DR1 Daily News - Wednesday, 7 August 2019



Ministry of Education prepares for the school year
Build a wall of factories on the border with Haiti
Public debt soars
Air Force plans to buy new aircraft to fight drug trafficking
JCE tests the automated voting machines
Superior Electoral Court reviews recourse would disable Leonel Fernández
Abinader is ambiguous on constitutional reform
Infotep's Twitter account hacked and restored
High expectations re Somos Pueblo press conference
Altice announces maintenance may affect service
Many victims of buttock cosmetic surgery
Will the case against DNCD agents and the prosecutor advance in Montecristi?
Puerto Plata mayor denies keeping US$700,000 in cash at home
Vladimir Guerrero Jr named AL Player of the Week
Dominican Republic in the Lima Pan Am Games

Ministry of Education prepares for the school year
The Ministry of Education (Minerd) announced the start of the new school year on 19 August. Intense maintenance works are being carried out at more than 7,000 public schools nationwide to ready these for more than two million students. An estimated 1.3 million will study in the extended school day program that runs from 8 to 4pm.

The Ministry of Education has ordered the transfer of RD$655 million to the education boards in the regions and districts to carry out the maintenance program before the school year begins. Last week, Minister Antonio Peña carried out working session with the regional education directors to learn about the logistical details, infrastructures, teachers and student materials.


Build a wall of factories on the border with Haiti
Senator Dionis Sánchez (PLD-Pedernales) proposed the construction of a wall made up by manufacturing plants operating on the border with Haiti. He said this would benefit both Dominicans and Haitians living in the border area. As reported in El Nacional newspaper, Sánchez called for a campaign to get international assistance to build the factories that create the jobs for Haitians and Dominicans.

"We have called attention to the border area, to what border controls have to be, to the business and trade opportunities, but that these be legal," said the congressman, insisting on the boost to manufacturing in the border area.

He said Dominicans have lived with their backs to the border. He praised efforts of the present authorities to increase controls on the border using technology.

He added: "What happens is that the border situation is not so easy. When you share the border with a country that lags in development, political stability, economics, there will always be strong pressure from that country to migrate."

The senator from Pedernales explained that Haiti's demographic growth is out of control. He said Haiti does not keep statistics. Official estimates are that at least 60% of the Haitian population is undocumented.

"That is a problem that we must define to analyze how we act. There has been talk of a wall, of 20,000 things. I say, let's build a wall of industries along the entire border, and I'm not going to get tired of saying it," Sánchez said.


Public debt soars
In only three months, between March and June 2019, the consolidated public debt of the Dominican Republic has increased by US$2 billion. It now stands at US$44 billion, according to official figures published in Diario Libre newspaper. This amount includes the non-financial public debt and that of the Central Bank.

The newspaper highlights that public debt now represents 50.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The public debt has increased by US$5.6 billion since the same period last year. The statistics show a significant increase in the public debt of US$582.5 million from March to June this 2019.


Air Force plans to buy new aircraft to fight drug trafficking
The Dominican Air Force is considering the purchase of new aircraft and radar equipment. Major General Richard Vásquez of the Air Force said the purchase would be made to strengthen the surveillance of the air space and reduce the operating costs of the Super Tucano aircraft. Major General Vasquez told El Dia that the purchases are needed to combat drug trafficking.

This would be the second major purchase of aircraft by the Dominican government. The case on corruption in the purchase of the Super Tucanos is being heard in a Dominican court. Embraer admitted in 2014 to making cash for contract payments to Dominican officers to ensure the purchase of the eight Super Tucano aircraft during a former Leonel Fernandez presidency. The argument then was that the aircraft was needed to police Dominican skies.


JCE tests the automated voting machines
The Central Electoral Board (JCE) announced it will carry out a test run of the automated voting system in 27 municipalities of the country. The system will then be used for the 6 October 2019 primaries of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) and that of the leading opposition party, the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM).

Some 116,392 voters are convened for the test at 57 voting districts. These are: located in Azua, Bajos de Haina, Barahona, Bayaguana, Cabrera, Cayetano Germosén, El Valle, Esperanza, Hato Mayor, Jarabacoa, Juan de Herrera, La Vega, Las Charcas, Las Guáranas, Mao, Moca, Monte Plata, Nagua, Neyba, Paraíso, Puñal, San Cristóbal, Pimentel, San Juan de la Maguana, Santiago de los Caballeros, Tamayo and Villa González.

Meanwhile, the JCE is running a campaign to teach Dominicans to use the automated voting system.


