Tens of thousands march over corruption in Dominican Republic

July 16, 2017 / 7:34 PM / 6 days ago

Jorge Pineda

People march during a protest against corruption and the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht SA, in Santo Domingo

People march during a protest against corruption and the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht SA, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, July 16, 2017. The sign reads “Wanted corrupt senior”
Ricardo Rojas

SANTO DOMINGO (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of protesters flooded the streets of the capital of the Dominican Republic on Sunday in the biggest demonstration of anger over corruption in decades following a landmark bribery case against top officials.
Demonstrators, mostly young and dressed in the green color of the country’s environmental movement, overflowed across a six-lane thoroughfare in Santo Domingo, waving the red, blue and white Dominican flag as they chanted demands for the president and other top officials to resign.

The protest was the biggest of seven demonstrations since January that followed an investigation revealing executives from Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht paid $92 million in bribes to officials from the poor country that shares a Caribbean island with the even more impoverished Haiti.
“The people have no legal recourse, we have no one to represent us. But the government can’t repress them,” said businessman Ivan Veloz Cabral, a 69-year-old owner of a small sportswear factory.

Odebrecht has paid $184 million in damages related to the bribery charges and 14 top officials and businessmen have been indicted in the case that has stirred up deep-seated anger over decades of suspected government corruption.
Temistocles Montas, a close ally of President Danilo Medina,

People march during a protest against corruption and the Brazilian conglomerate Odebrecht SA in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, July 16, 2017.
Ricardo Rojas
and Victor Diaz Rua, the ruling party’s treasurer, have been jailed and six others are under house arrest as they await trial. The others who were indicted are out on bail.
Montas, who denies wrongdoing, resigned as trade minister after the charges.


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The scandal is weighing on the ruling Dominican Liberation Party, which will face a presidential election in 2020.
“We can’t afford to have the same people in power again,” said protester Juan Santos.

Sunday’s march dwarfed relatively large protests over education spending in 2011.
Organizers said Dominican immigrants marched in protests in other cities such as Miami, New York and Madrid as part of the so-called Marcha Verde, or Green March, movement that has staged demonstrations since January.
Demonstrations on Sunday were largely peaceful, but previous protests saw clashes with police. Protesters have accused authorities of several beatings and illegal detentions of demonstrators, and a video caught several officers planting drugs in a car of one activist.
Editing by Michael O’Boyle and Peter Cooney


Hallan muerto en río del Bronx pastor dominicano Amaurys Mella “El Ungido”


14 JUL 2017, 7:35 PM

Hallan muerto en río de El Bronx pastor dominicano Amaurys Mella “El Ungido”


El pastor dominicano Amaurys Mella (El Ungido), hallado muerto en la Bahía Pelham de El Bronx.


NUEVA YORK. El reconocido pastor dominicano Amaurys Mella, de 61 años, que se hacía llamar “El Ungido” y dirigía la iglesia “Dando a Conocer a Cristo”, fue hallado muerto en un área de la Bahía Pelham Bay en El Bronx, cerca donde él vivía.

La policía no ha dado ninguna información y la identidad del muerto fue confirmada a este reportero por el reverendo y senador estatal Rubén Díaz (padre), presidente de la Organización de Ministros Cristianos de Nueva York, a la que pertenecía Mella.

Detalles sobre la aparición del cadáver no han aflorado debido a que la investigación de la policía está en curso, pero versiones extra oficiales sugieren que el predicador pudo haberse suicidado o fue asesinado.El pastor enfrentó acusaciones de los padres de una adolescente perteneciente a su congregación de que supuestamente la habría abusado sexualmente, aunque no se le instrumentaron cargos en la corte y el caso quedó en el limbo.En el momento, Mella se defendió de las acusaciones al alegar que el padre de la adolescente lo estaba chantajeando.En la iglesia y los eventos a los que asistía se hacía rodear de un séquito de jóvenes y bonitas mujeres feligreses de su iglesia y de un cuerpo de seguridad integrado también por hombres jóvenes.Vestía impecablemente y estaba construyendo una nueva estructura para la iglesia, cuyo costo es de $20 millones de dólares, confirmó el reverendo Díaz.La policía dijo este viernes que el cuerpo de Mella fue encontrado por socorristas fuera del agua cerca del parque Pelham Bay en El Bronx, dijo la policía.

