DR1 Daily News - Tuesday, 25 June 2019



New law orders images of founding fathers to be placed in public offices
Law enacted to protect honor and privacy of deceased and accident victims
Six new ambassadors present credentials
Medina and Fernández's supporters clash outside the National Congress
PRM and PLD announce their stand on reserving candidacies
DR hosts United Nations Security Council
Dominicans apply for their passports online
Still problems at Punta Catalina
The border continues to be the most impoverished region
Electricity meters removed by residents of Piedra Blanca
Standard National Examinations to begin
Mayor of Guayacanes and Juan Dolio robbed
CNN: Perception doesn't match the data
Argentinian teenager suffers diabetes complication when vacationing here
American Boca Chica condo owner dies of heart attack
Marijuana oil confiscated
Garlic smugglers intercepted
The Caveman with Carlos Sanchez now in La Romana
International Yoga Day in the Dominican Republic

New law orders images of founding fathers to be placed in public offices
President Danilo Medina enacted Law 193-19 that orders that the images of the founding fathers Juan Pablo Duarte, Francisco del Rosario Sánchez and Matías Ramón Mella be placed in all public institutions in the country.

The Presidency says that the law responds to the duty of the Dominican state to enhance, pay tribute to and highlight the merits and contributions made by the patriots who contributed decisively to the strengthening of the most authentic values of the nation. "The exaltation of the figures of our founding fathers contributes to keeping alive the values of national identity and the belief in a free, sovereign and independent nation," stated the Presidency when announcing the signing of the law.

At present, public offices exhibit a photograph of the current President.


Law enacted to protect honor and privacy of deceased and accident victims
President Danilo Medina enacted Law 192-19 that penalizes the publishing in any media of pictures that could affect the image, reputation or privacy of the deceased or injured persons and the family. The law bans the publishing of private life details of an injured or deceased person. It prohibits the publishing of videos, or photographs of naked dead persons or a person in underwear by any media.

Accident victims may claim the protection of their rights to privacy and their own image when, without their authorization, these have been disclosed by any means of communication.

In the same way, article 7 of the referred law establishes that the relatives of a deceased person or the authorized person, have the right to initiate a lawsuit for the illegitimate intrusion in their personal data or the disclosure of private images without authorization, or in violation of the honor and the image of the deceased and the family privacy.


Six new ambassadors present credentials
President Danilo Medina received the credentials from the ambassadors of Nicaragua, India, Jordan, Sweden, Norway and the United Arab Emirates on Friday, 19 June 2019, at the Presidential Palace. This time, of the six new ambassadors, five were women.

The new ambassadors are:
Iris Audelly Acuña Huete of Nicaragua. She was previously assistant at the Europe Agency at the Ministry of Foreign Relations in Nicaragua. She is a specialist in politics and international cooperation.

Madhu Sethi of India: Sethi was an officer at the National Security Council of India's Prime Minister office. She was vice director of the India Council for World Affairs.

Sima Sami Balhous from Jordan: She was formerly Jordan's permanent representative to the United Nations.

Elizabeth Exclun from Sweden. She is the former Swedish ambassador in Cuba and vice consul in Jerusalem. She was the director for the Americas at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and deputy director at Justice, Migration and Political Asylum divisions in Sweden.

Ingrid Mollestad from Norway: She is a former Norway ambassador in Cuba and to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). She has also served in several positions at the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Norway.

Bader Abdullah Al Matrooshi from the United Arab Emirates is a former UAE ambassador in Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica.

During the ceremony, held in the Ambassadors Hall of the Presidential Palace, Medina was accompanied by Foreign Relations Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado.


Medina and Fernández's supporters clash outside the National Congress
Members of the National Police and military impeded the installation of a permanent watch post by PLD members that back former President Leonel Fernandez outside the National Congress. The "Leonelista" PLD members oppose any intention of followers of President Danilo Medina to convene the National Assembly for an eventual amendment of the Constitution. As reported the military troops were commanded by Police General Máximo Báez Aybar.

Time is running out to start the process to reform the Constitution to enable Medina to run for President in 2020 and/or eliminate the clause that limits presidential terms to two four-year periods. The 2015 Constitution that was amended to allow Medina to run for reelection in 2016 bans him from running for President in the 2020 general election and set a two-term limit. The Constitution had been previously reformed in 2010 to enable then President Leonel Fernández to run for the Presidency again.

Political parties have until the 22 August 2019 deadline to deposit the pre-candidacies for participants in the 6 October 2019 primaries.

