DR1 Daily News - Tuesday, 7 February 2017


May 3, 2000
Medina to Moise inaugural in Haiti
President helps dragon fruit producers
Maternity leave is now 14 weeks
Telecommunications Law to be changed
Farmers claim on insurance
Another loan sought for Colonial City renovation program
No pay raise for teachers
Students ask UASD professors to return to work
PLD Political Committee meets, Medina does not attend
Gallup poll says crime is leading Dominican concern
52% have positive impression of Medina administration
People doubt those who took bribes will be punished
Guillermo Moreno points to ties between President Medina and Angel Rondón
Irrigation pipe removed in Valle Nuevo mountain valley
Italian jailed for three months on remand
70 years of Biennial Art Contests
Celebrating Dominican folklore at Bellas Artes

Medina to Moise inaugural in Haiti
President Danilo Medina travels on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 to Port-au-Prince, Haiti for the inaugural of President-elect Jovenel Moise. He will fly out of the San Isidro Air Base in the morning. 

The Presidency reported Medina will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Miguel Vargas Maldonado, Administrative Minister of the Presidency José Ramón Peralta, his special assistant Carlos Pared Pérez and his chief of security, Major General Adán Cáceres. 

On 16 January 2017, Moise had visited President Medina and several energy and other projects in the Dominican Republic. 

President helps dragon fruit producers
On Sunday, 5 February 2017, President Danilo Medina promised to help dragon fruit farmers in the community of Baitoa, Santiago in their efforts to increase production and expand the market and exports. The President announced low cost financing so producers could expand their farms to 400 tareas, the land measurement used in the Dominican Republic (1 tarea = 629 square meters). The President predicted that there would be an increase in local demand for the fruit. 

The farmers said that the exotic fruit produced in the country is considered the best dragon fruit in the world and that there was an attractive international demand for it.


Maternity leave is now 14 weeks
Maternity leave in the Dominican Republic is 14 weeks up from 12 weeks, as established by Resolution 211-14 that approved the Maternity Protection Convention (No. 183), adopted by the International Labor Organization in 2000. The extension in maternity leave is effective 9 February 2017. 

Minister of Labor Maritza Hernández had said there was no need to make amendments to the Labor Code to implement the extension on maternity leave. 

Telecommunications Law to be changed
The Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel) has announced that it will submit a formal proposal to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for assistance in its effort to amend the country's Telecommunications Law that dates back to 1998.

According to Indotel’s president José del Castillo Saviñón there is an urgent need for a review and update of the law that governs the tele-communication industry due to the rapid growth within the sector, and the profusion of new technologies constantly being developed. He said that a goal of revision of the Telecommunications Law is to ensure universal access to telecommunications, promote social inclusion and strengthen the regulatory capacity and effectiveness of the government.

Indotel recently announced its support for a bill being discussed in the government that proposes eliminating taxes on Internet services to reduce the ‘digital divide’ so that a full 70% of the population will have access to the internet by 2020, as reported in Telecompaper.


Farmers claim on insurance
According to Agriculture Minister Angel Estevez, several producers of bananas and rice who lost their crops during the October and November 2016 floods have received via the Agriculture Insurance Program (Agrodosa) payments of approximately RD$149 million. 

Estevez said that RD$108 million of the total amount was disbursed to banana growers, while RD$40 million went to rice farmers. He encouraged all farmers to insure their lands to guarantee their investment.

Luis Yanguela, manager of Agrodosa, said that the organization is committed to offering assistance to agricultural sector and urged farmers to take advantage of the government subsidy that covers 50% of the policy when it is first taken out.


Another loan sought for Colonial City renovation program
The Ministry of Tourism (Mitur) is hoping that a loan from the InterAmerican Development Bank (BID) for US$90 million will soon be approved by National Congress. The loan is to implement the second phase of the Colonial City Renovation Program.

The continuation of the work in the Colonial City also has the support of key business people including Lisandro Macarrulla, president of the Sansouci Group and Emilio Torres Jorge, president of the Shopkeepers’ Association of El Conde Street (Asoconde).

The Ministry of Tourism explained to Diario Libre that the second stage of the renovation program has four components. These are:

The first is to consolidate cultural tourism in the Colonial City (US$49.51 million), and calls for the revitalization of historic buildings and public spaces.

A second phase will use US$11.89 million to improve the living conditions of the residents in the Colonial City and to maintain the social diversity in the area, with a focus on low income residents.

In addition, funds will be directed to develop the local economy (US$10.04 million), with an improvement in economic opportunities with a focus on micro and small businesses.

The funds will also be used to strengthen the touristic, cultural and urban management of the Colonial City (US$11.02 million). Funds will be directed to promote the area as an important tourist destination.

