DR1 Daily News next update on 18 June 2018
Details shared on the Odebrecht case
The Miami Herald reports on Felix Bautista
Vice President Margarita Cedeño says two or three or not the PLD
Felix Bautista cries that it’s all about politics
Once again Villa Altagracia is dangerous for motorists
Papa Liborio continues to fascinate writers and intellectuals
Disturbances in SFM leave at least five injured, strike called off
Former ambassador calls for Truth Commission on Trujillo
DR’s women’s volleyball team almost beats Japan
Restaurants prepare to host world football fans

DR1 Daily News next update on 18 June 2018
The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 18 June 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

Details shared on the Odebrecht case
The case about Odebrecht has been in the international news for over a year. Here are details being shared in the media on the corruption and bribery scandal.

Odebrecht executive, Marcos Vasconcelos Cruz, said in his sworn statement that he paid the lobbyist Angel Rondon on 21 different occasions via his companies Conamsa and Lashon Corp., so that he could distribute the bribes to officials and legislators so that public works projects be awarded to the Brazilian construction company. He said that Rondon received 2% of the contract for each project carried out by Odebrecht, or 16 in total, with the exception of the largest of all projects, the mega power plant under construction at Punta Catalina. Regarding the power plant, the local Public Ministry has determined the case would be investigated after the construction of the power plant has been completed. As the Odebrecht investigation gained momentum, the Medina administration appointed a commission that concluded in its report that there were no major irregularities in government contracting or construction of the power plant.

It is alleged that one of the persons who most benefited from the Odebrecht largess was Victor Diaz Rua, who began receiving money while at the National Institute of Aqueducts and Potable Water (Inapa) and then as the Minister of Public Works. Several reports have pointed to the overpricing of the public works contracted, sometimes by upwards of double the original contracted amount.

One of the projects indicated by the Justice Department as an example of overpricing is the Coral Highway, linking La Romana and Punta Cana that ended up costing US$536,333,858 when the original price was US$253,702,835, for at least a 97% overpricing. For this project the bribe paid was US $6,629,000 that Rondon would have paid to Conrado Pittaluga, Díaz Rúa’s lawyer.
Another highly overvalued project was the Pinalito Hydroelectric Dam whose final price was US$187,393,000, and the initial price was said to be US$131,721,000. Odebrecht construction executives Ernesto Sa Viera Biarde, Marcos Vasconcelos Cruz, Luis Eduardo Da Rocha Soares and Marcelo Odebrecht are listed in the case file of the Attorney General as participants in the bribery scheme.

According to the El Dia newspaper, the Odebrecht company carried out 16 public works projects in the Dominican Republic and the contracts and financing through the National Congress were obtained by means of bribery two legislators and officials through the commercial representative of the company, Angel Rondon. Sometimes the bribes were paid directly using a corporate structure of two offshore companies that belong to Rondon in Antigua & Barbuda and Panama.


The Miami Herald reports on Felix Bautista
Dominican senator for the province of San Juan de la Maguana, Felix Bautista, was front page news in the Miami Herald yesterday after the United States announced sanctions on the senator.

The Miami Herald reports that following the 2010 Haitian earthquake, Bautista received more than US$200 million in controversial no-bid contracts from the Haitian government for his firms to rebuild destroyed government ministries and construct housing. Few of the projects were delivered and the firms stopped work. In some cases, the government changed the scope of the projects, leading to finger-pointing among current and government leaders.

The Miami Herald last year had also reported on embezzlement accusations made to Felix Bautista and his related companies in relation to Haiti. Says the Miami Herald report: “One of the most blatant allegations involved the reconstruction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building, one of 40 government buildings that crumbled during the earthquake. The Dominican firm Hadom was awarded a $14.7 million contract, and paid $10 million up front, to construct the building that remains unbuilt. Hadom’s lucrative Haiti contract is among several given to Dominican firms after the quake that became the subject of separate probes in Haiti and in neighboring Dominican Republic, where Hadom owner and Dominican Senator Félix Bautista was accused of embezzlement.”

Despite accusations for fraud to the Dominican government, his lawyers secured the permanent shelving of the case and it was never heard in the Supreme Court of Justice. Bautista, given his status as a sitting senator, can only be tried by the Supreme Court of Justice.


Vice President Margarita Cedeño says two or three or not the PLD
Vice President Margarita Cedeño urged reflection about ethics and morality in the exercise of politics following the recent revelations affecting high ranking ruling party members. In her opinion, those particular cases do not affect the political party as such. She made the comment responding to journalist question. “No. Absolutely not. The Dominican Liberation Party and allies have exercised government with the greatest transparency, carefulness, and administrative controls. Now, the parties are made up by citizens, and each person is responsible for individual actions. No one can be imputed the criminal act of a particular individual. So I call precisely to reflect on the exercise of politics, ethics, morals, with controls that are in place and that need to be complied with,” she said.