On the morning of Monday, 24 June 2019, the area had been militarized after the president of the Chamber of Deputies, strong Medina supporter Radhames Camacho had requested the troops. Motorized patrols and anti-riot vehicles from the police and the military. There was speculation the motion to reform the Constitution would be presented.

On Monday afternoon, ruling PLD party legislators that back former President Leonel Fernández clashed with the police and military. One Leonelista supporter, deputy Henry Meran suffered from tear gas and was later interned in the Intensive Care Unit at the nearby Clínica Independencia.

The Leonelista legislators and activists said they will continue the protest on Tuesday. Merengue singer and former PLD deputy Johnny Ventura and former Public Health and Environment Minister Bautista Rojas Gómez made the announcement.

Press reports say that the area continues to be militarized by troops from the Fuerza de Tarea Ciudad Tranquila (CIUTRAN) of the Ministry of Defense and the Police.

In an editorial today, Diario Libre explains that only the ruling PLD party has the minimum votes to convene the National Assembly. President Danilo Medina can also present the motion. Medina has delayed speaking to the nation on whether he will seek the amendment or not.

In its editorial, El Dia observes the political dispute within the ruling PLD party is about to get out of control. "The country has enough problems to add to it political instability," writes the editorialist.

Leading polls establish the Dominican people oppose the amendment of the Constitution so that President Danilo Medina can run for a third term in office.



PRM and PLD announce their stand on reserving candidacies
The Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) announced that 823 elective posts will be decided by party echelons instead of in the primaries set for 6 October 2019. Of the 823 positions, 29 are for the Senate, 112 for deputies, 51 for city governments, 44 municipal district directors, 373 city councilors and 214 councilors. The three Senate seats that will be decided in the primary are those of the National District, Samaná and Pedernales, where the city mayors are PRM members that are likely to seek reelection. In the province of Santo Domingo, where the PRM has 36 deputies, the party reserved 26 candidate seats, 12 of the 18 in the National District and 14 of the 18 in Santiago.

The ruling PLD said it has reserved 819 candidates, but most of the critical positions were left to be decided in the primary. Those that were blocked were those of the Senate seats in La Altagracia and Sanchez Ramirez that were won by the PRD and the Liberal Party of Amable Aristy Castro, both Danilo Medina allies.

The party deposited before the Central Electoral Board (JCE) motions just to reserve the names of two deputies per electoral district. This is a total of 47 candidatures to deputies, leaving the doors open for possible alliances with other political parties. The PLD reserved 11 positions in Santo Domingo province, five in the National District and San Cristobal, four in Santiago, two in La Altagracia, one in Azua, Espaillat, Hato Mayor, La Romana and Independencia.

It also reserved five national congressional seats, seven overseas congressional seats, 20 in the Central American Parliament (Parlacen) and their 20 replacements. Also 32 city mayor seats, 158 deputy mayor positions, 325 city councilors, 48 district directors and 155 municipal district councilors.

Political scientists Rafael Toribio said that the reserve of the 20% of the candidacies should have been by the level of election, not the totality of the elective posts.

Orlando Jorge Mera, spokesman for the PRM, confirmed the party reserved the candidacy of the National District city mayor. He stated on the La Cuestión radio talk show on Monday, 24 June 2019 that Mayor David Collado does not have any internal opponents. He said that is why they have reserved the position.

The political parties have until the 22 August 2019 deadline to deposit the pre-candidacies for participants in the 6 October 2019 primaries.


DR hosts United Nations Security Council
Foreign Relations Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado received on Friday, 21 June 2019 the full membership of the United Nations Security Council. This is the first visit of the UN Security Council to the Dominican Republic. The mission visited for an informal working session in Punta Cana. The Dominican Republic is a non-permanent member until the end of 2020.

Vargas offered diplomats a working breakfast at the Ministry of Foreign Relations (Mirex) to address international issues, with an emphasis on regional issues.

"Every day we have a better understanding of the common problems we face, the challenges we face and the many steps we will have to climb together," Vargas told members of the UN's highest governing body in charge of maintaining world peace and security during its historic visit to the Dominican Republic.

He said he was delighted that the Security Council accepted the invitation to meet in the Dominican Republic and described the visit as "a milestone in our diplomacy, in line with our government's efforts to insert us more favorably in the concert of nations."

Ambassadors to the Security Council from Peru, Russia, China, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Indonesia, Kuwait, Poland, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and South Africa attended the meeting. Also present were the ambassadors of the UK, China, US and Peru in the Dominican Republic.

During the meeting, Vargas was accompanied by Ambassador José Singer, Dominican representative to this UN Security Council. Also attending were Ministry of Foreign Relations vice-ministers, directors, and other high-level officials.

