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Senate Committee Approves Assembly To Discuss Status Issue

New Controversy Surrounds The Puerto Rican Day Parade

Senate Committee Approves Assembly To Discuss Status Issue

March 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Excluding the New Progressive Party (NPP) leadership, the Senate proposal to hold a people assembly to address the political status of Puerto Rico was approved Tuesday and welcomed by those interested in finding a way to solve the century-old political dilemma.

Following several months of public hearings in which the most varied stances on the issue were heard, the Senate Judicial Committee concluded that "the Status Assembly of the Puerto Rican People" is a viable and appropriate mechanism to address the political status of the island.

The governing Popular Democratic Party (PDP), through its secretary general Jorge Colberg Toro, welcomed the proposal stating that it "contains what has been established in the government program of our party, which is to evaluate different alternatives of procedural mechanisms, one of them being the constituent assembly."

For his part, NPP Sen. Kenneth McClintock, who is the party’s minority leader at the Senate, said the NPP won’t sponsor the proposal because it is considered a PDP scheme to avoid discussing urgent issues such as unemployment, the economic crisis, and the poor performance of the current administration.

Meanwhile, NPP Sen. Sergio Peña Clos abstained from signing the proposal because it doesn’t acknowledge Puerto Rico’s present colonial status.

As for Sen. Fernando Martin, of the Puerto Rico Independence Party, he said he was surprised to hear of the NPP’s refusal, as it has been an advocate of solving the island’s political status for many years.

"It seems like a good way to immediately start working with the status issue, which we shouldn’t postpone any longer," Martin stated.

The committee report must now be sent to the floor for the Senate’s final approval.

New Controversy Surrounds The Puerto Rican Day Parade

March 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. 

MAYAGÜEZ (AP) – Organizers of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York expressed opposing views on the idea of dedicating the event to the 50th anniversary of the Puerto Rico Commonwealth.

Ralph Morales, president of the organizers’ board of directors announced the decision to reporters in Mayagüez, immediately triggering criticism from other event organizers.

Ramon Feliciano, member of the parade’s board of directors and a pro statehood supporter, admitted to have been taken by surprise and said the decision will definitely be a cause for division within the group.

"The Commonwealth represents a political formula supported by the Popular Democratic Party and this will bring controversy," Feliciano stated.

Feliciano added that last year’s decision to dedicate the parade to the island municipality of Vieques and to anti Navy demonstrators also caused internal problems.

Meanwhile, Morales said a tribute to Puerto Ricans who perished in the Sept. 11 attacks should be included in this year’s edition of the parade to be held July 9.

The grand marshal this year will be Puerto Rican painter Rafael Tufiño, and the Ramon Emeterio Betances and Eugenio Maria de Hostos awards will be presented to Gumersindo Martinez, Aida Rosa, and Dr. Enrique Laguerre, who will also be the guest of honor at the event.

This year’s edition of the parade will also be dedicated to the Cataño municipality, which was founded 75 years ago.

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