Tests begin for Ozama River Skylift
Give crabs a break
Customs Agency reports record collections
Venezuelan political leaders set to meet in Santo Domingo
Judicial Branch wants more $, Presidency says budget was already doubled
Medical association wants to change public health law
14-year old rescued after becoming sick on Duarte Peak excursion
Can Senator Sonia Mateo spell?
Calendar stresses monuments that need conservation
Ashes of Father Vicente Rubio now at the Convento de los Dominicos
Electric breakdown tips drug police onto Kaluba tanker
Luguelin Santos follows his track coach to Bahrain
Airports back to normal after weekend cancellations
Weather drops below zero in Valle Nuevo
Al Horford and Amelia Vega awaiting baby No. 3
Licey leads baseball championship

Tests begin for Ozama River Skylift
The Presidency announced that the skylift mass transit service over the Ozama River is being tested. It is part of the Santo Domingo Metro and will connect eastern Santo Domingo to the second phase of Line 2 that is under construction. The Presidency reports that the Skylift will benefit 287,000 residents in more than 30 neighborhoods on the north basin of the Ozama River.

The Skylift will be the first mass transit system connecting the most populated area of Greater Santo Domingo to the National District area. It will have capacity to speedily transport 60,000 persons a day in comfort and safety. It will cover five kilometers and connect to Line 2 of the Santo Domingo Metro. Each cabin has capacity to transport 800 kilograms, or about 10 persons. It is designed to resist winds of up to 250 kilometers per hour, equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane.


Give crabs a break
President Danilo Medina issued Decree 6-18 banning the capture of ten species of crabs nationwide during the second quarter of the year. The same 6 January 2018 decree bans the capture of juvenile crabs for an entire year in order to avoid their extinction. This is a time to avoid ordering crab meat at a restaurant.

The ban spans from 1 March to 30 June every year and covers the crabs known as Paloma de Cueva, Zumba or Pelú, Moro, Rojo, Jaiba Sirica, Cardisoma Guanhumi, Ucides Cordatus, Gecarcinus Ruricola, Gecarcinus Lateralis and Callinectes Sapidus.


Customs Agency reports record collections
The Customs Agency (DGA) announces a 12.33% increase in department tax collections for 2017 compared to 2016. The DGA reports it collected RD$115.33 billion in taxes, up RD$12.6 billion in 2016. Enrique Ramírez, director of the DGA, said this is extraordinary given that in 2017 the country was affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria that caused a 24% decline in import tax revenues in September 2017.

Adding to the total collections, the DGA reports that logistics centers collected over RD$1.21 billion in 2017, and are part of a new regional cargo consolidation strategy to facilitate trade. New logistics centers that were licensed in 2017 were: Speedster Global Logistic, Almatrans, Caribetrans, Almadom, IS Services, Almadela and ET Heinsen.


Venezuelan political leaders set to meet in Santo Domingo
Venezuelan government and opposition leaders are scheduled to hold the third series of talks in Santo Domingo beginning on 12 January 2018. Past meetings were held in November and December 2017. Several foreign ministers from the Americas have also participated in the meetings.

The talks are taking place at the Ministry of Foreign Relations with the backing of President Danilo Medina and former Spanish President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. Observers are hopeful a deal might be struck now that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s cash-strapped administration needs support to refinance Venezuela’s rising foreign debt.

Venezuelans are scheduled to vote for a new president in 2018, but a date has not been set amidst the political and economic crisis affecting the country.


Judicial Branch wants more $, Presidency says budget was already doubled
Supreme Court of Justice president Mariano Germán complained of the low budget allotted by the Executive Branch to the Judicial Branch. He said the funding makes this branch of government the “perfect Cinderella” and presents an unfavorable image for the country. He complained the RD$6.4 billion budget was barely enough to pay wages.
He said that a judiciary without resources can not be the central axis of juridical security.

Nevertheless, Germán said that given the low budget the achievements of the Judicial Branch are worthy of congratulations. He said that the courts resolved 96% of the cases they were empowered with. He spoke on occasion of the Day of the Judicial Branch during a hearing at the main chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice attended by President Danilo Medina.

