Misla Investigation Suspended
Senate President Defends Rodriguez
Evangelicals Request Bush Meeting
Misla Aldarondo Resigns
NPP Seeks Replacement
956 Vote Set For Summer
Fas Alzamora To Strengthen Intl Ties
Vivoni Called On False Operation
Anti-Calderon Protest Possible
House Ethics Committee Suspends Investigations On Misla
By Proviana Colon Diaz
January 8, 2002
With the opposition of two of its members, the executive panel of the House Ethics Committee ruled Tuesday to suspend the two investigations against New Progressive Party Rep. Edison Misla Aldarondo, arguing that the process became an academic one following his public resignation.
Committee Chairman Hector Ferrer made the announcement Tuesday following an executive meeting to determine whether the investigations should continue even though it was already informed that the accused legislator would renounce his post.
Misla Aldarondo presented his resignation Monday, effective Jan. 31, to concentrate on the legal case he faces in federal court. Immediately, the date became the source of controversy when Ferrer himself argued that the legislator was a member of the House until Jan. 31, and as such the process should continue.
On Tuesday, however, Misla Aldarondo's defense attorney Laura Maldonado told the committee that her client changed his mind, and the resignation will be effective Jan. 14, the first day of session for the ordinary assembly.
The resignation must be taken to the floor for its acceptance, making Jan. 14 the closest date upon which Misla Aldarondo can resign his post.
For such reason, the majority of the executive panel believed it would be a "waste of resources" to continue with the investigation when it would have to be concluded within one week, Ferrer said.
"The moment the floor accepts the resignation, the committee has to stop the investigation because it has no legislator to investigate," Ferrer said.
Fas Alzamora Insists On Defending Sen. Rodriguez's Innocence
January 8, 2002
PONCE (AP) - Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora insisted Monday on the presumption of innocence of Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Maribel Rodriguez in the complaints filed against her before the Senate Ethics Committee.
"She has clearly told me that she is innocent of what she's been accused, that she has an explanation for everything, she has already filed her explanations, and I give her the benefit of the doubt and the presumption of innocence," Fas Alzamora said.
The Senate leader even defended Rodriguez's performance in the Legislature as a senator for the Arecibo district.
"I don't hide to say that Rodriguez has proved to be an extraordinary legislator, very responsible and competent in the duties she had performed at the Legislature," Fas Alzamora said.
Regarding the investigation at the Senate Ethics Committee, Fas Alzamora said the report may be ready by the end of the month.
Rodriguez is being investigated due to alleged irregularities in her financial statements.
Evangelical Foundation Requests Meeting With Bush
January 8, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rico Evangelical Foundation Executive Director Dr. Alma A. Pereira-Arroyo announced that the organization is working on obtaining a meeting with President George W. Bush to discuss the presence of the U.S. Navy in Vieques.
The religious leader said the organization has been working with members of Congress from both parties to obtain their goal.
"The purpose is to present [Bush] with the need to speed up the decision of this administration regarding the bombing on the island municipality of Vieques and the ousting of [the Navy] on the date previously set or prior to 2003," Pereira-Arroyo said in a prepared statement.
Pereira-Arroyo said she will seek to bring together several prominent religious figures to form a delegation to meet with Bush about Vieques.
Misla Aldarondo Resigns His Post At The House
By Proviana Colon Diaz
January 7, 2002
Following weeks of speculations since his indictment in federal court in October for money laundering, obstruction of justice and extortion, New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Edison Misla Aldarondo submitted his resignation to his post on Monday effective Jan. 31.
"Today I'm obligated to yield this privilege to salvage and retake the rights that our justice system grants us for being just another citizen. It is for such reason that I have made the decision to leave the post I now occupy as legislator of the San Juan precinct 4," Misla Aldarondo said.
The resignation was submitted one day prior to his scheduled appearance together with his sons before the House Ethics Committee, which will be investigating the veteran legislator's violations to the ethics code, as well as a complaint filed by House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo based on the indictment made by Acting U.S. District Attorney Guillermo Gil against Misla Aldarondo.
However, Misla Aldarondo hopes that Tuesday's process doesn't take place, as Committee Chairman Rep. Hector Ferrer has said the investigation would end if the legislator quit his post.
But immediately after Misla Aldarondo's announcement, both Vizcarrondo and Ferrer said stopping the investigation wasn't a sure thing, since his resignation will be effective Jan. 31.
Furthermore, Vizcarrondo said it was "unacceptable" for the former House Speaker to request that his resignation be effective at the end of the month because "if his resignation is good for one thing it should be good for the other."
Vizcarrondo was referring to Misla Aldarondo's attempt to halt the investigation against him by submitting his resignation while at the same time pretending to continue to get paid until the end of the month.
Upon making his resignation public, Misla Aldarondo argued that he will continue to work until the end of the month as it will give him enough time to solve matters related to his pension plan.
Gov. Sila Calderon, for her part, said Misla Aldarondo's resignation was long overdue.
"It was the correct decision but came too late and should have been requested from the beginning by the leaders of the NPP after the legislator was indicted by federal authorities for participating in a fraud scheme," Calderon said.
The question of who will fill in Misla Aldarondo's post lies in the hands of NPP President Carlos Pesquera, who said during a last-minute press conference that a work group would be established to solve the matter.
Although a number of candidates have surfaced, including Virgilio Melendez Davila, whom Misla Aldarondo defeated in primary elections, as well as former legislator and now advisor to the delegation Edwin Mundo, a decision is yet to be made.
