DR1 Daily News - Dominican Republic

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The National Vaccination Plan Phase I continued on 25 February 2021 with the start of the vaccinating of aging persons in nursing homes around the country. This program is in coordination with the National Council for the Elderly (Conape). Dr. Jose García Ramírez, director of the council, was present for the start of vaccination of 200 elderly at the San Francisco de Asis Home in San Francisco de Macoris.

Phase I began with the vaccinating of all Covid-19 front line workers. It now continues with the aging in nursing homes, those 70+ and the medical staff. The Dominican Medical Association (CMD) encouraged doctors to get vaccinated at its headquarters in Santo Domingo from 8:30 to 4pm.

The authorities announced that pre-school public school teachers are being vaccinated. The plan is to first vaccinate those who are 60+.

Read more in...

25 February 2021

President Luis Abinader attended the inauguration of the newest Plaza Lama superstore. This opened at Km. 12.5 of the Duarte Highway. The company says US$15 million were invested in the 8,500 square meter store that is located on a 21,000 meter lot in Alameda, Santo Domingo West. Plaza Lama has 90 years in business in the country.

Read more in Spanish:

27 February is Independence Day in the Dominican Republic. It is a holiday in the Dominican Republic. It is also the day when the President renders the annual state of accounts on government to the gathering of 32 senators and 190 deputies at the National Congress. The Constitution in Art. 128 establishes that the President will present before Congress, at the opening of the first regular legislative session on 27 February of every year, the reports of the ministries; and will render account of the administration during the previous year.

The diplomatic corps is also traditionally invited. This year, given the pandemic, many of the usual participants will tune in by Zoom.

Local media provides extensive coverage of the event. Color Vision (Channel 9), CDN (Channel 37), and the government-owned RNN (Channel 27) and CERTV (Channel 4) provide extensive coverage of...

President Luis Abinader signed the Electricity Pact with the backing of big business and the political parties in a ceremony on Thursday, 25 February 2021 at the Presidential Palace. Representatives of the social sector did not sign. The agreement had been called for in the National Development Strategy Law 1-12.

President Luis Abinader argued that even he was not in agreement with several points but that it was the possible one. President Abinader announced the National Pact for the Electricity Sector Reform seeks to provide a more stable, efficient and lower cost service.

He said the electricity sector today runs in deficit and is responsible for 50% of the public sector debt. The President explained that in the 2021 National Budget RD$58 billion is allocated to cover the deficit. He said the biggest drain of resources happens through the state-owned power...

The president of the Central Electoral Board (JCE), Román Jáquez announced on Thursday, 25 February 2021 that citizens will have to wait until April to not have to certify their birth certificates. At present, civil registry records issued by the JCE need to be legalized through a different time-consuming procedure at the same JCE. Jáquez says the JCE is working on the matter but it will still take time to eliminate the tedious legalizations of civil registry records.

Jáquez said a QR code will be used to authenticate the certificates. The code will be tied in with the institutions that require the use of the document. “This must be socialized with the institutions that require the legalization because they will have to update their own systems with the new QR code. He said meetings with the different government institutions have been held and staff is undergoing training to use...

25 February 2021

Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez explained the Abinader administration’s position regarding relations with Venezuela during an interview with the Grupo Corripio. He explained that the country does not recognize as legitimate the government of Nicolas Madura. Nevertheless, the country neither recognizes Juan Guaidó. Alvarez explained: “We could not continue recognizing Guaidó after his term as head of the National Assembly had expired because that would set a negative precedent in the region.”

He explained that the country can neither definitely break with the regime because that would be turning a back on more than 20,000 Dominicans that live in Venezuela.

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The Dominican Association of Public School Teachers (ADP) president, Xiomara Guante says public school teachers will not return to in-person classrooms until their conditions are met. “We will return to the classrooms when the teachers are vaccinated,” said Guante.

Guante made these statements on the program Uno Más Uno, hosted by journalists Adalberto Grullón and Millizen Uribe.

She detailed the conditions for public school teachers returning to school: The flattening of the spread of Covid-19, that teachers receive the two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine and that classrooms are conditioned to comply with the new health protocols. She said this position was made clear during the Tuesday, 23 February 2021 meeting of the National Education Council (CNE).

Teachers are in the last part of the first phase of the National Vaccination Plan. This means they should be...

Foreign Minister Roberto Álvarez said during an interview with the Grupo Corripio media group that the DR government does not recognize as legitimate the government of Nicolás Maduro. He said the country is paying special attention as to who is in control in Venezuela.

“We could not continue recognizing Juan Guaidó after his term as head of the National Assembly had expired because that would set a negative precedent in the region.

He explained the DR cannot definitively break with the regime because of the more than 20,000 Dominicans that live in Venezuela.

He expressed that it is necessary to recognize certain realities and act prudently accordingly.

