Help for El Seibo farmers
Free zone sector continues to strengthen
Only 3 of 10 will graduate from high schools
United States program focuses on Dominican SMEs
Dominican gamer wins Capcom 2017
Movie-maker Rene Fortunato has said he will appeal the court
Security authorities slow on reporting on LRM drug deal
Search on for a missing yola
Taiwan fraud ring disbanded
Going backwards in human rights
Anthony Santos agent to be deported
Young girl murdered in Los Alcarrizos
Percy Romero Concepción found dead in Bonao
Soccer star David Villa to visit
Christmas jazz music at the Dominican Fiesta
A different Christmas story: Navidad Fuera del Cajón”

Help for El Seibo farmers
President Danilo Medina visited Mata de Palma in El Seibo on Sunday, 10 December 2017, for one of his surprise visits and promised “unconditional support” to the dairy farmers. He offered to assist farmers in getting land titles and financing for 5,000 tareas (1 tarea = 629 square meters) to grow cacao, passionfruit, guava and mango.

He said today people could make a living from agriculture, but their products need to be of a high quality to find a market. He offered one or two agronomists to help them in that task. Last week, already a group of technicians from the government had visited the area to determine which type of crops would be suitable.

The land belongs to the State Sugar Council (CEA). The director of the CEA, Pedro César Mota Pacheco, was asked to transfer the land to the Dominican Agrarian Institute for the purpose of cultivation.

Medina also announced that the government was financing a milk processing plant in nearby Hato Mayor so that the associations could sell their product for a better price.

Free zone sector continues to strengthen
The National Export Free Zone Council (CNZFE) approved the installation of 21 free zone companies and two free zone parks, amounting to an investment of RD$818 million, announced Industry, Commerce and SME Minister, Nelson Toca Simó. It is estimated that 3,004 new jobs would be created and the industries have the potential to generate approximately US$21.3 million in foreign exchange.

Luisa Fernandez, executive director of the CNFZE, said that the free zone sector has been growing in recent years while diversifying the kinds of manufacturing carried out here.

Only 3 of 10 will graduate from public high schools
A recent study by the Instituto de Evaluación de Investigación de la Calidad Educativa (Ideice) concluded that of every 1,000 elementary public school students, only 300 will finish high school. Deputy Rafael Mendez considered the school dropout rate alarming and called for the doubling of efforts to improve the quality of education in the public school system.

The Ideice executive director, Julio Leonardo Valeirón, said that too many of those that leave school turn to crime and delinquency.

“This research is not just to help us understand the gravity of the situation, we must use it as an instrument to continue the transformation process of Dominican education,” said legislator Mendez, a deputy for the ruling PLD party in Bahoruco.

United States program focuses on Dominican SMEs
According to Chase Beamer, public affairs officer at the United States’ Embassy in Santo Domingo, the US wants to focus on expanding business ties with small and medium-sized businesses as a key to development in the US and the Dominican Republic. He highlighted that SMEs provide the majority of employment in the United States. The same is also true in Latin American and the Caribbean. The idea is that the business relations developed in this initiative will benefit the economies of both countries.

In an interview with Diario Libre, Beamer explained one of the US efforts in this direction is the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI), a professional fellows program. He said young entrepreneurs from 26 Latin American and Caribbean countries are participating.

This year, 250 young people are taking part in the initiative, including five from the Dominican Republic. The Dominicans are Roniel Guzmán, with Hub Makerspace that offers access to tools and machinery; María Victoria Hernández, creator of 2SOMOS1, an open air cinema for rural communities in the country and Haiti; Julia Martínez, who founded La Casa Delfín Guesthouse in Las Terrenas, focusing on a more accessible tourism for local visitors and a distributor of coconut oil.

Also John Presimé, with #FotoNet, a cybercafe for low income communities in Sabaneta de Yásica, Puerto Plata; and Michelle Ricardo, who created Caribi Handmade, an online platform to sell artisan products from the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean countries.

Dominican gamer wins Capcom 2017
Dominican gamer Saúl Leonardo Mena is the Capcom 2017 champion, in the Street Fighter 5. In addition to the trophy, he won a cash prize of US$250,000. The competition was held in Anaheim, California,USA.

In the 2017 Capcom Pro Tour season, Mena competed against thousands of players in events around the world prior to qualifying as one of 31 players to play the Capcom Cup 2017. To win, he defeated Japanese gamer Hajime Taniguchi (Echo Fox). Mena competed as MenaRD. Mena previously had defeated gaming legends Ho Kun Xian, Inoue “Kazunoko” Ryota and Umehara Daigo.

Rene Fortunato sentenced to pay RD$1 million for using song title
Movie-maker Rene Fortunato has said he will appeal the court ruling that ordered him to pay RD$1 million in indemnity to the heirs of Rene del Risco Bermúdez for the use of the title of a song by their father, “Una primavera para el mundo” (Spring for the world), in the title of a recent book on the 1965 Civil War.

