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Birth tourism costs DR RD$5 billion a year

The National Health System (SNS) says it annually spends upwards of RD$5 billion for care to pregnant Haitian women in the country. Nelson Rodríguez Monegro, director of the SNS, says the birthing business is managed by mafias and brings thousands of expecting Haitian mothers to give birth in the country each year.

Rodríguez reiterated that access to health care is a universal human right.  However, he is concerned about the high number of Haitian women coming to the Dominican Republic to give birth.

Monegro said that people smuggling cartels operated by Dominicans and Haitians run this detestable business. He recalled the case of on the same day and time, 10 pregnant Haitians who said they had arrived from Haiti, came at the same time to a Santiago hospital. He said the small hospital where they arrived did not have capacity to attend to them and they were sent to other health centers.

Rodríguez said that today a majority of births in Dominican border hospitals are born to Haitian mothers.  He estimated that every year, there around 8,500 births of babies whose mothers had just arrived from Haiti.

“We are calling for the Armed Forces and the Migration Agency, in charge of border surveillance, to tighten controls at the border. He said many of these women are high risk cases, with complicated births, and the investment in care is much more.

Former army chief and today deputy Minister of defense, Major General José E. Matos de la Cruz, on 25 February 2016, in an interview at El Nacional newspaper confirmed that “networks of Haitians and Dominicans are trafficking groups of pregnant women from Haiti to give birth in Dominican hospitals.

Source: DR1, Elnacional

May 20, 2017

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Ferry Slams Into Pier in Santo Domingo

Some major damage at the port of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic after a ferry struck a pier while mooring on Thursday.

Video shows the moment the ferry, named Kydon, slammed into the pier and several containers at the Don Diego terminal. Amazingly no injuries were reported.

According to reports, the ferry had just arrived in Santo Domingo and was already partially tied up with its forward loading ramp down when the incident occurred.

Another video posted online shows workers scrambling for safety as the vessel moved forward.

The ferry, operated by Ferries Del Caribe, provides service between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo. It had only recently resumed service on May 3 after the fire on the Caribbean Fantasy last August put the service on hold.

Early reports suggest that a cable broke on the ship, leading to the collision with freight containers in the dock. No passengers or crew were injured as a result of the crash that occurred around 8:30am on Thursday, 18 May 2017, shortly after the ship arrived to port from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Source: http://gcaptain.com

May 19, 2017

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Foreign press reports on slow justice acting in Odebrecht bribery scandal

The delays in the investigations and adjudications of the Odebrecht case in the Dominican Republic are receiving attention from media outlets across the globe.  The international press is questioning why the Dominican government has yet to act on information readily available regarding bribes made by the Brazilian Odebrecht construction company to secure construction contracts in the Dominican Republic.

An AP story filed by Ezequiel Abiu Lopez has been published in mainstream media in the United States from coast to coast, including the Washington Post.

The story highlights how the Odebrecht bribery scandal has met with near-silence from the Medina administration and the Dominican judiciary that is controlled by the ruling PLD party.

The Brazilian company has admitted in a US court to having paid US$92 million in bribes to Dominican government officers spanning from the Hipolito Mejia administration (2000-2004) to the Leonel Fernandez administrations (2004,-2008 and 2008-2012), and the Danilo Medina administrations (2012-2014).

As reported in the AP story: “Yet, five months after the scheme was exposed, nobody has been charged [in the Dominican Republic] and no officials who may have been involved in the scandal have been named.   The lack of progress in investigating the scandal has infuriated both political reformers and opposition parties. By contrast, investigations in Brazil, Colombia, Panama and Peru have led to hundreds of charges against a plethora of individuals, including former heads of state.”

Source: DR1, Washingtonpost

May 20, 2017

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Rains cause blackouts and damage in Valverde and Puerto Plata

Rains earlier this week together with sudden gusts of high winds have caused blackouts and property damage to more than 300 houses in the provinces of Valverde and Puerto Plata over the last 36 hours. In the northern part of the country, rains continue in many areas and the Center for Emergency Operations (COE) has reported that communities in Jaibon and Las Flores in the province of Valverde suffered from flooding of the Maimon River and in Baja Guayacanes some 200 residences were affected by a power outage caused by wind damage to light poles and electricity lines.

In the same report by general Juan Manuel Mendez Garcia, the COE director, the agency notes that in Puerto Plata 23 houses were flooded in different Barrios by the Guananico and Caonabo rivers.

