Public school teachers’ association protests naming of regional directors
Minister of Defense says border security is enough
PRM’s Luis Abinader remarks on the 2018 state of the nation address
Diario Libre: The old government model is obsolete
Comparing Medina’s 2012 and 2018 state of the nation addresses
Mella does not accept post as advisor to President Medina
Ambassador Serulle highlights efforts to increase Dominican exports to Trinidad
Univision focuses on Trumps deals in Cap Cana
IDAC clears helicopter pilot who landed to buy roast pig
San Juan police commander apologizes to area prosecutors
Husband and wife assailants caught in the act
Catholic priest remanded to pre-trial custody for child sexual abuse
DR men’s basketball is ranked 17th in the world
Daddy Yankee coming for Soberano Awards 2018
Luguelin almost wins silver in IAAF World Indoor Championships
High surf and chilly weather to continue

Public school teachers’ association protests naming of regional directors
While appointments of regional directors were well received in most regions, the Dominican Association of Public School Teachers (ADP) under its president, Eduardo Hildago, has, in essence, declared war on the Ministry of Education, rejecting out of hand the entire selection of the regional directors.

In the past, the Ministry of Education has had the authority to use its discretion to appoint the directors. Under Minister Navarro, the government implemented a system in which 1,036 candidates competed for 18 regional director positions and 122 district positions.

Navarro says the selection method complies with General Education Law No. 66-97, Art. 139. He explained the directors were chosen through an assessment based on merit. At the end, a shortlist of three candidates was presented and the Minister had the final say for each position based on recommendations made.

The directors are named for five years, but the nominations need to be confirmed after the first year of the appointment. The past regional directors will continue in the system in technical positions with all their benefits.

The ADP has rejected the methodology used by the Ministry for the selection of the regional and district directors. The ADP claims the methodology still gives the minister the upper hand in the nominations. Navarro has expressed his interest in running for President on the PLD ticket in 2020.

The regional directors named last week are:
Yris Ysabel San Gilbert Ramos, Regional 01-Barahona; Doris Veloz Suero, Regional 02-San Juan de la Maguana; Luciano Joel Del Rosario, Regional 03-Azua; Zacarías Portes Santos, Regional 04-San Cristóbal; Bolívar Junior Sosa Soriano, Regional 05-San Pedro de Macorís; Aslini Ernesto Brito Gómez, Regional 06-La Vega, y Mariel Altagracia Santos Mora, Regional 07-San Francisco de Macorís.
José Manuel Fernández Abreu, Regional 08-Santiago; Henry Amaury Rodríguez Bejarán, Regional 09-Mao; Ronald Cristian Santana Caro, Regional 10-Santo Domingo; Adamilca Emelinda Rodríguez Martínez, Regional 11-Puerto Plata; Leónidas Lucas Jiménez, Regional 12-Higüey; Teodora Peña Figueroa, Regional 13-Monte Cristi; Edwin Ramón Tejada García, Regional 14-Nagua; Francisco Antonio de la Cruz Disla, Regional 15-Santo Domingo II; Johanna del Carmen Ramírez Delmonte, Regional 16-Bonao; Jesús Manuel Soriano Alcántara, Regional 17-Monte Plata, and Andris Yuliza Novas Montilla, Regional 18-Baoruco.

The ADP has requested the intervention of Public Administration Minister Ramón Ventura Camejo to avoid a confrontation between the Ministry of Education and the ADP escalate.

The methodology received the approval of Educa, the prestigious pro-education society.

In a latter development, the Dominican Alliance Against Corruption, Adocco, has also sided with the Ministry of Education in its appointment of the regional directors for the public education system. Adocco sees as correct the work of the high level technical commission that from a group of 149 candidates chose the 18 regional directors.

"The selected education professionals passed a strict and transparent technical evaluation, which included the professional profile, competency test, aptitude and motivation, knowledge test, case simulations, as well as a personal interview conducted by a technical panel," said Julio Cesar de la Rosa Tiburcio, president of Adocco, when defending the selections. He observed those chosen will now enter a year-long test period prior to being confirmed in their positions.

