New government appointments
President to become a grandfather
Costs rise significantly in the electricity sector
Help for fishers in Maria Trinidad Sanchez
New dam in Montecristi province
Young man arrested for calling Chamber of Deputies president corrupt
Cesar Pina Toribio resigns
Pig roasters now need to be certified by city government
Temístocles Montás to preside the PLD
PRD has yet to name its presidential candidate
Head of drug gang is aged 77

New government appointments
On Monday, 28 October 2019, President Danilo Medina issued two decrees with new government appointments.

Decree 371-19, Medina appoints Jonny de Jesús Martínez Mézquita as Dominican ambassador for Mexico.

Decree 372-19, names Luis Francisco Núñez Pantaleón as governor of the province of Duarte and Silvio Francisco Hiciano Polanco as Deputy Minister for Sports.

President Medina to become a grandfather
President Danilo Medina will shortly become a grandfather for the first time. His daughter Vanessa Daniela is expecting her first child.

A picture published by Iris Guaba, director-general of the Social Assistance Plan of the Presidency, shows his pregnant daughter, Vanessa Daniela Medina Montilla, with her mother, First Lady Candida Montilla. The text of the photo identifies the baby to come as a girl to be named Olivia.

Vanessa Daniela is Medina’s second daughter and married Martin González Garrahan of Argentina at the Cathedral in Santo Domingo in December 2016.

President Danilo Medina and First Lady Candida Medina have three daughters. These are Candy Sibely, Vanessa and Ana Paula.

Costs rise significantly in the electricity sector
A report in Diario Libre looks into the present electricity situation. The National Development Strategy - Electrical Pact should have been signed years ago between public and private stakeholders. The government has touted Punta Catalina as the solution to constant blackouts. The coal-fired thermoelectric central is in the final testing phase and is expected to be in full operation by next year. The report observes that while the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) reports losses are down to 27.3% compared to 28.4% in December 2019, operating costs continue to rise while the price of buying energy is stable.

Operating costs of the public electricity sector are up by 12.6% between January and August 2019, with US$264.8 million for the operation of the power distribution companies (Edes), some US$30 million more than the previous year. Two of the variables that increased the most were the Edes’ payrolls and payment to suppliers, up by 45%. The payroll for the electricity sector has increased by 20.2% in two years, with the number of employees rising from 2017 to date from 8,805 employees to 10, 579 in the CDEEE. The Edes, the Dominican Electricity Transmission Company (ETED) and the Dominican Hydroelectric Generation Company (EgeHid). The most significant increase was at EdeSur that went from 2,770 workers in January 2017 to 3,270 in September 2019, and EdeEste, where the payroll increased by 8.2%.

Diario Libre reports that the administrators of the Edes, earn between 21% and 34% more than the President of the Dominican Republic, who has a salary of RD$450,000 a month. The general managers of EdeNorte and EdeSur earn RD$575,000 a month and at EdeEste the general manager earns RD$695,000 a month.

Help for fishers in Maria Trinidad Sánchez
Following a visit from President Danilo Medina on Sunday, 27 October 2019, fishers from the Puerto de Cabrera and Río San Juan in María Trinidad Sánchez province can acquire a processing center, along with machinery and equipment.

During the meeting with them, President Medina highlighted that the fishing industry has received unprecedented support during his presidency with 10,000 health insurance plans issued to fishers, 38 projects begun in 17 provinces, 5,000 jobs created and RD$400 million invested in helping the fishing communities.

President Medina also approved the purchase of three freight containers, one to be used as an office, one as a warehouse and a third as a refrigeration unit for the storage and sale of fish.

New dam in Montecristi province
According to Agriculture Minister Osmar Benitez, the government will begin the construction of a dam in Guayubín, Montecristi province in the first week of December. He said that all the studies have been done and the builder has been chosen.

Benítez called for the construction of more dams nationwide. He said in the east 18 potential sites have been identified. The region does not have its first dam yet. The Agriculture Minister also said that dams were especially important in the northwest of the country and in San Juan de la Maguana.