She urged the Judicial Branch to act in the cases of corruption that are proven and said that the mechanisms for setting the corresponding sanctions are in place.

She also considered that the matter should be addressed by the Political Committee of the PLD, the ruling political party’s head body, in its next meeting, so that an appropriate response be given to the citizenship. She highlighted the “great administrative and financial controls transformations” implemented by the PLD administrations.

Cedeño spoke to journalists covering the Presidency after attending the delivery of the winners of awards for the Third National Arts & Crafts Contest, held on Wednesday, 13 June 2018 at the Presidential Palace.


Felix Bautista cries that it’s all about politics
Senator Felix Bautista said on the El Sol de la Mañana radio talk show on 13 June 2018 that back in 2015 he was sanctioned by the United States with the removal of his visa. He said he does not have bank accounts in the United States.

What is new now is that the US Embassy has publicly announced the removal of the visa to him and his offspring. He says the media display is political, now that the former President has begun his campaign to win the PLD presidential nomination for the 2020 presidency.

Bautista accompanied President Leonel Fernandez on the campaign trail on Sunday, 10 June 2018. The former President had announced he would start his campaign for the 2020 nomination in August, but gave it an early start on Sunday.

The senator for San Juan de la Maguana said: “No one doubts that Leonel is the political to beat in 2020, but I cannot tie his growing popularity on the streets with the decision of the United States. Personally, I can’t”, he said during comments made on the El Sol de la Mañana morning talk show.

As reported in Hoy, the senator made the statements responding to speculations that due to his known close ties to the former President, the United States froze his bank accounts and suspended his visa, that of himself, his wife Sarah Haydee Rojas Peña, and that of his children, including Félix Ramón Bautista Abreu, Félix José Bautista Abreu, Félix Miguel Bautista Soler, Félix Fidel Bautista Grullón, and Yanilssa Bautista Bencosme, and others that are minors.
He said he would not resign his position as secretary of organization of the PLD until there is a court ruling against him. He said he would appeal the US decision.

Over the years, Bautista has maneuvered in such a way that cases of corruption against him have been shelved in the Dominican judiciary.


Once again Villa Altagracia is dangerous for motorists
Incidences of rocks being hurled at vehicles traveling along the Duarte Highway during early dawn in the vicinity of Villa Altagracia are once again on the rise. Motorists are cautioned to drive through the area during daytime hours for safety’s sake.

A councilman from the city of Bonao, José Rodriguez and a famous merengue musician, Fefita la Grande, were the most recent victims. The attacks appear to be concentrated in the stretch of road between La Cumbre, where there is a statue of the Virgin Altagracia, and the community of Arroyo Vuelta, and also at Miranda at the San Francisco de Macoris crossing.

These violent events which had been a problem in the past were thought to be under control. However, authorities now caution that the rock throwing along the highway is once again a real threat to motorists. Local residents are suspected of throwing stones of considerable size at passing vehicles. If the driver stops to inspected damage, the vehicles and passengers are assaulted.


Papa Liborio continues to fascinate writers and intellectuals
A group of writers, directors, and anthropologists are meeting on 14 June 2018, in Azua to discuss a new book on Papa Liborio a cult leader back in the 1920s whose cult was literally wiped out in an incident in Palma Sola in the province of San Juan de la Maguana in the 1960s. The new book, a novel, entitled “Idolatria”, written by Jimmy Siesta, narrates the story of Gatagas the third incarnation of Olivorio Mateo and the storyline re-creates the rise, glory and fall of the Palma Sola commune, but locating the action in Laguna Chrystal in los Haitises. The central figure claims to be the fifth evangelist and as such to write a new gospel.

The intellectual discussion is part of a series which will include today’s session in Azua, the La Romana Cultural Center on 21 June, the library At the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo on 7 July and on 4 August the scene will be the cultural center in Miches. Historians, poets, academia and, military officers will contribute to the conversations. Mateo Morrison, the National Literary Prizewinner, Rafael Peralta Romero from the National Language Academy and educator Luis Melo are just a few who will talk about this new book on a real-life fascinating figure of the Dominican history.


Disturbances in SFM leave at least five injured, strike called off
At least five persons were shot in protests taking place in different barrios of San Francisco de Macoris, in the northeast. The strike was called off after the first day. It had been called for 48 hours. The organizers did not report having gained any of their demands for public works.

