DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 26 June 2019



New in Santo Domingo: Plaza Fray Antón de Montesinos
The Dominican Republic opens for petroleum exploration
MPOC works hard over holiday weekend
Leonel Fernández's deputies leave Congress
Mobile jails and large military contingent outside Congress
Zogby Strategies poll: Expect a second round
Tourist card for Dominicans to Panama
Travel Weekly: Bad press affects bookings to the Dominican Republic
Fire in Downtown Center
Cocaine haul in Santo Domingo East?
Jazz performances with BYU Synthesis in Santo Domingo and Santiago

New in Santo Domingo: Plaza Fray Antón de Montesino
National District Mayor David Collado and Culture Minister Eduardo Selman reopened the plaza dedicated to Fray Antonio de Montesino (1480-1540), the first human rights defender of indigenous people in the Americas. The moving ceremony held on the sea-fronting Malecón plaza remembered Fray Antón de Montesino for his December 1511 sermon when he denounced abuses of the Spanish colonizers against the natives of the island. "The city hears again the cry of freedom of the Sermon of Montesinos that today is perceived in the voices of those who feared walking on the sidewalks around this monument," said Mayor Collado speaking at the inauguration.

Mayor Collado said RD$24 million were invested in roof waterproofing, new windows, air-conditioning, rebuilding of restrooms, paving the terrace, polishing marble floors and stairs, and implementation of access ramps for people with disabilities. Access roads were rebuilt, space was added for parking, security systems were installed. Landscaping and recovery of the adjacent beach area were also part of the renovations.

The monument opens to the general public as of Friday, 28 June 2019. The plaza will now have five rooms for cultural activities, and a large terrace that overlooks the Caribbean Sea.

Speaking at the inauguration, Mayor Collado said the monument is a symbol of the city of Santo Domingo. He thanked the Ministry of Culture and the Mexican Embassy. The 15-meter tall statue was donated in 1982 by the government of Mexico under then-President Jose Lopez Portillo.

Businessman and history patron Manuel García Arévalo, of the Dominican Academy of History, and Culture Minister Eduardo Selman spoke at the event highlighting the importance of the monument. The monument now will be under the governorship of a public-private management committee, head by Rosanna Rivera.

Other government officers present at the inauguration were Defense Minister Lieutenant General Rubén Darío Paulino Sem; the president of the Constitutional Court (TC) Milton Ray Guevara; the Dominican Port Authority director, Víctor Gómez Casanova; historian Juan Daniel Balcácer, who presides the governmental Permanent Commission for Patriotic Anniversaries; and the president of the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), Vice Admiral Félix Alburquerque Comprés. Also participating were business sector people Juan B. Vicini; Ligia Bonetti; the executive vice president of the Dominican Republic Association of Industries (AIRD), Circe Almánzar; Fernando Capellán, Juan José Arteaga and Servio Tulio Castaños, executive vice president of the Foundation for Institutionalism and Justice (Finjus).


The Dominican Republic opens for petroleum exploration
In partnership with the energy research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie, the Ministry of Energy and Mines of the Dominican Republic announced that a first petroleum exploration-licensing round will be held at the Hyatt Regency in the Galleria Area in Houston, Texas on 10 July 2019. The round closes in December 2019. The sites are onshore and offshore and a combination of both. The blocks on offer are located in the Cibao Basin, Enriquillo Basin, Azua Basin and San Pedro Basin.

During the presentations, investors will be able to review and discuss the exploration opportunities, the contractual and fiscal terms and the legal framework for upstream petroleum activities in the country. There will also be opportunities to meet privately with the Ministry over the following two days.

Extensive documentation, including seismic data for several basins, is part of the blocks on offer. All information is already public, and is available at www.bndh.gob.do/en/

To attend the roadshow, schedule a meeting with the Ministry, or for any other information, contact Tracey Dancy at roundsDR@woodmac.com

MPOC works hard over holiday weekend
The Ministry of Public Works (MOPC), via its Military and Police Commission, reported that over the Corpus Christi long weekend (Thursday, 18 June to Sunday, 20 June 2019), 8,389 roadside assistance were provided to domestic travelers.

The MOPC offered assistance over the five-day holiday that went from mobile workshop assistance, provision of tow trucks, to tire replacement services and gasoline assistance. The help most provided was for mechanical breakdown, which accounted for 48% of the total, followed by 31% with tire problems, 13% who ran out of gasoline, 4% involving drivers who wanted help for safety reasons, and 2% needing an ambulance or tow truck.