Although this is the first time that the Security Council has met in the Dominican Republic, the Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs has previously presided over several meetings held in New York.

Similarly, the country held the temporary presidency of the Council last January, the month in which it joined as a non-permanent member, a quality it will maintain until 31 December 2020.


Dominicans apply for their passports online
The Passports Agency reported that 10,816 Dominicans have applied online for the renewal or issuance of their passport during the first year of the service. This includes 1,199 first time passport applications for minors, 1,868 first time applications for adults, 925 minor passport renewals and 6,824 adult passport renewals.

Dominican citizens (adults, naturalized, minors) can start their renewal process online, allowing those who have their documentation in order and meet the requirements requested considerable savings in time and effort for the applicants. Dominicans can use an appointment system to present themselves when it is most convenient to withdraw their passports.

Director General of Passports Aura Toribio urged the public to take advantage of the online service available at www.pasaportes.gob.do
Toribio also urged Dominicans to periodically check the expiration date of their travel documents to ensure they can renew in time and to avoid inconveniences when traveling.


Still problems at Punta Catalina
On Monday 24 June 2019, the Punta Catalina thermoelectrical power plant marked a month since the plant has been offline from the National Electrical Interconnected System (SENI). Its management had said it would be out of service for 12 days.

The Punta Catalina power plant had been compensating for the hydroelectric power deficit, now that dams have been affected by a prolonged drought and summer heat increases power demand.

It has been suggested that the problem with Punta Catalina is due to the Odebrecht-Tecnimont-Estrella builder consortium that would be causing the delays to pressure the government to delete the penalty clause that obliges them to pay US$220,000 for each day the generators are not in service as contracted.

Recently, the general administrator for Punta Catalina, Jaime Aristy Escuder said an agreement had been reached for a contingency fund for US$336 million. This would be handed over by the State in two parts, as agreed by the handover timetable.


The border continues to be the most impoverished region
The reduction in poverty across the country has been unequal. Those living on the border with Haiti are the least benefited by development. On the border, Enriquillo and El Valle are the municipalities with the highest poverty rate, at 45.3 % and 42.4 %, respectively.

The official report, "Bulletin of Official Statistics of Financial Poverty", issued by the Ministry of the Economy and the National Statistics Office (ONE) explains that the national average was 22.8% in 2018, which means that 2,335,921 people were living in poverty in the Dominican Republic as a whole at the end of 2018, of these 296,591 were destitute. Economy Minister Isidoro Santana said that the southwest region needs the most attention from public policies.

The definition of poverty, used by the government to calculate these numbers, is a family group whose income is not sufficient to cover the basic family basket.

As of the end of last year, some 7,929,358 do not qualify as needy. This number was up by 7.9% when compared to the previous year.


Electricity meters removed by residents of Piedra Blanca
Residents of the municipality of Piedra Blanca have taken down the electricity meters from their homes in protest against the long periods of blackouts. Piedra Blanca is located 65 km north of capital city Santo Domingo. The residents demand that the outages be stopped. The utility for the area is government-owned EdeNorte.

The residents complained that while the blackouts have been constant in the last few weeks, meaning they have had less service, their bills continue to be high.


Standard National Examinations to begin
Yesterday, Monday 24 June 2019, the Ministry of Education (MINERD) announced the start of the National Examinations for 132,125 students starting on 25 June in around 900 schools across the country. The students will be tested in Spanish, mathematics, social science and natural sciences.

Ancell Scheker, director of Quality Evaluation at the Ministry of Education, said that the exams would assess how much the students had learned and would account for 30% of the mark needed to proceed to the next grade.


Mayor of Guayacanes and Juan Dolio robbed
In the early hours of Monday morning, 24 June 2019, masked men in military gear entered the home of the mayor of Juan Dolio and Guayacanes, John Francisco Hazim Albainy. According to the Police report, they came while he was sleeping on his terrace, hitting him with a pistol, taking money, things from the home, and two motorcycles.

It appears he was sleeping when they entered at 2:20am, and then made him go into the bedroom and open the safe where they took a Cartier watch, gold Cartier bracelet, three gold chains, his cell phone, RD$9,000 in cash and other valuables. He was left tied up with tape across his mouth.


CNN: Perception doesn't match the data
A commentary on CNN by Michael Smerconish focuses on the constant media coverage of deaths and illnesses in the Dominican Republic, which has led the public to believe there is a sudden surge in unexplained deaths. "But that doesn't match the data," says Smerconish.

He shares that the US State Department itself has commented on the matter: "We do not publish statistics regarding natural deaths abroad. However, speaking generally, over 2.7 million US citizens visit the DR each year, and we have not seen an uptick in the number of US citizen deaths reported to the Department."