So far there have been several improvements in the area including better security with 120 video cameras installed, along with the beginning of the installation of an underground electricity line. Some 1,200 LED lights are being installed. 


No pay raise for teachers
Education Minister Andrés Navarro says it is not possible to give public school teachers a general salary increase this year. He said talks have been held with the management of the Dominican Teachers’Association (ADP) and that they have agreed on several needs for the sector, but the government cannot yet meet the requested general salary increase. The teachers union is seeking a 25% wage increase. 

Navarro said that the Ministry would be introducing a series of incentives and asked the teachers not to strike for a wage increase.

In an editorial on 6 February 2017, Diario Libre makes the point that public school teachers have seen a tripling of their wages in the past three years. 


Students ask UASD professors to return to work
Students at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (UASD) marched yesterday, Monday 6 February 2017, at the main university campus demanding that the professors resume classes.

The Federation of the Association of Professors of the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo (Faprouasd) has supported a strike of the professors at the university since last Tuesday, 31 January, when the classes for the new semester were due to start. Faprouasd demands a 15% salary increase.

The strike has affected more than 200,000 students.  While many UASD students say that the profressors’ salary demands are fair, there is concern that the semester will be lost.

UASD rector, Ivan Grullón, has asked the professors to wait until the university has the financial resources to meet their demands.  However, the professors union says that the salary raise was agreed upon in October 2016, and that the professors will hold fast to their position. 

UASD professors and administrative staff are by far the best paid in the Dominican Republic. 


PLD Political Committee meets, Medina does not attend
The Political Committee of the Dominican Liberation Party met on Monday, 6 February 2017 as had been announced. The highest-ranking deliberation body of the ruling political party had not met for three months. President Danilo Medina did not attend. 

The debates were lead by former President Leonel Fernández, who is president of the political party. Vice President Margarita Cedeño, wife of Fernández, participated in the discussions. 

The meeting primarily focused on hearing the reports from commissions that presented eight projects for rulings to apply the resolutions derived from the 8th Ordinary Congress Commander Norge Botello of the PLD held in 2014.  


Gallup poll says crime is leading Dominican concern
Crime is the main problem the government needs to tackle, according to the Gallup poll published in Hoy newspaper on 7 February 2017. According to the poll, 74% of Dominicans eligible to vote say delinquency in general is their main concern, followed by the lack of jobs (38.7%) and inflation (38.14%). The perception on inflation contradicts the recent announced record low annual inflation for 2016 of 1.70% announced by the Central Bank. 

Likewise, 76.4% of those polled said the economy is not doing well, compared with only 7% that were pleased with the performance of the economy. Only 2.9% said they felt the Medina Administration would eliminate wasteful spending. 91% said they agreed with the Sunday, 22 January 2017 March Against Impunity. 1,200 persons were interviewed nationwide from 25 to 30 January 2017 for the poll.


52% have positive impression of Medina administration
The negative perception by Dominicans of the Medina Administration has been increasing. The Gallup poll taken from 25 to 30 January 2017 with the participation of 1,200 eligible voters nationwide, showed that while only 13% had a negative perception of President Medina inApril 2016, a month prior to the 2016 presidential election, as of February 2017, 20.9% had a more pessimistic outlook. But still, 52% have a positive impression of his government, compared to 64.8% in April 2016.  


People doubt those who took bribes will be punished
According to data from a new Gallup poll for Hoy newspaper published on 7 February 2017, a large majority of people, nearly 88%, believe that those working for the past three governments of Hipólito Mejia, Leonel Fernández and Danilo Medina benefitted from the bribes paid by the Brazilian contractor Odebrecht to gain contracts in the country and these officials will not be punished.

Those taking part in the survey believed that the biggest benefactors were the government employees of former President Leonel Fernández from 2004-2008 and 2008-2012, at 61.5%, followed by those of Medina from 2012-2017 (50.4%) and finally the employees of the government of Mejía from 2000-2004 (41.5%). 

The survey showed that barely 5.9% of those polled thought that no one in the government took bribes.

The research revealed that 60% of the population believes that those who took the bribes will not be taken to court nor receive any punishment for their actions. Only 11% believe that justice will prevail.

The fieldwork for the survey was conducted from 25 to 30 January 2017, with a sample of 1,200 people throughout the country.


Guillermo Moreno points to ties between President Medina and Angel Rondón
So far, Angel Rondón, commercial representative in the Dominican Republic for the Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht, has been the only person to be named as having taken the bribes. Rondón readily admitted that he received an amount of around US$92 million, but that the funds were actually for fees paid to him for his professional services in securing the construction contracts from the Dominican government for the Brazilian firm. 

So far, President Danilo Medina has not spoken to the Dominican people about the Odebrecht scandal. Civic groups, such as the Green March Against Impunity, are demanding President Medina accept a proposal that the United Nations provide independent counsel to carry out an in-depth investigation into the corruption case that would reveal the names of Dominican officials who benefited from the graft. The UN has assisted Guatemala in their efforts to reduce corruption. 