While President Danilo Medina did not speak at the event, shortly after the legal advisor to the President, Flavio Darío Espinal responded to the request for more funding highlighting that the Medina administration had significantly increased the allotments for the Judicial Branch since 2012. He said the 2012 budget for the Judicial Branch was RD$3.5 billion and for 2018 it will be almost RD$7.5 billion.


Medical association wants to change public health law
The new president of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD), Dr. Wilson Roa,
says that on the association’s list of priorities is the desire to change the health and social security laws, especially in articles in which financial institutions that own health insurance providers, are favored versus collective health plans. The CMD demands that healthcare decisions and rulings should not continue to be in the hands of the banking sector.

As reported in Listin Diario, Dr. Wilson Roa advocates for a more inclusive and less commercial healthcare system. He also urged for changes so that the health-related laws and government programs promote prevention and education. He also promoted the development of a more organized way of approaching public hospital modernization projects. Roa advocated for an increase in the government budget allotted to public health that he said is the third lowest in the region.

Finally, Roa also spoke of dealing with the abortion issue in a responsible way to take decisions based on universal scientific criteria and the decriminalization of the practice of medicine.


14-year old rescued after becoming sick on Duarte Peak excursion
14-year old Colegio Loyola student Lépido Liriano was evacuated by land from Valle del Tetero in the Parque Nacional José Armando Bermúdez, after falling ill as reported the Ministry of Environment. He was rushed to a Santiago hospital where he is reported to be stable condition.

The Ministry reported that initial efforts to rescue him by helicopter were aborted because of bad weather in the area. He was taken down on a stretcher by rescue forces that had to endure rain and mud on the trails that make these treacherous and very difficult, as reported by the Ministry of Environment. Communication was maintained with the rescuers all the time due to special solar-powered equipment that is now installed on the route.


Can Senator Sonia Mateo write?
A Twitter post addressed to President Danilo Medina and sent by ruling PLD senator Sonia Mateo (PLD-Dajabón) made the rounds of social media for series of misspellings rather than its content, as reported in El Nuevo Diario. Some of the misspellings could be attributed to mere typos, but other errors may call into questioning the author’s grammatical skills.

Among the errors are:
“policia Nacional” [without capital P], ¨los guardia¨ [should be the plural “guardias”], “avia” (should be spelled “había”], “dia de los Reyes magos” [should be Día de los Reyes Magos”], “las Fuerzas almada” (should be spelled las Fuerzas Armadas], among others.

The complete tweet sent by Mateo was: “Felicidades pte. Medina, nunca la Rep. Dom. Avia estado exportando tanto producto como ahora”, expresó la senadora en uno de sus mensajes publicado en Twitter.


Calendar stresses monuments that need conservation
The Dominican chapter of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (Icomos) has published a calendar listing 12 key Dominican historical monuments in urgent need of conservation efforts. The organization has complained that the government has not made available the budgets needed to preserve these landmarks. Recently, the organization also protested that the government in the past has channeled monument conservation funds through the Office of Supervisory Engineering Works of the Presidency (OISOE), instead of releasing these to local Icomos experts. Icomos is critical of OISOE carrying out restoration of the Duarte House in the Colonial City.

Edwin Espinal Hernández, president of the Dominican chapter of Icomos, calls for implementing programs that provide sufficient resources towards the conservation of key monuments and sites all throughout the nation. He says that the Ministry of Culture in 2018 will have a budget of RD$2.48 billion (around US$51 million) of which only RD$102 million (around US$2 million) has been allotted for conservation works of the historic sites. The calendar seeks to create awareness of the importance of conservation.

Monuments shown in the calendar are:
January: Santa Bárbara Church, a monument dating to the 16th century located in the Colonial City. It is where country forefather Juan Pablo Duarte was baptized in 1813.

February: The Morey building in San Pedro de Macorís that was built in 1915 and that shows damages in its structure.

March: Wooden houses in Sánchez, Samaná province in state of abandon and disrepair.

