Calderon: Keep Padilla Jailed
Acevedo Vila Launches Website
Cemex Buys Puerto Rican Cement
Cintron Announces Resignation
Bombing May Resume In August
'Puerto Rican Taliban' Should Not Affect Relations With U.S.
Bird Recounts Everest Climb
Calderon Supports Keeping Padilla Jailed Without Bail
June 13, 2002
SALINAS (AP) Gov. Sila Calderon strongly supported Thursday the U.S. governments decision to keep Jose "Pucho" Padilla in jail without bail.
Padilla has been accused by federal authorities of conspiring to detonate a radioactive bomb as part of a terrorist plan designed by Al-Qaida.
"I support any decision made by President George W. Bush regarding terrorism," said the governor when asked if she believed Padillas detention justifiable.
Federal authorities reported Padillas arrest May 8 in Chicago, under suspicion that he met with high officials from Al-Qaida in order to plan the use of a radioactive weapon.
Padilla, who converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdullah Al Mujahir, is detained without the right to bail and has been described by Bush as an "enemy combatant."
His detention has caused protests in Puerto Rico and the United States because many consider that his case should be submitted to the jurisdiction of a court of justice to determine whether his incarceration is justified.
"Terrorism is something horrible. What occurred Sept. 11 is something that I, Bush, and the North American people reject, and I am sure the people of Puerto Rico as well," Calderon told journalists. "The United States is taking some very special provisions in order to deal with and eradicate terrorism, and I support Bush in this regard."
Calderon made her comments upon conclusion of a press conference held Thursday afternoon at the German Rieckehoff Sampayo Olympic Hostel in Salinas, where she spoke at an activity for the National Youth Forum.
Acevedo Vila Announces His Web Page Is Available
June 12, 2002
The web page of Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vilas Office is available to the public at www.house.gov/acevedo-vila/, Resident Commissioners Office Executive Director Carlos Ruiz Nazario said Thursday.
The page offers information in Spanish and English about the resident commissioners work; his district offices in San Juan, Ponce, and Mayaguez; geographical information on Puerto Rico and historical information on the resident commissioners post. The site also maintains an archive of the speeches offered by Acevedo Vila, as well as news generated by that office, Ruiz Nazario said.
Ruiz Nazario also indicated that the page offers many links to Puerto Rico government agencies, federal government agencies, communication media, and important libraries, such as the ones in the University of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Congress.
It also provides a list of the bills presented and co-sponsored by Acevedo Vila and information for citizens to communicate with the resident commissioner by telephone, regular mail, and electronic mail.
"The page has been designed to serve as a resource of information for any citizen who wants to know about the work of the resident commissioner and the government of Puerto Rico. It is an excellent link to other Internet information sources. Students in Puerto Rico and off the island can benefit from the information that has been included," Ruiz Nazario said.
Cemex Buys Puerto Rican Company
By JULIE WATSON
June 12, 2002
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) - Cemex, the world's third-largest cement company, is buying Puerto Rican Cement Company Inc. in a $250 million deal, the companies announced Wednesday.
The acquisition will allow the Monterrey-based cement giant to better its position in the Caribbean market.
The agreement calls for Tricem Acquisition Corp., a subsidiary of Cemex, to offer $35 a share for the Puerto Rican company by July 2. Cemex also will take on the Puerto Rican Cement's $70 million in debt.
The directors of Puerto Rican Cement have agreed to recommend that their shareholders accept the offer.
The Puerto Rican company produces 1.4 million metric tons (1.5 million U.S. tons) of cement and 1.15 million cubic meters (40.6 million cubic feet) of ready mix concrete annually. Last year, the company sold about 1 million metric tons (1.1 million U.S. tons) of cement in Puerto Rico.
Cemex has rapidly expanded around the globe in the past decade and today has operations selling cement to individual homebuilders and large industrial contractors on four continents.
