Medina attends COP25 in Madrid
Medina names Evergito Peña Acosta as new Climate Change director
Christmas tax exemptions start 1 December
JCE agrees with government, ministers can campaign in 2020 elections
JCE approves manual vote counting and fingerprints for municipal elections
El Artístico is running for mayor in La Romana
Marino Zapete says he is persecuted for denouncing corruption
DR to get more cameras with facial recognition technology
AIREN says technology does not put DR industry or jobs at risk
Uber in DR ups cost of canceled rides
Cesfront puts a halt to massive flow of Haitians
Former Minustah director in Haiti alerts to chaos at the border
Once more Intrant reveals grim numbers
Abortion and medical ethics at Ney Arias Lora Hospital
FBI offers $100,000 for information on Cesar the Abuser.
Fishermen share their friendship with a shark whale

Medina attends COP25 in Madrid
President Medina arrived on Sunday, 1 December 2019 to Madrid, Spain to participate in the Climate Change Summit (COP25). The media says he will present Quisqueya Project, a plan to reforest 767,331 tareas (1 tarea = 629 square meters). Also on his agenda is a meeting with King Felipe VI.

King Felipe VI is scheduled to meet with heads of state and government on Monday and Tuesday on occasion of the opening of the Climate Change Summit in Madrid. Reports are that other Latin American Presidents that are participating include President Lenin Moreno of Ecuador, President Carlos Alvarado of Costa Rica, President Mauricio Macri of Argentina and the President-elect of Guatemala, Alejandro Giammattei.

Just hours before traveling to the Madrid summit, Medina removed the director of the National Climate Change Council, Ernesto Reyna, who would have led the Dominican delegation. In an interview with Listin Diario two weeks ago, Reyna had announced that a sizeable Dominican delegation of around 40 persons would attend the event, including many businesspeople. Reyna had stressed the public-private alliance for advances in environmental issues in the Dominican Republic. He said government climate efforts have the support of the National Business Network to Back Environmental Protection (EcoRed) and private foundations, such as the Fundación Popular. He had stated the country would present advances in implementing the National Action Plan (NCD) regarding climate change. Reyna was replaced by Evergito Peña, who had served as administrative and financial director of the climate change council.

Medina names Evergito Peña Acosta as new Climate Change director
Just hours before leaving for the Madrid Climate Summit, President Danilo Medina removed the chief of the Dominican delegation, Ernesto Reyna, as executive vice president of the National Climate Change Council. Medina named Evergito Peña Acosta to replace Reyna, according to Decree 434-19. The Madrid Summit is scheduled for 2-13 December 2019.

Peña Acosta is an accountant and lawyer, with a master's in diplomacy, international law, and government law. Before his promotion, he was the administrative and financial director of the National Climate Change Council. His private firm is Peña Rodríguez and Asociados, SRL. His brother is the Navy chief, Vice Admiral Miguel Enrique Peña Acosta.

In the same executive act, President Medina named Jhorlenny Rodríguez Rosario to replace Nilka Elisa Jansen, who had served as executive director of ProCompetencia, the government agency.

Medina also appointed Ramón Rivas Cordero to replace Luis Manuel Bonetti Mesa as a member of the board of the Banco de Reservas.

Diómedes Minaya was named to the board of the Empresa de Transmisión Eléctrica (ETED), replacing Edward Maríñez Ogando.

Christmas tax exemptions start 1 December
The Customs Agency (DGA) announced that the import Christmas tax exemption is in effect beginning on 1 December 2019 through 7 January 2020. The exception allows Dominicans that live abroad and return to visit family and friends for the Christmas holidays to bring gifts worth up to US$3,000 for the holidays. The ex-pats need to be able to prove they have not visited over the past six months.

JCE agrees with government, ministers can campaign in 2020 elections
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) approved Resolution 33-19 that regulates the participation of public officials in the 2020 elections. The resolution allows for government officers to campaign outside of their working hours. In the past, government officers had resigned their posts to take time off for election campaigns. This included the recent resignations of the ministers of Education (Andrés Navarro), Environment (Francisco Domínguez Brito) and Interior & Police (Carlos Amarante).

Now Public Administration Minister Ramón Ventura Camejo says that ministers and government officers can participate in campaigning after their government work hours. President Danilo Medina himself has campaigned actively in favor of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) presidential candidate Gonzalo Castillo. The Medina administration argues that campaigning is a constitutional right that can be exercised by the government officers after their official working hours.

The JCE Resolution 33-19 bans the inaugurals of public works 40 days before the date of the municipal elections and 60 days before the date of the presidential and congressional elections.

