President Medina inaugurates new factory
Export industrial free zones continue to grow
Only 14% of medical students pass test to practice in DR
Soon, no more roaming charges
Participacion Ciudadana raises red flag for wage increases at Chamber of Accounts
Half of the country opposes Trujillo’s grandson’s bid for President
Plenty of US tourist visas being issued to Dominicans
More arrests in university student murder
Hearing for La Soga postponed
Dominicans judokas do well in Pan American Open
Soberano Award winners
Aisha Syed includes DR in her global tour
Mother’s Day concert at Hard Rock
Barbarella by Presidente concert set for May 2018
Singer-composer Vicente Garcia set for 21 April concert

President Medina inaugurates new factory
On Tuesday, 20 March 2018, President Danilo Medina inaugurated the fourth factory of the multinational company Medtronic that manufactures high technology medical devices in eastern Santo Domingo. This investment is reported to be US$46 million.

Around 450 new jobs were created at the newest plant located in the San Isidro Free Zone factory. Overall, the company employs 3,688 persons in plants in the San Isidro Free Zone.

General manager Paolo Tolari said the new plant brings the company’s investment in the country to approximately US$160 million. He says the new plant reaffirms the company’s confidence in the Dominican Republic as an ideal place to do business.

Export industrial free zones continue to grow
The executive director of the National Council of Free Zones, Luisa Fernández has announced that in 2017, the export industrial free zone sector grew by 4.4% over 2016 and that 71 new parks were opened with 665 companies in operation.

A report on the accounts for 2017 showed that the investments in the Free Zones grew to US$4,473.1 million, which is a 3.3% increase over the previous year and the number of companies increased by 20 for a 3.1% increase.

She said that 49.2% of the companies were in the northern area, 24.4% in the National District and Santo Domingo province, 14% in the south and 12.5% in the eastern region.

Free zones continued to employ the highest number of direct employees in the Dominican economy with 165,724 workers; technicians and administrative people employed which was a 1.6% increase over 2016. The greatest number of employees was in the textile sector with 40,864 for 24.7% of the total, followed by services with 27,442.

Only 14% of medical students pass test to practice in DR
Only 661 graduates of Dominican universities passed the standardized national test that establishes the candidates have sufficient knowledge and skills to practice medicine at public hospitals in the Dominican Republic. Some 4,624 graduate physicians sat for the exams last month.

Wilson Roa, president of the Dominican Medical Guild (CMD), said the low pass rate is a warning that universities may need to revise their curriculum and programs. Of the 4,624 physicians, 2,019 were graduates of the state university, UASD, 821 of Utesa and 605 of the UCE.

Soon, no more roaming charges
The concerns of visitors to the Dominican Republic about roaming charges could soon become a thing of the past. Representatives of 19 countries of the Americas agreed to end roaming charges for cell phones users. The agreement was announced in a meeting of the VII Assembly of the Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (Citel) in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As part of the 2018-2022 Action Plan the Citel representatives terminated roaming charges so that citizens can communicate without barriers across countries.

The end of roaming charges will benefit users in the United States, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Mexico, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, Bahamas and Barbados.

This means that users can call, use the Internet and send messages for the same price to and from all of the signatories as if they had been in their own country.

Other themes discussed were the rolling out of more telecommunications’ services, strengthening cyber security, and to improve Internet services and promote the development of ecommerce.

Participacion Ciudadana raises red flag for wage increases at Chamber of Accounts
The civic watchdog organization, Participación Ciudadana (PC), is calling for public hearings to review the recent wage increases for members of the Chamber of Accounts. The Chamber of Accounts is in charge of auditing government entities.

PC says that the recent wage increase that raised the monthly salary of the president of the Chamber of Accounts from RD$350,000 to RD$423,500 and that of the other members to RD$379,097 is in violation to Art. 140 of the Constitution. Article 140 on Regulation on Pay Increases establishes that no public institution or autonomous entity that handles public funds shall provide an increase in compensation or benefits received by their incumbents or executives, except for a period following the one for which they were elected or appointed.