Superior Electoral Court (TSE) reviews recourse would disable Leonel Fernández
The Superior Electoral Tribunal (TSE) declared on Tuesday, 6 August 2019 of extreme urgency an instance that seeks to suspend the registration of the presidential candidacies of Leonel Fernández, for the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), and Hipólito Mejía, for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM).

The review is set for Wednesday, 7 August at 10:30am, said Román Jáquez Liranzo, president of the TSE. It is now known that lawyer Fredermido Ferreras Díaz initiated the case. This is the member of the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC) who in March 2018 had submitted a recourse to the Constitutional Court against the provisional clause in the 2015 Constitutional that bans President Danilo Medina from running for a third term. The Constitutional Court would subsequently reject the instance of unconstitutionality. In April 2019, the same lawyer then requested that the Central Electoral Board (JCE) issue a resolution so that President Medina could register his pre-candidacy for the PLD primary.

The PLD and the PRM have until 22 August 2019 to register the pre-candidates for the 6 October 2019 primaries. The campaign period for the pre-candidates opened on 7 July.

Leonel Fernández was President of the Republic from 1996 to 2000, 2004 to 2008 and 2008 to 2012. He now aspires to win the presidential candidacy for the PLD for the 2020 election. Polls show he is the most popular PLD candidate, but that his rejection rate is also the highest in the party.

The ruling PLD party has convened the meeting of its Central Committee for Saturday, 10 August. The vote of a third of the members of the Central Committee present for the meeting is needed for a pre-candidate to be cleared for the 6 October primary.

Hipólito Mejía was President of the Republic from 2000 to 2004 running on the PRD ticket. In the 2012 elections he lost to President Danilo Medina. He is one of the founding members of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) that resulted from a split between his followers and those of Miguel Vargas. He is scheduled to participate in the PRM primary scheduled for 6 October. His poll numbers are well below those of his opponent, Luis Abinader.

Lidio Cadet, president of the National Electoral Commission of the PLD, said that on Thursday, 8 August the party would decide the methodology to be used and this would be approved or not by the Central Committee in its meeting on 10 August. During the 10 August meeting, the party needs to vote on the pre-candidates that will be registered with the JCE by the 22 August deadline.



Abinader is ambiguous on constitutional reform
Presidential pre-candidate for the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) Luis Abinader said on Hoy Mismo (Channel 9): "It is necessary to make a reform so as not to make more constitutional reforms." On the same TV program he observed that the timing is not right for constitutional reform. In July 2019, he led a large march of followers to the National Congress to protest efforts to convene Congress for constitutional reform.

Abinader is now open to constitutional reform to unify the municipal, congressional and presidential elections in May 2020. On the constitutional reform agenda is also allowing President Medina to run for President in 2024. Abinader said, nevertheless, that the rehabilitating of Medina is an internal issue of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). He also stated the timing is not right now for constitutional reform.

Abinader's contender to be the PRM the presidential candidate, former President Hipólito Mejía, who openly favors constitutional reform to unify the elections and rehabilitate Medina. Mejía himself was rehabilitated in the 2010 constitutional reform when President Leonel Fernández received the backing of the PRD. As a result, the PRD then split into the PRD of Miguel Vargas and the PRM of Luis Abinader and Hipólito Mejía.

Abinader also explained that the electoral register for the PRM closed with 1.3 million voters. The PRM will be holding its primary on 6 October 2019. The total number of persons eligible to vote is 7.4 million. 6.1 million voters remain to vote for the presidential candidates of the other parties.


Infotep's Twitter account hacked
The Twitter account of the National Institute for Technical and Professional Training (Infotep) was hacked on Tuesday, 6 August 2019, in the morning by users who complained about supposed acts of corruption in the Dominican government.

The hacking took place at around 11:22 am. The hackers changed the profile image and replaced it with posters blaming President Danilo Medina for the deaths of innocent people and acts of corruption. It was restored later in the afternoon.

The Infotep Twitter account has 35,900 followers.

The hackers also changed the biography of the account and included a link to the Internet portal called corruptos.gob.do


High expectations re Somos Pueblo press conference
In what many speculate is a promotional campaign that is working, the anti-corruption civic movement Somos Pueblo is inviting reporters to a press conference "in support of the candidacy of former Public Works Minister Gonzalo Castillo." The announcement has become a trending topic.

On its website, the civic movement asks the people to "wait patiently" for the press conference when movement members "will express their support for Gonzalo Castillo's candidacy." The press conference is set for Wednesday, 7 August 2019, at 10am in the Business Room of the Radisson Hotel (formerly Plaza Naco), located on the third level, entering through the parking lot.

