DR1 Daily News - Dominican Republic

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21 October 2020

The Chamber of Deputies passed two loans from the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB). The Ministry of Hacienda and the multilateral bank signed the loan agreements on 20 August, in the first week of the Abinader administration. The funds will strengthen public policy and fiscal management to address the health and economic crisis caused by Covid-19 in the Dominican Republic and for the emergency program for macroeconomic and fiscal sustainability.

The two loans, each in the amount of US$250 million, passed in the Senate of the Republic on 30 September of this year.

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The country brand of the Dominican Republic is getting media coverage but not because of its creativity. A Russian graphic artist Ivan Bobrov is claiming that his graphic created for a small company in 2014 was copied.

He says he is from a small town in Russia and his life is very complicated with Covid-19, so he doesn’t know if he should take action to claim the copyright for the logo. He said he never placed his logo in any platform for sale. The logo was online and the artist was looking to be hired.

Actually, the Dominican country brand logo’s RD graphics are quite different from the K logo. The local design was contracted to a consortium made up by Kraneo, a local advertising agency, managed by Miguel Alfonseca. The contract was for around RD$32 million. Others participating in the contract were the Mexican firms Beker and Integra.

The contractor, Jose Diego Beker Migdial, of Beker, the Mexican creative agency, responsible for developing the logo, claims it is an...

Minister of Health Plutarco Arias is in quarantine after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus.

Engineer Robinson Díaz, director of the Public Health Cabinet, said that the minister is asymptomatic. Dr. Arias found out when undergoing a routine test.

“The minister is very stable, relaxed and well cared for. From now on he is under strict care of a medical team,” said Diaz.

Diaz said that despite the minister’s strict compliance with established protocols, the heavy workload, physical exhaustion and overexposure in different places would have caused his infection. He said he is isolated and expects to recover soon.

El Caribe says that Arias is the fourth high ranking Abinader government official to test positive for Covid-19. Others are Interior and Policía Minister Jesús Chu Vásquez, Public Works Minister Deligne Ascención and Customs Agency director Eduardo Sanz Lovatón.

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The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #216 reports 425 new PCR confirmed cases. The number might well include the case of Public Health Minister Plutarco Arias. On Wednesday, 21 October 2020 it was reported he had tested positive.

3,304 first PCR tests were carried out in time for the deadline of Bulletin #216. The previous 14-day average is 3,454 tests.

The 24-hour positivity rate is at 12.86% and the 4-week positivity rate continues to decline and is at 12.15%, a new low. The Ministry of Public Health reports active cases are now at 20,141 cases, down from 20,498 cases, and maintaining a downward trend.

Nevertheless, the country continues under the declaration of a National State of Emergency at least through 1 December 2020. The Ministry of Public Health is concerned that home and friends’ gatherings and increased mobility can bring virus flare-ups in other countries worldwide affected by pandemic fatigue. There continue to be...

Past and present corruption in government is headline news in the Dominican Republic these days. President Luis Abinader won the election promising change, and the people are holding him up to the commitment. On Tuesday, the Abinader administration took a step to strengthen institutions that are being held responsible for combatting corruption and impunity.

The United Nations will now be helping the Abinader government in its commitment to combat past and present corruption. On Tuesday, 20 October 2020, the United Nations agreed to support national efforts to prevent corruption and strengthen integrity, ethics, and transparency while strengthening the country’s institutional framework.

President Luis Abinader had campaigned promising to combat past and present corruption in government. Yet, understandably, dealing with corruption in a country where it permeates...

By Dolores Vicioso

For years, country marketers had considered changing the name of the Dominican Republic. The “republic” in the name just didn’t cut it, was the conclusion, time after time. Many have called the country, “The Dominican”, or just Dominicana. Then enter 2020, the year when anything and everything has happened and can happen.

President Luis Abinader, First Lady Raquel Arbaje and Vice President Raquel Peña, the cabinet in full and a dozen of the country’s most wealthy businesspeople, have stepped forward and done the unthinkable. The Dominican Republic is taking ownership of “republic.”

During a mega event held on 20 October 2020, the Dominican Republic’s new country brand was launched: “The Dominican Republic, the republic of republics, the Republic of the World.” The Ministry of Tourism has campaigned until now promoting the Dominican Republic “has...

