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Burgos To March

Senate Change May Benefit P.R.

‘Excessive’ Sentences Decried

HUD Officials Charged With Fraud

Calderon Defends ELA

Rights Violations In Arrests

Sharpton In Jail For Protest


Burgos To Participate In Monday's March For Jailed Activists

By Proviana Colon Diaz

May 24, 2001
Copyright © 2001 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All rights reserved.

New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Norma Burgos said Thursday that she will participate in Monday's scheduled march outside the Federal Metropolitan Detention Center in favor of those serving sentence for engaging in civil disobedience in Vieques; an action she also engaged in during the past military practices and for which she is still pending trial.

The NPP also vice president urged demonstrators to not turn the demonstration into a political one, in order for a spirit of unity to prevail and for no one to get offended.


Change In U.S. Senate May Be Favorable For Island

May 24, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The decision of Sen. James Jeffords (R-Vt.) to abandon the Republican Party, giving the Democratic Party the control over the U.S. Congress, is beneficial for Puerto Rico, according to attorney and businessman Miguel D. Lausell, also an influential member of the Democratic Party.

According to Lausell, who is very close to Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton, Edward Kennedy, and Charles Schumer, this new situation in the U.S. Senate will make it possible to control nominations to judicial seats and to federal attorney's offices that otherwise would have fallen on conservative hands.

"I intend to speak to them about the agenda for Puerto Rico, since this change would be of great help to the efforts of the current local government for the creation of jobs and for the economic development," Lausell said.


Governors Decry 'Excessive' Sentences For Vieques Protesters


May 24, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

NEW YORK (AP) - The governors of New York and Puerto Rico said Thursday the sentences imposed on the Rev. Al Sharpton and other activists for protesting military exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques were too harsh.

"I'm disappointed with the sentences," said New York Gov. George Pataki, who appeared with Puerto Rican Gov. Sila Calderon at a news conference at his Manhattan office. "I think they were far more severe than was necessary."

Calderon agreed, saying, "I do respect the courts but I do have to agree with the governor. They were very excessive sentences."

Sharpton was sentenced to 90 days in jail for trespassing on U.S. Navy land. Nine others were sentenced to 40 days in prison and issued a $500 fine. They included New York City Councilman Adolfo Carrion, New York state legislator Jose Rivera and Bronx County Democratic Party Chairman Roberto Ramirez.


Three HUD Officials Charged With Fraud

May 24, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Three employees of the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD) were accused of fraud Wednesday. If convicted, they may be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

U.S. District Attorney Guillermo Gil identified the accused as Juan Irizarry Valentin, head of HUD's Operations Division; his brother Samuel Valentin Toro; and contractor Edwin Rafael Cornier Ortiz.

Gil made the announcement together with HUD Inspector General Susan Gaffney and FBI Director in Puerto Rico Marleen Hunter.

The accused face charges of extortion and conspiracy to commit fraud with the contracts awarded by HUD for the management and administration of public housing projects in Puerto Rico.


Calderon Defends ELA

Ruth E. Hernandez Beltran

May 24, 2001
Copyright © 2001 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc. All rights reserved.

Source: World Reporter (TM)

New York - Puerto Rican Gov. Sila Calderon on Wednesday said that the commonwealth status (ELA) of Puerto Rico is an example of the island's spirit to improve, and she said she favors the island's current form of government.

The governor vigorously defended the ELA during her acceptance speech given upon receiving an honorary doctorate from New York's New School University.

Calderon said that with the ELA, Puerto Rico is a model for a new and independent world that is moving in search of a common defense, market, money and citizenship while preserving national identities.

Calderon emphasized the Puerto Ricans' commitment to democracy and the importance of defending their rights in a peaceful and lawful manner.

She said that since Puerto Ricans were granted the right to vote in the 1940's, electoral participation on the island has been one of the highest in the world. In the last elections, when Calderon was elected, there was an 82 percent voter turnout.

Calderon also said that Puerto Ricans are continuing their search for new ways to further develop the ELA so that it can continue to grow.


Senate Committee: Civil Rights Violations In Vieques Arrests

May 23, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The Senate Judicial Committee concluded in their investigation that the people who were arrested for trespassing on U.S. Navy land in Vieques suffered violations to their fundamental civil rights. The results of the investigation were approved by the committee members on Wednesday.

However, New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer voted against it.

The arrests by military police and federal officials occurred the last week of April and the first week of May during the recent military practices in the island municipality.

The report on the arrests was revealed Wednesday by Chairman Eudaldo Baez Galib after testimonies from four senators and one mayor, who were among those arrested.

The report recognizes that civil disobedience implies the necessary intervention of police force, but suggests that there was an excess of force on those arrested.


Sharpton Sentenced To Prison For Vieques Protest

May 23, 2001
Copyright © 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- A federal judge on Wednesday sentenced the Rev. Al Sharpton to 90 days in jail for trespassing on U.S. Navy land as part of a protest against military exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

The New York civil rights activist was arrested May 1 with 12 other protesters on Navy land. At least 180 people were arrested during the exercises April 27 to May 1.

"If Martin Luther King were alive, he would have come to Vieques and raised these issues," Sharpton said, appearing before Judge Jose A. Fuste.

Because Sharpton had prior arrests for civil disobedience in New York, he was sentenced as a repeat offender. He also was fined $500.

Sharpton was taken to the federal prison in suburban Guaynabo. His lawyers said they plan to file an appeal with the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

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