During the Medina administration while recognizing Guaidó, the Venezuelan ambassador continued to be the envoy of the Maduro government. This situation continues to this day.

Read more in...

Foreign Relations Minister Roberto Alvarez explained that strengthening relations with the United States, China, Haiti and the Caribbean English-speaking islands (Caricom) is tops on the agenda of the Ministry, as reported in Hoy.

During the Corripio Media Group luncheon, Alvarez spoke of the renovation of the foreign service corps to better position the country. Alvarez stresses that the three main objectives of the Dominican Republic’s foreign policy are protecting Dominicans abroad, increasing exports and attracting foreign capital, and promoting of democratic values and human rights.

“We are concentrating on embassies, missions before international organizations, consulates, and the Institute for Dominicans Abroad (INDEX),” he told participants in the Corripio meeting.

He stressed the United States is the country’s key strategic partner given the...

Through its Embassy in Santo Domingo, the government of Haiti is denying speculation that has widely circulated in the media that the release of the two Dominican film crew kidnapped in Haiti is conditioned to the extradition of former Haitian mayor Ralph Youri Chevry. The mayor is under arrest in Santo Domingo for entering with firearms and without adequate documentation on 14 February 2021. The Haitian government has issued an arrest warrant for the former mayor, accusing him of inciting violence and chaos in Port-au-Prine. 

Also arrested upon arrival by the Dominican authorities for illegal entry and carrying firearms are former governor of Sacalasou and Haitian police Antonine Maquendy and Wiquenesonnt Despienem.

The Haitian Embassy says it is not accurate that the government is not acting promptly in the abduction of three citizens, two Dominicans and one...

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #343 reports 746 new PCR cases for the Wednesday, 24 February 2021 deadline. The cases compare to the 7-day nationwide average for PCR confirmed cases that is 708.

The number of PCR-confirmed cases is at 237,629 as of the 24 February bulletin. Labs carried out 4,302 first PCR tests. The number of tests compares with the 14-day average now at 5,106. The country can process 14,000 PCR tests a day. The government says sufficient PCR tests are available.

Private labs have special facilities for those requiring results in time for travel abroad. Results of PCR tests can be had in 24 hours for those presenting a valid airline ticket at Referencia Lab branches in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, La Romana and Punta Cana. Antigen tests results can be had in three hours at Referencia and Amadita labs...

The Ministry of Environment issued a statement where it announces Falconbridge has ceased from its request to exploit its concession for the “La Manaclita Mining Project” in Loma Miranda, La Vega province. He said the Ministry has received a formal communication from the company’s directors where they indicate they have decided to withdraw the request.

Environment Minister Orlando Jorge Mera says in his administration the commitment is and will continue to be the defense of the environment, the natural resources and the ecosystems of the Dominican Republic.

The minister explained the original request was received from Falconbridge because the Environment Law 64-00 and the internal regulations specify that the Ministry must receive the requests for subsequent study and to determine what is most convenient for preserving the country’s natural resources.

Jorge Mera...

Education Minister Roberto Fulcar said he voted in favor of the progressive and consented gradual return to in-person learning in the Dominican Republic. He said the Ministry of Education and the National Education Council approved the preliminary protocols for the gradual return to in-person classroom education.

He explained that the mapping of the levels of Covid-19 nationwide would be presented and the progress made with the national vaccination program. He said this will enable to identify the pandemic’s behavior in each of the provinces and municipalities of the country. He said they seek to quantify the numbers of students and centers that could reopen nationwide.

He spoke of the parents signing consent forms. The protocols also include the guidelines for safe return to school for parents, teachers and students. He said the students would be divided by groups so there is...

25 February 2021

A public private alliance has made it possible for San José de las Matas, a municipality in Santiago province’s mountains, to become the first where all schools have Internet connections.

The Cooperativa San José has ensured the total connectivity of the educational centers. The announcement was made by Martín Estévez, director of the Educational District 08-01. He said the public-private alliance contributes to the advancement of education.

Read more in Spanish:

Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez Gil urged Dominicans to refrain from traveling to Haiti. He said only essential trips be made. During an interview with the Corripio Media Group, Alvarez noted that prudence dictates that one should not go there at this time.

He made the recommendation after two Dominican crew members were kidnapped when traveling with a large film convoy in Haiti. The kidnappers seek ransom for the release of the two brothers. Alvarez confirmed the Dominican government is in contact with the Haitian government for the release of the young men. Adrian Agromonte, the spokesperson for the film company, Miravista Films, told EFE the negotiations are on a good path.

Alvarez specified that the former mayor of Port-au-Prince, Ralph Youry Chevry was detained for violating Dominican laws: illegal entry and carrying of undeclared firearms in Dominican...

