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Pesquera Condemned & Called ‘National Hero’

Former Planning Chief Defends Board

NPP Leader Says He Won't Be Prosecuted

NPP Files Complaints Against Officials

Calderon Orders Investigation Of Flag Incident

Ferre Supports Pesquera’s Patriotic Sentiment

Prison Break Discovered When Escapee Gives Up

Women’s Organizations Condemns NPP’s Leader Actions

By Proviana Colon Diaz

June 24, 2002
Copyright ©2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Over two dozen women’s organizations meet on Monday at the Puerto Rican Ateneo to express their condemnation of Thursday’s incident at the Women’s Advocate Office led by several leaders of the New Progressive Party (NPP), including its president Carlos Pesquera and several female elected officers.

The women declared that as advocates for a non-violent environment, they must condemn Thursday’s event despite the NPP leader’s argument that they were provoked.

"That is the same excuse used by aggressors to justify violence against women. We cant accept the aggression, the insults, the blows, the persecution against women and the government entity that represents them, justified by the argument of provocation. There is no excuse for violence against women," said coordinator pro-reproductive rights spokeswoman Isabel Laboy.

Among the organizations represented were leaders from the Feminist in Action, Puerto Rican Working Women Organization, Coordinator for Women’s Peace, Health Workshop and AIDS Foundation, among others.

Also present was Human’s Right Foundation Spokeswoman Ada Conde, who demanded that the Hate Crime Law be applied against Pesquera and the NPP leaders who headed the incident that resulted in damage to public property, initiating a riot and causing physical harm to several people.

Conde noted that by causing such harm to the Women’s Advocate Office a hate crime was committed as women are also considered a minority.

Furthermore, Conde encouraged the House and Senate investigations of the NPP legislators who abandoned their duties in the Capitol in order to accompany their leader.

She argued that once the investigation was over, and if any of the elected leaders was convicted of any criminal act, he or she must be fired from their duties, as they would be failing to comply with the Full Time Legislator Law that states that no one convicted can be an elected officer.

Attorney Josy Pantojas argued that although the groups represented on Monday respected the personal criteria of all their members the message agreed upon was to reject and not enforce any kind of violence. As such she declined to encourage the filing of criminal charges against any of those who took part in the incident as it is up to the law enforcement authorities and the victims to reach that decision.

"Our main message is that we reject Thursday’s incident, we reject violence as a means to solve a conflict, we support Women’s Advocate Maria Dolores Fernos, and all her efforts to end violence," Pantojas said.

Municipal Presidents Call Pesquera ‘National Hero’

June 24, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Calling Carlos Pesquera’s actions on June 20 ‘a heroic act of patriotism’, members of the NPP Municipal Presidents (Non-Mayors) Organization presented a resolution which urges Gov. Calderon to immediately dismiss Maria Dolores Fernos from her position as head of the Women’s Advocacy Office for intending to impose her political convictions and for failing to observe the regulation that both the U.S and Puerto Rico flags be displayed together.

"Carlos Pesquera", said organization president Javier Bustillo, "valiantly and peacefully took the flag of the United States in his hands and urged respect for all that it stands for… not just for himself, but for the people of Puerto Rico."

The 45-member organization, represented by nearly half of its membership during a Monday press conference, also expressed its unanimous decision to censure, reject and condemn statements made by PDP secretary general Fernando Torres for calling the NPP president a criminal. "Political statements, such as this, hurt democracy," stated Bustillo. Adding that the municipal presidents would reject "any repressive action taken by the Commonwealth under the orders of Gov. Calderon or any administration officials against NPP president Carlos Pesquera."

Javier Jimenez, municipal president of San Sebastian said, "In the last year and a half since this administration began, we have seen a series of actions by the central government that have been sending mixed messages to the U.S mainland that are contrary to what more than a million Puerto Rican citizens believe." Adding that Fernos’ recent decision to ignore Gov. Calderon’s directive to display both flags exemplified this type of message.

"We are supporting Pesquera 100% because the only thing he did was to place a flag where it belonged. He did not take anything away. He did not remove a person from their office, he simply did what Fernos refused to do…comply with the law and respect our relationship with the United States."

In their resolution, the municipal presidents also stated that they declare Carlos Pesquera a national hero and support whatever he does for ‘the benefit of our collective, our people and above all for our constitutionally guaranteed civil rights’.

‘We reaffirm our unconditional support, our commitment and our loyalty to our president and gubernatorial candidate, Carlos Pesquera," stated Bustillo who added that copies of the municipal presidents’ resolution would be distributed to their entire membership, the State Board, the Mayors Federation , Municipal Legislators Federation and all media.

Ortiz, Former Planning Board Chief, Defends Role

June 24, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Former Planning Board Chairman Hermenegildo Ortiz said that in an effort to conceal the failure of the government’s public policy on economic development, the Calderon administration is blaming the board for the delays in the allocation of construction permits.

"It seems to me that they are trying to use the board as a scapegoat to hide the government’s failure in terms of economic development," said Ortiz in published reports.

The former chairman, whose resignation from the board has upset local environmentalists, mentioned the few new factories that have started up on the island in the past 18 months.

Ortiz said the alleged permit delay is due to the developers’ non incompliance with environmental protection clauses, not because of slowness at the Planning Board, contrary to what Gov. Sila Calderon and Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Ramon Cantero Frau said.