Smerconish compares the media coverage to the perfect storm of circumstances that lead to a whirlwind of publications that dubbed the summer of 2001 "shark summer" and later proved to be "more hype than fact". He explains that human nature is fatalistic and pessimistic by nature, "even when the numbers prove otherwise."

A feature in The New York Times also looks into the string of reports on deaths, most for heart-related conditions. It addressed how the all-inclusive deals with all you can eat meals and beverage plans could worsen vulnerable health conditions of the tourists. It points to how the Hard Rock Punta Cana hotel has decided to remove the liquor dispenser bottles from their rooms and is contracting a US-based health care facility to ensure the on-site health clinic is complying with all international and US standards of care."


Argentinian teenager suffers diabetes complication when vacationing here
Plaza de la Salud confirmed a 15-year old Argentinean tourist, Candela Aylen Sacone is receiving care in the hospital's intensive care unit. The teenager was on the last day of her Punta Cana vacation when she became seriously ill. She was first taken to the Centro Medico Canela in La Romana, where she was diagnosed with Diabetic Ketoacidosis and later she was transferred to Santo Domingo. The patient suffers from acute renal failure and cerebral edema, according to press reports.

An Argentinean online news media, Cadena 3, reported that the family had to appeal to social media to get the insurance company to accept to pay for the transfer to the Santo Domingo medical center. The family has said it was unaware their daughter suffered from diabetes.

Dashira Martinez, spokeswoman for Plaza de la Salud, said the patient is being hydrated and is hooked to an artificial respirator.


American Boca Chica condo owner dies of heart attack
A frequent visitor to the Dominican Republic and Boca Chica condo owner, Vittorio Caruso, died on 17 June 2019 at Hospiten Santo Domingo. The New York man had been in the Dominican Republic for about six weeks before his death. No other family member traveled with him. He had been receiving medical attention since 11 June.

The autopsy of 55-year old Vittorio Caruso, of Glen Cove, Long Island, revealed he died of respiratory failure due to acute heart failure. The autopsy was carried out by the Instituto Nacional de Patologia Dr. Sergio Sarita Valdez. The autopsy said the man suffered from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

According to Lisa Maria Caruso, her brother-in-law was enjoying part of his retirement in the Dominican Republic after he sold a Glen Cove pizza shop that he'd co-owned with his brother for the 12 years.


Marijuana oil confiscated
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), with the support of the Specialized Corps of Airport Security and the Public Prosecution Service, has confiscated 29 capsules full of marijuana oil (cannabis oil) at the Las Americas International Airport.

The find was made in the cargo area when one of the canine search teams alerted to the presence of the drugs.

The capsules were in cylinders, green and transparent, and were being sent by someone living in an apartment in New York to a man with an address on Máximo Gómez Avenue in the National District. An investigation is ongoing.

Cannabis oil is for sale on Amazon.


Garlic smugglers intercepted
The United States Coast Guard recently scored its largest-ever bust of smuggled garlic. During a recent 59-day patrol in the Caribbean, the crew of the cutter Vigilant intercepted a go-fast boat carrying 7,800 pounds of illicit garlic being transported from Haiti to the Dominican Republic. As reported by Maritime Executive online, the shipment was valued at around US$30,000 and was the largest US Coast Guard seizure of its kind on record.


The Caveman with Carlos Sanchez now in La Romana
Stand up comedian Carlos Sanchez is bringing the Dominican version of "Defending the Caveman" to La Romana. This Thursday, 27 June 2019, the show will be presented at the Teatro de la Alianza Juvenil in La Romana at 8:30pm. The show starred to full house audiences at the Sambil Mall in Santo Domingo for 18 weeks.

The monologue "Defending the Caveman" holds the record as the longest running monologue in Broadway history. The play has been seen in 45 countries and translated into 18 different languages.

Defending the Caveman is described as a hilariously insightful play about the ways men and women relate. The play is said to make men and women laugh at themselves, and the ways men and women fight, laugh and love. The play was written by Rob Becker and initially opened in San Francisco in 1991. Sánchez enacts the Dominican version of the comedy, with dialogues related to Dominican men and women.

International Yoga Day in the Dominican Republic
The Chamber of India in the Dominican Republic is inviting the general public to participate in the celebration of International Yoga Day in the Dominican Republic. The event this year will be held Sunday, 30 June 2019, at the main activities hall of the Club Deportivo Naco located at Calle Gracita Alvarez corner Calle Salvador Sturla, as of 9am. Admission is free.

The event is organized by the chamber and the Embassy of India.

For more information, call 809 221-1931 or 829 585-1273 or email: