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Dominican population continues to soar in Philadelphia

by Luis Ferré Sadurní

William Durán will commemorate the Dominican Republic Independence Day away from home for the first time in his life.

While his compatriots across the Caribbean island take Monday off to flood the streets and raise the national flag in town squares, Durán, 24, will be hard at work in North Philadelphia, a neighborhood he is still getting used to.

Durán left the tropics for Philadelphia in December, wanting to “become acquainted with another culture” and in search of better pay. A mutual friend landed him an administrative position at a Dominican-owned “multi-service” office, a staple in North Philadelphia. These sorts of shops offer their clients, mostly Latinos, help with taxes, legal affairs, and remittances.

“It’s like a little Dominican Republic here in the U.S.,” Durán said in Spanish. “Wherever I go — a bodega, a supermarket, a restaurant — I bump into people I know from back home who I had no clue were in Philadelphia.”

As a result, he won’t be the only one in Philadelphia paying tribute to the Dominican Republic’s independence from Haiti 173 years ago.

The Dominican population in the city is at a record high, having almost tripled in the last decade, from 7,688 in 2005 to 23,974 in 2015, according to data from the Census Bureau. Dominicans, or Quisqueyanos, surpassed Mexicans in 2010 as the second-largest Hispanic group in the city, trailing only Puerto Ricans, who account for 65 percent of the total Hispanic population.

Like Durán, many recent Dominicans leave their beloved island for higher wages and to join family and friends already settled in Philadelphia. As the community grows in numbers, so does its influence. First- and even second-generation Dominican leaders have emerged, community organizations have expanded, and Dominican-owned businesses continue to boom.

Victor Vazquez-Hernandez, the department chair of social sciences at Miami Dade College, said the Dominican boom in Philadelphia began in the 1990s as thousands of Dominicans left New York City in search of more-affordable housing.

“As more Dominicans got established in Philadelphia, more came directly from the Dominican Republic,” said Vazquez-Hernandez, who used to teach at Temple University. “And they branched out to places like Allentown and Reading. That chain migration really took off.”

Luisa Hernandez, 48, arrived in Philadelphia in 2000 after leaving the Dominican Republic and living two years in Puerto Rico and New York City. She chose Philly for its affordability and economic growth.

Like many Dominican women in Philadelphia, the mother of two is a hair stylist and has owned Ashley Beauty Salon on Sixth Street and Erie Avenue since 2006. She also called the Dominican boom in Philadelphia a “chain migration.”

“For example, I came here because of a friend, and because of me, about ten other Dominicans have moved to Philadelphia,” Hernandez said of Northeast Philly. “For years, I never met anyone here from my hometown, Mao. Now, there are so many people from Mao.”

Danilo Burgos, a cofounder of Philadelphia’s Dominican Grocers Association, has his own theory regarding the uptick of Dominicans’ arriving from the island.

“Philadelphia, maybe 10 years ago, started having direct flights to the Dominican Republic,” said the American-born Burgos. “Now we’re starting to see Dominicans that come directly to the city before going through New York or Miami.”

And first-generation Dominicans in Philadelphia continue to outnumber American-born Dominicans, according to an Inquirer analysis of 2014 Census Bureau data using IPUMS-USA, a census research project at the University of Minnesota.

While 42 percent of the Philadelphia-Dominican population is U.S.-born, 57 percent is foreign-born, presumably in the Dominican Republic. Additionally, 63 percent of Dominicans in Philadelphia are U.S. citizens (either naturalized or U.S.-born), and 34 percent are not U.S. citizens (either visa- and green-card-holders, or here illegally).

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Feb 25, 2017

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US revokes visas to three judges in drug case

The Listín Diario reports a credible source has told it that the US Consulate has revoked the US visas of three judges of the Court of Appeals of the Province of Santo Domingo that ruled in favor Winston Rizik and his brother Nelson Rizkik Delgado, and ordered their release and suspension of their prison sentences. Rizik and Rizik Delgado had been sentenced to prison for 10 years and 5 years, respectively, after being accused of drug trafficking and asset laundering.

The judges affected by the visa cancellations are Saulo Ysabel Díaz, Manuel del Socorro Pérez García and Rosaly Yovianka Stefani Brito, who were not available for comment, as reported by Listin Diario. One of the the three judges, Saulo Ysabel Díaz, had issued a dissident opinion.

The US Consulate had no comment concerning the cancelled visas.

Listin Diario reported that while the order for the release of the individuals was being been processed, they were being held at the Centro de Correccion y Rehabilitación El Pinito in La Vega. The sentence ordering them to jail had been issued in Monte Plata jail on 9 March 2016.

