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Environmental permission revoked for Silicon Cabarete, irregularities claimed

The Ministry of Environment revoked on 17 October 2017 the environmental license issued for the development of Villas La Boca Ecological Lounge by Dreams Endowment Corporation SRL in La Boca, Cabarete, Puerto Plata. The project would be developed at the Yásica River mouth. The stop to construction was issued following recommendations made after Ministry of Environment inspectors visited the site on 29 September 2017 and confirmed violations of the permission to build the residential and technology center.

As reported in Diario Libre, the inspectors confirmed that some 1,500 meters of dunes were irregularly filled in to build a parking area. Diario Libre reports that Ministry of Environment inspectors saw for themselves that an area within the 60 meters fringe area from the beach had been marked off for a wooden path, affecting a public access area and the dunes. This area was off limits as per the environmental license. The inspectors, reportedly also ascertained where the main dwelling was marked for construction would also violate the authorization, as part of the dunes and area vegetation would need to be eliminated. The inspectors received evidence (videos by drones) from the community that mangroves had been eliminated.

The project developers propose to create a working and creative center with accommodations for businessmen from all over the world. The heart of the development is Silicon Cabarete, a software technology entrepreneurship incubator where a number of entrepreneurs can work in a highly stimulating environment, where they are able to share and develop their ideas surrounded by like-minded people. The project would consist of a creativity center, villas, and entertainment areas.

The environmental permission authorized a main villa of two levels, a secondary villa, two operation enters for technology system operations (Silicon Cabarete 1 and 2) of 1,000 square meters each, a spa-gym, two tennis courts, principal entrance and parking for 10 vehicles.

The leading investor in the project is reportedly Fabrice Grinda, a French entrepreneur, best known for being co-founder of OLX, one of the largest classified ads websites in the world.

The snag though, is that the chosen site is environmentally fragile. The developers reportedly received Ministry of Environment environmental permission for the project development after three years of requesting the license amid protests that the project potentially threatened wetland, mangroves and dunes in the area known as La Boca, the estuary formed where the Yásica River flows into the Atlantic Ocean. In granting the permission, Minister Francisco Domínguez Brito had alerted that the project needed to be limited to areas where it would cause the least environmental damage.

The Association for the Protection of Environment and Tourism of Cabarete and Sosua (Asoprocaso) and the Academy of Sciences had alerted of the impact the development could have on the fragile ecosystem.

Diario Libre reported on 18 October 2017 that as part of the conditioning of the site, 40 tareas (approximately 25,000 square meters) of mangroves and 1,200 of dunes had been affected. Families in the area have complained that the development would cut their access to the beach.

Source: DR1, DiarioLibre

Oct 19, 2017

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Dominicans’ deepest concerns: Crime, jobs and corruption

38% of Dominicans told SIN-Mark Penn pollsters that crime and delinquency are the greatest concerns. In 2012, crime and deliquency had been rated with 15%. Unemployment is the second greatest concern, with 17%. Corruption is third, with 14%. Corruption in 2012 was rated 6%.

Next follow cost of living, inflation and the economy with 13%, and health with 3%.

54% of those polled said that the Dominican Republic was not headed in the right direction.

National District Mayor David Collado as a possible pre-candidate for the PRM than former PRM candidate Luis Abinader running against former President Leonel Fernandez. The numbers of voter preference were 37% Fernandez, 29% Collado and 25% Luis Abinader.

The same poll revealed that 58% of eligible voters described themselves as independent, 29% say they follow the ruling PLD, 9% the PRM, 3% the PRD and 1% the PRSC.

The survey was carried out 30 September to 3 October 2017 with 1,000 eligible voters polled in the National District. The margin of error is + – 3.1%.

Source: DR1, Noticassin

Oct 19, 2017

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Men earning more than women

According to data from the Ministry of Public Information (MAP) via the Administration System of Public Servants (SASP) as of September 2017, in 195 state institutions employ 333,736, of which 101,825 have a salary under RD$10,000, for 30.5% of the total. 16.8% earn between RD$10,000 to RD$19,000 and 22.1% earn between RD$30,000 and RD$39,000.

