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Massive U.S. Voter Registration Campaign Planned

Referendum Cancelled As Pro-Navy Forces Prevail

Island Gains Title I Equality

U.S. Denounces Puerto Rico’s ACS Application

Police Force To Be Restructured

NPP Lobbies To Keep Army South

Int’l Delegation To View Exercises

White House Will Push To Examine Status


Island To Register Puerto Rican Voters In U.S. Elections

December 13th, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The Puerto Rico government will start a massive campaign to register voters among the Puerto Rican residents in the United States, seeking to impact the congressional elections in November, Gov. Sila Calderon said.

The campaign is directed at the 600,000 Puerto Ricans that the island government has identified as eligible to vote but are not registered, according to published reports.

Calderon said the potential voters were identified using the figures of the 2000 census and by the organization Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund.

She indicated that many people have not registered because they have just moved from another place in the United States, they just arrived from Puerto Rico, or "worse," they don't understand the importance of voting in the United States.

Referendum Cancelled As Pro-Navy Forces Prevail

From wire service reports

December 12th, 2001
Copyright © 2001. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Pro-Navy forces, buoyed by reaction to terrorist attacks and wartime solidarity with the military, have gained the upper hand in Washington.

After weeks of discussion, the overall defense bill agreed to Wednesday by House negotiators, and Tuesday by their Senate counterparts, approved the Bush administration's request to cancel the January referendum in Vieques on future use of that Puerto Rican island for military training. They're also rejected the May 2003 deadline for the Navy to leave the training facility it has used since World War II.

The $343.3 billion defense authorization bill would prevent the Navy secretary from closing the facility until he certifies that a site or sites providing ``equivalent or superior'' levels of training will be available. If the Vieques facilities are closed, the land would be transferred to the Department of the Interior.

Both the full House and Senate must pass the final version of the defense authorization bill before it can go to President Bush for his signature.

Island To Receive Equality In Title I Federal Program

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. Congress prepared to approve federal legislation that will give equality to Puerto Rico in the Title I educational program.

The Title I program provides financial aid to elementary and high school students of scarce resources throughout the United States. Puerto Rico currently receives 75% of what the other jurisdictions receive, but the federal bill allows it to reach 100% in six years.

U.S. Denounces Puerto Rico Application


December 11th, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - The United States has advised Puerto Rico that joining the Association of Caribbean States as an associate member would be inappropriate, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

"They expressed interest," said Charles Barclay, a State Department spokesman for Western Hemisphere affairs. "We advised Puerto Rico that that type of membership wasn't appropriate."

The Trinidad-based organization's secretary-general, Norman Girvan, announced in July that Puerto Rico had applied for associate membership. The group has 25 members and three associate members.

The State Department believes joining the group "would run counter to long-standing practice" and has advised the U.S. territory against pursuing an application, Barclay said.

"Because of their commonwealth status , we do have a certain amount of authority over their conduct in external politics," he said in a telephone interview from Washington.

The U.S. State Department thinks that this participation could interfere with U.S. interests in the area, Barclay said.

Puerto Rican State Department officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Barclay said U.S. officials conveyed their concerns to the Caribbean island's administration earlier this year.

Puerto Rican Gov. Sila Calderon, who opposes U.S. statehood for the island, has pledged closer ties with countries in the Caribbean region.

Governor Announces Plan To Restructure Police Force

December 11th, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - After meeting all morning Tuesday with the Security Council, Gov. Sila Calderon announced a plan to restructure the Police Department that includes the creation of an inspector's office and public integrity office.

Calderon said both units were proposed by Police Superintendent-designate Miguel Pereira, who was also present in the meeting at La Fortaleza.

According to Pereira, "the Inspector's Unit would serve to ensure that everything that has to be done within the police force is actually done."

Meanwhile, the Public Integrity Unit would include representatives of the civilian community "to ensure the purity in the [investigative] proceedings against agents suspected of violating the law," Pereira said.

NPP Representatives Lobby To Keep Army South On Island

December 11th, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Four New Progressive Party (NPP) representatives filed Tuesday a resolution requesting President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to keep the Army South headquarters in Fort Buchanan.

The filing of the resolution was announced during a press conference held by NPP Reps. Iris Miriam Ruiz, Jose Aponte, Epifanio Jimenez, and Oscar Ramos.

The representatives noted that on March 3, 1997, the House approved another resolution urging former President Bill Clinton to establish the headquarters of the Army South in Puerto Rico, a request that was granted in September 1999.

According to Ruiz, the Armed Forces have concluded an analysis that endangers the permanence of the Army South in Puerto Rico. Ruiz also blamed this on the "climate of insecurity and instability created by the administration of Gov. Sila Calderon and her anti-military and anti-American policy regarding the Vieques issue."

Aponte highlighted the importance of the Army South in the war against drug trafficking in Puerto Rico, while Ramos warned that the withdrawal of the Army South would cause a $40 million loss to the local economy.

Aponte also said it would provoke a loss of 7,050 direct jobs and 2,000 indirect jobs.

Meanwhile, Jimenez said House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila were indifferent to the request of the past administration to bring the Army South to the island.

International Delegation To Witness Next Military Practices

December 11th, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The New Puerto Rican Independent Movement (NMIP by its Spanish acronym) announced Tuesday that an international organization known as the Sao Paulo Forum has decided to send a delegation to witness the upcoming military practices of the U.S. Navy in Vieques.

NMIP spokesman Hector L. Pesquera said the Sao Paulo Forum made the decision during its 10th convention celebrated in Havana, Cuba, in which representatives of several political parties and movements from 82 countries of the Caribbean, North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America participated.

The forum "condemned the violation of human rights and the right of self-determination of the Viequenses that the Navy and the federal court of the United States in Puerto Rico have perpetrated," Pesquera said in a written statement.

White House Will Push To Examine Status

December 10th, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN - White House aide in Puerto Rican affairs Ruben Barrales said in published reports that the relationship between the federal government and Puerto Rico is good and added that the commitment to examining the alternatives to solve the political status of the island still stands.

Barrales said there are different opinions about the effect that the Vieques issue has had on the image Washington D.C. has of Puerto Rico, but that he believes it isn't something that has damaged the image of the local government.

However, Barrales appeared uncomfortable in using the term "relations" to describe the ties between the U.S. and the island because "Puerto Rico is part of the U.S. and Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens."

Barrales also assured that the White House will "push forward" an interagency work group that will study the political situation of Puerto Rico. The committee will be presided over by U.S. Secretary of Justice John Ashcroft.  

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