Group Wants Vieques To Secede
GDB Recommends Economic Incentives
Calderon Hopes NPP Will Participate In Status Consensus
Rossello: Lambastes Budget Deficit Accusations
Rossello Calls For Status Resolution
Group Wants Vieques To Secede
By IAN JAMES
March 29, 2001
VIEQUES, Puerto Rico (AP) - While Navy opponents press for an end to the use of Vieques as a bombing range, supporters want the Navy to stay. Last week, four Vieques residents traveled to Washington to present pro-Navy petitions signed by 1,780 of the island's adults who want Vieques to secede from Puerto Rico and become a separate U.S. territory.
Luis Sanchez, a pro-Navy activist who led the lobbying trip, says the Navy has broad support on the island and that many people see secession from Puerto Rico as the best way to ensure financial backing from the U.S. government through a continued Navy presence.
Sanchez, a civilian security guard for the Navy, worries that without the bombing exercises, Vieques would lose precious jobs and federal funds.
About 200 Vieques residents work for the Navy in the area. Vieques' average unemployment last year was 12.3 percent, as compared to 10.1 percent on the main island of Puerto Rico.
"The future of this land depends on the Navy," Sanchez said. "The moment the Navy goes away, the federal funds go too."
U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma who advocates the use of live fire, welcomed the petitions presented by Sanchez.
"The people of Vieques should be provided with the opportunity for self - determination ," he said. "I will bring it forward in the Congress."
Vieques residents are to decide in a referendum on Nov. 6 whether they want the Navy to leave in 2003 or to remain and pay $50 million to be used for economic development, housing and infrastructure.
While previous polls have suggested a majority of the people on Vieques want the Navy to leave, both sides claim they'll win the referendum .
Opponents of the exercises, including Puerto Rican Gov. Sila Calderon, have cited health concerns, but Sanchez - whose house overlooks Navy land - says he thinks there is no reason for concern. The Navy has vehemently denied that its activities cause any harm.
GDB Recommends Unity In Economic Incentives Call To Congress
March 29, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - Government Development Bank (GDB) President Juan Agosto Alicea recommended Thursday the approval of a bill demanding the U.S. Congress and President George W. Bush to establish new economic incentives for Puerto Rico.
In a deposition read by a bank representative before the Senate Rules and Calendars Committee, which is evaluating the bill, Agosto Alicea emphasized the need that both Congress and the president receive the message "loud and clear" from all Puerto Ricans.
"It should only be one voice that counts with the support of all the island's economic sectors," Agosto Alicea said.
The new incentives that will be requested will substitute the U.S. Internal Revenue Code Section 936, which is in the process of disappearing.
The incentives instigating the resolution are the continuance of Section 30-A and credits in the business zone, among others, to stimulate industrial investments, so that it stops the closing of more factories and its resulting unemployment and promotes the establishment of more factories in the island.
Calderon Hopes NPP Will Participate In Status Consensus Committee
By Proviana Colon Diaz
March 29, 2001
SAN JUAN Gov. Sila Calderon is hoping that the New Progressive Party (NPP) will participate in the Status Consensus Committee, which has not been created yet, even though the party's president has said it won't.
Furthermore, Calderon said she hopes there will be a good representation from all three political parties, despite the complaints from pro-independence groups, such as the New Independent Movement, who have argued that they will not be fairly represented by the Puerto Rican Independence Party.
"It is a disrespect to pro-statehood followers to insist on inviting us when she threatens to fabricate criminal cases against former Cabinet members, who are wholesome people who dedicated their time to serve Puerto Rico," said NPP President Leo Diaz.
He added that the NPP will only participate in a process to solve the status issue when that invitation comes from either the White House or the U.S. Congress.
Rossello Lambastes Accusations Of Budget Deficit
March 28, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - Former Gov. Pedro Rossello denied the accusations made by Gov. Sila Calderon's administration that a budget deficit existed when Calderon assumed the post in January.
Rossello described the accusations as totally false and said Calderon is looking for excuses to avoid fulfilling what she promised the people of Puerto Rico during the campaign. "It is surprising that she is saying that," Rossello added.
He stated that every time he presented a budget to the Legislature, he did it early, and the financial statements of the government were always finalized before Dec. 31.
Rossello recalled that during his administration, Moody's and Standard and Poor's improved the bonds evaluation due to the good standing of the government's budget.
Rossello Calls For Resolution Of Island's Status
March 27, 2001
Washington, Mar 27 (EFE).- Puerto Rico's political status is an unresolved issue that challenges U.S. democracy, former Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Rossello said Tuesday in Washington.
In a conference at Washington's Woodrow Wilson Institute, Rossello said that U.S. concerns about Puerto Rico's status remain fixed on the economic, cultural and political consequences of the various options.
According to Rossello, these concerns, together with the lack of a consensus in Puerto Rico, have led Congress to freeze efforts to define the political future of the island, currently a U.S. commonwealth.
"Puerto Rico still has the painful distinction of never having been able to enjoy or exercise some form of true sovereignty," Rossello said.
Puerto Rico's future, Rossello told his audience at the institute, depends on U.S. politicians looking beyond the issue of what might happen to the party balance in Congress if Puerto Rico becomes the 51st state.
With 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans in the Senate and a very slight Republican majority in the House of Representatives, the addition of legislators from Puerto Rico, who would almost certainly be exclusively Democratic, is very contentious.
In his speech, Rossello brought up an occasion when Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (Rep.- MS) was asked if his opposition to the annexation of Puerto Rico was based solely on the probability it would send two additional Democrats to the Senate.
According to Rossello, Lott replied said that this was not the only reason, citing the six additional Democratic representatives Puerto Rico would likely send to the House.
Rossello rejected the argument that a state of Puerto Rico could confront the United States with a future secessionist movement, saying that the island cannot be compared to Canada's French-speaking province of Quebec.
He also remarked that the new demographic profile of U.S. society, with Hispanics currently constituting the largest minority group, should serve to silence those who argue that the United States must avoid absorbing a Spanish-speaking territory like Puerto Rico.