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Thread: DR1 Daily News - Tuesday, 30 January 2018

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    Default DR1 Daily News - Tuesday, 30 January 2018

    More Venezuelan negotiations in Santo Domingo
    Minister of Economy favors more taxes, not a word on less wasteful spending
    Increased budget for Infotep
    More passengers using the Santo Domingo Metro
    JCE discusses 2020 general election calendar with political parties
    Ramfis Trujillo takes steps to seek the presidency in 2020
    UASD professors to strike
    San Juan farmers protest okay to GoldQuest mine
    Green March at Presidential Palace
    Attorney General wants more time for Odebrecht case
    Santaella says government signed open costs contract with Odebrecht
    PAWA airline has operations suspended
    Literature award to architect Doy Gautier
    Two die at Bahia de Las Aguilas
    Provinces under weather alert
    Rivers overflowing and trees down due to rains
    Vladimir Guerrero on being inducted to Hall of Fame
    Two Dominicans make same team of NBA All Stars game
    Licey ties Aguilas and playoffs continue in Santiago

    More Venezuelan negotiations in Santo Domingo
    On Monday 29 January 2018, the talks were resumed between the Venezuelan government and representatives of the Venezuelan opposition in Santo Domingo. They are continuing on Tuesday, 30 January, with the firm support of President Danilo Medina.

    The fifth round of negotiations took place in the morning at the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Mirex). In attendance were Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas, and the former President of Spain, Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. The Mexican foreign ministry earlier had announced it would no longer participate in the mediation process. The Venezuelan opposition is represented by Julio Borges, Alejandro Hernandez, Simon Calzadilla, Luis Carlos Padilla, Enrique Marquez, Manuel Rosles and Luis Moreno that arrived on Sunday for the talks.

    Despite the backing out of the Mexican foreign ministry from the mediation process, President Medina has announced he would continue to back Maduro government talks in Santo Domingo for a deal with the opposition. President Medina had announced via Twitter during his participation in Davos, Switzerland at the World Economic Forum that the talks would resume at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo on 28 and 29 January 2018. Medina said the talks “are the best hope for a solution for Venezuela and its people.” The Presidency wrote: “Amidst greater difficulties, the talks are even more urgent.”

    The Dominican Presidency called for more voices of the international community to join the talks. “We need all to be convinced of the importance of stopping, rather than stoking, an escalation of violence that, if it occurs, will inevitably split Venezuela and probably all of Latin America in two," the Dominican president said, according to the statement. Medina reaffirmed the neutrality of the Dominican Republic in the negotiations.

    The meetings scheduled for 18 January 2018, were cancelled when the opposition leaders chose to not attend. Sources in Venezuela had said the participation of the opposition is unlikely after the government of Maduro unilaterally convened elections for April 2018. Venezuelan opposition leaders have pressed for the appointing of a credible new National Electoral Council to organize the next election, humanitarian channel for distribution of medicine and food aid, the release of political prisoners in Venezuela and restoring of constitutional powers the parliament was stripped of by government. The Venezuelan government demands lifting of economic sanctions on some of its officers and recognition of the Constitutional Assembly that is made up by government partisans and not recognized by many foreign governments.

    During the Dominican talks, the opposition’s overriding demand was that the regime allow a credible international monitoring mission to watch over every aspect of the election — including the campaign, the voting, the tallying and the vote-count audit. Opposition voices suspect that instead, the Venezuelan government will likely fall back on the old ruse of allowing a purely cosmetic “accompaniment” mission run by diplomats from countries allied to the regime and sock-puppet nongovernmental organizations so that the government’s propaganda arm can later claim the win was internationally monitored.

    Minister of Economy favors more taxes, not a word on less wasteful spending
    The Minister of Economy, Isidoro Santana, expressed concern at the debt level and stressed the government needs to reduce its fiscal deficit. "I do not think anyone in their right mind can expect the government to lower its level of spending, because the Dominican Republic has one of the lowest levels of public spending in the world in relation to gross domestic product (GDP)," Santana said.