Minister of Defense says border security is enough
Minister of Defense Ruben Paulino Sem rejected recommendations by the former presidential candidate of the PRM Luis Abinader who called for increasing to 8,000 army men at the border with Haiti. In his presidential address, President Danilo Medina had announced the border would be reinforced with 900 men.
Major General Paulino Sem says that there are already three brigades of 1,500 men each (5,400 men) that will be aided by drones and other technology to patrol the 391 km border with Haiti. “The Armed Forces are doing their job,” said Paulino. He said the number of men is enough.

An editorial in Diario Libre on 5 March 2018 says that just sending more men to the border will not make a difference. “Better border security is not improved with more men without examining the existing agreements and the availability of the facilities to lodge the troops and mobilize these,” writes Adriano Miguel Tejada. “The creation of a better trained border police would be a better argument,” he writes, criticizing the observations made by Luis Abinader, who aspires to run again for the PRM in the 2020 general election.

Meanwhile, an op-ed piece in Diario Libre written by former National District prosecutor and Al Pais presidential candidate, Guillermo Moreno writes that the Dominican government on the issue of immigration has long been outside the law and has allowed immigration policy to be a portfolio of business and corruption for the benefit of ministers, businessmen, officials, military and politicians of the country and the countries from where there are constant migratory flows, mainly from Haiti. He writes that for the mafias that control and benefit from illegal migration, the current migration disorder is the best breeding ground for high illicit profits.

Guillermo Moreno observes that the appointment only eight days before the state of the nation address of Andres Bocio Fortuna as consul in Haiti, after he was accused in 2007 of document forgery for illegal trafficking in persons, is indicative that Medina’s words will just be words. Administrative Minister José Ramón Peralta defended the appointment of Bocio as consul in Anse-a-Pitre on grounds that the latter is knowledgeable on immigration matters.

PRM’s Luis Abinader remarks on the 2018 state of the nation address
Luis Abinader, who ran for President on the PRM ticket in 2016, took President Danilo Medina up on his words in his state of the nation address on 27 February 2018, and said he agrees with Medina that “we deserve a safe country in the same way we deserve a sovereign country.” He said Medina admitted in his speech that the country does not have citizen security nor full sovereignty.

Abinader proposed in his remarks on the presidential speech on Thursday, 1 March 2018, that instead of adding 900 troops to beef up border security, the government should send no less than 8,000 troops to protect the Dominican border with Haiti and to stop irregular migration while respecting human rights of those suspected of crossing the border illegally. He argued that if the role of the armed forces is to protect the national territory and sovereignty, then the government should send 30% of the army men to protect the border.
“The government does not implement the laws that protect our borders – and instead we see unbridled corruption all along the border. We will continue to see undocumented foreigners flow unabated into our country,” he said. He criticized that during the PLD governments, from 2004 and 2012, 62% of the Haitian residents entered, and unfortunately, the data for 2012 to 2017 is not known, because the results of the second survey have not been published.

He observed the border security budget of RD301 million is insufficient. Abinader noted that the budget for the First Lady’s Office is RD$800 million.

Speaking to the nation on TV and through his Facebook page, the 50-year old politician said that weak institutions, threats to the economy, chaos in public services are evidence that the government model of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) has collapsed. He said the time has come to end the almost two decades regime of the PLD. He said the country needs a change.

He criticized that the government seeks to use its legislative majority to impose open primaries to maneuver to stay in power. He said this would mean abusing government resources to get the necessary votes to instate this provision. The open primaries process to choose political candidates was rejected by the Supreme Court of Justice in a decision in 2005, but now the ruling party has been lobbying to impose an open primary system in several pieces of legislation that are poised to be considered in Congress this term in time for the organization of the 2020 general election.

Abinader said that we live in two countries – that in which the PLD party members in government live in affluence, enjoying lavish government salaries and other perks that go with their official appointments, while most other citizens experience a very different reality – suffering from the same problems that have plagued our society for years. He observed that 72% of formal jobs still pay less than RD$20,000 per month – which is well below the poverty level for a family of four.

He criticized that Medina did not comment on the prevailing corruption and impunity for irregularities in his administration. Abinader noted that nowhere in the 70-page speech did the President address impunity. The opposition leader said the President mentioned corruption twice in a reference to the border and another to explain the increases of wages to the Public Ministry, the prosecution arm of government. He said this in a country where corruption increased dramatically moving from a ranking at 120th to 135th among 180 countries, according to Transparency International.

