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Santini: Budget Deficit Inherited

Court Declares Referendum Unconstitutional

Navy Ends Round Of Exercises

Fertility Rate Drops, Mortality Rate Highest In U.S.

Burgos Criticizes Calderon On Vieques

Committee Approves $60M Refund To P.R.

Santini Claims To Have Inherited Budget Deficit

October 16, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini denounced that he has inherited a budget deficit of $72 million from Gov. Sila Calderon when she was the capital's mayor.

Santini said the firm Deloitte & Touche confirmed his initial impression on the matter, also pointing out that the past administration increased the city's income by 47% by rising the property tax in 1997, together with a bond emission of $324 million, according to published reports.

The San Juan mayor said the outgoing administration opted for postponing the payments of the debts that were being accumulated, and the policy then was "to let others deal with it."

Court Declares Referendum Law Unconstitutional

October 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - San Juan Superior Court Judge Sonia Velez declared unconstitutional the law that enables the celebration of a federal referendum in Vieques scheduled for Nov. 6.

The decision validates the lawsuit filed by Vieques fisherman Carlos Zenon and a group of Vieques leaders, who claim that the alternative that prevailed in the Puerto Rico government's local referendum on July 29 - the immediate and permanent halt of military practices, should be included.

The judge ordered the State Elections Commission (SEC) immediately and permanently halt all procedures aimed at organizing and implementing the referendum.

Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez immediately announced that the government will appeal the decision.

"We do not agree with the jugde's determination," said the official, through her spokeswoman Zulma Raices.

In her determination, Velez said the process as stated in the referendum law, "was of no real judicial consequence, thus loosing its purpose."

The Justice secretary said that as soon as Tuesday, a motion will be filed before the Court of Appeals requesting to deal with the petition presented Monday, as if it was an appeal.

U.S. Navy Ends Round Of Exercises At Vieques

October 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. Navy has ended its latest round of exercises on the island municipality of Vieques with little interference from opponents of military training there.

The John F. Kennedy Battle Group completed its three weeks of exercises on Saturday, the Navy confirmed in a written statement. The training began Sept. 24.

The only interference was when protesters on two small boats fired flares at a Navy helicopter during exercises on Oct. 4, Lt. Corey Barker said Sunday. The flares did not hit the helicopter, and there were no arrests.

Most protest groups stayed away in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Fertility Rate Drops In Puerto Rico, Mortality Rate Highest In U.S.

October 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The fertility rate in Puerto Rico has registered a decrease of .3% in the past 10 years, according to statistics of the U.S. Census Bureau.

Demographer Judith Rodriguez explained that fertility rates decrease as women become more educated and join the workforce, hence decreasing the number of times that they give birth.

"Between 1990 and 2000, the fertility rate (the number of children per family) was reduced from 2.3% to 2%," Rodriguez said.

According to the demographer, the fertility rates in rural areas are different from those in the city because women in rural zones tend to be less educated about contraceptive methods.

In another study released October 10, 2001, life expectancy for Americans rose last year and death rates for adults and infants fell, marking a continued trend toward better overall health in the United States, according to a government report.

Life expectancy was a record 76.9 years, up 0.2 years from 1999. Life expectancy was 79.5 years for women and 74.1 years for men, both up slightly from the previous year.

The national mortality rate also reached an all-time low at 872.4 deaths per 100,000 people. Among U.S. jurisdictions, Puerto Rico had the highest rate (1,762.2), Hawaii had the lowest, with 666.9 deaths per 100,000 people.

Burgos Criticizes Calderon For Not Discussing Vieques With Bush

October 12, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party Sen. Norma Burgos criticized Gov. Sila Calderon on Friday because she has not been diligent in "knocking at the doors" of the White House to attain the immediate and permanent halt of the bombings and the exit of the U.S. Navy in Vieques.

She has still not been able to explain why at this stage she has not requested a meeting with President George W. Bush to talk to him as clearly as she did before the elections with then President Bill Clinton," Burgos said.

She suggested that the governor is acting in an accommodating manner by now supporting the federal referendum on Nov. 6, hiding behind the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

"She must have assumed that position before all these matters, including the elections and the local referendum," Burgos said in a radio interview.

She said the governor has been changing her position in respect to Vieques over time and not necessarily after the terrorist attacks.

U.S. Committee Approves Refund Of $60 Million To Puerto Rico

October 12, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee approved Friday a measure that extends to the Puerto Rico government for two more years the refund of taxes for the sale of rum, according to New Progressive Party Sen. Kenneth McClintock.

This translates into $60 million more for the local treasury, of which a slice is destined to the Conservation Trust, as established by law, McClintock said.

The legislator indicated that the refund was destined to end in December.

The bill approved by the committee is part of the packet of bills directed at encouraging the economy, which was affected after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

The Federal Relations Law establishes that Puerto Rico will be given $10.50 for every gallon of rum sold. Under the leadership of former President Ronald Reagan, that amount increased to $13.50, but the federal government never paid the increase, in violation of the law, the senator said.

Former President Bill Clinton ordered that the increase be paid, but Congress decided that it would only be for two years, which would have ended in December.

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