Los policías fueron llamados a los muelles del área de La Marina de Evers a las 9:15 de la mañana, después de que personas que iban a bordo de un barco de paseo descubrieron el cuerpo flotando y completamente vestido.

El pastor fue declarado muerto en la escena, dijeron las autoridades.

Se esperan los resultados de la autopsia.


  Viewpoints: Don’t care about freedom? Try living in a dictatorship



Maria Harper-Marinick, AZ I See It Published 3:18 p.m. MT June 30, 2017 | Updated 3:18 p.m. MT June 30, 2017


(Photo: Maria Harper-Marinick) (right) with her sisters (from left) Frances and Patricia at Christmas in the house they grew up in Santo Domingo.
(Photo: Maria Harper-Marinick)

What’s the one thing I’d fight for, other than my family?
It started as a girl when I found a passion for books, newspapers and magazines. I read and read and read. I was hungry to learn new things.
I dreamed of far away places and wondered how my life would be different if I lived somewhere else. I was drawn to stories about people who had done courageous things and tried to imagine what it would be like to do the same without fear of repercussion or of getting killed.

I had a good life but no freedom

I was born and raised in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, during the Rafael Trujillo dictatorship and President Balaguer.
As the eldest of three daughters, I grew up in a loving and safe environment where family and education were highly valued, and our multi-cultural ancestry was honored.
We were proud to be part Scottish, part Spanish, part Italian, and, of course, Dominican. The foods we ate, the words we spoke, the music we danced to and the traditions we celebrated reflected the diversity of my grandparents, three of whom had migrated to the Dominican Republic in the early 1920s.
I went to excellent schools. It was a good life — some would say privileged. Yet, I felt like a bird in a cage, restless. Sure, we lived on an island, but that wasn’t it.

It was clear: Don’t ask, don’t speak up


Maria Harper-Marinick (center) with her parents, Frank Harper and Pilar Martinez. She says they lived a comfortable life, but one that lacked true freedom. (Photo: Maria Harper-Marinick)

It came from growing up during a turbulent period of transition from a dictatorship to a democracy.
There was economic and social progress, but also political oppression, violence, censorship and great inequities.
Few people were willing to speak up about what was not working in our tiny nation because those who did ended up dead. There was fear. Reading was an escape.
MORE: 26 family-friendly ways to celebrate July 4th in Phoenix
My high school years were an awakening of sorts. I couldn’t read anything I wanted because certain books were banned.
But I became aware of my country’s inequities. Other people had greater privileges than me, but there were so many more with much less.
Not everyone had the same access to excellent schools and books. I was to be grateful for what I had without questioning why others didn’t. I was taught to be charitable but also to stay out of trouble, to not attempt to change the conditions of life for others.

How do you stay silent amid injustice?

How could I reconcile being encouraged to expand my mind and at the same time keep my thoughts to myself, to remain silent when I saw injustice? Was freedom just an illusion?
I became a teacher to serve others. And thus began a lifelong passion and enthusiasm for teaching others about the beauty and power of knowledge and imagination.
Then I was offered the opportunity to come to Arizona as a Fulbright scholar to complete graduate studies. I hesitated. Was I willing to leave my family and friends and come to a place I had only read about and seen in movies? Why would I not? Why should I not go to a faraway place to see how my life maybe would be different?
I arrived in Phoenix in August 1982.

