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CDC Will Study Vieques Cancer Incidence

Feds Investigating Toledo

Novello Added To Medical Hall Of Fame

Schering-Plough: Probe Involves Products Made In Puerto Rico

Navy Analyses Vieques Alternatives

Governor Appoints New Chief Prosecutor

Roosevelt Roads Costs Island $500M

CDC Will Study Cancer Incidence In Vieques

June 20, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Members from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) will visit Puerto Rico next week to evaluate the methodology that the local government has been using in researching cancer incidence on the island and Vieques.

After their visit, Health Secretary Johnny Rullan announced that the government expects, in approximately one month, to have compiled a new cancer registry to confirm whether the island municipality has more cases of this illness than the rest of Puerto Rico.

According to published reports, the latest cancer reports, compiled in 1992, show a high incidence of cancer in Vieques, which has been one of the principal arguments in the struggle to remove the U.S. Navy from this region, claiming that their presence is responsible for a great number of the cases reported there.

The Navy has rejected that their military practices and the use of explosive bombs since 1999 has predisposed the Vieques populace to cancer.

According to the 1992 report, cancer is 27% more common in Vieques than the rest of Puerto Rico.

Toledo Acknowledges Federal Investigation Against Him

June 20, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Former Agriculture Secretary Fernando Toledo acknowledged Thursday that the U.S. Agriculture Services are investigating him for a loan received in 1989 after Hurricane Georges.

Toledo admitted that the investigation led to his resignation, announced Friday by Gov. Sila Calderon.

"I have already declared that I have done nothing illegal, but it was very difficult to defend myself from the secretary’s post," Toledo said.

On the other hand, the former secretary denied that he had intended to benefit his two brothers with tax credits totaling $2 million, as declared by Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Ramon Cantero Frau and Government Development Bank President Juan Agosto Alicea on Wednesday.

Toledo affirmed that on the contrary, he personally rejected the petitions despite the approval of the Governmental Ethics Office.

"Both agency heads are lying," Toledo said.

Similarly, he denied to having had anything to do with the negotiation of the PAPRI poultry plant and held them accountable for any irregularities in the transaction.

Toledo complained that Cantero Frau supported the $6.9 million investment but in another industry that declined to mentioned.

"It is very probable that the pejorative expressions against me and my work come from the fact that Agosto Alicea knows that I personally told the governor that if she did not separate him from the post, she would lose the elections," affirmed Toledo.

Coello De Novello Added To Hall Of Fame In Medicine

June 20, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Puerto Rican physician Antonia Coello de Novello, the first woman and first Hispanic U.S. surgeon general, will be installed Friday in the international hall of fame of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA).

"For the moment, only 12 women have been included in the hall of fame," said Meghan Kissell, spokeswoman for the association.

Coello de Novello, 57, was named surgeon general in 1990 by former President George Bush, father of the current president, who some months ago nominated another physician of Hispanic origin to the post.

Coello de Novello is the current health commissioner for the state of New York, and her specialization is pediatric nephrology and public health.

AMWA stated that while Coello de Novello served as surgeon general, she was an important voice in promoting health care for women, children, and minorities. Coello de Novello was also dedicated to campaigns against alcohol consumption and the habit of early-age cigarette smoking.

Four other personalities will be honored prior to this activity at a hotel in McLean, Virginia, including former Surgeon General Joyce Elders.

Schering-Plough: Probe Involves Products Made In Puerto Rico


June 20, 2002
Copyright ©2002 NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved.

The United States attorney's office in Newark is investigating how the Schering-Plough Corporation manufactured one or more prescription drug products, the company said yesterday.

The company issued a news release last night after The Star-Ledger of Newark reported that federal investigators in New Jersey had begun an inquiry into whether Schering-Plough had used imported, relatively inexpensive chemical ingredients not approved for use in the United States in its products.

The company said last month that the Food and Drug Administration's Office of Criminal Investigation was conducting an inquiry into its manufacturing in Puerto Rico, where Schering-Plough has two large factories. That investigation, Robert J. Consalvo, a spokesman for Schering-Plough said, is now being handled by federal officials in New Jersey.

Mr. Consalvo said the company did not know specifically what the federal investigators were looking at except that the inquiry appeared to involve products made in Puerto Rico.

"We're confident that all our pharmaceutical products in the marketplace are safe and effective," he said.

Pharmaceutical companies often buy chemical ingredients made by foreign suppliers. F.D.A. approval is needed for a chemical supplier that makes ingredients for prescription drugs sold in the United States.

