DR1 Daily News next update on 12 February 2018
Venezuelan talks suspended indefinitely
Rodríguez Zapatero insists on Venezuelan talks
JCE submits political parties and electoral bills
Commercial paper trades for US$55 billion in 2017
Adozona says tax efficiency study contradicts findings of free zone study
Ministry of Energy announces tender for oil exploration
Academy of Sciences says GoldQuest mine would violate Constitution
Manatee rescued in Samana taken to National Aquarium
CNSS authorizes registration of foreign children
Drivers march for better roads in Santiago
Councilman rejects naming city park for Juan Bosch
Rosario Espinal: PLD at turning point
Pedestrian injured by falling sign in Naco
DR vs PR in Caribbean Series playoffs
Wisin and Yandel to perform at Altos de Chavon

DR1 Daily News next update on 12 February 2018
The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 12 February 2018. The Monday issue will compile headline news for the previous Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Breaking news can be followed 24/7 in the Forums. See the DR1 Forum at http://www.dr1.com

Venezuelan talks suspended indefinitely
Despite Medina's optimism, the talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition have broken down. On Wednesday, 7 February 2018, President Danilo Medina admitted in a press conference: “We could not reach an agreement.” He announced that the talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition are now indefinitely suspended.

A pre-agreement signed by the Venezuelan government representatives had established the presidential election would be convened for 22 April 2018. The ruling Partido Socialista Unido has already announced the candidacy of Nicolas Maduro who seeks reelection.

The opposition had called for the election to be postponed until September and an independent electoral organizing commission to be convened. The former executive secretary of the opposition alliance, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, Jesús Torrealba, has said the elections are being called just to legitimize the Maduro government. Maduro is likely to be reelected after government-controlled agencies, including the National Electoral Council, have barred several opposition leaders from running and declared several of the most important opposition parties illegal.

An editorial in El Dia writes that the Maduro government was the winner of the Santo Domingo talks. The editorialist wrote:
“Since the beginning of the farce of the supposed dialogue promoted by the government of dictator Nicolás Maduro, it was known that it was a strategy to gain time, at a time when the Venezuelan people's intention to recover their democracy was clear. It deceived only one sector of the opposition, but it achieved its first objective: to divide it and stop the protests that made its regime tremble.

“It also deceived the Dominican government, which, guided by an ill-oriented sense of solidarity, threw a lifeline that gave it enough oxygen to continue to undermine Venezuela's democracy.

“Now, his next deception will be to want to blame the opposition for the failure of the negotiations in Santo Domingo.

“The Venezuelan opposition demanded that the agreements not remain in simple declarations of principles.

“They demanded to specify, for example, actions to bring "equal conditions in the electoral process," or that the opposition leaders be enabled to participate in an electoral tournament.

“Of course, they were not interested. So much so that neither came to the round yesterday. What happened was seen to be coming.”


Rodríguez Zapatero insists on Venezuelan talks
The former President of the Spanish government, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, called for some serious thinking by the opposition and the Venezuelan government in order to achieve an agreement to end the crisis in that nation. The talks, that had been taking place in the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Santo Domingo, were an attempt to reduce the tensions and crisis in Venezuela.

Rodriguez Zapatero said: “It is absolutely necessary that an agreement be reached,” as he entered the Ministry of Foreign Relations on 7 February 2018, for the continuing of the talks. He pointed out that the Venezuelan opposition presented a list of observations to the proposed agreement. These points include guarantees regarding the electoral process, participation of international observers, a new date for the elections and several other points.

When the Spanish leader was asked about the consequences of not signing an agreement, he replied, “If you think about this for just 15 seconds you realize that the alternative to an agreement is extremely negative for the people of Venezuela and for Latin America.”

Joining Rodríguez Zapatero at the talks was the Bolivian Minister of Foreign Affairs, the ambassador from Chile in the Dominican Republic and the Minister of Foreign Relations of the Dominican Republic, Miguel Vargas.

JCE submits political parties and electoral bills
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) announced it was resubmitting for the fifth time the Political Parties Bill and Electoral Bill to the National Congress. The bill expired when presented in 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2017. The bills provide additional checks and controls on political spending and establish new regulations for political party and election organizations. The ruling PLD party is majority in Congress.

The JCE also announced that the recognized political organizations would receive RD$1.26 billion from the state this year. 80% of the funds, or RD$252 million each, will be received by the political parties that received 5% of the vote in the 2016 election. These were the ruling Partido de la Liberacion Dominicana (PLD), its ally the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), the Partido Revolucionario Moderno (PRM), and the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano (PRSC).


Commercial paper trades for US$55 billion in 2017
Stock market superintendent Gabriel Castro says that the Dominican Stock Market has traded US$55 billion in commercial papers in 2017. He said the system has benefited from the new regulations framework. He stated the number of transactions has been growing since 2009 and the system had 15,000 active accounts in 2012 that have grown to more than 80,000 in 2017.


Adozona says tax efficiency study contradicts findings of free zone study
The Dominican Association of Free Zones (Adozona) expressed its concern on the conclusion that free zone jobs have been created at “an enormous fiscal cost” made in a recent World Bank study (“Hacia un sistema tributario mas eficiente”) on achieving efficiencies in the Dominican tax system.

The tax efficiency study criticized the tax incentives granted to free zones had grown 1029% from 2011 to 2018, but Adozona says this conclusion contradicts another 2017 World Bank study on Free Zones in the Dominican Republic: Policy Considerations for a More Competitive and Inclusive Sector,” that called free zone industries in the DR a success story. That free zone industry study stated that “the elimination of the export quota requirement for the companies that operate in the free zones, together with the continuation of the fiscal incentives, have converted the free zones of the Dominican Republic into a more attractive location for operations.”

Furthermore the Association makes note of the fact that they have created 50,529 new jobs between 2009 and 2016 and currently employ about 163,000 persons that is equal to one of every eight formal jobs created in the Dominican Republic during the same period.


Ministry of Energy announces tender for oil exploration
The Ministry of Energy and Mines announced on 7 February 2018 that during this first quarter of the year they would begin the process of a public tender for issuing licenses to explore for petroleum and natural gas resources in the areas of Azua, Ocoa Bay and in a basin near San Pedro de Macoris.

Minister Antonio Isa Condé explained that they have now processed more than 30,000 km of seismic transects and that the institution has recommendations as to what to do in each case. He said that Azua is one of the most important areas to be offered in the tender, as well as the San Pedro de Macoris basin, where the greatest potential has been found.

The companies are invited to explore the six preselected basins for natural gas and petroleum and to determine if the deposits are commercially exploitable.


Academy of Sciences says GoldQuest mine would violate Constitution
The Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic says that the Ministry of Energy and Mines’ green light for GoldQuest mining company’s pursuing the obtaining of the exploitation of gold permit in San Juan de la Maguana would violate the Dominican Constitution. Minister of Energy and Mines, Antonio Isa Conde, has denied the allegation, arguing that the green light to the project given by the department is because the company met with the technical, financial and legal requirements. He says that to obtain the go ahead to begin the exploitation, the company still needs to secure permits issued by the Ministry of Environment on community approval and environmental impact.

The Academy of Sciences of the Dominican Republic said the mining operation would put in danger the quality of surface and ground water in the San Juan de la Maguana valley, parts of the southern region of the country and Haiti. The compromising of water quality would negatively impact food security and livelihoods for Haitians and the Dominicans.

The Academy of Science experts say that the project would affect water resources because the proposed mining would be located 900 to 1,000 meters above sea level and above the confluence of the San Juan and La Guama rivers that discharge their waters into the Sabaneta Dam. The Academy of Sciences opposes any mining operation at 500 meters above sea level.

The Academy of Sciences also considers the US$224 million the company says it would pay to the Dominican state too little for the risk.

For Luis Scheker Ortiz, president of the Academy of Sciences, the project violates Article 15 of the Constitution, on water resources, which states that "water constitutes a strategic national patrimony for public use", and prioritizes human consumption over any other use.

Alexander Medina, director of Mines at the Ministry of Energy and Mines, has said the company has committed to use rainwater for the mining operations.
GoldQuest has announced the mine has capacity to produce 840,000 ounces of gold and 980,000 ounces of silver.


Manatee rescued in Samana taken to National Aquarium
On late Tuesday, the National Aquarium received a manatee that was stranded on Playa La Barbacoa (El Limón) on the north side of the Samaná peninsula. The manatee was critically injured, with recent and old wounds suspect to have been caused with knives or machetes.

Minister of Environment Francisco Dominguez Brito said that there is a lot of educating still to be done to promote the conservation of endangered species, such as manatees. Nevertheless, he praised the dozens of volunteers who acted to assist the manatee until it was rescued by the technicians from the National Aquarium.

On social media there are videos that show how volunteers attempted to push the 2.5-meter long mammal back to the ocean. The manatees are an endangered species. These sea cows have several protected habitats around the island.


CNSS authorizes registration of foreign children
The National Social Security Council (CNSS) has authorized the Social Security Treasury (TSS) to register minors who are born outside of the Dominican Republic if they are children of persons affiliated to the Dominican Social Security System. By means of Resolution 436-03 dated 1 February 2018, the entity establishes that the parents should present to the TSS their unique identification number that is obtained in the ID card issued by the Migration Agency (DGM) when they were granted residency. The new resolution points out that the Social Security Treasury will establish the mechanism for the registration in their Unique System of Information and Collection, and the minors will be included.

