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Mainland Puerto Rican Population Up 25% To 3.4M

Berrios Trial Set

Navy To Disburse $10.7M

Miss USA Calls For Bombing Halt

Amnesty International Sends Observer To Vieques

Flood’s Damages At $146M


Mainland Puerto Rican Population At 3.4M

May 10, 2001
From Wire Services

The nation's Hispanics became notably more diverse as their numbers soared during the 1990s, a decade in which fast-growing Central and South American populations began eroding the traditional numerical dominance of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Cubans, new Census 2000 figures show.

To a substantial degree, Hispanics do remain concentrated in several large states. Florida, California and two other big states -- Texas and New York -- accounted for two-thirds of all Hispanics nationwide.

But that's down from 70 percent in 1990, reflecting the dispersion of Hispanics throughout the country.

To be sure, Mexicans remain by far the largest single Hispanic group in the United States, representing nearly 59 percent of the total, the Census Bureau analysis shows. The 53 percent growth in the country's Mexican population between 1990 and 2000 accounted for more than half of the 13 million increase in the number of U.S. Hispanics during the decade, study author Betsy Guzmán concluded.

The next two largest Hispanic groups, Puerto Ricans and Cubans, also experienced strong growth. The number of Puerto Ricans grew by 25 percent to 3.4. million in the 50 states (not counting the 3.8 million on the island, a U.S. commonwealth), Cubans by 19 percent.

So substantial was the growth in Florida's Puerto Rican population that it is now second only to New York's in size, surpassing New Jersey's, which was long number two, said Thomas Boswell, an expert in Hispanic immigration at the University of Miami.


Federal Trial Against Berrios Scheduled For Wednesday

May 10, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Fernando Martin informed Thursday that the federal trial against PIP President Ruben Berrios was scheduled for Wednesday, May 16.

The announcement was made in a press conference where Martin said Berrios would be tried before U.S. District Court Judge Jesus Castellanos, along with five PIP members who accompanied Berrios' entrance to U.S. Navy land in Vieques.

According to Martin, the sentence that the district attorney's office requests against Berrios and Samuel Soto for entering Navy land for a second time will serve as a barometer for those people who wish to engage in civil disobedience for a second time.

Likewise, he said the sentence that is imposed on the rest of the PIP members will also serve as a barometer for most of the people accused of entering Navy land during their recent military practices.

Martin also said if Berrios is found guilty, he could face up to six months in jail since this is his second offense.

The other arrested PIP members are Felix Rodriguez, Justo Echevarria, Tomas Vargas, Eddie Questel, and Soto.


Navy To Disburse $10.7 Million For Vieques

May 10, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN - The island municipality of Vieques will soon receive $10.7 million of the $40 million promised by the U.S. Navy in exchange for resuming military practices, at least until 2003.

According to published reports, William J. Fallon, vice chief of naval operations, talked about the disbursement after testifying before the U.S. House Government Reform Committee.

According to the Defense Department, this amount will be divided as follows: $5 million to expand and improve the Vieques airport, $4 million for infrastructure and public works, $1 million for training, and $750,000 for biological conservation.

Fallon said the $40 million will help convince the Viequenses that the Navy should remain on the island.

Of the $40 million that the Navy offered the municipality, $3 million has already been disbursed. Of that amount, $1.4 million was granted to the Interior Department for the conservation of 4,000 acres of land that the Navy recently handed over.

Meanwhile, the Health and Human Services Department received $1.6 million to study Vieques residents' health.


Miss USA Calls For Bombing Halt


May 10, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

BAYAMON, Puerto Rico (AP) - Asked about Vieques by a reporter, Kandace Krueger, Miss USA, said: "I think the bombing should cease until they have done further research to prove that there is not any danger to the people of Vieques ."

Krueger, who is also Miss Texas, also said Wednesday the Navy should be able to continue using its firing range on the island's eastern tip "if they verify and prove that there's no harm done to the people.

"It's obviously a necessary location for the Navy because they are able to practice attacks by sea and by air," said the 24-year-old Krueger, who is in Puerto Rico competing for the Miss Universe crown.

"The Navy has looked into these allegations and there's nothing that links the Navy to any health concerns," said Navy spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon.

"We're glad to see that she has an understanding and an appreciation for the importance of the range," Gordon said, adding that he is rooting for Miss USA to win.


Amnesty International Sends Observer To Vieques

May 9, 2001
Copyright © 2001 M2 Communications, Ltd. All rights reserved.

Amnesty International will be sending an observer to Puerto Rico to investigate allegations that the US military police used excessive force against people protesting US military bombing exercises in Vieques .

Yanette Bautista, a Colombian national and Officer of Amnesty International's Costa Rica office, will be in Puerto Rico between 10 and 14 May and will observe a hearing on 12 May. The hearing, organized by the Human Rights Commission of the Puerto Rico Bar Association, will look into ill-treatment of demonstrators by US marine officers. Yanette Bautista will also be interviewing victims, attorneys, local groups and others about the events in question.

A number of protestors were hospitalized after being doused with pepper spray. Security forces also used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse non-violent demonstrators. Some of those arrested have also claimed that they were ill-treated while in detention.

More than 120 people were arrested on trespassing charges during the protests between 24 April and 2 May. Most of them have since been released on bail but there are apparently seven people still in detention.


Floods’ Damages At $146 Million

May 9, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN -- Gov. Sila Calderon declared a state of emergency for parts of Puerto Rico on Tuesday after floods forced residents to flee their homes in the U.S. territory and caused more than $146 million in damages.

Calderon also asked President Bush to declare the island a federal disaster area, which would free up more emergency funds. The local measure covered 22 towns and authorized up to $12 million in disaster-relief spending.

More than 1,860 homes have been damaged island-wide by rains and flooding that began Sunday night, the State Emergency Management Agency said.

At least 178 people sought safety Tuesday in shelters in several rural southwestern towns, it said.

Highways and bridges were underwater in the southwest, and mudslides and overflowing rivers had destroyed crops and caused roads to buckle.

On Sunday night, one man was swept away by the water while trying to cross a bridge by foot in the town of Yauco, police said. Another man died in the area when his truck was carried away as he crossed a river, police said.

The small towns of Guanica, Guayanilla, Lajas, Yauco and Hormigueros were the most affected.

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