DR1 Daily News - Friday, 19 May 2017


May 3, 2000
Dominican government explores Dutch help for local flooding
AG Jean Alain Rodríguez promises Odebrecht documents will be online
Audit Chamber says it will start Odebrecht audits
Foreign press reports on slow in justice acting in Odebrecht bribery scandal 
Odebrecht executive confirms again making payments for election campaign
Birth  tourism costs DR RD$5 billion a year
6-car crash on 27 de Febrero
San Juan ferry crashes into Santo Domingo dock
Johnny Ventura at the Santo Domingo Sheraton

Dominican government explores Dutch help for local flooding
The Medina administration has held talks with scientists and government officials of The Netherlands to devise a long-term, multi-sectoral strategy to mitigate the effects of flooding that have recently besieged the Dominican Republic. Recent heavy rains have caused major damage to infrastructure nationwide. Damage from flooding is estimated to be around RD$6 billion so far. 

The Presidency reports that the Deltares Institute offered its collaboration to the country to create a comprehensive water management strategy and how to manage the overall risks of flooding. 

During his visit to The Netherlands, Dominican Minister for Regional Integration Policies Miguel Mejía met with the director of Inland Water Systems at the Deltares Institute, Gerard Blom, who expressed interest in learning more about the water situation in the Dominican Republic after reading about the extensive damage caused by heavy rains. Mejía and the Dominican mission met with specialists William Oliemans, Micha Werner and Marta Faneca of Deltares. 

While Mejía was in The Netherlands, the Presidency announced bilateral agreements are being revised. As reported, Mejía also met at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Relations with deputy director general for political affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Holland, Pieter Jan Kleiweg de Zwaan. The Presidency mentioned there were talks concerning the Prisoner Transfer Treaty. He said there are currently 75 Dutch citizens in Dominican jails.  

The Netherlands ambassador in the Dominican Republic, Robert de Leeuw, will be following up on these and other topics of mutual interest, according to the Presidency. 


AG Jean Alain Rodríguez promises Odebrecht documents will be online
Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez gave a brief press conference on Thursday, 18 May 2017, to announce that all the documents in the Dominican Odebrecht bribery case file received from Brazil are going to be public, including testimonies. “There will be consequences, there will be names, there will be last names, and individuals will be charged with crimes in the coming days,” he said. He called on the Dominicans not to despair because, he said, haste is never a requisite for a thorough investigation.

Rodriguez said that each of the documents needs to be scanned so that they can be placed online where they can be read. The scanning and uploading of the documents will take a few days. He said this gesture of transparency is obligatory for the justice system in the country. 

In a report published in Diario Libre today, lawyer Carlos Pimentel of the Green March movement alerts that a difference needs to be made between the information to be provided by the Public Ministry of Brazil and that provided by Odebrecht. “The information coming from the Brazil prosecutors probably include details to advance the investigations on the bribes, the kinds of overpricing and the illegal financing of election campaign”, he stated. He added that the information Odebrecht is delivering is specifically on the bribes. 


Audit Chamber says it will start Odebrecht audits
The Audit Chamber (Cámara de Cuentas) announced in a paid advertisement in Diario Libre that it received instructions on 21 April 2017, from Attorney General Jean Alain Rodriguez to carry out technical-financial audits of all public works projects completed or currently under construction by the Norberto Odebrecht firm.  The audit will cover a period from 7 March 2001 to 14 April 2014. 

The public works that are being audited are: 
Northwest Aqueduct, Northwest Aqueduct expansion and the Samaná/Hermanas Mirabal province aqueduct managed by the National Potable Water and Sewage Institute (INAPA). 

Also, the Pinalito Hydroelectric and the Punta Catalina Thermoelectric plants managed by the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE), the Palomino Hydroelectric managed by EgeHID. Also the Casabito (Constanza) road, Duarte Corridor, Coral Highway, La Romana Bypass, Jarabacoa River Road, Cibao Sur road, Bávaro-Miches-Sabana de la Mar road, Duarte Corridor II, Ecovias in Santiago, the Touristic Boulevard of the East (Punta Cana) and the San Pedro de Macorís-La Romana bypass road. 

The Audit Chamber announced an exception in the start of the audit will be made in the case of the Punta Catalina thermoelectric plant. Punta Catalina will be audited once the construction is completed. 