Cemex's chief executive officer, Lorenzo Zambrano, said the acquisition "enhances our position in the Caribbean by investing in Puerto Rico's strategic geographic location, solid construction industry and economy."
Zambrano said Cemex expects to turn around the debt-saddled Puerto Rican operation by 2003.
Miguel Nazario, chief executive officer of Puerto Rican Cement, said the deal will benefit the stockholders, employees and customers of both companies.
"Over the past few decades, we have built a very successful company with a good position in the Puerto Rican market," Nazario said. "Over these years, we have been able to profitably grow our business and create value for our shareholders."
The deal is subject to regulatory approval.
Cintron Announces Resignation
By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News
June 12, 2002
New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Angel Cintron announced that he had handed in his resignation letter to House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo on Wednesday, pledging that he won't run for any elective positions in the future.
"At the moment, I rule out the possibility of running for an elective post. It is not in my plans or my family's for the present nor for the future. . .I think I have served my time. I've been in the House for 14 years and four years at the San Juan municipal assembly. I feel extremely satisfied and proud, and I think I can serve Puerto Rico from another perspective," the NPP legislator said.
Cintron, whose resignation becomes effective Saturday, cited the birth of his two-week-old daughter and his preparation for the bar exam in September as the main reasons for his resignation.
"I will dedicate myself to my family. At the moment I'm studying for my bar exam, but I will also be collaborating with the NPP," Cintron said.
He added that he will continue working as secretary general of the NPP without pay as he has been doing since he was appointed to the position in September 2001.
Although he was unable to say when he will begin his full-time worköor how much he will be earningöat the NPP, he said his main priority within the party is to help NPP President and gubernatorial candidate Carlos Pesquera to win the general election in 2004.
After that, Cintron said he hasn't thought of the possibility of becoming a member of Pesquera's cabinetöif he wins the governor's seatöand that has considered working in private industry. However, he said it is still too early to make a final decision.
"It is something that I haven't thought about. My goal is to help Pesquera win and later on I could work in private industry," said Cintron.
As for the person who will replace him at the House, he said he wouldn't say if he had anyone in mind.
"As party secretary, I cannot express favoritism for anyone. It is a process that will begin in its due time," Cintron said.
There has been no shortage of candidates to fill Cintron's vacant post. Former House Vice President Edwin Mundo, former Rep. Carlos Diaz, former candidate for Ponce mayor Javier Bustillo, and even former Governor and Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo has been mentioned.
As of right now, NPP House Minority Leader Rep. Anibal Vega Borges said the party delegation hasn't made any decision, but that Pesquera has already expressed his desire to give possible candidates a fair chance to compete for the post. However, no special election has been announced.
"I can say there are many NPP representatives supporting Edwin Mundo for the post. I, for one, have no reservations in saying that I will be supporting Edwin Mundo when the time comes. Of course," Vega Borges said.
Cintron's resignation follows a 10-day suspension from work and pay at the House after the House Ethics Committee ruled that he had violated the Full-Time Legislator Law when he enrolled as a full-time law student at the Inter American University during working hours.
Navy May Resume Vieques Bombing In August
June 12, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. Navy may resume by the end of August or in September what could be its last military exercises in Vieques prior to its withdrawal from the island.
According to published reports, the round of military practices with inert bombs will last approximately 40 days and serve to train soldiers assigned to the USS Harry S. Truman in the so-called Unit Training Exercises (COMPUEX).
Although President George W. Bush has said on several occasions that the Navy will withdraw from Vieques by May 2003, a local daily reported that the final decision still depends on the report of the Naval Analysis Center.
On another note, Frank Worley, spokesman of the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Ceiba, said the exercises being held on Piñeros Island may continue, even if the military decides to withdraw from Vieques next year.
During the past 60 years, the small island a few miles off the naval base has been used as a site for practice with live ammunition, which is why there are warning signs on Vieques beaches to alert trespassers of the dangers.
"We don't drop bombs from airplanes or from ships," said Worley, who added that the island has been used for the training of special forces and Navy SEALS. However, he did say machine guns, rifles, and cannons are used during the practices.
