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Status Not Before Congress

Calderon Rejects NPP President’s Proposal

Navy Unresponsive On Environment

Anticrime Plan Defended

Pesquera Rejects Governor’s Status Committee

Skepticism Abounds

Goyco Amador Defends Performance In Flag Case

NPP Senators Exonerated, Berrios Confident Of Status

Status Issue Not On U.S. Congress Agenda

July 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon’s initiative to discuss the status of Puerto Rico does not figure on the itinerary of the U.S. Congress, a federal official said.

James Hansen (R-Utah), chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Resources and who will retire from Congress this year, said he doesn’t plan to bring up the status of Puerto Rico during this year’s final session.

Hansen also said he doesn’t favor any mechanism to solve the status issue at the moment, because he believes Puerto Ricans "aren’t ready to make a big decision such as moving towards independence or statehood," according to published reports.

Hansen, whose committee has primary jurisdiction over Puerto Rico affairs, said if the Calderon administration wishes to begin a serious process, it should keep in contact with leaders in Congress.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), who is of Puerto Rican descent, said it is great news that the governor has ordered a status committee.

He also said he doesn’t understand why someone, referring to the New Progressive Party president, can’t initiate a dialog "in a civilized manner."

Calderon Rejects NPP President’s Proposal

By Proviana Colon Diaz

July 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.

CAROLINA — Gov. Sila Calderon said New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera’s proposal to have the three political party presidents request a solution to the island’s status issue at the White House will be "viable" only after a consensus is reached.

Calderon warned that Pesquera’s proposal would fail unless a "consensus" is reached prior to making any request, because such efforts have failed in the past, as every party has its own agenda.

"Any statement made in the United States should be made in accordance with a consensus," Calderon said.

The governor added that her proposed Unity and Consensus Committee (CUPCO by its Spanish acronym) is open to all those who wish to participate, and is in no way limited to the names already disclosed.

"I welcome recommendations to add any name that might be supplied by any political party, and we will later decide in consensus," Calderon said.

The governor, who is complying with one of her campaign promises by creating the committee, urged local political leaders not to reject her proposition.

Calderon added that although she welcomed everyone to discuss the creation of the special committee, island residents should not forget that her administration’s priorities continue to be economic development and the creation of jobs.

NPP Asks Calderon To Request Status Solution From Bush

July 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — In response to Gov. Sila Calderon’s call to make amends, New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera proposed that the three political party presidents should go to the White House to ask, "in consensus," for a solution to the island’s status issue.

"This is not a local issue. This is an issue of communicating our urgency in Washington. Let’s go to Washington, united, the three of us, as we went for the Vieques issue to talk to the U.S. president, looking him in the eyes," Pesquera said in a published reports.

Calderon urged the local political leadership not to reject outright the proposed Unity and Consensus Committee (CUPCO by its Spanish acronym), which will be charged with resolving the status issue. A year ago, NPP members rejected the idea before it had even been officially announced.

The NPP leader pointed out that Calderon’s relation with President George W. Bush is nonexistent and that efforts made regarding important island issues such as Vieques and the 956 tax benefits had also failed.

"Calderon’s efforts have been fruitless, even on issues she considers to be a priority. The committee is just a strategy to divert attention from what it is, without any doubt, an administration that has failed to have any accomplishments," Pesquera affirmed.

Navy Hasn’t Answered Justice’s Recommendations

July 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez indicated Thursday that the U.S. Navy has not responded to a letter she issued that outlined 12 recommendations for minimizing the environmental damage of bombings to be conducted on Vieques until May 2003, when the military body must leave the island, according to President George W. Bush.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Rodriguez indicated that during her trip to Washington last week, she instructed her lawyers there to request anew a response from the Navy, which has been warned since March 24 about abiding with local environmental laws.

"These are different measures aimed at a common end. It has absolutely nothing to do with the case in Washington," the Justice chief said.

Rodriguez indicated that her department is in the process of preparing the arguments to appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington D.C.

The official said the meeting with U.S. Interior Department officials was productive and that her petition to open the beaches that fall under her jurisdiction in the western area of Vieques for the public was received in a "positive manner."

She said the Navy will determine the type of cleanup it has to do depending on the use of the land.

"For example, if it is an area that will be closed to the public, the cleaning work will not be that rigorous. Now if it is an area that will be open to the general public, there needs to be a more comprehensive cleaning," Rodriguez said.

Governor Defends Anticrime Plan

By Proviana Colon Diaz

July 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.

CAROLINA - Despite the dramatic increase in recent days of violent crimes, Gov. Sila Calderon defended Thursday Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira and his "operation against crime."

A dozen violent deaths have occurred in the past 48 hours, but the number of killings so far this year, 373, still is a decrease of 15 fewer than at the same time last year.

Although Pereira and his investigators have already tied most of the recent killings to drugs, the fact remains that an increase was noted and only a single arrest has been made.

In Barranquitas, law enforcement agents arrested Daniel Mercado Torres, 74, as the intellectual author of the killing of his brother Teofilo Mercado Torres, 76. An alleged lifetime rivalry between the two brothers ended with Daniel hiring a couple of hit men to murder Teofilo.

No arrests in any of the other 11 violent killings have been made.

This despite the fact that one of Pereira’s top priorities in his anticrime fight plan is to increase the number of crimes solved to at least 35%.

Calderon acknowledged Thursday that she has yet to discuss the recent wave of killings with Pereira, but she declined to accept the dozen killings as a sign the "operation crime" plan has failed.

"I am very satisfied with Pereira and with the agencies that contribute to the plan, but I must say that the plan was presented some two months ago, some sixty days ago. As with all in life, the results will be seen in time," Calderon said.

Calderon added that the anticrime plan goes beyond crime statistics and that soon the plan’s "first results" would be presented.

NPP Says No To Governor’s Status Committee

July 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said his party won’t participate in the Puerto Rican Unity and Consensus Committee (CUPCO by its Spanish acronym) that Gov. Sila Calderon has proposed to find a mechanism that would help resolve the status issue in Puerto Rico.

"We won’t play the games of the opposition intended to conceal its administrative disaster. We won’t play the game of secessionist sectors in Puerto Rico," said Pesquera in published reports.

The governor confirmed that she would soon submit a list of possible committee candidates for the consideration of the three political parties of the island.

Pesquera said the NPP maintains its stance of not participating in the CUPCO, just as it was decided last August, when former NPP Rep. Leo Diaz presided over the party.

"The NPP favors a direct vote through a plebiscite with the approval of the U.S. Congress so that Puerto Ricans can choose a final political status. We are clear: we will participate in a process that is for our own good and for the strengthening of the [statehood] movement," said Pesquera.

Calderon’s Status Committee Receives Mixed Welcome

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

July 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

The publication of a list of possible candidates to participate in what Gov. Sila Calderon has called the Puerto Rican Unity and Consensus Committee, to help find a mechanism that could resolve the political status issue in Puerto Rico, was received with both skepticism and approval from several members of the Senate.

For Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Fernando Martin, publishing those names only means that the governor would have no problem with having those people as members of the committee and that having been mentioned as a possible candidate for the committee has no true relevancy, since it will be up to the presidents of the three political parties of the island to decide who will be the members of that organization.

Martin added that the published report is an indication that the process to solve the political status of Puerto Rico is about to begin and that when it does, the PIP will participate in it.

"The important thing is that the moment when the governor will call for a meeting with the party presidents seems to be near, and it will be they who will have to decide who will participate in the committee," Martin said.

"I think it is a sign. It’s never too late. I think the governor should have started this earlier. But I think this is potentially good, and we will participate in it," Martin added.

However, New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer said the information that has been attributed to sources was no slip-up and that it was published because La Fortaleza officials wanted it to be published.

Ramirez de Ferrer said the governor’s intention in creating the committee is to take away the power of the people by placing the discussion of the status issue in the hands of a small group of individuals whom she can manipulate.

"My first reaction to it–not just today but since forever–is that we shouldn’t participate, that the governor finds herself reaching a consensus without a consensus," said Ramirez de Ferrer, adding that she is keeping Washington informed of what the governor is doing.

The senator believes that Calderon should use her lobbyists to speed up the process that had already been initiated by the White House, when at the end of his last term in office, former President Bill Clinton allocated $1.5 million to begin the process that would allow for the self-determination of Puerto Rico residents.

However, NPP Sen. Orlando Parga said he believed the NPP shouldn’t abstain from any process that could help resolve the status of Puerto Rico, but that none of this information should have been published until the governor had met with all party presidents.

"I don't think the NPP as an ideological party should say no to a process intended to decolonize Puerto Rico, but that process should be done with respect toward a political tradition that has always been observed in Puerto Rico. Here we have a governor, president of the Popular Democratic Party, talking about unity and consensus without meeting with the party presidents first," said the NPP senator.

Parga also criticized the fact that NPP founder and former Gov. Luis A. Ferre did not figure among the names that were mentioned as possible NPP candidates for the committee.

"I think it is a horrible insult not to include Ferre in that list of pro-statehood individuals. Ferre is possibly the person with the highest ideological standing in this country," Parga added.

Ramirez de Ferrer also expressed dissatisfaction with the names that were mentioned, some of whom she’s never even heard of, and that people such as NPP Sen. Norma Burgos–who on several occasions has strayed from the official NPP positions–and Ignacio Rivera aren’t true representatives of the pro-statehood ideal in Puerto Rico.

Parga declined to mention anyone in particular, but said he agreed that some of those whose names are on the list are not adequate representatives of the NPP’s ideal and that there are several important pro-statehood leaders who should have been included on the list.

Goyco Amador Defends District Attorney’s Performance In NPP Case

By Proviana Colon Diaz

July 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Pedro Goyco Amador was sworn in on Wednesday as the island chief prosecutor and immediately began to protect his employees vehemently defending the performance of three of his assistant district attorneys, including San Juan lead prosecutor Jose Capo in the case against leaders of the New Progressive Party; this despite the fact that cause for arrest was filed in only one of the dozen charges filed.

