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McBride Stumps For Puerto Rican Votes

Congress Protects Tuna Industry Jobs

Academic Tests Flunk Federal Standards

ASPPRO Denounces Press Freedom Attacks

Environmental Priorities Criticized

Governor Rejects Free Association

Adm. Green Promoted & Reassigned

Curacao Beats Island Little League Title

Crime Rate Rises

McBride Stumps For Puerto Rican Votes

By Mark Silva and Rich McKay | Sentinel Staff Writers

August 6, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

Democrat Bill McBride sat down for Cuban cuisine with Puerto Rican businesspeople Monday in the same corner of an Orlando eatery, Café Madrid, where Janet Reno dined with Hispanic supporters months before.

Reno, meanwhile, campaigned among senior citizens and Democratic Party activists Monday in Daytona Beach, where McBride has stumped several times.

And Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who has all but moved into Orlando for his re-election campaign, landed in Kissimmee to open new schools.

If this is early August, just five weeks before the Democratic Party names a candidate for governor, this must be Central Florida, the region that could decide the outcome of not only the party primary Sept. 10, but also the election Nov. 5.

"I think the difference in this race is going to be the I-4 corridor and North Florida," said Cindy Hall, president of the Florida AFL-CIO.

At Café Madrid, a stop along Reno's "little red truck tour" in March, McBride broke Cuban bread and tasted chicken and rice with a dozen supporters.

"We're looking for someone who can challenge Jeb Bush without having something in front of him," said Zulma Velez-Estrada, a business consultant born in Puerto Rico.

She thinks Reno has too much political baggage to beat Bush.

New Federal Measure Will Help Keep Tuna Industry Jobs

August 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

MAYAGUEZ (AP) — Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced on Monday the approval of a congressional measure that protects some 600 jobs in the Mayagüez tuna industry.

The resident commissioner committed to continue fighting so local agencies can offer greater incentives to this industry.

Accompanied by Mayaguez Mayor Jose Guillermo Rodriguez, legislators, and by Bumble Bee General Manager Zulma Rivera, Acevedo Vila talked about the efforts made in Congress to achieve the ‘Pacto Andino’.

Acevedo Vila explained that had the legislation not been approved, the Mayagüez industry jobs would have been affected since the dispositions of the aforementioned bill would have allowed these countries to send this product "free of fare". The tuna packed on the island however, was subject to taxes when shipped.

Eighty percent of Bumble Bee’s employees are residents of Mayaguez, whereas the departed Star Kist plant had over 1,300 workers from various western region municipalities, explained Mayor Rodriguez.

Bumble Bee has an annual payroll of $17 million and although the industry has faced problems in operational costs, management has promised to fight to increase the number of employees. The firm has been in operation in Mayaguez for 40 years.

"The language in the approved measure with the assistance of Charles Rangel, among other senators and congressional representatives, guarantees jobs in the local plant," said Acevedo Vila.

For her part Rivera, said the processing plant is in the middle of reaching an agreement with the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority and ONDEO, for the used water operation cost which costs were shared with Star Kist.

The operational cost for processing this industry’s used water was estimated at $2.2 million a year, and ONDEO would be able to use part of this plant to process used waters.

Gov. Calderon’s administration explained Acevedo Vila, is in the process of granting large incentives to Bumble Bee.

Academic Tests Flunk Federal Standards

August 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Education Department will have to re design the student’s competency tests to comply with federal standards to prevent losing 20% of the federal funds it currently receives, said Education Secretary Cesar Rey.

The official said that tests results for the last four years show the system lacks a needed instrument to plan the educational development of 86% of the Puerto Rican students.

The new Puerto Rican Academic Achievement Test should be ready by April and will substitute the controversial Puerto Rican School Competence Tests, used by the past administration.

Those tests substituted the ones called Learn and Send, which cost the agency $14.1 millions in a 10-year period.

The federal government said that 15%, which represents a total of 234–of the public schools failed to meet the federal standards.

ASPPRO Denounces Attacks Against Freedom Of Press

August 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Puerto Rico Journalists Association (ASPPRO by its Spanish acronym) denounced Sunday that the Calderon administration infringes the journalists’ work and the constitutional rights of expression and the press.

ASPPRO Vice President Maritza Diaz Alcaide asked Gov. Sila Calderon "to intervene and clarify her position in respect to what appears to be a pattern of attacks against the freedom of press from the government."

In a press conference, Diaz Alcaide expressed the union’s concern for the recent actions against journalistic work of some government officials, including Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira and Attorney General Roberto Sanchez Ramos.

"As from now, the association announces that the constitutional right to free and unrestricted access to government documents is not negotiable," Diaz Alcaide said.

Sanchez Ramos "threatened journalists with the possibility that the government raid workplaces and even residences when it decides to confiscate journalistic work," said the union’s legal representative, Manny Suarez Jr.