    The solution to the debt problem, in his opinion, is to try to find ways to increase tax revenues. He said the government is making the effort to increase its tax revenues.

    Increased budget for Infotep
    The Executive Branch has agreed that the National Institute of Professional Technical Training (Infotep) should receive an increase in 2018 of RD$70,391,923 taking its total budget to RD$147,271,423.

    Since Infotep’s founding in 2013, its budget has always stayed the same at RD$76,879,500.

    Infotep director general Rafael Ovalles said in the past three years Infotep has seen an increase of 12.6% in its revenues from the business sector. He said the additional increase was especially helpful in funding programs that provide skills to low income individuals and groups. He said the increased budget would be used to improve the Infotep’s physical plant and expand and enhance programs to reach more students.

    More passengers using the Santo Domingo Metro
    According to a report by the consultancy firm Deloitte, the number of passengers travelling on the Metro in Santo Domingo on both its lines increased by 3.2% in 2017, reaching 76.6 million passengers.

    Of the 30 stations in operation, the northernmost station in Villa Mella, Mama Tingo has the most passengers with nine million – that is, almost 20% of passengers who use Line 1. This is followed by the Centro de los Héroes (the southernmost station) with 13.8% and Amín Abel (access to the UASD state university) with 9%.

    The stations that saw increases in their passenger flow the most during the year were Gregorio Luperón and Gregorio U. Gilbert with an increase of 6.7% each, compared to 2016. These are the first two stations on the Line 1 in the south direction following the Mamá Tingó station.

    On Line 2, its westernmost station, the Maria Montez station was the most used with 26% of total passengers on the line, followed by Eduardo Brito (off Av. Máximo Gómez/National Theater) with 15%.

    The time that the Metro is most busy is from 7am and 9:30am when 26.2% of the passengers are travelling. Fares on the Santo Domingo Metro are a bargain RD$20.

    JCE discusses 2020 general election calendar with political parties
    The plenary of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) met with 21 presidents of registered political parties on Thursday, 25 January 2018. The plenary session was an opportunity for the political parties to promote the passage of the electoral and political parties bills by the National Congress when the legislative session reopens on 27 February 2018.

    The legislative session is scheduled to last for 150 days. The JCE says that if the legislators do not reach an agreement, the law entrusts the JCE with establishing the rules for the organization of the 2020 general elections. The president of the JCE, Julio Castaños Guzmán, said the JCE could rule on key issues such as the length of the campaign season, spending limits, and fair access to the media. He said there is a general agreement that graduate university students would be trained to work in the electoral stations in 2020.

    The judges of the JCE also discussed with the political party heads the celebrating of preferential elections at the councilor level in the municipal elections be postponed for after the 2020 election.

    Attending, among others, were former President Leonel Fernandez (president of the PLD), Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado (president of the PRD), Federico Antún (president of the PRSC), Guillermo Moreno (president of Al Pais), Andres Bautista (president of the PRM), Eduardo Estrella (president of DxC), Vinicio Castillo (president of the FNP), among others.

    The meeting with the presidents of the political parties was convened to discuss the 2020 electoral calendar. It was agreed that the preparatory activities will start in September 2018. The election is scheduled for May 2020.

    Ramfis Trujillo takes steps to seek the presidency in 2020
    The Democratic Hope Party (PED), led by Ramfis Domínguez Trujillo, grandson of former dictator Rafael L. Trujillo, announced he would sign an agreement with the Democratic Institutional Party (PDI), led by Ismael Reyes.

    According to a press release, the agreement is a first step to seek the presidential candidacy for the party in the 2020 general election as part of a would-be Nationalist Opposition Front (Freno).

    Dominguez Trujillo was proclaimed as the candidate for the PED on 6 December 2017. The party has yet to be recognized by the Central Electoral Board (JCE). Domínguez Trujillo promises to fight wrongdoings such as corruption and the supposed invasion of Haitians.

    UASD professors to strike
    The Teachers Federation of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (FAPROUASD) has announced that they will not start the next semester until the authorities comply with their promise of a salary increase and improved working conditions. The strike affects around 185,000 students nationwide. The UASD university professors by far have the best pay and benefits of all university professors in the country.

