Univision: the US pulls visas of 4 officials close to Dominican President - UPDATE

The United States has cancelled the visa of president Leonel Fernandez’s two top security officials, former Armed Forces Minister Manuel de Jesus Florentino, and a former Chief of the National Police.

Domingo.- The United States has cancelled the visa of president Leonel Fernandez’s two top security officials, former Armed Forces Minister Manuel de Jesus Florentino, and a former Chief of the National Police, according the US network, Univision.

The revelation comes after months of speculation on allegedly cancelled visas of senior officials, while the allegation against Florentino dates back to Fernandez’s first term in office (1996-2000).

The network said the US State Department’s measure affects Fernandez’s personal assistant and National Investigations Department (DNI) director Victor Crispín Zorrilla, the head of his security detail, general Héctor Medina Medina and former National Police chief Rafael Guillermo Guzman.

Univision Chief investigative reporter Gerardo Reyes, speaking exclusively to the local news network SIN, said they’ve tried to obtain a response from those affected, without results.

He said that several weeks ago he investigated the case and that there’s no political agenda in the denunciation. “I want to clarify that this is based on entirely reliable sources. We were in the Presidency and in the National Investigations Department today to get their versions and they didn’t respond us.”

Local newspaper Hoy reports it tried to get the US Embassy’s reaction, to which its Press attaché Judith Ravin said, “Given the confidentiality of the visa files we generally cannot provide information on particular cases, except to the bearer of the visa.

“The State Department has sweeping authority to revoke visas. This authority is typically exerted when, after the issuing of a visa, information surfaces which indicates that the bearer of the visa could be inadmissible to the United States or ineligible to receive a visa,” Ravin said, quoted by Hoy.

UPDATE: The US barred general close to Dominican leader, The Miami Herald says

Newspaper The Miami Herald reports that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) impeded general Hector Medina Medina from entering that country for having a cancelled visa.

The newspaper, citing a State Department source, said Medina’s case is the target of a criminal investigation and the head of president Leonel Fernandez’s security detail was blocked from entering US territory at least once last year, but didn’t specify the date or port of entry.

Titled “Dominican generals tied to drugs lose U.S. travel visas,” the report also confirms the cancellation of the visa of retired general Manuel de Jesus Florentino Florentino. “Generals Florentino and Florentino and Medina, lost their visas on suspicious of drug trafficking and corruption,” The Miami Herald citing an unnamed senior State Department official.

“Washington’s efforts to combat narco-corruption in the region reached the highest levels of government in the Dominican Republic, where two military generals close to the president lost their visas to travel to the United States due to alleged ties to drug traffickers.”


US$1.06B dirty money laundered yearly is 2% of GDP, expert

Around US$1.06 billion illegal money is laundered yearly in the Dominican Republic, or nearly 2% of the Gross Domestic Product and comes from corruption, tax evasion and the underworld.

The figures from the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption held in New York in 2010 were disclosed yesterday by expert anti-laundering Alejandro Rebolledo, who said the statistics increased from the estimated US$820.0 million in 2008.

He said the Dominican electoral authorities should identify the origin of the money used in the political campaigns, and warned that the elections period could be used by drug trafficking.

Rebolledo said the Latin American and Caribbean countries have identified drug trafficking’s ability to fund electoral campaigns, a resource he affirms facilitates “benefits” from the governments. “The international crime networks generally, including drug trafficking, try to invest in politicians and relations which later help them secure their objectives.”

Bureaucratic states

The former Adviser to Venezuela’s Congress criticized the “usually bureaucratic, slow and heavy” states in dealing with “technological, modern and innovative” drug trafficking and organized crime.

He said a sort of “voluntary blindness” keeps the economic authorities, industrialists, business leaders and other actors from exerting oversight over the origin of the funds they receive as income.

Rebolledo said legislation in the region should include a fixed investment quota to prevent money laundering, applied as percentage on the fixed income of banks, large companies and industries, a measure he affirms would contribute to curtail organized crime’s influence over productive sectors.


The Government seeks to keep ballooned payrolls

Although the Government must comply with the Constitution which limits the number of vice ministers in each ministry to six, the Public Administration Ministry (MAP) announced that the mandate would be wavered, “in those cases in which the need for a higher number is determined.”

The announcement comes one week after Dominican Teachers Association ex president Maria Teresa Cabrera denounced that the Education Ministry has 23 vice ministers, when the Education Law stipulates only three.

In a resolution, the entity specifies that if those agencies’ statutory laws don’t stipulate the number vice ministries, an analysis of that entity will determine them. “The number of vice ministries in no case will be higher than established by the statutory laws or in the creation of the ministries, except in those in which the need of a higher number is determined.”

The resolution states that the number of vice ministries will be definitively established after the Public Administration General Organization Law and the Law of Ministries, once the studies are conducted.

It said Public Function Law 41-08 instructs the Public Administration Ministry to carry out all pertinent actions to strengthen the institutions and rationalization of the organizational structure of the ministries which conform the State.  “To this end, it authorizes the MAP to approve the structure of positions in public administration and evaluate and propose structural, organizational and functional reforms for the government agencies.”

The Labor and Foreign Relations ministries also have ballooned payrolls.


Transparency International says the Justice Ministry must do more

Transparency International president Huguette Labelle yesterday cautioned that the country’s fight against corruption has pending tasks, such as taking those types of cases to court, a concern she informed to Justice minister Radhamés Jiménez.

Interviewed by the Communications Group Corripio, Labelle noted as an example that despite the Accounts Chamber’s high volume of information provided to authorities, they’ve yet to proceed on most of them.

She said she informed Jiménez on the importance of proceeding judicially in those cases where the lack of action leads to disheartening in the future, when the goal should be no corrupt officials, “such the people in the banking sector who believe that it was extremely important to create a new pattern of behavior.”

Total impunity

In that regard the coordinator of the civic group Citizen Participation, Francisco Alvarez, affirmed that there’s total impunity in government corruption. “There’s not a single case that can serve as example for those who seek to steal taxpayers money,” added that that’s of great concern because what happens is that corruption continues to increase and there’re no consequences,


Reader comments from DominicanToday!!

Written by: juanb, 20 Feb 2012 4:57 PM
From: Dominican Republic

According to El Caribe, the number of deputy ministers is unprecedented in the history of the country, or the rest of the world. The Dominican government has 334 deputy ministers, distributed between different ministries: Agriculture 37, Public Health 33, Education 29, Sport 28, Employment 25, Environment 21, Industry and Commerce 20, Youth 19, Interior and Police 19, Public Works 18, Tourism 18, Higher Education, Science and Technology 13, Women 12, Foreign Relations 9, Culture 8, Housing 8, Public Administration 5, Administration 5, Economy 4, and Armed Forces 3.

Even much larger countries do not have such an army of deputy ministers. Canada for example with a geographical area 206 times larger and a population 3.5 times larger, has only 25 deputy ministers in its government.


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