Winston Rizik is classified as a fugitive by the US Marshals. El Dia reported that Rizik Rodríguez escaped from a Florida jail where he had been sentenced to eight years in jail for drug trafficking. In February 2009, the Supreme Court of Justice in the Dominican Republic rejected his extradition and instead ordered that seized assets be returned to him.

El Día reports that US mission officials interviewed the judges prior to the revoking of their visas.

Source: DR1, Eldia

Feb 25, 2017

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Air Europa CEO is Dominican

The CEO of Air Europa (a division of Globalia), a leader in air travel to Europe from the Dominican Republic, swore in the Dominican Juan Juan José Hidalgo Acera (Pepe Hidalgo) as its CEO on Thursday, 23 February 2017. The ceremony was held at the Ministry of Interior and Police.

A Spanish citizen, Hidalgo Acera is a major shareholder in companies with investments totaling more than US$400 million in the Dominican Republic.  He began doing business in this country in 1986. Globalia owns six hotels in the Dominican Republic with a total of 3,000 rooms located in Puerto Plata, Boca Chica, Bayahibe and Punta Cana.

In addition, the company has several large real estate holdings.

Hildago Acera is also an honorary consul for the Dominican Republic in Palma de Mallorca.

Source: DR1

Feb 25, 2017

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Medics protest exclusion from health providers

Physicians who offer their services to private clinics marched to the Presidential Palace under the banner of the Dominican Medical Association (CMD). The professionals are protesting that health providers (ARS) are applying administrative measures that negatively impact them professionally. The president of the CMD, Dr. Waldo Ariel Suero, headed the march of the physicians.

The physicians accuse the ARS of excluding several illnesses that should be covered by medical insurance. They also complain ARS-affiliated physicians’ billing rates and fees have not been revised in 10 years.

The physicians also accuse the ARS of barring new medical doctors from registering in the medical plans. They are demanding that the ARSs allow another 15,000 physicians to be listed as authorized healthcare providers so patients with medical insurance plans can have access to their services.

The ARS are regulated by the Superintendence of Health (SISALRIL).

Commenting on the demands, the executive director of the National Health System (SDNS), Dr. Nelson Rodríguez Monegro says he favors that affiliates to the ARS health plans be able to freely choose their providers — physicians, clinics and hospitals. The exception would only be government employees whose practices fall under a different law.

He also favors changes in the system so that all physicians with exequaturs authorized by the government to practice in the Dominican Republic and certified by the different medical specialty societies be given a code and become eligible to offer services to those with medical insurance coverage.  Rodríguez Monegro claims that these changes would benefit young new doctors who, at present, are excluded from the medical insurance system.

Rodríguez Monegro spoke during an interview with Julio Hazim on Revista 110 on Channel 26.

Furthermore, Rodríguez Monegro recommended the government enter into agreements with private medical facilities and pay for these expanded medical services. He said that covering these expanding medical services in private clinics would allow the government to offer better services to patients and create a more efficient healthcare system without having to incur in major investments to install the technologies.

Source: DR1, Lisitndiario

Feb 25, 2017

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Donald Guerrero: some tax incentives will be cut

Hacienda Minister Donald Guerrero in a talk with economic editors on Monday, 20 February 2017, had commented on the recommendation of the International Monetary Fund for the Medina government to implement fiscal adjustments in order to maintain the present robust economy.

As reported in Diario Libre, Guerrero remarked that the government is contemplating fiscal adjustments that would focus on the elimination of tax exemptions and improvements in the efficiency of tax collections.

“We do not dismiss the IMF’s remarks. We share the view that the country needs to strengthen its tax base. The difference we have with the position of the IMF is that we know that once the construction of the Punta Catalina plant is completed, resources that during the last years have been transferred for its construction, that have reached 1% of the GDP, will then be available to strengthen the government’s fiscal capacity.

“It would be irresponsible on our part to sit down to negotiate a Fiscal Pact to add taxes if we are not able to administer them,” said the minister of finance.

During the meeting with the economic press, Guerrero said that the government contemplates changes in fiscal exemptions that he said today are 6.4% of GDP. He said many of the tax incentives have already served their purpose. He specifically mentioned Films Incentives Law 108-10. He said the intention is to maintain the same tax levels and rules, while increasing the government ability to monitor tax revenues to ensure that exemptions are granted where they correspond.

He also mentioned the elimination of the capacity to issue shares to holders that he described as a tax loophole, and an element he said needs to disappear in the Dominican Republic.

Furthermore he mentioned to increase tax revenues, the government plans to implement a central database to record all operations of betting shops and gambling.