The Ministry of Environment took action and backed the evicting of hundreds of squatters in a protected area in Santo Domingo East. Environment Minister Orlando Jorge Mera said he will be taking several people to court for the invasion. Twelve persons were arrested and 43 families evicted. 153 improvised dwellings were dismantled in an area of 2.6 km of protected area near the Quinto Centenario Horse Race Track. He said the settlement was a business of persons with ties to the past government.

Jorge Mera said the eviction respected the legal procedures. The eviction was carried out in coordination with the National Service for Environmental Protection (Senpa), the city government of Santo Domingo East, the Specialized Environmental Prosecution Agency, National Police, and the National Child and Adolescent Agency (Conani).

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The People’s Force (FP) was born in 2020 when former president of the then ruling Dominican Liberation Party split from the party arguing fraud in the PLD primary in October. But now the leadership of the PLD and that of the FP have something they agree on. They oppose President Luis Abinader’s proposal that political parties be included in the belt-tightening to release funds for social needs. Abinader has proposed a 50% reduction in the allotment to political parties in 2021.

Spokespeople for the political parties say they favor austerity for the Dominican people, but consider that “democracy” should not have to suffer.

The law determines that this year two majority parties — the ruling Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) and the PLD would have an equal share of 80% of the RD$1.5 billion allotments for political parties in 2021 as per Law 275-97. This is so...

According to data from the Permanent Observatory of Road Safety, (Opsevi) of the National Institute of Traffic and Land Transport (Intrant), deaths in traffic accidents were 3,024 people not the 2,095 reported in the Transit Safety Agency (Digesett) Bulletin No. 01-2020 in 2019.

El Caribe newspaper reports that traffic accidents from January to December 2019 more than double the homicides (1,206 deaths). Using the observatory numbers, the deaths and about 50% more than the number of Covid-19 deaths so far this year. As of 19 October deaths for Covid-19 were at 2,204.

Most of the fatal victims are men, ages 15 to 34 years.

Data from the EnHogar 2017 national survey explains that young people overestimate their driving skills and underestimate the perils of speeding on roads. Human error (79.1%) is the leading cause of accidents, followed by 10.1% vehicular failure and 6.8% road...

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The National Institute of Transit and Land Transportation (Intrant) authorized Conatra bus company, to acquire 31 bus units with a capacity of 90 passengers to exclusively operate the Nuñez de Caceres bus corridor in the National District. The president of the company is senator Antonio Marte (Santiago Rodriguez-PRM).

In a note sent by the Intrant to Eduardo Sanz Lovatón, director of the Customs Agency (DGA), Intrant director Rafael Arias requests the validation of special taxation treatment for the import of the vehicles. Arias says the actions are part of efforts to renew the public transport fleets.

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The Dominican Baseball League (Lidom) Professional Winter Baseball Championship starts 15 November 2020 and ends 15 January 2021. This year, the games will be televised and streamed on weekdays starting at 7 and 7:30pm. On Saturdays and Sundays, games are scheduled to start at 5pm. The games will be played to empty ball parks.

Vitelio Mejía announced that the staff working in the fall/winter baseball tournament will have permission to circulate after the curfew.

“The idea is that the fans can follow the plays from home,” said Mejía.

New this season are team masks allegoric to the six baseball teams – Toros del Este, Estrellas Orientales, Aguilas Cibaeñas, Gigantes del Cibao, Tigres del Licey and Leones del Escogido.

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #215 reports 306 new PCR confirmed cases. A low of 2,245 first PCR tests were carried out in time for the bulletin deadline. The previous 14-day average is 3,521 tests.

The 24-hour positivity rate is at 13.63% and the 4-week positivity rate continues to decline and is at 12.16%, a new low. The Ministry of Public Health reports active cases are now at 20,498 cases, maintaining a downward trend.

Nevertheless, the country continues under the declaration of a National State of Emergency at least through 1 December 2020. The Ministry of Public Health is concerned that home and friends’ gatherings and increased mobility can bring virus flare-ups in other countries worldwide affected by pandemic fatigue. There continue to be sporadic spikes in Greater Santo Domingo and the provinces.

This situation is...

On Monday, 19 October, the Central Electoral Board (JCE) announced it had reduced the age for the first identity card to 12 years down from 16 years at present. The JCE is responsible the nation’s civil registry. On the same day, the JCE announced it would be issuing ID cards to girls under 12 years old that are pregnant. The action acknowledges the increasing number of pregnant children in the Dominican Republic.