The public notice was signed by Audit Chamber presiding judge Hugo Francisco Alvarez Pérez, vice president Pedro Ortiz Hernandez, secretary Carlos Noes Tejada Diaz, and  Felix Alvarez Rivera and Margarita Melenciano Corporán, members. 

Foreign press reports on slow in justice acting in Odebrecht bribery scandal 
The delays in the investigations and adjudications of the Odebrecht case in the Dominican Republic are receiving attention from media outlets across the globe.  The international press is questioning why the Dominican government has yet to act on information readily available regarding bribes made by the Brazilian Odebrecht construction company to secure construction contracts in the Dominican Republic.

An AP story filed by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez has been published in mainstream media in the United States from coast to coast, including the Washington Post. 

The story highlights how the Odebrecht bribery scandal has met with near-silence from the Medina administration and the Dominican judiciary that is controlled by the ruling PLD party. 

The Brazilian company has admitted in a US court to having paid US$92 million in bribes to Dominican government officers spanning from the Hipolito Mejia administration (2000-2004) to the Leonel Fernandez administrations (2004,-2008 and 2008-2012), and the Danilo Medina administrations (2012-2014). 

As reported in the AP story: "Yet, five months after the scheme was exposed, nobody has been charged [in the Dominican Republic] and no officials who may have been involved in the scandal have been named.   The lack of progress in investigating the scandal has infuriated both political reformers and opposition parties. By contrast, investigations in Brazil, Colombia, Panama and Peru have led to hundreds of charges against a plethora of individuals, including former heads of state."


Odebrecht executive confirms again making payments for election campaign
One of the three high level executives of the so-called Odebrecht bribes department, Fernando Migliaccio admitted a second time to having made bribes “on the side” to Mónica Moura, wife of Joao Santana, for the Danilo Medina election campaign in the Dominican Republic. This is the second time he has admitted to having made the illicit payments. 

The Dominican government recently signed an agreement with Odebrecht in which the company will be allowed to complete works underway in the country.  The government will relinquish its right to penalize Odebrecht executives and affiliated companies.  Finally, the government will receive US$184 million in fees and sanctions that will be paid over eight years. 

Migliaccio told the Brazilian judiciary that he was in charge of making the illicit payments for electoral campaigns and other matters for Odebrecht. 

Migliaccio was the manager-treasurer of Cashier 2 (a fund assigned to illicit payments for electoral campaigns). His only boss was Marcelo Odebrecht, president of the company and Hilberto da Silva, operations coordinator. 

The Migliaccio file was made public by Luiz Edson Fachin, minister of the Higher Federal Court (STF) of Brazil. The statements were made on 16 May 2017. 

In the 190-page document, Migliaccio reveals the details of the Odebrecht operations and how the payments for electoral campaigns were made, including in the Dominican Republic. The document reveals the Odebrecht “bribes department” was moved to the Dominican Republic, supposedly because the country was a safe haven for managing what was essentially an organized crime ring. Moura’s husband, Joao Santana, was the chief election campaign strategist for President Danilo Medina. 

In March 2017, Odebrecht executive Hilberto Silva had admitted to the Electoral Court that the construction company financed electoral campaigns in five countries, including the Dominican Republic. 

This later would be denied by Monica Moura with the denial corroborated by the Medina administration that insists it did not receive Odebrecht money for the PLD presidential election campaign. 

While still in the Dominican Republic, Santana and his wife Mónica Moura sought by Brazilian authorities, they were taken into custody, and later sentenced to jail for their participation in the Lava Jato corruption scandal in Brazil. The New York Court papers on the Odebrecht bribes scandal indicated the company used funds for political campaigns in Brazil, Venezuela, Angola, Panama and the Dominican Republic.


Birth tourism costs DR RD$5 billion a year
The National Health System (SNS) says it annually spends upwards of RD$5 billion for care to pregnant Haitian women in the country. Nelson Rodríguez Monegro, director of the SNS, says the birthing business is managed by mafias and brings thousands of expecting Haitian mothers to give birth in the country each year. 

Rodríguez reiterated that access to health care is a universal human right.  However, he is concerned about the high number of Haitian women coming to the Dominican Republic to give birth. 

Monegro said that people smuggling cartels operated by Dominicans and Haitians run this detestable business. He recalled the case of on the same day and time, 10 pregnant Haitians who said they had arrived from Haiti, came at the same time to a Santiago hospital. He said the small hospital where they arrived did not have capacity to attend to them and they were sent to other health centers. 

