DR1 Daily News - Tuesday, 5 February 2019


May 3, 2000
President Medina complains about unfinished dam
Punta Catalina nearly ready
Dominican Republic leads debate on climate change
JCE discusses primaries and automated voting
5.3 earthquake is wake up call to prepare for big quake
Drought having major effect in Santiago Rodriguez
Osiris de León: Recommendations in time of drought
PUCMM graduates first criminologists
Miguel Surun: How lopsided can justice be?
Baltasar Garzón calls for decriminalizing drug use
Indian pleads guilty to smuggling people to the United States via the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic not in the top ten for murders in the region
Prosecutors ask for 30 years in jail for accused of the murder of Carla Massiel
Suspect murders of Kevin Fret arrested in Santo Domingo
DR grabs a slot to play baseball in summer Pan Am Games
Dominican Republic wins first game in Caribbean Baseball Series

President Medina complains about unfinished dam
On Sunday, 3 February 2019, President Danilo Medina visited the Monte Grande dam site in southwestern Barahona to check for himself on the construction progress. Media reports say the President was annoyed when he saw there a notice that said it would be finished in July 2019. He urged the prompt completion of the dam in his conversation with Olgo Fernandez, director of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (Indrhi), and the Monte Grande dam consortium representatives. The Monte Grande consortium is comprised of the Brazilian construction company, Andrade Gutiérrez, S. A. and the Dominican company, Servicios de Ingeniería, S. A.

Once in operation, the Monte Grande dam is expected to have a significant economic impact on the southwestern Enriquillo region where it is located, having been requested by the local population for over 20 years. The government has reporting a US$250 million investment.

The reservoir at the dam will store 350 million cubic meters of water that will come in from the Yaque del Sur River, and benefit the communities in Barahona, Bahoruco and Independencia province with drinking water 24 hours a day. In addition more than 700,000 tareas (1 tarea = 629 square meters) of land will be irrigated by the dam.


Punta Catalina nearly ready
On Sunday, 3 February 2019, President Danilo Medina visited the Punta Catalina coal-fired generation plant in Peravia province. Subsequently, the Presidency announced the start up of operations within the next two weeks. The first output will be 50 megawatts and this would rise to 200 megawatts by 24 February. The power thermoelectric central has two power plants with capacity for 376 MW each.

The Medina administration is preparing to sell the power plant built by a consortium that included Odebrecht to international investors.


Dominican Republic leads debate on climate change
On 25 January 2019, the UN Security Council held an open debate to discuss the security implications of climate-related disaster events. The meeting, initiated by the Dominican Republic, underscored the global nature of climate-related disasters. Most speakers highlighted the need for better climate risk management as an important contribution to safeguarding international peace and security.

The Dominican Republic, that joined the UN Security Council (UNSC) on 1 January 2019 as a non-permanent member and immediately assumed its month-long presidency, ranks 10th among the countries most affected by extreme weather-related disasters. The country initiated an open debate “Addressing the impacts of climate-related disasters on international peace and security”.

As the debate showed, the adverse impacts of climate disasters on peace are a global issue, affecting all countries. Caribbean low-lying island states are particularly vulnerable to climate-related disasters and associated security risks. Hurricanes, storms, sea level rise and floods take a heavy toll on people’s livelihoods.


JCE discusses primaries and automated voting
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) has started the week with talks regarding parties that have chosen to hold open primaries and the cost of the process, and agreeing on the application of automated voting. Recently, the president of the JCE, Julio César Castaños Guzmán, said that to hold the open primaries an additional RD$1.5 billion is needed.

On Monday, 4 February 2019, the JCE authorities met with representatives of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), Revolutionary Modern Party (PRM), Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), Country Alliance (AlPais), and the Democratic Option (OD) with the objective to agree on the use of automated voting.

As part of the negotiations there was agreement on some requirements regarding audits in several phases of the primaries.

The automated voting system has been developed by technicians at the JCE and will use the primaries as a pilot prior to be used in the elections in the 2020 general election.