The ruling was issued by the Second Hall of the Civil and Commercial Court of First Instance of the National District. The suit was filed by brother and sister René Ernesto del Risco Bobea and Minerva del Risco Musa, who were represented by attorney Edwin Hernández.

Fortunato’s lawyers, Mariel León, Pedro Durán and Eric Rafúl Pérez, said they will appeal for their client. They based their case that “Una primavera para el mundo” is a generic phrase that has appeared in more than 10 publications and had previously been used by several authors, including “La fe del descubridor” by Argentinean Arnold Canclini and the poem “Siembra” by Spanish poet Jesus Arcensio. They established that the phrase was used as far back as in 1414, in his poem “El adios del poet”.

Search on for a missing yola
The Dominican Armada (Navy), together with the United States Coastguard is looking for a boat with 12 people onboard that has been missing for a week. It is reported that the boat began its illegal journey to Puerto Rico on Tuesday, 5 December 2017.

Armada spokesman Augusto Lizardo said that some fishermen had alerted authorities about the boat and the search started immediately. In addition, some family members of those missing have also contacted the Armada.

The search began off the south east of San Pedro de Macorís but the search has extended to as far as Palenque in San Cristóbal.

Security authorities slow on reporting on LRM drug deal
El Nacional newspaper reporters are following up on the story of the irregular shutdown of the surveillance system at the La Romana International Airport to allegedly allow an airplane from Colombia to land with a shipment of 500 kilos of cocaine. The shipment was destined for dealers in the United States and Europe.

The newspaper says the authorities are mute on the details of investigations into the participation of 12 military personnel that were arrested for their possible ties to the crime.

Upon initially announcing the shipment, the Ministry of Defense, the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) and other intelligence bodies’ spokespeople had committed in the press conference to identify and send to justice those that were responsible, regardless of their ranks.

El Nacional reports that Colonel Domingo Figuereo Heredia, of the Air Force (FARD), who was the chief of the Cuerpo Especializado en Seguridad Aeroportuaria y Aviación Civil (Cesac) in charge of airport and civil aviation security of the airport was arrested. Also lieutenant colonel Robles Ramírez Pimentel, of the Dominican Army (ERD), who was the DNCD officer in charge at the La Romana airport.

In addition, 10 other military and police officers were arrested, as well as 10 civilians who worked as employees at the airport.

The drugs reportedly arrived on the airplane HK4909G from Cartagena, Colombia. The surveillance system at the terminal was shutdown to allow for the landing and takeoff of the airplane with the drugs.

El Nacional sources says that around RD$15 million was distributed to buy complicity, of which one colonel received RD$11 million. The newspaper says the drugs were placed aboard airplanes that flew to the US and Europe. The authorities were alerted to the situation by US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.

Taiwan fraud ring disbanded
According to the Taiwanese government, Taiwan and the Dominican Republic have been cooperating successfully in the fight against a major transnational telecommunications fraud. The Taiwanese-funded cross-border telecom fraud ring preyed on Chinese nationals, according to the Criminal Investigation Bureau in Taiwan that sought Dominican cooperation after determining the ring had a branch in the Dominican Republic. The announcement was made during a press conference in Taipei on Monday, 11 December 2017. Some 31 Taiwanese suspects are under investigation.

The case was exposed after Taichung police in Taiwan discovered information last year related to a money-laundering center in Taichung. Following the lead, police found those working at the center were part of a fraud ring that had set up their computer facilities in the Dominican Republic with funds wired from Taiwan by Liao, the CIB said. From that facility, telephone calls were made to randomly selected individuals in China in an attempt to swindle them, the CIB said.

Taiwan sent delegations from the Taichung Prosecution Office to the Dominican Republic in July and August 2017 to investigate the fraud cases. Evidence was collected that revealed a group of fraudsters who were cheating Chinese nationals from the DR and over the last few years had gained 150 million Taiwan dollars (US$5 million) from Chinese victims.

The fraud involved telling Chinese nationals that they were linked to drugs, and given the Chinese system of execution of drug dealers they handed over money to clear their names.

Going backwards in human rights
According to the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH), the Dominican Republic has gone backwards as far as human rights are concerned during the year of 2017. There have been many extra judicial executions, femicides and corruption.

According to the Annual Report on the Situation of Human Rights in the Dominican Republic 2017, presented at a press conference by CNDH president, Manuel María Mercedes, around 180 civilians have been killed by police and military in supposed shootouts with the Police.

In each case there is the same pattern, according the report with executions of citizens who were unarmed, often handcuffed and asking for mercy, or carried out with an excessive use of force out of the public eye.

