Orlando Jorge Mera, the Dominican Republic’s environment minister, was shot and killed during a meeting on Monday by a businessman and close friend who has been apprehended, according to the authorities.
Jorge Mera, a lawyer and politician, was the son of former President Salvador Jorge Blanco (1982-86) and had been in charge of the environment ministry from mid-2020.
“According to the information we have at the moment, the environment minister died this morning after being attacked with a gunshot in his office,” said Homero Figueroa, the president’s spokesperson
“The shooter, identified as Miguel Cruz, was a close acquaintance of the deceased minister,” he stated.
The suspect was in police custody, according to Figueroa, and his motive was “under investigation.”
At least seven shots were heard, according to local media, and police and emergency personnel surrounded the premises. Mourners quickly congregated in the area.
In a statement, Jorge Mera’s family identified the attacker as “a childhood acquaintance whom [Jorge Mera] received in his office.” Jorge Mera is the son of former President Salvador Jorge Blanco.
According to sources close to the investigation, Cruz and Jorge Mera had been at conflict over environmental regulations.
When Jorge Mera assumed office in 2020, he pledged to seek “responsible” use of natural resources, to protect ecosystems, and to reduce pollution.
The minister told El Caribe and CDN in March that he had submitted 2,300 incidents of environmental permit violations, illegal tree cutting, and mangrove damage to the judiciary.
Active and retired military, police, and business people were among those affected.
According to the Acento website, seven gunshots were heard, and a heavily armed special police squad entered the ministry shortly after.
The event elicited no instant response from the police.
President Luis Abinader expressed his “deepest sorrow” over the murder of the minister, sending his sympathies to the deceased’ wife and children, while the environment ministry expressed its “dismay” at the attack.
From 2000 to 2004, Jorge Mera, who co-founded the Modern Revolutionary Party with Abinader, was president of the Dominican Telecommunications Institute.
He had worked as a television producer and presenter in addition to becoming a lawyer.
He was born into a political family. Dilia Jorge Mera, his sister, is a deputy minister; Orlando Jorge Villegas, his son, is a politician; and Patricia Villegas, his widow, is the Brazilian ambassador.