Meanwhile, Vieques leader Ismael Guadalupe said the Navy should leave Piñeros Island because he believes it poses a threat to area neighbors and fishermen.
'Puerto Rican Taliban' Should Not Affect Relations With U.S.
June 11, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) - Two high Puerto Rican government officials upheld Tuesday that the arrest of Puerto Rican Jose Padilla should not affect political ties between the United States and Puerto Rico.
In fact, Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado recalled that the United States has also had persons involved with the al Qaida network.
"This certainly does not single out the people of Puerto Rico. The United States also has had people who have participated with the al Qaida network," Mercado said at a press conference.
Mercado indicated that his agency had not received any communication from federal authorities regarding the arrest of Jose "Pucho" Padilla. The Brooklyn-born Hispanic was arrested on suspicion of plans to detonate a radioactive bomb in the United States.
He lamented that Padilla was of Puerto Rican ancestry.
"It is an unfortunate incident that denigrates the most fundamental aspects of democracy when the entire world is in an anti terrorist-leadership conflict and is extolling the values that distinguish us as human beings," said Mercado.
Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda rejected the idea that Padilla's arrest would affect relations between Puerto Rico and the United States.
"I don't see the relationship. . .the so-called Puerto Rican terrorist or Taliban is a question of national security. It is a criminal investigation that has nothing to do with these relations," Miranda said at a separate event.
He added that the local government would immediately respond to any request from federal authorities regarding this case.
The U.S. government announced Monday that authorities detained the presumed U.S. terrorist who had supposedly planned, with al Qaida, to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" in Washington.
He said the plan involved Padilla, a former Chicago gang leader who converted from Catholicism to Islam, but was still in the planning stage.
Bird Recounts Adventurous Flight Atop Everest
By Raquel Velazquez of WOW News
Calling it a "spiritual event and the most incredible experience" of his life, Dr. Julio Bird, the first Puerto Rican to reach the summit of Mount Everest, recounted his adventures Tuesday to attendees of the Rotary Club's weekly luncheon.
"It fills you with awe and respect for Sir Edmund Hilary [the first official climber to reach the peak]," said the Puerto Rican mountaineer of his courageous six-week 29,029-foot ascent in May.
Bird and his group of mountaineers, which included a few Americans, a British gentleman, and a native of the Dominican Republic, were one of five teams climbing the essentially sedimentary rock of the Himalayas. He added that 16 groups have been on Everest in the same base camp this year with nearly 100 to 150 "Everesters."
"It was important for us as a team to establish friendships with one another," stated Bird, noting the importance of trust in this activity. "This is a very high-risk sport, and it is imperative that safety violations take precedence before personal goals."
The $50,000 cost to each team member was, Bird said, money better spent than "buying an SUV."
"The most exciting moment of the trip is when you are one hour away from the summit," explained the mountaineer, who added that his team stayed atop for a half-hour in the 45-degree weather.
Bird also noted that the descent was far riskier than the ascent. "Going up you have lots of energy and enthusiasm; when you are ready to go down, you are exhausted," he said. That is why most deaths occur on the descent, he said.
Bird, who has climbed three other mountainous peaks in Bolivia and Nepal and who lost 15 pounds on this trek, had to undergo rigorous training for the expedition. His fitness regimen included long walks with his dog in the bitter Wisconsin cold and a weight training regimen for building upper-body strength.
Bird is a native of Puerto Rico and has been a cardiologist for 15 years. He is also a pilot, an engineer, and was a finalist for NASA's astronaut program. Now residing in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where he practices medicine at the Gundersen Lutheran Hospital, Bird wants to take some time before climbing again.
With his wife, Maribel Vecchini, looking on, Bird described the extraordinary moment during his expedition when he mounted the Puerto Rican flag on the peak, saying he was "proud, so very proud."
He brought the flag back with him for display at the Capitol, where he will be honored by the Senate on Wednesday.