The decision is in Resolution 74-2020. The measure is one of the final actions taken by the present JCE board whose term expires this year. The Senate is assessing the replacements for the five-member board made up by Julio Cesar Castaños Guzmán, and members Henry Mejía, Rosario Graciano, Roberto Saladín and Carmen Imbert Brugal. The new board will be announced later this year. Two members seek to continue — Rosario Graciano and Carmen Imbert Brugal.

As announced, Resolution...

Youth Minister Kinsberly (Kimberly) Taveras said on Monday, 19 October 2020, she has requested a leave of absence without pay from her duties at the Ministry of Youth to dedicate time to the investigations into her worth statement and her private businesses, as reported in Acento. The case is being reviewed by Wilson Camacho, the Anti-Corruption Agency (Pepca) prosecutor. She has been summoned for questioning on Friday, 23 October.

The review of her wealth came after investigative journalist Nuria Piera interviewed her to ask about how she had accumulated more than RD$77 million in assets. The minister is 33 years old and is a self-made millionaire. Previously, she was known as the mayor of the small town of La Guayiga, and then as mayor of Pedro Brand in northern Santo Domingo. Only after the presentation of her wealth statement have her successful ventures come into...

President Luis Abinader said his administration works fast when it comes to creating jobs to benefit the Dominican Republic. He said the government is cutting red tape so that companies can get to work. The President was in Barahona for the start of the construction of renovations at the Barahona Port. Belfond Enterprise is carrying out the renovations at the Port of Barahona. It was mentioned the port would be for both cargo and cruise ships.

Belfond Enterprise is a company that has a concession to mine calcium carbonate that would be exported from the port.

The media reports the renovations of pier 4 at the port calls for an investment of US$30 million. The renovations seek to convert the Barahona Port into a multi-use port for loading and unloading of bulk products to primarily serve the export of calcium carbonate to Alabama, USA. Freight container cargo...

19 October 2020

No questions asked. It’s as simple as that. Senators and deputies get a free hand in deciding who to favor, or how much to distribute of their monthly allotments with RD$691 million a month in taxpayer money. As reported in El Dia, the senators will receive RD$461 million for their “little barrels,” and the deputies RD$230.6 million for similar reasons. The legislators handle an extra RD$691 million without delivering receipts or account for how they spend the money.

The funds were created so that all the legislators could “assist” their constituents in their needs.

Two senators have resigned from being part of the slush funds. In the case of the senators, the funds go from RD$600,000 to RD$1 million extra a month.

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As part of the efforts of the Abinader administration to reduce wasteful spending in government, as reported the US$10,000 credit card that was allocated to each of the general managers of the three government utilities (EdeNorte, EdeSur and EdeEste) is canceled.

As reported, the government power utilities managers’ base wages per month range from RD$575,000 to RD$695,000. A perk of a RD$250,000 in credit card spending in pesos and US$10,000 in dollars was part of the deal during the Medina administration. No receipts had to be presented for spending with the government credit card.

Milton Morrison, named general manager of EdeSur, says the utilities board authorized an additional RD$60,000 to his monthly wage for gasoline purchases.

He explains that his predecessor, Radhames del Carmen Mariñez had a monthly wage of RD$575,000 and his salary is now RD$635,000 a month, including the...

Public ministry, police and military raided the Tony Car Wash in La Romana in time to arrest dozens of persons who were there in violation of curfew. Last week, the commander of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Program (COBA) of the Ministry of the Interior and Police in La Altagracia, Roberto Antonio Silverio Castillo, had denounced higher up military officers was making it difficult for his patrols to do their jobs. He said that generals, colonels and other high-ranking military officials allow businesses to stay open after curfew to continue to sell alcoholic beverages to their customers. The director of the COBA had specifically mentioned that Tony Car Wash business was staying open after curfew because it had a military godfather.

This time around the military godfather was probably told to lay low and the patrons of the business were loaded onto a truck for the...

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #214 reports 320 new PCR confirmed cases. 3,265 first PCR tests were carried out in time for the bulletin deadline. The 14-day average is 3,521 tests.

The 24-hour positivity rate is at 9.80% and the 4-week positivity rate continues to decline and is at 12.19%, a new low. The Ministry of Public Health reports active cases are now at 20,584 cases, maintaining the downward trend.

Nevertheless, the country continues under the declaration of a National State of Emergency at least through 1 December 2020. The Ministry of Public Health is concerned that home and friends’ gatherings and increased mobility can bring virus flare-ups in other countries around the world affected by pandemic fatigue. This situation is why the Ministry of Public Health continues to recommend keeping curfew and preventive...

