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Pereira Defends FUPI Action

PDP: Consensus Mandate Misunderstood

Ruiz Retains Title, Statehood Hailed At Barbosa Rally

PIP Protests 50th Celebration

Berrios Praises Governor

Calderon Demands Commonwealth’s Development

Pesquera Chastizes Governor

Offers 6-Step Status Plan

Mainland Targeted For Anti-Navy Campaign

Pereira Defends Himself From Romero Barcelo’s Criticism

July 29, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira said on Monday that the members of the Pro Independence University Federation (FUPI by its Spanish acronym) weren’t arrested during a protest last week because they didn’t commit any crime and because federal authorities never filed any charges.

The superintendent added that this case is totally different from the one that took place at the Women’s Advocate Office for which New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera was charged for rioting.

Several FUPI members wearing masks held a protest last week in front of the Army’s Recruiting Office in Rio Piedras.

Former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo censured Pereira’s inaction on the case, as he said the police didn’t arrest anybody or file charges against FUPI members.

Pereira said neither the owner of the building nor the Army filed charges against the protesters.

He also noted that wearing a mask is not a felony.

Pereira said that when federal authorities were asked if the protest impeded their work, they said they have a no-confrontation policy, which is why they decided to continue their day’s work at Plaza Las Americas.

PDP: Pesquera Doesn’t Understand People’s Mandate

July 28, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Secretary General Fernando Torres Ramirez said Saturday that New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera does not understand the political consensus mandate that the electors gave with their vote in the past elections.

"The NPP president does not understand the message and the mandate of the people of Puerto Rico. The people want the status issue to be clarified through a consensus process, not through imposition," he said.

Torres Ramirez was referring to Pesquera’s call to convoke another status plebiscite in 2003, which is contrary to the proposal contained in the Puerto Rican Project for the 21st Century that was backed by voters in the past elections.

This proposal, which is promoted by Gov. Sila Calderon, stipulates that the mechanism to seek a solution to the status problem should be selected by a consensus among the three political parties.

To seek the consensus, the governor convoked the creation of the Unity and Consensus Committee, in which Pesquera refused to participate.

In another matter, the PDP secretary general criticized Pesquera for opting for a "tribalist" and divisionist" speech during Saturday’s activity in celebration of Jose Celso Barbosa’s birth.

"It is worrying that the NPP president turned to a technique that we thought had been buried decades ago putting fear in our people with the loss of benefits and rights that are absolutely guaranteed in the political-juridical relationship that we have with the United States," the former judge added.

Pesquera used his speech Saturday to urge PDP members who defend the union between Puerto Rico and the United States to cross the lines and become statehooders.

Torres Ramirez also described the activity’s assistance as "measly" and estimated that in the area surrounding the Bayamon City Hall, which is where the activity took place, there were no more than 5,000 people.

Ruiz Retains Title After Johnson Is Disqualified

July 28, 2002
Copyright © 2002 REUTERS LTD. All rights reserved.

LAS VEGAS - John Ruiz retained his WBA heavyweight title on Saturday after repeated low blows from Kirk Johnson forced referee Joe Cortez to disqualify the challenger in the 10th round.

Ruiz (38-4-1) was ahead of the Canadian on all three judges' scorecards when the fight was halted.

"I was fighting clean all the time," the American said after registering his second successful defence of the title he won from Evander Holyfield.

Johnson (32-1-1) had points deducted in the first round and was issued a "stern warning" by Cortez in fourth.

He had another point deducted in the seventh and was disqualified with 43 seconds left in the 10th.

"He was always crouching under, a couple of times I strayed low," Johnson said. "It is my fault, I should have not thrown that last blow but I felt it was borderline."

NPP Leaders Hail Statehood At Barbosa Rally

by Proviana Colon Diaz

July 27, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

CARLOS PESQUERABAYAMON – New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera’s main message to the crowd celebrating the birth of Jose Celso Barbosa was his reaffirmation in declining to take part in Gov. Sila Calderon’s proposed Unity and Consensus Committee (CUPCO by its Spanish acronym) and stating his alternative to solving the matter.

"The CUCO (as the NPP has dubbed the committee) is not necessary to solve the status problem. What is needed is compromise and will," he said.

Pesquera repeated his six-point plan to solve the status issue, noting that Washington must compromise or the status would not change.

In addition, he urged Popular Democratic Party followers who truly believe in a permanent union with the United States to come and join the NPP, as separatists have taken control of their party.

"If you want to guarantee U.S. citizenship to your future generations, if you want to improve the opportunities to your children, the federal aid when they need them, the economic welfare and the stability, come and join us in the search for equality. We welcome you with open arms," Pesquera said.

Pesquera said he has a "mandate" to take his plan to Washington.

When asked who gave him the mandate, Pesquera replied "the NPP followers."

The former gubernatorial candidate has said the process for solving the status matter has begun in Washington. Still, a letter from President George W. Bush for Saturday’s celebration failed to make any mention of the status issue and was rather limited to congratulating the NPP for celebrating the life of such an "honorable man" as Barbosa.

