Orlando Jorge Mera: The Minister of the Environment of the Dominican Republic was shot dead | International

The Minister of the Environment of the Dominican Republic, Orlando Jorge Mera, on November 4, 2021.
The Minister of the Environment of the Dominican Republic, Orlando Jorge Mera, on November 4, 2021.Manu Moncada (EFE)

The Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic, Orlando Jorge Mera, has died on Monday morning at the age of 55 after being shot in his office in Santo Domingo, as reported by the spokesman for the presidency, Homero Figueroa, in a statement in which he identifies the attacker as Miguel Cruz, a “personal friend of the deceased minister”, and who is in the custody of the police and the Public Ministry.

One of the minister’s sons, deputy Orlando Salvador Jorge Villegas, confirmed in a statement on behalf of the family that the murder of his father was “perpetrated by a childhood friend whom he received in his office.” “One of the greatest legacies of our Orlando was not to hold a grudge,” he adds in a brief text in which he says that they forgive the murderer and that they trust justice and the authorities, in addition to asking for respect for his family. .

The assassination of Minister Jorge Mera occurred before 1:00 p.m. on Monday (local time) and generated chaos in the ministry’s facilities, as confirmed to the local media by eyewitnesses, who said they heard between four and seven shots. “Everyone started running,” said Juan de Dios Liberada, councilor of the municipality of Sabaneta, who was in the lobby of the minister’s office waiting to meet with him. After the attack, the workers were evacuated and ambulances, agents from the Homicide Department of the National Police and special operations arrived at the scene.

“On behalf of the Government and President Luis Abinader, we express our deepest condolences to the Mera Villegas family for the death of the Minister of the Environment, Orlando Jorge Mera”, said the communications director of the Presidency when confirming the death, two hours after the first reports of the attack emerged. Figueroa also announced that the attack is “under investigation” by the authorities. President Abinader, who at the time of the assassination was on his way to Los Angeles to participate in the Summit of the Americas, later spoke on his Twitter social network account to express his condolences for the death of whom he described as a “good friend”. ”.

Fausto Rosario Adames, director of the digital newspaper Accent, believes that the trust that existed between the minister and his murderer was a determining factor in the tragedy, since, as he explains, to access the ministerial office you had to go through at least three doors with security, which the assailant easily overcame. “There was an overconfidence of the security personnel and the minister himself. This person was a childhood friend, fellow student. They had many years of friendship. There are many photographs in which the two are together: Miguel Cruz with Orlando Jorge Mera. So when the discussion started in the minister’s office, the information we have is that Orlando’s assistant, hearing that they raised their voices and that there was an argument, approached him and told him that if he needed him to call security and the minister said that it was not necessary, that he was a friend”, he explains by telephone from Santo Domingo to EL PAÍS.

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According to Rosario Adames, in the background of the confrontation between the two friends was the closure of a Cruz company for not complying with environmental regulations. “Orlando Jorge Mera fulfilled his duty to bring to justice and close the predators of rivers, ravines and other places that were preying on the environment and, among them, there was a friend of his,” he says, referring to whom the authorities have identified. as the aggressor. According to the information to which he has had access, Miguel Cruz had a company that extracted river materials in the Cibao region, in the north of the country. His murder this Monday has shocked the Caribbean country, he says. “There is a very great sadness. Orlando was a very decent person, always very calm, very nice and loved, ”she affirms.

Son of former President Jorge Blanco, who governed the Dominican Republic between 1982 and 1986, Orlando Jorge Mera was appointed Minister of the Environment in August 2020 by President Luis Abinader and was a member of a prominent family in politics and Dominican public administration. : In addition to a deputy son, his wife Patricia Villegas is ambassador of the Dominican Republic in Brazil and his sister Dilia Leticia Jorge Mera is deputy minister of Innovation, Transparency and Citizen Attention. After his appointment as minister, Jorge Mera said that his mission was to work for proper environmental management and compliance with the Constitution and laws, adhering to transparency and public ethics.

Born in Santiago de los Caballeros and a lawyer by profession, Jorge Mera was a founding member of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM), one of the main parties in the Dominican Republic, he taught, was the producer and host of a television program and presided over the Dominican Institute Telecommunications between 2000 and 2004, among other things. According to Accentsince he was appointed Environment Minister, he had brought more than 2,000 people and companies to justice for not complying with environmental laws, including ex-military, active military, high-ranking businessmen and police officers.

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