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    Default DR1 Daily News - Thursday, 6 February 2020

    Next DR1 Daily News Update on Monday, 10 February
    President Medina at start of Secrets and Dreams resorts in Playa Esmeralda
    Infotep adopts Finnish education model
    911 emergency service in Cotuí
    Santo Domingo bids for 2026 Central American and Caribbean Games
    Pension plan administrators get new regime
    Government authorizes a break to arrears in social security payments
    JCE needs to rule on PRD municipal candidate resignations
    PRM protests Presidency Social Plan giving out household appliances in electoral times
    Bartolomé Pujals stars in ANJE debate
    Santo Domingo East debate at 9pm on Thursday, 6 February 2020
    IFES monitors municipal election preparations
    No coronavirus in the DR
    Santa Barbara Church elevated to cathedral status
    Bounty set at US$50,000 for Dominican serial killer
    Tragedy hits captain of national women’s volleyball team
    DR defeats Puerto Rico in Caribbean Series

    Next DR1 Daily News Update on Monday, 10 February
    The next DR1 Daily News update will be published on Monday, 10 February 2020. The Monday issue will compile headline news for the previous Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Breaking news can be followed 24/7 in the DR1 Forums. See DR1 Forum at

    President Medina at start of Secrets and Dreams resorts in Playa Esmeralda
    President Danilo Medina was in El Seibo on Wednesday, 5 February 2020 for the start of construction of two 1,500-room resorts. Apple Leisure Group (ALG) says that the Secrets Playa Esmeralda Punta Cana and the Dreams Playa Esmeralda Punta Cana developments are investments of around US$400 million. The resorts are located in Miches, the new eastern destination. Club Med Miches Playa Esmeralda began operations in November 2019 putting Miches on the Caribbean tourism map.

    Secrets Playa Esmeralda Punta Cana will be an adults-only operation. Meanwhile, sister hotel, Dreams Playa Esmeralda Punta Cana is for families.

    Alex Zozaya, executive president of ALG, came for the ground-opening event. He had praise for President Danilo Medina and his government for creating ideal conditions for investors. "Thank you, Mr. President, for developing all these infrastructures that will serve to continue promoting tourism in the Dominican Republic," he said. He highlighted that "the Dominican Republic continues to be the destination with the greatest growth."

    Infotep adopts Finnish education model
    Finland is regarded as having the best education system in the world. Now, Finland is helping raise the educational quality in the Dominican Republic. The National Institute of Technical and Vocational Training (Infotep) is adopting a Finnish teaching model where students are taught to be proactive, critical, self-managing individuals and teamwork is encouraged.

    As part of an inter-institutional agreement signed in 2017 between Infotep and the Hame University of Applied Sciences (HAMK) in Finland, an Infotep delegation of 55 traveled recently to Finland to get a first-hand glimpse of the innovative educational concepts and receive specialized training.

    Maaret Viskari, global director of education of the HAMK, said after the experience in Finland, the group is working on 12 projects for evaluation, curriculum, professional development of teachers, environment, pedagogical practice, quality control and cooperation with the private sector.

    "From these pilot projects, Infotep can go further and think about the areas that need more development and how to involve more people. This is just the beginning," she said.

    The academic added that the 55 managers, technicians and teachers who traveled to Finland will now lead the educational advancement so that hundreds of teachers and students will benefit from the Infotep centers spread throughout the Dominican territory.

    Heidi Ahokallio-Leppälä, vice-rector of the HAMK, emphasized that the collaboration seeks to provide Dominicans with tools and advice to adopt the Finish model to the local culture. "Our model works in our culture, but Dominicans must take and leave what serves their culture. That is very important when it comes to education and skills because we know that one size does not serve all countries equally," she said. She said it could take a decade to change the local educational paradigms. In the Finnish case, she said, it took more than 50 years to reach the current level of education, but other countries could do it faster.