The Hotel & Tourism Association (Asonahores) is organizing for the Dominican Annual Travel Exchange (DATE), the Trade Exhibition, the Investors Forum and Encuentro Asonahores to be held together online this year.

The Virtual Fair Asonahores 2020 is promoting the relaunching of the country’s tourism sector. The event will be held 2 to 6 November 2020. There will be some in-person events, but the focus is on hosting a virtual meeting. The event has the backing of the Ministry of Tourism.

The president of Asonahores, Paola Rainieri said:“It will be five intense days, with the participation of important international and local tourism stakeholders who have much to share with us. She said the event is a novel way to learn and market the Dominican tourism product. She spoke also of it creating internal synergies in the sector and relations with society.

The Dominican Annual Travel Exchange...

The Presidency announces President Luis Abinader and several cabinet officers will be in Barahona this Monday, 19 October 2020. Abinader has been traveling to visit with community leaders in each province. In his first two months in government, he has visited Pedernales, Monte Cristi, Santiago de los Caballeros, La Altagracia (Punta Cana), San Pedro de Macorís, La Vega, Samaná and Puerto Plata.

On his agenda for the 11am to 2:30pm visit is to participate in the start of works at the port, visit with religious leaders, and army headquarters in Barahona. He will have lunch with ruling Modern Revolutionary Party (PRD) leaders in the community.

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Barrick Gold Corporation reports having paid US$108 million in taxes and royalties this month to the Dominican government. This includes advance payment of income tax, net profit interest and royalties, including an advance payment of the royalty for the year 2021 estimated at US$47 million.

This is the fourth tax payment the mine has made so far this year and brings its contribution to the Dominican government for 2020 to US$385 million. Pueblo Viejo has also agreed to advance the royalty payment for the years 2022 and 2023, estimated at US$95 million, to support the government mission to combat the health and economic crisis caused by Covid-19. Pueblo Viejo will not receive any discount or charge interest on the advance royalty payments.

Taxes for 2020 have been significantly higher than the US$195 million paid in 2019 due to the impact of the increase in the price of...

The Mayor’s Office of the National District says the pilot program to turn the Colonial City into a haven for those on foot and bicycle on weekends went well. The plan was first implemented this past weekend in coordination with government transit and tourism entities in a central area of the Colonial City – Mercedes, Meriño, Billini and La Católica streets.

The capital city government says that on Saturdays and Sundays in October the area will be off limits to vehicular traffic from 1pm to 5pm. The initiative seeks to encourage visits from Dominicans and tourists.

The National Institute of Transit and Land Transportation (Intrant), the General Direction of Transit Security and Land Transportation, Ministry of Tourism), neighborhood councils of the area and the Association of Merchants of the Colonial City are participating in the pedestrianization...

A 4.6 earthquake shook Samaná peninsula on Monday, 19 October 2020 at 5am. The earthquake’s center was of 4.6 magnitude and was 13 km from Sánchez, a large town in the province. No significant damages have been reported.

US Earthquakes

19 October 2020

President Luis Abinader’s proposal to ask Congress to cut 50% of the funds has not met with support from political parties outside of Eduardo Estrella’s Dominicans por el Cambio. The Electoral Law No. 275-97 and Political Parties Law 33-18 allots generous funding to politicians. In 2020, political parties received RD$3 billion in funds because it is an electoral year. The proposal then would be to reduce this to RD$1.5 billion, still a very generous share of the budget in these economic and health crisis times

In 2021, 80% of the politician funds would be distributed between the ruling Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) and the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), the only politician parties reaching the 5% of the vote levels.

Article 61 of Political Parties Law 33-18 on Political Parties establishes that 80% of these resources or...

President Luis Abinader addressed the nation on Friday, 16 October 2020 to say that he will be donating his wages to a social cause. This is RD$450,000 a month, or around RD$5,850,000 including the 13th Christmas wage.

Abinader said he is also forgoing his expense account but did not detail the amount involved. Recently, the director of the Port Authority, Jean Luis Rodríguez announced he was giving up a US$10,000 a month credit card that came with the position.

On Friday, President Luis Abinader asked politicians to sacrifice millions budgeted to the political parties in the 2021 National Budget. Abinader argued 2021 is not an electoral year. The money would instead fund social programs.