    At the same time, the rector of the university, Ivan Grullón called for students to attend classes starting at 7am on Tuesday, 30 January 2018.

    FAPROUASD president, Santiago Guillermo, said at a press conference that the UASD rector, Ivan Grullón, has not replied to their demands for transparency, sanitation and an improvement of the working conditions. He explained that in February 2017, the union had signed an agreement with the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology and the rector for a salary increase of 15% having asked for 40%. However, they had only received 10% and a promise to be paid the remainder backdated to January and February 2017 but this has never been materialized. He said the agreement also stated there would be an additional 5% increase in May 2017 and that never happened either, say the protestors.

    San Juan farmers protest approval of GoldQuest mining project
    The widespread protests against the authorization of a major gold mining operation along a 50-km mining transect (70% gold, 30% copper) in the farming province of San Juan de la Maguana continues. GoldQuest has announced its intent in going forward with the construction of the US$150 million mining installation.

    The president of the Fundación para el Progreso del Sur (Funprosur), Alexander Valenzuela, called for the community to forcefully say “no” to the operation that he said puts at risk ground and surface waters that are essential for farming and overall quality of life for residents in the province. Valenzuela spoke out against the Ministry of Energy & Mines that gave the go-ahead to the Romero project for an underground gold mining in the province. Still pending, however, is the Ministry of Environment’s environmental licenses and permits to begin the mining operation.

    Valenzuela said the mine will make a few people rich but would subject most of the population to countless long-term risks. He said the wealth of San Juan de la Maguana is in farming and not in mining. He warned that the next in line is the proposal for the exploitation of a second Romero project in Hondo Valle, in the adjacent province of Elías Piña.

    Valenzuela said that the San Juan River is located less than 200 meters from the location of the Romero mining project in San Juan. He said the river is a tributary of the Yaque del Sur River, and in the same area as the Sabaneta Dam and the central mountain range.

    A video is circulating on social media stressing the importance of the rivers to farming in six provinces in the southwestern provinces. Director of Mines Alexander Medina has said that the GoldQuest operation would not use rainwater and not affect the area river waters.

    He said that it is common knowledge that mines can alter the water flow in the aquifer, creating of changes in the hydrology. In addition, Valenzuela said “the drainage of mines (pumping) can cause a considerable decrease in the water table, which, in addition to other effects, can seriously degrade the vegetation in the affected area".

    Valenzuela said he hopes the Ministry of Environment, under Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito, will not give its go ahead to this project, as a result of conducting a thorough and unbiased environmental assessment.
    Valenzuela called on the leadership of the province to reject opening the area to mining.

    He announced the organizing of mobilizations against the mine in San Juan de la Maguana.

    Green March at Presidential Palace
    Thousands turned up for the Sunday, 28 January 2018 Green March movement protest march around the Presidential Palace. The media, nevertheless, highlighted that high profile politicians, such as Luis Abinader of the PRM, this time around just posted online expressions of support, but did not attend the march.

    The protest marked the historic Sunday, 22 January 2017 march that galvanized spontaneous citizen discontent with government corruption. The protestors marched for an end to impunity in the corruption cases of OMSA, OISOE, CEA, Punta Catalina power plant-Odebrecht, Los Tres Brazos and other Odebrecht related cases.

    The protest lasted around two hours. Journalist Huchi Lora reported there were no incidents, despite the alleged presence of some individuals linked to the government who were thought to have infiltrated the ranks of protestors to disrupt the peaceful protest.

    Journalist Altagracia Salazar said that persons from the government had closed off part of 30 de Marzo, giving the appearance that there were not many people attending the March.

    Attorney General wants more time for Odebrecht case
    Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez has requested four more months to present accusations against 14 remanded to justice in the Odebrecht bribes scandal. The 14 were in government positions or were contracted related to Odebrecht contract work in the country from 2001 to 2012. The government excluded officers related to Odebrecht projects after 2012. The Medina government began in 2012. The Attorney General excluded the Punta Catalina power plant, the largest contract work signed with the Brazilian company, indicating it would be investigated once it was concluded.

