to access to government information and to the President himself. But he expressed optimism that “he [the President] will fill that deficit in due course.”

He also advocated for removing penalties to crimes derived from freedom of speech. He requested that the Presidency draft a bill to remove threats to freedom of speech contained in the Penal Code and Law 61-32.

Santana was chosen by a jury made up by representatives of the Dominican Association of Journalists (CDP), the Ministry of Education, the Communications School at the UASD university, the Dominican Society of Daily Newspapers, the Dominican Association of Radio Broadcasters (Adora) and two journalists chosen from a group of 10.

Intrant will use breathalyzers to reduce DUI incidences
As of the first quarter of 2018, the National Land Transit and Transport Institute (Intrant) agents will be conducting sobriety tests for drivers. Breathalyzers will be used to curb driving under the influence and reckless driving in the Dominican Republic. Those testing positive will be fined five to 10 minimum public sector wages. De los Santos said a normal fine could be for more than RD$25,000. The charge will be made by the Attorney General Office.

Claudia Franchesca de los Santos said that a pilot program would begin using breathalyzers donated by the International Alliance for Responsible Consumption (IARD). Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) and Transit and Land Transport Agency (Digesett), Police, Armed Forces, and the Police Commission of the Ministry of Public Works agents are being trained to correctly use the safe driving tools and deal with those testing as driving under the influence.

In the Dominican Republic you can buy alcoholic beverages at fueling stations, and driving under the influence is widespread.

During a past presidency of Leonel Fernandez in 2007, then Minister of Interior and Police Franklin Almeyda had announced the decision to purchase 1,200 breathalyzers at a cost to taxpayers of US$108,534.24. The effect of the Breathalyzer CDP 6000 that was chosen by the procurement commission or their use or non use was not covered in the media. Indeed, there are no follow-up stories online to the announcement of the purchase.

54% losses affects water supply in Greater Santo Domingo
The director of the Santo Domingo Water Corporation (CAASD), Alejandro Montás says the entity produces enough water to satisfy the demand in the National District and Santo Domingo province. The problem, he says, is that losses remain at 54%. Water is wasted because of bad practices, leaks and breakdowns. He says the CAASD continues to work to bring drinking water and wastewater solutions to 66 communities.

He added that the most important aqueducts have been rehabilitated and a loss control program has been implemented. "The CAASD's operations are equipped with mechanical shovels, air compressors, protective helmets, uniforms and the necessary tools to face the challenges that arise in Greater Santo Domingo," Montás said.

He revealed that in 2014, 2015 and 2016 from 5,000 to 6,000 water leaks were corrected. But that this year the CAASD has addressed almost 15,000 leaks, which he said is normal when you have aqueducts with 30 and 40 years old in Greater Santo Domingo.

He said that they have paid great attention to advancing on the sanitary sewer solutions in the National District and Santo Domingo province. He said in 2012 coverage was at 5%. He said when the Mirador Norte-La Zurza sewer plant is completed, coverage will increase to 47%. He said the plant is the largest of its kind in the Caribbean.

Political parties take charge of professional associations
With the exception of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD), leading professional associations in the Dominican Republic are now head by ruling PLD party associates, as reported in El Dia. El Dia highlights that the CMD new president is Dr. Wilson Roa, of the Patria Para Todos movement, but he also had the strong backing of the PRM, the leading opposition party.

The Dominican engineers and architects association (Codia) is lead by Juan Ramón Cruz Ventura, known as a PLD follower.

The re-elected president of the Dominican association of lawyers (CARD), Miguel Surun is a PLD follower.

The president of the Dominican Association of Public School Teachers (ADP), Eduardo Hidalgo, is a deputy for the PLD.

The Dominican association of journalists (CDP) president Adriano de la Cruz responds to the PLD.

The same happens at the state university UASD. The present rector reportedly responds to guidelines from the government.

Recently, PLD senator Euclides Sanchez, who is also secretary of professional affairs at the PLD, proudly boasted the PLD has prevailed in the elections of the Codia, CARD and the CDP.

Sociologist Jose Antinoe Fiallo said that the situation of political dominance in the professional associations is an expression of the social and political crisis that dominates the Dominican political system. He says the political parties have not been able to see they are leading those institutions to internal crisis. He said instead of the members focusing on their real interests, political issues now prevail.

Green March asks to start political trial against Medina
The Green March Movement delivered a proposal to a delegation of deputies in Congress on Tuesday, 5 December 2017, demanding the start of a political trial against President Danilo Medina.

Carlos Pimentel of the Green March Movement, and other representatives of the group, delivered a document where they highlight alleged misconducts committed by the President, including receiving illegal financing for his re-election campaign in 2016 to the national deputies Fidelio Despradel and Fidel Santana and to the deputy Faride Raful of the PRM.