Senate president Eduardo Estrella (DxC-Santiago) immediately backed the motion. His political party, Dominicanos por el Cambio approved the request by the President over the...

Decree 554-20 extends the curfew for another 25 days, from 18 October to 11 November 2020. The curfew will continue to be in force from Monday to Friday from 9pm to 5am and on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 7pm to 5am.

Decree 553-20, also issued on Friday, 16 October 2020, extends the National Emergency Declaration for another 45 days, through 1 December 2020.

The use of facial masks continues to be mandatory in public places and in private places where there are people gatherings to control the spread of Covid-19.

Penalties for the violation of the preventive measures are established by the General Health Law No. 42-01.

Yet, anyone who was around and about on Saturday and Sunday could tell pandemic fatigue has set in and people are getting about their lives, including meeting with family and friends. In major cities, most Dominicans have complied...

The Sierra de Bahoruco National Park is one of the most ecologically diverse places in the Dominican Republic and the Caribbean. It is supposed to be uninhabited. In recent years, though, persons with influence in government managed to operate an avocado plantation right in the park.

Environment Minister Orlando Jorge Mera announced the ban on farming in the park. The ban covers around 2,000 avocado trees that had already been grafted to produce a more marketable avocado. Alongside with the main money crop, fields dedicated to corn, beans and other short-cycle crops need to be cleared.

At the Ministry of Environment’s request, the Ministry of Defense sent a detachment of troops to close the farming operation. Farming equipment was seized. Three undocumented Haitian workers were sent to the Specialized Corps of Frontier Security (Cesfront)...

Mockbul Ali Obe / UK Government

New UK Ambassador Mockbul Ali has spent his first weeks holding in-person meetings with key Abinader administration officials to discuss new areas of investment, trade and cooperation between the two countries.

He has a career of more than 20 years as a diplomat, but this is his first time in the Caribbean and his first visit to the Dominican Republic. He is fluent in Spanish. He is giving priority to climate change, covid-19 and fostering bilateral trade. The DR is on the waiting list for the Covid-19 vaccine being developed by the team of specialists at the University of Oxford (COVAX).

The media reports the recently arrived ambassador has met with Minister of Foreign Relations on 30 September 2020. Since then, he has met with the Minister of Defense Carlos Diaz Morfa, Minister of Industry & Commerce Victor Bisonó, the Central Bank...

Kimberly Taveras / N Digital

TV investigative journalist Nuria Piera did a follow-up segment and presented more evidence that the state prosecutors need to be looking into the rapidly growing fortune of new Youth Minister Kinsberly (Kimberly) Taveras. On Saturday, 17 October, Piera mentioned the close ties Taveras has with higher up officials in the ruling political party and in the new government. She mentioned that Taveras had sold her expensive home in Arroyo Hondo to the new Public Works minister Deligne Ascención.

Taveras has demanded that the authorities determine whether there has been any wrongdoings in her dealings. The 33-year old Abinader cabinet member declared a fortune of RD$106 million. Piera aired evidence of major irregularities and a scheme for profiteering from ties in government.

Taveras’ new boyfriend is Jheyson García Castillo, the son of high-ranking PRM...

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #213 reports 422 new PCR confirmed cases. 3,174 first PCR tests were carried out in time for the bulletin deadline. The 14-day average is 3,510 tests.

The 24-hour positivity rate is at 13,30% and the 4-week positivity rate continues to decline and is at 12.32%. The Ministry of Public Health reports active cases are now at 20,941 cases, maintaining the downward trend.

The country, nevertheless, continues under the declaration of a National State of Emergency at least through 1 December 2020. The Ministry of Public Health is concerned that home and friends gatherings and increased mobility can bring virus flare-ups in other countries around the world affected by pandemic fatigue. This situation is why the Ministry of Public Health continues to recommend keeping curfew and preventive measures. The...

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #211 reports 384 new PCR confirmed cases. 3,906 first PCR tests were carried out in time for the bulletin deadline. The 14-day average is 3,630 tests.

The 24-hour positivity rate is at 9.83%, the lowest so far this year. The 4-week positivity rate continues to decline and is at 12.54%. The Ministry of Public Health reports active cases are now at 21,375, down 350 cases.

The country, nevertheless, continues under a National State of Emergency at least through 1 December 2020. The Ministry of Public Health is concerned that home and friends gatherings and increased mobility can bring virus flare-ups as has occurred in other countries around the world affected by pandemic fatigue. This situation is why the Ministry of Public Health continues to recommend keeping curfew and preventive measures. The...

