President Medina to concentrate on border
Public-private agreement to promote more investment and exports
Inflation on target
Tunnels and overpasses to close
Visas no longer needed to travel to Nicaragua
Who wants to take over the Maravillas Caves lands?
Tensions on the rise between Haitians and Dominicans in Pedernales
Haina industries spokesperson calls for more efficient government spending
Rum producers protest they face strong unfair competition
Altice to be sold
Police Commander seriously injured wounded on duty
Drug hauls up on last year
Car used in murder of Emely Peguero is found
Dominican woman charged with murder in Spain

DR1 affected by bot attack on 12 March was down since the late evening of 12 March after the site was affected by a massive bot attack launched against our server. Chinese and Korean spammers are suspect of causing the attack.
Measures in place protected by site, shutting it down as the matter is being gradually resolved. The attack also affected updating the news on the home page and delayed the sending out of the DR1 Travel News and the DR1 Daily News for 13 March 2018.

President Medina to concentrate on border
On Sunday, 11 March 2018, President Danilo Medina was in Tierra Nueva near the southwestern Jimani border crossing in Independencia province and spoke of new policies to support Dominicans in the area so that they did not feel the need to migrate away from the border. The President announced he would be making more frequent visits to the border.

Medina promised to install irrigation pumps in the AC-053 farming project, to maintain the roads, to build a new rural housing development, a school, provide a bus to transport students, improve the electrical grid, build a hospital and open a low cost pharmacy. He met with people from the AC-053 project who said that their main problem was the lack of electricity and water for crops.

President Medina, during his trip on Sunday, 11 March 2018, also visited nearby municipality of Duvergé to inspect the AC-584 farming project where he had visited during his first term in office, in October 2012.

Public-private agreement to promote more investment and exports
The Commonwealth Roundtable of the Dominican Republic announced on Monday, 12 March 2018, the signing of agreements with several private and public entities to promote the advantageous geographic position of the Dominican Republic and the potential of the country as a major distribution center for the Americas to its 53 member countries.

Fernando González Nicolás of the Commonwealth announced the signing of the agreement that calls for the establishment of the Dominican Republic as “The Supermarket of the Caribbean”. The intention is to build upon efforts already underway in this direction through new legislation and investments by the government to increase trade. Among these measures is the strengthening of the National Competitiveness Council, creating improvements and efficiencies in customs and port infrastructure, the establishment of the single window for foreign trade, the strengthening of the Caribbean Exports Table and Trade Facilitation Commission, and the designation of 2018 as the Year for the Promotion of Exports.

Signing the Commonwealth Roundtable agreement were: the presidents of the Association of Dominican Center and Logistics Operators (Asologic), represented by Salvador Figueroa Sánchez; Dominican Association of Exporters (Adoexpo), represented by Alvaro Sousa Sevilla; and the Dominican Shippers Association (ANRD), represented by Ewald Heinsen Bogaert.

Participating as witnesses for the Dominican government were: the executive directors of the National Competitiveness Council, Rafael Paz Familia, and Dominican Port Authority, Víctor Gómez Casanova.
Also present as witnesses were UK Ambassador Chris Campbell, Canada Ambassador Shauna Hemingway. Also honorary consuls for Australia Fernando Rainieri; Bahamas, Hernando Pérez Montás; Barbados, Emilio Hasbún; Trinidad Federico Reyes. For the Embassy of Jamaica, its business attache Thomas Allan Marley participated. Also present were Guillermo Alvarez and Francesca Ortíz, vice president and executive director respectively, of the British Chamber of Commerce. Others attending were José Miguel Vega and Odile Miniño, vice president and executive vice president for the Dminican Export Association (Adoexpo).

Others participating for the Commonwealth Roundtable were Roberto Herrera, vice president; and José María Cabral, secretary, and Campos de Moya, treasurer.

Inflation on target
The Consumer Prices’ Index dropped in February 2018 by 0.11% compared to January meaning year to date inflation stands at 0.18%, according to the Central Bank. Inflation for the past 12 months, February 2017 to February 2018 stands at 3.32% within the range set by the Monetary Program of 4.0 % ± 1.0 %.

The reduction in the inflation rate in the month was attributed to the lower prices reported in the Food and Non Alcoholic Beverages category, which decreased by 0.64%. Also, the Housing Sector prices which went down by 0.63%. The reduction in these categories counteracted the increases in Transport (0.27 %), Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (1.08 %), Health (0.40 %), Hotels and Restaurants (0.22%), among others.

Tunnels and overpasses to close
The Ministry of Public Works has announced that from Monday 12 March 2018, several tunnels and overpasses will be closed overnight in Santo Domingo. The reason for the closure is for general cleaning and collection of garbage.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018, the elevated section of Kilometer 9 and the middle of the Duarte Highway (entry to Manoguayabo) will be closed and kilometer 12 at the corner of Monumental Avenue.

On Wednesday 13, and Thursday 15 the elevated section of Luperon Avenue with 30 May Highway will be closed and on Friday 16th the tunnel on Las Americas.

Visas no longer needed to travel to Nicaragua
Dominicans can travel to Nicaragua without a visa. Likewise, citizens of Nicaragua can visit the Dominican Republic for the same period of up to 90 days.

The agreement was signed by Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado and the ambassador of Nicaragua in the Dominican Republic, Bettina Rodríguez. This is part of a series of agreements under negotiation between the Ministry of Foreign Relations, the Nicaraguan and other regional governments.

Who wants to take over the Maravillas Caves land?
The foundation that manages the Cuevas de las Maravillas, the caves attraction between San Pedro de Macorís and La Romana, sent an open letter to the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Ruben Maldonado, inquiring what could be behind the interest in the lands on which the caves park is located. The Fundación Patronato Cuevas de las Maravillas notes they have resisted attempts by groups that seek to invade the caves property.

The letter advises that the Cuevas de la Maravillas attraction is a public-private partnership that is situated on land owned by the State Sugar Council (CEA). Given that it is government land, the tourist-based Foundation has rebuffed several attempts to privatize the site.

The Foundation leaders reiterated to the legislators the ecological and cultural importance of the caves and the surrounding area. Many years ago, the government entrusted the land to the foundation so as to avoid its takeover by private interests backed by political influence.

Tensions on the rise between Haitians and Dominicans in Pedernales
Minister of Interior and Police Carlos Amarante said a contingent of National Police and army agents were sent to Pedernales to reinforce security in that city in response to a video circulating on social media motivating the population to forcibly expel Haitians living in the area in revenge for murders of a three Dominicans in which Haitians are being accused of having committed the crimes. He said the border security agency Cesfront and the Army are working to suppress the upsurge in violence the province.

According to the Mayor of Pedernales, Luis Manual Feliz, a “disco light” vehicle carrying unknown persons travelled throughout all of Pedernales announcing on loud speakers that Haitians had 24 hours to leave or face violent actions against them.

The Mayor has asked that President Medina and Foreign Minister Vargas as yesterday to intervene in the crisis. Amarante reported that on Monday, 12 March 2018, two Haitians who were attacked and injured and are being treated at a local hospital.

At the same time, dozens of people protested in front of the Public Prosecution office, the police station and military stations demanding justice for the murders of farmer Julio Reyes Pérez and his wife Neiba Féliz Urbáez who were attacked with machetes. Haitians are the lead suspects. Julio Reyes is a close relative of former senator for Pedernales, Angel Dignocrates Pérez.

The couple was attacked on 20 February 2018. Reyes Perez died at the scene of the attack. On Sunday, 10 March, his wife, Neiba died from her injuries while being treated in the intensive care unit in the Ney Arias Lora hospital in Santo Domingo.

Another murder attributed to Haitians is that of 26-year old Turbí Díaz whose body was found in the Oviedo garbage dump.

The demonstrators carried placards asking for justice saying that the crimes were carried out by Haitians who then fled across the border.

Yesterday, Monday 12 March, Haitians were seen leaving the city to avoid acts of revenge by Dominicans.

Interior and Police Minister Amarante said local authorities are in touch with Haitian authorities for the arrest in Haiti of the lead suspects in the crimes.

Haina industries spokesperson calls for more efficient government spending
Bredyg Disla, president of the Asociación de Empresas e Industrias de Haina y Región Sur, offered support to the efforts of the tax administration to increase tax collections. But Disla suggested that these efforts should be matched by a government pledge and actions to improve the efficiency and reduce waste in public spending so that the increase in government revenues through more rigorous tax collection can provide a base for a more productive society.

Disla said that wasteful public spending in the short term can annul any benefits to increased tax revenues.

"The government is often talking about increasing revenues, but the efficiency of public spending, as well as equity and integrity in the collection of taxes are not being seriously addressed," she said. Disla argued that it is necessary to keep public investment dynamic so that the economy continues to grow.

The Ministry of Hacienda reported that in 2017 taxes were up 11% compared to 2016, for RD$537.19 billion, excluding donations.

Rum producers protest they face strong unfair competition
The Dominican Association of Rum Producers (Adopron) says that more than US$125 million in rum is exported every year. Augusto Ramírez, president of Brugal and Adopron, in an interview with El Dia said that Adopron members paid in 2017 more than RD$20 billion in luxury taxes (impuesto selectivo al consumo).

The Adopron producers, nevertheless, say they face unfair competition from informal producers. Ramírez alerts that the informal market has grown from 5% to 20%, and sells around a million additional boxes of rum, while not paying their taxes. Adopron blames unfair competition for the production decline of their members from 6 million boxes to 3 million boxes over a five year period.