As far as femicides are concerned, Mercedes cited data from the United Nations Population Fund (Unfpa) that puts the country in third place for the highest rate of femicides in the region, behind Honduras and Guatemala. In addition figures from the Attorney General’s Office show 80 women have been killed by their partners or ex partners so far this year, but other sources put the figure at 170.

Finally, the report expresses concern about the high amount of corruption and impunity citing the case of the Brazilian construction corporation, Odebrecht. The amount of corruption is also highlighted by studies from Oxfam International and Transparency International.

According to Mercedes, “Justice has been kidnapped by political power, and the separation of the two is unfortunately utopia, as corruption reaches its highest levels within the Dominican courts”.

The report also highlights the serious overcrowding in La Victoria prison, with space for 2,011 inmates although it currently has 9,973. It talks about the concerning situation in the health sector that it calls disorganized and corrupt, with a lack of equipment, poor hygiene conditions and inadequate buildings. It also highlights that in La Altagracia Maternity hospital 507 babies have died from 10,980 live births in the first 10 months of this year for a very high neo natal mortality rate of 46 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Anthony Santos' agent to be deported
The United States’ representative of the bachata singer Anthony Santos, Raúl Gil Rodríguez, has been arrested by the Immigration and Customs’ Agency (ICE) and will be shortly deported to the Dominican Republic, according to his friends and family.

Gil Rodríguez is facing charges of identity fraud and one for resisting arrested.

Before being arrested on 1 December 2017, the 35-year Gil Rodríguez, was out on bail of more than US$52,500 for another offense when he was arrested in Clark, New Jersey on 12 November 2015, when seen by police with another three men, collecting suspicious packages from Federal Express.

The investigations revealed that they were using stolen credit cards making thousands of dollars. He was also arrested for the same offence on 28 May 2009.

Police say that during this latest arrest, he fled from police, resisted arrest and hid in a garden behind a warehouse. He was arrested along with his accomplices, Baldwin Acevedo Alburquerque, Justin Robert and Stasey Pace.

Gil Rodriguez is married and has three children New York-born children.

Young girl murdered in Los Alcarrizos
Steisy Cordero Cruz, a young 20-year old woman, has been discovered murdered in scrubland in Los Alcarrizos. She had last been seen by her family last night before leaving home with a friend. During the evening, she published photos on Facebook of herself in a discotheque, but never returned home.

According to her aunt, Yajaira Cruz, Steisy had no problems with anyone. The Police has the victim’s husband in custody for investigation.

Percy Romero Concepción found dead in Bonao
The son of former Supreme Court of Justice judge and former legal advisor to the Executive Branch, Pedro Romero Confesor, was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head on the evening of 10 December 2017, in Bonao.

The late Percy Romero Concepción was found at his mother’s house in Calle Daurte Vieja, Las Amapolas. The Police are investigating the circumstances of his death.

Soccer star David Villa to visit
Soccer’s David Villa will be in Santo Domingo to meet students of the DV7 Soccer Academy. Book your participation to see Villa in action.

Villa is a legend in Spanish soccer. He made his international debut for Spain in 2005 and since then has participated in four major tournaments. He was a member of the Spanish team that won the 2010 FIFA World Cup when he earned the Silver Boot. He retired from internationals after the 2014 World Cup. With 59 goals in 97 international matches, he is Spain’s all-time top goalscorer as well as the country’s top scorer in the World Cup with nine goals.

Villa came out of retirement from international football in August 2017 when he began playing in the US soccer league for the New York City franchise.

For more information, register at [email protected] or call 849 882-7588.

Christmas jazz music at the Dominican Fiesta
Fiesta Sunset Jazz presents Javier Vargas & ATRE concert, “Christmas Time is Here.” The 8th season of the Fiesta Sunset Jazz sessions, this will be an evening of live Blues and Jazz, by north coast jazz singer Javier Vargas and his ATRE group. Friday, 15 December 2017 starting at 8pm. Rooftop lounge at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel & Casino at Av. Anacaona 101. Free admission. Reservations recommended. Call 809 562-8222.

A different Christmas story: Navidad Fuera del Cajón”
Teatro The Alley at the Downtown Center in Bella Vista, Santo Domingo presents “Navidad Fuera del Cajón” on 16, 17 and 23 December 2017.

The story is about school children who open the boxes with their costumes for their traditional Christmas play and find they have been sent the wrong costumes. There is no time to exchange these, so the Christmas show is a marvelous show of creativity for the entire family.

The starring roles are played by Javier Grullon, Hony Estrella, Sofia Richiez. The play is directed by Laura Leclerc, choreography by Natalie Borsos, vocals direction by Andy Matias, musical arrangements by Luc Days. Executive producer is Jose Llano and artistic production is by Marcos Malespin.

Show days and times are Saturdays at 4pm and on Sundays at 11am and 4pm. Tickets are for sale online at