How I discovered true freedom


Antonio Guzman from Phoenix and his granddaughter, Sophia Guzman-Javalera, 3, celebrate the citizenship of his son Manuel Guzman-Javalera at a naturalization ceremony at the South Mountain Community College on July 4, 2016. (Photo: Charlie Kaijo/The Republic)

I never intended to stay in the United States. But two things happened. I met the person who has been my husband for more than 30 years. And I discovered the meaning of freedom.
I became fascinated with bookstores and libraries. I could finally read anything I wanted. I learned that in this nation individuals are given opportunities to make legitimate choices.
I admired the commitment to public schools and access to quality education. I discovered the uniquely American community colleges, with a wonderful mission of access and success for all people.
I struggled to accept that I could speak up without fear of repercussion and decided that silence in the face of injustice wasn’t an option. I left family and friends in the Dominican Republic because I believed that with aspiration, motivation, hard work and education I could become all I was meant to be.

Use July 4 to remember these things

I have a profound appreciation for what the Fourth of July represents.
It is a reminder of how an open and inclusive society can thrive when it embraces the diversity of its people and promotes respect and responsibility.
I celebrate with gratitude the precious gift of being in a nation that allows people to make choices. A nation that believes equal opportunity for all, to the maximum of their individual abilities and without regard to economic status, race, creed, color, sex, national origin or ancestry is a major goal of American democracy.
A nation that knows, as the Truman Commission on Higher Education noted in 1947, “only an informed, thoughtful, tolerant people can develop and maintain a free society.”
Dr. Maria Harper-Marinick is chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges.



A day in the life of an ‘hombre serio’ in the Dominican Republic

By Kevin Dole
June 15, 2017
What follows is a sketch of an “average” day in my life as a community economic development Volunteer in the rural Dominican Republic.
04:00 Awake to the sound of screaming roosters.
04:30 Fall back asleep after much tossing and turning.
06:30 Alarm on cell phone. Wake up and get up.
06:30 – 07:30 Morning meditation and physical therapy stretches.
07:30 – 08:30 Breakfast: strong, black Dominican coffee and instant oatmeal from the colmado (corner store). Brush teeth, shower and shave.

Dominican child with completed times tables
For work I put on khaki slacks and a polo shirt. People in the campo are pretty casual but I try to match my counterpart in appearance. We want to present ourselves as hombre serio (respectable men) with whom the community can trust their money.
08:30 Holler into the street to remind neighborhood muchachos about math lesson at 9 a.m.
08:45 – 09:15 Talk about the day ahead with Cat, my wife and fellow Volunteer. She will be working in the library of the escuela básica (elementary school).
My activity of the day is to prepare my counterpart for the upcoming meeting of el Consejo de Administración (Board of Directors) of the savings and loan cooperative that is my main project in the Peace Corps.
09:20 – 10:10 Math lesson with two or three muchachos, including Fredward, my host brother.
10:15 Leave for the savings cooperative.
10:30 Arrive at savings cooperative having briefly chatted with at least five neighbors and politely but firmly resisted at least one invitation to sit and have coffee.
10:30 – 10:45 Chat with Maria Valentina, the cajera (teller), catching up on important local news: deaths in the night and/or upcoming religious holidays I might not know about.
When real news gives way to chisme (gossip), I know it’s time to get to work.

