DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 14 August 2019



President Medina supervises Monte Grande Dam construction
New buses for OMSA service
Delays in the issuing Dominican passports
Minimum wage goes up on 15 August 2019
Almost half of drivers test positive for alcohol
JCE says pre-candidate public campaigns are banned
Constitutional Court carry-over ruling affects mayors, too
Carlos Amarante Baret: Gonzalo Castillo is using Ministry of Public Works to gain supporters
Alicia Ortega: Codenames are not known because the Attorney General has not asked
DR is prey to malware attacks and phishing
Claro blackout
New Dominican center in Washington Heights
The hot summer is getting hotter
Japanese dolls at Centro Cultural Banreservas

President Medina supervises Monte Grande Dam construction
President Danilo Medina inaugurated two service tunnels at the Monte Grande Dam in southwestern Barahona province where he traveled on Tuesday, 13 August 2019 to supervise construction advances. The infrastructure will be used to divert the Yaque del Sur River and allow the construction of the dam wall.

The construction of the dam was started again in 2018. It will hold 350 million cubic meters of water. The waters will be used to irrigate 705,000 tareas (1 tarea = 629 square meters) of farmland, control flooding and supply drinking water to the provinces of Barahona, Bahoruco and Independencia. The dam will also generate electricity.

On Tuesday, 13 August 2019, President Danilo Medina also broke ground for the construction of Centro Poblado, a residential area for 390 families who lived where the dam is under construction. Each home will have three bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen and bathroom. The complex will also have a police station and sports areas.


New buses for OMSA service
President Danilo Medina was at the San Isidro Air Base for the delivery of 200 new buses to the Metropolitan Bus Office (Omsa) for public transport. Eighty vehicles with ramps to serve people with disabilities are part of the fleet. The Presidency reported that the new buses are 130 Mercedes Benz, 50 Volvo and 20 Iveco units. The Mercedes Benz buses are air-conditioned and have the capacity to board 96 passengers.

Hector Mojica, director-general of Omsa, highlighted the impact that these units will have in favor of the population. He said the total investment in the acquisition of this fleet is US$39 million.

The buses will be used on the current routes but also to create new routes such as the Ortega y Gasset, Charles de Gaulle-Duarte Highway Km 13, the Kennedy corridor to San Luis in Greater Santo Domingo. They are assigned to routes in five provinces, including Barahona.


Delays in the issuing Dominican passports
The Passports Agency announced the suspension on 12 August 2019 of same-day passport issuing. The reason: Excessive demand due to summer travel. Thousands of Dominicans return in the summer and renew their passports. Likewise, this is the peak travel season for Dominican families.

The Passports Agency also says there may be longer delays in issuing passports. The department does not have enough passport books to meet unexpected demand. A note from the department apologizes for the inconveniences.


Minimum wage goes up on 15 August 2019
The minimum wage increase passed by the National Salaries Committee goes into effect on 15 August 2019. It will benefit employees from the non-sectorized private sectors. Sectorized workers of the export free zone and hotel sector have a different wage scheme. Likewise, while the law is specific that this is an increase in the minimum wage, it is a frequent practice for companies to increase wages of workers that make more than the minimum wage.

The new minimum salary levels for companies worth more than RD$4,000,000 goes from RD$15,447.60 to RD$17,610. Those worth more than RD$2,000,000 but less than RD$4,000,000 go from RD$10,620 per month to RD$12,107 and those less than RD$2,000,000 go to RD$10,730.

Daily agricultural workers will now earn RD$400 a day for a ten-hour day and security guards will now earn RD$15,000 per month.

The hotel and free zone sectors have yet to announce any wage increases.


Almost half of drivers test positive for alcohol
46% of the drivers randomly stopped at the first breathalyzer checkpoint tested positive for the presence of alcohol. Agents assigned to the Alcoholimetry Unit of the Traffic Safety and Land Transport Agency (Digesett) carried out the screening tests on Monday, 12 August 2019.

In total, 65 drivers were evaluated, with 30 having traces of alcohol. Thirty-five tested negative.

Of the 30 drivers testing positive for alcohol, 17 resulted with a degree higher than the legal limit allowed by Law 63-17, which is 0.25 mgr/l in the exhaled air. 13 drivers gave levels below the legally established in that second test, so they were released.

Of the 17 drivers who exceeded the legal limit of alcohol allowed, five managed to lower their alcohol level after the waiting hours established by the transit law, and 12 were able to leave with relatives and / or relatives who were responsible for taking them to their final destination, since they did not reach the lower alcohol level, as established in Paragraph I of Article 259 of Law 63-17.

