Commonwealth Resolution Called Irrelevant, Insulting
Pesquera: Higher Taxes Target Working Class
Governor Endorses Jeb Bush
UN To Evaluate Islands Status
A Year After Creating Jobs, Navy Cuts Them
Calderons Lobbying Expenses Criticized
Patakis Ads Target Puerto Ricans
Commonwealth Resolution Irrelevant
By WOW News staff
May 23, 2002
The approval of a resolution congratulating Puerto Ricans on the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth by the U.S. House Resources Committee provoked negative reactions among island political leaders, who described it as a document without any importance to the status issue.
Former Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) resident commissioner candidate Manuel Rodriguez Orellana said the resolution constitutes an insult to Puerto Ricans and denotes a "lack of historical conscience."
According to Rodriguez Orellana, "it would be like congratulating the slaves and the racists for their contributions to society. It is absurd to congratulate the colonized and the colonist for their acts."
"I feel sad for [Resident Commissioner] Anibal Acevedo Vilas expressions, and I think he is trying to make lemonade from lemons," the former PIP candidate said in a radio interview.
Orellana also said it was a shame to see a Puerto Rican elected by the people, negotiating congratulations for a colonialist act.
"The obvious thing here is that we cannot continue to accept being congratulated for our subordination to the United States," Rodriguez Orellana said.
Meanwhile, New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera said the resolution does not have any significance, is purely cosmetic, and is significantly different from the original proposal presented by the resident commissioner.
"If Acevedo Vila dares to make public the original document, then we would see the resolution as a rejection of the Commonwealth, instead of an endorsement," Pesquera affirmed in a press conference.
NPP To Eliminate Excise Taxes Imposed By Calderon
By WOW News staff
May 23, 2002
New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera expressed his rejection and repudiation of the approval of new excises taxes, describing them as "an unjustified increase of the worst government administration in Puerto Rico in the last 40 years," and committed to eliminate in 2005 the taxes imposed by Gov. Sila Calderons administration.
"The first law we are going to sign is going to be the elimination of the increases in taxes imposed by the Calderon administration," Pesquera said, categorizing them as "another outrage from the government against the working class."
Pesquera, who signed the collectivitys resolution publicly, was accompanied by members of the NPP delegation in the House and Senate, who reiterated their opposition to the tax imposition measures.
"Sila Calderon is imposing the biggest tax increase in Puerto Rico for the last ten years, since the government only knows to solve their inefficiency picking on the peoples pockets," said Pesquera.
The NPP president noted that although the people enjoyed tax cuts equivalent to 70% during the past administration, the government still experienced an increase in collections.
"Sila Calderon talks about the political cost of her decision, but this is not about the political cost, this deals with the effect to the working class," Pesquera said adding that the tax increase will cost the people $547,000 daily.
"How many economic sectors is Calderon going to strangle to satisfy the cost of her extravagant governing style? The people are already suffering from the intentional halting of public and private projects like the 66 route, the urban train, the transshipment port, new hotels and housing development projects, to accept the disaster in our economy that this new imposition will entail," said the NPP president.
"Our collectivity commits to eliminate the excise taxes imposed to the 4x4 vehicles that today will bring their cost up to $1,500 to $2,000 or more," Pesquera said.
Calderon Endorses Jeb Bush
May 22, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) New Progressive Party Sen. and Republican Party member Orlando Parga lauded Gov. Sila Calderons endorsement of the Florida gubernatorial candidate for the Republican Party, Jeb Bush.
Parga said the action is a correct step that confirms that, "as American citizens, we should be involved in national politics."
"I welcome Calderon to the Republican Party, with which she has a well known relationship through New York Gov. Pataki, New York City Mayor Bloomberg, and her lobbyist Charlie Black," the veteran Republican Party member said.
Parga said Calderons official entry to the Republican Party will allow her to be more aware about the benefits Republicans enforce when in power, such as tax reductions.
Calderon received Al Cardenas, president of the Republican Party in Florida, at La Fortaleza Tuesday.
Cardenas was enthusiastic with the meeting with Calderon in light of the increasing number of Puerto Ricans residing in Florida, where President George W. Bushs brother is running for reelection in the November elections.
Until now, Calderon has only endorsed the Republican New York governor, who is running against Democrat candidate Andy Cuomo.
UN Dedicates Hearing To Evaluate Puerto Rico Case
May 22, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) The United Nations Decolonization Committee will listen during a daylong session to different political and civic organizations interested in the political case of Puerto Rico, which has been debated in this organization for the past three decades.
Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. Fernando Martin said during the session to be held June 10, a consensus resolution could be approved recognizing the right of Puerto Rico to free determination.