Ortiz declined to say if he resigned to avoid being fired.

He said the newly appointed Angel David Rodriguez—who will replace him—is capable of doing the job. He also said Nelson Irizarry, who has been appointed associate member of the Planning Board, also has potential.

Pesquera Feels Confident He Won't Be Prosecuted

June 23, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said he believes he will come out triumphantly from the investigation being performed by the Justice and Police departments about the violent incidents that took place Thursday at the Women's Advocate Office.

Pesquera insisted that the truth will prevail and assured that it was the government who violated his right to enter the lobby of the government agency to hoist a U.S. flag.

"I am confident that, in the end, the truth will prevail," the NPP leader said while adding that it is not the same to reach a conclusion about Thursday's incident through the use of photographs and TV footage, than by listening to the testimonies of those who were there.

He also said the testimony of San Juan Area Comdr. Wanda Rivera will prove that the initial order that allowed him and five others to enter the agency lobby was changed at the last minute.

Pesquera said Rivera told him that Women's Advocate Maria Dolores Fernos had ordered that nobody enter the building after she received a call from La Fortaleza.

The NPP leader reiterated that he doesn't regret what happened and deemed the coverage received from the U.S. media as positive.

NPP Files Complaints Against Government Officials

June 22, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – The New Progressive Party (NPP) filed complaints with the Justice Department against various government officials, described as "gangs" for instigating the violent incident Thursday at the Women’s Advocate Office.

At a press conference, Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera was quoted as saying that Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda and Women’s Advocate Maria Dolores Fernos "began to incite violence and to provoke" the supporters who kept blocking the area and afterward forcefully burst into the Women’s Advocacy offices.

Rivera alleged that now the government intends to "fabricate evidence" to charge leaders of this collective, led by President Carlos Pesquera.

Pesquera leading a group of excited followers, burst through the advocacy’s office Thursday to place the U.S flag next to the Puerto Rican flag in the lobby.

Upon clearing a space by the stairs in the government office, Pesquera pushed employees who intended to halt his entrance and journalists. . .who moments before had been unable to leave in their determination to enter the building.

Rivera said Pesquera went in the office "in a passive manner" in order to place the flag and alleged that it was the NPP president who was attacked in the incident.

Rivera said at least two people "rushed upon our president, who did nothing else but walk into the building; they jumped on him, attacked him, and unacceptably insulted him, and we could not allow that."

Calderon Orders Investigation Of Flag Incident

June 21, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon ordered the Police and the Justice Department to initiate an investigation of the incidents lead by New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera in the Women’s Advocate Office.

"I have given instructions to the Police and the Justice Department to adjudicate responsibility," the governor said in a press conference.

Calderon held Pesquera responsible for the incident, in which at least one police agent was injured, a door was broken, and the window of a car located in front of the agency was damaged.

"There is absolutely nothing that justifies Pesquera’s violent acts," the governor said.

Calderon added that the NPP leader demonstrated to be a man "without judgment or control over his actions."

However, Calderon acknowledged that the Women’s Advocate did not followed the ordered she gave Tuesday to place the U.S. flag at the office foyer.

Ferre Supports Pesquera On Flag Controversy

June 21, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Luis A. Ferre, former Puerto Rico governor and founder of the New Progressive Party (NPP), offered his support Friday to Carlos Pesquera, who with NPP supporters burst into the Women’s Advocate Office in Old San Juan.

Ferre said in a press release that the removal of the American flag in the lobby of the Women’s Advocate Office was an act of vicious provocation.

"It was also a violation of a State Department regulation that legally established that both flags must be exhibited together in all government offices," said Ferre commenting on Thursday’s incident when Pesquera and a group of followers went to the Women’s Advocate Office to demand the display of the U.S. flag beside the Puerto Rican flag.

Women’s Advocate Maria Dolores Fernos determined in March that the flag of Puerto Rico could be displayed by itself.

Ferre said Fernos has to be aware that her action was bound to cause a legitimate protest by those who believe that any insult to the flag of the United States is a mockery of U.S. citizenship.

"Pesquera’s actions were driven by his patriotic sentiment and deserves our complete support," the former governor said in a press release.

Puerto Rican Officials Discover Prison Break When One Escapee Turns Self In

June 21, 2002
Copyright ©2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS, THE CANADIAN PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE, Puerto Rico (AP) _ Authorities discovered four men had broken out of a maximum security prison in Puerto Rico when one of the escaped convicts turned himself in three days later, police said Thursday.

Police did not know how the four men escaped from the prison in Ponce, but said they were searching for three still at large in this U.S. Caribbean territory.

``There is a count taken of the inmates four times daily, and so we are investigating how the inmates could have escaped,'' said Iraida Cintron, spokeswoman for the island's Department of Corrections.

The four inmates _ Pesivar Serrano Morales, Desdier Feliciano Rios, Emilio Garcia Medina and Erick Santos Cruz _ escaped Saturday but were not discovered missing until Tuesday, the police said.

Serrano Morales, 28, of Juana Diaz, turned himself in to police on Tuesday. He was serving a 46-year sentence for kidnapping and other crimes. The others were serving sentences from four to 60 years for various offences including robbery and murder.

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