Orlando Jorge Mera, the delegate of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) to the JCE protested what he called an incomplete interpretation of the electoral law. He said that when referring to Art. 196 of Electoral Law 15-19, the JCE has ignored that Art. 284 of the same law refers to levying fines to government officers that campaign using their official influence. PRM presidential candidate Luis Abinader said: "That an official who manages public funds campaigns be limited to campaign during non-working hours does not guarantee that he will not use state resources in favor of his political interests." The PRM is the largest opposition party.

JCE approves manual vote counting and fingerprints for municipal elections
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) approved the protocol for the use of automated voting machines together with a hand count of the votes. The mechanism is set to be used in the upcoming municipal elections of 16 February 2020. The JCE also approved an electronic digital fingerprint reader would be used to reduce fraud. The measures had been proposed by the different political parties last week.

The JCE approved the use of up to 10,000 voting machines with parallel manual vote counting in an equal number of polling stations where the JCE says there are significant complications for counting the preferential votes. The devices are to be used in the following places: National District, Higuey, San Francisco de Macoris, Moca, La Romana, La Vega, Bonao, Puerto Plata, San Cristobal, San Juan de la Maguana, San Pedro de Macoris, Santiago de los Caballeros, East Santo Domingo, West Santo Domingo, North Santo Domingo and Los Alcarrizos. In the remaining polling stations throughout the country, voting will be done using the traditional printed ballot method.

Once again, voters will be marked by a durable ink on the index finger after voting.

Voting results will be transmitted and published once each polling station has finished its work at the close of voting in all of the country.
Voting hours are to be from 7 am until 5 pm, with only the exceptions established in the law.

With the measures, the automated voting system would be applied to only 60% of the 16,498 voting stations. In those stations, hand-counting using the vouchers issued by the computerized voting machines would be carried out on the same day.

The announcement of limiting of automated voting machines to the big cities was protested by the senator for San Cristobal, Tommy Galán. Galán questioned why the JCE would allow automated voting only in 16 municipal jurisdictions when it had purportedly purchased voting machines for all the voting stations.

He also said it doesn't make sense to use different systems in the same province. "Logically, if they are going to hand count 100% of the votes in each voting station, why not used automated voting in all?"

The JCE also proposed the hiring of PKF Guzman and Tapia, working with the Interamerican Union of Electoral Organizations (UNIORE).

The contracting of Costa Rican firm, Deloitte & Touche met with general rejection. The media carried complaints that the firm had a widespread conflict of interest.

El Artístico is running for mayor in La Romana
The candidate for mayor of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) in La Romana, José Ignacio Morales (El Artístico) promised this Sunday, 1 December 2019 an honest performance based on modern management. In the speech during the presentation of his municipal management plan, Morales stressed the need for an effective program to rescue of the city. He promised integrated management of solid waste, the organization of road traffic with pedestrian education programs. He promised the modernization of the municipality. A leading urban artist himself, he committed to promote art, culture, sport, tourism and the historical heritage of the city. José Ignacio Morales is best known for his wrought-iron statues.

During the event, he presented Hilda María Peguero as his running companion on the ballot.

Marino Zapete says he is persecuted for denouncing corruption
Journalist Marino Zapete denounced he is being harassed, intimidated and persecuted after he denounced alleged corruption of the sister of the Attorney General and ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), Gonzalo Castillo.

He accused Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez Sanchez of executing an aggressive and intimidating campaign against him. Zapete presented in a television program, contracts signed by the sister of the Attorney General, Maybeth Virginia Rodríguez Sanchez for Grupo Asimra, SRL and former Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo, in violation of the provisions of the Law of Public Purchases and Contracts.

Initially, Zapete lost his job on TeleRadio America after the owner of the station was threatened with a legal suit. But now Zapete says that other companies that give him work have been contacted.

He said the Attorney General has sued him demanding six months in jail and compensation for RD$5 million in favor of Maybeth Virginia Rodríguez for supposed damages she has suffered after he broke the story. The Attorney General has not investigated the allegations of corruption in the Ministry of Public Works. A hearing on the case is scheduled for 11 December 2019 in Ciudad Nueva.
-- Altagracia Salazar sin Maquillaje

DR to get more cameras with facial recognition technology
In an interview with Dominican reporters visiting Beijing, the Dominican Ambassador to China Briunny Garabito Segura said that the Dominican government is considering the expansion of its security cameras with facial recognition capability with equipment that is not from China. During the reception, the ambassador said that several public areas have been chosen for the facial recognition security cameras, in addition to the UASD main campus.