Beware whom you invite to visit
DR1 Forums has shared a video whereby a Dominican woman, Wilfa Soto, mother of four daughters, seeks the backing of the United Kingdom Embassy and the Ministry of Foreign Relations of the Dominican Republic in the Dominican Republic to fund the return ticket for a British citizen she had contacted online and invited to the country.

Contrary to what she had expected, she had to travel from her hometown in northeastern Cotuí all the way to eastern Punta Cana International Airport to pick up her British friend. Much to her surprise, she discovered that he had arrived with barely a one-way ticket and had plans to stay.

She tells on the video that she met him online and they had been chatting for six months when he said he wanted to meet her in person.

She said she is now desperate for him to leave. She has begun an online campaign to get help so he can return to from where he came from. She said she wants nothing to do with him.

Wilfa Soto is online also seeking to alert other Dominican women so what happen to her not happen to others. She said now she has to share what would be going to her daughters with the unwelcome guest.

One year pre-trial custody for businessman accused of attempted murder of his former spouse
Yasmil Oscar Fernández (Ray) was sent to one-year pre-trial custody at the San Pedro de Macoris jail. He is accused of causing injuries to his former spouse, lawyer Anibel González Ureña on Saturday, 2 December 2017 in the Hazim neighborhood. In addition, he is accused of physical and psychological damages against two minors (his daughters) and illegal possession of a firearm.

González Ureña is stable at the Plaza de la Salud hospital in Santo Domingo, recovering from injuries to her left arm and left torax.

Police says murder of couple in Cotuí is related to drug trafficking
Spokesman for the Police, Colonel Frank Felix Duran Mejia said that 26-year old barber Starlin Mejia Polanco and his pregnant wife 20-year old Ana Deysi Batista Espinal were murdered in Cotuí on Sunday, 3 December 2017, by five individuals who were carrying out an order to settle accounts for drug trafficking issues. The men were traveling in a Sonata Hyundai.

Colonel Duran said that the murder is related to another death that had occurred a week ago in Cevicos, Sanchez Ramirez province. He said that the man identified as “Franklin” would have paid the alleged hired assassin nicknamed “The Asian” to kill the relatives of Carlos Santos González, who allegedly had killed his father José Antonio Almonte.

The Police said that when the Police patrol pursued the killers, a Haitian and a Dominican until now unidentified were killed, while Frank Jossie Capellán Familia and Esteban Antonio Santos González, two of the alleged killers of the barber and his wife, were wounded. They remain in a health center in custody.

Tanker crashes into parked truck at dawn
The driver of a propane gas tanker Junquito Gas, Eduard Fernando Domínguez. died when his truck crashed into another truck that had been parked at the side of the highway when its driver stopped to change a tire. The tragedy occurred at around 3:40am of Tuesday, 5 December 2017 at Km. 90 in front of Moparinsa in the Santo Domingo-Santiago direction.

The accident caused a 12-hour bottle jam near Bonao for safety reasons. Traffic was detoured at the point of the Parados Los Mangos and Dulcería Peña, after the Parador Jacaranda. Firemen and Police agents patrolled the area. The residents of Pueblo Nuevo neighborhood were evacuated given the gas that spilled out in the area.

Crismery Santana wins silver and two bronze in World Weightlifting Championships
In what is described as the best performance by a Dominican weightlifter ever in a world championship, Crismery Santana won a silver and two bronze in the 90 kg category in the World Weightlifting Championships held in Anaheim, California, from 28 November to 6 December 2017. For the silver medal, she lifted 113 kilos.

Santana claimed a medal in all three events in which she competed. She was third in Total and Clean & Jerk, second in Snatch. She became the first medalist from the Dominican Republic since Yuderqui Contreras, who had finished second in the Snatch in the women's 53kg category at the 2011 world championships. ·

Santana is now the first athlete (men/women) from the Dominican Republic with three medals at a single world championships. She was the fourth woman at these world championships with a medal in all three events of a single weight class without winning a world title, alongside Kristina Shermetova (TKM, 53kg), Lina Rivas (COL, 63kg), Martha Rogers (USA, 69kg) and Neisy Dajomes (ECU, 75kg).

In 2016 she had won bronze when the event was held in Qatar.
Santana is a native of Hato Mayor and a resident in San Pedro de Macoris.

Anthony Santos benefit to help breast cancer survivors
Anthony Santos will be singing bachatas at the El Viajero explanade on Autopista 6 de Noviembre, the highway to San Cristóbal, this Saturday, 23 December 2017. The concert is a benefit for the Asociación Mujeres Solidarias Incorporadas (AMSI). The benefit helps survivors of breast cancer. Santos is donating 1% of the ticket prices to the women’s support group.

Big Band Núñez at the Jaragua
Singer-composer Pavel Núñez will be the lead singer for the Big Band Núñez performance at the Teatro La Fiesta of the Renaissance Jaragua Hotel on Thursday, 21 December 2017. With him will be many leading Dominican singers as guest performers, including Danny Rivera.