April: San Francisco Monastery ruins located in the Colonial City Santo Domingo. Construction dates back to the 15th century when Nicolas de Ovando was the governor of the island.

May: Pomier Caves in San Cristóbal, a collection of 55 caverns, of which 49 are affected by mining exploitation nearby.

June: Casa Grande de Palavé, sugar mill ruins from the 16th century located in Hato Nuevo, west of Santo Domingo.

July: Hotel Mercedes in Santiago.

August: Site of the foundation of the Villa de Santo Domingo in 1498 by Christopher Columbus’ brother, Bartholomew Columbus. This is marked by an exit to the plumbing system for the old city.

September: Abandoned house No. 26 at Benito Monción street, only survivor of the 6 September 1863 fire that destroyed several period wooden houses in the city center of Santiago.

October: Villa Isabela in Puerto Plata where Christopher Columbus built his only home on the island in 1495, three years after the discovery of the island for Spain.

November: Teatro Agua y Luz built in 1955 by Carlos Buigas from Barcelona, Spain.

December: Villa de la Concepción, founded during the second trip of Columbus in 1494, that is regarded as the first urban center in the Americas.


Ashes of Father Vicente Rubio now at the Convento de los Dominicos
The ashes of Spanish priest, Vicente Rubio now rest at his beloved Convento de los Dominicos in the Colonial City. Rubio spent 12 years as parish priest of the Santo Tomás Aquino Church in Santo Domingo of the 50 years he lived in the Dominican Republic.

During this time, he became one of the most meticulous historical researchers of the colonial city. His research led to the changing of the date of the foundation of Santo Domingo from 5 August 1496 to 5 August 1498.

Rubio is also credited with his work as a professor at the state UASD university, his contributions to the founding of the Madre y Maestra Catholic University (today PUCMM), the Calasanz private catholic school, the Normal public high school and the Santo Tomás de Aquino Seminary.

As reported in Diario Libre, Rubio’s research through documents deposited in the General Archives of the Indies in Sevilla, Spain; the National Library in Paris and the Secret Archives of the Vatican enabled him to meticulously reconstruct a timeline of the European occupation of the American territories.

Rubio was born in 1923 in Salamanca and died in 2006 in Navarra, Spain.

https://www.diariolibre.com/noticias...cos-DK892756de París o el Archivo

Electric breakdown tips drug police onto Kaluba tanker
A breakdown in the electricity system of the Kaluba diesel tanker ship raised red flags and international authorities urged an inspection after the ship stopped at sea around 200 nautical miles in international waters near Aruba and did not request international assistance. The ship was traveling with fuel and was scheduled to dock in Puerto Plata on 27 December 2017. It had departed from Aruba.

As reported in Listin Diario, when the ship did not request international assistance, as is normal in cases such as this one, the agents of the US Coastal Guard reached the ship suspecting it was carrying drugs in the hull. The boat was escorted to Puerto Plata. When nothing was found, the ship was then escorted to the Naval Base in Sans Souci where prosecutors and drug control agents found 75 packages of white substance hidden in a secret compartment in the ship. The National Forensic Sciences (Inacif) verification confirmed the ship was transporting 1,502 packages of cocaine.

Traveling on the boat were Venezuelan José Quijada Salazar; Colombians Silvio Ibarra Vega and Manuel Escobar Bolaños; Cuban Pedro Betancourt Tabio; Nicaraguan Joel Ponce Ordoñez, from Honduras Marbin Lambert Harry; and Dominicans Salvador Gómez Cuevas, Rene Cuesta Feliz, Fermín Samboy Cuevas, Damerides Gómez Saldaña, Elvis Langomas Medina and Teurison Valenzuela Samboy, who were ordered to serve one year pre-trial custody in La Victoria jail.

A separate hearing, was scheduled for Sunday, 7 January 2018, to establish pre-trial custody for Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara (Maconi), Dante Meraldo Medina and Dante Wilfredo Medina Ozuna. Maconi was arrested in the Jumbo located at Av. Gregorio Luperon, while the other two were arrested in the Ensanche Ozama of eastern Santo Domingo. As reported, the public prosecutors and the DNCD, and international security forces, were on the trail of these suspects who are now linked to the Kaluba shipment.