Has Jean Luis Rodriguez, the new executive director of the Dominican Port Authority, opened a Pandora’s box?

Rodríguez is setting an example that many government officials will find tough to follow. He understands the extras are illegitimate and untimely in these Covid-19 days

Rodríguez turned down US$10,000 a month in personal expenses. He was not being held accountable for how he spent the money; the government would just pay the credit card bills, no questions asked.

Rodriguez also turned down being paid RD$50,000 bonus for each time he attended a board of directors meeting of the Dominican Port Authority.

The disclosure by Rodriguez provides another glimpse into the wasteful spending that was normal in the past Medina administration and if unchecked could continue in the Abinader administration.

Rodríguez acknowledged that the generous...

Hacienda Minister José Manuel (Jochy) Vicente announced that the Dominican government received US$47 million from the Barrick Gold mine in tax advances. Vicente said Barrick will pay another US$95 million in 2021. The Dominican government is benefiting from the windfall in profits as gold exports yield high prices in international markets. Vicente said the conditions for the payment are the same as before the advance was made.

Vicente said a similar agreement was reached with financial intermediary institutions that will be making tax advances for RD$20 billion, that is more than US$330 million.

Vicente confirmed the negotiating of the tax advances will make it possible for the government to remove from the 2021 National Budget bill the new taxes, including a tax on the Christmas wage in 2021.

Concurrently, the executive director of the National Potable Water & Sewage...

When she was an opposition deputy in the Chamber of Deputies, young legislator Faride Raful was very vocal speaking up, calling for an end to corruption, more checks and balances in government, and eliminating the slush fund in Congress. The fund delivers legislators upwards of RD$300,000= US$1 million + a month for use at their discretion. The legislators defend the fund saying they use it to meet the humanitarian needs of their constituents.

When campaigning for National District senator, Raful had said she would resign “the little barrel.” But so far, she did not join the Senate’s president, Eduardo Estrella (DxC-Santiago) and Antonio Taveras (PRM-Santo Domingo) who did resign, keeping their promises to do so made during the electoral campaign. Raful now instead announces she has created a technical fund. She explains this is a way to “redirect the funds to the real needs in the...

Roberto Antonio Silverio Castillo / N Digital

The commander of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Program (COBA) of the Ministry of the Interior and Police in La Altagracia, Roberto Antonio Silverio Castillo, denounced higher up military officers are making life impossible for his patrols. He said that generals, colonels and other high-ranking military officials allow businesses to stay open after curfew to continue to sell alcoholic beverages to their customers.

As reported in N Digital, Silverio Castillo denounced the situation when meeting with the governor of La Altagracia, Martina Pepén Santana. He said that in Bavaro, the COBA agents that patrol the commercial, touristic and residential district have clashed with officers that authorize that certain businesses stay open.

Silverio Castillo said that the enforcement of alcohol-vending hours is the task of the...

Servio Tulio Castaños / El Caribe

The executive vice-president of the Foundation for Institutionalism and Justice (Finjus) Servio Tulio Castaños has again gone on record with the legal think tank organization’s opinion on who can sell to the state.

Recently the case has been back in the news after TV journalist Nuria Piera presented on TV how the scheme of selling to the state helps explain how 33-year old newly named Youth Minister Kinsberly (Kimberly) Taveras has accumulated more than RD$77 million in wealth. Before her appointment to the Abinader government, Taveras served as mayor of the small towns of La Guayiga and Pedro Brand.

The spokesperson for Finjus says no Dominican government officer is allowed by Procurement Law 340-06 (Article 14) to be a supplier to the state or to bid for a contract with the government.

Recently, senator Alexis Victoria Yeb, the senator...

The Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht compensated the Dominican government for US$60 million in payments made in 2017 and 2018. The Brazilian corporation, nevertheless, has defaulted on the remaining eight payments as per the agreement. It was known at the time that if the payments were defaulted, the agreement could be revoked. The agreement established that the Dominican government would not prosecute Odebrecht officers for wrongdoings in the Dominican Republic.

The deal was signed by then Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez months after Odebrecht officers admitted to a New York City court having paid US$92 million in bribes to Dominican government officers and others to benefit from government contracting. The deal established a fine of double the total of the bribes Odebrecht officers had admitted to in the NY court.

Diario Libre says Odebrecht...