Of those who tested positive, 22 were men and eight were women. Among those who remained under observation until the levels of alcohol in their bodies dropped, 13 were men and four were women.

Article 259 of Law 63-17 states that "alcoholmeter tests shall be carried out on drivers and pedestrians who must exhale into the instrument, with the purpose of detecting the presence of alcohol in their breath to determine the degree consumed. The law establishes that when the breathalyzer test is positive, the Digesett agent may keep the driver under surveillance for up to four hours. However, the driver may leave immediately if a family member or related person takes responsibility for delivering the person to his or her destination.

The recent operation aimed to educate the public about the harmful effects of driving while intoxicated. No fines were applied.

"Drivers of vehicles are prohibited from drinking alcoholic beverages while driving on public roads, or from driving while intoxicated. Persons who violate this provision will be punished with a fine equivalent to five (5) to ten (10) minimum wages of the prevailing in the centralized public sector and the reduction of the points of the license determined by the regulation, without prejudice to the provisions relating to the suspension and cancellation of the driver's license", as established in Article 256 of Law 63-17.


JCE says pre-candidate public campaigns are banned
Central Electoral Board (JCE) president, Julio Cesar Castaños called for presidential pre-candidates to limit their internal campaigning to activities directed to party members. He reminded politicians that Law 33-18 on Political Parties establishes that all type of propaganda is prohibited in the pre-candidate campaign period. He says this means that the use of vehicles with pre-candidate propaganda is outlawed, as is all propaganda, with the exception of that used inside the party locations. He said candidates who violate these dispositions could not be registered to vote.

The statement coincides with photos that circulated with the fleet of vehicles with promotion of former Minister of Public Works Gonzalo Castillo.


Constitutional Court carry-over ruling affects mayors, too
The ruling of the Constitutional Court (TC) that eliminated the carry-over of deputy votes to senators contained in Law 157-13, will also have an impact on the election of mayors. Listin Diario reports that the provision invalidates aspects of the new Electoral Regime Law 15-19.

The electoral law includes a provision similar to the one annulled by the TC whereby the votes obtained by other municipal candidates be carried over to the mayors.

In the decision announced by the TC on Monday, 12 August 2019, the higher court declared that senators, mayors, and directors of municipal districts will have to be directly elected, with the votes they draw in their respective demarcations and without receiving the votes of the candidates for deputies, councilmen, and members as in the past.


Carlos Amarante Baret: Gonzalo Castillo is using Ministry of Public Works to gain supporters
PLD pre-candidate Carlos Amarante Baret complained that pre-candidate Gonzalo Castillo is using the weight of the Ministry of Public Works to threaten mayors with not repairing their streets if they back other PLD pre-candidates. Castillo resigned the Ministry of Public Works on 5 August 2019 to seek the presidential candidacy for the ruling party. There is speculation he is the favorite of President Danilo Medina. President Danilo Medina has not announced Castillo's replacement in the Ministry of Public Works.

Carlos Amarante Baret, a former Minister of Education, is part of a group of former ministers who resigned their positions to campaign for the presidential candidacy of the ruling party. Others are former Minister of Environment Francisco Domínguez Brito; former Minister of Education Andrés Navarro; former Minister of Industry & Commerce Temístocles Montás, and National District senator Reinaldo Pared Pérez, former director of the Public Electricity Corporation (CDEEE) Radhamés Segura. The group has agreed to carry out a poll to determine which of the group would be the presidential candidate. Montás and Segura say that Castillo should be made part of the group.

Alicia Ortega: Codenames are not known because Attorney General has not asked
Investigative journalist Alicia Ortega revealed on her El Informe con Alicia Ortega on Monday, 12 August 2019, that the Dominican Republic has just skimmed the surface of the Odebrecht criminal scheme. Corruption in the form of bribes and overvaluations tainted the otherwise outstanding contract work by the Brazilian construction company in the Dominican Republic.

Local prosecution will be hearing the case against five accused of receiving bribes from Odebrecht to expedite local contract work on 12 September 2019. The local prosecution is relying on the confessions by Odebrecht executives sent by Brazil as practically the only evidence.

But when Ortega traveled to Brazil to meet with Brazilian prosecutors, former prosecutors and prosecutors from Peru, she learned the local prosecutors have but scratched the surface to find evidence to incriminate persons and companies in the Dominican Republic.

Last month Ortega revealed an Odebrecht sourced list of 28 persons identified with codenames that allegedly received payments from the Bribes Office of Odebrecht. The information surfaced as part of investigations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

In Brazil, Ortega learned that Peruvian prosecutors already had matched the Structured Bribes Office codenames related to Peru with actual names. Ortega would learn that for Dominicans to match the list of 28, the information would have to be requested by the Attorney General Office.