Similar resolutions were approved in 2000 and 2001. According to published reports, Martin said this year they will also try to incorporate in the Vieques case the reference to the referendum held last July, in which more than two thirds of Viequenses supported the end of U.S. Navy practices on the island.
Among the organizations that will attend the hearing are the Puerto Rico Bar Association, the Congreso Nacional Hostosiano, the Nationalist Party, and the New Independence Movement.
The government, as well as the New Progressive Party, are evaluating their possible participation.
A Year After Creating Jobs For Vieques Residents, U.S. Navy Cuts Them
By IAN JAMES
May 21, 2002
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A year after hiring them, the U.S. Navy is laying off scores of Vieques islanders, a Navy spokesman said Tuesday amid criticism that the jobs were a public relations exercise.
Opponents of the Navy's bombing exercises on Vieques say it seems the Navy hired the more than 100 workers last year in an effort to improve its public image, and now is cutting the jobs since President George W. Bush pledged to stop training on the Puerto Rican island.
Navy spokesman Frank Worley, however, cited "budget constraints" saying "It came to a point where we could no longer afford it."
Currently, 106 Vieques residents work under the contract and 101 will lose their jobs, Worley said.
They did maintenance work, road repair and painting at Roosevelt Roads Naval Station on the main island of this U.S. Caribbean territory.
Navy opponents said it all came down to politics. Last year, Vieques residents were to vote in a federal referendum on whether the Navy could continue exercises on the island.
But Bush instead announced that due to public opposition, the Navy should leave by May 2003 and the November referendum was canceled.
Anti-Navy activist Ismael Guadalupe, a retired teacher, said the Navy created the jobs "to change its image."
"All of that failed," he said. "The intention wasn't to resolve the economic problem. The intention was to divide the people."
Committee For PR Criticizes Calderons Lobbying Expenses
By Raquel Velazquez of WOW News
May 21, 2002
Is Gov. Sila Calderons administration following in the footsteps of her predecessor when it comes to government spending? The Committee for Puerto Rico seems to think soparticularly regarding lobbying expenses.
In a statement delivered at a Tuesday press conference, committee spokesman Prof. Roberto Alejandro noted that, "in spite of having inherited a government that allegedly had embezzled, and inheriting an economy that certainly was in recession, the Calderon administration continues the Rossello administrations practice of spending exorbitant amounts of money to pay lobbying firms in Washington."
As evidence, Alejandro presented copies of lobbying reports that add up to $1.9 million for 2001, submitted by the six firms with government contractsWinston & Strawn, Patton Boggs LLP, BKSH & Associates, Smith Dawson & Andrews, Price Waterhouse LLP, and the Roth Groupto the U.S. Senate Public Records Office. In the committees opinion, the amount used for a myriad of issuesincluding the economy and Viequeswas a waste of taxpayers money.
Alejandro stated that they decided to bring this issue to light because of the current budget deficit and the imposition of excise taxes that disproportionately affect the average consumer. Published reports in February indicated the cost for lobbyistsexcluding public relations contractsfor fiscal year 2002 was approximately $3.8 million.
"It is strange," said Alejandro, "that the government of Puerto Rico, which has a resident commissioner in Washington and has the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA), an office with a $9 million budget, also resorts to well-known lobbyists." He noted that Calderon increased the PRFAA budget by $1 million in 2001, added to the $2 million for lobbying, this figures becomes $3 million "that has not been used sensibly."
The committee affirms that "it is time that all Puerto Ricans comprehend that the so-called Sila Calderons clean government is one that cleans the pockets of average taxpayers and swells the pockets of the most affluent sectors of Puerto Rico."
"My opinion," remarked Alejandro, "is that the Calderon administration has no political project, no economic project, or a social project."
For Alejandro this is a "paralyzed government."
Patakis Ads Target Puerto Ricans
By Jordan Rau
May 21, 2002
Gov. George Pataki today begins airing the first round of statewide ads of the 2002 governor's race.
A third of Pataki's new television and radio campaign commercials are in Spanish and targeted at the Hispanic voters who may play a pivotal role in the election.
One of the radio ads touches on topics of special interest to Puerto Ricans, Dominicans and other Latinos with strong ties to their homelands.
"No governor has done more for our community than our governor, George Pataki," the narrator in one ad intones. "Governor Pataki is fighting to end the bombing in Vieques. He's provided relief to our homelands during floods, earthquakes and other disasters."
Pataki has run Spanish-language ads in both of his last two campaigns for governor, campaign spokeswoman Mollie Fullington said. This year the Hispanic vote is seen as critical by both parties, following Hispanics' decisive role in Republican Michael Bloomberg's victory in the New York City mayor race last fall.