DR1 Daily News - Monday, 29 May 2017


May 3, 2000
Minister of Education to debate changes with students
Intrant director could be named on 30 June 2017
JCE takes political party ranking to Constitutional Court
Jail spaces improved as nation awaits Odebrecht scandal accused list
Francisco Antonio Ortega Polanco to prepare Odebrecht cases
Juan Bolívar Díaz analyzes the generosity of the Attorney General-Odebrecht deal
Mom of bank robber killed in an aborted bank robbery
San Juan ferry will restart 1 June 2017
Dahianna Blanco wins Diario Libre’s Contemporary Art contest 

Minister of Education to debate changes with students
Minister of Education Andrés Navarro will be participating in a national student debate, with the participation of students from public and private schools in June. The Ministry says that the debate is to listen to students on the upcoming changes of the school system. Some 360 students from different regions and schools districts from all around the country will be participating. He said the students need to be listened to as they are players, along with teachers and family members. 


Intrant director could be named on 30 June 2017
A report in Listín Diario speculates that President Danilo Medina could appoint the first director of the National Institute for Transit and Ground Transport (INTRANT) on 30 June 2017. The new institute consolidates government transport organizations based on new Transit Law 63-17 (Ley sobre la Movilidad, Tránsito, Transporte y Seguridad Vial 63-17). 

Minister of the Presidency Gustavo Montalvo, president of the governmental commission that is coordinating the application of new Transit Law 63-17, had said on 28 April 2017 that the first phase of the Comprehensive Public Transport System would start in early 2018 given the complexity of the preparations for its implementation. The preparations include creating integrated operating procedures, merging of staff across the transit sector and determining the locations where the merged entities will operate. 

The Intrant will operate with administrative autonomy under the Ministry of Public Works. It represents a radical change to ground transport authority and programs in the Dominican Republic.

JCE takes political party ranking to Constitutional Court
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has submitted a request for the Constitutional Court to give its opinion on the conflict of competencies between the JCE and the Superior Electoral Court (TSE) on electoral matters. 

The request comes after the TSE overturned a recent decision by the JCE regarding the ranking of political parties as determined by a national election. The JCE says the request does not seek to annul the TSE decision, but to clarify the scope of work, authority and legal mandate of both institutions. 

The JCE is questioning the criteria assumed by the TSE in its decision 013/17 of 21 April 2017 that established the criteria for the distribution of taxpayer money and electoral ballot ranking of the political parties. 


Jail spaces improved as nation awaits Odebrecht scandal accused list
The judiciary is repairing jail space as the nation awaits the results of the investigations into Odebrecht bribery scandal. Diario Libre reports that as part of preparations made by the Attorney General Office, the custody jail at the Palacio de Justicia in Ciudad Nueva has been remodeled. Likewise, efforts to improve lodging in jails part of the new incarceration model have been carried out. 

Earlier reports had focused on new spaces that were habilitated at the Haras Nacionales jail, many times called the resort of jails and that is used for senior prisoners and others granted privileges. 

There is speculation the remodelling of the detention facilities is related to the possibility of the facilities being used to receive government officers accused in the Odebrecht case. 


Francisco Antonio Ortega Polanco to prepare Odebrecht cases
Supreme Court of Justice judge Francisco Antonio Ortega Polanco was appointed to prepare the cases against individuals accused of taking bribes from Odebrecht construction company in the Dominican Republic from 2001-2014.  Documents from judicial proceedings in a New York Court brought to light the role of the company in the scandal in the Dominican Republic. 

The Diario Libre article that leaked the news about the appointment explained that Ortega is expected to hear the cases that are likely to include senators or deputies that have judicial privilege. The contracts were approved in Congress – and as such, specific legislators may have accepted bribes from Odebrecht.  

The Odebrecht construction scandal spans different administrations, from former presidents Hipólito Mejía (2000-2004) and Leonel Fernandez (2004-2008, 2008-2012) to President Danilo Medina (2012-2016). 

Noticias Sin reports that Ortega at 48 years of age is the youngest of the Supreme Court of Justice and is a career judge. SIN reports he was born in Salcedo and graduated in law with honors from the UNPHU in 1993. He has carried out several graduate studies abroad, including a master’s from the Universidad de Salamanca in Spain. He taught law at PUCMM, UNIBE and UNPHU.

He was assistant to the Attorney General in 1995, adjunct attorney general of the National District from 1996-1998 and case preparation judge of the National District from 1998-2001. As president of the penal hall of the First Instance Court of the National District he decided on the PEME corruption case. He is the author of the reference book “Codigo Procesal Penal por un juez en ejercicio” where he reviews the penal code from his perspective as a practicing judge. 