Talking about other issues that could well involve Chinese industry or investment, Garabito Segura said that the Port of Manzanillo public tender would be held and this does not necessarily mean that the construction will be carried out by a Chinese firm. The Medina administration had signed a memorandum of understanding with Chinese government entities for the development of the port.

Regarding the issue of electricity, Garabito said that the Chinese have shown interest in investing in alternative, renewable energy production, and are willing to compete with other companies.

Tourism is also on the agenda and the ambassador noted that the number of tourists and visitors from China to the Dominican Republic has increased by 173% and airplane ticket sales have increased by 300%. Including business travel. The number of visitors from China has gone from 6,000 per year to 18,000 last year.

AIREN says technology does not put DR industry or jobs at risk
According to Juan Ventura, the president of the Industrial Association of the North Region (AIREN), "the risks for our industries and our jobs are not in robotics, artificial intelligence or big data, but rather the opposite: that we remain outside of the Fourth Industrial Revolution." Speaking at the annual wrap-up luncheon of the industry association, Ventura went said the Fourth Industrial Revolution consists of all of the above, and represents a major challenge for Dominican industry.

Ventura called on the industrialists not to be put off by the new technologies, but to consider these as steps in an on-going process of education. While there are jobs at high risk from automation or robotics, there are others that will require radical changes to survive. How to go about this transformational process is the challenge to both business and the workforce.

Ventura said it was quite clear that those who consider learning and advancement to be a straight line are going to be left behind. Alliances such as the one between Infotep and industry will make training an obligation and a right possible.

On occasion of the 35th anniversary of AIREN, technology innovator Paola Santana was invited to speak. Her talk was on "Industry 4.0: High Impact Technological Disruption." Santana is Dominican and relocated to Silicon Valley where she is considered one of the top 20 most influential Hispanics in the technology sector.

Uber in DR ups cost of canceled rides
Uber in the Dominican Republic has announced an increase in the cost of canceling a ride. Starting last 27 November, the cost of cancellation will vary according to the time and distance the driver has to travel to reach the client. Uber sent out an email notifying the changes to its clients.

If a trip is cancelled within two minutes, the client will be informed of the exact amount before the cancellation is confirmed. The minimum cancellation fee is RD$45.00, no matter who cancels.

According to the company, "if the charge for time and distance covered by the driver responding since accepting the request up to the moment of cancellation is greater than RD$45, the new charge will be calculated as normal based on time and distance, with a maximum fee not to exceed RD$120.00." If the cancellation is requested after five minutes, the minimum cancellation fee is RD$60.00.

Cesfront puts a halt to large flow of Haitians
The Specialized Corps of Frontier Security (Cesfront), together with members of the Dominican Army, arrested hundreds of undocumented Haitians over the past few days at the border with Haiti and in border towns. The arrests were said to be part of the operation "Military Cordon" in the area. The operation seeks to counter the increase in migration due to the lack of political and social stability in Haiti. Haiti is affected by a market deficiency in supplies of fuel and basic staples. The protesters call for the resignation of Haitian President Jovenel Moise.

The two military entities reported arrests were made of people "scurrying through the bushes" to reach places such as Santiago de los Caballeros, Puerto Plata or Santo Domingo where there are jobs available. The persons arrested were turned over to the Migration Agency (DGM) for processing.

Neither the Cesfront or the Army provided reporters with precise numbers, yet the reports were consistently of "hundreds" of persons.

The commanding general of the Dominican Army, Major General Estanislao Gonel Regalado, noted that the 9,100 members of the different units are stationed along the border in Dajabón, Jimaní, Pedernales and Elias Piña.

Several Haitians interviewed by reporters from the Listin Diario said that in their country there was nothing to do. One woman said that she has a small business making candies, but she lost everything. Another person asked the officers not to return them to Haiti because they owed money to loan sharks and the consequences of non-payment were drastic.

Still several women, obviously very pregnant, said that they wanted to have their babies in the Dominican Republic because the hospitals in Haiti "don't have anything and here the hospitals have everything needed to have a baby." They also noted that in the Dominican Republic there is no charge for giving birth in a public hospital.

Former Minustah director in Haiti alerts to chaos at the border
Guatemalan diplomat Edmond Auguste Mulet Lesieur who was the past director of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah) force in Haiti, recommended urgent actions to attend to the present humanitarian crisis in Haiti providing supplies of food to the Haitians.

He urged an international conference be held where Latin American, European Union, Canadian, United States, France and Spain meet to take decisions on the situation in Haiti that he said is now out of control. Mulet recommends the US Southern Command install its forces in Haiti to bring food supplies to the population. "At this time there needs to be immediate action, and I do not see anyone with better logistics capacity to be able to do this," he told Listin Diario.