René Brea / Diario Libre

Soberano Awards producer Rene Brea wasn’t going to sit out the pandemic. The mega concert and event producer said he accepted the challenge and has reinvented the business.

He is now staging mega concerts for streaming online. He is betting that the public will recognize the new reality and the effort and pay to back their favorite artists. He says this is a way to bring quality entertainment to spectators, as reported in an interview with Listin Diario.

He sees the streaming as an opportunity to provide income for the entertainment industry in these times of the pandemic. By streaming the shows online, the event is marketable to the entire world. The artistic community has been one of the most-hard hit by economic and social restrictions.

Brea’s first production was that of now senator Hector Acosta on 30 August. His next is the Eddy Herrera Reloaded on...

The Chamber of Deputies selected deputy Victor Fadul (PLD-Santiago) to be the PLD representative in the National Council of the Magistracy. With the naming of Fadul, the only seat missing to be named is the Senate’s second majority political party. The Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), the People’s Force and the Social Christian Reformist Party (PRSC) claim the seat. The 32 members of the Senate need to vote on who gets the seat.

So far, the known members of the CNM are President Luis Abinader, Senate president Eduardo Estrella (Dominicans for Change), Chamber of Deputies president Alfredo Pacheco (PRM), Supreme Court president Luis Henry Molina, Supreme Court judge Nancy Salcedo Fernández (named on 1 October), Attorney General Miriam German Brito, and Victor Fadul (named on 14 October).

The National Council of the Magistracy is the government body in charge of choosing the...

US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) chief executive officer Adam Boehler and President Luis Abinader signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the US and the Dominican Republic to promote investment and bolster the local economy. The plan is to collaborate to mobilize investments in energy, tourism and other infrastructure projects that will strengthen key industries and create jobs. Also signing the MOU were Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez and US Ambassador Robin Bernstein.

The US Embassy explains that the MOU advances the America Crece program, the US government initiative to promote growth throughout Latin America and the Caribbean by mobilizing energy and infrastructure investments.

“This agreement underscores the strong US commitment to the Dominican Republic and the essential role of investment in advancing our shared...

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Dominican Republic (AmChamDR) presents its 28th edition of Dominican Week from October 19 to 30. The Dominican Week this year will be held online. The discussions and talks focus on competitiveness and how to improve the investment climate. Learn more about the US plans for the country and the region.

The American Chamber of Commerce is stepping up efforts to position the Dominican Republic as a “nearshore” destination for US manufacturing. As part of promotional efforts for Dominican Week, the board of Am Cham met with Foreign Relations Minister Roberto Alvarez. This was also an opportunity to discuss the importance of positioning the country for integrating manufacturing to the value chains in the United States. Also discussed was the importance of developing the potential of the country as a regional logistics hub.

AmChamDR is promoting the privileged...

Dominicans who caught abroad when airports shut down in March 2020 made it back by the thousands in August. But by September, the numbers had declined somewhat. Foreign tourists are gradually returning, understandable in these difficult Covid-19 times. Central Bank tourism report numbers show the foreigners have begun to return, but slowly.

In its January-September 2020 tourism overview, the Central Bank statistics division reveals that travel this year is down 65% compared to 2019. Arrivals of non-resident visitors reached 1,743,480 compared to 3,244,218 for the same first three quarters of the year in 2019. Non-resident Dominican visitors is down 48.4%. These were only 402,953 arrivals for the first nine months of the year.

The Dominican Republic is open to tourism since 1 July 2020 when international airports resumed operations, and the government instated a travel...

15 October 2020

The National Drug Control Agency (DNCD) announced 444 packages containing cocaine were seized on board a ship detained off San Pedro de Macoris’s coast. The packages weighed 456.22 kilograms and tested positive for cocaine, as determined when analyzed at the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (INACIF)

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STO01. SANTO DOMINGO (REPÚBLICA DOMINICANA), 13/01/17.- Vista del edificio de la Procuraduría General de la República y de la Corte Suprema de Justicia hoy, viernes 13 de enero de 2017, donde el procurador general, Jean Alain Rodríguez, está investigando a la constructora brasileña Odebrecht sobre los supuestos sobornos millonarios que la empresa pagó en el país, en Santo Domingo (República Dominicana). Esta tarde se vence el plazo otorgado por la Procuraduría General de la República a la empresa constructora Odebrecht, para que entregue los documentos de contratos y los nombres implicados en el soborno de 92 millones de dólares desde Brasil. EFE/Orlando Barría

A warehouse employee was sent to the Najayo Women’s Jail in San Cristobal for preventive custody as the case of robbery against her is prepared. She stole 710 televisions and an undetermined number of fans from the warehouse...

