DR1 Daily News - Friday, 14 October 2016


May 3, 2000
Government withdraws fuel subsidy
Agreements reached with Turkey
Heavy equipment in Haiti to begin reconstruction
Bilateral talks with Haiti suspended
PLD government borrows big again
Social security or big business?
CCN recognized by Certified Angus Beef
Video showing Amet shooting at wheels is trending
Corruption case against former aqueducts director to begin
Awilda lashes out at Supreme Court president
Sparkling Christmas moves to Santo Domingo East
Traffic restored at Palo Hincado St. after crash
Fundacion Brugal winners
Darwin Aquino to direct National Music Conservatory
La Do?a y su senador at Teatro las M?scaras
26th Eduardo Le?n Jimenez Art Contest in Santiago
Conjunto Quisqueya announces Christmas show

Government withdraws fuel subsidy
After six years when RD$24 billion in diesel and propane subsidies were paid to transport companies operating as a passenger and cargo cartel, the government has announced the end of tax-free diesel to cartel members and the additional Bonogas subsidy. The Ministry of Industry and Commerce issued Resolution 233 cancelling the subsidies.

In a press conference held on Thursday, 13 October 2016, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Tem?stocles Montas said that the subsidy was introduced in 2011 (Decree 183-11) when fuel prices shot up on international markets. Montas says that the price per barrel of petrol has stayed below US$50 and that no compensation is necessary in the current conditions.

Montas said that the cargo and passenger transporters have been receiving around RD$4 billion a year in subsidies to ensure they do not increase their fares. In addition, 14,727 people registered were receiving RD$50,366,340 a month. Every year, the drivers received RD$604,396,080 in subsidies for propane.

The government says that the privileges have created a cargo and passenger monopoly, as these benefits have turned into profits for the transporters.

The government now admits to yielding to the transporter strikes, threats and protests that have reached vandalism levels as the drivers over the years have fought to keep the privileges, and turning these transport business owners into millionaires. The former president of Fenatrado is in jail awaiting trial for the murder of the former rector of the UASD, Mateo Aquino Febrillet. The former president of Unatrafin, Arsenio Quevedo is in jail accused of ties to a network of contract killers held responsible for murder of several rival transport companies and of asset laundering.

Speaking at the press conference, economist Fabricio G?mez criticized the way in which the transport cartel has become an obstacle to systemic competitiveness.

Gomez mentioned the National Plan for Cargo Logistics in the Dominican Republic, which is under review. He criticized the fact that 80% of the cargo is transported by members of the National Federation of Dominican Transport (Fenatrado).

Gomez explained that the study shows that due to the absence of formal transport companies with structures and managerial procedures designed to provide services the country does not have the regulatory framework to establish the requirements for transport services.

The beneficiaries of government subsidies include Conatra, Fenatrano, Unatrafin, Mochotran, Fenatrado, Fentracon and Caribe Tours.

The transporters have all but said that war is imminent. They are running a radio campaign warning the government that they will not accept what they describe as its complicity with the country’s leading business groups to affect their business interests. Business groups have constantly called on the government to act to allow free competition in the transport sector and for the cargo owners to have the freedom to choose who transports their goods.

Fenatrado president Ricardo de los Santos said that the public would suffer if their interests were affected.

Before the press conference, Antonio Marte of Conatra had already posted a message on Twitter threatening: “If the government wants us to stop the country, so be it.”

Industry and Commerce Minister Tem?stocles Mont?s said at the press conference: “The government knows that a large part of the subsidy, which is currently four million gallons [of diesel] a month, is not used for the purpose for which it was originally conceived. Almost half is being used for other purposes and this has practically invalidated the nature of the subsidy and created a serious distortion in the fuel market.”


Agreements reached with Turkey
The Chamber of Deputies has approved two agreements signed with the government of Turkey. One is an aviation agreement that was signed on 15 April 2014. The agreement opens the way for an increase in airline services and economic and trade expansion.

Under the terms of the second agreement, Dominicans with diplomatic or official passports will not require visas to travel to Turkey. As a reciprocal agreement, the terms also apply to Turkish citizens.