The lawyer explained that Sanchez Ramos’ threat is contained in a motion that the official filed last week in the lawsuit initiated by Telemundo and Univision after the government’s request to hand over the unedited videos taken during the incident in the Women’s Advocate Office on June 20.

Pereira convoked a meeting with journalists this week to establish a protocol of press access to police documents.

The ASPPRO questioned the Police superintendent’s true intentions to call the meeting and said the union will not participate.

Scientist Criticizes Government’s Priorities In Environment

August 5, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Scientist Jose Molinelli criticized Sunday the Calderon administration’s priorities on the preservation of the environment and the natural resources, which in his opinion is based on a development vision that does not contemplate the future of future generations.

Molinelli, who said he participated in the drafting of the environmental policy proposal of the Popular Democratic Party at the request of the then San Juan mayor, said it is frustrating to travel through the island and only see signs announcing million-dollar improvements and road construction, a product of a mistaken policy at the Planning Board of continuing to grant permits "any which way."

He said that practice has stimulated the proliferation of building urbanizations outside cities, mostly in agriculture terrain, which requires constructing more roads for those people to go to work in the city.

"If we encourage the reconstruction of cities, instead of encouraging this mess, like we are doing, that is destroying the countryside and forests, with the consequences that it has, the people of Puerto Rico would save hundreds of millions of dollars that it has to spend on roads because it is not necessary," he said.

He said the money that is being used now on roads could be used to improve schools and health services, which in his opinion, are very bad.

Molinelli denied the argument that some are using that the decision is between the environment and economic development.

"That is completely false. No country that destroys its environment and its resources of water progresses," the also environmentalist said.

Governor Rejects Free Association

August 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon rejected Saturday the free association formula for Puerto Rico.

The governor said in a press release that the Commonwealth, which she defends, "is based on the permanent union with the United States and on the protection of its cultural identity."

"Any proposal that separates us from that relationship with the United States does not have my approval," she said.

With these statements, the governor also flatly dismissed a type of coalition that Puerto Rican Independence Party President Ruben Berrios is flirting with in the interests of achieving island sovereignty.

Berrios said in published reports that he is prepared to accept a free association model as a way to resolve the status, as long as the formula guarantees sovereignty.

"If Commonwealth supporters request free association with sovereignty according to the international right, then ‘independentistas’ would have to make a decision of whether to vote for it," he said.

The governor said "the free association does not represent the essence of the aspirations of the Puerto Ricans who want to maintain a permanent link with the United States."

She stressed that the development of the Commonwealth needs to be framed "in the strengthening of the political relationship with the United States of America."

Kevin Green Nominated For New Position In Washington

August 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Rear Adm. Kevin Green, commander of the U.S. Navy in the Caribbean region up to the Gulf of Mexico, was nominated by President George W. Bush to a higher position in the Pentagon, according to the military body.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced Friday that Bush nominated Green for the rank of vice admiral, taking on functions such as deputy chief of naval operations in planning, policy, and operations in the Naval Operations Chief Office.

Green will be replaced by Rear Adm. Vinson Smith, who would supervise the Navy’s exit from Vieques next year.

Smith, who is currently assigned to the Bremerton Naval Station in the state of Washington, will take on the command in Puerto Rico between September and October, officials said.

Green served as commander of the Naval Forces Southern Command for more than two years in the Roosevelt Roads Naval Base in Ceiba.

He also had a prominent role in the relationship between the Navy and the local government during the controversy on the bombing exercises on the island municipality.

Bush has said that the Navy will stop training in Vieques in May.

Curacao Beats Puerto Rico For Caribbean Little League Title

August 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

CHRISTIANSTED, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) - The defending Caribbean Little League champions from Curacao beat Puerto Rico's team 16-1 Saturday to take the regional title in St. Croix.

Pitcher Hiaro Neuman hit a grand slam to highlight a 10-run sixth inning for Curacao's Pariba team.

With the victory, Curacao advanced to the Little League World Series on Aug. 16-25 in Williamsport, Pa.

Curacao will play in Pool D against champions from Mexico, Europe and Asia.

Crime Rate Rises

August 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Type I crimes increased by 10,000 (or 23.5%) as of July 31, compared with the 42,627 crimes that were reported by the Police Department for the same period last year.

Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira said he was not surprised by the data because he had already predicted last December that a 20% increase would occur, allegedly due to the correction of deficiencies in the way the statistics had been compiled.

"The Police is committed to clearing up the crimes, and I had already said it would be a 20% increase [in the crime rate], which makes the increase a real one," said the government official in published reports.

Pereira had also anticipated in December that he would measure the Police Department’s efficiency based on increasing the clearing up rate, but those statistics–that had been informed for several months were not available.

According to the statistics, as of July 31 2002, there had been 421 murders, which represents a decrease of 21 cases, 134 rapes, an increase of 34 cases; 5,649 robberies, an increase of 790 complaints. 1,881 cases of aggravated assault, an increase of 466 complaints.

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