5.3 earthquake is wake up call to prepare for big quake
One cannot take comfort in the long-standing theory that small earthquakes serve as release of tension for the big one. A new study published on 3 January 2019 in Nature Communications and that focuses on the Himalayas, says that contrary to releasing seismic tensions in the crust, moderate earthquakes can trigger a destructive mega-earthquake, at 8.5 magnitude or higher. For years now, the Dominican Republic has been undergoing a swarm of small to moderate earthquakes. For years now, experts have forecast the DR should be prepared for a 8+ earthquake.

The most recent earthquake of moderate magnitude happened at 10:33 am on Monday, 4 February 2019 at 27.5 km SSE of Boca de Yuma, La Altagracia province, some 51.8 km SSW of Punta Cana. It occurred at a depth of 74 km according to the United States Geological Service (USGS). The Monday, 4 February 5.3 magnitude shake was felt widely in resort land. Punta Cana has over 50,000 lodging units located from Cap Cana to Uvero Alto to the north. With few exceptions, most are in low rises.

Prior to that earthquake, the biggest earthquakes to affect the country were those of 5.7 on 12 April 1993 in the Cibao area, and another on 6.5 that occurred ten years later, on 22 September 2003, affecting Santiago and primarily Puerto Plata, both in the same Cibao region. Its epicenter was 15 km from the city of Puerto Plata.

The media is reporting that the Monday, 4 February 2019 earthquake is a call to action and preparedness, and for actions to ensure better quality in public school construction. Photos of damages have just begun to come in. Reportedly several public schools have suffered cracks and were closed down while the authorities ascertain the situation. Reports are that in 16 public schools in La Altagracia and El Seibo were affected, including the Liceo Gerardo Jansen in Higuey, Sagrado Corazón de Jesús in Bayahibe. Education Minister Andres Navarro ordered an assessment to take the necessary corrective measures in time to preserve the lives of students, teachers and administrative staff at the schools.

The worst earthquake to affect the Dominican Republic occurred in 1946, with a magnitude of 8.0 with its epicenter in Samaná, on the northeastern coast. A replica was felt four days later, a strong 7.6 magnitude. The earthquake killed 100 persons and left 20,000 homeless, causing serious damages to constructions in cities from Samaná to Santiago, Moca, San Francisco de Macorís and Puerto Plata. A tsunami would follow, bringing a 5m high wave that is said to have killed 2,000 persons in the Nagua area.

There are contradicting protocols as to whether to go outside or stay inside. Read on and prepare your own plan to already have a well thought out action plan should be a big one hit.


Drought having major effect in Santiago Rodriguez
The lack of pasture and lack of water in the rivers caused by the prolonged drought has led to the deaths of at least 200 cows in the municipality of Sabaneta and all of the northwestern province of Santiago Rodriguez, as reported in Hoy. In addition, the water crisis has led to a decrease in the production of milk of 60% that has had a significant impact on the economy of the area.

Also, due to the lack of water, the Sabaneta municipal abattoir is not operating at weekends, for the first time in its history, affecting the sale of beef and pork in the market that is held every Saturday, meaning large financial losses for hundreds of small businesses.

The situation is now such, that there is a concern it will affect food provision and the daily lives of the population, so the key farmers have asked the Dominican government to increase their efforts to help the sector especially the lack of water.

As well as the impact on cattle farming the drought in the province is affecting the planting of rice and bananas and the supply of water to homes, businesses and hotels.


Osiris de León: Recommendations in time of drought
Mining engineer Osiris de León alerts that the present drought will continue and requires the government to take preventive measures, recommending the construction of wells at several key points nationwide. De León forecasts the drought will continue into May 2019. He forecasts a significantly low rain levels at the Nizao and Haina rivers that feed the Santo Domingo and San Cristóbal aqueducts. Likeso, for the rivers Jimenoa, Yaque del Norte and Bao, responsible for the water supply for the Jarabacoa, Santiago and Moca aqueducts. Also to be affected are the river sources for the Yuna and Camú that feed the Cibao Oriental and the Bajo Yuna. Also the sources of the Yaque del Sur, Las Cuevas and Grande river that feed the Sabana Yegua dam.