In a press release sent to the Diario Libre, the general manager of the CNSS, Rafael Perez Modesto, said that the resolution reiterates the commitment and solidarity of the Social Security Council with regards to the most vulnerable sectors of society. The official noted that with this resolution the Council was complying with Article 5 of Law 87-01 that states that all Dominican citizens and legal residents shall have a right to be affiliated to the Social Security System.


Drivers march for better roads in Santiago
Hundreds of drivers belonging to the National Central of Transportation Workers (CNTT) who work on the different “concho” routes in Santiago as well as the intercity routes staged a two-hour demonstration yesterday to accentuate their demand that the Mayor’s Office fix the roadways in many parts of the city. The demonstration was headed by Juan Marte, the President of the CNTT.

According to the demonstrators streets such as Padre De las Casas, Buena Vista and Luperon have been seriously affected by rains. They also mentioned the road to La Presa and Baitoa, Puñal, and Estancia Nueva is also in very poor condition. Taxi drivers, bus drivers, school bus owners, and Moto taxis participated in the demonstration. According to Marte, the problem is not just the condition of the roads, but the system itself which leads to major traffic jams at certain times during the day. There have been many suggestions regarding the need to reduce congestion at certain intersections by constructing overpasses and underpasses.


Councilman rejects naming city park for Juan Bosch
A member of the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC), Rafael Cruz, complained to reporters that the PLD party tends to cultivate just what party founder Juan Bosch criticized during the Trujillo regime: a cult of personalization when roads and buildings were named in honor of the dictator and his family. Cruz was referring to the recently passed resolution by the Santiago city council that declares the new parklands built on the old airport grounds to be named the Juan Bosch Park Drive instead of the Santiago Central Park.

Councilman Cruz recalled that the name of Santiago Central Park was established by means of presidential decree 126-01, that created the Santiago Central Park Board as the agency charged with planning and administering the area of the old Cibao airport in order to create an park area that would serve as an ecological refuge for the city.

Rafael “Papito” Cruz said that Juan Bosch fought to create a democratic party and therefore the members of this party should not be promoting the placement of Juan Bosch’s name on everything. He also noted that a city council resolution to name the park Juan Bosch had to be approved by the National Congress. The ruling PLD is majority in Congress.


Rosario Espinal: PLD at turning point
Political analyst Rosario Espinal analyzes the three reasons for the continuing PLD governments and challenges ahead for the ruling political party, in a report published in Hoy on 7 February 2018. She writes that since 2004, the PLD has accumulated hegemonic power through extraordinary party discipline that has kept individual political ambitions at bay, the relative macroeconomic stability in the country and the dismantling of the opposition.

“Despite the scandalous acts of corruption, the PLD continues to benefit from the relative macro-economic stability and weakness of the opposition. But two serious problems lurk: the presidential aspirations for 2020 and the possibility of an eventual external debt crisis,” she writes.

She says that the party is currently in a frozen state, with Leonel Fernandez and Danilo Medina pulling at their sides to control the presidential candidacy for the 2020 election. “A defeat of Leonel Fernandez would be a big blow to him politically. A defeat of Danilo Medina would mean the return to power of groups that have opposed him, both inside and outside the PLD. The two party leaders are united by the fear of defeat and separated by their interest in controlling the PLD,” she writes.

She observes: “When partisan democracy is deficient, individualistic leadership is strengthened. The persistence of personal leadership in the PLD, and in other Dominican parties, is the clearest evidence of the lack of democratic development in the Dominican Republic.”

And she concludes: “This year will mark the course of the PLD: Who will win? How? At what cost?”


Pedestrian injured by falling sign in Naco
A sign collapsed from the third floor of the Silver Sun Gallery located on Av. Tiradentes seriously injuring a pedestrian, poet and writer 47-year old Homero Pumarol. He was on his way to a nearby gym.

As reported, the sign was swept by a strong breeze and collapsed meters below after springing off cabling. The accident occurred around 10am on Wednesday. Listin Diario reports the billboard is nowhere to be seen.

Passersby called 911 to assist Pumarol who was taken to the Plaza de la Salud where his face wounds were cured.


DR vs PR in Caribbean Series playoffs
Today the Aguilas Cibaeñas team has a chance to break the losing streak of the Dominican teams in Caribbean Series that has not won a series since the Leones del Escogido did so in 2012. On Wednesday, 7 February 2018, the Dominican baseball players defeated Cuba 7-4, and Puerto Rico defeated Mexico 6-5 in the semi-finals. The final match is scheduled for Thursday, 8 February at the Guadalajara, Mexico ball park.


Wisin and Yandel to perform at Altos de Chavon
Reggaeton stars Wisin and Yandel have been booked for an Easter Saturday holiday performance at the 5,000-person capacity Altos de Chavón amphitheater in Casa de Campo, La Romana. Andrés Pichardo, president of the Casa de Campo Resort made the announcement. This is a Gamal Haché presentation. Tickets cost RD$3,900 general admission and RD$6,900 VIP.