The National Weather Office (Onamet) reports on rains in Santiago, Puerto Plata, Duarte, La Vega, Monsignor Nouel, San Pedro de Macoris, La Romana, La Altagracia, Azua, San Juan, and Barahona. Santo Domingo will be cloudy with possible rain showers with thunder and lightning.

Temperatures will continue to be high, over 30°C as a low pressure front continues affecting our weather and causing these rains. The COE is maintaining 22 provinces under different alerts, among them Puerto Plata, Espaillat, Barahona (especially the area around Enriquillo) Valverde and San Cristobal who are under a yellow alert. Other provinces in the Cibao and the South remain under a green alert for River flooding and landslides.
The COE director also told reporters that brigades from the Presidency, the Armed Forces, Public Health and Public Works together with aid workers from Civil Defense have been activated to offer assistance to those affected. Over 4 inches of rain have fallen in Barahona and Santiago and it is expected that Barahona will receive more rain.

Source: Dr1, Elnacional

May 19, 2017

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DR renegotiates contract with Barrick Gold

The Medina administration has announced contract renegotiations with the Barrick Pueblo Viejo gold mine in Sánchez Ramírez province could generate an additional US$181 million in revenues for the government during 2017-2019. The renegotiation was carried out by technicians from the Ministry of Energy and Mines and the Taxation Agency (DGII).

The government reported that Barrick had presented estimates for revenues for US$446.9 million that were then increased to US$628 million, providing for the additional revenues for the government.

Source: DR1, Presidencia

May 19, 2017

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World Bank report alerts to downside to free higher education

In its “At a Crossroads, Higher Education in Latin America and the Caribbean” report just published, the World Bank indicates that higher education enrollment has expanded dramatically in Latin America and the Caribbean since 2000. It points out that while more students are studying in universities, there are concerns into the quality and the variety of these studies.

Higher education enrollment among the population ages 18-24 years has grown from 21% to 43% from 2000 to 2013. There are around 20 million students in 10,000 institutions and 60,000 programs.

The report says concerns about quality of instruction loom over the large equity gains experienced by higher education systems in the region. The rapid expansion of the systems, the characteristics of the “new” students, and perhaps the lax regulation of some higher education institutions have led many to question the quality of their programs and, thus, the equity of the studies.

In the study, the Dominican Republic is listed as the country with the lowest percentage of completed higher education, only surpassed by Honduras among countries where students are still enrolled. The dropout rate is average for the Dominican Republic.

The report indicates that share of higher education graduates by field (around 2013) was: social sciences, business and law 46.8%, education 17.7%, humanities and arts 4.7%, science 4.6%, engineering, manufacturing and construction 9.8%, agriculture 0.7%, health and welfare 14%, services 0.6%.

The report is critical about the free tuition offered by government educational institutions. The report states: With universal free tuition, the student no longer bears the cost of her education or the risk of failing to graduate. Hence, universal free tuition tends to attract many students who are likely to drop out. Furthermore, even some students who might succeed otherwise might take longer to graduate, or even fail.

The state university, UASD, has expanded considerably around the country, offering free tuition to students. The university has the highest enrollment, but has the lowest completion rate and highest still in school rates.

“Higher Education is key to boosting growth and reducing poverty and inequality,” said World Bank Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean Jorge Familiar. “To ensure equity of opportunities, the region has to enhance quality of education and provide students with better information on programs, adequate incentives and financing options, and connections to the labor market. Better regulation of higher education institutions is also needed to improve accountability for the services they provide.”

https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/…=2&isAllowed=y

Source: DR1

May 19, 2017

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The Brazilian company Odebrecht found fertile soil for corruption in DR

The Brazilian company Odebrecht, now involved in one of the greatest corruption scandals to hit the American continent, found in the Dominican Republic a perfect place for managing its many projects, according to a report in Diario Libre. The company even transferred its office charged with bribes and “other facilities” to political figures to Santo Domingo, where local officials may have benefited to the tune of nearly $100 million.

However, as reporters from the Diario Libre write, five months after the scandal became public, no one in this country has been prosecuted or even identified as recipient of the millions of dollars supposedly paid by Brazilian company.

This cloud hanging over the government’s handling of the bribery accusations has given rise to a number of civic movements such as the “Green Movement, with its Green Book and Green Marches that call for an end to impunity on behalf of the Dominican government.

Many of these critics hope that at least the silence will end on Friday, 19 May 2017, when the Attorney General Jean Alain Rodríguez had said the company would deliver the names of the individuals who may have received bribes.  This disclosure is part of a plea deal in which the government has agreed not to prosecute company executives and will allow them to continue doing business or operating in the country.

