Ministry of Interior & Police opens first centers to receive firearms; President Abinader says it is a pilot program open to improvements

President Luis Abinader, the Minister of Interior & Police Jesus (Chu) Vasquez and Santo Domingo Mayor Carolina Mejía met in the uptown low-income area of Cristo Rey on Friday, 4 June 2021 to announce the start of the “My Safe Country” initiative. Cristo Rey is a densely populated barrio in the capital city bordered on the east by Maximo Gomez Avenue and to the north by the entrance to the National Zoo.

The program is part of the Abinader administration National Citizen Safety Strategy and was defined as “the most ambitious, biggest and most organized” effort to combat crime in the country. The program includes the registration of motorcycles and drivers and the voluntary turning in of unregistered firearms. In coordination with the National Transit and Transport Institute (Intrant), the government is facilitating the registration of motorcycles in Cristo Rey at the Club Los Cachorros, the parking area of the National Zoo and the parking area of the Quisqueya Ball Park.

Law 63-17 that created the Intrant establishes the National Registry of Motorcycles. The law also mandates that motorcycle drivers use protective helmets labeled with the motorcycle’s license plate and have obtained a driver’s license category 1. Most owners of motorcycles and motorcycle drivers in the Dominican Republic need to regularize their status and that of their vehicle. Governments have been traditionally lax in implementing the law.

Three voluntary surrender firearms collection centers were established at Fundación Trópico at Av. José Ortega y Gasset, the Club Los Cachorros at Av. Nicolás de Ovando and the Ministerio Cristiano Vidas Transformadas, evangelical church at Higuey street. The firearms are to be destroyed to ensure they do not return to the streets.

The plan is to eradicate crime with a focus on first preventing crime. “This promising citizen security plan that begins today as a pilot, means that some possible mistakes can be made, but that we are going to correct these and we are going to continue until it is a success. As I said at the beginning, I neither get tired nor tire,” expressed Abinader.

The Presidency sought out the slum area’s beloved Father Rogelio Cruz to give the blessing at the event held at the Los Cachorros Club in the Cristo Rey sector.

President Abinader was also accompanied by the ministers of Public Works, Deligne Ascención; of Public Health, Daniel Rivera; of Women’s Affairs, Mayra Jiménez; the Deputy Minister of Defense for Military Affairs. Also Major General Víctor Mercedes Cepeda and the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Alfredo Pacheco.

Also, the director general of the National Police, Major General Edward Sánchez González; the president of the National Drug Control Agency (DNCD), Vice Admiral José Manuel Cabrera Ulloa; the prosecutor of the National District, Rosalba Ramos; Dr. Antonio Cruz Jiminián and the community leader, Dominga De León, spokesperson of the Community Council for the Development of Vulnerable Sectors.

Diario Libre reporters were prompt to look into the differences between Abinader’s anti-crime program and those before him. Significant differences were not found.

A day after the announcement of the pilot program to combat crime journalist Anibelca Rosario complained that her daughter had been assaulted in Mirador del Sur Park and when she went to present the report to the Police station she was told there was no one to take the report because the agents had gone home due to the curfew.

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6 June 2021