Congress Postpones Vieques Issue
3 New PRFAA Offices To Open
Bill Filed To Regulate Transition
Referendum Decision Reversed
Terrorist Attacks Delay Status Discussion
Governor Disagrees On Inability To Hold Referendum
U.S. Congress Postpones Vieques Issue Due To Anthrax
October 18, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - The cancellation of legislative work at the U.S. House of Representatives as a result of the positive cases of anthrax bacteria delayed Wednesday the search for a consensus in the discussion of the future of the military practices on Vieques.
The U.S. Congress Conference Committee had intended Wednesday to hold several meetings regarding the bill that would authorize the expenses of the U.S. Defense Department for fiscal year 2002, which also includes the Vieques issue. At least one of those meetings had been cancelled, according to published reports.
The almost three dozen confirmed cases of anthrax among U.S. Senate employees caused the House to suspend all works until Tuesday morning.
"The solution (of the Vieques case) has been postponed until at least next week," said one of Rep. James Hansen's (R-Utah) advisors. Hansen is in favor of the continuation of military training on Vieques.
Governor To Open Three New PRFAA Offices
October 18, 2001
Gov. Sila Calderon, who is currently visiting the U.S. mainland, announced Wednesday the creation of three regional offices of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) in the cities of Los Angeles, Houston, and Cleveland.
Calderon said the new offices will help the efforts to reach 3.2 million of the 3.4 million Puerto Ricans living in the southwestern region of the U.S. mainland.
The governor noted that the regional offices are aimed at working with issues such as lack of representation for minorities, bilingual education, healthcare services, and the community.
Calderon also announced the appointments of the new directors at the regional offices of New York, New England, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, the Midwest, Central Florida and Southern States, and South Florida.
The appointees are Felix Lopez, Reyes Rodriguez, Gloria Soto, Edna Negron, Maria Quiñones, Maddi Amill, Luis Pastrana Silva, and Manuel Benitez Gorbea, respectively.
Tripartite Bill Filed To Regulate Government Transition
October 18, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - House Vice President Ferdinand Perez announced Thursday the filing of a tripartite bill that will regulate the government's transition process for the first time in the island's history.
Perez said the bill includes strict guarantees to avoid conflicts of interest by the members of the transition committees and defined the failure to comply with various ethical requirements as a serious crime.
He said the bill is a product of the work of a special committee to investigate the government's fiscal crisis, which is presided by him and comprised of House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo and Reps. Francisco Zayas Seijo, Jose Varela, Hector Ferrer, Rafael Garcia, Ramon Ruiz, Jose Aponte, Albita Rivera, and Victor Garcia.
One of the fundamental aspects of the bill is that it provides for the transition process to be performed independently of whether the governor who wins the elections is of the same political party as the incumbent.
The bill also guarantees the press and citizens access to the reports and transition process hearings.
Supreme Court Overrules Previous Ruling In Referendum Case
By Proviana Colon Diaz
October 17, 2001
The Puerto Rico Supreme Court overruled San Juan Superior Court Judge Sonia Velez's determination in the case filed by Vieques fisherman Carlos Zenon and ordered the State Elections Commission (SEC) late Wednesday to "immediately" renew the organization of the federal referendum in Vieques, scheduled for Nov. 6.
The ruling came down 24 hours after the Commonwealth filed appeals before the Puerto Rico Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
The island's top court issued a certification, meaning that it takes jurisdiction in the case and thus rules out the process of waiting for a ruling by the Court of Appeals.
The judges gave until 4:30 p.m. Friday for appeals to be filed.
Gov. Sila Calderon ordered Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez to appeal Velez's ruling.
The Justice Department said the November referendum is the only viable and lawful mechanism to determine the future of the presence of the U.S. Navy on the island municipality.
The Justice secretary assured that the referendum will be totally funded with federal money, which is a key element to the legal dispute, since the plaintiffs allege that the use of local funds give the referendum a hint of unconstitutionality.
Velez issued her ruling late Friday afternoon as a "provisional measure," which prohibits the use of public funds, SEC equipment, and SEC personnel to implement the law that makes the referendum feasible.
In her 34-page ruling, Velez Colon points out a contradiction in the law, which prohibits local public funds to finance it and the process that the SEC started. The SEC process is financed with money from the Puerto Rico government.
Velez Colon's order was in response to a preliminary injunction filed by anti-Navy leader Zenon requesting a halt to the referendum because it does not include the option of an immediate and permanent end to all military practices and the Navy's exit.
Calderon: Terrorist Attacks Have Delayed Discussion Of Status
October 17, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - Gov. Sila Calderon admitted Tuesday that the political situation triggered by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States will postpone the discussion of the political status of the island until at least 2002.
Calderon said she cannot fulfill at this moment her campaign promise of creating a tri-partisan status commission which would be in charge of selecting a mechanism to define the final political relationship between the island and the mainland.
The governor said the creation of the Union and Consensus Commission, also known as CUCO by its Spanish acronym, "was already been discussed internally, but after what has happened, the discussion has been abandoned, and we will continue it at some other time."
Calderon noted that she had projected to create the CUCO by the end of this year, but after the attacks, it may be postponed until next year.
Governor Disagrees With Melecio On Inability To Hold Referendum
By Proviana Colon Diaz
October 16, 2001
Gov. Sila Calderon disagreed Tuesday with State Elections Commission (SEC) President Juan R. Melecio's statements regarding the inability to hold a federal referendum in Vieques if the orders to do so come after Wednesday.
Following San Juan Superior Court Judge Sonia Velez's order Monday to the SEC to immediately and permanently halt all procedures aimed at organizing and implementing the referendum, Melecio said he would not be able to carry out a proper consultation if a decision contrary to that issued Monday comes later than Wednesday because of the proximity of the event.
"Melecio's statements surprised me very much because the small size of the voting population will make it easy for the SEC to comply with the law. We are talking about an electoral process of 2,000 to 3,000 people. I really don't share his opinion," she said.
Calderon said until President George W. Bush makes it clear that the Navy will leave on or before May 2003, Calderon will defend the federal referendum because it is the only piece of legislation that states a date for the departure.