Party founder Luis A. Ferre spoke in favor of statehood, saying that under statehood, both the island’s culture and language will be preserved. Ferre said each state of the union has its own language, and therefore Spanish as our first language would not be lost.

"We want statehood, and we will achieve it," Ferre said.

NPP Second Vice President San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini noted that regardless of the number of times a political change of status for the island is sought and requested, the important thing is that "one day we will achieve it."

The mayor also criticized Calderon’s defense of the Commonwealth. Santini argued that if the current state is what she defends, then Calderon is also defending "crime, unemployment, and the excise tax increase," among other things, as those things are all present under the Commonwealth.

Like Santini, former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo strongly criticized Calderon’s performance and told the crowd on several occasions to "hold on, we only have to wait two and a half more years."

"These past 18 months have been a setback of inaction and bad decisions on the part of the Calderon's administration," Romero Barcelo said.

PIP Protests Commonwealth Celebration

July 26, 2002
Copyright © 2002 EFE NEWS SERVICE. All rights reserved.

Guanica, Puerto Rico , Jul 25 (EFE) - Pro-independence Puerto Ricans on Thursday staged a protest against Puerto Rico 's commonwealth status with the United States in the southern port town of Guanica.

The protest, organized by the opposition Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), drew pro-independence organizations, including the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party and the New Puerto Rican Independence Movement (NMIP).

Also present were leaders of the civil disobedience campaign aimed at ending the U.S. Navy's presence on the island of Vieques .

Thousands of demonstrators gathered at the spot in Guanica where U.S. troops landed in 1898 to take control of the island following centuries of Spanish rule.

The keynote speaker at the event was PIP chairman Ruben Barrios, who enumerated the limitations entailed by 50 years of commonwealth status, which he likened to colonialism.

Berrios Warmly Praises Calderon

July 26, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) – Puerto Rican Independence Party President Ruben Berrios acknowledged Friday that Gov. Sila Calderon has complied with agreements toward procedures to seek a solution to the political relationship between the United States and Puerto Rico.

Berrios said as part of the search for consensus, the governor named people recommended by him to the Consensus Conciliation Committee.

He also affirmed that while he was holding a telephone conference with Calderon on Wednesday, he gave this group instructions in an attempt to get New Progressive Party (NPP) leader Carlos Pesquera to be a part of this effort.

"At this point, Calderon has kept her word and the agreements she made with me," said Berrios.

The governor named as members of the conciliatory committee: the Archbishop of San Juan, Monsignor Roberto Gonzalez Nieves, Evangelical pastor Wilfredo Estrada, former federal prosecutor Ignacio Rivera, former Education Secretary Ramon Cruz, and University of Puerto Rico Law School Dean Efren Rivera.

"I selected this committee with the governor," said Berríos. "The governor kept her word and nominated by consensus."

Berríos also believes that it is going to be awkward for Pesquera to isolate himself when he directs a political party that has, among its principal goals, to change the status of Puerto Rico.

He continued that many diehard statehooders who defend with good faith the state of Puerto Rico do not understand Pesquera’s position.

He indicated that what has happened in the NPP is that some leaders talk about the struggle for statehood "but do not want to solve the status dilemma because they want to climb up to power to enjoy the power."

Calderon Demands The Commonwealth’s Development

By Proviana Colon Diaz

July 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Just like Popular Democratic Party (PDP) founder Luis Munoz Marin did in 1952, Gov. Sila Calderon stood on the steps of the Capitol’s south side to hoist the Puerto Rican flag on Thursday.

During her speech, Calderon demanded the development of the Commonwealth.

Those who spoke earlier on Thursday--like Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila, Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora, and House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo--also spoke in favor of the Commonwealth’s development.

Calderon addressed the crowd using the slogan "That is the force of the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth is the force of Puerto Rico."

"I firmly believe in the Commonwealth and because I believe in it, I reaffirm myself in the determination to aim all our efforts for its perfection," Calderon said.

Calderon did acknowledged that over the course of 50 years since the drafting of the constitution, there have been setbacks when trying to find a solution to the island’s political status, including local political division and the U.S. Congress’ reluctance to endorse a solution.

However, she said she has the will to reach a consensus among the island’s different political beliefs to then demand from Congress and the White House more power for the island.

Therefore, indirectly Calderon again encouraged New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera to join the Puerto Rican Unity and Consensus Committee proposed by her administration to find a mechanism to solve the status issue of the island.

"I refuse to exercise that power alone or in an absolute manner to force a decision of such importance for each Puerto Rican….That is why I will continue with all my strength, and with all your support, to find the alternative that will break the knot that is pretended to be imposed upon us," Calderon said.

The governor then referred to most of the promises included within her political platform, such as the economic development and the creation of jobs, as well as her commitment to continue to fight corruption.

During her speech, Calderon took the time time to thank all PDP leaders who have believed in the Commonwealth’s autonomy, including her mentor, former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon.