The area with the most assistance was the East with 35%, followed by the South with 33% and the North, 32%.


Leonel Fernandez's deputies leave Congress
The internal crisis within the ruling PLD party has escalated and continues with all eyes on Congress. At least 21 deputies loyal to former President Leonel Fernandez abandoned the session in the Chamber of Deputies on Tuesday, 25 June 2019, and said they would not return until the president of the chamber, Radhamés Camacho, orders the military to leave the front of the National Congress.

The Leonelistas allege that they were mistreated on Monday by Police and military who would not allow them to put up a tarpaulin in front of Congress where those in opposition to a constitutional amendment could congregate.

The Chamber of Deputies opened the day's session without the Leonelista legislators. On Tuesday only legislators, press and staff were allowed to enter Congress.

Ronald Sanchez, spokesman for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) said that although the party recognizes that this is a struggle of groups within the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), the status of legislators should not be violated.

The ruling PLD party is divided by differences between followers of President Danilo Medina, who seek to reform the 2015 Constitution so that Medina can seek a third term, and those that follow former President Leonel Fernández, who also aims to be the PLD candidate in the 2020 presidential election. There is speculation those partisan to Medina would accept a deal whereby the Constitution is reformed to enable Medina to seek a third period in 2024.


Mobile jails and large military contingent outside Congress
Several mobile jails were installed outside National Congress yesterday, 25 June 2019, after a group of followers of former President Leonel Fernández protested against a constitutional amendment that would enable President Danilo Medina to seek a third term. A large number of military and Police have been stationed there since Sunday, 23 June.

The presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies, Reinaldo Pared Pérez and Radhamés Camacho, two strong Medina supporters, said on Tuesday, 25 June, that the military and police forces will remain in the vicinity of the National Congress for an indefinite time. They said they are acting on intelligence reports received from state security agencies that those who oppose constitutional reform could sponsor disorders in the area. They said the around 500 military and Police were sent to safeguard the security of Congress.

On Monday afternoon a group of students and politicians tried to set up camp at the front of National Congress with the authorization of the National District city hall. The effort was met with tear gas bombs thrown at them by the Police as they tried to set up their tents.


Zogby Strategies poll: Expect a second round
A poll carried out by Zogby Strategies from 13 to 15 June 2019 says that if the 6 October 2019 primaries were held with the participation of the two PLD leaders, President Danilo Medina and former President Leonel Fernández, the results would be: 47.2% for Fernández and 36.9% for Medina. Others receiving votes would be 6.2% for Vice President Margarita Cedeño (wife of Leonel Fernández), 2.9% for former Environment Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito, and 1% apiece for former Interior & Police Minister Carlos Amarante Baret and former Education Minister Andrés Navarro. Senate president Reinaldo Pared Pérez would receive 0.3%. Other pre-candidates, Temístocles Montás, Manuel Crespo and Radhamés Segura would receive 0.2% each of the vote. The 2015 Constitution needs to be amended to enable President Danilo Medina to run for a third term.

Meanwhile, the same poll says that regarding the largest opposition party, the PRM, pre-candidate Luis Abinader has 79.5% of the preferences, compared to 10% for former President Hipólito Mejía, and 5.5% for Santo Domingo Mayor David Collado.

The poll says that in the case of former President Leonel Fernández being the PLD candidate in the 2020 general election, he would win over most likely PRM candidate, Luis Abinader, 50% to 36%. Fernández would receive 51-26% if Hipólito Mejía is the PRM candidate.

When those polled were asked for whom they would vote, independently of the political party, 31.3% were in favor of Abinader, while Medina and Fernández each scored 30.3%. 6.2% said they would not vote, and 1.9% did not reply. This scenario means a second round of voting would be necessary since the electoral law requires 50% + 1 vote for a win.

Regarding the political party of their preference, 56% said it was the ruling PLD party. The government is the country's leading employer. Next was the leading opposition party, the PRM, with 28.5%, followed by the PRD, a PLD ally, with 3.1%. The PRSC, also a long time PLD ally, registered 1.3%. 10.2% said they had no political party preferences.

The Zogby Strategies poll indicated that 80% of Dominicans eligible to vote understand the 2015 Constitution bans Medina from running for a third term. When asked if they were in agreement with a constitutional amendment to enable Medina to run again, 68% said they are opposed to amending the Constitution to open doors for a second Medina reelection. 53% said that changing the Constitution could bring negative consequences for the country.