Although there are more women than men in total, 63.4% versus 36.5%, when it comes to those who earn more than RD$100,000 a month, 57.78% of them are men.

Young people are not well represented. Data shows that 63.49% of the public employees are over 40 years old.

The central government institution with the most employees is the Ministry of Education with 186,658, followed by the Ministry of Public Health with 66,206 and the Ministry of the Presidency with 11,801.

At the other end of the scale are the Treasury of Social Security with 194, the Santo Domingo Fire Brigade with 396 and the Ministry of Youth with 431.

The government staff count does not include persons employed in decentralized organizations.

Source: DR1, z101digital

Oct 19, 2017

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Yuniol Ramirez’s family says culprits are being left out of the murder case

The family of murdered UASD law professor Yuniol Ramirez complained that the Santo Domingo prosecutors have left out of the case businessman Eddy Rafael Santana Zorrilla and his wife. Ramón Ramírez, brother of the late Yuniol Ramirez, said that Manuel Rivas had asked the businessman to pay RD$1 million to Argenis Contreras González, to commit the murder, allegedly because he was being extorted. Yuniol Ramirez was carrying an anti-corruption case against the director of the Omsa. Contreras was accused by arrested Antonio Mercado Blanco as the person who fired the shot that killed Ramirez after both kidnapped the law professor at the state university UASD. Contreras is said to have left the country, and is a fugitive of justice.

Earlier in 2013, Diario Libre had published a comprehensive story on allegations of corruption at the Omsa that was ignored by the state prosecutors at the time.

Ramon Ramirez complained that the state prosecutors refer to Santana Zorrillo as a witness in the case, and excluded his wife or girlfriend, the person who delivered the RD$1 million. Ramirez said that his brother did not accept the RD$1 million and that was the reason for the murder.

Ramón Ramírez says the prosecutors also plan to leave Faustino Rosario Diaz, a Police colonel employed in the financial department at OMSA, out of the case.

Ramirez said that when Police investigators opened the vehicle of his brother that was parked in the UASD they found four mobile phones, including one with which he communicated with Rivas, but in the file they only reveal they found three of those phones. Ramirez said that his brother’s girlfriend said that Yuniol had a mobile phone that was long and white, that he used to communicate with Rivas. Ramirez said that the prosecutors are removing evidence.

Ramirez family lawyer Irvin Cruz says the prosecutor Olga Dina Llaverias is staging a show to exclude part of those that have been accused. He said Rivas is still in the case because the evidence of the corruption scandal at Omsa is too strong. Manuel Rivas Medina is a member of the Central Committee of the ruling PLD party and was very active in securing the re-election of President Danilo Medina in 2016.

“Now they reached an agreement with businessman Santana Zorrilla, but the agreement was not made by the prosecutors, rather by the government, because he was a financier of political campaigns,” Ramirez said speaking together with lawyer Cruz on the La Super & en la Mañana talk show (107.7FM).

Furthermore, El Dia reported that prosecutor investigations have revealed that employees of Omsa and businessman Eddy Rafael Santana Zorrilla met on seven occasions in October 2017 prior to the murder. The meetings were coordinated by Santana, an Omsa supplier, reportedly at the request of the cancelled director of Omsa, Manuel Rivas Medina, to negotiate with the deceased so that he desist of a case filed with the Superior Administrative Court (TSA) for corruption at Omsa.

Source: DR1, 7dias

Lawyer Ramón Ramírez, brother of murdered UASD professor Yuniol Ramírez, told El Caribe on Wednesday, 18 October, that his brother was murdered at the UASD. He said that visuals that are part of the investigation prove that when the Ford Ranger blue pickup left the university campus, it already had a bullet hole in the right glass window. He said the surveillance video shows that together with Ramírez four other persons were in the vehicle attired in military or police uniform. He said most likely a gun silencer was used. The image was captured by a security camera at 4:29pm. The Ford Ranger was found on Tuesday, 17 October near the Los Cerezos residential area in Manoguayabo.