The mention of Hernandez Colon, who was sitting in the front row, immediately caused a reaction from the crowd which began to cheer in favor of the two leaders kissing.

"A kiss, a kiss…."cheered the crowd.

Hernandez Colon then stood walked to the podium and huged and kissed the governor.

Pesquera: Governor Only Highlighted Her Shortcomings

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

July 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

For New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera, the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico on Thursday only accentuated the shortcomings of the status quo and of Gov. Sila Calderon, who he said has lost the support of the people.

"The event was a flop. [The Popular Democratic Party (PDP)] didn't draw as many people as they had anticipated and this shows that the people is disappointed in this administration, which has failed to keep the island's economic development at an acceptable level," Pesquera told WOW News after the governor's speech.

Pesquera also criticized the fact that although Calderon acknowledged a need for more political powers for Puerto Rico, she failed to say how she would achieve such powers or give details as to how she would improve the status quo.

"What was most important about the message was what she didn't say," Pesquera added.

The NPP leader also took the absence of Latin American presidents and U.S. governors and Congress members as a clear sign of the lack of support that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico has at a national and international levels.

"That is just an additional proof that the commonwealth has no support," Pesquera added.

Except from the leader of Granada, all the presidents and prime ministers invited to the event, including Dominican Republic President Hipolito Mejia, didn't show up, but chose to send a representative or a written statement instead.

Although government officials had repeatedly said that the event was not political, Pesquera said the slogans, as well as the governor's message were plagued with political innuendoes. During the ceremony held at the Capitol in San Juan, the red and white emblematic colors of the PDP, as well as the governor's signature color--yellow--predominated during the event.

"The governor's message was political, which proves that the PDP illegally used public funds to pay for a political event," Pesquera said.

On another note, Pesquera said that although the NPP didn't invite any U.S. government officials to the event that will be held in Bayamon to commemorate Jose Celso Barbosa's birthday on Saturday, he said the White House will send a special message to the event.

Pesquera Presents Six-Step Plan To Solve Status Issue

July 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera proposed on Wednesday a six-step plan that in his view, should be followed to hold a plebiscite in November 2003 to solve the status issue on the island.

According to Pesquera, the first step should be to have U.S President George W. Bush to establish as a federal public policy the fast solution of the status issue in Puerto Rico.

Pesquera proposed that this be achieved by holding a meeting with Bush and the three party presidents of the island.

Once the public policy is established, Pesquera proposed that a referendum be held to decide if the people want to find a solution to the status issue.

The third step would be to present the U.S. Congress with several constitutional alternatives to end the island's colonial status. Pesquera proposed to do this at the beginning of next year.

Once the status definitions are ready, Pesquera proposed that a bill be filed in Congress to enable a plebiscite.

In six months, that law should be approved to finally hold a plebiscite in November 2003, he said.

"This is the only viable alternative from a procedural point of view," Pesquera said during a press conference on Wednesday, when he also said he wouldn't meet with any conciliation committee to discuss his proposal.

Pesquera didn't want to impose a limit of time for Gov. Sila Calderon, president of the Popular Democratic Party, and Ruben Berrios, president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, to issue their opinion on the matter.

However, he acknowledged that at some point he will have meet with both of them to seek a commitment from the U.S. to solve the issue.

Pesquera said he won't have it any other way and added that the status formulas to be presented in Congress must be approved by the federal government prior to the plebiscite so that they can be implemented without any major complications.

PIP To Take Anti-Navy Campaign To U.S. Mainland

July 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

GUANICA (AP) - The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) announced on Thursday that it will hold a protest campaign in several cities of the U.S. mainland to oust the U.S. Navy from Vieques.

PIP President Ruben Berrios didn't specify what type of demonstrations they have in mind, but said they will be peaceful.

Berrios said they intend to let the American people and the federal government know that "we want the Navy to withdraw from Vieques." He also asked U.S. President George W. Bush to put his promise in writing. Bush has said in the past that the Navy will leave Vieques by May 2003.

"Our presence will be massive in Vieques and in the U.S.," Berrios said in front of thousands who gathered in Guanica to condemn what he called "the U.S. invasion of Puerto Rico."

"But let it be known that we won't rest. Let the U.S. and the Navy know that this isn't bluff," Berrios added.

He accused the federal government of persecuting Puerto Ricans since the U.S. troops arrived in Guanica 104 years ago.

"Let nobody fool themselves. Puerto Rico is the last great colony in the world," said Berrios.

He also urged New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera to sit down with him and Gov. Sila Calderon to present his counterproposal to solve the status issue of the island.

Berrios said he agreed with Pesquera's view in that the status issue should be solved as soon as possible with the support of the U.S. Congress.

Approximately 4,000 people gathered in Guanica on Thursday, although Berrios said he believed there were two or three times more people than that.

Anti-Navy leaders Carlos Zenon and Ismael Guadalupe were also present at the event.

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