Dominicans said that citizen security is the most pressing problem in the country (23%).

For the 13-15 June 2019 poll, 1,206 persons were surveyed. The poll has a margin of error of 2.37%.


Tourist card for Dominicans to Panama
Dominican citizens can now purchase a tourist card to enter Panama visa-free for 30 days. The card is valid for one entry to Panama and costs US$20. The card can be purchased at the Consulate of Panama in the Dominican Republic.

President Juan Carlos Varela signed the decree on Monday, 24 June 2019, authorizing the new travel card. A requirement is that the person have previously visited Panama or another authorized country. President Varela expects the new facility will increase the number of Dominicans who go on shopping tours to Panama.

In October 2018, the government of Panama had announced a 5-year multiple entry visa for citizens of Cuba, People's Republic of China, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and India.

According to sources, there is an oversupply of accommodations.


Travel Weekly: Bad press affects bookings to the Dominican Republic
According to the business intelligence company, ForwardKeys, flight bookings to the Dominican Republic have plunged in the wake of the continued announcement of deaths of Americans staying at resorts. Other Caribbean destinations are benefiting.

ForwardKeys reports that while in April and May of this year, bookings to the Dominican Republic had been up 2.8%, from 1 June to 19, cancellations jumped 51.2% on bookings for future travel dates. Cancellations jumped 70% the day after the 11th death this year was reported.

Countries benefiting from the lull in Dominican bookings from 1 to 19 June were Jamaica, which had been down 8.4% in April and May, was up 26%. The Bahamas had been down 7% in April and May, and spiked up to 44.5% from 1-19 June. Aruba, down 3.5% in April and May, saw a 31.3% increase again from 1 to 19 June.

ForwardKeys found that bookings to the Dominican Republic started to fall after three deaths that happened at the end of May. Bookings further fell after several June deaths were reported.


Fire in Downtown Center
On the morning of Tuesday, 25 June 2019 a fire affected operations of the Downtown Center Mall, at the intersection of Núñez de Cáceres and Rómulo Betancourt Avenues. The fire that began in the P.F. Chang's Restaurant on the first floor was quickly brought under control by firefighting brigades.

In prevention, though, in the morning, the plaza was evacuated. Employees and visitors waited outside, along with a large crowd of curious onlookers. By the afternoon all businesses had reopened.

Downtown Center issued a press release in the morning saying that they would remain closed for several hours, and confirmed that there had been no one was injured and there was no material damage.


Cocaine haul in Santo Domingo East?
The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) has confiscated 120 packages of what is thought to be cocaine in Santo Domingo East.

According to the report, the DNCD surprised four men carrying out the transaction in the car park of a business in La Caleta, Boca Chica, near to the entrance to Las Americas International Airport.

Those arrested were a Colombian, a Venezuelan with Brazilian identity documents, and two Dominicans. They were caught as they were moving three suitcases and two bags from one car to the other.

Also confiscated were a car and two SUVs, a 9mm pistol, cell phones, personal documents and other evidence.

The drugs were sent to the National Institute of Forensic Science (Inacif) for assessment.


Jazz performances with BYU Synthesis in Santo Domingo and Santiago
BYU Synthesis, the jazz band of the Brigham Young University College of Fine Arts and Communications announced four presentations and music workshops in the Dominican Republic this coming July.

The BYU Synthesis will be joined by award-winning Puerto Rican flutist Nestor Torres and Dominican singer-composer Pavel Núñez in the presentation at the Palacio de Bellas Artes in Santo Domingo on Friday 5 and Saturday 6 July and at the main hall of the Gran Teatro del Cibao in Santiago on Tuesday, 9 July at 8pm.

The performance will feature both classic and original compositions in a range of styles — including swing, Latin and funk — and various musical traditions from the Caribbean.

"This will be a creative, energetic night with a wide variety of wonderful music, from the Dominican Republic to Stevie Wonder," said Synthesis director Ray Smith. "

The program of the university music group also includes workshops at the National Music Conservatory and the Music School at the state university, UASD.

The group will also make a special presentation with the La Victoria Jail Choir.

BYU Synthesis is a US jazz band. The group is coming as part of an initiative of the Church of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church). The three presentations will be free at of charge.

The BYU Synthesis performance promises to impress with favorite jazz classics. The award-winning jazz ensemble is known for its high-quality professional jazz presentations.

The visit to the Dominican Republic is part of the BYU Synthesis Caribbean Tour.

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