He warned droves of Haitians would throng the border seeking food and refuge. He added that the Dominican Republic would feel the consequences of the crisis when the Haitians in large numbers cross the border to find food and protection. He said no military action will be enough to stop crowds of 80,000 or more Haitians that may want to cross the border at the same time. He estimates more than 4 million people go hungry every day in Haiti.

"There will be here (DR) throngs of people and they will go to all the countries and islands in the Caribbean, and to Florida, because the people are hungry," he said. "And what are we going to do? Are we going to shoot?" he asked.

Mulet said the issue in Haiti is the lack of institutions, of governance, the corruption and presence of drug trafficking that benefit many sectors and the political, economic and social elites of Haiti. "Haiti is a failed state, your typical failed state," he said. He said there is no justice, impunity is high and there is a precarious jail system. He expressed his concern that three years ago, US President Donald Trump cut aid to peace operations in Haiti and proposed the end to the Minustah force. He said there is no longer a military presence in Haiti.

Mulet had served as the last Chief of Staff to former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Previously, he was Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations at the United Nations.

Once more Intrant reveals grim numbers
The National Traffic and Ground Transportation Institute (Intrant) has published data that shows that nearly 60% of all motorcyclists do not use or wear a safety helmet, in violation with the law. Intrant called this number "alarming."

The statistics also showed that fully 50% of motorcycles travel without lights, only 20% have rear-view mirrors and over 25% have regular or poor tires.

The National Highway Safety Plan for Motorcyclists was carried out by the Intrant Motorcycle Department. Motorcyclists and their passengers are involved in most fatal traffic accidents in the country.

Abortion and medical ethics at Ney Arias Lora Hospital
A young, pregnant patient, with severe head trauma, presented the doctors at the Ney Arias Lora Hospital with a serious ethical dilemma: risk the life of the mother and protect the fetus or safely treat the mother but kill the fetus. The patient, just 18, had received a severe head trauma after being hit by a rock. The injury became infected and the patient was at risk of meningitis, encephalitis or a cranial abscess, any of which could put her life at risk.

The head of the Neurosurgical Unit at the hospital, Dr. Lizardi de ls Cruz, explained the issues to reporters. The wound needed to be surgically cleaned out, but this is not a simple procedure because in the majority of cases, this requires general anesthesia. As a result of the anesthesia, the patient needed to be artificially ventilated, which would harm the fetus. In this case, the mother was adamant that the pregnancy not be terminated.

For the doctors there was also the issue of the Penal Code, which prohibits abortion in any form or at any time. The doctors took the risk and carried out the procedure under the technique of the surgical removal of a piece of the skull (craniotomy) while the patient was awake, which allowed the pregnancy to continue its normal course, although the patient might suffer infection at the site of the surgery.

The operation removed the broken pieces of her skull and the nearby infected material was drained. She is now on antibiotics and, according to the latest reports, recovering slowly. Sonograms of the fetus showed no issues.

FBI offers $100,000 for information on Cesar the Abuser
The Federal Bureau of Investigations of the United States is offering US$100,000 for information that could lead to the capture of Cesar Emilio Peralta (aka Cesar the Abuser) who is accused of leading a drug trafficking network. He was added to the list of the most wanted of the FBI after being reported as a fugitive from Dominican justice on 20 August 2019. Previously, Cesar el Abusador was a regular in artistic shows and among Dominican social circles.

In its website, the FBI states that César Emilio Peralta Adames is wanted for allegedly being linked to drug trafficking between 2007 and 2017 in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Venezuela, the United States and Puerto Rico. Also, on 28 November 2018, the Puerto Rico District Court issued a federal alert for allegedly importing controlled substances such as heroin and cocaine.

Among the descriptions of Cesar Emilio Peralta is that he is a man with a height of 5 feet 5 inches, black hair, black eyes, 140 pounds, club owner and Spanish speaking.

At the end of the message, the FBI explains that if anyone has information about his whereabouts, go to the nearest US embassy or consulate.

In the past few weeks, Dominican authorities have continued the search for the capo in the country's history in La Vega, Dominican Republic.

Fishermen share their friendship with a shark whale
Dominican fishermen that say this is not a first time the whale follows them in the waters, but that it was the first time they filmed the occurrence. The video was uploaded and has been shared by thousands. In the video, the fisherman shares his insight that he is privileged by the company of the shark. He remarks that tourists pay thousands of pesos for what he is getting for free, the privilege of viewing the whale up close.