The government has announced the Electricity Pact ordered by National Development Strategy Law 1-12 would be signed on Thursday, 25 February 2021 at the Presidential Palace. Media reports say the signing has not met with consensus in the Economic and Social Council (CES) where the debates would be taking place. Reports are that the plenary has not been meeting and the decision to sign has been prematurely reached between the government and business sectors.

The pact discussions have been taking place since 2014. The pact would have been signed on 20 February 2019 when members of the today ruling Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), including today Santo Domingo province senator Antonio Tavares, presented strong opposition and the signing was postponed. At the time, Tavares was the president of the Association of Herrera and Santo Domingo Province Industries.

Hamilk...

The Haitian Government has requested to the Dominican Republic the extradition of the former mayor of Port-au-Prince Ralph Youri Chevry, who the Moise government links to armed gangs that are causing chaos in Haiti.

“The Government has made a formal request to the Dominican Government to return to Haiti the citizen Ralph Youri Chevry”, announced the Haitian Government Communication Secretary, Frantz Exantus, in a press conference on 24 February 2021.

Chevry, who was arrested on 14 February in the border city of Dajabón, “is closely related to the bandits who have been sowing terror in the country for some time”, said the Haitian government official.

He said the Central Directorate of the Judicial Police has solid evidence that proves the ties of the former mayor of Port-au-Prince with bandits.

There is no extradition agreement between the two countries, but the Dominican...

The Ministry of Education says it will present “next week” the timeline for the return to in-person learning. Parent associations, non-profit education organizations and private schools have been urging the government to authorize the return to classrooms in a gradual, voluntary and safe way, as has been occurring all around the world. The Dominican Republic is now one of the few countries where the government does not authorize in-person learning. Many schools say they are ready and should not be held back. They argue the mental health of students is at risk.

After a meeting with the National Education Council, Education Minister Roberto Fulcar said on Wednesday, 24 February 2021 that together with the Ministry of Public Health, next week they would announce the timeline and the return to in-person learning protocols.

While the meeting was taking place, parents’...

The Ministry of Culture inaugurated in the lobby of the state entity’s headquarters the Thematic Exhibition of the Dominican Carnival with photographs and costumes of the legendary carnival characters from all around the country. The colorful masks and actual costumes can be seen.

The exhibition is open to the general public until 21 March. The event is coordinated by the Deputy Ministry of Creativity and Popular Participation.

Exhibits on carnival in ten regions of the country is presented. At the exhibition, the public can see the masks and costumes of the carnivals. The exhibition is organized around seven themes — Devils, Traditional, Fantasy, Alibaba, Historical, Popular Creativity and Individual.

Other colorful characters on exhibition are: Robalagallina, Los Pintaos de Barahona, El Califé, Los Taimáscaro, from Puerto Plata; Lechón Joyero, Lechón Pepinero...

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #342 reports 673 new PCR cases for the Tuesday, 23 February 2021 deadline. The cases compare to the 7-day nationwide average for PCR confirmed cases that is 763.

The number of PCR-confirmed cases is at 236,883 as of the 23 February bulletin. Labs carried out 3,882 first PCR tests. The number of tests compares with the 14-day average now at 5,266. The country can process 14,000 PCR tests a day. The government says sufficient PCR tests are available.

Private labs have special facilities for those requiring results in time for travel abroad. Results of PCR tests can be had in 24 hours for those presenting a valid airline ticket at Referencia Lab branches in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, La Romana and Punta Cana. Antigen tests results can be had in three hours at Referencia and Amadita labs in...

President Luis Abinader attended the Velas Hispaniola candle manufacturing plant’s inauguration on Tuesday, 23 February 2021. The factory is described as the largest candle manufacturer in Latin America and the fourth largest in the world. It is located in the Parque Industrial La Hispaniola in Guerra, in the province of Santo Domingo.

Operations head Errol Boulos explained the factory is a US$70 million investment and employs 360 persons. The facility has eight automated production lines – scented, repellent, container candles, household, emergency, votive, religious and botanical. The company has the capacity to produce 1.7+ million candles a day. It offers 2,500+ items and 30+ private labels for leading brands. At present Velas Hispaniola exports to 31 countries.

Velas Hispaniola tells its story: In 2002, the company’s owners, who had been in the paraffin-selling...

The traditional horse-drawn carriages that for years have taken visitors on a stroll on the Malecon or Colonial city are now fitted with electrical motors. With the switch, the carriage owners now comply with Animal Protection Law 248-12. The carriages offer new audio tours for complete service in multiple languages to domestic and foreign tourists.

National District Carolina Mejia toured the Colonial City on Tuesday, 23 February 2021, on one of the new electric motorized carriages.

Of 11 horse-drawn carriages, seven are back in service after the renovation.