PC says the wage increases also violate Law 105-13 on Regulation of Wages in the Dominican Government. PC says that the wage increases affect the legitimacy and moral quality of the members in charge of the government’s leading fiscal control and audit body.

PC highlights that not too long ago the members of the Chamber of Accounts had complained of insufficient funds at the entity to carry out the auditing work. The members said the insufficiency of funds affected their auditing in controversial cases, including the government bus company OMSA and others.

Half of the country opposes Trujillo’s grandson’s bid for President
According to a March 2018 Gallup poll for Hoy newspaper, opinions are divided about the participation of a grandson of the former dictator, Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, in the 2020 presidential election. Ramfis Domínguez Trujillo has spoken of his aspirations to participate in the 2020 presidential election.

Approximately 51% of those polled for the March 2018 Gallup-Hoy poll oppose the idea of a Dominguez-Trujillo presidential run. However, 42% of those polled would not oppose his right to run for the country’s highest office.

Domínguez Trujillo is the son of Angelita Trujillo, daughter of the dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, who governed the country with an iron fist for 31 years.

The highest rate of opposition to his running for president comes from residents in rural areas, with 58%, and women with 54% and among adults aged 55 or more with 56.4%.

In addition, of those who sympathize with the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), 59% rejected Trujillo running for President, 50.2% of those supporting the Revolutionary Modern Party (PRM), 43,3% of those sympathizing with the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) and 34.2% of those who like the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC).

Trujillo is president of the Partido Esperanza Dominicana (PED), a political party that has yet to be recognized by the Central Electoral Board (JCE).

In addition to JCE recognition, a potential Domínguez Trujillo candidacy for president must clear other constitutional and legal issues. For example, the Dominican Constitution establishes restrictions to dual nationals running for President, including the requirement that the aspirant would have had to have resigned the other nationality and have lived in the Dominican Republic 10 years before aspiring to the Presidency. Trujillo was born in the United States.

Likewise, Law 5880 dating back to 1962 prohibits activities that celebrate or pays homage to the dictatorship of Trujillo. This law is still in effect and was confirmed on 19 March 2013 by Resolution 1140 of the Attorney General Office when Domínguez Trujillo carried out a legal consultation. At the time, attorney general Francisco Domínguez Brito confirmed the ban on pro Trujillo activities.

Plenty of US tourist visas being issued to Dominicans
The Dominican Republic is in sixth place among the 12 countries in the world that received more than 100,000 tourist visas to visit the United States in 2017. The DR is the fourth country in Latin America in number of tourist visas received for its nationals.

During 2017, US consulates around the world issued a total of 9,681,913 nonimmigrant visas of which 80% were in the category of tourist visa, according to migration specialist Roque Leonel Rodriguez. Of these, Dominicans received 205,460 non-immigrant visas of which 194,557 were as tourists.

In the world ranking, the most non-immigrant visas for the United States were issued to citizens of the following countries: China with 1,452, 834; India (599,883); Brazil (520,589); Argentina (353,555); Colombia (333,433) and the Dominican Republic (194,557), followed by Ecuador in seventh place with 168,103, Russia, (164,944), Israel (163,495); Nigeria (155,940); Philippines (115,712) and Vietnam (100,423).

In the last few years the number of visas given to Dominicans has increased and in 2017 it was the second year it went over 100,000 as in 2016 there were 146,901 non-immigrant visas for Dominicans and last year 205,460.

More arrests in university student murder
The National Police are investigating another two suspects in the murder of university student Albert Ramírez Alcántara, on 15 March 2018, a day before his graduation from Unicaribe.

Those arrested are being interrogated by the Central Criminal Investigation Division of the National Police (Dicrim) including one identified as Santos Hernández who had Ramírez’s cellphone.