The vehicle had been described by José Antonio Mercado (El Grande) in questioning by the prosecutors. Mercado said that Argenis Contreras González fired the shot that killed Ramírez on 11 October 2017. Argenis Contreras is on the run.

Legal experts have remarked this evidence could merit that the case now be heard in a court in the National District and not in Santo Domingo West.

Source: Elcaribe

Oct 19, 2017

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A new program to enhance Dominican fruit and vegetable exports

The Dominican Agribusiness Board (JAD) together with the Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP) announced on 17 October 2017 the launching in the Dominican Republic of the international program called “Fit for Market” that is focused on producing sustainable and competitive farm production. The program seeks to help producers access not only the local markets but also regional and international markets by producing clean, sustainable and healthy products.

The Europe-Africa-Caribbean-Pacific Liaison Committee (COLEACP) is a civil society organization established to support the development of a sustainable competitive agriculture and agribusiness. COLEACP countries are implementing the Fit for Market Program. The specific objectives are to assist smallholder farmers, producer groups, farmer organizations, and small and medium enterprises (SME), to access international and domestic fruit and vegetable markets by complying with the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards and market requirements, in a sustainable framework.

The project is the result of cooperation between the European Union and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and will last for five years. The project has a budget of €25 million.

Osmar Benitez, the executive president of the JAD, noted that the JAD Board is always on the lookout for new projects and programs that can be brought to the country to favor local farmers. Benitez issued an invitation to farmers of fruits and vegetables interested in this program to get in touch with the JAD.

He also said that the program would be used to back farmers planting garlic in Cosntanza. He said that the country consumes 180,000 to 200,000 quintals of garlic a year and only produced 18,000 quintals last year, for around 10% of the demand. He has expectations the Fit for Market program can help reduce garlic imports.

The Fit for Market program includes training sessions, certification programs, small producers support, programs for local support for farmers and technician visits among other things. Sustainable production is the principal focus of this program in an effort to increase production at the same time that the environmental impact is decreased.

Source: DR1, DiarioLibre

Oct 19, 2017

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Ministry of Defense boosts security along the border

The departure of the United Nations Stabilization Mission (Minustah) from Haiti has moved the Dominican Ministry of Defense to increase its presence along the border. The Minister of Defense, Lieutenant general Ruben Dario Paulino Sem, confirmed on 17 October 2017, that some 800 soldiers were added to the security force along the border.

In July 2017, the police of Haiti and the Dominican Republic agreed to establish liaison officers in both countries to facilitate the exchange of information in order to fight criminal activity. Defense Minister Paulino Sem noted that the border had been reinforced before the withdrawal of the Minustah detachment.

Last Sunday, 15 October, the Minustah ended its tour in Haiti that had lasted 13 years with a man force of 2,300 blue helmets.

Beginning on Monday, 16 October, a new United Nations mission was established in Haiti and it is called the Mission To Support Justice in Haiti. It is composed of seven police units with some 295 officers that will be there for initial period of six months. The goal is to strengthen Haitian institutions together with the justice system and support Haitian police and protecting human rights.

Haiti with some 11 million inhabitants has a police force of 15,000 officers and is working on the creation of a new Armed Forces starting with 500 new recruits.

An immigration expert, Juan Manuel Rosario, told the Diario Libre, that the departure of the Minustah mission creates a need to strengthen border security because of the weakening of the internal controls inside Haiti in order to prevent that turbulent events in Haiti spill over to the Dominican Republic.

Source: DR1, DiarioLibre

Oct 19, 2017

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HODELPA opens EMOTIONS Hotel in Playa Dorada

The HODELPA chain of hotels is scheduled to open in December 2017 its new Emotions brand hotel, a 475-room facility located in the Playa Dorada tourism resort in Puerto Plata, the north coast’s most important city.

The hotel has been completely refurbished, at a cost of some US$50 million.