Abinader pointed out that 7 of every 10 Dominicans who found employment in jobs created in 2017 did so in the informal sector or in government. He said responsible government can not be about giving government jobs to its supporters, friends and relatives but about creating well-paid jobs in productive areas. “A serious employment policy is achieved by creating the conditions so that the private sector motorizes the opportunities and not by expanding government in a parasitic way, that generates unsustainable levels of indebtedness, as the IMF has said in their most recent report,” said the 50-year old economist.

He says the speech exposed the many unfulfilled promises by the administration. He recalled that last year in the state of the nation address, the President had said the government would deliver more than 50 hospitals that are under renovation since 2013, and this has not yet happened. And the promise is again made this year.

Abinader said that when arriving to the Presidency in 2012, President Medina complained having received “a briefcase full of bills to pay” from former President Leonel Fernandez, of the same political party. But he said the next government would need several freight containers to carry the bills for the mortgaging of the present and future of the country. He said the IMF said that the public debt is now more than 51% of the GDP. He said the country does not need the PLD governments that have taken on a debt of RD$400 million a day.

Diario Libre: The old government model is obsolete
Adriano Miguel Tejada, executive editor of Diario Libre, shared over the weekend observations sent by a reader…

“The government is riding on the back of a tiger; if it gets off, the tiger will eat it. The government is riding on the growing public debt. It they stop borrowing the social demands will eat it up. The government is riding the tiger of corruption. If they stop protecting the corrupt, if they create a true judicial system, one that is transparent, the social revenge will devour them.

Tejada shares the observation of the reader who writes that the government is riding the tiger of populism. If they tried to create an administration based on planning and job creation, on taxes that promote initiatives instead of thwarting these, the boa will eat them up.

And finally, the reader shared the thought that the government is riding the tiger of hypocrisy. If the Medina administration conducted a real exercise of self-evaluation, the tiger, out of shame, would eat the lot of government officials.

Tejada concludes that despite the many truths in these reflections, the biggest error of the leaders of the ruling PLD political party that have been in government is to fall into the trap of doing the same kind of politics. “People are clamoring for a new style of government, but the PLD model only provides more of the same, tired politics,” he writes. He observes: “Or the PLD reinvents itself, or every day it will be more difficult to govern the country. And that crisis, that could be avoided, will be very unfortunate for our people.”

Comparing Medina’s 2012 and 2018 state of the nation addresses
Where are the results of the promises made in 2012, asks former governor of the Central Bank, economist Pedro Silverio in his remarks on President Danilo Medina’s state of the nation address of 27 February 2018. Silverio recalls that President Danilo Medina, in his first state of the nation address in 2012, committed his government to carry out a change in the development model based on innovation and less bureaucracy, based on a social pact that would include the three social pacts ordered by the National Development Strategy Law.

But Silverio writes that six years later only the Education Pact has been signed and its development has not met expectations. The Electricity Pact is stagnated and the start of talks for the Fiscal Pact has not been announced and is unlikely to be signed before the 2020 general election date. Instead, the change in the development model has vanished from the President’s discourse, observes Silverio.

Silverio notes that promises made back in 2012 could have been based on an excess amount of optimism. He said that indeed sweeping changes would be needed if President Medina’s pronouncement that 2018 will mark an exponential growth of exports for the country. In his speech, Medina said he is convinced that developing the export sector is the best vehicle for economic growth, turning the surplus revenues into new jobs and much needed hard currency. Indeed, in 2017, for the first time Dominican exports broke the US$10 billion level. “It is good to note we have a lot of room to continue growing,” writes Silverio.

He recalls that in the state of the nation address of 2014 and that of 2016, President Danilo Medina had promised the definite solution to the electricity problem, with blackouts becoming just a grim memory. He observes that in the 2018 speech, Medina was more cautious and just mentioned that the 732 MW coal-fired power plant under construction by a consortium that includes the controversial Brazilian company Odebrecht with public funding in Punta Catalina would enter into operation in a year. Silverio did not share his optimism.