There will be a hearing on 22 March to decide on the coercive measures to apply to the first arrested, police private Nieves Ruiz Sierra Gómez.

Hearing for La Soga postponed
A Santiago court has postponed a hearing due to take place yesterday, Tuesday, 20 March 2018, to review the coercive measures in place against the ex-police lieutenant Fernando de los Santos, better known as “La Soga”. The new hearing has been set for Monday, 2 April.

Judge Ingrid Liberato announced the decision as the victims and several witnesses had not been summoned for the case about the death of two people in 2011 in which La Soga is accused of as well as carrying an illegal firearm.

Immediately, La Soga’s lawyer, Francisco Hernández, criticized the Dominican legal system saying that it had collapsed as there was no justification that a hearing that had been scheduled three months and six days ago had not been able to proceed with the regulatory protocols.

He said that he had the intention to petition the court for the release his client from jail as he had sufficient reasons, including social, family and economic, so as to not be a flight risk.

“La Soga” has been in preventive custody for three months for the deaths of Elvis Valerio and Luis Roberto Torres, and he has been in a special jail for Special Operations of the National Police in Manoguayabo, in Santo Domingo West.

Despite that fact that the police said they were actively looking for La Soga, he was in his own residence the whole time in Gurabo, leading a normal life since he deserted the ranks of the police force in 2011.

Dominicans judokas do well in Pan American Open
Dominicans continue to do well in international judo competitions. Robert Florentino won gold in 90kg in the Pan American Open held in Lima, Peru 17-18 March 2018. The event was organized by the Pan American Judo Confederation. Florentino is now ranked 37th in the world on the World Judo Ranking.
His teammate, Lewis Medina won bronze in -100kg. Medina is now ranked 102nd in the world. Others winning bronze medals at the tournament were Wander Mateo in 66kg and now ranked 36th in the world and Elmert Ramírez, in -60kg and now ranked 74th.

The team is next scheduled to compete in the Panamerican Senior Championships 2018 to take place 21 April 2018 in San José, Costa Rica.

Soberano Award winners
The Association of Show Business Chroniclers (Acroarte) with the backing of the Cervecería Nacional Dominicana (Presidente Beer) honored 58-year old merengue singer Sergio Vargas with the Gran Soberano Award during the 34th annual Soberano Awards televised on 20 March 2018. The event is the Oscars for the Dominican entertainment industry. Vargas’ career began with his winning second place in a voice contest organized by Rafael Solano and Yaqui Núñez del Risco for the Show del Mediodía in 1981. He later got a break when he was invited to play for the Dioni Fernandez orchestra.

The winners of Soberano Awards 2018 for best in the year were:
Lyrical Singer: Nathalie Peña-Comas
Dancer: Alexander Duval (Pas de Deux – Saturacion and Espartacus)
Choreographer: Carlos Veitía - Nutcracker
Theater: Yago (Compañía Nacional de Teatro)
Stage Production: La Bayadera – Ballet Clásico Alina Abreu and Fundación ProDanza
Theater Direction: Fausto Rojas (Yago)
Actor: Pepe Sierra (Esperando a Godot)
Actress: Cecilia García (Al final del arcoiris)
Musical: La Familia Addams (José Rafael Reyes Gómez)
Artist Abroad: Nathalie Peña-Comas

Comedy: Colao (Gregory Quinn, Michael Carrady, Zumaya Cordero)
Drama: Woodpeckers (María José Ripoll, José María Cabral)
Movie Director: José María Cabral (Woodpeckers)
Actor: Héctor Aníbal (El hombre que cuida)
Actress: Judith Rodríguez (Woodpeckers)

