DR1 Daily News - Friday, 17 February 2017


May 3, 2000
Longer hours for consultations at public hospitals
AES Dominicana Foundation donates firetrucks to 911 System
Abinader says that more taxes is like throwing money in a bottomless pit 
Neighborhood groups vow to continue opposition to Hard Rock violations
Judge validation first, then Dominicans will know terms of Odebrecht agreement
Police confirm suicide of broadcasters’ suspect murderer
CEA says they had nothing pending with the late José Rodríguez
Adocco calls for revoking sales carried out by State Sugar Council (CEA)
Students want to go back to school, will protest on streets
2,197 employees added to power distributors in past five years
Two Spaniards run over by bus driver
AMET agent who was assaulted dies
Claro telecom executive killer sentenced to 20 years in jail
4.6 earthquake in San Pedro de Macoris
Kenya’s finest to train in DR under Felix Sánchez
DanceMotion USA to perform in Santo Domingo
The New York Band to La Vega Carnival

Longer hours for consultations at public hospitals
Public hospitals will soon be offering medical consultations in the early evening, in addition to the regular hours in the morning and afternoon. 

Dr. Nelson Rodríguez Monegro, the director of the National Health Service (SNS), made the announcement. He said this soon to be implemented program will make it possible for many patients to see a doctor after work. 


AES Dominicana Foundation donates firetrucks to 911 System
The AES Dominicana Foundation donated three fully-equipped firetrucks to the 911 National Emergency and Security System. The 911 is under expansion with service to begin in Santiago later this February 2017. 

Edwin de los Santos, president of the AES Dominicana, made the delivery to Dalvert Polanco, director of the 911 System. The trucks will serve Greater Santo Domingo, San Cristóbal, Haina and Nigua. Also present during the donation ceremony was Presidency Minister Gustavo Montalvo. Polanco said the 911 System now has 74 firetrucks in the service. In addition to Santiago, the 911 service will be expanded this year to Puerto Plata. 

Polanco said that in 2016, 911 System firefighters have responded to 40,388 emergencies. 


Abinader says that more taxes is like throwing money in a bottomless pit 
Former presidential candidate for the PRM, Luis Abinader expressed concern for the International Monetary Fund’s recommendation for a significant fiscal adjustment, which in the past has translated into higher or new taxes for taxpayers.

He said the government has proven to be bottomless pit of funds, sucking up any amount of money it receives. 

He said that he is aware that nation’s development requires additional resources, but these should only be forthcoming when there are guarantees for the efficient use of these in improvements in public services and when administrative corruption is confronted. He said under the present circumstances of the Medina administration, more taxes would be the equivalent of transferring money to a bottomless pit. 

He said the IMF contradicts itself when it reports the economy is robust, but then calls for significant tax adjustments. He said the present situation would have been averted if the Medina government had listened to the warnings by the PRM and the business sector that called for a stop to the unbridled accumulation of debt, recommending improved efficiency and transparency of public spending. 

“And not only because much of that debt has had a doubtful use, such as to cover overpricing in public works in the framework of the most absolute impunity such as the Odebrecht projects, the purchase of the Super Tucano aircraft, the remodeling of hospitals and construction of classrooms, among others, or to cover current spending and wasteful spending of the government, but also for the high cost of the loans,” he said. 

Abinader said the government is paying on average 8-9% for public debt, which means RD$140 billion will go to pay debt in 2017 that represents 28% of all tax revenues. 

“In the present situation, the Dominican government cannot legitimately receive a single cent more in taxes, until there is an end to the hemorrhaging of fraudulent funds. It is unacceptable to transfer more funds to a government that has refused to improve quality of spending, that has rejected transparency and confronting corruption,” said the economist-politician. 

Neighborhood groups vow to continue opposition to Hard Rock violations
The Superior Administrative Court (TSA) has rejected the request for a hold on the provisional permits issued by the Municipality of the National District (ADN) for the construction of the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel on Av. Abraham Lincoln in Santo Domingo. The TSA is the court entrusted with verifying the correct application of the law by government entities. 

In a press release, the neighborhood associations of the Polígono Central said they would continue to demand that the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel comply with construction, transit and gambling laws and regulations.

Miriam Paulino, lawyer for the neighborhood associations, said that they would study the ruling and continue to exercise all legal actions available in order to halt the construction of the project and to invalidate the permits that were issued irregularly. 

“We have lost one of a thousand battles. We will not give up. Justice will have to recognize that we are in the right,” she said. 