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #210 reports 404 new PCR confirmed cases. 2,679 first PCR tests were carried out in time for the bulletin deadline. The 14-day average is 3,619 tests.

The 24-hour positivity rate is at 15.08%. The 4-week positivity rate continues to decline and is at 12.88%. The 26 September bulletin (#192) reported a positivity rate under 10%, but this has climbed back to around 12% after the curfew reduction.

The Ministry of Public Health reports active cases are now at 21,725, down 291 cases, compared to 22,016 for the previous report.

The Abinader administration has obtained an extension of the National State of Emergency through 1 December. The extension passed on 14 October in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Presidency has yet to issue the decree with the details on the state of emergency...

Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) high-ranking member Emmanuel Esquea argues that the Social Compensation Fund (the little barrel) violates Article 140 of the Constitution. Esquea says that the article states that no government institution shall establish benefits for its incumbents, except for a subsequent period.

Esquea brings up the popular Dominican saying, “one thing is with the violin and another with the guitar.” The saying explains that when one is in the opposition, the proposition is bad, but it is good when one is a senator.

The PRM in the opposition strongly opposed “the little barrel.” This is the slush fund that grants senators up to RD$1 million a month in discretionary income supposedly to be used to help their constituents.

Esquea has recommended the PRM now take advantage of its majority in Congress to eliminate the perk. “The little barrel was...

National exports increased 3.1% this September 2020 compares to the same month in 2019. Exports were US$891.9 million, according to Customs Agency data. Exports increased from US$864.7 million in September 2019 to US$891.9 million in September 2020.

ProDominicana, the national export and investment agency, had reported increases in exports for August 2020 also.

Biviana Riveiro Disla, executive director of ProDominicana, released the data and spoke enthusiastically of the new efforts of the Abinader administration to promote the growth of Dominican exports.

“At ProDominicana we are committed to expanding exports,” she said. She advocated for quality in exports, innovations, competitive, customizable, sustainable and strategically-diversified exportable offers.

She said that among the commercial partners of the Dominican Republic, markets such as the Netherlands stand out, which experienced a growth of 33.9%, Haiti with 26.0%, Puerto Rico 13.8% and Switzerland with 7.1%...

The National Senate passed the 45-day extension of the National State of Emergency on Wednesday, 14 October 2020, in the evening. The bill had already passed in the Chamber of Deputies.

The status provides short cuts for government procurement and facilitates the enforcing of the curfew. The National State of Emergency will start on 18 October and continue to 1 December 2020. It has been in effect since 18 March 2020. Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) legislators had opposed the state of emergency during the past government. Now as the new majority in both Congress houses, PRM legislators have been prompt to extend the status on two occasions.

The bill now moves to the Presidency for its signing and implementation.

In the arguments for the extension, President Luis Abinader stated: “Although the spread of the disease is contained thanks to measures adopted during the state...

Photo: CDN

Diario Libre requested and obtained the allocations of the senatorial compensation fund for the now majority PRM Senate. The fund is popularly known as “the little barrel” and provides RD$600,000 to RD$1 million in extra funds for social actions or for use at the senators’ discretion.

Only two senators are excluded from the payments in September to the legislators for social works. These are Eduardo Estrella (DxC-Santiago), president of the Senate, and Antonio Taveras Guzmán (PRM-Santo Domingo).

The largest allocations made in September 2020 correspond to the National District senator Faride Raful (PRM-National District) and Franklin Rodriguez (FP-San Cristobal) with RD$1,059,000.00 each. The funds are distributed in proportion to the population of the provinces. The distribution of funds to senators of the other provinces is: La Vega RD$944,000; Puerto Plata...

15 October 2020

During the second term of President Danilo Medina, the early childhood agency director almost doubled her officially presented worth. As reported in Diario Libre, Berlinesa Franco, former director of the National Institute for Early Childhood Care (Inaipi), presented a worth statement of RD$295 million, up from RD$218 million presented in 2016. Franco is the widow of the late mayor of Santo Domingo East, Juan de los Santos.

She had resigned the position in April 2020 after Alicia Ortega investigative report presented evidence of wrongdoings in purchasing denounced by businessman Pablo Cabrera.

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