Exterior of the rural savings cooperative
11:00 I finally sit at my desk. I review my email and calendar to see if I have anything due. Nothing today, but I do have a 14:30 appointment: a member of our savings cooperative has started a small business baking cakes in her home and needs to learn about accounting.
My campito is steadily growing. Many people have an entrepreneurial spirit but lack formal education, so I offer individual consulting out of my office. It’s one of my favorite parts of my job as a Volunteer. Every time I walk to the office, I pass the peluquería (barbershop) of my friend Junior. I helped him with his construction budget and loan application.
11:15 – 12:00 I review my notes about what the Señor (the general manager of the cooperative and my project partner) and I need to discuss, writing an informal agenda of questions and bullet points. I take special pains to identify and look up any necessary jargon that I don’t know (e.g., cartera de prestamos [loan portfolio]).
12:00 – 12:45 I review notes and terminology for the afternoon’s appointment and print out examples of simple accounting ledgers for practice.
12:45 – 12:50 I repeat the same greeting gauntlet on the way to the house of Frédi, our host mother.
La bandera, Dominican national meal
12:50 – 13:50 Lunch, la bandera (the unofficial Dominican national meal) in all its glory: beans and rice, a little bit of carne and ensalada. Every day it’s a little bit different; today instead of beans we have guandules (pigeon peas grown in the front yard), the meat is fried fish (a rare treat in our mountain valley far from the sea) and the salad is berro, a wild green that grows by the river.
I let the food settle as I watch the last half of a telenovela with Frédi. We chat about the silly plot and how her grown kids in the big city are doing.
13:50 – 14:00 Go to my house, just across the street from Frédi, and enjoy an afternoon cup of coffee.
14:05 I arrive back at the office.
14:45 My 14:30 appointment arrives.
14:50 – 15:30 She wants to talk about getting a loan for her small business. We talk about the pros and cons of loans and how they aren’t always necessary, even if you qualify for one. We brainstorm likely expenses to put together a budget for her project.
15:30 -16:30 Sit down with the Señor. On the agenda: the accountant says we should increase the size of the loan portfolio if we want to offset our troubling spending deficit. He also recommends initiating a promotion campaign to promote other financial products. Is that realistic with a staff of one and a half people? We will present it to the Consejo at the upcoming meeting.

Evangelical church
16:45 – 17:45  Home sweet home. I sit in the shelter of my front porch and scribble notes for this blog entry while I watch muchachos play in the street. A mom collects laundry that she has hung outside my house and lets me know she has an English exam at the university next Monday. Could we study tonight?
18:00 – 18:30 We practice English in her kitchen as kids run in and out.
18:30 – 19:30 Dinner by candlelight with Cat: lentil soup (she made it). Dining by candlelight sounds romantic on paper, but is less so when you do it every other night of your life.
19:30 – 19:45 “Romantic” dishwashing by candlelight.
19:50 We hear the scrape of the front gate against the sidewalk and the telltale call of “¡Vecinos!” It is Fulano. We are tired but he is a good friend and so we invite him to sit on the front porch.
20:30 – 21:30 Meditate, brush teeth and collapse into bed with a good book by light of electric, solar-powered lantern.

Kevin Dole is a community economic development Volunteer serving in the Dominican Republic. He lives with his wife and fellow Volunteer Catherine in a small mountain village near the Haitian border where he works with a community-based savings and loan cooperative.


The famous white-sand beach setting on Dominican Republic coast is ‘The Taste of Paradise’


The all-inclusive resort is the real deal and has everything for the perfect holiday


I’M sipping a cocktail on an impossibly perfect white-sand beach lined with palm trees.

It’s so idyllic it could have come straight out of the classic Bounty bar adverts.


Taste of the tropics … Saona Island is the setting of the Bounty adverts

And on this occasion, it actually did!

I’m on a catamaran tour off the gorgeous coastline of the Dominican Republic.

Already I’m feeling like a star after a lunch of freshly-grilled lobster and dipping my toes into the sand where the ad was filmed is the icing on the cake.


Bounty advert on the perfect Saona Island in the Dominican Republic

The temperature in London when I left was 2C.

But on the beach, it’s a toasty 28C and those palm trees offer the perfect dappled shade.

The real appeal of the Dominican Republic is the great value.

And Thomson’s newest 5star Sensatori hotel in the resort of Punta Cana is the perfect example of this — luxury facilities for less than a grand.

All the rooms are suites and the decoration is chic with calming cool colours and high-end furniture.


The five star Sensatori Resort is the perfect place to stay during your visit


The stunning resort sits on the white sands of Uvero Alto Beach

Splash out a little more and there are swim-up rooms complete with access to the pool.

