DR1 Daily News next update on 14 May 2018
New ministers of Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Culture
First Lady to meet with Pope Francisco in the Vatican
Turtles lay eggs in northern Punta Cana
Controversial Political Party Bill sent to special commission
Dominicana Limpia organizes 2018 Recycling Week
Got milk? The INABIE is holding a big tender
Farmers call for rescue of government agricultural research centers
INTEC alerts to combo of rising foreign debt and fuel prices
Dominican airports going solar
Dominican telecoms fight for share of radio spectrum
Efforts being made to exclude Dominican steel from new US tariffs
Police recover baby stolen from Santiago hospital
Peralta appeals and District Attorney fires back
National District Basketball finals continue

DR1 Daily News next update on 14 May 2018
The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 14 May 2018. The Monday issue will compile headline news for the previous Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Breaking news can be followed 24/7 in the Forums. See the DR1 Forum at http://www.dr1.com

New ministers of Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Culture
President Danilo Medina issued Decree 168-18 on Wednesday, 9 May 2018 appointing four key cabinet ministers.

Agronomist Ángel Estévez, formerly minister of Agriculture, who will be replacing Francisco Domínguez Brito at the held of the Ministry of Environment. Domínguez Brito recently resigned the position announcing he would dedicate himself to his campaign for the PLD presidential candidacy in the 2020 general election. The Ministry of Environment faces many controversial issues, including the issuing or not of permits for mining operations and for the construction of high rises in the Punta Cana area, as well as actions to regulate waste disposal and use.

To head the Ministry of Agriculture, the Presidency appointed Osmar Benítez. Benítez is the long time head of the Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD), and a long time close government collaborator.

At the Ministry of Public Health, the President appointed Rafael Sánchez Cardenas to replace Altagracia Guzmán Marcelino. Sánchez was serving as deputy minister at the Ministry of Superior Education at the time of his appointment. Guzmán was named honorary medical advisor to the Expediente Integrado de Salud division. The Ministry of Public Health has been in the press for recent deaths of newborns at the Barahona hospital that is being remodeled by the government. The Ministry is challenged by a widespread hospital renovation program that has affected the operations of several working public hospitals and by recent efforts to instate controls on the medical staff, as well as by demand of immigrants seeking free services on the public hospitals.

President Medina appointed architect and former consul in New York City, Eduardo Selman as the country’s minister of Culture. He replaces Pedro Vergés.

In the same decree, the Presidency appoints Narciso Reyes Cabrera as deputy minister for international relations of the Ministry of Superior Education (Mescyt).

To the board of the Banco de Reservas, the Presidency appointed Kirsis Fernández, to replace Kenia Lora Abreu. Lora Abreu was appointed director general of the Consejo Nacional para la Niñez y la Adolescencia (Conani).

Félix Estrella and Chanel Marie Stocker Bogaert were appointed to the board of the Consejo de Directores de la Unidad de Electrificación Rural y Suburbana (UERS).

First Lady to meet with Pope Francisco in the Vatican
First Lady Cándida Montilla is traveling to Rome to visit the Vatican City and participate in the activity of the visit of Pope Francisco to the Scholas Occurrentes. Scholas is an international organization of public good created by Pope Francis that works with young people through schools and educational communities in more than 190 countries. The First Lady accepted an invitation from José María del Corral, president of the organization.

She is traveling with the technical coordinator of the First Lady’s Office, Martha Rodríguez and the director of the Instituto de Formación Técnico Profesional (INFOTEP), Rafael Ovalles. Also traveling with her is auxiliary archbishop for Santo Domingo, Monsignor Ramón Benito Ángeles. They will be assisted in Rome by Dominican ambassador to the Vatican, Víctor Grimaldi.

She is scheduled to return on Monday, 14 May 2018.


Turtles lay eggs in northern Punta Cana
The Ministry of Environment announced that it is coordinating the protection of 103 turtle eggs of the Tinglar Dermochelys coriacea species. The eggs were laid at Playa Muerta, La Vacama, north to the Punta Cana beach strip.

The Office of Coastal and Marine Resources at the Ministry headquarters in Santo Domingo is working closely with the Ministry provincial office in La Altagracia to assure the protection of the turtle eggs. A Ministry spokesperson said the eggs were transported to the Centro de Vigilancia Ría de Maimón, located 14 kms from where the eggs were laid so that they could safely complete their incubation period.

The Ministry of Environment also reported turtle eggs were laid at the beaches of El Valle in Samaná and at Sans Souci in Santo Domingo this 2018.

The Ministry reports that turtles of three species of seven lay eggs on Dominican coasts. These are: Carey (Eretmochelys imbricata), Verde (Chelonia mydas) and Tinglar (Dermochelys coriácea). The species are on the list of protected species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


Controversial Political Party Bill sent to special commission
The Chamber of Deputies unanimously approved without debate to send the controversial legislative proposal that covers political parties and groups in the Dominican Republic to a committee for further study. The motion was approved by 175 legislators present for the session. The bill had been received from the Senate.

