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Kennedy, Rivera Appeals Dismissed

Clean-Up Could Slow Navy Departure

Crime, Unemployment, Drugs Top Poll

Millions Spent On Prasa Consulting

Rodriguez Defends Navy Meeting

Still No Decision On Army South Relocation

Gun Buyers Get Prison Terms

Governor Acknowledges Difficulty In 956 Approval

PRFAA Requests $9.2M

Kennedy, Rivera Vieques Appeals Dismissed

April 29, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

BOSTON (AP) -- An appeals court on Monday upheld the trespassing convictions of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and labor leader Dennis Rivera for protesting U.S. Navy exercises on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

Kennedy and Rivera appealed their 30-day prison sentences, claiming a judge had refused to consider their argument that the April 29, 2001, incursion was necessary to save endangered species on the island.

They also argued that the judge should have recused himself from the case because he had presided over a lawsuit seeking to halt bombing exercises by an environmental group of which Kennedy and Rivera were members.

The 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected both arguments.

Kennedy is the son of late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy.

The appeals court also rejected appeals by four other men Monday.

The Navy is expected stop war exercises on Vieques by 2003.

Navy Departure Could be Slowed By Clean-Up

April 29, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- The U.S. Navy is expected to stop war exercises on Vieques Island by 2003, but there will be ``lots of things to do'' which could extend the Navy's stay, a Navy official said.

``We have to find jobs for the civilian employees there, comply with (Environmental Protection Agency) rules and do some cleanup and patrolling the fences,'' Capt. Kevin Wensing, a spokesman for Navy Secretary Gordon England, told The San Juan Star.

He could not say how long Navy personnel may have to remain on the outlying Puerto Rican island. The Navy probably would carry out ``two or maybe three'' more rounds of exercises before May 2003, the English-language daily quoted him as saying.

Antimilitary sentiment in this U.S. territory flared after an off-target bomb killed a civilian guard in 1999 on Vieques.

Protesters regularly break into the bombing range to delay exercises. The Navy said that during the latest round of maneuvers, which ended last week, protesters threw rocks and other objects at military personnel. The protesters said their demonstrations were peaceful.

Puerto Rico Concerned About Crime, Unemployment, Drugs

April 29th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — Crime, unemployment, drug abuse, and unemployment rank highest on the list of issues that concerning residents of Puerto Rico the most, according to a Mediafax Inc. survey conducted among 1,000 adults.

The poll revealed a higher concern for unemployment than a year ago.

Concern was also expressed regarding the economy, while other traditional social concerns such as HIV and alcoholism paled in comparison.

The poll, performed from April 3 to April 15, indicated that a solid majority of 71% said Puerto Rico is in a profoundly serious situation, while 25% believe the situation is fairly good.

Of those interviewed, 54% said their current economic situation is basically the same as last year and 26% said it is worse. Only 20% considered their economic situation is better than last year.

The poll was based on 1,000 interviews. The design and analysis of the results were made by the independent New York firm, Kaagan Research Associates.

The interviews were performed by the Mediafax Inc. SKA division, previously known as Stanford Klapper Associates.

Government Spends Millions In Consulting On Prasa

April 28th, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Some $6.5 million of the treasury has been used for the evaluation process to choose the company that will administrate the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa).

Published reports revealed that the money has been used in contracting six consulting firms.

The original budget for the evaluation was $3.16 million.

However, internal Government Development Bank documents show that the invoicing for professional services surpassed the budgeted amount, which made it necessary to approve a resolution.

The $6.5 million amount is still preliminary because two new consulting firms, Cleary Gottlieb and Steen & Hamilton, have been added for legal consulting and Juan Manuel Rivera for labor consulting. The six firms that have already billed are Malcolm Pirnie, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Hawkins Delafield & Wood, Black & Veatch, UBS Paine Webber, and Reichard & Escalera.

Justice Secretary Defends Meeting With Navy

April 27th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez described the meeting held Tuesday between the local government and the U.S. Navy to discuss the Navy’s compliance with the Puerto Rican Coastal Zone Management Plan as "historic."