    Infotep general director, Rafael Ovalles highlighted the effort is part of President Medina's vision of technical-vocational training as an educational option for Dominicans nationwide. But the incorporation of the new teaching-learning model is expected to also raise the quality of learning processes and have an effect on the entire national education system. The new model is a central part of the Infotep 2019-2021 plan.

    911 emergency service in Cotuí
    Those living in Sánchez Ramírez province, better known for its capital city Cotuí, can now benefit from the national emergency system, best known as 911. The northcentral province becomes the 18th in the country to benefit from 911 coverage. President Danilo Medina traveled to Cotuí on Tuesday, 4 February 2020 for the start of the service.

    The service now reaches 18 provinces and the National District, serving around 8.6 million inhabitants, or around 84.5% of the population.

    In the central speech, the Minister of the Presidency, Gustavo Montalvo, said that a total of 485 people, trained and prepared, work in three shifts to provide assistance 24 hours a day.

    Santo Domingo bids for 2026 Central American and Caribbean Games
    President Danilo Medina, the Mayor of the National District David Collado and Sports Minister Danilo Díaz signed the bid for Santo Domingo to host the 25th Central American and Caribbean Games in 2026. Mexico also seeks to host the event that year.

    Santo Domingo hosted the games in 1974 and the Pan American Sports Games in 2003. Santiago was host to the games in 1986. The Central American and Caribbean Sports Organization (Odecabe) will meet to decide in March 2020.

    "Colombia has just held them, the situation of Cuba and Puerto Rico is well known and Mexico has already held these games several times and others of a higher level, argued Dr. Jose Joaquín Puello, a member of the pro-Central American and Caribbean Games committee.

    Pension plan administrators get new regime
    The Chamber of Deputies passed on Tuesday, 4 February in two consecutive sessions a bill that modifies the commission scheme applied by the Pension Fund Administrators (AFP). The commission is reduced over a nine-year period from 25% to 0.75%. Nevertheless, the lower commission will be applied to the total funds managed by the bank affiliates instead of to the actual yield of the funds. Economy Minister says this reduces the earnings of the AFP administrators by RD$53 billion in 10 years.

    But AFP specialist Matías Bosch explains the new scheme ensures stability in earnings to the pension management companies because while there may be ups in downs in yield, there is always an increase in the total funds.

    In an op-ed article in El Dia and a feature in Acento online portal, Bosch estimates that following the present trend of 15% annual increase in the funds, this means a bonanza for the pension plan management companies. He estimates that if from 2004 to 2018 the AFP had earnings of RD$33.49 billion, from 2020 to 2029 their earnings would increase to RD$47.75 billion.

    Bosch has written extensively on how the pension plan scheme works in favor of big finance corporations and delivers little to contribute to the retirement of Dominicans in years to come.

    Government authorizes a break to arrears in social security payments
    The Chamber of Deputies passed the bill that reforms Social Security Law 87-01. The bill grants amnesty to employers regarding arrears. As reported, interest payments, fees and late payment penalties are 95% of the RD$476 billion that employers owe to the Social Security system covering more than a decade.

    The companies and public entities in arrears with the Social Security Treasury (TSS) now have six months to sign deals to clear their debts. The bill seeks to restore social security coverage to around 200,000 Dominicans, mostly government employees that had been affected for lack of payment.

    Economy Minister Ariel Jiménez says the amnesty will also benefit around 10,000 small businesses that are in arrears.

    JCE needs to rule on PRD municipal candidate resignations
    The National District Electoral Board accepted the resignation of the candidates to mayor, deputy mayor and 37 city councilors for the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD). The decision was then submitted to the Central Electoral Board (JCE). After the candidate to mayor for the PRD, Hugo Beras, announced his resignation with just two weeks before election day, the party requested that all candidates to the capital city also present their resignations.

    The JCE issued Resolution No. 14-20 on Wednesday, 5 February 2020 whereby it accepts the resignations presented by the National District Electoral Board from the automated voting system.

    PRM protests Presidency Social Plan giving out household appliances in electoral times
    The Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) filed a request for the Central Electoral Board (JCE) to take action to prevent the Medina administration from distributing millions in household appliances in this electoral year.