Heavy equipment in Haiti to begin reconstruction
Heavy construction equipment arrived in Haiti from the Dominican Republic on Thursday, 13 October 2016 to help repair the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in the south of the country. Mechanical shovels, backhoes, rollers, trucks and graders began to shift debris and open roads cut off by the storm and floodwaters.

The Dominican EdeSur power distribution company has sent cranes, trucks and other heavy vehicles, with staff to work to restore electricity supplies to the affected communities. The work is centered in the Port Salut and Roche-a-Bateau areas.

The Dominican government has also trucked in food and pharmaceuticals, cement, steel rods, cement blocks, wood, zinc and other construction materials.

The first 500 vehicles with humanitarian aid have already arrived in Haiti.

Dominican media, nevertheless, is reporting complaints by residents on the Dominican side of the border in Jiman?. Workers at the hospital said that the hospital does not have potable water or electricity and that they can only use the emergency area because the hospital has been in a slow process of reconstruction for three years. During this time they only receive power four hours a day.


Bilateral talks with Haiti suspended
The Dominican Ministry of Foreign Relations says that the planned bilateral commission (CMBDH) meetings set to resume on 19 October 2016 have been suspended due to the emergency situation in Haiti in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

The Ministry said that the postponement request was received from Haitian Ambassador Leon Charles, in a memorandum sent to the Ministry of Foreign Relations. *No date has been set for the meetings to resume.

The announcement of the resumption of the meetings had been made in August, when newly appointed Minister of Foreign Relations Miguel Vargas met with his counterpart Pierrot D?lienne in Port-au-Prince.


PLD government borrows big again
The ruling PLD-majority Chamber of Deputies approved three new loans totaling US$220 million on Thursday, 13 October 2016. The loans will be used to fund programs for improving water services, education and for the national grid modernization project being implemented by the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE).

The education loan for US$50 million will come from the World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and will be used for teacher training.

The deputies approved another US$120 million loan for modernizing the national power grid, also from the IBRD.

A further US$50 million from the French Development Agency (AFD) was approved for improving aqueducts and sewage to be implemented by Inapa and the Santiago water agency (Corasaan).

Spokesman for the opposition PRM deputies, Alfredo Pacheco criticized the new loans. He said that in 2004 the public debt was around US$9 billion, but is now at more than US$36 billion.


Social security or big business?
A recent study shows that while pension plan administrators (AFPs) profits exceed US$500 million, pension yield was a mere 4.98% from 2004 to 2015. Civil society organizations Fundacion Sol and Medicos del Mundo and the Fundacion Juan Bosch presented the findings on Thursday, 13 October 2016. The report, which criticizes the Dominican social security system, found that 69.9% of the funds are invested in government financial instruments (mainly the Central Bank) and this enables the government to have greater liquidity for meeting government public spending needs and capitalizing the Central Bank.

They add that despite the large sums in the hands of the government, this has become public debt that all Dominicans are paying. The study highlights that this leads to a parasitic yield for very few at the expense of tax payers.


CCN recognized by Certified Angus Beef
Centro Cuesta Nacional and its Supermercados Nacional are advertising 25% off Certified Angus Beef cuts nationwide. The discount, which is only valid on Saturday, 15 October 2016, is being applied in celebration of their win of the International Retail Marketer of the Year of the US premium beef brand.

The store was recognized for its comprehensive marketing plan to offer a wide selection of the Certified Angus Beef ? brand cuts. Billboards, print advertising in major publications, social media and in-store promotions explain beef quality and lead customers to the meat case.

Certified Angus Beef brand is the only beef brand owned by the family farmers and ranchers of the American Angus Association. The brand prides itself on meeting or exceeding 10 standards for quality, making it more selective than USDA Choice or Prime.


Video showing Amet shooting at wheels is trending
Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) spokesman Diego Pesqueira has identified the driver of the SUV that violated traffic law by making a U-turn at Gustavo Mej?a Ricart and Ortega y Gasset avenues in Santo Domingo as Jaime Antonio C?ceres.

The incident became a trending topic after a video was uploaded to social media. Pesqueira confirmed that Amet agent Pablo Isidro Matos had fired the shots at the tire after the violation. He said that prosecutors would establish if he should be taken to court once an internal investigation into the case is completed.

Matos claims that when making the turn, the driver hit him on the arm, which provoked him into firing the shots.

Interviewed on El Sol de la Manana radio show, Pesqueira said that an Amet agent is only allowed to fire shots when his life or that of a citizen is in danger.

He said that Traffic Law 241-67 does not allow firearms to be used to enforce the traffic laws. Pesqueira said that the agent had overreacted by firing the shots.


Corruption case against former aqueducts director to begin
On Thursday, 13 October 2016, the National District seventh instruction court judge, Kenia Romero ordered the opening of the case against the former director of the National Institute of Potable Water and Sewage (Inapa) Alberto Holguin and contractor Sobeida Perdomo for defrauding the institution of RD$1 billion. Judge Romero also ordered them to make regular court appearances and an exit ban for the next six months. Holguin is being tried for alleged illicit wealth acquisition and other acts of corruption when in office.

In 2015, TV journalist Nuria Piera carried out a series of investigative reports that revealed that Holguin had signed RD$904 million worth of contracts with 38 companies in 2012 for emergency projects to build aqueducts in communities where it was proven these were not in a state of emergency. She presented evidence that the contracts were granted to friends, relatives and individuals with close links to the former official.


Awilda lashes out at Supreme Court president
Before her court hearing on Thursday 13 October 2016, suspended judge Awilda Reyes Beltr? criticized the president of the Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) Mariano Germ?n. Reyes said that Dominican justice was in crisis.

Before going into the courtroom where she is being tried for irregularities in her rulings as a judge, Reyes read a document saying that Germ?n was trying to use her expulsion as a trophy before retiring.

She said that “the president of the Supreme Court of Justice and the Judicial Branch is dragging the reputation of a justice system that has been humiliated after he destroyed what he did not help rebuild, believing that with my case he will purge his own faults.

I am trapped in a mafia structure that blames me for their faults, trying to purge them on my cadaver,” she said.

She said she wanted the case to be over, and that her life would go on. “I am a lawyer, I was a lawyer before I was a judge, and I will go on being one even if I resign and leave the judicial service,” she said. She demanded that the case against her be heard openly in public and with media access so that all the truth could be known.

Reyes is accused of accepting large sums of money in return for issuing favorable rulings, including that of Erinson de los Santos Sol?s (Ney), accused of planning several murders.

The court hearing was adjourned until 4 November 2016.


Sparkling Christmas moves to Santo Domingo East
After several years at the Parque Iberoamerica in the National District, this year’s version of the Sparkling Christmas lights show is moving to the Mirador del Este Park in eastern Santo Domingo.

National District mayor David Collado recently announced that the RD$40 million allocated for the event in the 2016 municipal budget would instead be used to permanently light up two large city neighborhoods, Ensanche La Fe and Cristo Rey, with the installation of new lampposts.

The Santo Domingo East municipal government said that there would be some changes to the event, describing it as an extravaganza of Christmas lights, concerts and other seasonal events.

Traffic restored at Palo Hincado St. after crash
In the early hours of Thursday, 13 October 2016, a truck laden with Domicem cement crashed into a small warehouse on Calle Palo Hincado near the intersection with Av. Independencia in the Colonial City in Santo Domingo. The crash caused major bottlenecks until the debris from the crash and the dumped cement was cleared at around 3pm.

The warehouse owner, Manuel Mej?a, said he had to close because the crash destroyed the entrance to his business. Witnesses say the truck driver swerved and lost control of the vehicle when trying to evade a SUV.


Fundacion Brugal winners
The 25th Gran Premio Brugal Cree en su Gente prize ceremony took place on Thursday evening, 13 October 2016 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo. This year’s winners of the Brugal Foundation awards are:

Gran Premio George Arzeno Brugal: Patronato Contra el C?ncer del Cibao
Social Assistance: Fundaci?n Nidos de ?ngeles,
Education: Instituto de Ayuda al Sordo
Community Development: La Fundaci?n Techos por Mi Pa?s
Defense and Protection of the Environment: National Botanical Garden
Art & Culture: Santos de Palo (Bonao) and Instituto Indarte (Capotillo neighborhood, Santo Domingo).

Each winner received a RD$1 million cash award.