He said he is confident these controls would allow a reduction of the fiscal debt to 2.3% of GDP this year that would be acceptable. He does not believe the foreign debt taken on by the country is unsustainable. As reported in Diario Libre, on the contrary, he described the Dominican Republic’s debt position as “worthy of envy.”

Guerrero reported that at the end of last year non-financial public sector debt (SPNF) stood at US$26,757.3 million, equivalent to 37.4% of GDP. He added that only 18.7% of the total debt has a variable interest rate, so he dismissed claims that the interest rate increases reportedly planned by the US Federal Reserve for this year will generate too much pressure on the Dominican debt service.

Guerrero told the press that the government has not decided how to utilize the Odebrecht agreement that sought compensation for the US$92 million in bribes paid to secure contract work. Odebrecht agreed to a US$184 million payment over eight years.

In response to Guerrero’s statements, the president of the National Business Council, Pedro Brache observed that the public debt is and will always be a concern until such time when the country generates enough revenue to meet its financial commitments – then and only then, will the level of foreign debt be considered to be sustainable.

The president of the Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE), Eugene Rault Grullón disputed the 37% public debt figure mentioned by Guerrero and said that this is more than 50% when the financial public debt sector is included. He observed in the short term the public debt may be sustainable, but not so in the medium or long term. He called for a ceiling to the accumulation of public debt, “because we and our children will end up paying this.” He said that the idea that the public foreign debt is “worthy of envy” is a perception of Guerrero, but for ANJE it is not worthy of envy.

Source: DR1, DiarioLibre

Feb 25, 2017

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Angst as Dominican Republic eyes end of corrupt era

Santo Domingo.-  Angst mounts among numerous sectors on the issue of corruption as high level government officials at the of affirm that president Danilo Medina will play the theme of Odebrecht in his address to the nation Monday, February 27, day of Dominican Independence.

The mounting protests against impunity including the march against corruption being staged since January 22 have also drawn political sectors which have decided to ride the wave.

And despite Medina’s ability to quell mistrust when he steps up to a podium, leading news outlets agree that on this occasion, circumstances have changed.

“Medina has always been successful when taking advantage of the National Assembly stage on February 27 to pull a card from up his sleeve to deal with a thorny issue on the table, but now faces choppy political sea at the start of his second four-year term,” outlet reports.

Opción Democrática party president Minou Tavárez Mirabal says Dominicans don’t want to be governed by those who favor fraud and appropriate the taxpayer’s money.

She said she doesn’t have high expectations on Medina’s address. “The speech will have nothing new than the presidential efforts to try to shield himself and protect his accomplices.”

She said the era in which the State ignores the crime and doesn’t punish the criminals has come to an end and feels proud and supports for the Dominican people’s rejection to being “ruled by those who favor fraud, protect fraud and appropriate the property of Dominicans and Dominicans.”

On the “End of impunity” movement, Tavarez says that it goes beyond the Oderbrecht issue. “The clamor for justice also demands answers to clarify scandals such as Sun Land, Tucanos and bribes to lawmakers to approve the Tax Reform in 2015.

For Herrera Industries Association (AIH) president Antonio Taveras, the president must show a willingness to confront the cases of corruption. “I really do not want to create expectations. It’s a rendering of accounts. The most logical thing is to clarify the country’s willingness and disposition to ensure that corruption cases are punished regardless of whether it’s political or business leaders involved.”

Political scientist Daniel Pou says Medina must deliver a speech that sends a clear message that he’s commitment to produce the expected changes and which involve people in his political circle. “He has to save his leadership, because in visible terms for 2020, there’s no leadership here that surpasses Danilo’s to lead another electoral process.

Pou adds that the country will soon see if Medina is willing to sacrifice his leadership to save people from his party who no longer have any kind of political validity, “and whose actions are detrimental to his image.”

Source: DT

Feb 25, 2017

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Uber will now provide motoconchos

According to information in today’s newspapers, Uber will now provide motoconcho service or motorcycle taxis through their UberMoto platform in Santo Domingo. The advantage of the motoconchos is that they can move passengers rapidly through traffic jams.

Uber has already initiated the selection process for the motoconchos that will require a valid driver’s license, a police certificate of good conduct and the possession of a motorcycle in good condition, to be not older than 2009. To apply to become an Uber motoconcho, you will have to provide a front and rear photo of the motorcycle with its license plate clearly visible and registration and proof of insurance.

Anyone interested in joining the Uber clan can obtain more information at Plaza Lincoln, locale 8, on Abraham Lincoln Ave., #456, in the National District. The fares to be charged by this new service have not been announced.