Carmen Alonzo, president of the neighborhood of Piantini, stated that the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel project by violating so many laws and regulations would be setting a troubling precedent for the urban planning of Santo Domingo. She said it would cause multiple social and environmental impacts in Piantini and the Polígono Central and a worsening of the traffic in the already very congested zone.

The neighborhood groups said it does not matter whether the Hard Rock Casino & Hotel investors are domestic or foreign. What matters is that they have to comply with existing laws and regulations. 

The neighborhood groups reject the announced 38-story building, with 15 floors more than legally permitted, in violation of the height and density zoning for the area. They also reject the construction of a mega casino in an area with dozens of residential condominiums, hospitals and schools. Moreover, they point out that the project is deficient by 500 parking spots compared to what is required under current transit regulations (M-002;  Reglamento para Estacionamiento Vehicular en Edificaciones), as determined in a technical study carried out by urban planner and architect Erick Dorrejo. 

Follow the story on: http://dr1.com/forums/showthread.php/155455-40-floor-hard-rock-hotel-to-be-built-in-SD

Judge validation first, then Dominicans will know terms of Odebrecht agreement
The Attorney General Office says it will reveal to the general public the full agreement reached with the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht as soon as the latter is validated by the coordinating judge, Alejandro Vargas. While some points have been revealed, such as that it is an eight-year agreement for US$184 million in payments, with US$30 million paid with the signing, most of the details on the compensation by Odebrecht for bribes, are not public. 

On Thursday in Brazil, Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez participated in a regional meeting with Brazilian authorities investigating the Odebrecht mega corruption case in which the company admitted to bribes and overpricing in order to do business in Latin America. 

In the Dominican Republic, only the commercial representative of Odebrecht, Angel Rondón has admitted to receiving US$92 million that he said were not bribes as a US court determined but rather fees for securing the contracts.  The Dominican government has yet to take any penal action against Rondón or any person related to the Odebrecht overpricing and bribery scandal. 


Police confirm suicide of broadcasters’ suspect murderer
The National Police confirmed on Thursday, 16 February 2017, that José Rodríguez (Joselito or Palmita), the lead suspect of the murder of two radio broadcasters, committed suicide when being pursued by the Police. 

In a press release, the Police said that 59-year old José Rodríguez committed suicide when he found himself cornered by the Police. He was the lead suspect in the murder of radio broadcaster Luis Manuel Medina and Leonidas Martínez, the director of Radio FM 103.5 in San Pedro de Macoris. The two were murdered on the morning of 15 February 2017 at a time when Luis Manuel Medina was streaming news live on Facebook. 

Rodríguez’s body had a single shot in the head, said prosecutor Digna Ortiz, who is in charge of the investigation. This was confirmed by director of Forensic Pathology in San Pedro de Macorís province, Dr. Manuela Herminia Rodríguez. Nevertheless, the body has not been available for viewing by journalists or others, including family members. 

The body of Rodríguez was taken to the morgue of the Antonio Musa Public Hospital in San Pedro. 
The authorities have not revealed what they suspect was the motive for the double homicide. The Police have not shared explanations on the clues that lead to the persecution of Rodríguez. 

Nevertheless, a report in Diario Libre on 17 February 2017, speculates that Rodríguez would have killed the two broadcasters in a rage over a real estate deal with the State Sugar Council (CEA) gone sour. The broadcasters had been asked to mediate in the conflict.  The same Diario Libre story tells that a sister of Rodríguez has denied her brother had committed suicide as reported by the Police and forensics. The family says that the Police has not allowed the coffin to be uncovered to hide the five bullet wounds she said her brother had received. 

Rodríguez was also accused of wounding radio station secretary, Dayana García, who survived the armed attack. 

Medina and Martínez maintained the San Pedro de Macorís news talk show, Milenio Caliente, while Medina was also the commercial voice for the Estrellas Oriental baseball team. 


CEA says they had nothing pending with the late José Rodríguez
Diario Libre reports that the deceased José Rodríguez (Joselito or Palmita), the lead suspect in the murder of San Pedro de Macorís broadcasters Luis Manuel Medina and Leonidas Martínez, had felt he had been cheated by CEA and took revenge on the two journalists who had accepted to serve as mediators in the dispute over the land sale. 

During the Hipólito Mejía government, the CEA set up a division for the sale of property after the sugar mills were privatized. The many irregularities in the sales of property are now coming to the forefront, especially after the murder of the two broadcasters. The Dominican Alliance Against Corruption (ADOCCO) has requested that President Danilo Medina immediately revoke CEA property sales that are known to have been carried out at well below market prices over the past 20 years.

