Dominican Republic minister killed over permits: Report

Orlando Jorge Mera was fatally shot by a childhood friend apparently enraged over denied environmental permits.

Published On 9 Jun 2022

Dominican Republic environment minister Orlando Jorge Mera was fatally shot in his office, allegedly by a childhood friend over denied environmental permits, according to judicial documents.

In the documents, authorities described attacker Fausto Miguel de Jesus Cruz de la Mota as a “cold and calculating murderer” who complained of not receiving preferential treatment from the environment ministry despite campaigning in support of the minister’s Modern Revolutionary Party ahead of the 2020 election.

“I campaigned, and they’re not helping me,” an enraged Cruz said before the attack on Monday, according to the documents, which were obtained by The Associated Press news agency.

“The evidence shows that the accused had been trying to obtain multiple permits but complained angrily that no one was helping him solve anything,” the Dominican Republic’s Department of Justice said in a statement.

According to the documents, Cruz was particularly angered over a denied permit that involved a request to export 4,500 tonnes of used batteries, according to the documents. Those permits and others were found inside a briefcase Cruz was carrying when he fatally shot Jorge Mera, the son of former Dominican President Salvador Jorge Blanco.

Cruz was arrested after confessing the crime to a priest at a local church. Authorities later seized Cruz’s car, finding a 9mm Uzi with two 30-round magazines and $2,000 in cash.

The alleged motive came to light shortly after a two-day wake was held for Jorge Mera, who comes from a politically influential family. Beyond his father, Jorge Mera’s sister is a vice minister in President Luis Abinader’s administration. His son is a legislator for the Modern Revolutionary Party, which Jorge Mera helped found with Abinader.

Upon taking office, Jorge Mera had promised to work for the “responsible” use of natural resources, protect ecosystems and slash pollution. He had told local media shortly before his killing that he had reported thousands of cases to the judiciary for violations.

Mourners at his wake included baseball superstar and former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz.

Cruz also hails from an influential family. His father, Major General Fausto Miguel Cruz, served as the commander of the Dominican Republic air force from 1988 to 1990, according to the AP.

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