Henry Merán of the ruling PLD, who happens to be in favor of closed primaries, will head the commission. Other members are Radhames Camacho, Gustavo Sánchez and Miriam Cabral, who are aligned with Danilo Medina, together with Plutarco Núñez of the PLD and PRD member Radhames Gonzalez, who is also part of the committee that will include Hamlet Sánchez (PLD), Adalgisa Pujols (PLD), Alfredo Pacheco (PRM), Victor D’Aza (PRM), Maximo Castro (PRSC) and Fidel Santana (Frente Amplia), most of whom defend closed primaries.

The bill has languished in the National Congress for more than 20 years. The open or closed primaries clause is the latest snag over which leading politicians have not been able to reach an agreement. A week ago, 10 deputies of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), followers of Hipolito Mejia, and 76 members of the PLD, followers of President Danilo Medina, did not attend the session of the Chamber of Deputies, that caused the session to be cancelled, for lack of a quorum.

The same commission will discuss the Electoral Regime Bill that also has languished for decades in Congress.


Dominicana Limpia organizes 2018 Recycling Week
Dominicana Limpia, which is made up of different groups that form part of the Comprehensive Plan for Handling Solid Refuse, has announced the 2018 Recycling Week that will be held at the installations of the Dominican Municipal League starting next Monday 14 May and ending on Thursday 17 May, coinciding with the World Recycling Day.

The idea of this civic work is to promote the culture of recycling which contributes to the rational use of natural resources. The movement also recognizes the importance of recycling both for environmental protection as well as public health. Many important public and private sector groups will take part in the effort including, the Cervecería Nacional Dominicana (the Presidente beer brewery), the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Education, the Special Programs of the President Agency (Digepep), the Dominican Municipal League, the Dominican Federation of Municipalities, among others.

During the Week of Recycling, visitors can experience the culture of recycling and actively participate in the construction or making of some articles, starting with the refuse discarded by others. Several artists and architects will also have their work on display there will be classes, workshops, conferences and discussion panels regarding different experiences regarding recycling that are being carried out in the country.

Got milk? The INABIE is holding a big tender
The National Institute of Student Welfare (Inabie) reported yesterday that they are in the last phases of preparation for a public tender to acquire the foods that students in public schools will be consuming during the 2018/2019 school year. The school food and beverage procurement program will carry a price tag of over RD$7 billion. For bread and crackers, the Inabie will invest RD $1.87 billion. Purchases will be made from more than 150 companies, both small, large and micro, throughout the country.

The budget for pasteurized milk is some RD$2.65 billion and for the UH variety of milk there will be an investment of RD$4 billion. The agency is stressing that this investment in milk by the government will benefit dairy cooperatives and associations and companies who are producing and processing milk throughout the country.

The information was offered by René Jaquez, the Inabie director, who stressed the efforts being made by the government so that each student in the public schools can be served a nutritional and balanced meal. The official explained that at the present time the agency has more than 469 private companies contributing to their programs through the supply of main course meals for the extended school day. In addition, there are more than 163 suppliers for crackers, bread, milk and juice. Jaquez noted the Public School Lunch Program serves the 3,997 schools and benefits 1.4 million students.


Farmers call for rescue of government agricultural research centers
Farmers in the southern provinces of the Dominican Republic called upon the government to reopen, remodel, and reinforce the Agricultural Research Centers (Centros de Investigación Agropecuaria) around the country that traditionally had offered a range of agricultural support to farmers, including high-quality, certified seeds. The call was issued by the Movimiento Campesino Dominicano (MCD) that gathers farmers operating small farms during their regional meeting held in the town of Elias Piña as part of the celebration of the National Farmers Day. More than a thousand farmers from 10 southern provinces attended the meeting.

Mario Ogando, spokesman for the group, in addition for appealing for the reopening of the research centers, said that the situation of the small farmers was going from bad to worse because of the difficulty in dealing with a high production costs. Ogando called on the government to provide housing in the countryside so that farmers could live with certain dignity and not be forced to migrate to the largest cities.

Martin Nivar, the MCD president, called on the government to halt the import of farm products during harvest time. He also stressed that his movement was against the exploitation of the gold mine in San Juan de la Maguana.

Adriano Sanchez Roa, the senator for Elias Piña, explained to the audience many details about the General Law of the Farm Sector and Rural Development that he has submitted to the Senate.


INTEC alerts to combo of rising foreign debt and fuel prices
The coordinator of the School of Economy at the Instituto Tecnologico de Santo Domingo, Rafael Espinal, alerted that the rising government foreign debt and the rising prices of fuel could bring about an unmanageable economic crisis that would require the intervention of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Intec recently presented its fourth report on the Dominican Economy. Espinal and Roxana Brady, Dean of Economics, spoke of their concerns. They highlighted the recent unusual increase in depreciation of the Dominican peso in the first half of the year by 2.2%. They mentioned this could force the Central Bank to inject international reserves accumulated due to the placement of sovereign bonds.

The increase in the price of fuel could mean an additional US$700 million in government expenditures.


Dominican airports going solar
Aeropuertos Dominicanos Siglo XXI (Aerodom), the leading operator of international airports in the Dominican Republic, announced that solar panel systems have been installed at several of their airports as part of the corporation’s commitment with the environment.