In the Rodríguez case, the State Sugar Council (CEA) shared with Diario Libre nine documents confirming that they had fulfilled their obligations with Rodríguez. The documents indicate that the CEA sold to Rodríguez 45 tareas (1 tarea = 629 square meters) in the El Jagual section of San Pedro de Macorís. Rodríguez would have paid RD$94,500 down payment, corresponding to 35% of the property value, another RD$20,000 for the survey and appraisal and another RD$5,000 in fees for other documentation to complete the transaction, for a total RD$119,500 in total. 

The press director of the CEA said that the 35% advance payment made by Rodríguez to the CEA as down payment was returned to him. Therefore, CEA denies having had anything to do with the murder of the broadcasters. 

Diario Libre reports that in a letter dated 2 December 2016, written by CEA to Rodríguez, informing him that the land he had agreed to purchase was in fact occupied and CEA had agreed to return the money to Rodríguez. 

Finally, documents issued by the CEA indicate that on 11 January 2017, Rodríguez received a check from CEA for RD$119,500 that would account for the total amount of money Rodriguez had paid to CEA.

The Police reported that Rodríguez committed suicide when he found himself pursued by the authorities. Nevertheless, aside from the prosecutor and the forensic pathologist, the body has not been seen. There is speculation he had five shots in his body, and not the one shot with which the Police say he committed suicide. The relatives of Rodríguez say they do not believe the version on the suicide and denied he had been deported from the United States as the Police has reported. 


Adocco calls for revoking sales carried out by State Sugar Council (CEA)
The government recently set a precedent by voiding the sale of state property in the Los Tres Brazos area of eastern Santo Domingo carried out by a private company that had received a concession from CORDE, the government holder of the property. A review carried out by a government commission established the transaction was plagued by irregularities and should be voided. As a result, President Medina ordered the shutdown of CORDE and CREP, the two entities involved with the privatization of state property. 

Now the Dominican Alliance Against Corruption (ADOCCO) has requested that President Danilo Medina immediate revoke CEA property sales at ridiculously low prices over the past 20 years. He said that these sales have only served to allow politicians to strengthen their position in government. These sales of state property alledgedly have benefitted select businessmen and high ranking military and police officers, giving these buyers undue privileges at the detriment of the Dominican state and general population who had sought to purchase CEA land. The property sale began after the privatization of state sugar mills. 

Adocco said after the privatization, the State Sugar Council began to carry out the property sales in order to maintain a payroll of some 4,000 employees who allegedly have no specific duties within the Council. 

In September 2017, President Danilo Medina banned the sale of CEA property and created an assessment commission coordinated by minister sans portfolio, Bautista Rojas Gomez. However, throughout the period of time, the CEA real estate unit has continued to negotiate sales of CEA property. As reported in Diario Libre, in some cases the same property has been sold to three different buyers, causing judicial problems and confrontations, some ending in violence. 

Julio César De la Rosa Tiburcio, president of ADOCCO, believes there is still time to correct irregularities in the program so that the extensive properties of the 12 sugar mills that have not yet been liquidated can be assessed and made available for purchase at fair market prices.  


Students want to go back to school, will protest on streets
Students at the state university UASD, affected by a month-long teacher strike, say they will take their protest for the reopening of classes to city streets if in the next 48 hours the teacher strike is not called off, according to a report in Acento. “We have put up with this nonsense for three weeks while Faprouasd, Asodemu and rector have paralyzed the university. We will not wait a single more day,” said Diógenes Gutiérrez, member of Frente Estudiantil de la Liberación Amín Abel (Felabel) and spokesperson for 18 student associations. 

He said they have conducted peaceful protests to no avail. The teacher strike has affected around 200,000 UASD students nationwide. The semester should have begun on 31 January 2017. 

The students said the additional funds requested should not be limited to paying wage increases for professors and UASD employees and should include increases in the budget to equip labs, and make improvements in the student bathrooms and classrooms. Funds should also be directed to the hiring of 2,000 faculty members and upgrading the registration platform of the university, among other requests. 

With the mediation of the Minister of Superior Education Alejandrina Germán it was agreed on Wednesday, 15 February 2017, for a 10-15% wage increase for teachers. But the agreement needs to be formalized during an assembly of faculty and staff that has not yet happened. 



2,197 employees added to power distributors in past five years
A report published by the Dominican Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) reveals that the number of employees of the government-operated power utility increased from 5,620 to 7,817 from 2011 to 2016. In 2011, the power companies passed to government ownership. This means the government payroll increased from US$75 million a month to US$85 million a month at present. There are three government-owned power distributors:  EdeSur, EdeEste and EdeNorte.