The electric carriages project has the backing of the InterAmerican Development Bank (IADB), the Santo Domingo Tourism Cluster, the ministries of Culture and Environment. Also contributing are the companies Grupo Rizek, Banco Popular and Adrian Tropical Restaurant.

Rafael Blanco, president of the National Hotel &...

Vice President Raquel Peña, who heads the Abinader administration’s Health Cabinet, was at Las Americas International Airport on the evening of 23 February 2021 to receive the shipment of 768,000 Coronavac/Sinovac vaccines from the People’s Republic of China. The vaccines flew in on an Air France flight from China. The Vice President was accompanied by Dr. Mario Lama, who is the head of the National Health Service, and Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez. China ambassador Zhang Run was also present for the arrival of the Chinese vaccines.

The batch includes 728,000 purchased by the Dominican government and 40,000 donated by the Chinese government. President Luis Abinader had said the vaccines cost the government US$21 each. At the airport, Vice President Raquel Peña told journalists each vaccine cost US$20.

Persons in Phase I of the Covid-19 National Vaccination Plan...

A delegation of leading Dominican business people head by the president of the National Business Council, Pedro Brache, traveled to Colombia where Colombian President Iván Duque received them. El Dinero reports the business mission exchanged views on trade, investment, cultural and diplomatic relations of interest to both countries. Former President Hipólito Mejía accompanied the mission. Dominican ambassador to Colombia, Julio Cordero and Colombian Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Daniel Cabrales Castillo helped coordinate the trip and meetings in Colombia.

Other participants in the business mission were: Felipe Vicini, Carlos José Martí, Héctor and Samir Rizek, Frank Rainieri, Mícalo Bermúdez, Luis Rojas, Junior Noboa, Javier Tejada and José Yude Michelén and Conep executive vice-president, César Dargam.

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A Catholic group sponsored a contest to choose the best documentaries that explain why the Dominican Republic should approve the three exceptions to the ban on abortion. The Alianza Cristiana Dominicana (ACD) organized the contest. The group is an organization created in Santiago de los Caballeros by women belonging to different religious denominations to serve as the voice of Catholics that are in favor of the three grounds for abortion.

The contestants shared ethical and theological arguments to substantiate why Congress should vote in favor of the three exceptions. The religious alliance seeks to dispute the Evangelical Christian and Roman Catholic churches’ echelons that are blatantly against any exceptions.

Lounelsi Mateo, from Acento.com.do, won first place with the report...

The president of the Chamber of Accounts, Hugo Alvarez argues that state prosecutors can say what they want, but they will have to present evidence to substantiate their claims that Chamber of Accounts audits have been altered. On Monday, 23 February 2021, the Anti Administrative Corruption prosecutors raided the Chamber of Accounts looking for documents they had requested for months. The terms of the members of the Chamber of Accounts have expired this February.

Alvarez says the accusations that the presiding members of the Chamber of Accounts were accomplices to corruption in the Medina administration will have to be substantiated by competent evidence.

Wilson Camacho, head of the Anti Administrative Corruption Agency (Pepca) of the Attorney General Office has accused the members of the Chamber of Accounts of being accomplices to corruption in the Medina administration and...

The Presidency acquiesced and will be handing over the full allotment ordered by the Political Parties Law to political parties. The government had announced it would cut the allotment from RD$1.265 billion to RD$639 million. The savings would go to build a branch for the state university (UASD) in eastern Santo Domingo. Yet this was not accepted by the Central Electoral Board (JCE) nor opposition and government legislators that called for the government to adhere to the Political Parties Law stipulation for funding political parties.

The Abinader government had argued this is not an electoral year and savings would have better use for education. The reduction had been approved in the 2021 Budget, even when it violates the Political Parties law stipulation. There are many laws that order allotments of budget that are not complied with by the present or past governments.

The...

In the late 1890s and early 1900s dozens of immigrants from Lebanon brought their cuisine to the Dominican Republic. Today, hummus, tabbouleh and kibbehs are Dominican food.

Kibbehs are made here from bulgar wheat stuffed with ground beef, crab, or goat meat and onions. The trick is in the frying. The treats should never be savory and never greasy.

Acento news service did a survey asking Dominicans who made the best “quipes.” Acento lists as most popular these places for buying “quipes”:La Libanesa (Av. Gustavo Mejía Ricart, Santo Domingo) and Shish Kabab (Autopista Oscar de la Renta – El Coral, between La Romana and Punta Cana) were the most popular.

Acento also mentions kibbehs sold at Solo Pastelitos, Pastelitos Amparo in Santo Domingo; Tu Quipe in San Francisco de Macoris, La Vega and the National District; Quipes Baracoeros and Quipes Bader in Santiago. Also Quipes...

Rancho Caprache is located in Hatillo, Azua, west of the National District, but not too far for a day’s outing from the capital city. The goats there are bred for their milk. Today the farm has 168 goats.