Regarding education, he said the government has complied with making available 4% of the GDP for the sector, but the goal of eliminating illiteracy has not yet been achieved and neither has the government ensured the plan for government school construction be carried out as originally conceived.

Silverio comments that President Danilo Medina failed to mention the growing government debt and its negative impact on the future of the country. Also, there is the troubling fact that government spending is now 50% more than capital spending.

He writes that despite President Medina when taking office in 2012 saying he had “decided to put an end to impunity in our country by combatting crime and corruption.” Popular protests sweeping our nation’s cities and towns reflect the public’s dissatisfaction with government efforts in ending corruption.

Silverio agreed with the President that important advances have been made in the physical infrastructure in the country, but asked at what cost. “In the past five years the government has managed to spend around RD$2.6 billion, of which only 16% being earmarked for capital investments…. The problem is that the institutional infrastructure has deteriorated and the promises made in 2012 have all but been forgotten.”

Mella does not accept post as advisor to President Medina
Psychiatrist Cesar Mella announced he will not be accepting the position of advisor to the President on social security issues. He was removed on 20 February 2018, from his position as director of the Dominican Institute of Social Security (IDSS).

As reported in Listin Diario, Mella also announced he was resigning from participating in the PRD political party under PRD president Miguel Vargas. Late last year, Vargas had requested in a letter dated 13 November 2017, that he wanted to name another PRD party member to Mella’s position. Vargas had argued this was part of the ruling party’s political agreement with the PRD in order for the latter to make possible the changing of the 2010 Constitution to enable President Medina to run for reelection in 2016.

Mella responded that political parties should not be an employee club and much less a society for procuring jobs. He highlighted his difference with party leaders in a paid advertisement that was placed in a number of newspapers.

Nevertheless, in his letter of resignation he offers to work ad honorem in the urgent reforms that the social security system requires, with the priority being changes to the Law 87-01.

Another major change in the health system is that of Dr. Nelson Rodríguez Monegro who resigned on the day he learned he had been removed from his position as director of the National Health Service (SNS) and appointed medical advisor to the President.

Ambassador Serulle highlights efforts to increase Dominican exports to Trinidad
Ambassador Jose Serulle Ramia is participating in the Trade and Investment Convention organized by the Association of Manufacturers and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Trinidad & Tobago.

During the hosting of the business leaders, government officials (including the diplomatic community) on occasion of the 174th Independence Day, Ambassador Serulle said efforts are under way to increase Dominican exports to Trinidad & Tobago. The Dominican Republic is a major importer of natural gas from Trinidad & Tobago. Serulle said that recently a Trinidad & Tobago business mission traveled to Santiago and Santo Domingo for exchanges with local businesses.

The Dominican Embassy in Trinidad reports that attending the event hosted by Jose Serulle Ramia and his wife economist Jacqueline Boin were Trinidad & Tobago Minister of National Security Edmon Dillon and June Soomer, secretary general of the Association of Caribbean States.

Ambassador Serulle highlighted the efforts to build a country based on prosperity, equity and solidarity understanding its close ties to the people of the Caribbean, Latin America and the world.

Univision focuses on Trumps deals in Cap Cana
Reporters from Univision and Columbia Journalism Investigations have looked into Trump deals in Cap Cana, in southern Punta Cana after the organization is reportedly reviving a folded 10-year old real estate relationship in Cap Cana.

The participation of Trump in a new deal in the tourism and residential development is making headlines. Behind it all is a Ministry of Tourism authorization for the construction of high rises in the Punta Cana area, a step back from land use regulations that have capped heights in the area to around the height of a coconut tree. The change is opposed by the National Hotel & Tourism Association (Asonahores).

Trump had promised not to pursue any new overseas business deals while in office but, recently Fast Company reported that “the Trump Organization is close to an agreement in the Dominican Republic with a developer to partner on a project on the east coast of the island.”

The project is reportedly a partnership between the Trump Organization and local island developer, Cap Cana Group. According to Fast Company, the Cap Cana Group, was given permission to build 17 towers, which would increase the height restrictions of buildings along the coast, something that is causing controversy locally.

The Univision and Columbia Journalism Investigations reporters look into the past losses of investors in the failed Trump Farallon Estates development in Cap Cana as well as the participation of the Dominican government bank, BanReservas in this and other past luxury residential deals.

