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Calderon Warns Against Excessive Anniversary Spending

Ferrer Calls For July 4th Investigation

Mercado For Supreme Court Chief?

Yauco Runners Win Silver Medal

PIP Unveils Vieques Contingency Plan

Burgos: Pesquera-Santini Primary Inevitable

Independence Day Celebrated

Federal Court To Evaluate Prison Conditions

Governor Warns PDP Mayors About Excessive Spending

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Supporting Commonwealth Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña, Gov. Sila Calderon warned Popular Democratic Party (PDP) mayors to be careful with spending too much on the commemoration of the Commonwealth Anniversary on July 25.

According to published reports, Calderon’s warning followed a day-long meeting Monday at La Fortaleza, where she discussed the commemoration acts that would be held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Puerto Rico constitution.

Mayaguez and Guayama Mayors Jose Guillermo Rodriguez and Hector Colon Mendoza, respectively said that Calderon had asked the mayors to mobilize their citizens to participate in the official events. At the same time, Calderon asked them to have good judgment in regards to spending public moneys to celebrate the event, which will be held at the Capitol in San Juan.

"We have to celebrate big time because it is the 50th anniversary, but we must be wise," said Rodriguez.

Several days ago, the comptroller recommended organizers of the July 25 and Barbosa Day celebrations to be moderate in the use of public funds. The Barbosa Day act will be held on July 27 in Bayamon, which is a New Progressive Party stronghold.

"For several years we’ve been pointing out in audit reports extravagant, excessive, and unnecessary spending in these type of event and we have always called on public officials to be prudent," said Diaz Saldaña.

"The key is not to turn those events into political rallies and to be prudent in spending," Diaz Saldaña added.

Ferrer Calls For Investigation Of Santini’s Fourth Of July Event

By Raquel Velazquez

July 8, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Popular Democratic Party Rep. and Ethics Committee Chairman Hector Ferrer told WOW News that Independence Day acts hosted by the municipality of San Juan mayor Jorge Santini were being cited for penal code violations because celebration of American patriotism became a forum for political brandishing of the Calderon administration.

"This was a political event because the main speakers, the key notes, were Santini and Pesquera and the content of their speeches were against the governor and her work, expressed Ferrer. He added, "This kind of speech is classified as a political speech and during the activity Santini used the municipal police as well as public property and when you use public funding you cannot give political speeches."

Ferrer announced on Sunday that he is requesting the Department of Justice, Comptroller’s Office and the State Electoral Commission to investigate the San Juan mayor on his use of public funds for the alleged July 4 political rally which included NPP president Carlos Pesquera as its guest speaker and is alleged to have made disparaging remarks regarding Gov. Calderon.

NPP officials deny Ferrer’s allegations regarding Pesquera’s address adding that during the celebratory acts he did not mention Calderon’s name.

Ferrer was also quick to point out that the July 25 acts held in election year 2000, which then San Juan mayor Sila Calderon hosted in the municipality of San German, was not a political fundraising event and that no comparison can made to mayor Santini’s activity.

It was reported that the acts celebrating the Puerto Rico Constitution in San German were funded with municipal contributions from several PDP mayors and that Calderon utilized the event to foster her political aspirations.

Mercado Might Preside Over The Supreme Court

July 8, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila M. Calderon has been pressuring Supreme Court President Jose A. Andreu Garcia to resign his post, so that she might appoint Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado as the new chief judge.

Allegedly, the pressure from La Fortaleza has caused a turmoil among court officials and even among judges considered to be of the same ideology as the current administration.

The situation, which motives are unknown, has taken by surprise those within the Judicial Branch, where what’s happening is well known, since the Supreme Court’s decisions have favored Calderon’s stance before and after she was elected governor.

As a matter of fact, in the years that Andreu has occupied the post there have been no complaints about his performance as Chief Judge of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.

"Everyone is upset with the situation," said an official, who asked not to be identified, adding that La Fortaleza’ efforts to try to reorganize the court also extend to other judges.

Yauco Runners Win Silver Medal


July 8, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

The Puerto Rican town of Yauco's first foray into national youth track and field yielded plenty of smiles and a silver medal.

El Club de Atletismo de Yauco became the first Puerto Rican club team to compete in the USA Track & Field association's youth national championship, which concluded Sunday at Tropical Park in Southwest Miami-Dade. More than 2,500 athletes from across the country, ranging in age from 7 to 18, participated in the five-day event.

Club president Ylonka Henriquez learned about the meet when she stumbled upon the USTAF website in April.

The mayor of the town of 42,058 paid half of each youth's airfare -- parents of the 13 club members funded the rest.

Including parents, the Yaucanos numbered 26, some sporting headbands adorned with the Puerto Rican flag.

''It's a great source of pride for us,'' coach Alex García said. ``Now, more teams will come. We were the pioneers.''