Rodríguez said that today a majority of births in Dominican border hospitals are born to Haitian mothers.  He estimated that every year, there around 8,500 births of babies whose mothers had just arrived from Haiti. 

“We are calling for the Armed Forces and the Migration Agency, in charge of border surveillance, to tighten controls at the border. He said many of these women are high risk cases, with complicated births, and the investment in care is much more. 

Former army chief and today deputy Minister of defense, Major General José E. Matos de la Cruz, on 25 February 2016, in an interview at El Nacional newspaper confirmed that “networks of Haitians and Dominicans are trafficking groups of pregnant women from Haiti to give birth in Dominican hospitals.  

6-car crash on 27 de Febrero
A six-vehicle crash occurred on Thursday, 18 May 2017 morning on Av. 27 de Febrero near President Antonio Guzman (Privada) street in Santo Domingo. The crash was caused by a major mechanical failure of a small vehicle that abruptly stopped, leading to the collision of two SUVs and three cars. 

Units from the 911 Emergency System were dispatched to the crash site.  The accident caused major traffic congestions in the area. 

The injured persons were reported as Johanny Mercedes Florentino, Yeimi Rivas, Alexis de los Santos and Carmen Pujols. Metropolitan Transport Authority spokesman, Colonel Tejada said that Pujols is still hospitalized. 


San Juan ferry crashes into Santo Domingo dock
The management of Ferries del Caribe expects the Caribbean Fantasy to be back in operation in two weeks after the ship rammed into the Port of Santo Domingo causing structural damages to the ship and the port. No passengers or crew were injured as a result of the crash that occurred around 8:30am on Thursday, 18 May 2017, shortly after the ship arrived to port from San Juan, Puerto Rico. 

The ramp of the ship collided with a wall of the Port of Sans Souci in Santo Domingo as it was docking. Damage to several freight containers on the dock was also reported.  

The president of Ferries del Caribe, Néstor González García, said the service would resume once the port authorities, the Coastal Guard services of the United States and Dominican Republic conduct inspections to certify the ship and the port facilities are sound. 

Early reports suggest that a cable broke on the ship, leading to the collision with freight containers in the dock. 

González congratulated the Dominican authorities, the crew and the port operators for the speed and effectiveness of the operation in response to the accident.  He said that all pertinent security protocols were enacted in a timely manner. Traffic on Avenida del Puerto (Francisco Caamaño Deñó) was affected accident.

Jaime Castillo, executive director of Sans Soucí Ports, said that operations are back to normal at the western side terminal of the port. 

Victor Gómez, director of the Dominican Port Authority, appointed a commission to conduct a follow-up investigation on the accident. 

Ferries del Caribe had just restarted its operations with a new ship on 3 May 2017, after being out of service for three months following a fire on board in mid August 2016. The ship has capacity to transport 1,750 passengers and 111 crew. 


Euclides Gutiérrez’s son arrested while pretending to be a mayor general
The Military Intelligence Agency of the Ministry of Defense (J2) announced the arrest on Wednesday, 17 May 2017, of Pedro José Gutiérrez Nova for posing as a police mayor general. Gutiérrez is the son of member of the Political Committee of the PLD, Euclides Gutiérrez Felix. He was arrested in Pantoja, in northern Santo Domingo, together with six other persons dressed as police. 

The Ministry of Defense members seized two vehicles, a firearm, and other attire identifying them as police. Gutiérrez Nova was stopped by police while driving a vehicle in Pantoja and was found wearing a uniform and insignia of major general. 

Also arrested were Manuel Fernández, Edward Méndez Jiménez, Francisco Javier De la Nieve, Faustina Valentín Díaz and José Aneudy Pichardo Gil, all in police attire. 

Somos Pueblo online news portal reports that it is not the first time Gutiérrez Nova had been arrested for posing as police officer. On 28 January 2016, he was arrested for illegal possession of a firearm and posing as a military officer. And previously, on 3 September 2015, prosecutors called for his arrest for trafficking in firearms. In August 2006, he was sent to custody for assaulting several persons in Gazcue. 


Johnny Ventura at the Santo Domingo Sheraton
Merengue legend, Johnny Ventura will be performing on Friday, 19 May 2017 at Trio Bar & Lounge, the discotheque in front of the Casino Diamante of the Santo Domingo Sheraton on the Malecón.