South Korean Prime Minister visits
Earthquake drill in Santiago and Puerto Plata
Ministry of Economy: Povery figures lowest ever
New cemeteries to be built
Central Bank Governor: Peso depreciation is normal
Many deals signed during Hub Santo Domingo
Arson affects water piped to farmers in new Villa Popy in Constanza
Violence in Pedernales rejected
Lawyer desists from petition for Constitutional Court to okay Medina reelection
Jail sentences and discharges in transport murders case
Woodpeckers is big winner of the 3rd Iris Movie Awards
Audrys Nin Reyes gets a home for his parents
MLB games to be shown only in paid television in 2018

South Korean Prime Minister visits
The Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon visits on Wednesday, 14 March 2018, marking the first official visit by a South Korean Prime Minister to the Dominican Republic in 56 years. He will be meeting with President Danilo Medina during his three-day stay in the country.

Prime Minister Nak-Yeon is leading a large business delegation with the goal of following up on cooperation and investment projects in sustainable energy, construction and manufacturing. The visit is coordinated by Dominican ambassador in South Korea, Grecia Fordalicia Pichardo.

Among South Korean projects underway in the Dominican Republic is an SK E&S led effort with a goal to develop the value chain for liquid natural gas (LNG), the development of an LNG Import Terminal in Manzanillo and the construction of a power plant in the city of Santiago, amongst other important investments. SK E&S Co., Ltd., together with its subsidiaries, engages in city gas, power generation, mass energy, renewable energy, and resource development businesses in South Korea and internationally. The company engages in LNG upstream, midstream, and downstream businesses; and the generation and supply of electricity to end-users through thermal, renewable energy, nuclear, and hydroelectric sources. SK E&S also produces and sells heat and electricity from concentrated energy production facilities, such as co-generation plants and incinerators.

Following his stay in the Dominican Republic, the South Korean Prime Minister is scheduled to travel to Brazil to participate in the 8th World Water Forum in Brasilia for another six days.
It is reported that the Prime Minister is looking to strengthen bilateral relations with both countries during his nine-day trip as well as to look for more cooperation in the areas of energy, infrastructure and communications’ technology.

Earthquake drill in Santiago and Puerto Plata
The Governor of Santiago Aura Toribio and Environment Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito announced that an earthquake simulacrum will take place on Wednesday, 14 March 2018. The simulacrum is one of steps being taken to minimize deaths and damage in Puerto Plata and Santiago provinces that are on an active earthquake fault line. The authorities made the announcement so the population can be aware that explosions or rescue alarms and people mobilizations are part of the drill.

Participating in the drill are the National Health Service (SNS), the National Emergencies Commission, the Center for Emergency Operations (COE), the Presidency of the Republic, Ministry of Environment, Santiago Solidario Foundation and the governor’s offices in Santiago and Puerto Plata.

The activity is carried out within the framework of the strengthening of local capacities for coordination, preparation and response established by the earthquake contingency plans for Santiago and Puerto Plata. More than 20,000 volunteers will participate in the drill that will mobilize around 500,000 persons.

Environment Minister Domínguez said that 32 hospitals are participating, activating their coordination mechanisms. Four leading public hospitals (Cabral y Báez, Arturo Grullón, and Estrella Ureña in Santiago and the Ricardo Limardo in Puerto Plata) will activate their emergency committees, carry out partial hospital evacuations and test their brigades and equipment to receive in their emergency rooms large numbers of victims that have suffered injuries in collapsed buildings.

Ministry of Economy: Poverty figures lowest ever
The Ministry of Economy, Planning and Development (Mepyd) reports that official statistics and those of international organizations show that in the last five years, 240,000 people have been lifted out of poverty in the Dominican Republic. In an extensive paid advertisement in the media published on 13 March 2018, the Ministry of Economy says there has been a 14.2% reduction in the rate of poverty. The poverty rate has declined from 39.7% in 2012 to 25.5% last year, meaning that from 3.8 million people living in poverty in 2012 has been reduced to 2.6 million in 2017.

The Ministry reminded readers that the country had previously experienced robust economic growth that began to contribute to improved livelihoods for many low-income families. However, the banking crisis in 2003-2004 stopped this growth in its tracks and the poverty rate rose from of 32.4% to nearly 50%.

The economy began its long road to recovery during the period between 2004 and 2006 when the poverty rate began to decline. Despite the improved economic performance, the poverty rate remained above 32.4% from 2006 through 2014.

In 2015, the poverty rate dipped below that 32.4 % and now stands at the lowest ever recorded.

The Ministry of Economy says that homelessness has also decreased from 8% in 2000 to 3.8% in 20l7.

Households living in poverty are described as those with a per head income of less than US$4 a day.

New cemeteries to be built
The Secretary General of the Dominican Municipal League, Johnny Jones, will work with the government and the mayors of Greater Santo Domingo to purchase land for the construction of at least two cemeteries. Jones considers this a priority of the city governments.

He said they are looking at the northern part of the Santo Domingo ring road for suitable land, given the lack of land in the city itself. In addition a technician in the LMD has been appointed to carry out a study on the potential areas.

Central Bank Governor: Peso depreciation is normal
Central Bank Governor Héctor Valdez Albizu has confirmed that the dollar remains stable and that the country has sufficient dollars to meet the demand for the hard currency. He made the statement at a time when the exchange rate has now risen to RD$50 to US$1. This translates into a depreciation of at least 60 DOP cents.

Valdez Albizu said this spike in the exchange rate is normal and often happens in the first few months of the year due to the demand for dollars as businesses restock inventories during this time. Valdez Albizu spoke at the Economic and Finance Seminar where he said that this year the Central Bank began to take actions to develop a strategy for the financial sector that is more inclusive, open, accessible and transparent.

Many deals signed during Hub Santo Domingo
ProDominicana reports a successful Hub Santo Domingo 2018, the multi-sector trade and commerce b2b event sponsored by the Santo Domingo Commerce and Production Chamber. As reported, at the closing of this year’s ProDominicana Conecta initiative, more than US$200 million in export business deals were signed. The platform facilitated more than 1,800 meetings with the participation of 150 buyers from 40 countries.

Estimates are for contracts totaling US$69.6 million in the industrial sector; US$44.2 million for farming and agribusiness sectors and US$66 million. Another US$35.1 million was committed in diverse businesses.

Arson affects water piped to farmers in new Villa Popy in Constanza
The Ministry of Environment office in Constanza denounced arsonists caused a fire that damaged 41 pipes that delivered potable water to the recently inaugurated farmers village, Villa Popy. The fire did not seriously damage the trees. The Ministry says the fire was a criminal action and occurred in the area known as the U where Pinar Parejo and La Siberia water pipes are connected. An investigation is ongoing.

The Villa Popy project is 54 houses that were built to lodge farmers that were evicted from the Parque Nacional Valle Nuevo protected area in Constanza.

Violence rejected, all is quiet in Pedernales
The National Round Table for Migration and Refugees in the Dominican Republic, (Menamird) lamented the deaths of Julio Reyes and Neyda Feliz, in Pedernales, and rejected all violent action against groups of Haitians. Menamird described the rash of distressing events in Pedernales as xenophobic and was thankful for the additional police and military being sent to the area to restore peace and security saying that no group had the right to take justice into their own hands.

Community leaders also lamented the incendiary words of pastor Alejandro Cabrera and of the president of the Dominican Board of Evangelical Unity (Codue) Pastor Fidel Lorenzo, who both are supposed to represent that spirit of Jesus Christ, but whose rhetoric was considered to be racist and xenophobic.

According to Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado, President Danilo Medina has ordered a reinforcement of elite military troops and a police contingent to Pedernales due to the tension and threats by a group of Dominicans calling for the forceful removal of Haitians living in the area.

The violent episode between Haitians and Dominicans came about following the deaths by machete injuries of the couple Julio Reyes Pérez and Neiva Feliz Urbáez, who were thought to be murdered by two Haitian brothers, employed on their farm.

The Dominicans had given a deadline of 10 am yesterday, Tuesday 13 March 2018, for Haitians to leave the community peacefully, threatening to unlawfully remove the Haitians by force when the deadline passed.

El Nacional reported on 13 March 2018, that normalcy and social order was returning to Pedernales. Nevertheless, the binational market days was cancelled indefinitely by Mayor Luis Manuel Feliz. Diario Libre reported that public schools and government offices were closed on 13 March.

The local authorities are waiting on the response from the Haitian authorities. What is known is that one of three suspects of the murder of the couple, who is unnamed, was arrested by the Haitian police in Haiti, according to Haitian consul Will Vital. The Haitians were employed on the property of the couple in farming. Two others mentioned as accomplices in the crime are on the run. There is no extradition treaty between the DR and Haiti.

Physician accused of murder sent to domiciliary arrest
Judges of the Second Penal Hall of the Court of Appeals of the Province of Santo Domingo ruled that physician Julio Gómez would serve domiciliary arrest instead of pre-trial custody. He is remanded for the death of Miguel Angel Báez (Lagrimita), who was lynched by a mob after leaving the residence of the doctor where it is reported he sought to steal and kill the physician. Gómez and his nephew John Arias were in jail in Monte Plata since 15 January 2018 after Baez was killed.

Gomez and his nephew had received the backing of representatives of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD), human rights groups and church groups.

Lawyer desists from petition for Constitutional Court to okay Medina reelection
Lawyer Fredermido Ferreras Díaz removed on Tuesday, 13 March 2018, the recourse for violation of the 2015 Constitution in regards to the impossibility of President Danilo Medina running for President in 2020.

The lawyer had sought a ruling from the Constitutional Court on the legality of President Medina seeking another term without the National Congress amending the 2015 Constitution. If such an amendment process were to occur, it would require a two-thirds majority vote by Congress before the constitution could be modified.