IDAC clears helicopter pilot who landed to buy roast pig
An investigation carried out by the Dominican Institute of Civil Aviation (IDAC) cleared from charges the pilot of the Bell helicopter 206-B3 registration HI 843 that last week landed off the Duarte Highway in Santiago de los Caballeros, reportedly to purchase roast pig at Chito’s. The report said the landing did not violate Dominican aviation norms in its choice of landing and take-off spot.
The scene was filmed and posted in social media becoming a trending topic.

The investigation is signed by pilot Gabriel A. Medina, in charge of flight norms at the IDAC and the inspection was carried out by a team lead by Thomas Sánchez. No penalty was levied on the pilot. The IDAC had imposed a ban on flight that was lifted. The helicopter is property of Grupo Liriano SRL and was captained by Air Force retired colonel Jose Guillermo González Vanderhorst, with pilot license No. 00111732426PC.

González later called in to a morning show, “El Gobierno de la Mañana” and described the stop as an emergency. He justified the stopover saying he purchased the roast pig for the owner of the helicopter, Jose Hernández, a diabetic person that was accompanied him and had suffered a hypoglycemic attack. He explained the helicopter is owned by Franklin Liriano, owner of the Alta Vista restaurant in La Vega.

Diario Libre reports that in 2011, the retired colonel was detained, having been suspected at the time of trafficking in cocaine.

San Juan police commander apologizes to area prosecutors
The regional director for the west of the Police, General Aquino Reynoso Robles now says he was unaware that the prosecutors he denounced for corruption in San Juan de la Maguana had already been removed from their posts last year. These are former prosecutors Sigfredo Alcántara Ramírez and Daniel Aquino Familia in Las Matas de Farfán, San Juan de la Maguana. The Police reported these were sent to trial.

Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez had called to Santo Domingo General Reynoso after he said at a public event that prosecutors were involved in drug trafficking.

The Police reported, in a press release, that the former prosecutors were suspended last year after evidence was obtained that linked them to crimes of association with criminals, malfeasance and bribery in the course of investigations carried out in cases of drug trafficking and other crimes. Aquino also clarified he was referring to those two prosecutors and to a Police lieutenant colonel that directed the National Drug Control Department (DNCD) in the area who also was sent to justice. The press release says that Aquino has apologized for making the statement incriminating prosecutors and police in the area.

Husband and wife assailants caught in the act
The National Police announced the arrest of a husband and wife team after a video showed them committing a crime. The couple was caught on video when assaulting a man and a woman on a street in Santo Domingo Este.

Those now under arrest are Cristian Leandro Tejeda and his wife Ruth Miguelina Peña Pérez.

The video circulated on social media when gun in hand the couple removed the belongings to a man and a woman.

The Police carried out intelligence effort in Sabana Perdida in Santo Domingo north to find the criminals, said Police spokesman, Colonel Frank Duran in a press conference. He said the couple is under the control of the Public Ministry for legal actions.

Colonel Duran called out to citizens that have been victims of the couple to come forth in order to strengthen the file against the couple.

Catholic priest remanded to pre-trial custody for child sexual abuse
The former director of a Catholic school in La Vega was remanded to three months of pre-trial custody for sexual abuse by the La Vega Penal Chamber Appeals Court. Priest Miguel Bienvenido Florenzán Ulloa formerly of the Colegio San Agustiano in La Vega had obtained his clearance in the case in a ruling by judge Lorenzo Vargas.

The Public Ministry said the priest is accused of committing sexual crimes, and physical and psychological abuse against school children. The accusations were placed after one of the victims, who is now 20 years old, pressed charges in 2017. The man had suffered through the sexual abuses since he was in sixth grade at the school, starting after he was orphaned of his father.

The investigations carried out by La Vega prosecutors under prosecutor Johanna Reyes Hernández made it possible to identify other children that had been victims of criminal offenses by the priest. It was determined that the sexual abuses were committed at the school, on school excursions, visits to different places in the country and during a trip abroad.

This was Florenzan’s second arrest order. The court of appeals acted after a La Vega court had filed the case claiming there was no evidence to back the claims by his accuser. But Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez backed the La Vega prosecutors’ appeal and concluded said that there was evidence against the priest showing very serious civil violations.