Ernesto Bienvenido Guevara (Maconi) is remembered as the operations arm of the drug trafficking structure former army colonel Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo directed in the Dominican Republic. He also was processed in the Dominican judiciary for being a key figure in the drug trafficking network lead by the late Rolando Florián Féliz. Indeed, El Dia newspaper highlights how he is again arrested now in the case of the Kaluba ship, under the same captain of the Phoenix ship for which he first came to the press limelight in 1994 when a 200-kilo cocaine shipment was seized. He served sentences in the DR and US and was released prior to the complete fulfillment of his sentences for good behavior.

El Dia reports that Maconi is just one of several who had been extradited to the United States only to serve short sentences and return to enjoy their millionaire assets in the Dominican Republic.


Luguelin Santos follows his track coach to Bahrain
London Olympics silver medallist Luguelin Santos (400m) will be following his coach José Ludwig Rubio to oil-rich Bahrain. Rubio in October 2017 had announced his appointment to head the Bahrain athletics team. For several years he had been head coach at the Universidad Interamericana in Puerto Rico, where several Dominican track athletes had received scholarships to train and study, including Luguelin Santos.

Also joining Rubio in Bahrain will be outstanding Dominican track athletes, 22-year old Juander Santos (Luguelin’s brother) and Rubio’s wife, Dominican Olympian sprinter Mariely Sánchez (national record holder in the 100 and 200 dash) and their three-year old daughter.

Juander Santos won gold at the Taipei, Taiwan World University Games and the Bolivarian Games in Colombia. He is a specialist in 400m and 400m hurdles. Like his brother, he had a scholarship to study at the Interamericana in Puerto Rico.

The athletes will continue in Bahrain their preparations for the Central American and Caribbean Games that will take place from 19 July to 3 August in Barranquilla, Colombia.

As reported, the job in Bahrain will enable Rubio to coach world class athletes with good chances at winning medals in the 2020 Olympic games. Bahrain has naturalized several outstanding Kenyan and Nigerian athletes that today compete for Bahrain. These include Salwa Eid Naser, originally of Nigeria.


Airports back to normal after weekend cancellations
Flights returned to normal on Saturday, 6 January 2018, after winter storm Grayson caused delays and cancellations that affected hundreds of passengers on Delta, JetBlue and United. Flights from Dominican airports had been delayed due to the winter storm that affected the US east coast. There were several cancellations starting Friday, 5 January 2018, at the different international airports in the Dominican Republic that have flights to airports in New York and New Jersey.

CNN reported the storm has caused cancellations and delays for around 4,000 flights.

Weather drops below zero in Valle Nuevo
Weather reports are that temperature dropped to 2 degrees below freezing on Friday, 5 January 2018, in Valle Nuevo, Constanza in the central mountain range. The city of Constanza is experiencing 10 degree C temperatures in the early morning. Residents in this area are bracing for even chillier weather as a cold front from the US moves through the area.

For most of the Dominican Republic, lower temperatures are welcomed, with cooler mornings at around 22 degrees Celsius in the city of Santo Domingo.

Al Horford and Amelia Vega await baby No. 3
Dominican celebrities, NBA basketball player Al Horford and Dominican Republic Miss Universe 2003 Amelia Vega announced baby No. 3 is in the oven. The baby will join 3-year old brother Ean and 1-year old sister Alia at the Boston home of the Horfords.


Licey leads baseball championship
Sunday, 7 January 2018 games were suspended for rain and will be played this coming Thursday, 11 January 2018. Meanwhile, defending champions Tigres del Licey continue to lead the championship with 7-1, followed by the Escogido with 4-4, the Aguilas Cibaeñas with 3-5 and the Gigantes del Cibao with 2-6.

The games are scheduled to continue today, rains permitting, with the Leones del Escogido playing the Tigres del Licey at 7:30pm at the Quisqueya Ball Park and the Gigantes del Cibao facing the Aguilas Cibaeñas at the Cibao Ball Park in Santiago.