Jail sentences and discharges in transport murders case
A Santo Domingo court has ordered the release Arsenio Quevedo, Erikson de los Santos Solís and Cristino Batista who were accused of paying hit men to assassinate transport drivers. At the same hearing, the court imposed jail sentences of 30 years against Amauris Cabreras, in La Victoria and Danilo Octavio Reinoso, in Najayo. In addition Amaurid Cabrera and Danilo Octavio Reynoso will have to pay RD$7.5 million in restitution to the families of the victims.

Quevedo was president of the Unión Nacional de Transportistas y Afines (Unatrafin), a transporters association. Erikson de los Santos was former alderman for Pedro Brand. They were accused of the death of three drivers from a rival transport association.

Those who were discharged, according to the court, did not have sufficient evidence against them in the case made by the Public Prosecution Service.

Legal proceedings in the case began at the end of 2015 with the arrests of those accused of the murders of Overnys Guerrero, Ángel Javier and Mateo Nieves de Jesús.

National District prosecutor Yeni Berenice Reynoso said she would appeal the ruling that cleared Arsenio Quevedo from charges. “The check issued by Quevedo was not accepted as evidence because in its concept it did not say it was for contract killing. Can that be real?” she wrote in her Twitter account when commenting on the ruling and announcing her intent to appeal.

The prosecutor criticized that the preponderance of evidence, including mapping of the crime scenes, the phone call records, the hitmen on the payroll, the check in question, witness accounts, the mobile phone usage tests that directly linked the suspect to Quevedo and Erickson, among many other evidence that were apparently and disbelievingly not enough proof of involvement in the crime.

Reynoso criticized that the court validated evidence to convict the underlings but not the bosses. In a press release, the National District prosecution service said it is appealing because the ruling is contradictory, incorrect and not backed by law. The prosecutors argue the court was partial in its appraising of the evidence, favoring the intellectual authors of the crimes.

According to the National District Prosecutors Office, Quevedo was the leader of a group that made regular use of the criminal practice throughout the national territory since late 2008 of executing transporters for differences and conflicts in the different routes of transport public.
Quevedo, according to the accusation, "planned several executions" that allegedly "materialized" through Ericson de los Santos Solís.

The transport leader, "was the brain behind the plot and financed that network, with the understanding that he would directly benefit from the deaths, while Ericson de los Santos was in charge of ordering the actions, committing the murders, attempts of kidnapping, among other behaviors typical of organized crime," said the Office of the Prosecutor in its deliberations.

Woodpeckers is big winner of the 3rd Iris Movie Awards
Movie director José María Cabral was the big winner of the third edition of the Iris Movie Awards, this year celebrated at the Salon La Fiesta of the Hotel Jaragua Renaissance on 12 March 2018. During the awards, the movie community honors the best productions of the year.

Cabral won seven awards for his movie, “Woodpeckers” (Carpinteros), a drama on life in Dominican jails. The film has participated in 42 international festivals in 20 countries. Cabral won awards for best movie, best director (Jose Maria Cabral), best drama actress Judith Rodríguez, best foreign actor Jean Jean, best script, best casting and best editing.

The festival awarded the movie industry in 26 categories. Other winners were Manny Perez as best comedy actor for Colao; Carlota Carretero for “Mañana no te olvides”; Ana María Arias (Colao), Yasser Michelen (Colao), Hector Anibal, best drama actor for “El ombre que cuida;” and Francis Cruz, best secondary actor for “Y a Dios que perdone.”

Audrys Nin Reyes gets a home for his parents
World class gymnast Audrys Nin Reyes had the satisfaction that his prowess in athletics could be converted into a new furnished family home in Barahona, for his parents. Mayobanex Escoto of the governmental National Housing Institute and Sports Minister Danilo Díaz traveled to Barahona to deliver the keys to the dwelling to Audrys Nin Reyes.

“That my mom today can have her house is a big achievement and it makes me proud that I can feel that I am being a good son,” said Nin Reyes.

Nin Reyes won gold in artistic gymnastics at the 9th University Games held 19-29 August 2017 in Taipei, Taiwan. He also won gold in artistic gymnastics at the FIG World Challenge Cup – 20th Internationaux de France 2017, 16-17 September 2017 in Paris, France.

Also present was the president of the Dominican Olympic Committee Luisin Mejia and the provincial governor Pedro Peña Rubio and mayor of Barahona city, Noel Suberví. The house is located in the Blanquisal neighborhood of Barahona.

MLB games to be shown only in paid television in 2018
Commercial sponsors were not found this year to transmit Major League Baseball games on regular Dominican channels, as reported in Diario Libre. Those following the MLB will now have to watch the games on paid cable TV or on MLB online for pay services.

Marketing expert, Alejandro Peña says this follows global trends for more premium content to be shown on paid media. He explained the trend worldwide is for a formula that is 50% advertising and 50% paid subscriptions.

According to the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel), in 2017, in the Dominican Republic there are 796,808 subscribers to cable TV, up 33.6% compared to 2016. Only a quarter of Dominican households are subscribed to cable TV.

Peña said that a large number of MLB fans follow the games from the colmadones, or open grocery store-bars usually located on city street corners.

As reported, the games will not be transmitted on radio either.