    Social media and news reports have focused on evidence presented the President’s Social Plan has allotted RD$946 million for household appliances, food, and construction materials to be distributed to “needy people” during the coming months, just before the presidential elections.

    Somos Pueblo, the online news portal, reported they have had evidence of purchases for RD$380,504,298 million by the President’s Social Plan for household appliances that would be donated to people with limited resources. On the list of appliances are 5,000 fans, 8,000 washing machines, 8,000 stoves, 4,800 refrigerators, 3,500 blenders, 200 electric stoves, 3,000 50-lb gas cylinders, 1,800 sheet sets, but also 6,500 smart TVs, 200 music systems, and 20 air conditioners.

    Somos Pueblo points out that the new electoral law restricts this type of actions whereby the government could attempt to manipulate and influence voters.

    The president of the JCE, Julio César Castaños Guzmán, when asked about the evidence recommended that the government suspend "motus proprio" the purchase and distribution of household appliances. He acknowledged this was not a priority social action and to do so at this time “could lend itself to confusion.”

    Orlando Jorge Mera, delegate of the PRM to the JCE, disputed the statement. He said that Electoral Regime Law 55-19 in its Art. 196 is clear that extraordinary purchases during electoral times are banned. He called that the JCE issue a resolution calling for a stop to the purchase and distribution of the goods, instead of a mere declaration.

    Iris Guaba, director of the Presidency Social Assistance Plan said the procurement of the household goods is normal and is carried out every year in February. She said last year they purchased similar goods for RD$500 million.

    Bartolomé Pujals stars in ANJE debate
    N Digital reports that Bartolomé Pujals, running for mayor for Alianza Pais, was the trending topic on Twitter for his participation in the 9pm National District mayor debate on Wednesday, 5 February 2020 organized by the National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE). The debate lasted only an hour and candidates were restricted to 1 minute long presentations and 30 seconds for replicas. Bartolomé Pujals was the candidate to take the most advantage of the replicas to criticize the proposals of contender Carolina Mejía to continue the work of incumbent Mayor David Collado.

    In addition to Pujals and Mejía, also participating in the ANJE debate were Domingo Contreras for the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), Johnny Ventura for the Social Christian Reformist Party and the People’s Force (PRSC, PF) and Michael Miguel Holguín for the Green Party (PV).

    Polls show the race is between Domingo Contreras of the PLD and Carolina Mejía of the PRM.

    Santo Domingo East debate at 9pm on Thursday, 6 February 2020
    Listen to what the candidates to mayor for Santo Domingo East, the largest municipality in Greater Santo Domingo, have to offer. The Santo Domingo Debate is coordinated by the Social and Economic Development Council of Santo Domingo (Codessd).

    The Thursday, 6 February debate at 9pm is the last of a series of debates with mayor candidates for the National District, Santo Domingo North, Santo Domingo West and Santo Domingo East. The initiative seeks to help Greater Santo Domingo residents to know more about municipal proposals before voting in the 16 February 2020 municipal election.

    IFES monitors municipal election preparations
    Experts from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) are monitoring steps taken by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) to prepare the 16 February municipal election on Sunday, 16 February 2020. As reported in Diario Libre, Jean Fitzgerald is heading the team that is supervising actions and processes and the implementing of recommendations.

    As reported, on 13 February a high-level mission from IFES is expected to join the observation teams. IFES is an independent organization dedicated to promoting democracy, with global experience in electoral assistance. Automated voting machines will be used in 18 voting districts.

    The IFES is also following up on the compliance with rules and regulations. Saturday 8 February is the deadline for the publication of the last polls and political surveys. By then the 86,000 members of voting stations need to have received their credentials. Wednesday, 12 February is the date for the delivery of election materials to the presidents and secretaries of the voting stations. Friday, 14 February is the deadline for the delivery of electoral materials.

    As of Thursday, 13, an electoral campaigning ban is in effect, with all public demonstrations and campaigning prohibited.

    As of Saturday 15, the sale of alcohol beverages is prohibited in public establishments in the country.