Benítez said that the droughts of 2013, 2014 and 2015 and the devastating floods after the rains in 2016 and 2017 justify the storing of water to control its availability.

Young man arrested for calling Chamber of Deputies president corrupt
The trending topic on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, 27, 28 and 29 October 2019, has been the arrest and jailing of a young professional who when at the Licey vs Escogido ball game at the Quisqueya Ball Park was critical of the flaunting of wealth by the president of the Chamber of Deputies Radhamés Camacho. From his seat, Máximo Eladio Romero Marcial observed Camacho splurging with the purchase of a very expensive bottle of whisky at the game.

Romero said he was offended by the flagrant flaunting of fortune by Camacho. Watching with indignation, he called out to Camacho to buy him and his friend a couple of beers. In reply, the media reveals that ballpark security would interrogate him in his seat. When Romero Marcial left the stadium he was handcuffed and arrested and taken by pickup to the La 40 jail in Cristo Rey where he was obliged to spend the evening. He was released in the morning with no charges pressed.

Máximo Eladio Romero Marcial admitted to naming Camacho “corrupt.”

“Regardless how much of a president of the CD you are, one cannot act with the arbitrariness and the little tolerance Radhamés Camacho showed", PRM deputy Faride Raful stressed in an interview. Raful added: "Here when you question a person's wealth, the person feels offended, but as officials we have the obligation to account for the public funds we handle and we cannot prohibit anyone from expressing what they feel about us, because that is a right enshrined in the Constitution."

The congresswoman who is running for senator for the National District for the PRM opposition party, advocated for the right of citizens to freedom of expression and citizens’ right to demand transparency from those who manage government funds.

Romero said he was offended by the flagrant flaunting of fortune by Camacho.

The incident was streamed live by his friend Ed Henríquez on his Instagram account. The video shows how law enforcement agents try to impede the filming.

Romero works in a private company and as a career advisor to university students. The videos show he remained calm at all times. He is a graduate in business administration with a masters in human development.

Lawyer José Martínez Brito described the arrest as “an abuse of power.” He urged Romero to press charges. He said the arrest was a prelude of a dictatorial regime and should not happen in a democracy.

Lawyer Namphi Rodríguez lamented that a citizen who in his indignation would insult the president of the Chamber of Deputies, be arrested without justification. Rodríguez said this was an abuse of power and violation of the personal liberty of the citizen.

Camacho would later deny he had ordered the arrest. He said it was routine action by the ballpark security. He said it was the security of the ballpark that had independently acted. He said he was not aware of the arrest and had found out in the morning.

Nevertheless, the ballpark security denied it had to do with the arrest that occurred after Romero Marcial left the stadium.

Camacho is known for his rapid rise from a lower middle-class public school teacher to being a wealthy government officer. For many years he had refused to publish his wealth statement.

The Constitutional Court ruled in 2016 (TC/0075/16) that it is not a crime in the Dominican Republic to call a government officer a thief. The Constitutional Court said that to criminalize the action would be to limit the freedom of expression and opinion of citizens. The court only gives a defamation category to the revealing of matters related to the private life of the government official.

Local media also pointed out the differences in how Trump handled being booed at a recent World Series baseball game.

Cesar Pina Toribio resigns
Ambassador to Argentina Cesar Pina Toribio has resigned from the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), according to a letter he sent to Reinaldo Pared Pérez. Reportedly, he has also submitted his resignation as ambassador to Argentina.

He has been the Dominican ambassador in Argentina since March 2017 after more than a decade as legal advisor to the President. Media reports say he is the sixth member of the influential Political Committee of the PLD to resign after former President Leonel Fernández left the party to form the La Fuerza del Pueblo.

In his resignation letter he said that although he thought that the PLD was a party where people could discuss ideas, exchange different thoughts and opinions, he now sees this is not possible.