In an op-ed contribution to Diario Libre, former presidential candidate and former National District prosecutor, Guillermo Moreno, writes about what he understands is evidence of the close ties between Rondón and President Medina. 

“It is general knowledge that among those with ties to the overpriced public works that lead to the bribes there are high officials in your government and you, as head of government, should explain to the people why they continue in their positions,” writes Moreno. 

Moreno says that there is evidence that Medina’s former chief re-election campaign counsel, Joao Santana, was a key person in the transfer of Odebrecht money for the financing of his presidential campaign and his re-election. Santana was recently sentenced to eight years in jail in Brazil for having committed acts of serious corruption. 

Moreno says the tender for the Punta Catalina thermoelectric coal-fired facility was manipulated in favor of Odebrecht, despite their proposal being overvalued. He also criticizes that the President sent to the Senate a request (dated 6 May 2015) for exemption of income tax for the company. In his article, Moreno says the overvaluation was of more than US$1 billion. 

In the op-ed article, Moreno mentions the participation of President Medina in the inauguration of a new tourism project in Playa Dorada together with Angel Rondón and the present attorney general on 7 August 2013. He also observes that President Medina accompanied Angel Rondón when the ADHA honored Rondón with a medal for merit in cattle ranching on 27 October 2013. And again he says the President was there on 21 November 2014, when the agroindustrial plant Los Angeles, property of Angel Rondón, was inaugurated in San Pedro de Macorís. 

He asks for an explanation of the close relationship of the President with the person who has been identified by Odebrecht as the recipient of the US$92 million for bribes. 

He stresses the urgency of citizens to hear from the President his version of these suspicious events and dubious coincidences that put in doubt the legitimacy of his government.


Irrigation pipe removed in Valle Nuevo mountain valley
The Ministry of the Environment has announced that they have dismantled hundreds of meters of irrigation pipe used for agricultural production in the Valle Nuevo National Park.

In operations headed up by park administrator, Julio Cesar de los Santos and the provincial director of Constanza, Tito Montero, the farming facilities lands in Alto Bandera, El Castillo, Pinar Parejo and Las Espinas, in Ocoa have been disconnected.

Some of the owners were allowed to remove the installations and equipment themselves. 

Environment Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito said that talks with farmers are continuing, but stressed that this is an irreversible process and the only option is to stop agricultural production in the protected area. 

Domínguez announced a series of measures to attract tourists to Valle Nuevo to enjoy the climate and the impressive ecosystem, saying that they could stay in countryside residences and be in harmony with the environment. 


Italian jailed for three months on remand
A Puerto Plata judge has handed down a three-month preventive custody sentence to an Italian accused of sexually exploiting minors. 

Judge Rosalba Francisco imposed the strict measures on Giuseppe Sgarbi who was arrested by the Public Prosecution Service and agents attached to the Migration Control and Investigation Department about People Trafficking attached to the National Police. Sgarbi was taken to San Felipe jail in Puerto Plata.  

The report alleges that the Italian paid minors for sexual relations and making pornographic films. 


70 years of Biennial Art Contests
The Museum of Modern Art in Plaza de la Cultura is inviting to an exhibition of the winning works of the National Biennial Art Contest from 1942 to 2015. 

The two floor exhibition includes works by the artists: 
Paul Giudicelli, Celeste Woss y Gil, Jaime Colson, Yoryi Morel, Clara Ledesma, Antonio Prats Ventós, Luichy Martínez Richiez, Gilberto Hernández Ortega. Also Soucy de Pellerano, Cándido Bidó, Fernando Peña Defilló, Alberto Ulloa, Silvano Lora, Domingo Liz, Guillo Pérez, Ramón Oviedo. And new generation artists Jorge Pineda, Quisqueya Henríquez, Miguel Ramírez, Limber Vilorio, Tony Capellán, Belkis Ramírez, Genaro Reyes (Cayuco), Aquiles Azar Billini, Miguelina Rivera, Ángel Urrely, Radhamés Mejía, Polibio Díaz, Ginny Taulé and Luis Arias, among others.


Celebrating Dominican folklore at Bellas Artes
A national folklore show on occasion of the National Folklore Day will be presented on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 as of 8pm at the Palacio de Bellas Artes. National Folklore Day is 10 February 2017. 

The Tuesday presentation is dedicated to the work of the Grupo Raíces Foklórica from Sainaguá, San Cristóbal, founded by the late choreographer Nereyda Rodríguez. The show has the backing of the Fundación Teatro Popular Danzante, Instituto para el Desarrollo de las Artes y la Educación and the Federación Dominicana de Arte y Cultura. 

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