    As reported in the media, the Attorney General and the director of the Office for Prosecution of Administrative Corruption, Laura Guerrero Pelletier, requested the extra time from Supreme Court of Justice instruction Judge Francisco Ortega Polanco. Rodriguez and Guerrero Pelletier argued that more time is needed to complete the investigations and inquiries abroad into the case. Judge Ortega had given the Attorney General through 8 February 2018 to complete the case.

    All 14 accused were released from jail as they await the findings of the prosecutors so that the case could continue. The defendants are: Ángel Rondón, Víctor Díaz Rúa, Ruddy González, César Sánchez, Radhamés Segura, Andrés Bautista, Conrado Pittaluga, Roberto Rodríguez, Temístocles Montás, Máximo D’Oleo, Julio César Valentín, Alfredo Pacheco, Tommy Galán and Bernardo Antonio Castellanos.

    The Dominican justice handling of the Odebrecht Latin American corruption scandal has been the exception in its marked lenience. In other countries, the judiciary has quickly and firmly acted against heads of government and high-ranking officers for corrupt acts.

    In the televised Hilando Fino TV show, detective Angel Martinez criticized that the judiciary has not acted on evidence shared by the US prosecutors in May 2017 when prosecutor Jean Alain Rodriguez met with US Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Washington, D.C. President Danilo Medina, former president of the Senate Reinaldo Pared Perez, former president of the Chamber of Deputies Abel Martínez and former president of the Senate Cristina Lizardo have been left out of the Odebrecht investigation by the Dominican judiciary.

    Santaella says government signed open costs contract with Odebrecht
    Engineer Eulogio Santaella writes in Hoy newspaper that the Dominican government signed an open costs contract with Odebrecht, which means the country is most likely to lose in the arbitration meetings scheduled in a New York City. Odebrecht is requesting an additional US$708 million to finish the coal-fired power Catalina plant under construction in Peravia province.

    Santaella says that the Medina government contracted the power plant to the sole-bidder, Odebrecht for US$1.94 billion. He observes, Technimont, part of the consortium that together with Odebrecht is building the plant, had shortly before contracted a similar power plant, the Porto do Pecem, for US$910 million in Brazil.

    The Odebrecht demands for the government to cover the additional costs was made on 6 July 2017, just days after on 30 June 2018, the Medina administration went public with the reports of a commission named to look into the details of the project. The Medina government excluded the Catalina power plant from Attorney General’s corruption investigations after a New York Court revealed Odebrecht had paid US$92 million in bribes to Dominican government officers to move the Brazilian company’s contracts through the state pipeline. The Attorney General early in 2017, fast tracked through the judicial system an agreement whereby it reneges from suing Odebrecht.

    In the opinion published in Hoy, Santaella writes that President Danilo Medina signed a badly structured “turnkey and open price contract” with Odebrecht granting the company unlimited rights as a contractor, instead of a “fixed price turnkey contract (lump sum turnkey). He says this opens the doors for Oebrechts to demand the payment of additional costs and the New York arbitrage.

    PAWA airline has operations suspended
    In a press release, the Civil Aviation Board (JAC) has announced the suspension of the Financial Authorization Certificate of the Dominican Airline, PAWA for a period of 90 days as it supposedly has not complied with its international airline financial obligations.

    The measure affects 12,000 passengers that are holding PAWA tickets. PAWA has promised to refund all passengers affected by the suspension.

    The JAC press release says the airline had not paid the taxes for aeronautic services provided by the Las Americas International Airport management company, Aerodom. PAWA was given a period of ten days to present its case during which time its operations are suspended.

    JAC indicated that there would be personnel available at the Las Americas International Airport to assist passengers affected by the cancellation of PAWA flights and the suspension of its services.

    Operations of the airline were seriously affected by hurricanes Irma and Maria that affected traffic from destinations in the Caribbean.

    Literature award to architect Doy Gautier
    Dominican architect turned writer, Manuel Salvador (Doy) Gautier, was awarded the National Literature Award, sponsored by the Corripio Foundation and the Ministry of Culture. The award, which comes with a RD$2 million cash prize, will be granted in a ceremony on 20 February 2017 at the main hall of the National Theater.