De Leon said that Dominicans must reduce to a minimum wasting water. He suggests the CAASD perforate wells in specific points such as the gravels near Haina River and the coral limestones near Santo Domingo in order to tap into underground for distribution to the affected population. He also suggests INAPA to open wells from Boca Chica to Macao and Nisibón in the outskirts of Los Haitises, and in the alluvial fans of Baní, Azua, Neiba, Postrer Río, Descubierta, Boca de Cachón, Jimaní, Duvergé, Salinas and Barahona. Also at the sandstones of Vallejuelo and El Cercado, Luperon, Puerto Plata, Rio San Juan and Cabrera.

He also suggests the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (Indrhi) open wells near the Yaque del Norte, Mao and Guayubín river to supply water to the cattle ranchers of the northwest.

He recommends that the Ministry of Agriculture and the Banco Agrícola limit the planting of rice due to its high demand for water. Likewise, he recommended that the Ministry of Environment increase forestry surveillance to avoid forest fires so common in times of drought.


PUCMM graduates first criminologists
The first promotion of criminology graduates are part of the 99th Graduation of the Santiago Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) of 2 February 2019 at the Santiago main campus. The graduates are part of the 2019 promotion of some 653 graduates. Among those completing the Master in Criminology degree were members of the National Police and Public Ministry in charge of prosecution.

67.08% of the graduates were from undergraduate programs, 20.06% from graduate programs and 12.86% from technical studies at the Centro de Tecnología y Educación Permanente (TEP).
Of the graduates, 52.22 were male and 47.78 female.

https://www.pucmm.edu.do/postgrado/Documents/Brochure Criminología.pdf

Miguel Surun: How lopsided can justice be?
The president of the Dominican Lawyers Guild (CARD), Miguel Surún complained that local judiciary authorized domiciliary arrest to the Tremols Group executives accused by the Tax Agency of more than RD$4 billion tax evasion.

"In any process a person is send to pre-trial custody when from any of the barrios, but when the process deals with a person of certain economic status then one sees that suddenly the same does not happen... Instead of retention, as requested by the Ministry Public, the accused are sent home. That sends a bitter message to all people who want a justice system that treats everyone equally," said the president of the guild of lawyers.

In addition, he called on the representatives of the judiciary to apply drastically the legal provisions against these people, because our country is tired of the differentiation in judicial dealings between barefoot people and those who have power. “One hopes that in these cases the measures of coercion would be more drastic," he remarked.


Baltasar Garzón calls for decriminalizing drug use
Visiting former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón remarked during an interview with the Grupo Corripio that “the fight against drug trafficking has failed.” The former judge was here to participate in the 12th Festival de Cine Global Dominicana where the documentary “The Code” was shown at the Palacio del Cine of Blue Mall.

Garzón advocated for the decriminalization of drug use, and the use as education as a weapon against vice. He said the super structure and billions invested to fight the scourge has not served to stop it. He estimated that but 20% of drugs are seized, but the rest reaches its destination.

“The superstructure of the anti-drug agencies is tremendous, and yet drug traffickers are still growing," said Garzón, during his participation in the morning interview at the Listín Diario.

“You have to be brave and decriminalize some things,,” he said. He said it no longer makes sense that there are countries that still penalize the use of marijuana.

Garzón believes that there is no will to solve the problem of drug trafficking. “I think there is interest in maintaining this status quo because there are many people who feed on this system,” he said. He considered as alarming that 57,000 people in 2017, and 58,000 in 2018, died from opium consumption in the United States.


Indian pleads guilty to smuggling people to the United States via the Dominican Republic
A 60-year-old Indian man has pleaded guilty in New York for his role in a complex, transnational conspiracy to smuggle people to the US, that used the Dominican Republic as a transit point. Yadvinder Singh Bhamba pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and 15 counts of smuggling and will be sentenced in April 2019. This is the first time the people smuggling connection is mentioned. He allegedly had a role in a human smuggling conspiracy operating out of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico and India.

Yadvinder Bhamba personally assisted around 400 people in unlawfully entering the United States between 2013 and 2015. He also oversaw and directed co-conspirators operating out of the Caribbean. People paid between US$30,000 and US$85,000 to be smuggled from India to the United States and from at least 2013 to 2016.

Bhamba had been arrested in the Dominican Republic in August 2017, and later transferred to Puerto Rico by boat. The US Justice Department said that the boat trips organized by Yadvinder Bhamba and his co-conspirators were perilous as boat captains used old, damaged, cracked, unlicensed, overcrowded, and unsafe boats to make the journey.