The FALPO (the Broad Front of Popular Struggle) organization together with neighborhood groups and student organizations are calling for a series of civic actions to address problems with the lack of progress on public works, including schools, hospitals, streets and key public services. Falpo has a reputation of organizing strikes that often turn violent.

One of the injured, Julio Cesar Antonio Abreu, was treated and released from a local hospital. Several other protestors are still hospitalized with wounds in their upper extremities that occurred during demonstrations on Castillo Arriba and 24 April streets in SFM. Also, the merchant Pedro Antonio Paulino was wounded in the leg when assaulted by unknown persons at the corner of Cristino Zeno and Castillo streets.

The police have detained several persons in relation to the case, but their identities were not released.


Former ambassador calls for Truth Commission on Trujillo
The former Dominican ambassador before the Organization of American States (OAS) and a former coordinator for the civic action group Participación Ciudadana, Roberto Alvarez Gil, proposed in Washington DC the creation of an official Truth Commission that would investigate and research and establish responsibilities regarding the crimes and human rights violations carried out during the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo Molina.

Quite pointedly, Alvarez said that the “Dominican Republic is the only country in the Americas which, having suffered such a long, ferocious and bloody dictatorship such as that of Trujillo, has not carried out an evaluation in the name of the state that claims the right to the historical memory and the right to the truth for the victims, their families and the Dominican people.”
Alvarez made the remarks at the activities featuring the launch of his book “International Law and Human Rights: Reflections of two Generations, 1955-2016” that brings together specialized essays on international law and international law regarding human rights by his father Ambrosio Alverez Aybar.

The former ambassador explained that his proposal, coming 57 years after the assassination of Trujillo, is based on three unpublished letters in the new book, which bring forth the motives for which he considers the establishment of such an official commission to be essential, in spite of the time that has passed. I that is said “a Truth Commission that studies the Trujillo dictatorship should leave clear for post-30 an official history, a unique and on the Nile bull narrative, that serves as a beacon and guide for future Dominican generations, so that such an abhorrent regime can never occur again in our country.”

Diario Libre in an editorial on 14 June 2018 calls for never repeating the experience of Dictator Rafael Trujillo and his son Ramfis Trujillo.


DR’s women’s volleyball team almost beats Japan
It took Japan, ranked 6th in the world, the full five sets to defeat the Dominican Republic women’s volleyball team playing a preliminary round in Poland of the Nations League Championship. The DR team is ranked 9th in the world. Japan would defeat the DR in the fifth set 3-2 25-15, 14-25, 21-25, 29-27, 15-13).

It has been a tough going for the Dominican team that has lost all but two matches in the important international tournament.

Coach Marcos Kwiek said he would have expected his team to have got the job done in the fourth set, but it was not to be. He said they will take pride from their performance, actually finishing with one more point in total than the eventual winners (105-104) after 2 and a half hours of action. Yonkaira Paola Peña Isabel was their top scorer taking 28 points across all aspects of the game and regularly achieving spikes of over 100 kmph. The “Queens of the Caribbean” have now lost their last seven matches, with their last five being in straight sets.

With Japan in 10th place (W6-L7) before the match and the Dominican Republic down in 14th position (W2-L11), both were already out of contention of reaching the Finals so this was all about pride, reported the Nations League website. The Dominican Republic have won only three of their previous 18 major world level encounters with Japan, but one of those wins came in their most recent meeting in last year's FIVB World Grand Prix.

In the final day at Hala Widowiskovo-Sportowa the Dominican Republic will face hosts Poland while Japan take on Russia.


Restaurants prepare to host world football fans
Baseball is king in the Dominican Republic, but the World Football Championship has a strong following in the country. Major promotions are underway to ensure Dominicans follow each game as if a Dominican team were playing.

Diario Libre reports that many restaurants will be opening early to host friends wanting to have lunch and watch the games. For instance, Casa Mencía, in Bella Vista, specialized in Mediterranean cooking. The restaurant opens 11am from Monday to Sunday, but now will be opening for breakfast at 8:30am during the duration of the championship. The restaurant is popular with the Real Madrid fans. Expect the fans of the different countries to congregate at restaurants serving their fare in Santo Domingo and Santiago.

TGI Fridays at the Acrópolis Center on Av. Winston Churchill opens at noon, but while the tournament is happening says they will be offering brunch from 8am and lunch from 11am. The same schedule will be in place at their restaurant in Santiago.

The Caribbean Cinema in Downtown Center in Bella Vista will be offering special deals for movie-goers commemorative of the sporting event.