Bloomberg Pledges Support For P.R.
Calderon Not Meeting With Bush
Pesquera Insists Misla Aldarondo Resign
Petition Drive Seeks Statehood
Comptroller Criticizes Water Co. Contract, Reforming Foreign Affairs
New York's Mayor-Elect Pledges Support For Puerto Rico
November 27th, 2001
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - New York Mayor-elect Michael Bloomberg pledged support Tuesday for Puerto Rico 's corporate tax incentive plan and backed the federal plan to end Navy bombing on Vieques island.
"I will be, after Jan. 1, the mayor of the city with the largest Puerto Rican population in the world," Bloomberg said at a news conference with Gov. Sila Calderon. "My responsibility to the Puerto Rican community is to be sensitive to their needs and to provide the services that they and their children require."
About 800,000 of New York's 8 million people are Puerto Rican , while San Juan's population is 500,000.
After his meeting with the Puerto Rican governor, Bloomberg pledged closer ties with the U.S. Caribbean territory. He said he would use his political clout to promote Calderon's plan to amend the U.S. tax code to include incentives for businesses that come to Puerto Rico .
The mayor-elect said he supports President George W. Bush's position regarding the ousting of the U.S. Navy from the island municipality of Vieques by May 2003, but noted that as a result of the war in Afghanistan, "sacrifices" must be made.
"In times of war we all have to make sacrifices, but hopefully the war will be brought to a conclusion successfully and the president has clearly stated that his intention is to comply with the wishes of the people of Puerto Rico and I support that," Bloomberg said.
The governor thanked the mayor-elect and reiterated her position regarding Vieques.
"I must say that most Puerto Ricans and the governor of Puerto Rico support and are in solidarity with the president of the nation as it moves forward at this very difficult time. Certainly the circumstances have changed, our principle has changed, but we support the president's position that the Navy will halt the practices by the year 2003," Calderon said.
The governor and the mayor-elect had lunch at La Fortaleza on Tuesday and later met with the press. They also visited the Father Rufo Manuel Fernandez Elementary School, which specializes in teaching children who have Spanish as a second language.
Calderon said the main purpose of Bloomberg's visit is to establish joint programs between the local government and the city of New York in the education field.
Calderon Still Not Meeting With Bush To Discuss Vieques Issue
By Proviana Colon Diaz
November 26th, 2001
Gov. Sila Calderon denied on Monday that she accepted a proposal from anti-navy group All Puerto Rico with Vieques to meet with President George W. Bush to discuss the presence of the military on the island municipality and the possibility of resuming practices with live ammunition on Vieques.
The request was made last week by anti Navy leader Jose Paraliticci, Rev. Wilfredo Estrada of the Ecumenical Council in favor of Vieques, and Vieques first lady Nelly Rivera.
Because the governor had left the island to spend Thanksgiving Day with her son, Calderon didn't have the chance to answer the petition until Monday.
However, Calderon said efforts are being done at the White House, but declined to say why she has failed to meet with the president.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Calderon has evaluated and justified her position regarding Vieques.
"All the efforts that are humanly possible at this moment, so difficult for the United States and for the entire world, are being made and the people of Puerto Rico can be sure of that," Calderon told PuertoRicoWOW.
NPP President Insists Misla Aldarondo Must Resign
November 26th, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera insisted on Monday that former NPP House Minority Leader Edison Misla Aldarondo must resign his seat at the legislative body after being charged with several counts of corruption.
Pesquera said it is now up to the House Ethics Committee and House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo to decide on the issue.
Misla Aldarondo, who is free on bail, continues to occupy his seat at the House, despite the public requests of Pesquera and other NPP members to resign after being accused of extortion, money laundering, and other corrupt actions.
Petition Drive Seeks Statehood
November 25th, 2001
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- An organization that supports statehood for Puerto Rico launched a petition drive last week that aims to collect 1 million signatures in favor of becoming the 51st state. Mario Porrata, president of Pro-Total Statehood, said the signatures will be presented to Congress to ask that Puerto Rico, now a U.S. commonwealth, be given all the rights and responsibilities of full statehood. "We are going to prove that our only destiny is total statehood and it won't be worthwhile to continue postponing it," Porrata said.
Comptroller Insists On Criticizing Water Co. Contract
November 25th, 2001
PONCE (AP) - Commonwealth Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña lashed out again on Sunday against Gov. Sila Calderon's administration for extending the Water Co. contract until June 2002, and accused the corporation of holding the Puerto Rican people hostage.
"We don't have a continuity business plan to take charge of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa). So we are being held hostage by the Water Co.," said Diaz Saldaña in a radio interview.
The comptroller also accused Prasa's board of not being diligent in monitoring the operations at the Water Co.
Diaz Saldaña said he would soon reveal new audits on the corporation.
The comptroller also noted that the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) leadership headed by the governor had opposed to the privatization of the Prasa services during the past New Progressive Party administration, but now that the PDP is in power, it has renewed the contract until next summer.
He also criticized former Gov. Pedro Rossello for allowing in 1999 to distance the results of the corporation's operations from that of the performance of the Water Co.
The comptroller asked the Calderon administration to send him a copy of a letter she should have sent to the Water Co. to ratify the extension of the contract.
He reminded that more than 3,000 irregularities in the operation area of the Water Co. had been found in audit reports.
Puerto Rico Begins Reforming Its Foreign Policy
November 24th, 2001
SAN JUAN (AP) - The public policy of Puerto Rico regarding its foreign affairs is being reformed at an accelerated rate, as the island joins several international organizations.
Starting this weekend, Puerto Rico participates in the annual meeting of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Guyana and the Ibero-American summit in Peru.
Meanwhile, a local Senate delegation returned Thursday from Brazil after participating in the Parliamentary Conference of the Americas (COPA by its Spanish acronym.)
The island is also tightening relations with its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. This month Gov. Sila Calderon is expected to travel to that country to sign a collaboration agreement with Dominican President Hipolito Mejia, local State Secretary Ferdinand Mercado announced.
With the new agreement to be signed on the first week of December, both governments will commit themselves to help each other in areas such as the economy, commerce, education, and tourism.
According to Mercado, it is expected that a similar agreement be reached with Chile next year.
"There is an international vision of Puerto Rico that we want to project to our fellow countries. For the past years we didn't use the opportunity we had to benefit from the experiences of other countries and we want to regain that opportunity," said Mercado, who is the main advocate of this new policy.
Due to the nature of the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, the island lacks juridical power to establish treaties with other countries. However, Mercado says the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico can establish cooperation agreements with different governments.
Nonetheless, Mercado admitted that such agreements lack solidity, since they can be repealed by future administrations.
Mercado denied that the reform to the island's foreign policy is aimed at severing the ties with the United States.
For the time being, Mercado heads the participation of Puerto Rico at the 11th Ibero-American Summit for the first time in ten years.
During the summit, Mercado intends to establish the most amount of contacts with leaders of the 21 participating countries and to promote Puerto Rico as a good investment center and tourism destination.