    Gautier published the novels “Tiempo de heroes,” “El atrevimiento,” “Pormenores del exilio, “La convergencia” and “Monte adentro.” Monte adentro won the Manuel de Jesús Galván award granted by the Ministry of Education in 1993.

    Two die at Bahia de Las Aguilas
    A 69-year old man and a nine-year old girl died at Bahia de Las Aguilas when their boat collided with another vessel while on an excursion over the weekend. The victims are Katherine Luna who died at the scene and Norberto Almonte who was injured and was taken to the Plaza de la Salud hospital in the National District where he died.

    Luna and Almonte were on a tour along with 15 other people from Navarette in Santiago The two boats crashed when one was leaving and the other arriving at the beach at Bahia de Las Aguilas.

    The other passengers said that Almonte died due to inefficient medical service as at the local public hospital, the Elio Fiallo, in Pedernales where there were no specialists, no medicines and no ambulance service. They also said that the beach lacked security and lifeguards to ensure tragedies like this did not happen.

    Provinces under weather alert
    It rained on and off for the Duarte holiday long weekend. Following the recent rains, the Center for Emergency Operations (COE) increased the number of provinces under alert for flooding to 11, of which five are under yellow alert and the rest under green, as of 29 January 2018.

    On yellow alert are Espaillat (especially Gaspar Hernández), Puerto Plata, La Vega, Monseñor Nouel (Bonao) and Duarte (specially Bajo Yuna). Under green alert are Santiago, Samaná, María Trinidad Sánchez, San Cristóbal, Peravía and Greater Santo Domingo.

    The levels of alert have been increased due to the continuing rains brought by a weather front passing over the north of the country, according to the National Meteorological Office (Onamet).

    In addition Onamet is recommending that small and medium sized boats in areas such as Nagua and Matancita stay in port. Those to the Caribbean Sea side are told to stay close to shore.

    Rivers overflowing and trees down due to rains
    The Center for Emergency Operations (COE) has announced that due to the recent rains and strong winds, an almond tree that fell onto the Malecon in Puerto Plata and blocked the traffic has now been cleared.

    In addition in La Vega, due to the rising of the Bacui River some 400 people had to leave their homes but have now returned. Another tree was blown down on the La Vega – Jarabacoa road which also blocked traffic.

    The Jimenoa River also overflowed, flooding part of Sabaneta but no one had to be evacuated and Juana Rodriguez in Duarte province has been cut off as well as the communities of Las Palmitas, Villa Alegre, Los Cerros, Guazaro, Arroyo al Medio and others in the Municipal District of Arroyo al Medio.

    Also cut off in the Municipal District of Las Gordas due to the overflowing of the Boba River as the communities of Los Jengibres, Laguna del Caimán, Los Guayabitos, and Los Memizos, and in the Municipality of El Factor, the communities of Vuelta Larga, Cinta Negra, El Papayo and El Higüero are cut off due to the overflowing of the El Papayo River.

    Vladimir Guerrero on being inducted to Hall of Fame
    Vladimir Guerrero was received as a national hero when he returned on Sunday to the Dominican Republic after being inducted to the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame. A merengue celebration was organized for the caravan of followers that rendered tribute to him at Las Americas International Airport where he arrived to the Parque Eugenio Maria de Hostos on the Malecon. Merengue stars El Jeffry, Kinito Méndez, Diómedes, Ramón Orlando, sang for his fans. Next, Guerrero headed to Don Gregorio, his hometown in Peravia province for more celebrations.

    42-year old Dominican slugger, Vladimir Guerrero had already celebrated his election into the Baseball Hall of Fame Wednesday night, 24 January 2018, on social media by thanking the game of baseball and his hometown of Don Gregorio in the Dominican Republic. Shortly after the announcement, Guerrero posted the video where he got the phone call from Jack O’Connell, secretary treasurer of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

    Guerrero is now part of the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018 alongside Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, and Trevor Hoffman. Guerrero had already been inducted to the Angels Hall of Fame and the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.