    No coronavirus in the DR
    The Ministry of Public Health disputed the fake news audio that circulated on social media and says there has not been a case of coronavirus in the country. The Ministry of Public Health did confirm that 11 persons who arrived to the country with cold symptoms are under an epidemiological watch. Two of these had traveled from China.

    Meanwhile, the US Embassy circulated among US citizens on Tuesday, 4 February, an email confirming that as of that date there are no known cases in the Dominican Republic. The US Embassy recommended that those in the Dominican Republic consult the CDC and the WHO websites for the most up-to-date information regarding enhanced screening procedures. More so, the US Embassy recommends travelers to check with airlines regarding flight cancellations or flying restrictions.

    Also on the list of recommendations from the US Embassy are general hygiene observations, including washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Avoiding close contact with sick people. Covering mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

    The recommendations are extensive to preventing catching the very contagious influenza virus that is making the rounds in the country.

    Santa Barbara Church elevated to cathedral status
    The Roman Catholic Church in the Dominican Republic announced that the Santa Barbara Church in the Colonial City will now officially be the Catedral Catrense, or the Santa Barbara de la Mar Cathedral. This means there will be two cathedrals in the capital city, both located in the Colonial City historic district. The other is the Santo Domingo Cathedral.

    Metropolitan Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Monsignor Francisco Ozoria said the Santa Barbara Cathedral is now the seat of the newly-named Military Diocese.

    A special mass was carried out on Tuesday, 4 February 2020 to celebrate the designation. The date commemorates the baptism day of the founding father of the Dominican Republic, Juan Pablo Duarte at that same church. His baptismal font is still there.

    The church was restored by the Office of State Works Supervising Engineers (OISOE) at a cost of RD$160 million.

    The church is dedicated to Santa Bárbara de Nicomedia. It is located at 406 Isabel la Católica Street on the corner with General Gabino Puello Street, at the northern edge of the old wall that protected the first Spanish viceroyalty in the New World.

    Bounty set at US$50,000 for Dominican serial killer
    He is being described as the Dominican Houdini. The fact is that Gilberto Ventura Ceballos escaped from a Panamanian jail on Monday, 3 February 2020 and is nowhere to be found.

    The Panamanian authorities first offered US$30,000 for information leading to his capture, and then raised it to US$50,000. Ventura escaped the La Nueva Joya prison. He was serving a 55-year prison sentence. This was 50 years for murder and kidnapping of five people of Asian origin and five years for escaping from La Joyita prison on 28 December 2016.

    Ventura Ceballos' profile is on the Interpol platform as part of the most wanted list.

    Tragedy hits captain of national women’s volleyball team
    Megan Logroño Rivera, the 15-year old only daughter of the captain of the Dominican national senior women’s volleyball team, Prisilla Rivera, died on 4 February 2020. The reasons were not shared in the note issued by the Dominican Volleyball Federation on the tragedy.

    Rivera learned of the death of her daughter while abroad. She had been playing for the Hungary Professional Volleyball League. She arrived to Santo Domingo on Wednesday. The wake will be at the Funeraria Blandino of Av. Abraham Lincoln on Thursday.

    DR defeats Puerto Rico in Caribbean Series
    In an exciting game in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Los Toros del Este of the Dominican Republic defeated the Cangrejeros de San Juan to the disappointment of most of the 19,000 fans that packed the Hiram Bithorn Stadium for the game on Wednesday, 5 February 2020.

    The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico now move on to play the semifinals. All the teams playing the semi-finals have record of 4 wins and 1 loss. Los Toros del Este lost to Mexico.

    The schedule for the semifinals is:
    México (Tomateros de Culiacán) vs Venezuela (Cardenales de Lara) at 2:30pm.
    Puerto Rico (Cangrejeros de San Juan) vs Dominicana (Los Toros del Este) at 8pm.

    The playoffs will be then played on Saturday, 7 February at 8pm.
    Last edited by Dolores; 02-06-2020 at 12:48 PM.

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