The movement thanks those who have been following them and reminds all that "there will be a snacks and refreshments at the press conference".


Altice announces maintenance may affect service
Altice Dominicana telecom company has informed its customers via text message on network maintenance works to take place during the early hours of the days from 7 to 13 August 2019. The company is advising its customers that may be momentary interruptions in service.


Many victims of buttock cosmetic surgery
The chief of plastic surgery at the Salvador B. Gautier Hospital says the service at the hospital sees around 20 Dominicans a week that come to remedy messed up operations. He said the patients are coming for lesions from the clandestine surgeries. He said the patients come to recover from glutes augmentation operations.

The patients frequently have been injected with unknown non-biodegradable volumizing substances. He complained the patients have no idea of the name of what they were injected with, complicating the remedial procedures.


Will the case against DNCD agents and the prosecutor advance in Montecristi?
The president of the Dominican Lawyers Guild (CARD), Miguel Surún Hernández says that in theory the prosecutor and members of the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) involved in the planting of drugs in a barbershop in Villa Vásquez in Montecristi could face up to 20 years in jail if found guilty.

He said that if it is proven that the DNCD agents planted drugs, they could be charged with possession of a controlled substance, criminal association and forgery of public documentation in violation of the Dominican Penal Code and the Law on Drugs.

Surún said that he hoped this type of case would not be repeated as it affects the image of justice and trust in those within the system of justice. He called for the full weight of the law to be applied to them.

He put a damper on expectations that there be sentences in the case. He said in cases where evidence has been obtained in an irregular manner, such as in this case, the case would be declared null and void.

The prosecutor that acted in the case, Carmen Lissbet Núñez Peña, resigned from the position. The Attorney General's Office has informed that investigations are continuing in an attempt to clarify the actions taken by DNCD members and the prosecutor in the case. The office says that the resigning of prosecutor Nuñez will lead to a simplification of the legal and disciplinary process against her.

Lawyers of the owner of the barbershop have presented a complaint against her and the DNCD agents. Adjunct prosecutor Bolívar Sánchez is in charge of investigations. He is the prosecutor who acted in investigations carried out by the Attorney General Office to remove judge Miriam Germán from the Supreme Court of Justice. He is the same prosecutor who acted in investigations that relieved the physician from the abortion and murder case of Emely Peguero in San Francisco de Macorís.

Dozens of others affected by alleged drug implants have come forward to tell their stories.


Puerto Plata mayor denies keeping US$700,000 in cash at home
Puerto Plata Mayor Walter Musa Meyreles says he does not know how much money was stolen from his bedroom. News reports have mentioned he kept US$700,000 in the house. Musa says this is not true, that the statement was made by a Puerto Plata journalist to affect his reputation in these electoral times.

The Mayor, nevertheless, could not specify how much money he kept and was stolen. He said he is working his accounts to be able to come up with the exact figure.

Speaking on the radio program, El Sol de la Mañana, Musa Meyreles said that the stolen money came from his own personal business, and that what happened was a partner in the business had died. He explained he had the money in cash and was keeping it in his home to later change it into dollars and pay some of the debts that the business had.

He said that since the robbery, which happened last week, the authorities have been working to establish what happened. No door or window had been forced to gain entry to his home.

Several people are under investigation in connection with the crime.


Vladimir Guerrero Jr named AL Player of the Week
Toronto Bluejays rookie player, Vladimir Guerrero Jr is the American League Player of the Week. The 20-year old batted.500/.536/.962 with three home runs, three doubles and 11 runs batted in during six games between Monday and Sunday. In a single game in Baltimore, Guerrero batted two home runs, a double and delivered four runs.

It is the second time he is named Player of the Week in his first year in Major League Baseball. The first time was from 13 to 19 May.

MLB website reported that Guerrero's banner week raised his season line to .279/.352/.468. He is hitting 18% better than the average Major Leaguer.


Dominican Republic in the Pan Am Games
The Dominican Republic added a bronze medal with the victory of Jiaji Wu who advanced to the men's single semifinal. Wu had already won a bronze in doubles with Emil Santos. He is competing today for gold.

In athletics, Juander Santos Aquino brother of Dominican London Olympics silver medalist Luguelin Santos, won his heat to reach the final of the 400m hurdles. His coach is Felix S´ánchez , winner of gold medals in the event in the Athens and London Olympic Games. He will compete for a medal on Thursday at 6:15pm.

The Dominican women's volleyball team will compete in this final week of the Pan Am Games. The team seeks to use the event to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.