The Emotions by Hodelpa Playa Dorada also offers top-quality restaurants, swimming pools, bars, spa, reception halls and all important features offered by a five-star facility.

This is the second Emotions Brand facility and the ninth HODELPA hotel in the country. HODELPA operates the Gran Almirante Hotel, the Hodelpa Garden Court and the Centro Plaza Hodelpa in Santiago, the country’s second largest city.

The all-inclusive Emotions by Hodelpaand the Hodelpa Garden Suites and Golf are situated inJuan Dolio, situated 45 minutes east of Santo Domingo, in the Metro Country Golf Club.

The company also operates three hotel’s in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone, and will soon open a fourth establishment. Also, in Juan Dolio the Sensations by Hodelpa brand, for adults only, will soon open a 325-room facility.

Source: Access DR

Oct 19, 2017

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Argentina Airline Begins Non-Stop Flights to Punta Cana

“AerolineasArgentinas” announced four regular non-stop flights between Buenos Aires and Punta Cana. Flight reservations are available on all international reservation systems.

It is the first Argentinian airline to offer regular, non-stop flights between Buenos Aires and Punta Cana.

The announcement was made in Santo Domingo by Marcelo Bottini, Regional Director of “AerolineasArgentinas.”

Source: Access DR

Oct 19, 2017

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Catalonia Opens New Adults-Only Hotel in Bayahibe

The Catalonia Hotels & Resorts recently opened a new facility in Bayahibe – on the country’s eastern region – its fifth hotel in the Dominican Republic.

The Catalonia Royal La Romana is the resort’s second adults-only hotel in the country.

The all-inclusive hotel operates features 117 rooms, six restaurants, three bars, various swimming pools, free Wi-Fi throughout the premises, and personalized services.


The hotel’s rooms are 35-39 square meters, with a full terrace. Las Junior Suite Deluxetiene una superficie de 56 m2 incluyendo la terraza.

The Duplex Swimming Pool Suites are 54 square meters, distributed on two floors.
The first floor features a living room, bathroom and a terrace with a private swimming pool. There is one bedroom in the second floor and a full bath.

The Honeymoon Swim Up is the perfect destination for newlyweds, featuring a full-decked terrace with exclusive access to the swimming pool.

Source: Access DR

Oct 19, 2017

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How This Entrepreneur from Dominican Republic Went From Cleaning Bathrooms to Cleaning Up on ‘Shark Tank’

In a tear-jerking final segment on a recent episode of Shark Tank, Robbie Cabral accepted a $200,000 investment for 15 percent equity of his company from Kevin O’Leary.

The emotional moment marked the culmination of Cabral’s inspiring path from a penniless immigrant student, working janitorial jobs just to scrape by, to full-fledged CEO of a well-funded startup.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” he tells Entrepreneur. “When you come from the bottom and then go up, you kind of appreciate the journey more.”

Entrepreneur asked him to share some of his lessons over the past few years.

Sit down, be humble.

Cabral came to L.A. from the Dominican Republic with dreams of being a rock musician. But after a few brutal months banging on club doors, the cold hard reality of life in the music business set in. His friends packed up and went home, but Cabral decided to stay.

“I love my country, but I just felt like there was really not a lot of opportunity to move forward,” he says. “I needed to figure out a way how to stay here and be proactive.”

So he banged on some other, less glamorous, doors. “I did a lot of crappy jobs. Dish washing in restaurants, cleaning vomit in hotel rooms, doing people’s laundry, cleaning up gym locker rooms,” he says. “I had a BA from college and I was doing this.”

There were many days when he felt like quitting, but a voice in his head kept telling him, “This is not the end of your journey. This is going to lead to something else, keep pushing forward, always stay positive,” he says. “Even though that was hard, the positive energy really helped me.”

Eventually, Cabral was able to cobble together enough money to pay for a management course at UCLA.

Learn to live with rejection.

