Margarita Cedeño to be Gonzalo Castillo’s running mate
Navarrete-Puerto Plata road ready by May 2020
José Ramón Peralta: 15 March elections have to go well
Mayor candidate Johnny Ventura asks why Carolina Mejía did not participate in the PRM protest march; she says she had other commitments
Too lazy to bang pots, download the Cacerolapp
Ramfis Domínguez Trujillo disqualified to run for President
Attorney General goes ahead with overhaul, despite protests
Ginnette Bournigal is the victim of crime in Santo Domingo
Rap-singing policeman sent home for good
Herrera industries president favors reducing ITBIS tax
Coronavirus in Italy
DR defeats Canada in game 2 of FIBA AmeriCup
Pamela Sued and Gabriel are queen and king of Santo Domingo Carnival
Jazz nights at Acropolis
Toc Toc at Palacio de Bellas Artes

Margarita Cedeño to be Gonzalo Castillo’s running mate
Ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) presidential candidate Gonzalo Castillo announced that Vice President Margarita Cedeño is his choice for running mate in the 2020 May presidential election. President Danilo Medina was present for the announcement during the assembly of delegates of the PLD held at the Volleyball Pavilion in the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center on Monday, 24 February 2020. Cedeño is a two-time Vice President under the Danilo Medina governments.

Margarita Cedeño is the wife of former President Leonel Fernández. The 54-year old lawyer was First Lady 2004-2008 and 2008-2012. Her husband lost in the PLD primary of 6 October 2020. Cedeño had offered him her support as he campaigned for the presidential ticket of the ruling political party. Fernández has argued he was a victim of e-voting fraud in the primary.

During her acceptance speech, Margarita Cedeño said: "We are going to think about serving the party, to serve the people. It is a great honor,” she said. She thanked Gonzalo Castillo and the Political Committee and party delegates for trusting her to be the vice-presidential candidate.

"I came to serve my party, to serve my people, and I will continue working so that Gonzalo Castillo becomes President," Cedeño said.

The PLD becomes the first major party to announce its vice-presidential candidate. The deadline had been 3 March 2020, but after the rescheduling of the municipal election to 15 March, the Central Electoral Board (JCE) extended the deadline for the registration of presidential and vice-presidential candidates to 10 March.

Navarrete- Puerto Plata road ready by May 2020
The Ministry of Public Works says that the Navarette-Puerto Plata road is “almost” finished. The main land connection between Santiago, Montecristi and Puerto Plata had been under expansion and repairs for more than five years. The road is 46.8 km. At some stretches, it was expanded from two to four lanes. Public Works Minister Ramón Pepín said it would be fully in operation before May 2020.

“This road is going to have an impact not only on Puerto Plata, but on all the region. Once it is finished, it will benefit production and tourism not only in Puerto Plata, but the entire region,” he stressed. He said farm and agribusiness will benefit with time and cost savings for transporting their goods to and from the Puerto Plata port.

He said a traffic distributor was built in the proximity of Lifestyle Holiday (Cofresí) to facilitate flow traffic. The paving of the road is in its final stage. In several road sections only the vertical and horizontal signage is missing.

The Ministry of Public Works allotted the work to Consorcio Vial del Atlántico, which subcontracted three companies. Ecocisa is responsible for the section from the Navarrete roundabout to Llanos de Pérez. Hormicondo was entrusted with Llanos de Pérez to Las Avispas, and Constructora Mar with the Las Avispas to the entrance to Puerto Plata.

The road is designed for a maximum speed of 80 kms/hour and a travel time of approximately 35 minutes.

The expansion of the road was a commitment the Medina administration had made to the promoters of the Amber Cove Cruise Ship Terminal in Maimón. The port was opened in 2015. It took the Medina government another five years to complete the road.

José Ramón Peralta: 15 March elections have to go well
Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta would like to see young protestors volunteering to participate in the voting stations on the 15 March municipal elections.

Peralta made the statement when interviewed for the "El Gobierno de la mañana," broadcast on Z101 FM.

Peralta rejected demands for the five judges of the Central Electoral Board to resign. He said that would only trigger a greater crisis. He called on all social, political and economic sectors of the country to work together to create an environment that motivates people to participate in the election.