Report On New Sites For Navy Maneuvers Filed

June 19, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Naval Analysis Center, in charge of studying alternative sites for military exercises performed by the U.S. Navy in Vieques, filed a report on new sites for maneuvers with U.S. Armed Forces Secretary Gordon England.

According to published reports, the document could recommend military facilities in Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia, as well as one in the Mexican Gulf, as possible alternatives to the Vieques firing range, which has been used by the military for the last six decades.

The report would not be final until Secretary England revises and accepts it. Until then, NAC spokesman David Luckett said the report would not be made public.

Several weeks ago, Atlantic Fleet Commander Adm. Robert Natter mentioned several facilities as favorites to substitute the Vieques training site.

Meanwhile, Lt. Joe Carpenter, the Atlantic’s Fleet spokesman acknowledged that Dare County (North Carolina and Virginia Keys), Townsend (Georgia), Englin Base, Avon Park, Pinecastle, and Pensacola could be viable alternatives to Vieques.

Governor Appoints New Chief Prosecutor After Signing Law

By Proviana Colon Diaz

June 19, 2002
Copyright ©2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Seventeen months after being sworn into office, Gov. Sila Calderon was finally able to comply with her campaign promise to create the post of island chief prosecutor.

This after months of debate in the Legislature, which opposed, among other things, the creation of 12 new assistant district attorney posts and a 12-year term for them and their chief.

To fill the newly created post, Calderon looked to members of her cabinet once again.

The post will be filled by someone for whom the job seemed to be created - Justice Deputy Secretary Pedro Geronimo Goyco.

Goyco was the island’s last chief prosecutor, until former Gov. Pedro Rossello approved the new judiciary reform, which eliminated the post.

The decision left a bitter taste among members of the judiciary branch and the Bar Association.. Goyco was just a few years short of retiring from public service, and with the elimination of his post, he had been forced to return to the private sector and begin anew.

On Tuesday, Calderon lauded Goyco’s qualifications for the post.

"In Goyco, the people of Puerto Rico will have a chief prosecutor of unexceptional righteousness and unbreakable determination in the fight against corruption and against everything that stands in the way of a clean government," Calderon said.

Accompanied by his family and his former boss, Justice Secretary Annabelle Rodriguez, Goyco thanked the governor for bestowing upon him the responsibility of chief prosecutor.

Being the experienced prosecutor that he is, Goyco vowed to continue filing charges against those implied in cases of corruption, but he did not forget the victims of violent crimes, as it has been confirmed by police that fewer than 33% of those crimes are solved.

"I have an unbreakable commitment to prosecute gubernatorial corruption, but also to follow up on violent crime, which we know worries the people so much," Goyco said.

The Chief Prosecutor Office will have an initial budget of $2 million and will be ascribed to the Justice Department.

Calderon also signed Tuesday two additional laws, one creating the Code of Ethics for Contractors and another the Uniform Record for Bidders.

The Ethics Code for Contractors will regulate the conduct of government goods and services providers, as well the conduct of those organizations receiving public funds.

Calderon noted that she would give the Legislature one year from Tuesday to prepare similar codes for the legislative branch.

Neither contractors, bidders, nor government officials will be allowed to accept from each other any kind of kickback, not even a lunch date.

"He or she who has to accept a lunch date, if that is the reason, because all secretaries can have a sandwich in their office, has to pay for the lunch from his or her money," Calderon said.

Meanwhile, the Uniform Record for Bidders states that all those who wishes to participate in a bidding process with the government will have to officially enter the record, making it easier for agencies to identify those who qualify to do business with the government.

Roosevelt Roads Costs Island $500M

June 18, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – About 50,000 acres, or more than 7%, of the land in Puerto Rico is occupied by U.S. military bases that cost the government up to $1 billion a year, according to a study performed by the Congreso National Hostosiano.

One of those facilities is the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Ceiba, with about 8,600 acres of land, which if returned to the local government, would represent an income of more than $500 million for the island’s economy, organization leaders said in published reports.

Jose Rivera Santana, member of the group, said the study—which was based on a report from the General Accounting Office—revealed that more than 20,000 jobs are not being generated in the eastern region of Puerto Rico because of the Roosevelt Roads military base.

If this military facility were to be returned to the local government, organization members believe it could create 10,000 direct jobs and another 10,000 in indirect jobs if it were established as a high-technology industrial park or as a project to serve the tourism, residential, or commercial industries, Rivera Santana said. The military base is the only place on the island with its own airport, a 11,000-foot long runway, and nine docks.

The group member used the naval base of Charlestown in Boston as an example. The place generated 16,000 jobs when it was returned to the state. As another example, the local government developed more than 238 projects on the Clark base in the Philippines, which was closed in 1992, with an approximate investment of $2.15 million.

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