On Thursday, club members Vanessa Pintado, Lucia Ortiz-Flores, Stephanie Garlaza and Yashira Rivera won the silver medal in the 4x800-meter relay in the category for girls ages 11 and 12.

The event drew hundreds of spectators during the five days.

PIP Announces Plan In Case U.S. Navy Should Stay In Vieques

July 7, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

GUAYAMA (AP) - The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) will call for a general strike, massive demonstrations, and possible acts of civil disobedience if the U.S. Navy doesn't withdraw from Vieques by May 2003, said PIP Executive President Fernando Martin on Sunday.

"If the Navy doesn't comply with the agreement it would be a deceit for the Puerto Rican people and we are proposing a national civil disobedience plan to seal the decision to halt the bombing," said Martin.

Gov. Sila Calderon has stated that she believes in the word of U.S. President George W. Bush and has accepted the date for the Navy's withdrawal.

But the PIP remains distrustful and has opted for an alternate strategy.

Martin said the party would continue trespassing on Navy land in Vieques if the naval forces insist on resuming their practices before May next year.

The PIP leader also said the call for massive acts is also aimed at gaining support from other party affiliates in favor of the fight to oust the Navy from Vieques.

"What we are proposing is to extend the fight to all the sectors of the island so that thousands of people trespass the firing range on a same day in a sign of civil disobedience," Martin added.

The PIP senator also said the party would call for a general strike and massive demonstration in the streets of Puerto Rico, as well as demonstrations in the U.S. mainland.

Approximately 250 PIP activists and leaders have been arrested and sentenced to prison for trespassing on Navy land in Vieques.

Martin also said he doesn't rule out other possible actions if, in fact, the Navy should stay in Vieques.

Burgos: NPP Seeks Primary Between Pesquera & Santini

July 7, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) - Contrary to what New Progressive Party (NPP) top leaders have said, NPP Sen. Norma Burgos believes that NPP voters wish for a primary to choose their next gubernatorial candidate.

The legislator said that when she visits several municipalities of the island, she can sense the controversy over whether San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini or NPP President Carlos Pesquera should run for governor in 2004.

"Whether they like it or not, the discussion is there in any municipality or party meeting," said Burgos during a radio interview.

Pesquera was self-proclaimed to challenge governor Sila Calderon in 2004, and although Santini has reiterated that he has no interest in the gubernatorial run, some NPP sectors believe otherwise.

"The buzz in the street is a different one. Therefore each of them are trying to strengthen their positions, regardless of whether or not it is part of their agendas," Burgos said.

However, the senator declined to say who she favors for the gubernatorial run of 2004.

Crowds Celebrate U.S. Independence Day

July 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Crowds who support statehood donned hats and shirts covered with stars and stripes and carried American flags through the streets Thursday in a celebration of U.S. Independence Day.

About 2,000 people attended the pro-statehood celebration on the island, which was dedicated to victims and rescue workers of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The people waved U.S. flags while swaying their hips to the rhythms of popular plena and salsa music.

"We have a patriotic duty to America, the nation to which we belong," said 32-year-old Carmencita Ayala. "We have to say to the nation that gives us all the benefits of American citizenship that we should have these benefits by being part of the United States."

The celebration comes days after New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera was charged with participating in a riot during a protest over the U.S. flag.

During the protest, Pesquera place a U.S. flag next to a Puerto Rican flag in the office. The agency's head had flown only the Puerto Rican flag despite a regulation requiring that both flags be flown in government offices.

At least two people were injured, and the glass door to the office building shattered.

Speaking during Thursday's celebration, he compared his struggle to that of U.S. patriots during the struggle for independence more than two centuries ago.

"The conduct of those men was just against a master of oppression and persecution," he said. "Today, at height of the 21st century, there are those who try to silence people like the Founding Fathers by threat of persecution and even imprisonment."

In a separate celebration Thursday in Caguas, Gov. Sila Calderon spoke reaffirmed the advantages of the current commonwealth status and said to be proud of the U.S. citizenship.

"We believe, treasure and are proud of our North American citizenship," Calderon said before a 50-shot salute marking the 50 U.S. states.

Federal Court To Evaluate Island Prison Condition

July 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Employees, prisoners, and Corrections Administration and Health Department contractors will testify Monday before U.S. District Court Judge Juan Perez Gimenez on the alleged halt in the rehabilitation works in prison facilities.

During the hearing, motions submitted by the Civil Action Corp. against the Puerto Rico government and the Corrections Administration will be discussed.

One of the motions requests that the government be charged with contempt of court for failing to complete the rehabilitation works in island prisons violating a court order, according to published reports.

The other motion requests the Corrections Administration to provide adequate food to inmates. Among the remedies proposed by the inmates’ legal representative is the closing of several kitchens, because of the alleged poor hygiene.

It was also said that the Bayamon, Ponce, and Rio Piedras kitchens serve more food portions than should be served according to its capacity and regulations.

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