The Brazilian prosecutors said local authorities had made only two inquiries. Peru has made more than 190 inquiries.

The Brazilian prosecutor who handled the Dominican case before 2017, Vladimir Aras said the Brazilian prosecutors delved into what is of interest to Brazil and that was what was sent to the Dominican prosecutors. He told Ortega it is up to Dominican prosecutors to investigate the corruption related to the Dominican Republic. Ortega was told this is impossible to do without interviewing those involved in Brazil.

Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez disputed statements by Aras on the TV program and said the Dominican Republic has an agreement and has received the information on which it prepared the Odebrecht US$92 million bribes case.


DR is prey to malware attacks and phishing
The Dominican Republic ranks fourth among countries in the Central American and Caribbean region in terms of being subjected to the most cyber attacks, according to a recent Microsoft Report. The report on cyber security in the region by Microsoft placed the Dominican Republic as a high risk for malware threats.

The technology company released data from the Security Intelligence (SIR) report to local media. The document represents the analysis of more than 6.5 billion threat signals received daily by Microsoft's cloud computing system during the January-June 2019 period.

Data from this document assures that malware attacks decreased by 67% in Central America and the Caribbean. However, the rate of malware encounters in the region is 28% higher than the global average; this is reflected in the crypto-mint sector, where the creation of malware for digital coin mining is 40% higher than the global average.

The Dominican Republic ranks fourth with 5.96% of malware-type cyber attacks, only behind Nicaragua (7.88%), Honduras (6.18%) and Guatemala (6.15%). The countries in the region with the lowest rate of cyber attacks of this type are Puerto Rico (2.21%), Trinidad & Tobago (3.12%) and Costa Rica (3.28%).

Federico Muller, modern workplace solutions manager at Microsoft, attributes the high risk in the Dominican Republic to the low digital education of the population. Primarily, the Dominican community is prey to phishing, in which attackers disguise the virus in an email with misleading advertising.

Overall the malware encounter rate in Central America and the Caribbean is 28 % higher than the global average.

Microsoft recommends everyone step up their security practices that apply both to individuals and companies to minimize chances of success of a cyber attack.

Users can use tools such as antivirus, dual-factor authentication, and make backups in the cloud to prevent data loss.


Claro blackout
On Tuesday, 13 August 2019, users of Claro Internet service suffered from an unexpected outage. Users in the Naco area of Santo Domingo were left them without the vital service from 9 to around 2pm. The company said the service was out for "maintenance."

New Dominican center in Washington Heights
The Juan Pablo Duarte Foundation opened a new Dominican cultural and community center in Washington Heights. The Juan Pablo Duarte Foundation Community Space opened on Sunday, 11 |August 2019 in the renovated George Washington Bridge bus terminal near West 179th Street and St. Nicholas Avenue.

The center is for community and educational programs and will serve as a meeting space for local groups with a focus on the arts, culture and history of the Dominican Republic. Laura Acosta is the first director.

The new Dominican center received contributions from the Port Authority of New York for US$1.8 million. New Jersey city allocated an additional US$800,000.


The hot summer is getting hotter
The National Meteorology Office (Onamet) forecasts scant rains and high temperatures for the rest of the week. There may be some short showers in the northeast, the central mountain range and Los Haitises, especially in the afternoon. Onamet recommends staying out of the sun from 11am to 4pm.

It mentions that in Greater Santo Domingo temperatures should fluctuate from 33ºC to 35ºC dropping to 24ºC-26 ºC by the early morning of Wednesday, 14 August.

Public health authorities are recommending drinking plenty of fluids even when not feeling thirsty. If it is actually cooler inside then out, keep the windows closed to not let the hot air in.


Japanese dolls at Centro Cultural Banreservas
The Centro Cultural Banreservas is hosting an exhibition of films and Japanese and Dominican dolls as part of the Japan-Dominican Republic Cultural Event. The exhibition will be open through 29 August 2019. It is an opportunity to admire 75 Japanese dolls and 67 Dominican dolls. The event is carried out with the cooperation of the Arts and Craft Promotion and Development (Fodearte) and the Embassy of Japan. Ambassador Makiuchi Hiroyuki said that the dolls are not just toys, but many are works of art. The event also features talks on Japanese poetry and workshops on Japanese culture.

Film showings will be shown as of 7pm and include Japanese classics by Akira Kurosawa, Kenji Mizogushi and Shoei Imamura.

The Centro Cultural Banreservas is located on Calle Isabel la Católica 202 in the Colonial City. Tel 809 960-2094.
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