Rodriguez reacted to criticism of Vieques leader Ismael Guadalupe, who accused the official of "falsifying public policy" on Vieques as she allegedly offered the Navy alternatives to continue with its exercises on the island municipality.

"I regret that Guadalupe could not recognize the historic nature of the meeting," the Justice chief said in a press release. "We were very clear with the Navy, and in more than one occasion we have indicated that this administration’s public policy on Vieques has not changed at all and remains unaltered."

In other matters, Rodriguez said she is studying the possibility of proposing legislation for the government to attend to the decision issued this week by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed the Navy to continue using water from the Rio Blanco in Naguabo.

"We have read and analyzed the decision, and we understand that the Puerto Rico government has available legislative mechanisms that will allow us to urge the necessary legal resources to demand the Navy to comply with the stipulations on the use of water in Puerto Rico," Rodriguez said.

Army Says Still No Decision For Army South Relocation

Lt. Col. Tom Budzyna, Director, U.S. Army South Public Affairs

April 27, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

The Army will conduct a feasibility study to examine a possible course of action that would re-locate U.S. Army South from Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, to Fort McPherson, Georgia as a major subordinate command to U. S. Forces Command. This study is part of an on going effort to explore all options and possible locations to reduce the size of Army headquarters as part of the Army Headquarters Realignment. An Army team will be conducting an on-site visit to Fort McPherson to investigate the feasibility of a move to that location. Once all studies are completed, they will be presented to the Secretary of the Army.

Gun Buyers Get Prison Terms

By Henry Pierson Curtis

April 27, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Buying guns destined for criminals in Puerto Rico and New York City produced federal prison sentences for two Orlando women on Friday.

Evelyn Arias and Glenda Aponte worked in mid-2000 as "straw purchasers" for a gun ring that bought 120 pistols from gun shops in greater Orlando.

They and four other women each bought as many as 13 pistols at a time and claimed they were for personal use, according to testimony in federal court in Orlando.

The gun they bought most often was a 9mm Sturm Ruger, the same model most often seized from teenage criminals, according to a 1999 nationwide study conducted by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Florida is a leading source of guns confiscated in crimes in the country's other 49 states and Puerto Rico, studies show.

None of the guns in the case have been recovered.

The women, both single mothers, claimed they didn't know they were breaking the law.

Aponte, 25, must serve four months in prison, followed by four months of home detention and two years of probation . Arias, who had bought 27 pistols in four transactions, must serve five months, followed by five months of home detention and two years of probation.

Governor Acknowledges Difficulty In 956 Approval

April 26th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon acknowledged Thursday that it will be "difficult" to obtain approval of the amendment to U.S. Internal Revenue Code Section 956 in Congress.

"We know that [the approval] is an uphill climb, difficult, and complex," Calderon said in a press conference at La Fortaleza.

The governor made her statement in reaction to a comment from U.S House Majority Leader Richard Armey, R-TX, who said it would be difficult for Congress to consider the Section 956 amendment this year.

"He points to the difficulty of moving this proposal that we have never denied. . .However, it seems to me what is most important about the representative’s statements is that he endorses the proposal and indicates that there are many congressmen who endorse it," the governor said.

She said her administration made a goal of attaining this summer the amendment approval, which represents one of the pillars of her economic plan, though she affirmed that she can’t guarantee anything.

PRFAA Requests $9.2 Million Budget

April 26th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) requested a $9.2 million budget, of which Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila would use almost half a million for public relations purposes.

PRFFA Director Mari Carmen Aponte said the amount would only be $13,000 more than the current budget and said she is taking measures to reduce the expenses.

Aponte said the office will need a $5.2 million allocation for consulting contracts in matters related to federal affairs, and another $3.4 million to be invested in the coordination and orientation of the services provided by the office, according to published reports.

Among the agency’s plans are promoting the Puerto Rican vote in the upcoming U.S. elections and getting approval for a plan to clean the lands transferred to the Vieques municipality by the U.S. Navy.

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