"We have a great challenge ahead of us. These elections have to go well, yes or yes, because if not we are putting our future democratic stability at stake. We are putting our country's economy at stake. This has to go well, may the best win, may the country and the people vote for him," said Peralta.

He said that for the country to continue developing, no matter who wins the March and May elections, it must bet on more democracy, more growth, and getting more people out of poverty.

"We are going to stick to the law, we are going to respect the law, we are going to make sure that what the law and the Constitution of the Republic say is respected," he said.

Mayor candidate Johnny Ventura asks why Carolina Mejía did not participate in the PRM protest march; she says she had other commitments
After Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) National District candidate Carolina Mejía and National District Mayor David Collado were no-shows at the Sunday pro-democracy march head by the PRM and the People’s Force political parties, Johnny Ventura wants to know why. Johnny Ventura is the same legendary merengue singer who is now running for mayor on the People’s Force ticket.

"We, the political stakeholders, need to be responsible and to act with transparency and serve the country when it needs us most,” he said. He added: This is not a time for collusion with those who want to steal the democracy of the Dominican Republic."

Ventura said that the lack of commitment to the people and the lack of identification with the struggle for democracy on behalf of Carolina Mejía and her father, former President Hipólito Mejía, as well as her political godfather David Collado, make it clear that the candidate for mayor of the National District for the PRM has an agreement with the government and President Danilo Medina.

Ventura stated: "Carolina Mejía showed on Sunday that she does not have the slightest interest in the struggle the Dominican society is waging for respect for democracy, the strengthening of the party system and that her aspirations are not those of the people. On the contrary, she appears to be more committed to the causes of President Danilo Medina than to her own party, the PRM."

El Nuevo Diario had reported that the absence could be related to the distance the mayoral candidate and her father, former President Hipólito Mejía, have kept with former President Fernández. When the PRM announced the alliance with Fernández followers for certain congressional and municipal positions, Carolina Mejía issued a dissident statement expressing her opposition but accepting the party position. Her father has been known to back President Danilo Medina on several issues.

Earlier, Alianza Pais had stated it would not participate in the protest march. Guillermo Moreno, president of Alianza Pais, has asked for the resignation of the judges of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) and has been a strong critic of former President Leonel Fernández. Fernández had been president of the ruling political party until he split from the party after claiming fraud in the 6 October 2020 primary that was organized using the same automated voting machines installed for the failed municipal election.

In a statement on Monday afternoon, 24 February, Carolina Mejía said she had other commitments. She said the setting of the date for the march was a last-minute decision, and she had already made a commitment.

City mayor David Collado urged an exhaustive investigation be carried out to find out the reasons for the collapse of the municipal elections. But he had no comments on why he didn’t participate in the PRM march. “I am concentrating on my job, only that.” He says he wants to finish his city government program for when he turns in government on 24 April 2020.

Too lazy to bang pots, download the Cacerolapp
Pot-banging has been a protest recourse for decades in the Dominican Republic. But after introduced as a peaceful protest action, Venezuela’s pot-banging "cacerolazo" is a global protest tool. Now, for those who are lazy, there is the “Icacerola,” a mobile application that replicates the rumbling of the pots. This can be connected to a home theater or loudspeakers.

The app was developed in Chile in 2011 by Gustavo Canales, but that became more useful in 2019, within the framework of the social crisis enveloping that South American nation. It is now finding use in the Dominican Republic. The "Icacerola" allows its users to play an audio file of "cacerolazos" in order to digitally join the cause and social discontent.

On the platform, the image of a pot is visualized and plays noise that imitates the sound of banging pots.

Meanwhile, in the National District resounding cacerolazos rumbled four times on Sunday, 23 February 2020 in the wealthy neighborhoods of Santo Domingo, such as Naco, Piantini, Bella Vista or Gazcue, and was replicated in shopping centers across the country, where visitors used whatever they had on hand to make noise and make themselves felt.

The protests groups say the pot-banging exercise is scheduled every evening from 8 to 8:10pm as part of the preparations for the demonstration set for 27 February, Independence Day, at the Plaza de las Banderas.

Ramfis Domínguez Trujillo disqualified to run for President
The plenary of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) ruled that Luis José Ramfis Rafael Domínguez Trujillo is not eligible to run for President in the Dominican Republic. Domínguez Trujillo is a grandchild of former Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo. He was recently named the presidential candidate for the National Party of Veterans and Civilians (PNVC).

Domínguez always had working against him the fact that he is still a United States citizen. He was born in New York on 22 May 1970. The Dominican Constitution establishes that a foreign-born person needs to have renounced his/her other citizenship 10 years before becoming eligible to run for President in the Dominican Republic.

Dominguez had argued all along that other presidential candidates have been dual citizens and have been allowed to run for office.

Dominguez had been campaigning actively for President. He has already appeared in several polls. In the January 2020 Gallup poll said he had 5.8% popularity.

The decision is in Resolution 18-2020 signed by Julio César Castaños Guzmán, Presidente; Roberto B. Saladín Selin, Carmen lmbert Brugal, Rosario Graciano De Los Santos and Henry Mejía Oviedo.

The JCE resolution takes into consideration constitutional requirements to run for President in the Dominican Republic. The resolution states: “It is verified that Luis Jose Ramfis Rafael Dominguez Truijllo has not documented his resignation to the nationality acquired by birth ten years in advance, nor has he resided in the country during the ten years prior to the nomination of the position he aspires to, for which reason and according to the provisions of Article 20 of the Constitution of the Republic, it is not appropriate to admit his candidacy to the Presidency of the Republic proposed by the National Party of Citizen's Will (PNVC).”

Attorney General goes ahead with overhaul, despite protests
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez is going through with his plan to appoint new prosecutors. The calling of an express contest to choose the new prosecutors has been protested by those who see in the move an attempt to put into place a structure to foster impunity after the expected change of government in August 2020. - Mariasela Alvarez

Ginnette Bournigal is the victim of crime in Santo Domingo
National Deputy Ginnette Bournigal (Modern Revolutionary Party – Puerto Plata) and her husband engineer Miguel Angel Jiménes Messón were victims of robbery on Sunday, 23 February 2020 in the afternoon in Piantini neighborhood. The legislator suffered a slight fracture in her wrist when she was dragged for several meters when a thief on a motorcycle drove by. Her husband was hit with a blunt object. Her husband had to get sutures to his forehead. Her neck chain broke and fell to the ground, where it was recovered.

Bournigal said on Sol 106.5FM that when she dismounted from her vehicle, a man passing on a motorcycle grabbed her by the neck and dragged her for several meters along Federico Geraldino street, almost to the corner of José Amado Soler. The congresswoman was in Santo Domingo visiting a daughter.

Rap-singing policeman sent home for good
The Police agent assigned to the youth protests at the Plaza de la Bandera on Friday, 21 February who felt more kin to the protestors than to his duties as a policeman, resigned the service this week. Policeman Jesús Bautista is also known as “El Ministro,” and is a rap writer in his barrio. He is a resident in Villa Mella and has two children. His rap “I can’t take it anymore, I am desperate, my country is wealthy but badly managed” went viral on social media.

Bautista’s lawyer, Miguel Valerio, said the police agent was questioned by his superiors for several hours and then sent home.

Before joining the Police he had made a living selling snacks. He said he joined the Police to have a regular wage and medical insurance for his children, and to be able to continue his studies.

Herrera industries president favors reducing ITBIS tax
The president of the National Association of Herrera Businesses and Industries (ANEIH), Leonel Castellanos, says that the present electoral uncertainty could well have an effect on business and industry. He said to return the confidence to investors, the elections need to be transparent. He called for all Dominicans to unite for the celebration of the election on 15 March.

He said the impact of the political crisis is now less because the country’s fuel bill is down. “I do not see, in the immediate term, any reason for instability,” he said, “unless there is nervousness and that changes the situation.” He said there is no economic variable that can affect the exchange rate.

“We do not doubt that we are growing, but we are growing without development,” he told Diario Libre. “It is a bubble that is about to explode,” said Castellanos referring to the economic growth in the country that for years has been among the highest in Latin America.

He said that in the case of the value-added tax, ITBIS, ANEIH’s position is that the tax could be reduced to 10% from its present level of 18% at present if more goods and services are taxed. He said the country needs a fiscal reform, but one where government is tied to better management of taxpayer money. He said a Fiscal Responsibility Bill has stagnated in Congress for years “because the government is not interested in passing it.”