Goyco categorized the prosecution’s case as "excellent", but noted that he is currently investigating the possibility of an appeal as well as the "strange conduct" of some witnesses who failed to identify their alleged aggressors in court.

"We are investigating the strange conduct of some people who at all times told us they could identify certain people but failed to do so," Goyco said.

The newly appointed chief prosecutor was referring to a charge of aggression filed against former house vice president Edwin Mundo, that was dismissed after the plaintiff, agent Jose A. Marrero, failed to identify his alleged aggressor in court.

Marrero had sworn in a statement that said he could identify Mundo as his alleged aggressor because Mundo was an island politician, and those who did not know him "do not live in here [in Puerto Rico]". The former legislator was sitting across Marrero and when agent said his aggressors was not in court.

Agent Antonio Lasalle for his part, also failed to identify NPP follower Peter Muller in court.

Goyco declined to specify if the evaluation of the case included the possible filling of charges against the defendants for witness tampering.

"I don’t want to speculate. We truly don’t know the reasons for which this happened. We don’t know what happened. If a criminal action occurred our investigation would reveal so," Goyco said.

The former Justice Department Deputy Secretary added that although surprises do occur during judicial processes, there is no logical reason for the prosecution to believe that a positive identification will not be made in court when your witness assures he knows the person.

Goyco made his statements following the swearing ceremony.

The Justice Department will decide by the end of the week if it will appeal the no cause for arrest rulings on the charges of restriction of liberty, aggression, and destruction of property, among others filed against the NPP leaders and their president, Carlos Pesquera.

Ethics Committee: NPP Senators Committed No Violations

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

July 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Following a meeting to evaluate the evidence contained in the report filed by Senate Ethics Committee Executive Director Rene Arrillaga, Committee Chairman Eudaldo Baez Galib announced that committee members unanimously agreed that there was insufficient evidence to pursue an investigation against the New Progressive Party (NPP) senators who participated in an incident that triggered a riot at the Women’s Advocate Office.

This means that NPP Sens. Lucy Arce, Migdalia Padilla, and Pablo Lafontaine won’t be targeted for investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

However, Baez Galib said because Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez has recommended that a Special Independent Prosecutor (SIP) be appointed to investigate NPP Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer for the same incident, the committee has postponed its decision to investigate Ramirez de Ferrer until the SIP investigation is concluded.

"From the evidence we’ve seen, no violations to the code were committed," said Baez Galib.

Baez Galib said the Ethics Committee evaluated video and sound clips, as well as published reports, which by themselves didn’t reveal any violations committed by the NPP senators who were at the riot June 20.

The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) senator said committee members had looked for proof that the NPP senators had conducted themselves in a depraved moral manner by committing a felony or a crime.

"When we looked for elements of a felony or crime in what has been investigated, there weren’t any," Baez Galib said.

Baez Galib added that the SIP office has far more resources than the committee to carry out a wider investigation.

The other committee members who were present at the press conference were PDP Sens. Velda Gonzalez and Angel Rodriguez Otero, Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. Fernando Martin, and NPP Sen. Orlando Parga.

Parga was a substitute for Arce, one of the senators involved in the June 20 incident.

"I feel very at ease in that Ramirez de Ferrer has not committed any violations. The fact that her case has been referred to the SIP is what has made this committee postpone its decision until that investigation is finished," said Parga.

"I agree with the decision we’ve made because it exonerates all the senators who were implicated. Based on the committee investigation, no violations were committed against the Ethics Code of the Puerto Rico Senate," Parga added.

Meanwhile, Ramirez de Ferrer agreed with Parga’s statement in that the committee’s decision Tuesday has exonerated the NPP senators.

"The evidence that they saw for the other senators is the same evidence that exists for me. If they didn’t find cause against my co-workers, they basically exonerate me de facto, there is no cause to take it any further," she said.

The NPP senator said she understands why the committee has decided to wait for the SIP, but that the fact remains that the Senate has not found any evidence against her.

Ruben Berrios Confident In Achieving Status Consensus

July 9, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios was confident Tuesday that a consensus aimed at seeking a solution to the status of Puerto Rico can be reached through the Puerto Rican Unity and Consensus Committee.

Berrios said he has met with leaders of different political denominations, including statehood sectors, who have happily received his proposal to convoke a constitutional assembly.

However, he said what is important now is to try to come to an understanding about the issue when Gov. Sila Calderon summons the Puerto Rican Unity and Consensus Committee.

Berrios refrained from mentioning the names of the people he has talked to about this issue.

The Aibonito lawyer made his statements after he confirmed that he will attend the meeting that Calderon will hold after July 25 as part of the Unity and Consensus Commission project.

The PIP president urged New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera to attend the meeting.

Berrios said the governor has been very clear that she will comply with the Popular Democratic Party program to reach a status consensus among the presidents of the island’s three political parties.

The PIP leader will propose the constitutional assembly at that meeting. Berrios also maintained that he can address the difficulties that the NPP claims his proposal has.

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