June 13, 2018
The United States Department of the Treasury has sanctioned Dominican Republic Senator Félix Ramón Bautista Rosario for “ripping off” Haiti.
A Dominican elected official’s trail of corruption is nothing new as ESENDOM has reported on the Dominican government’s multiple corruption scandals and its top players ranging from former President Leonel Fernández to current President Danilo Medina and other officials.
In this instance, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which “targets perpetrators of corruption and serious human rights abuse and corruption,” Senator Bautista is accused of engaging in corrupt acts in relation to reconstruction efforts in Haiti.
According to a press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury:
“These actions are part of our continuing campaign to hold accountable government officials and other actors involved in human rights abuse and corrupt activities. Senator Bautista used his position to engage in corruption, including profiting off of humanitarian efforts related to rebuilding Haiti.”
For several years now, some Dominican media outlets like ESENDOM have denounced the corruption of Dominican government officials and their allies. Brave Dominican journalists such as Marino Zapete and Nuria Piera have provided continuous coverage on the corruption. In a report as early as 2010, Piera noted how Bautista—much like several other government officials—went from rags to riches upon being elected to represent his constituents. As evident in the report, Bautista transformed himself entirely. For his part, Zapete has repeatedly challenged Bautista’s personal wealth, which was not accumulated via his salary as an elected official. In this video, Zepete notes how it is impossible for Bautista to have accumulated such personal wealth without involvement in illicit activities.
By the same token, many people from several segments of Dominican society have united to denounce the destructive government under the umbrella of the Marcha Verde (Green March movement).
One way that Bautista has attempted to mask his illegal activities is through his humanitarian program, Iluminando el Camino. In this television program, Bautista makes donations to impoverished Dominicans, which have included houses for the working-class and people unable to work due to old age or disability.
During his time in office, Bautista has been accused of money laundering and embezzlement, has accepted bribes as an elected official, and in one instance one of his companies was paid over $10 million for work it has yet to complete.
Francisco Domínguez Brito, former Dominican attorney general, is calling for Bautista to resign his position in the Partido de la Liberación Dominicana (PLD). Leonel Fernández is also a member the political party. Brito is running for president and clearly sees Bautista, a Leonel ally, as a potential threat. Nonetheless, the timing of Bautista's "fall from grace" coincides with the 2020 presidential elections.
The U.S. Department of State has made Bautista, his wife Sarah Haydee Rojas Peña, their minor children, and all of Bautista's adult children (Felix Ramon Bautista Abreu, Felix Jose Bautista Abreu, Felix Augusto Bautista Abreu, Felix Miguel Bautista Soler, Felix Fidel Bautista Grullon, and Yanilssa Bautista Bencosme), ineligible for entry into the United States.
ESENDOM will continue to report on these corrupt officials.