Even with his newfound credentials and connections, Cabral couldn’t land a decent job. ”I just started applying to lots of jobs, and nothing came in,” he says. ”It was always that rejection.” A lot of it was cultural, Cabral claims.

“When you come from another place, even to draft an email, I had to ask my wife to help me out,” he says. “But you kind of have to learn and grasp, and each interview I did, I learned more.”

One thing he learned was to always be on time. ”[Here,] when they tell you we’re going to speak at 10 a.m., 10 a.m. is the call. Back home, I’d probably expect your call at 1 p.m,” he says.

Following up was also essential. “You need to follow up after a job interview regardless if you get the job or not,” Cabral says. ”It shows that you are passionate and really want to pursue that aspiration, especially in my case where everyone was looking for a talent who was more specific for their needs.”

Treat others how you want to be treated.

Eventually, Cabral began to land some jobs, including a well-paying position at a real estate company. Unfortunately, for reasons he still doesn’t entirely understand, he was let go during the Christmas holidays — two weeks before his baby boy was born. The news was devastating, but rather than get angry, he got a former co-worker a promotion.

“I told them that this has been a positive experience for me, but I just wanted to recommend one thing: To give a young kid on my team a full-time job,” he says. ”Because he’s been working here part time and I don’t think you guys appreciate him enough.”

The kid got the job.

Stay curious.

With no job, no prospects and a new baby keeping him up all night, Cabral hit an all-time low. “Part of me felt like I want to go back home. I’m done with this whole American Dream crap,” he says.

He became depressed and gained 50 pounds — which, strangely, turned out to be a good thing because it led to him joining a gym.

“That’s where the whole BenjiLock idea started because I noticed people having issues with their combination, locking their keys inside the locker, getting stuff stolen all the time,” Cabral says. “One guy had a Bluetooth lock but couldn’t get a Wi-Fi connection. So I thought, what if I designed a simple lock that you can open with your fingerprints, but also with a traditional key?”

The good news: After doing research, he discovered there was no product like this in the marketplace. The bad news: Cabral had zero tech experience. Luckily, he was able to find a local engineer to buy into his vision, and he agreed to build the lock on his off-time.

Take big chances.

For three years, Cabral scraped together enough money to keep his dream alive, even though his family and friends told him he needed to get a real job. ”That kind of inspired me more,” Cabral says. “I was like, I’m just going to take all this in and I’ll be the last one laughing.”

Last year, a friend suggested that Cabral showcase his invention at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, an idea which he initially dismissed. “I wasn’t selling,” he says. ”All I had was a protype.” But realizing he needed to make a big move to jump start his business, he decided to go for it.

It was the best decision he ever made.

Crowds gathered around his booth, and he was named a CES 2017 Innovation Award Honoree. In addition, people kept encouraging him to audition for Shark Tank, which was doing an open casting call at the convention.

“I’d never even heard of the show,” Cabral says. “But I ran over to their booth at the last minute. I was one of the last people on the line.” After his audition, he was told, “There’s something here. I can’t promise you anything, but I’ll be in touch,” according to Cabral.

Go with your gut.

Back in L.A., Cabral was asked to pitch Shark Tank‘s producers numerous times. The same guy who couldn’t get an employer to even return his calls three years ago was ulimately selected to be one of 50,000 applicants to appear on the show.

After he poured his heart and soul into his pitch, Cabral was faced with a dizzying array of different deal options. Many expected him to team with fellow Dominican-American Alex Rodriguez. Lori Geiner, with her QVC expertise, also seemed like a good fit. But in the end, Cabral went with Mr. Wonderful, Kevin O’Leary.

“I went with my gut, and my gut kept telling me to go with Kevin,” he says. ”He was asking all the right questions. He just connected with me.”

This was the same gut check he’s used to keep him on track all these years.

“Even though I had to do all those crappy jobs,” he says, “I always followed my gut, followed my passions and just kept pushing.”

It’s finally paying off.


Oct 19, 2017

Category DR News | Add comments | by admin
Last updated October 19, 2017 at 11:40 PM
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