NPP Committee In San Juan Prepares To Substitute Misla
January 7, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - The New Progressive Party (NPP) San Juan Municipal Committee began on Monday the process to hold the primary elections for substituting NPP Rep. Edison Misla Aldarondo, who resigned his post effective Jan. 31.
San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini made the announcement after learning of Misla Aldarondo's resignation on Monday.
Santini said although the law allows any person of the San Juan Electoral District to run for the vacant post, the leaders of the other San Juan precincts support the idea that Misla Aldarondo's substitute be someone from the same precinct as the NPP legislator, which is precinct 4.
The San Juan mayor admitted that organizing the primary elections is something that the central party should do. However, Santini said he would be heading the process, as he possesses a more direct communication with San Juan voters as well as the necessary plan to move ahead with the election.
Santini appointed San Juan Committee Electoral Director Dennis Medina to begin the process within precinct 4, and Edwin Gonzalez, municipal committee secretary, to be in charge of putting the plan into action.
Congress To Vote On Section 956 In Summer
January 5, 2002
JUANA DIAZ (AP) - Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said Saturday that the U.S. House of Representatives will vote this summer on the proposed amendments to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code Section 956.
The official said he is confident that the congressional majority favors the changes promoted by Gov. Sila Calderon's administration.
"I am extremely optimistic about the approval of Section 956," he said. "We already have 47 co-authors to the bill, and many of them make up the House Ways and Means Committee, among Republicans and Democrats."
The Section 956 bill pursues among other things, reducing the U.S. taxes paid by controlled foreign corporations from 35% to 10%.
The government's interest in the approval of the bill is due to the fact that the tax benefits would attract new investments from U.S. companies.
However, the proposal faces the opposition of the chairman of the House Resources Committee, which has jurisdiction on Puerto Rico. Rep. James Hansen, R-Utah, also is a member of the House Armed Forces Committee and is a fervent ally of the U.S. Navy.
Fas Alzamora To Continue Strengthening International Bonds
January 4, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - Not satisfied with Puerto Rico's entry to important Caribbean and Latin American organisms during 2001, Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora said Friday that the island strengthen relationships this year, including with the European Parliament.
He indicated that he will also continue from the Senate solidifying bonds with state organizations, parliamentary and governmental.
In a related matter, Fas Alzamora said the Senate proposes this year to attend to the matters that were left pending because "they were postponed for this year in deference to Gov. Sila Calderon's priorities," which were concentrated on boosting the creation of jobs and the economic development.
He said among his priorities for this year is to try to reacquire the shares that will allow him to control the Puerto Rico Telephone Co. again and submit legislation to modify the Official Languages Law.
On another matter, Fas Alzamora described his communication as Senate leader with the governor as "excellent" during 2001.
"Where I understand that I have to differ, I will differ with much respect, but that does not imply at all that her administrative and political support from me and from the Senate [will be affected]," he said at La Fortaleza, where he assisted the protocol greeting to the governor.
Vivoni Called To Respond To Questions On False Operation
January 5, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - Before the allegation that the two fired colonels who participated in a false operation were following orders, former Police Superintendent and now Judge Pierre Vivoni will be cited at an administrative hearing about the dismissals of both officials.
In the administrative processes, Vivoni should respond to questions of lawyers of Col. Carlos Haddock, who was the assistant superintendent in field operations, and Lt. Col. Teofilo Garcia, former commander of the San Juan area, according to published reports.
The former press secretary of the superintendent, Raquel Rodriguez, will also be cited, officials said.
"We are going to call Vivoni as a witness so that he can explain this situation. No police colonel does anything without receiving instructions," said Jose de Jesus Serrano, president of the United Police Union, which is offering legal representation to the two dismissed officials.
The two colonels were expelled after a series of weapons that were shown to reporters during a press conference about a police operation conducted in San Juan Nov. 5 were really taken in previous raids and were guarded in evidence rooms.
Serrano: Protest Against Calderon's Actions On Navy Possible
By Proviana Colon Diaz
January 4, 2002
Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano did not rule out the possibility of holding a protest against Gov. Sila Calderon's actions in regards to the presence of the military body in the island municipality during her upcoming state address Thursday.
Such a possibility, however, needs further discussion if it is to be included as one of the strategies by anti-U.S. Navy organizations for ousting the military from Vieques, Serrano said.
"It's not that the idea is not mine; it's that I stated at all times that we need to continue meeting, and if it's one of the strategies of the organizations, then we need to consider it seriously," Serrano said.
The idea of a protest during the state address was one of the many proposals submitted during a Thursday meeting between members of the multiple sectors in Vieques fighting for the ousting of the Navy from Vieques.
Such protest also failed to obtain the support of Mayors Association President Popular Democratic Party Carolina Mayor Jose Aponte, who said he "did not think it was the correct time to do so."
For Serrano, the strategy that has worked, continues to work, and will work in the future is civil disobedience. The mayor concluded in early December a four-month prison sentence for engaging in such practice.
Serrano made his statements at La Fortaleza while attending the annual protocol greeting with Calderon.
Serrano and his wife Nelly Rodriguez received the warmest greeting given by Calderon during the morning-long ceremony.
Also attending the protocol greeting was Navy Rear Adm. Kevin Green, who prior to entering the activity declined to issue a statement on the matter.