DR men’s basketball is ranked 17th in the world
The Dominican national basketball team is now ranked in the top 20 of the FIBA World Ranking Men presented by Nike. The DR is in 17th place at the conclusion of the February 2018 window of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers.

The DR has won all its games in the first round competitions held in November 2017 and February 2018. The next matches are set for June 2018. In this round, 16 teams are participating. The top 3 of each group move on to the second round.

The 12 teams of the second round will compete in matches in September and November 2018 and in February 2019. Of these, seven teams will qualify, the top 3 of each group and the best 4th. The World Cup is set for 31 August-15 September 2018 in China 2019 with the participation of 32 teams from all around the world.|tab=americas

Daddy Yankee coming for Soberano Awards 2018
Dominican Association of Show Business Reporters (Acroarte) and the Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana (CND) announced that Daddy Yankee as one of the stars for the Tuesday, 20 March 2018 Soberano Awards Ceremony at the National Theater. The Soberano Awards are the Oscars of the Dominican entertainment industry.

The Puerto Rican reggaeton singer best known for his 2004 hit "Gasolina", which is credited with introducing reggaeton to audiences worldwide, and making the music genre a global phenomenon. His success story was repeated with the global hit, “Despacito” in which he appeared with Luis Fonsi in 2017.

The "King of Reggaetón" recently released a single, “Dura,” that in only a month has received over 316 million views on YouTube.

Alberto Zayas, producer of the Soberano Awards 2018, said Daddy Yankee has won the respect and admiration of Dominicans to the point he is considered a Dominican himself and every time he is invited responds with much enthusiasm.

As reported in Diario Libre, also on the Soberano Awards' program is a tribute to merengue singer Sergio Vargas, with the participation in the segment of singers Eddy Herrera, El Mayor, Gabriel, Cherito and Sexappeal. And there will be a segment dedicated to urban music with performances by Mozar La Para, Don Miguelo, Shellow Shack and Chimbala.

The Soberano Awards 2018 will be hosted by Roberto Ángel Salcedo and Nashla Bogaert. Also on the program is the performance by Puerto Rico salsa singer Víctor Manuelle.

The show business gala will be aired on Telemicro (Channel 5) from 7pm and by Telemicro Internacional for the rest of the world.

Luguelin almost wins silver in IAAF World Indoor Championships
Dominican Luguelin Santos came in second in the IAAF contest, but was disqualified. The Dominican 2012 London Olympics silver medalist had chased Spaniard Oscar Husillos all throughout the 400m contest at the IAAF World Indoor Championships that took place in Birmingham, Great Britain from 1-4 March 2018. Husillos had clocked in at 44.92, fast enough for what would have been a championship record. But he too was disqualified, meaning third place race finisher, Czech Pavel Maslak would win with 45.47, and US Michael Cherry with 45.84 would win the silver medal. Deon Lendore of Trinidad and Tobago won the actual battle for bronze, edging Aldrich Bailey Jr. of the US 46.37 to 46.44.

It was determined that Husillos and Santos had violated Rule 163 that orders athletes at all times to keep within their allocated lane.

Pavel Maslak thus became the first three-time winner of the event at these championships. He told IAAF: "I think the guys were stronger than me and I do not know what went wrong for them," he told post-race interviewers. "They would have beaten me anyway so even if it is gold, it would have a bronze medal for me."

The Dominican 4 x 400 men’s relay did not make the finals. Team members were Leonel Bonon, Andito Charles, Lidio Andres Felix, Luguelin Santos, Juander Santos and Raymond Urbino.
Maslak was promoted from bronze to gold.

High surf and chilly weather to continue
A system of low pressure located in the Atlantic Ocean is moving past the Dominican Republic very slowly bringing increased high surf and winds from Luperón on the north to Cabo Engaño, La Altagracia on the eastern coastline. The National Metereological Office is recommending restricted use of beaches and that small boats stay in port.

Chilly temperatures will also continue into the start of the week, with lows of 15 degrees Celsius forecast for early mornings in Santo Domingo. Mountainous area temperatures could hover near freezing.