In the interview with Diario Libre, Castellanos also spoke of companies, especially small business that need to see a reduction in the high cost of severance payments.

Coronavirus in Italy
Coronavirus concerns escalated for the Dominican Republic after the disease has begun to affect Italy, a major source market of tourists for the DR. There are several daily flights connecting the Dominican Republic with Italy.

The Italian government has already taken extraordinary measures to control an outbreak, including a ban on public events in at least 10 municipalities and suspending the Venice Carnival.

As of yet there is no travel ban regarding Italy. Nevertheless, travelers are recommended to take the same precautions to not catch the flu. These are washing hands often, keeping unwashed hands away from eyes, nose or mouth and avoiding contact with sick people.

Receiving around 64 million tourists a year (2018), Italy is the fifth most visited country in international tourism arrivals.

DR defeats Canada in game 2 of FIBA AmeriCup
In a heart-stopping match for the thousands of Dominican fans that filled the Palacio de los Deportes, the Dominican national basketball team defeated Team Canada in game 2 of the FIBA AmeriCup Qualifier. Canada had won the first game played in Oshawa, Ontario, 89-72. The Monday, 24 February game was won 88-84 in dramatic overtime.

The Canadians had already celebrated winning the game on a three-pointer from Conor Morgan at the buzzer in regulation. But officials reviewed the shot and ruled that it was a two and not a three-pointer, thus tying the game at 75 points and forcing overtime.

In the extra session, a three-point play opportunity for Eloy Vargas sealed the victory for the Dominican Republic. Eloy Vargas led the Dominicans with 16 points, Rigoberto Mendoza followed him with 12 points, and Gelvis Solano contributed 10 points, with eight assists and six rebounds. Ángel Delgado added 10 points and five rebounds.

For Canada, Phil Scrubb was the best with 26 points, Kaza Kajami-Keane scored 15 points and seven assists.

Both teams are now 1-1 at the close out the first window of the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Qualifiers. The other two teams in Group C, Cuba and US Virgin Islands also have a 1-1 record.

Pamela Sued and Gabriel are queen and king of Santo Domingo Carnival
Television presenter Pamela Sued and merengue singer Gabriel are the queen and king of the Santo Domingo 2020 National Carnival Parade scheduled for Sunday, 8 March 2020 starting at 3 pm on the Malecón in Santo Domingo. The two were named during a ceremony at the Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) on Monday, 24 February. During the same event, it was announced that the winners of the Felipe Abreu Award this year are Dilcia Martínez Checo, Juana Emilia Guerrero, Félix Juan Ramos and Fresolina Vicioso (La India) for their contributions to the celebration of the Dominican Carnival.

This year, the carnival is dedicated to the province of Hermanas Mirabal and to Dominican women.

The activity is organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Tourism.

Jazz nights at Acropolis
In its fourth consecutive year, Acropolis Center and Jazz and En Dominicana present Jazz Nights at Acropolis. Every Wednesday evening, there is a free showing with leading jazz performers. The events take place at the Central Atrium of Acropolis. For Wednesday, 26 February, two jazz ensembles from the UNPHU University Contemporary Music School are performing as of 6pm.

Toc Toc at Palacio de Bellas Artes
The Spanish hit comedy, “Toc Toc” performed by the Compañía Teatral Niní German is on the stage of the Palacio de Bellas Artes on Av. Máximo Gómez the weekend of 28 and 29 February 2020. There are two performances on Friday, 28 February and Saturday, 29 February at 8:30 pm.

The play stars Milagros German, Pamela Sued, Hector Anibal Estrella, Jose Guillermo Cortines, Luis Jose German, Luly Rocha and Laura Leclerc.

The comedy is about a group of patients suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that have mistakenly been given the same appointment time with a doctor. As the patients wait for the doctor to arrive, they find themselves having to deal with each other’s quirks and compulsions.

The comedy is based on Frenchman Laurent Baffie’s 2005 play, “TOC” and the very successful Spanish version by Julian Quintanilla.

“Toc Toc” is produced by Luis Jose German and Luly Rocha and is directed by Manuel Chapuseux.

Tickets are for sale online at Uepa tickets for RD$1,515 and RD$1,300. Tickets are also for sale at Supermercados Nacional and Jumbo stores.