In an editorial on Monday, 29 May 2017, Diario Libre speaks highly of Ortega. “If there is someone prepared in criminal matters in this country, it is Francisco Ortega who also has been a journalist and knows, thus, the scope and the implications of the case placed in his hands,” writes Adriano Miguel Tejada in the editorial. The editorialist points out that on the positive side, the documents that will be used in the Dominican case can be compared to those coming from Brazil and the United States. “It is going to be very difficult for someone mentioned in those files to walk out the big door in justice here,” he writes. 


Juan Bolívar Díaz analyzes the generosity of the Attorney General-Odebrecht deal
Journalist Juan Bolívar Díaz analyzes the Odebrecht-Attorney General Office deal in an article in Hoy focusing on the generosity of the agreement that violated the procurement law of the Dominican Republic and seemed to ignore the overpricing of the public works built by Odebrecht. The agreement allows for Odebrecht to continue operating in the country. Odebrecht, which is the contractor for the Punta Catalina coal-fired thermoelectric plant, has been singled out locally for major overpricing. 

Díaz points to the relevance of the Attorney General not requiring Odebrecht deliver all the information to Dominican authorities concerning the bribes, but rather only producing results from inquiries in Brazil. He writes that the agreement signed calls for the delivery of all the information. 

Diaz observes that six months after the scandal broke with the announcement in the New York Court of the US$92 million in bribes for the company to benefit from contract work in the Dominican Republic “nothing has been advanced in four basic aspects.” He outlines these are: those receiving the bribes, the amount of the overpricing of the contracted works, the financing of the electoral campaigns and the confession that in 2014 Odebrecht moved its “Department for Structured Operations” to the Dominican Republic. This department was in charge of transnational corruption. 

Diaz estimates overpricing at more than US$1 billion, much more than the US$184 million deal agreed to by the Attorney General.


Mom of bank robber killed in an aborted bank robbery
The National Police reported that 44-year old María Reyna Paulino Rivas (Susi) later identified as the mother of an arrested bank robber, was killed on Saturday, 27 May 2017, shortly before noon, in a shootout between police officers and three men and the woman. The group was persecuted by the Police after presenting forged checks for cashing with fake documents at a branch of the BanReservas located on Av. Presidente Antonio Guzmán Fernández in San Francisco de Macoris. 

The Police identified the men as 28-year old Wellington Martinez, 29-year old Francisco Javier Vargas (José), and Julio Antonio Sánchez Soto (Valeron), who were driving in a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV with the woman, when fleeing after noting they had been discovered at the bank. They were persecuted on the road linking San Francisco de Macorís to Ranchito in La Vega where they clashed with the police in the Sabana Rey community, when Paulino was shot in the back. 

Noticias SIN reported that the woman was later identified as the mother of Bryan Peter Felix Paulino, who was arrested and identified as a member of the bank robbery band of the late John Percival Matos. 

All were residents in Santo Domingo. The Police said Paulino resided on the main street in Las Cañitas in Santo Domingo. 

The Police reported they confiscated a 9 caliber Glock and Taurus guns, bullets, a laptop, a cell phone and a notebook where they practiced signatures. 

The Police also announced the arrest in this case in Ranchito, La Vega of Luis Emilio Castillo Cabrera (El Pinto), resident in Santiago and Alquiries Reynoso (La Culebra) resident in Nagua, accused as accomplices. The Police said that those arrested have a track record of crimes including theft, forgery and homicides.

The body of Paulino was taken to the INACIF pathology institute for an autopsy.


San Juan ferry will restart 1 June 2017
The president of Ferries del Caribe, Néstor González announced the restart of operations of the Caribbean Fantasy ferry on 1 June 2017. The ferry connects San Juan, Puerto Rico with Santo Domingo. 

On 18 May, the ferry had crashed into the port when the ship continued to move after it had docked prior to arriving from San Juan. One of three ship ramps used for cargo loading was damaged. The damaged ramp will continue out of service until it is replaced by a new one. The ship will use the other two. There were no injured persons in the crash, only material losses. 

The next departure is scheduled for 1 June 2017 at 7pm from the Don Diego Terminal of the Port of Santo Domingo, arriving to San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday, 2 June at 8am, at the Panamericano Port in San Juan. 


Dahianna Blanco wins Diario Libre’s Contemporary Art contest 
The winning works of the Diario Libre Contemporary Art Contest can be seen at the Galeria Arte Berri at Calle Hostos 57C, in the Colonial City. The art gallery is open 10am to 5:30pm and on Saturdays from 10am to 1pm. 

On exhibit are 50 works by 43 artists that were chosen for the exhibit from over 200 participants in the contest. 

The winning work by Dahianna Blanco is entitled “A dónde vamos,” (Where Are We Headed) received the RD$200,000 cash award and trophy. Runner ups in the contest were “Anatomia de un café roto” by Manuel Emilio Contreras and “En la piel que habito” by Anabelle Lucas, received RD$50,000 cash awards.