Pina Toribio recalled he had been an active member of the party since 1986. Pina Toribio was legal advisor to former President Leonel Fernandez from 1996-1999 and 2004-2008. He was minister of the Presidency during the Leonel Fernández term of 2008-2012, and legal advisor to President Danilo Medina from 2012-2016. He later was appointed ambassador to Argentina.

Pig roasters now need to be certified by city government
The City Hall in Santiago announced that vendors of roast pork and other meats will soon need to be certified. The certification seeks to improve the sanitary conditions of the vendors to guarantee the health of the consumers.

The city government said that meat sold by vendors that have not been certified will have their merchandise immediately confiscated. It urges those interested in selling pork this Christmas to promptly seek their certificates.

Temístocles Montás to preside the PLD
The Central Committee of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) confirmed the proposed naming as acting president by the Political Committee of former Minister of Industry & Commerce Temístocles Montás. He replaces former President Leonel Fernández, who had held the position for years.

Leonel Fernández resigned as president of the ruling party after he was defeated in the 6 October 2019 by Medina-backed Gonzalo Castillo. Fernández has denounced widespread fraud. He removed himself from the party and announced the creating of The People’s Force (La Fuerza del Pueblo) to compete in the May 2020 presidential election.

The Central Committee announced the replacements of seven members of the 34-member Political Committee that have resigned. These are Leonel Fernández, Cesar Pina Toribio, Bautista Rojas Gómez, Rafael Alburquerque, Franklin Almeyda and Radhamés Jiménez. The position left by the death of Juan de los Santos and that of Jose Joaquín Bidó Medina, who resigned for his failing health, were also filled. The new members are Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta, Sports Minister Danilo Díaz, former Environment Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito, former Education Minister Andrés Navarro, Alejandro Montás, former Education Minister Melanio Paredes, Robert de la Cruz and Alexis Lantigua.

PRD has yet to name its presidential candidate
The Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) is the only political party of those known as “majority” remaining to name its presidential candidate. The party president, Miguel Vargas had said earlier this year that the party would only back President Danilo Medina.

Other majority-category parties are the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC) and the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM). The majority status is given to political parties that achieved 5% or more of the vote in an election. The Central Electoral Board allots 80% of the taxpayer funding to these, distributed equally among them.

After Medina announced he would not seek reelection, Vargas has yet to announce who the party will back in the 2020 general election. Alejandro Abreu told the Listín Diario that the party chose to “reserve” the candidacy and will make the announcement later. But a report in El Dia clarifies that the “reserve” privilege does not apply to the presidential candidacy.

In addition to the PRD, four other of the 26 political parties recognized by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) did not submit their presidential candidates. These are the Independent Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Independiente – PRI), Christian Popular Party (Partido Popular Cristiano – PPC), Liberal Reformist Party (Partido Reformista Liberal (PRL), and the Institutional Democratic Party (Partido Demócrata Institucional - PDI).

Political parties have until 3 March 2020 to register the candidates for the 17 May 2020 presidential and vice presidential election.

The breakdown of political parties and the presidential candidates they back is:
Luis Abinader: PRM, PHD, DxC, APD, FA, PRSD
Gonzalo Castillo: PLD, MODA, PCR, PDP, UDC, PAL
Leonel Fernández: PTD, PQDC, BIS, PRSC, FNP, PUN
Guillermo Moreno: Al País
Ramfis Domínguez: PNVC
Porfirio López Nieto: Pasove

Head of drug gang is aged 77
Agents from the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) arrested three men with 111 kilos of cocaine they were carrying in secret compartments in a SUV and a truck. The head of the gang was identified as 77-year-old Fernando Rafael Peña Pichardo. Peña Pichardo was stopped on the Duarte Highway in front of the Metropolitan Hospital of Santiago (HOMS). Also arrested were Wimber Caminero Sabino and Johan Alberto Rodríguez Mejía who were also arrested. They were travelling from Santo Domingo, and had been trailed by the authorities.

The DNCD said that 75 of the packages were in the Ford truck and 25 in the Dodge SUV. The drugs were sent to the National Institute of Forensic Science (INACIF) in Santiago, where they tested positive for cocaine.