Family rooms have a separate lounge area that can be partitioned off from the bedroom, and family swim-up rooms even come complete with a child safety gate.

The hotel sits on the wide, soft sands of Uvero Alto Beach, complete with more of those swaying palm trees and four-poster day beds.

But the sea can be rough so is perhaps not great for kids.


TUI Sensatori Resort
There are seven restaurants included in the all-inclusive price



Thomson has seven-night all-inclusive holidays to the new 5star Sensatori Resort Punta Cana from £947 per person, including flights from Manchester on June 8 and transfers.

See thomson.co.uk or call 0871 230 2555.

However, there are four pools to dip your toe into, as well as SEVEN restaurants all included in the price, from the beachside BBQ burger bar to the high-end gastronomic Kitchen 23.

Breakfast in the Sugar Cane restaurant is stunning, with every fruit you can think of.

It almost makes you want to eat healthily!

But for those that don’t, the usual full English is on offer, along with many different varieties of bread, omelettes and — if you fancy an early start at the all-inclusive resort — bucks fizz.

Some of Sensatori’s facilities are shared with the Nickelodeon Hotel next door and, as you can imagine, there are a lot of excited youngsters running about.

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To counter this there are adult-only areas in some restaurants, adult rooms and an adult pool but, despite the best efforts of the attentive staff, there is some crossover.

Appealing as it may be to simply enjoy the hotel’s facilities — there’s every sport you can think of, as well as a spa and even a cookery school — getting out to explore the island is an absolute must.

I loved the Jeep safari that took us to nearby Macao beach before heading inland to a coffee and cocoa plantation.


The white sands of Saona Island is a true taste of paradise


The classic Bounty bar ads show the idyllic spot

After trying the local produce, it was onwards and upwards to the top of the mountains for lunch with a breathtaking view.

Fully refreshed, we headed off for a “coco loco”, or coconut water and rum, followed by a visit to a picturesque lazy river among the trees adorned with hammocks — perfect if you start to feel a little tired.

And then there was the cruise, with a fast boat whisking you off to Saona Island, the setting for the Bounty Bar adverts for those old enough to remember.


nintchdbpict000323049171TUI Sensatori Resort
The resort is great for families but also have adult-only areas and an adult-only pool

The advert boasts the bar is a “taste of paradise” and the island certainly is, with miles of beautiful white sands and emerald seas.

My return journey was aboard a catamaran with the music pumping and the rum flowing.

The resort has everything you need.

And unlike so many all-inclusive holidays, this is the real deal.

Excellent food, branded booze, attentive staff, luxury accommodation . . .  and scorching sunshine.

A taste of paradise indeed.

Dems launch ‘Resistance Summer’

Dems launch 'Resistance Summer'
© Getty

The Democratic National Committee is attempting to harness resistance to President Trump into a national effort aimed at building out state and local party ranks.

Billed as the “Resistance Summer,” the DNC will hold events with allies across the country in early June before sponsoring a national training summit in the hopes of registering scores of new Democratic voters.

The move is the first concrete action from Democrats’ promise to return to a “50-state solution” in light of massive Republican gains in state legislatures across the country.

“There has been an explosion of activism and energy after the election of Donald Trump

and we need to turn this moment into a movement,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.

“As the Democratic Party, it is our role to support this activism and energy, and convert it into electoral wins up-and-down the ballot by making sure state parties have the tools and resources they need to succeed.”

Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the deputy chairman of the DNC, joined Perez in the statement, calling the summer action “the starting point” for the party’s efforts to organize the resistance movement into a larger political force.

“We have never had a better opportunity to win up-and-down the ballot. But showing up is not enough. We have to organize, knock on doors, and motivate voters to the polls. Only then can we deliver what hardworking American families need,” he added.

The centerpiece of the effort will be matching grants to help state parties fund organizers and fellows. According to The Associated Press, the initial grant money will go to Arizona, Massachusetts, Michigan, Kansas and South Dakota, a cross-section of states with a variety of electoral needs.