The large number of goats has turned the farm into a family domestic tourist attraction. Rancho Caprache is a petting farm where young children can interact with the baby goats.

Daniel Costache, the owner of the farm, says that they do not charge admission and young children can roam free throughout most of the farm. The farm is open to the general public on Saturdays.

The adults can purchase fresh goat milk, cheeses and sweets made on site. Call ahead for the location and to make sure they are open and have produce for sale — Tel 809 780-5446.

Goat milk is said to be easier to digest and may enhance the body’s ability to absorb important nutrients from other...

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #341 reports 328 new PCR cases for the Monday, 22 February 2021 deadline. The cases compare to the 7-day nationwide average for PCR confirmed cases that is 764.

The number of PCR-confirmed cases is at 236,210 as of the 22 February bulletin. Labs carried out 2,281 first PCR tests. The number of tests compares with the 14-day average that is 5,374. The country can process 14,000 PCR tests a day. The government says sufficient PCR tests are available.

Private labs have special facilities for those requiring results in time for travel abroad. Results of PCR tests can be had in 24 hours for those presenting a valid airline ticket at Referencia Lab branches in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, La Romana and Punta Cana. Antigen tests results can be had in three hours at Referencia and Amadita labs in...

The Anti-Administrative Corruption division of the Attorney General Office (Pepca) raided the Chamber of Accounts for around 12 hours on Monday, 22 February 2021. The intervention was authorized by Supreme Court of Justice judge, María Garabito. The action is unprecedented in the Dominican Republic. The Chamber of Accounts is the government body in charge of ensuring the correct spending of government funds.

Two trucks were used to remove loads of documents and transport these to the Attorney General Office.

The operation was named “Snail Operation.” This could be in reference to the Chamber of Accounts’ reticence to provide the documentation sought by Pepca prosecutors. The Chamber of Accounts president Hugo Francisco Alvarez Perez is investigated for several crimes. Among these are obstruction of justice, being in cohoot with government officials, forgery of public...

23 February 2021

Take a look at the media reports on the vaccinations for Covid-19. You will see people with faces of fear and concern as they are injected. You will see the cameras and photos showing the needle making its way slowly into an arm. Ouch!

During the “Esta Noche con Mariasela” TV show on 22 February 2021, communications expert Raul Bas said there are already many people that are scared of needles. He urges the media to find another angle and not show the actual injecting. He also said that people should not publish their photos when getting vaccinated because it makes other people who have not been vaccinated jealous and depressed as they wait for their own vaccination. He said people should just simply share they are vaccinated.

Follow the story in Spanish:

A poll carried out nationwide by Business Action for Education (Educa) reveals that 59.53% of parents back the full or partial return to classrooms, complying with health protocols. Only 40.47% responded: “No, I prefer that they do not return to the classrooms.”

Parents of private schools (pre-school through high school) have led the national campaign for a return to classes. Yet, the Educa poll reveals that the parents of the poor are those most in favor of their children returning to in-person learning. Only 30% of parents of children in public schools reject that their children return to school. Parents with low education themselves do not feel adequate to help their children to gain from the distance learning programs.

The Ministry of Education has not indicated the guidelines for returning to school. Likewise, the Dominican Association of Public School...

On Monday, 22 February 2021, the Ministry of Public Health purchase committee held a press conference to defend the purchase of RD$625 million in syringes for the 7.8 million-person Covid-19 vaccination campaign in the Dominican Republic. The Ministry set a price limit of RD$25 for the syringes.

During the press conference, the Ministry defended the tender arguing it was an emergency procedure and the syringes would be imported from the United States and flown in by air. The Ministry also argued the syringes needed to meet certain specifications and that there is a scarcity due to the global demand for the syringes.

After El Nacional newspaper took the case of the overpriced syringes public, the Presidency acted and issued a decree whereby all medical supplies purchases for the Ministry of Public Health are transferred to PromeseCal. It was latter known PromeseCal is actually the...

The Haitian government has issued a note lamenting the kidnapping of two Dominican film crew and their Haitian interpreter on 20 February 2021. They were in Haiti working on a documentary and were traveling with a convoy of 15 vehicles. They were commuting with expensive equipment. The press release says the case is of high priority to the Haitian government.

The Dominican brothers were identified as Michael Enrique and Antonio Campusanto Feliz. Haitian Police spokesperson, Garry Desrosiers denied that the Police was escorting the convoy. He said it is possible the group was escorted by the Police, but these were not on duty nor officially assigned to the task.

The Ministry of Defense of the Dominican Republic has enacted a major effort to bring back the Dominicans.

Read more in...

The Dominican Association of Free Zones (Adozona) reports that the free zone sector since September 2020 has surpassed the export total for the month in 2019. The industry reports an overall 7.18% increase in exports for the fifth consecutive month (from September to December), comparing 2019 to 2020/2021.