Dominican Republic not in the top ten for murders in the region
During the first nine months of 2018, there were 801 murders in the Dominican Republic, equal to 10.4 per 100,000 population. The figures were provided by the Observatory for Citizen Safety and published in Diario Libre newspaper. They reveal that the most crime in the first nine months of the year occurred in the Santo Domingo province with 73 murders, National District with 36, Santiago with 30, La Altagracia 22, La Vega 17, San Cristóbal 16, Duarte 12 and La Romana 11.

On the other hand, the lease crime was reported in the provinces of San José de Ocoa, where there was no murders and Santiago Rodríguez and Hermanas Mirabal, which each had one.
Across the region, the Dominican Republic was number 14 out of the 21 countries in the Americas for being the most violent.

According to the Insight Crime Foundation, the most violent country in the Americas is
Venezuela with 81.4 per each 100,000 inhabitants, followed by El Salvador with 51. The lowest index is Chile with 2.7 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.


Prosecutors ask for 30 years in jail for accused of the murder of Carla Massiel
The Public Ministry has asked Santo Domingo West judges to condemn those involved in the disappearance and assassination of the 10-year old child, Carla Massiel, to 30 years in prison. Those accused are Darwin Trinidad Infante and Juan Cabral Martinez. The case is heard by judges María Socorro, Nelson Romero Alba and Cecilia Toribio Melo. The 10-year old Carla Massiel disappeared on 25 June 2015 in Los Garcia in Pedro Brand and her bones were found on 16 August 2016. The media is reporting the judges could decide by this coming Friday, 8 February 2019.


Suspect murders of Kevin Fret arrested in Santo Domingo
The National Police announced the arrest of three Puerto Ricans and a Dominican who had arrest orders issued by a Puerto Rican court for their suspect participation in the murder of the head of a drug trafficking gangster “Tonka” and trapper Kevin Fret.

The arrested are Puerto Ricans 32-year old Waldemar Febres Sánchez; 32-year old Edison Merced Olivera; 24-year old Joset Jomar Rivera Verdejo; 30-year old Fernando Hilario Figueroa, and Dominican Rafael Lorenzo Kiampool Peralta. They are suspect of the death by gunshots of Carlos Giovanni Báez Rosa ‘Tonka” that occurred on 2 August 2017 in Santurce, Puerto Rico. They are also accused of the death or urban music singer Kevin Fret in Puerto Rico on 10 January 2019.

As reported, the group was arrested by members of the National Police Central Intelligence Agency (Dicrim), and Anti-Narcotics Unit (Dican) and the Swat Tactical Unit with the presence of a marshal from the United States on Sunday, 3 February 2019 at 2pm at two apartments located at Rafael Augusto Sánchez Sanlley and General Cambiaso in Naco.

The death of 38-year old Tonka in Puerto Rico made the press locally after the Police said that in the scene ID documents for urban singer Ozuna were found. The Police established that at the site of the murder was a Range Rover 2016, IUZ-554 that belongs to Juan Carlos Ozuna, a Puerto Rican reggaeton and Latin trap singer.


DR grabs a slot to play baseball in summer Pan Am Games
The Dominican national baseball team defeated Colombia 17-4 to qualify for the Lima, Peru Pan Am Games this summer 2019. Others that will represent the Central America and the Caribbean are Puerto Rico and Cuba. The Dominican team under Pedro Lopez won four of five games in the qualifying round.


Dominican Republic wins first game in Caribbean Baseball Series
After an opening pitch by Panamanian Cooperstown Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, the Caribbean Series took off at the Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City on Monday, 4 February 2019. It was a good start for the Dominican Republic team.

Playing without their three leading stars, the Dominican representative, the Estrellas Orientales defeated Puerto Rico’s Cangrejeros de Santurce for their first win in the Caribbean Series taking place 4-10 February in Panama City. The win was attributed to the good pitching by Nestor Cortés throughout his opening five innings. The Dominican team will now play against the Toros de Herrera of Panama in the series that continues this evening at 9pm.

In the series, the Dominican Republic is playing in Group B against Panama and Puerto Rico. Venezuela, Cuba and Mexico are in Group A.