Speaking at the event, the executive president of Brugal & Co. Augusto Ram?rez Bon? highlighted the need for a strong public-private sector alliance to promote a new approach to education and innovation so that the country can successfully meet the challenges of the current Fourth Industrial Revolution. Ram?rez stressed that high levels of automation and robotics are leading to major gaps between developed and underdeveloped economies. He warned that this process could result in the disappearance of five million jobs over the next four years, increasing inequality. He said countries like the Dominican Republic needed to break the old patterns and work together with a common purpose. He called for a system where the people are at the center of everything that is done, with a strong sense of ethics and values.

“We live in times when patience is no longer a virtue,” he said, while stressing that “there is no time to lose.”

In his keynote address, he also highlighted Brugal’s commitment to the country and the highest international standards that prevail in its operations, adding that it is one of the country’s largest taxpayers. “In 2016 we are a 21st century leader that is producing a country brand, admired in the great capitals of the world.

He stressed nevertheless that the company has a commitment to the welfare of Dominicans that goes beyond generating jobs and wealth. “That is why we are constantly investing in our processes and products, we maintain respectful trade practices and we contribute to consolidating a culture of responsible consumption in the country.”

During the awards ceremony, Maria Batlle presented her work with deaf and mute people and demonstrated the vibrating backpack that enables people with hearing loss enjoy music.


Darwin Aquino to direct National Music Conservatory
Musician Darwin Aquino has been appointed as new director of the National Music Conservatory replacing veteran pianist Mar?a Irene Blanco, who was at the helm for more than 10 years.

New Minister of Culture Pedro Verg?s made the appointment. It was agreed that Aquino would fulfill his international commitments before taking on the new responsibility.

Aquino won the Most Outstanding Dominican Artist Award in the 2016 Soberano Awards. Recently, Aquino was chosen to conduct the Mainz Philharmonic Orchestra for the Latin Fiesta organized at the Mainz State Theatre in Germany. Aquino will present his most recent work at the Festival Latinoamericano de M?sica in Caracas, Venezuela on 26 October 2016.

In 2015-2016 he conducted Verdi’s opera “Il Trovatore” at the St. Louis Winter Opera, and the Florida Lakes Symphony Orchestra, the Palm Beach Symphony Orchestra and was assistant director for the operas “The Barber of Seville”, “Norma” and “Don Pasquale” for the Florida Grand Opera.

For the past 15 years, Aquino has conducted the National Youth Symphony Orchestra.*
He will take over the Conservatory at a time when it is in need of new investment and equipment.


La Do?a y su senador at Teatro las M?scaras
Teatro Las M?scaras presents the comedy: “La Do?a y su senador” (The Lady and her Senator) this weekend, 14-16 October 2016 in the Colonial City of Santo Domingo. Although it is a comedy, the play criticizes Dominican society and its political structures.

According to director Dolly Mart?nez: “The public gets involved, has fun but also reflects. As a great artist once said: the theater is not to sing out about things but to change them. We hope that at the end of each performance, the viewers are more relaxed but also more aware of their roles as citizens."

The actors are Josema Rodr?guez, Montessori Ventura and F?lix Meli?n, with the script by Patricia Mu?oz.

Performances are at 8:30pm on Friday and Saturday, and at 6:30pm on Sunday.


26th Eduardo Le?n Jimenez Art Contest in Santiago
Thursday, 20 October 2016 is the opening date for the 26th Eduardo Le?n Jimenes Art Contest exhibition at the Centro Cultural Le?n in Santiago. Free transportation is available from Santo Domingo. The Centro Le?n Cultural Center is at Av. 27 de Febrero No. 146, in Villa Progreso, Santiago, Tel. 809 582-2315.

Reservations are required calling 809 487-3013 and email d.rosario@centroleon.org.do

Conjunto Quisqueya announces Christmas show
Hard Rock Caf? Santo Domingo at Blue Mall presents Puerto Rican merengue group Conjunto Quisqueya on Friday, 2 December 2016. The band is celebrating 42 years together. Enjoy the songs and music of Adib Melgen, Chucky Acosta, Javish Victoria and Elias Santana.*

For information on upcoming events:

Archived News stories:

Archived Travel News stories: