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NPP Warns Of Unemployment Rate Increase

Senatorial Reapportionment Set

GDB Loses 2nd Top Official

Bodies Of Crash Victims Go Home

3,000 Police Face Dismissal

DTOP Reaffirms Rte 66

Calderon OK’s Los Capuchinos Expropriation

Pesquera: Gov’t Shouldn’t Support Anti-American Agenda

NPP Representatives Warn Of Unemployment Rate Hike

August 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Several New Progressive Party (NPP) representatives warned about the alleged increase in the island’s unemployment rate and denounced the government’s inaction to solve the situation.

NPP Rep. Epi Jimenez said Labor & Human Resources statistics show that the unemployment rate increased 1.5% in a year, pushing it to the highest rate registered in four years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, unemployment rate climbed from 11.3% in June 2001 to 12.9% in June 2002.

He also said 10 heavy equipment companies have filed for bankruptcy in the last year and that 85% of commercial businesses in Carolina are facing the same fate. Jimenez said this pattern could spread if a solution is not found soon.

NPP Rep. Jose Luis Rivera Guerra criticized the government for investing public funds to register Puerto Rican voters living on the U.S. mainland as well as in the International Peace Conference being held in the island this week. Rivera Guerra said such activities don’t have a positive impact in the local economy or in the creation of jobs.

Board Reaches Agreement In Electoral Redistribution

August 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Constitutional Board for the Distribution of Legislative Districts announced on Thursday that it was able to reach an agreement on the redistribution of the electoral districts to be implemented in the general elections of 2004 and 2008.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Andreu Garcia together with attorneys Hector Luis Acevedo and Virgilio Ramos Gonzalez announced that the agreement proposes that the senatorial districts of Mayaguez, Ponce, and Carolina remain the same.

Minimal changes were approved for the other districts, he added.

As part of the agreement, the senatorial district of San Juan will be expanded by adding sectors of the southern part of Guaynabo.

Toa Alta, which formerly belonged to the Arecibo district, will now become part of the district of Bayamon.

Also, Morovis, formerly a part of the Guayama district, will now be added to the Arecibo district. Meanwhile, Arroyo will be part of the Guayama district.

The Commonwealth Constitution states that a board be named after every census to make sure that there is an equal distribution of the population of the island’s eight senatorial districts.

GDB Loses 2nd Top Official

August 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 REUTERS. All Rights Reserved.

MIAMI (Reuters) - The head of finance at the Government Development Bank for Puerto Rico resigned this week, marking the second high-profile departure from the agency that acts as advisor to the island government.

After a short tenure, Jose Pagan, executive vice president at the Government Development Bank, decided to take a private sector job with a U.S. division of a Spanish insurance company, bank officials told Reuters.

Pagan was responsible for overseeing an unprecedented debt program in Puerto Rico, which during his tenure issued more than $9 billion in municipal bonds and became the second largest issuer in the United States.

Minia Gonzalez, currently a vice president at the Government Development Bank, will replace Pagan on a temporary basis, according to a spokeswoman. The agency hopes to have a permanent replacement for Pagan within 90 days.

"I have received Jose's resignation with great sadness but I understand he needs more time with his family," said Hector Mendez, president of the Government Development Bank.

The departure comes less than two months after the resignation of Juan Agosto as president of the bank.

"We haven't met the new people yet but Jose was a very skilled banker, very professional," said Tim Blake, analyst at Moody's Investors Service. "You know he's not easy to replace."

Bodies Of Crash Victims Go Home

August 14, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

ROOSEVELT ROADS NAVAL STATION (AP) - The flag-draped coffins of 10 U.S. military personnel killed in a plane crash in Caguas were loaded onto a plane bound for Delaware Wednesday.

U.S. troops hoisted the coffins onto the C-130 transport plane as a three-person color guard held an American flag. The plane was expected at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Wednesday night.

Some family members attended the 45-minute ceremony, which was delayed because of intermittent rain. Officials from the Army, Air Force, Navy, National Guard and Puerto Rican government also attended.

"This has all been very emotional," said Army Lt. Col. Nicolas Britto.

The MC-130H combat plane crashed during a training mission on Aug. 7. The plane - used in special operations missions - struck Monte Perucho, broke in two and burst into flames.