According to documents released by the United States Department of Justice, Odebrecht executives confessed that they had paid US $788 million to officials in 10 Latin American countries and two African nations in order to obtain lucrative contracts from their respective governments. In the Dominican Republic, starting in 2001, Odebrecht paid out US$92 million in bribes in order to obtain some 17 construction contracts for highways, dams and an electricity generating facility.

One of the principles implicated in the bribery scheme, Joao Santana, worked as an advisor to President Danilo Medina in his two election campaigns.

The current Attorney General of the Republic, Jean Alain Rodriguez, who is a member of the Central Committee of the PLD, signed in January an immunity agreement with Odebrecht executives that will allow the company to continue operations and its executives to remain free of prosecution in exchange for information that may implicate local officials who may have been involved in the scandal.  The agreement also includes the payment of a US $184 million fine (to be paid over eight years) for having provided money for the bribes. This is the first agreement of this type that the company has managed to obtain outside of Brazil. Civic groups such as the Green March, call this deal “an immunity agreement.”

Source: DR1, DiarioLibre

May 19, 2017

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Turks & Caicos allows the return of dozens of Puerto Plata’s fishermen

43 Dominican fishermen from the area of Puerto Plata returned on Tuesday, 16 May 2017, following their release by the government of Turks & Caicos. The men had been accused by Turks & Caicos authorities of clandestine and illegal fishing.

As reported, the men obtained their freedom after proving their innocence in court. Luis Felipe Heredia Terrero, the president of the Small Boat Owners Association of Puerto Plata, told reporters that the fisherman had been defended by lawyer Glenna Clarke of the Turks and Caicos.

The fisherman were part of the crew of the Captain Blaise ship and were found to be fishing in open waters of the Atlantic when they were arrested by units of the Turks & Caicos Coast Guard and accused of illegal fishing. Only the ship’s captain and first mate now remain in Turks & Caicos for a final hearing in order to receive their confiscated vessel that belongs to Dominican businessman Regino Martinez.

Source: DR1, DiarioLibre

May 19, 2017

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The Grand Paradise Samana Hotel Undergoes Major Renovation

Many hotels undergo important improvement stages. Some even manage to reinvent themselves.
That’s exactly what’s happened to the Grand Paradise Samana Hotel.

This emblematic all-inclusive 420-room hotel, situated in the beautiful “Las Galeras” beach on the country’s impressive northeast region, has as one of its most important attractions its beautiful tropical surroundings.

The hotel is surrounded by manicured lawns and an endless line of coconut and palm trees that extend all the way to the ocean.

The recent renovation process, along with the beautiful new decoration, will soon transform the hotel into a five-star facility.

All social areas have been refurbished and the hotel’s new décor has raised the facility to a whole new level of beauty and comfort. The reception area, restaurants, bars and main swimming pool have all undergone major changes. The rooms are now divided into three categories: Select, Premium and Regular, and have been redesigned to provide guests with a minimalist and comfortable ambience.

The hotel’s Club COOEE is the heart of the VIP Select Service, offering guests a quick and easy registration as well as other amenities.The same service is provided to guests staying in the Premium Area, which also features its very own reception area.

The new lounge features a modern and truly comfortable ambience, with an air-conditioned area as well as an open terrace. Both feature independent bars, an exclusive swimming pool overlooking the beach and the lush tropical gardens. The menu includes quality snacks, premium drinks and an Asian restaurant.

Source: Access DR

May 19, 2017

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Cayo Levantado: One of the Most Romantic Hotels of the Caribbean

The “Luxury Bahia Principe CayoLevantado” hotel has been included on the exclusive list of the top 25 Romantic Hotels of the Caribbean published by the Traveler’s Choice 2017 Awards, sponsored by the international website TripAdvisor.

The exclusive hotel is situated in a tiny key off the Bay of Samana, on the country’s northeast region.
The hotel, a member of the Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts chain, is the only hotel in the Dominican Republic built on an off-shore key situated right in the heart of the beautiful Bay of Samana, included on the list of the “Most Beautiful Bays in the World.”

The 268-room facility also features six restaurants, four bars, two swimming pools, an exclusive spa and wi-fi. For more information, please visit www.tripadvisor.es/TravelersChoice.

Source: Access DR

May 19, 2017

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Last updated May 20, 2017 at 11:06 PM
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