The export totals breakdown for September 2020-January 2021:September 2019: US$494.1 millionSeptember 2020: US$545.1 million

October 2019: US$567 millionOctober 2020: US$590.7 million

November 2019: US$528.9 millionNovember 2020: US$536.9 million

December 2019: US$426.6 millionDecember 2020: US$504.3 million

January 2020: US$443.9 millionJanuary 2020: US$447.1 million

The statistics reveal that 100% of the free zone manufacturing industries are back to work, and 98% of the employees suspended due to the pandemic are also back at their jobs. Furthermore...

22 February 2021

While curfew and lockdown continue in the Dominican Republic, traveling out of the cities offers island respite. One of the most popular places is Samaná, the eco-touristic destination par excellence on the northeastern coast. Samaná presents the contrast of gorgeous beaches framed by lush low-lying hills in the northeastern peninsula.

The Abinader government recently completed the construction of the Limón to Playa Morón road, opening up for easy visitation many new beaches on the way. The new road is 5.8 km and the government invested around RD$150 million in its completion.

Read more in Spanish:

For the first time ever, a Dominican President gave the start to the 18 teams in the Vuelta Ciclística Independencia Nacional at the Presidential Palace. The competition covers six stages for an overall 1,030.3 kilometers from 22 to 28 February 2021.

In addition to President Luis Abinader, others present for the start were Vice President Raquel Peña, Sports Minister Francisco Camacho, National District Mayor Carolina Mejía and the Dominican Olympic Committee Antonio president Acosta. The government-owned Banco de Reservas is sponsoring the event this year.

Jorge Blas, president of the Dominican Cycling Federation said that the race is one of the longest-lasting of all sports events in the country. The race is in its 42nd edition.

Participating this year are seven foreign teams from Venezuela (2), United States (2), Colombia (1), Curacao (1) and...

Yunen Foundation is bringing together high-profile Dominican personalities to motivate people to get vaccinated against Covid-19.

The campaign “Yo Me La Pongo,” features well known figures, such as investigative journalist Nuria Piera. As part of the campaign, she is promoting vaccinating on her social networks with the message: “For the love of all.” “I think everyone has their own way of seeing things, mine is to get vaccinated when it’s my turn,” added Piera.

Entertainment figures such as humorist José Luis Germán, and communicator María Alejandra Guzmán, are also campaigning as part of the initiative.

Doctors José Rafael Yunen, Ramón Yunen and José Brea also serve as motivators in the campaign that seeks to eliminate myths and taboos about vaccination.

President Luis Abinader has revealed that about 40% of the Dominican population does not...

22 February 2021

Carnivals this year have gone virtual, as the government determined that crowds and people agglomeration were not possible in these Covid-19 times. So, Agora Mall has opened up its halls to bring carnival to the people of Santo Domingo. The shopping mall is hosting an exhibition of 20 costumes of 165 carnival groups throughout its central lobby. The exhibition is open from 4 February to 14 March 2021. The Union Carnavalesca Vegana (Ucave) that organizes the famous La Vega carnival has helped organize the exhibition. The La Vega carnival is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year.

Read more in Spanish:

22 February 2021

The National Theater presents “Concert to the Nation”, commemorating the 177th anniversary of Dominican independence from Haiti. Maestro Dante Cucurrullo will conduct the National Symphony Orchestra. The concert begins at 5pm on Thursday, 25 February. It is dedicated to the memory of Maestro Manuel Maria Miniño.

On the program are:“Fantasía Criolla”, Bienvenido Bustamante; “Canto de la Madre Tierra,” Manuel Marino Miniño; la Sinfonía No. 1 “Quisqueyana,” Juan Francisco García and Luis Mena. Also “Ecos de Libertad” Fantasía that is based on the three national anthems since 1844 — Himno de la Independencia, Himno de Capotillo or Restauración and the Himno Nacional by José Reyes.

Independence Day is celebrated on 27 February 2021. This year it falls on a Saturday.

Read more in Spanish:

Listin Diario contacted Claudio Pascualini, the Italian who became the first diagnosed case of Covid-19 in the Dominican Republic. He tested positive on 1 March 2020. Pascualini was reported sick at a Dominicus hotel on 22 February. The hotel followed the early protocols and Pascualini was sent to the Ramón de Lara Air Base Hospital in Santo Domingo (an hour and a half drive west of the hotel) for 54 days.

In the interview with Listin Diario, the Italian furniture store manager said he has fully recovered. He recalled at the time he was scared because he was 60+. Pascualini also feared he would be blamed for bringing the disease to the DR. During the interview, he said he has no remnants of the disease. He recalled the excellent care he received at the hospital where he remained for more than a month, leaving in April. Pascualini was hospitalized at a time...