    The National Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place on Sunday, 29 July 2018, in Cooperstown, New York starting at 1:30pm. Guerrero received 92.9% of the votes in his second year on the ballot. In 2017 he received 71.7%, just shy of 75% needed to be inducted.

    Guerrero is just the third player born in the Dominican Republic to be enshrined in Cooperstown. He is the first position player. Other hall-of-famers are pitchers Pedro Martinez and Juan Marichal.

    In an interview with MLB Network on Wednesday, Guerrero said that it was a great honor to be the first Dominican position player in the Hall. "First of all, I'm thrilled to be the Hall of Fame," Guerrero said through a translator. "With so many outstanding position players that come out of (the Dominican Republic), what an honor to be the first one to make it into the Hall of Fame."

    On the evening of the call, pitcher Pedro Martínez placed a Facetime call:
    "I just told him how proud I am, how excited I am about reaching the Hall of Fame, becoming the third and the only position player that ever was selected from the Dominican Republic to the Hall of Fame," Martinez said. "I'm so proud to have influenced his life and his career in baseball and I'm just like an older brother that feels really proud to have given a younger brother some advice and that the advice pretty much paid off big time like it did tonight. I'm extremely proud. I'm celebrating over here. The entire country is celebrating."

    Guerrero played 16 MLB seasons, recording a career .318 batting average, 449 home runs and 1,496 runs batted in. He played his first eight years with the Montreal Expos, then with the Anaheim Angels, the Texas Rangers, and Baltimore Orioles.

    Two Dominicans make same team of NBA All Stars game
    Two Dominican national team players, Al Horford (Boston Celtics) and Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves), have been included in the NBA All Stars game on the Team Stephen, as was announced on Thursday, 25 January 2018. They are among the seven reserves in the team captained by Stephen Curry.

    Team captain Lebron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) drafted DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Kevin Durant (Golden State) and Kyrie Irving (Boston Celtics) to join him in the starting lineup. His reserves are LaMarcus Aldridge (San Antonio Spurs), Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards), Kevin Love (Cleveland), Victor Oladipo (Indiana Pacers), Kristaps Porzingis (New York Knicks), John Wall (Washington) and Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder).

    Team captain Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) chose Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto Raptors), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) and James Harden (Houston Rockets) as his starters. For reserves, Curry chose Dominicans Al Horford (Boston Celtics), Karl-Anthony Towns (Minnesota Timberwolves) and Jimmy Butler (Minnesota Timberwolves), Draymond Green (Golden State), Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers), Kyle Lowry (Toronto), Klay Thompson (Golden State).

    In the 2018 format, the traditional East and West All-Star teams were dissolved and the team captains chose players from either east or west conference.

    The 67th NBA All-Star Game will take place on Sunday, 18 February at 8pm ET at Staples Center in Los Angeles, airing on TNT and ESPN Radio.

    Licey ties Aguilas and playoffs continue in Santiago
    Licey had won game 3 on Thursday, with a score of 4-3 on 25 January at the Quisqueya Ball Park in Santo Domingo. Previously, the Aguilas had won games 1 and 2. But game 4 was postponed twice over the weekend due to rains falling in Santo Domingo and Santiago.

    When it was replayed on Monday, 29 January 2018 at the Quisqueya-Juan Marichal Ball Park, the Licey defeated the Aguilas 10-1, to tie the playoffs 2-2.

    The Dominican Winter Professional League rescheduled two games for Tuesday, 30 January 2018 at the Cibao Ball Park in Santo Domingo. The first game starts at 2pm, the second set for 7:30pm.

    If the Licey wins one game, the series returns to Santo Domingo. If the Aguilas win both games, they are the champs.

    The winning team will then match the Caribes de Anzoategui (Venezuela), Criollos de Caguas (Puerto Rico), and Alazanes de Granma (Cuba) and the Tomateros de Culiacán in the Caribbean Series that opens 2 February in Guadalajara, Mexico.
    Last edited by Dolores; 01-30-2018 at 11:28 AM.

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