The platform can be accessed through

Source: DR1, Uberdominicana

Feb 23, 2017

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Puerto Plata – Navarrete highway repair works are carried out but lack quality

PUERTO PLATA.- Dozens of citizens have warned that the repair and refurbishment of the Puerto Plata-Navarrete highway, which is being carried out by the Ministry of Public Works and Communications (MOPC), is being carried out without any planning and in a hurry, for that reason this work lacks quality.

The weights of the citizens on the reconstruction and refurbishment of the road, is that the asphalt is supposedly being applied on top of an unprinted surface with mud and ripples, which with a downpour would have an adverse effect, so they demand that the work must be supervised by an engineer having quality criteria.

When giving an opinion, the lawyer Nolberto Batista Cruz says that a tour must be made along the highway, so that they can observe the type of work being done which is not of good quality since the paving asphalt they throw is without deep tuning and full of mud, mainly in the space of walks on both sides of the road and the places where the ground originally sinks when it rains, they just fill it in and pass a roller without wetting it, so later the paving will return to the original condition “.

Other citizens are indignant and criticize that there has been no supervision of the works executed by the Dominican State at a cost of 68 million dollars and are carried out by three companies that divided the work in three sections of the road to execute it in the shortest possible time.

According to the head of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Public Works, Ramón Antonio Pepín, on instructions from Gonzalo Castillo, the evaluations of works were made in November 2016, and they would continue the reconstruction works of the Puerto Plata-Navarrete highway, but not the extension to four lanes as promised.

Source: Puerto Plata Digital

Feb 23, 2017

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Boat mishap in the northeastern coast: 3 bodies recovered, at least 12 more feared dead

UPDATE Fri 24, 2017:

Three survivors, the remains of a 17-year old girl, identified as Walkiria Matías Tapia, Josefina Inoa and Reinaldo Mejía, and another 14 passengers still reported as missing are the latest news as of Thursday afternoon of the boating accident that occurred off the coast of Miches on Tuesday, 14 February 2017.

The 19 year-old sister of Matías Tapia, who is believed to have been onboard the ill-fated boat, is one of those reported missing. The father of the two young women arrived at the public hospital in Miches with two coffins, adding to the confusion surrounding the search and rescue mission.

The boat was overturned and sank two nautical miles off the coast.

Three survivors David Bonilla, Fernando Espiritusanto and Noemi Alvarez are under investigation by the M-2 intelligence unit of the Armada. They said the missing persons had swum to the coast and speculated several must have made it to land. The Armada units are combing the coastal waters to find survivors.

Augusto Lizardo, spokesman for the Armada, warned future illegal boat trippers to take note that the organizers of the trips are rarely found aboard the boats themselves because they know of the high risks.


Santo Domingo.- Dominican Republic search and rescue teams on Thursday found the body of a 17-year-old girl missing after a boat capsized in the northeastern coast Tuesday, with people headed to Puerto Rico illegally.

The minor identified as Walkiria Matías Tapia places the number of fatal victims at three.

Her body was pulled out of the water near the site of the mishap, Dominican Navy spokesman Augusto Lizardo told Efe.

The girl was traveling with a 19-year-old sister, whose whereabouts are unknown.

The 21-foot yola-type  boat capsized near a beach in Miches township, El Seibo province, where authorities reported having recovered the body of another woman shortly after, and that of Reinaldo Mejia early Wednesday.

More than a dozen boat people are still missing and feared dead.

Source: DT, DR1

Feb 23, 2017

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Amnesty rebukes criminalized abortion and deportations in Dominican Republic

Paris.- Amnesty International on Wednesday denounced the criminalization of abortion in almost all circumstances in the Dominican Republic, where deportations continued and many people remain “stateless,” EFE reports.

In its report of 2016 on the world’s human rights situation presented today in Paris, AI also notes that the Justice Ministry reported 74 homicides at the hands of security forces from January June, nearly 10% of all violent deaths in the country.

The report cites the International Organization for Migration, that authorities deported more than 40,000 people to Haiti from January to September, and nearly 50,000 others left the country “spontaneously,” in some cases after receiving threats or for fear of being subjected to violence.

Moreover, more than 1,200 unaccompanied minors were identified on the Haiti-Dominican border and despite some improvements, the authorities “didn’t fully respect international safeguards against arbitrary deportations.”

“From August 2015 to July 2016, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) verified 1,881 cases of people born in the Dominican Republic who had arrived in Haiti voluntarily or after being expelled and who were stateless rr were at risk of being so,” the report says.

Source: DT

Feb 23, 2017

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Last updated February 26, 2017 at 12:00 AM
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