The plane belonged to the Air Force Special Operations Command and was flying from Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in northeastern Puerto Rico to the Borinquen Air Station on the Caribbean island's west coast.

A team from the Air Force Safety Center at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico has begun an investigation into what caused the crash, which occurred during heavy rain and fog.

Searchers found the cockpit voice recorder. The plane had no flight data recorder, officials said.

The accident was the second in two months involving the four-engine Combat Talon II, a variant of the C-130 Hercules cargo plane. Another crashed in June in Afghanistan, killing three.

Pereira Announces Expulsion Of 3,000 Police

August 14, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira announced that approximately 3,000 police agents would be expelled from the Police Department for being unable to carry a firearm.

Pereira estimated that 700 police agents have been disarmed because they’ve been accused of accusations of domestic violence or are nervous about carrying a weapon. These agents cost the agency $1.5 million annually in wages.

The official said there are 2,600 police agents on a sick leave under the State Insurance Fund, some of them for periods as long as 15 years.

Pereira informed he would expel those that have suffered accidents not related to their official duties, according to published reports.

The Superintendent said, however, that agents who’ve been injured while on duty will not be expelled.

He also announced that he would increase the amount of agents to investigate domestic violence complaints.

DTPW Announces Route 66 Will Remain The Same

August 14, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Transportation & Public Works Department (DTPW) announced that after 15 months and $500,000 in environmental studies, to the Eastern Corridor will be develop on the same route that was proposed by the past administration.

According to published reports, the only difference is that the project will not be divided into two parts, as the past administration had planned, which prompted the lawsuit that halted the project.

In a plan to mitigate the environmental effects, the DTPW will acquire 363 acres to add to El Yunque Rain Forest.

The plan differs from the proposal the DTPW presented last year to complete the Route 66 from Carolina to Canovanas through the forest and through the 65th Infantry Avenue as an expressway.

Former DTPW Secretary Sergio Gonzalez accused the current administration of acting capriciously and estimated that its decision might have cost the people of Puerto Rico approximately $200 million in traffic, gas expenses, and other indirect costs.

Calderon OK's Expropriation Of Los Capuchinos Land

August 13, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon ordered that 23 acres of Los Capuchinos forest be expropriated for the development of the Ecological Corridor of San Juan.

On Tuesday, Calderon said in a prepared statement that she made the decision after an exhaustive evaluation of the environmental impact of altering the area.

The governor also said her decision was in accordance with the land master plan she presented as mayor of San Juan and with her campaign promises in 2000.

Environmental activists including scientist Jose Molinelli, who helped draft the Popular Democratic Party platform on the environment, had urged the governor to make good her promise to expropriate those lands.

The governor said that since the developer who planned to build a housing complex in the area, already had most of the permits to begin construction, she would negotiate the cost of the transaction based on valuations.

The Ecological Corridor of San Juan would comprise 1,000 acres that include the Urban Forest Ines Maria Mendoza de Muñoz Marin, the New Millennium Forest, and the Botanical Garden.

"I reiterate that the priority of my administration is the creation of jobs for Puerto Rican families through sustainable economic development. This development should harmonize with my determination to achieve a balanced process whereby green areas are protected for the future generations of our country," Calderon said.

NPP Disapproves Use Of Public Funds For Peace Conference

August 13, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Ignacio Pesquera disapproved on Tuesday of the use of public funds for a peace conference which he claims promotes an anti-U.S. agenda.

Pesquera said it is ironic to hear Gov. Sila M. Calderon speak about permanent union with the U.S. and promote events with an anti-U.S. agenda.

The NPP leader questioned the amount in public funds invested in the event and, along with NPP Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock, denounced the Senate’s secrecy regarding the costs of the vent.

Pesquera said it is necessary to investigate who called the private companies with government contracts that are sponsoring the conference.

The NPP president described as improper that funds were sought from Ondeo Co., after the Senate refused to evaluate the 10-year, $400 million government contract.

"It is improper and suggests a lot of things that should be investigated," said Pesquera.

It is estimated that the event might cost almost half a million dollars, but Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora said he would reveal all the details and the source of the event’s financing soon.

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