The number of employees is five times the number of employees needed to run the companies, according to a study carried out by Ingenieros y Economistas Consultores (Inecon). The consulting company says that the three distributors only need 1,561 in staff to run efficiently, as reported in El Día.

The study was carried out in 2011, when the number of customers of the power distributors were 1.9 million. Today these companies have 2.1 million customers. The consultant recommended to the Superintendence of Electricity that they could be efficiently run with one employee per every 1,220 customers.

Operational expenses have also increased from US$270 million in 2011 to US$331 million in 2016.


Two Spaniards run over by bus driver
The Spanish owners of the sporting goods store Molino Deportivo were run over when crossing Avenida Independencia near the Spanish Embassy. It was known that 72-year old María Rosa Pacheco died. Her husband 79-year old Basilio Vicente Santiago was hospitalized with serious injuries.  

The Metropolitan Transport Authority agents arrested the bus driver, 30-year old Luis Miguel Lachapelle Amador, who was accused of reckless driving. He was covering the Santo Domingo-Baní route, said spokesman for Amet, Diego Pesqueira. After the accident, Lachapelle fled, only to be arrested hours later. 


AMET agent who was assaulted dies
The Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) reported that agent Edwin Enmanuel Octavis Luis died from the gun wounds suffered when two assailants shot him in the head and leg to steal his gun. Octavis died at the Marcelino Vélez Santana Hospital in Herrera where he was taken after the assault.

He had been driving along Calle General Sandoval near Calle Luis Arias in Las Palmas de Herrera in the company of Police female agent Isoris Trinidad Arocha Veras when the two were attacked. At the time of the assault around 8:20pm, Octavis was wearing his Amet uniform. The assailants stole the officers’ gun and the handbag and cell phone of Arocha. The case is investigated by the homicides division of the National Police.


Claro telecom executive killer sentenced to 20 years in jail
A Santo Domingo court ordered 20 years in jail for Horacio Bautista García convicted of the murder on 9 December 2015, of Claro telecom executive Rubén Daniel Núñez Piña while he was sitting on a bench in Mirador del Sur Park. At the time of the murder, Núñez Piña and a female friend were assaulted by Bautista who robbed Núñez fled, leaving him mortally wounded.


4.6 earthquake in San Pedro de Macoris
A 4.6 Richter Scale magnitude earthquake was felt in San Pedro de Macorís on Thursday, 16 February 2017. No damage was reported. The earthquake was felt around 8:51am. Its epicenter was in Los Llanos, San Pedro de Macorís at a depth of 105.9 km. 


Kenya’s finest to train in DR under Felix Sánchez
The 400 meters trio of Olympic silver medallist Boniface Mucheru, world champion Nicholas Bett and his twin brother Aaron Bett will be training in the Dominican Republic under two-time Olympic gold medallist Felix Sánchez. They are preparing for the 2017 World Championships in August in London. Sánchez is a retired athlete turned coach. 

Mucheru, who is also the African champion at 400m, will be running in five Diamond League races this season. Bett said he anticipates stiffer competition in his bid to retain his world championship title in the 400m hurdles at the London show.


The New York Band to La Vega Carnival
The New York Band, known for its catchy merengues, will be playing at the La Vega carnival this Sunday, 19 February 2017. The La Vega Carnival parades are one of the most famous in the Caribbean for the colorful 

DanceMotion USA to perform in Santo Domingo
The US Embassy has invited dancers from Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group to perform in Santo Domingo on occasion of African-American History Month. The dance company will perform on 18 February 2017 at 6pm at the Enriquillo Sánchez auditorium of the Ministry of Culture. And then on Wednesday, 22 at 7pm, the dancers will give a talk on “Afro-Centric Routes in American Dance” at the Centro Cultural León in Santiago. 

The famous dance company will also give workshops for contemporary and folklore dancers. The workshops are a collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, National Dance School, Mauricio Báez Cultural Center, Dominican Rehab Center (Rehabilitacion), National School for the Deaf and the Dominican Down Syndrome Association. 

Group founder, Reggie Wilson is an award-winning choreographer and performer from New York, who draws from the cultures of Africans in the Americas and combines them with post-modern elements and his own movement style to create what he calls “post-African/Neo-Hoodoo Modern Dances.” 

As part of African-American History Month, photographer Camilo José Vergara presents an exhibition on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Tuesday, 21 February 2017 at 7pm at the Centro Cultural Domínico-Americano also in Santiago. A talk on the legacy of Dr. King will be held in Santiago at the same center on Thursday, 23 February at 7pm. 


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