JCE redistributes deputy positions according to population changes
Dominican Customs being helped by Dubai
Hipolito says he will tell on Leonel Fernandez
Women under-represented in the DR political system
Tuk tuks being introduced
Neurosurgeons urges government to impose traffic laws
Investigation over prison killings in San Pedro de Macorís
Parents of Emely Peguero agree to keep lawyer
Former ambassador accused of incest
Dominican football chief suspended
DR to play Serbia in VNL

JCE redistributes deputy positions according to population changes
The Central Electoral Board (JCE), in preparation for the 2020 general elections, announced changes in the number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies allotted to the National District and the 32 provinces nationwide. The total number of deputies remains the same, at 178.

The provinces with the most representation in the lower house for 2020 will be Santiago with 18, Puerto Plata with 6, La Romana and Azua with 4, and the National District with 18 deputies.

It was announced on 4 June 2018 that the increase in population adds new seats in the Chamber of Deputies for the provinces of Santo Domingo that went from 36 to 43, and La Altagracia (Higuey, Verón and Punta Cana), from 4 to 5. Provinces losing deputy seats are: Monte Plata, that went from 4 to 3; Espaillat (from 5 to 4); San Juan de la Maguana (from 5 to 4); Duarte (San Francisco de Macorís) that went from 6 to 5, San Pedro de Macorís, down to 5 from 6; La Vega, down from 8 to 7) and San Cristóbal, down from 11 to 10.

The border provinces (Pedernales, Independencia, Elías Piña, Dajabón, Bahoruco and Montecristi) stay the same with the minimal two deputies, despite drops in population. But Barahona, also considered a border province, saw a decline in the number of allotted deputies from 4 to 3.

Provinces that keep the same two deputies are San José de Ocoa, Hato Mayor, El Seibo, Hermanas Mirabal (Salcedo) and Samaná. María Trinidad Sánchez (Nagua) province keeps its same three deputies.

For the calculations, the JCE used data from the 2010 Population Census that sets a population of 9,445,281 inhabitants.


Dominican Customs being helped by Dubai customs experts
A mission from the Dominican Customs Agency (DGA) traveled to the facilities of Customs World, subsidiary of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) in Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), for technical skills enhancement. As reported, the delegates had the chance to learn about the advanced services and smart customs systems that Dubai Customs delivers to its clients. Dubai Customs has an agreement with the Dominican Customs Agency for technical help in developing and updating customs procedures and systems to help its Dominican counterpart better protect its entry points and support economy.

As reported, Nadya Kamali, CEO of Customs World briefed the visitors on the Customs World’s plans to help and update the Dominican customs’ systems.

The agreement dates back to 2017 when the Customs World and the Dominican Customs Agency signed an agreement for the company to deliver a comprehensive capacity-building program to help expedite and optimize their customs clearance process while maintaining both effective and efficient control of goods and people.

Kamali added that PCFC is providing an integrated business plan to the Dominican Republic that started in 2006 with the development of Multimodal Port of Caucedo to enhance the country’s position as a business hub in the Caribbean.


Hipolito says he will tell on Leonel Fernandez
Former President Hipólito Mejía has announced that in July 2018 he will begin his campaign to seek the PRM presidential candidacy. Mejía and Luis Abinader lead the two major factions within the PRM, the largest opposition party.

At the same time, Mejía remarked that former President Leonel Fernandez is “dead” politically. Fernández is the president of the ruling PLD. Yet, Fernandez and President Danilo Medina have seemingly been adversaries ever since Medina sought the presidential candidacy for the party in 2008 when he met with opposition from then President Fernandez.

Despite being from an opposition party, Mejía has been known to side with President Medina on several positions where Medina is at odds end with Fernández. Now, Mejía remarked: “Leonel is dead, and don’t worry, as I am going to reveal what no one knows about Leonel Fernandez, and I will reveal this information when my campaign heats up in our nation’s streets,” he said.

Mejia said that people should not give up hope as he will reveal this information when the time is right. The 2015 Constitution, that was amended to allow for President Danilo Medina to seek reelection in 2016, allows Leonel Fernández to run for President, not so President Danilo Medina in the 2020 general election.

Mejia confirmed that he was against closed primaries to choose the political party presidential candidates. He observed all the months of discussion had not ended the impasse over the issue. He went on to say that all cheating and trickery needed to be avoided and that it is the role of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) to assure a transparent electoral process.


Women under-represented in the DR political system
According to a study called “More Women, More Democracy; Challenges for Gender Equality in Politics”, the Dominican Republic is among the countries with the lowest representation of women at the ministerial level and in 2017, was the fifth lowest country in the region with women only holding 17.3% of the ministerial positions with the regional average being 24.55%.

Nicaragua is the country with the highest representation of female ministers at 51.7 %, followed by Chile with 39.1%; Costa Rica with 38.1%, Colombia with 29.4%; Bolivia 29.2%; Ecuador 27.8%; Peru 27.4%; Paraguay 25%; Cuba 25%; Panama 23.5%; El Salvador 23.1%; Uruguay 20%; Argentina 19% and Brazil 18.2%.

They are followed by the Dominican Republic at 17.3%, Venezuela 16.3%; Mexico 13.6%; Guatemala 11.8% and Honduras con 11.1%.

In the country there are 23 ministries with only four female ministers in 2017 and this year it has dropped to three, which are Higher Education, Science and Technology, Youth and Women. In 2017 looking at deputy ministers, there were 25.78% women and 74.21% men.

In the decentralized state institutions, 13.68% were run by women and 86.31% men.
There is a similar situation with overseas Dominican ambassadors with only 18.18% being women.

The study concludes that women are underrepresented in all senior political positions despite the equality established in the Dominican Constitution, and the objectives of the 2030 National Development Strategy and international agreements.


Tuk tuks being introduced
Following the introduction of Ground Transit Law 63-17 that prohibits children under 8 from riding on motorcycles, the National Federation of Motorcycle Taxi Drivers (Fenamoto) has begun a pilot scheme to introduce the “Mototaxis”, “Margaritas” or “tuk tuks” to Greater Santo Domingo.

This is a motorcycle with three wheels and a roof and capacity for four people that is already being used in several towns and cities in the country including Manzanillo, Navarrete, Dajabón, Mao and Monción as well as in tourist areas such Puerto Plata.

In Greater Santo Domingo they are in operation in San Pío X Street in the Renacimiento area where they travel to Los Cacizcagos, in Isabel Aguiar (Pintura) and the Universidad del Caribe.
According to Oscar Almánzar, president of Fenamoto, they are safer, more comfortable, and they will have wi-fi in the future.

Almánzar said that the idea is to have feeder routes to the Metro and other express routes and they are in discussions with Franchesca de los Santos, director of the National Institute of Transit and Ground Transport (Intrant) on the plan.

On the downside, the tuk tuks cost more than double the price of a motorcycle at RD$195,000. This puts them out of reach for most motorcycle taxis drivers.

Neurosurgeons urges government to impose traffic laws
The Dominican Neurology and Neurosurgery Society urged the government to strictly enforce the nation’s traffic laws. The medical society noted that the failure of motorists to obey the rules of the road has led to many traffic accidents that cause injury and loss of life. The high number of traffic accidents is a major cause of erosion of the quality of life in the country.

Dr. Freddy Flores, president of the Society, speaking at the 27th Congress of the Dominican Neurology and Neurosurgery Society that took place last week in Bávaro said: “The [traffic] exist, but many motorists are simply ignoring them. In fact, the Dominican Republic has some of the most comprehensive traffic laws in Latin America, but the authorities choose not to rigorously apply them.”

Flores said that many involved in accidents are repeat offenders, especially in the case of motorcycle drivers, that have been admitted on several occasions to hospitals. “The law needs to be applied,” he said. He highlighted that traffic accidents are the leading use of impairment and job absenteeism that affects the population in productive age of 20 to 40 years.

“The number of young people with quadriplegic lesions is mindboggling,” he said.

Dr. Flores also called attention to the number of young people ages 15 to 20 years that are affected by work related accidents, many falling from their jobs of harvesting coconuts and avocados.

Investigation over prison killings in San Pedro de Macorís
Since 2016 there have been ten convicts who have been killed by prison guards or the police trying to escape from different jails around the country. Five prisoners have been killed so far this year. Last Friday, 1 June 2018, three inmates were shot and killed by prison guards, and two were injured.

The incident took place at the San Pedro de Macoris model jail and the video of the event has been making the rounds of social media leading to great indignation at the treatment of inmates as “animals”. The video shows one of the prison guards shooting one inmate while he lay on the ground and another who had been recaptured being dragged.

The Attorney General’s office has said that the prison guards, Wilfredo Andújar Guzmán and Ambiórix Barrientos were arrested and will face legal proceedings.

The office explained that the inmate shot in the legs in the video to prevent him from fleeing was identified as Ángel Oscar Arduey Barnés, who died on Sunday 3 June 2018, in a San Pedro hospital.

The others who were killed during the supposed escape were Alfredo Ogando Hernández and Elkis García, and those injured were Luis Antonio Richard Hernández and José Manuel Castro Guerrero.

Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez condemned the action by the police and said all who participated in the incident will be punished.


Parents of Emely Peguero agree to keep lawyer
A few days before the trial of Marlon and Marlin Martinez formally opens, the parents of deceased teenager Emely Peguero are divided as to who should represent them. The teenager died from concussion after suffering through an abortion at the home of Marlin Martínez and her son. The body was found weeks after. At the time of the death, Marlin Martínez was a high-ranking officer in the Dominican Migration Agency.

The divorced parents of the 16-year old teenager announced they will continue with the same lawyer after meeting with Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez on 4 June 2018. The parents were convened to the Attorney General Office after the father, Genaro Peguero, had maintained that lawyer José Martínez Hoepelman could not continue to represent the family. His former wife, Adalgisa Polanco did not agree with him and was keeping the counsel of Martínez.


Former ambassador accused of incest
Former Dominican ambassador, Donni Santana Cuevas, was ordered to serve a year of pretrial custody at the San Pedro de Macorís model jail. He is suspected of committing incest against his step daughter. The case was heard by Judge Alejandro Vargas.

Yeni Berenice Reynoso and prosecutor Elvira Rodríguez presented the case. Reynoso said there is strong evidence against Santana. Once the case was known, Santana was fired by President Danilo Medina.

Reynoso said that the mother of the child, Dayana Cordero, is being investigated after she desisted from the accusation to her husband. But later it was known that Cordero said she would cooperate with the justice and varied her decision to not accuse Santana.

Santana told journalists after the court hearing that he was innocent and would demonstrate this in court. His lawyer said they would appeal the pre-trial custody.


Dominican football chief suspended
The Ethics’ Committee of FIFA has decided to suspend the president of the Dominican Football federation, Osiris Guzmán, for 90 days, for having used a sporting installation for a political event.

During this period, Guzmán cannot carry out any activity related to football, either nationally or internationally and the duration of this punishment could be increased by an additional period that will not exceed 45 days. The FIFA ethics committee announcement means Guzmán is barred from attending the World Cup and meetings in Moscow, Russia next week.

The decision was made following FIFA being informed about a political event held last January at the sporting installations of the Dominican Federation in San Cristobal.


DR to play Serbia in VNL
The Dominican Republic (ranked 9th by the FIVB) is now in 13th place in the standings of the Volleyball Nations League. The event gathers the top 16 teams in women’s volleyball for the most important annual tournament. The tournament is taking place 15 May to 8 July 2018.
The DR has two wins and seven losses. The DR is only ahead of Thailand, Belgium and Argentina in the standings as the next week of the preliminary round of the Volleyball Nations League gets underway. The Dominican Republic lost 0-3 to the second-ranked United States (20-25, 23-25, 21-25) in that round, but defeated Germany (ranked 13th) 1-3 (22-25, 15,-25, 25-21 and 12-25).
The DR is now playing in pool 13 against Netherlands (ranked 8th), Serbia ranked 3rd) and Italy (ranked 7th) in Rotterdam (Netherlands). The next game is against Serbia on 6 June in Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Italy on 7 June.
The pools for this week are:
Pool 13 in Rotterdam: Netherlands, Serbia, Italy, Dominican Republic.
Pool 14 in Jiangmen: China, USA, Russia, Brazil.
Pool 15 in Nakhon Ratchasima: Thailand, Turkey, Japan, Korea.
Pool 16 in Bydgoszcz: Poland, Belgium, Germany, Argentina.