Adopron is campaigning for the approval of the Protected Designation of Origin (DO) for Dominican rum. They say that to be called Dominican rum aging needs to be at least 12 months and local materials used.

Altice to be sold
Tofane Global has agreed to acquire Altice’s wholesale voice carrier business in France, Portugal and the Dominican Republic. Tofane Global is described online as a new French player in the telecom and digital sectors, and a specialist of international inter operators’ carrier services”. The company is led by Alexandre Pébereau, previously with Orange, Maroc Telecom and Bollore.

A statement has been released saying Tofane, has entered into exclusivity to buy its international voice carrier assets, grouped as Altice International Wholesale (AIW).

The three entities of AIW (SFR Carriers, Meo and Orange Dominicana) transported 14 billion minutes of international voice traffic in 2017. The deal, should it be completed, will see Tofane continue to remain as a strategic partner for Altice, it said.

According to Pebereau, "Once all authorizations are received Tofane Global will become the third largest provider of voice and mobile data services in the world."

Altice said in its statement: "Altice N.V. announces today it has entered into exclusivity with Tofane Global, a Paris-based telecommunications and digital player specializing in international carrier services, for the sale of its international wholesale voice carrier business in France, Portugal and the Dominican Republic.

"This transaction shows further execution of Altice's non-core asset disposal program to strengthen the company's long-term balance sheet position and focus on improving the operational and financial results of its key franchises."

Altice had completed its agreement for the merger of the previously purchased Orange and Tricom telecom operations in the Dominican Republic with Indotel, the Dominican telecom regulators, in September 2017.

Police Commander seriously injured wounded on duty
The Police commander in Tamboril, Lieutenant Colonel Franklin Santana was shot in the head during a standoff between gangs at the end of the Carnival in the municipality.

As reported, Santana was injured on Presidente Vasquez Avenue answering a call of a disturbance in the area. When the patrol arrived, the gangs began to fire and the officer was seriously injured along with several others. He was taken to a clinic in Tamboril and then transferred to the Corominas Clinic in Santiago. The police are on the trail of the suspects in the shootout.

Drug hauls up on last year
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) reports it has confiscated 4,232 kilos of different drugs so far this year some 1,151 kilos more than in the first three months of 2017.

In addition 98 people have been arrested for drug dealing, including Bienvenido Guevara Díaz (Maconi), Miguel Ángel Muñoz Pereyra (Pipe), and Carlos Alberto Villavizar Guzmán, alias El Viejo and/or el Profe who are considered main street traffickers of illegal drugs. These suspects are thought to be prominent members of the band of capo Quirino Ernesto Paulino Castillo. During 2017 in the same period, 61 people were arrested.

The amount of marihuana confiscated has also increased from 229.7 kilos in this timeframe in 2017 and 438.9 kilos from the beginning of 2018.

Of all of the drugs confiscated so far this year more than 2,000 kilos was discovered off the coast of the country with the rest in ports and airports.

Car used in murder of Emely Peguero is found
Henry Martínez, arrested on his return to the country from Florida, USA, is accused of being complicit in the crime of the murder of 16-year old Emely Peguero. In the first official statement to the authorities he said that he had known about the murder of the teenager since 23 August 2017, and did not tell the authorities as it was nothing to do with him and he was scared.

Henry Martínez confirmed the version that it was his nephew Marlon who told him about Peguero’s death. He said his nephew explained they had been arguing when the young girl hit her head on the edge of a table, causing her death.

Henry Martínez, upon his return, revealed to prosecutors that the body had been moved in a car (a Suzuki), in which his sister, Marlin Martínez, later drove to Santo Domingo where it was kept in a garage. The car was found last Friday, following his revelations to the public prosecutors in San Franciso de Macoris.’

Dominican woman charged with murder in Spain
On Sunday, 11 March 2018, the Spanish police arrested a Dominican woman accused of killing an eight year old boy, who disappeared some 12 days ago in the south of Spain and had been the subject of a major search.

The body of Gabriel Cruz was found on Sunday by security forces in the trunk of a car owned by the arrested woman, Ana Julia Quezadio, who was the partner of the child’s father and had been working with the rest of the family to find the child.

Gabriel disappeared on 27 February having left his grandmother’s house in Las Hortichuelas, in Níjar (Almería, south of Spain).

The arrested woman was a person of interest to the Police since last Saturday, 3 March when she told the agents she had supposedly discovered a white shirt that used to contain Gabriel’s body in an area which had previously been searched.

During the search for Gabriel there were more than 2,600 volunteers and almost 1,500 professionals.
The Dominican Embassy expressed its condolences for the death of Gabriela and said that the whole Dominican society in Spain had been following the case very closely.