The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #340 reports 420 new PCR cases for the Sunday, 21 February 2021 deadline. Reports are usually low for the Sunday bulletin. The cases compare to the 7-day nationwide average for PCR confirmed cases that is 794.

The number of PCR-confirmed cases is at 235,882 for the 21 February bulletin. Labs carried out 3,854 first PCR tests. The number of tests compares with the 14-day average that is 5,367. The country can process 14,000 PCR tests a day. The government says sufficient PCR tests are available.

Private labs have special facilities for those requiring results in time for travel abroad. Results of PCR tests can be had in 24 hours for those presenting a valid airline ticket at Referencia Lab branches in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, La Romana and Punta Cana. Antigen tests results can be had...

22 February 2021

The Presidency issued Decree 107-21 to extend the curfew measures through 8 March 2021.

These measures are Monday to Friday businesses need to close at 7pm and on Saturdays and Sundays at 5pm. There is a three-hour general mobility allowance.

The lockdown hours seem to have controlled the spread of the disease. Despite the widespread mobility throughout most of the day, the spread of Covid-19 in the Dominican Republic has been dropping significantly in the past four weeks and the positivity rate, now at 13%, is on a downward trend.

Read more in Spanish:

Thugs kidnapped two Dominican filmmakers and their Haitian interpreter in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The kidnappers seek US$2 million in ransom, EFE news agency reports. The news was confirmed by the Haitian film production company, Muska Group to EFE. The two Dominicans were working on a documentary. At the time of the kidnapping, they were escorted by the Haitian Police. Their expensive film-making equipment was also stolen.

According to El Nacional newspaper, the contract could have been awarded for five times the market value. The Procurement Agency acted to cancel the emergency tender for vaccine syringes. The case was brought to the open early last week by the El Nacional newspaper.

As reported, the budget for the purchase was RD$646 million to purchase 25 million syringes. Reporters from the newspaper El Nacional checked with several companies engaged in the commercialization of medical supplies and consumables and verified that by acquiring the product at the market price of RD$4.70, the state would only have to pay RD$121 million for the injections, with savings of half a billion pesos!

President Luis Abinader, accompanied by First Lady Raquel Arbaje, met with the top echelons of tourism in Samana and promised support for a series of long-sought provincial projects. President Abinader actively participated in the Integral Tourism Development Plan presentation for the province by the Samaná Cluster and the Samana Association of Hotels and Tourism Companies (AHETSA). The presentation was by Jesus Duran, president of the Samaná Tourism Cluster; Juan Bancalari, president of Ahetsa), Rafael Blanco Canto, tourism advisor to the Presidency and major Samana investor and his son Rafael Blanco, who is the president of the National Hotel & Tourism Association; former minister of Tourism Frank Jorge Elías, among others.

Also present at the Puerto Bahía meeting for the government was Tourism Minister David Collado, province Senator Pedro Catrain...

The “Dominican Deep South”, comprising the poorest of the nation’s 32 provinces and some of its most breathtaking scenery, has just received a billion-dollar shot in the arm, according to Sigmund Freund, the executive director of the Directorate General of Public and Private Alliances (DG-APP). Freund said that the first projects that will be carried out in the province of Pedernales will total US$1.0 billion. He noted that these investments will come from Dominican sources, and that once the Pedernales APP Trust is in place, they will be accepting foreign investment for the region. The initial projects will be in the areas of communication, services and energy. Hotels and an international airport are also in the works.

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The Dominican Republic has placed as many as two battalions of troops along the border with Haiti. The reinforcing of the border controls comes as tens of thousands of Haitians flee the chaos in that country and attempt to enter the Dominican Republic any way possible. According to the Dominican army commander, Major General Julio Ernesto Florian, his troops have picked up 38,000 illegals crossing the border just since the beginning of the year.

According to the general, the Dominican armed forces have sent Air Force units, including Super Tucanos to reinforce Border Security forces’ Specialized Corps along the border.

Among those apprehended were the former mayor of Port-au-Prince, police and military who illegally entered.

The Dominican markets located in strategic places along the border with Haiti are carrying out their operations in a normal manner, in spite of the political crisis that has worsened in Haiti. Dajabón, Elias Piña, Pedernales markets are all under heavy military guard, but all seemed normal on last Friday, 19 February 2021 market day, the Listin Diario reports.

The Dominican Price Stabilization Institute (INESPRE) was present in Pedernales with lots of inexpensive foodstuffs. In Dajabon, the city carried on its bi-national market in the calmest of ways. According to reports, the attendance was massive from the Haitian side.

The most basic ingredients were certainly the most popular in all of the markets: salami, potatoes, bananas, flour, rice, chicken and eggs. Listin Diario reports that the bi-national markets are islands of calm in a sea of turmoil...