Aerodom announced 1,670 solar panels, with a capacity to produce 543 kWp were installed at the Gregorio Luperón International Airport in Puerto Plata (POP). This will supply 12% of the airport’s energy needs.

At the northern Santo Domingo La Isabela International Airport (JBQ), 2,640 panels, with a production of 858 kWp were installed, equivalent to 43% of the energy demand of that airport.

Likewise, at the Maria Montez International Airport (BRX) in Barahona, 616 panels were installed, able to produce 220 kWp, or 78% of the airport’s energy demand.

The project contemplates a second phase, when solar panels would be installed at the Las Americas International Airport (SDQ) in Santo Domingo, the El Catey International Airport in Samana (AZS). The second phase also calls for an expansion of the initial installation of solar panels at the Puerto Plata international airport.


Dominican telecoms fight for share of radio spectrum
The three leading telecom companies in the Dominican Republic are at war to ensure that unfair advantages are not granted and their competitiveness is affected. Claro, Altice and Viva control 90% of the local telecommunications market.

The Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) is carrying out a tender for 30 MHz of the spectrum, and has disallowed the participation of Claro and Altice, the two largest companies, as these already have been assigned more than 60 MHz of the spectrum.

Earlier, Telecomunicaciones Viva had submitted to the Superior Administrative Tribunal (TSA) a request for actions be taken against the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) regarding Resolution 77-17 that approved the fusion of Altice and assigned to the company 20 MHz – spectrum bands 1720-1730 MHz and 2120-2130 MHz. Viva says this creates an unfair advantage to the company.

The Indotel charges US$1 million for each megahertz.


Efforts being made to exclude Dominican steel from new US tariffs
Lobbying efforts are underway for the approval of US legislation that would exempt from new tariffs on foreign aluminum and steel imports from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico. The initiative is backed by US Congress members Adriano Espaillat, Jenniffer Gonzalez, Nydia Velazquez, Luis Gutierrez, Jose Serrano, Darren Soto, Bill Pascrell and Ron DeSantis.

The legislators argue that steel shipped from the Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico accounts for less than 0.01% of the total US steel import, while its importance for the recovery of Puerto Rico after the damages of Hurricane Maria in 2017 “cannot be emphasized enough.” The legislators have addressed the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to present their strong support for the exemption of the country’s steel and aluminum imports from the Section 232 tariffs.

“A tariff of this significance dangerously impacts the supply of these materials, further delaying our efforts to rebuild the island’s infrastructure post Hurricane Maria and increasing costs for US taxpayers and businesses alike,” explain the legislators.

On 8 March 2018, US President Donald Trump established new standards for steel exports to the United States, with a 25% tariff on steel and 10% on aluminum imported from the Dominican Republic. The president exempted imports from Mexico and Canada until the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks have concluded.


Police recover baby stolen from Santiago hospital
The National Police reported the rescuing of the baby twin girl that had been stolen on Monday, 7 May 2018 from the Doña René Klang de Guzmán Maternity at the Presidente Rafael Estrella Ureña Public Hospital in Santiago.

Police spokesman, Juan Guzmán Baldía said the child was found on Wednesday, 9 May in a home in the Los Prados area of the Pekín sector in Santiago. She was kept by Raquel Almonte, who is being accused of the theft together with her spouse Jeurys Rodríguez.

The Police said the child was taken to the hospital and would be returned to the mother who is still hospitalized.

32-year old Noelia Sánchez Lara from Cienfuegos in Santiago gave birth to twin girls. She denounced the baby was stolen and suspect a woman who had offered to help bathe and change the diapers of the child and then disappeared. Sánchez has seven children.

37-year old Raquel Almonte said she stole the baby to please her spouse who demanded she have a child to keep the relationship.

A 911 surveillance camera outside the hospital helped solve the case.


Peralta appeals and District Attorney fires back
The judges of the Second Penal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice have delayed their verdict regarding the appeal filed by truckers’ union leader Blas Peralta. Peralta is appealing the 30-year sentence for the murder of the former rector of the state Autonomous University of Santo Domingo, Mateo Aquino Febrillet. In his appeal, Peralta requested the Supreme Court vacate the sentence and order a new trial. Peralta and his lawyers are also requesting a change in the basic charge from murder to involuntary homicide that would carry a lesser sentence of from three years to a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The District Attorney for the National District, Yeni Berenice Reynoso told reporters that she believes there is no way that the judges of the Supreme Court will grant this appeal. She said: “He killed a man in plain daylight; let him face the consequences.”

In addition to Blas Peralta, three other persons are also in jail. The sentence has been ratified by the First Court of the Penal Chamber of the Appeals Court of the National District last 30 November, 2017.


National District Basketball finals continue
The finals of the best basketball played in the Dominican Republic are taking place this weekend at the Palacio de los Deportes in the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center. Club Mauricio Báez is going against the defending champion team Club Rafael Barias. Mauricio Báez won the first game on Wednesday, 9 May. The games continue on Friday, 11 May as of 8pm. The third game is set for Sunday, at 5pm.