Daily Entertainment Show: El Show del Mediodía, Iván Ruiz
Children’s Show: El show de Raymond y Miguel (Raymond Pozo and Miguel Cespedes)
Animator: Jhoel López
TV Host: Iván Ruiz
Weekly Entertainment Show: Pegate y gana con El Pachá (Frederick Martínez)
Weekly Variety Show: Pamela todo un show (Pamela Sued)
Weekly Regional Entertainment Show: Buenas Noches (Nelson Javier)
Seasonal Program: Gente que rie (Colombia Alcántara)
Outstanding Host Abroad: Francisca Lachapelle
Comedian: Juan Carlos Pichardo Jr.
Broadcaster: Gustavo Olivo
Themed Entertainment Program: Que chevere es saber (Milagros Germán)
Videoclip: Dulcito e’ coco (Vicente García, director Pablo Lozano)

Popular Entertainment:
Orchestra: Toño Rosario
Grassroots Music Group: Fefita la Grande
Music Arranger: Manuel Tejada
Composer: Daniel Santacruz
Bachata: Asesina (Zacarías Ferreira, composer Webster Batista)
Outstanding Dominican Artist or Group Abroad: Natti Natasha
Merengue: “Yo quiero que me des un like” with Los Rosario (composers Rene Solis and Rafa Rosario)
Salsa Group: Chiquito Team Band
Bachata Singer: Frank Reyes
Album: Contra la corriente by Gabriel
Urban Group: Mozart la Para
Singer: Wason Brazoban
Concert: Fernando Villalona Sinfónico (producer Amaury Sánchez)
Show: Un bohemia cibaeña (Hector Acosta, producer Joseph Tavarez)
Collaboration: Criminal with Natti Natasha and Ozuna
Alternative Music: Riccie Oriach
Contemporary Religious Music: Marcos Yaroide

Aisha Syed includes DR in her global tour
After performing at the Carnegie Hall in New York City among other important venues abroad, Dominican violinist Aisha Syed is coming home to perform in four concerts in Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, Santiago and Punta Cana. The concerts will be on 7 April 2018 at the National Theater in Santo Domingo, on 14 April at the Salón Rafael Solano of the Centro UASD in Puerto Plata, on 18 April at the Gran Teatro del Cibao in Santiago and 21 April in Punta Cana at the Gran Salón Yauya of the Westin Punta Cana Resort. She will be accompanied by a strings orchestra with members of the National Symphony Orchestra. On her program is the Four Seasons by Vivaldi and the Four Seasons of Buenos Aires (Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas) by Astor Piazzolla, a set of four tango compositions. Tickets are for sale at Supermercados Nacional and Jumbo and online at Uepa Tickets.

Syed’s global tour has taken her to the United States and Mexico. After her presentations in the Dominican Republic, she has presentations scheduled in Peru, Ecuador, Japan, India, Argentina, Bolivia, Germany, Colombia and other countries.

Mother’s Day concert at Hard Rock
Singer-songwriter Wason Brazoban is booked for a “D’Madres” concert at the Hard Rock Live of Blue Mall in Santo Domingo on Friday, 25 May 2018 as of 9pm. The concert is dedicated to Dominican mothers, given that Sunday, 27 May is Mother’s Day in 2018. This is Brazoban’s third concert at the Hard Rock Live.

Tickets are for sale at Jumbo, Supermercados Nacional, the Hard Rock box office and also online at Uepa Tickets.

Barbarella by Presidente concert set for May 2018
The Cervecería Nacional Dominicana (Presidente Beer) is sponsoring Barbarella, one of the most important electronic music extravaganzas held in the Central American and Caribbean region, for this coming 30 May 018. The event will take place at the Olympic Stadium in the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center.

Singer-composer Vicente Garcia set for 21 April concert
Vicente García will be performing his first concert in the Dominican Republic after winning three Latin Grammy Awards earlier this year. García has included the concert on 21 April at the La Fiesta Hall of the Jaragua Renaissance in his “A la Mar Tour” that is taking him to several cities in the United States, Europe and Latin America. Tickets are for sale at Tiendas La Sirena, Supermercados Pola, and online at or