The aging water pipeline system for the Dominican Republic’s second largest city, Santiago de los Caballeros, is literally crumbling away. The recent announcement by the director of the Santiago Water and Sewer Corporation (Coraasan), reflects this reality. He told reporters from the El Caribe newspaper that the city was facing a 40 million gallon deficit, not because there was no water, but rather because the system is decrepit affecting the water supply to customers.

The last, really complete overhaul of the system was probably back in the 70s when the Italian firm Italconsult updated the city’s water supply system. This update was to last for 20-25 years. It has been at least 25 years since the expiration date for that renovation.

Andres Burgos, the beleaguered director of Coraasan, told El Caribe reporters that refurbishing is currently going on at...

Santiago City Council member Jose Torres introduced a motion for Santiago’s city to be the first in the Dominican Republic to ban single-use plastics. This refers to items such as straws and food containers. The motion was approved.

The councilman noted that the alliance between the city of Santiago and Cilpen Global, the first recycling company in the area, has shown great progress. The company is now processing some 18 million plastic water bottles per month.

Torres also noted that the water bottles used in the city council meetings would take 250 four year terms of city council meeting to disintegrate. It might be worth noting that Councilman Torres is the youngest member of the City Council.

The National Association of Young Businesspeople (ANJE) is in favor of schools resuming in-person learning. Susana Martinez Nadal, the president of ANJE, noted that recent studies by international organizations have shown the damaging psychological effects the prolonged absence from classrooms is causing in children. Concerned parents, representatives from public and private schools and other business leaders agreed that a return to the halls of education must be a part of the national plan for recovery from this pandemic.

In the Dominican Republic, almost all activities have resumed. In-person learning is almost the exception to the rule.

President Luis Abinader favors in-person learning starting when the first phase of the National Vaccination Plan concludes. That is when the medical staff, military and Police and teachers, and all 60+ are...

The San Diego Padres have signed Fernando Tatis Jr. to a 14-year, 340 million dollar contract. This is the seventh US$300+ million contract signed by a baseball player. It is also one of the very highest, and places Tatis with the likes of Mike Trout, Manny Machado, Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper and Giancarlo Stanton.

Fernando Tatis Jr was born to a wealthy baseball family. His father played many years with the St. Louis Cardinals where he left his mark by hitting two bases loaded home runs in the same inning. Tatis Jr has only spent two years in the big leagues. He has also played winter ball in the Dominican Republic with the Estrellas Orientales, where his father was manager.

However, there is a “but,” Diario Libre reports. It seems that when Tatis Jr. was in AA baseball with the Padres, he took a loan from a business run by Michael Schwimer in Las Vegas. Schwimer loans...

It would seem that persons looking to eat out or gather with friends after the 7pm curfew on weekdays and 5pm on weekends need only to go to the Ciudad Ganadera on the 30 Mayo Highway leading west from the National District. There, they will find good restaurants, like El Rancho Steak House, and a variety of “colmados” and barbecue pits waiting to serve food and beverages to after curfew hour clients.

Reporters from Diario Libre noticed few of the Covid-19 protocols were in effect at the location, as people sat around tables without masks or much distancing. Car valets that were interviewed by the reporters said that “lots of folks” come here every night.

Although some of the business owners have had issues with the authorities, they now keep a low profile with no bright lights and no loud music. After the publication of this article last weekend, it will be interesting to see...

The initial batch of 20,000 vaccine doses of an order of 110,000 from India had arrived on Monday, 15 February 2021 in the evening. Covid-19 vaccinations began on the next day with priority given to the frontline medical workers.

On Friday, 19 February, Health Minister Plutarco Arias received the second 30,000 batch, this time a donation from India to the Dominican Republic. Frontline health care workers nationwide have priority to get the vaccines as part of the “Vaccinate Yourself” National Vaccination Plan.

As of Sunday, 21 February, the Ministry of Public Health reports that 14,264 frontline workers (medical staff, lab technicians and cleaning workers) had been vaccinated in the first week of the National Vaccination Plan.

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The Ministry of Public Health’s Epidemiology Department Coronavirus Bulletin #339 reports 960 new PCR cases for the Saturday, 20 February 2021 deadline. The cases compare to the 7-day nationwide average for PCR confirmed cases that is 847.

The number of PCR-confirmed cases is at 235,462 for the 20 February bulletin. Labs carried out 6,066 first PCR tests. The number of tests compares with the 14-day average that is 5,459. The country can process 14,000 PCR tests a day. The government says sufficient PCR tests are available.

Private labs have special facilities for those requiring results in time for travel abroad. Results of PCR tests can be had in 24 hours for those presenting a valid airline ticket at Referencia Lab branches in Santo Domingo, Santiago, Puerto Plata, La Romana and Punta Cana. Antigen tests results can be had in three hours at Referencia and Amadita labs in...

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