Pesquera Confident Charges Will be Dismissed
Rossello: Guilty Will Bear The Consequences
Governor: Announces $1B Special Communities Investment; To Sign Campaign Reform Bill By Years End; Wants New Bush Vieques Commitment; &, Names Advisor To Develop 2025 Economic Plan
Former AIDS Program Director Pleads Innocent
Senate Subsidizes Peace Conference
NPP Demands Investigation
Pesquera Confident In Dismissal Of Charges Against Him
August 20, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos I. Pesquera is confident that the charges filed against him and other NPP leaders regarding the incidents that took place at the Womens Advocate Office in June will be dismissed.
Pesquera and three other NPP leaders have been summoned to appear before court officials for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 27 at 9 a.m., after Judge Isabel Linares determined July 29 that there was cause to charge the statehood supporters for inciting a riot.
The NPP president said that from the careful examination of the videosduring the four hours that they were prevented from entering the public agencyis evident that the government avoided any solution to the problem.
"They avoided any solution to the problem, because we proposed solutions to the issue and they rejected them," Pesquera said in a radio interview.
He said that when all the evidence is analyzed, the governments negligence in handling the matter would be demonstrated.
"The governments abuse will be demonstrated, they did not putting security as a priority," Pesquera affirmed.
Regarding the outcome of the preliminary hearing, Pesquera said that he did not anticipate the case would go any further.
"I do not anticipate [going to trial]" said the NPP leader, adding that if the group does face trial, they would exhaust all the opportunities in the appropriate forums.
NPP leaders have asked Gov. Sila Calderon to dismiss Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira for his negligence in handling the situation that took place in the Womens Advocate Office, where Pesquera and a group of followers raised a U.S. flag.
Pesqueras action was a response to Womens Advocate Director Maria Dolores Fernos decision to have only the Puerto Rican flag in the office lobby.
On July 28, San Juan Superior Court Judge Linares dismissed other charges against Pesquera, former House Rep. Edwin Mundo, former NPP President Leo Diaz, and NPP Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz.
The judge imposed a $100 bail on each.
On the charge of inciting a riot, each defendant faces a three-year sentence if found guilty.
Rossello: Those Guilty Will Have To Bear The Consequences
August 20, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) Former Gov. Pedro Rossello said "those guilty [of corruption], will have to bear the consequences."
According to published reports, Rossello reacted to the questions of a local newspaper regarding the recent trials corruption of people that worked in his administration.
The former official refused to get into details on the issue because the trials are still pending in court.
Eight former government officials have been accused of corruption, among them his former aide Maria de los Angeles Rivera.
Rivera is accused of receiving more than $100,000 from four contractors in exchange for scheduling meetings with agency heads to obtain government contracts.
Governor Announces $1B Investment For Special Communities
By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin
August 19, 2002
More than a year after the approval of the first administration law, known as the Special Communities Program, Gov. Sila Calderon announced an investment of $1 billion for the development of housing and infrastructure projects in the 686 special communities of the island.
"I come here at the beginning of this new ordinary session to resume the incomplete agenda for social justice that we must follow through for the well-being of our country," the governor said during her speech to the Legislature on Monday.
This new input would be in addition to the $200 million that has been invested so far to improve the quality of life of communities that are fraught with inadequate housing and infrastructure, poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy.
"It is unacceptable that in Puerto Rico there are children who don't have a bed to sleep on. It is unacceptable to have communities without roads, water, electricity, after decades of progress. It is unacceptable never to have had the opportunity to read and write," Calderon said.
The governor noted that the $1 billion will come from the filing of three bills: one to create the Special Communities Permanent Trusteeship, a second one to transfer $500 million from the Government Development Bank to the trusteeship, and a third one to authorize the use of $50 million a year from the Permanent Improvements Fund to pay for a bond emission or a credit line of $500 million for a period of 10 years.
The governor explained that the trusteeship will also be used to provide subsidies, mortgages, and pairing of funds to low-income families.
Calderon said the $1 billion is expected to create an estimated 15,000 direct and indirect jobs as a result of the housing and infrastructure projects that would be developed in the special communities.
The governor said the Department of Transportation & Public Works and the Housing Department will be in charge of developing these projects.
However, Calderon noted that her effort includes other government agencies such as the departments of Education, Labor & Human Resources, Family, and Sports & Recreation, as well as the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) and the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa).
She said she hopes to create 32,110 jobs for the special communities in five years. That is 15,000 from the housing and infrastructure development projects, 13,720 jobs from the initiative of the Labor and Human Resources Department that focuses on visiting special communities to provide training and employment under the Workforce Investment Act, and 3,390 jobs created under several Education programs including those that provide extended schedules in schools, literacy courses and special education for adults.
The contribution of the remaining agencies would be providing social services to improve the quality of life of low-income families.
Prepa and Prasa's contribution to the governor's plan would be to provide electricity to special communities in 19 municipalities of the island, as well as potable water to 166,849 families who live without running water or sewarage systems.
According to the governor, some 25,000 adults are expected to benefit from the education program to help them obtain their high school diploma, and some 10,000 illiterate adults are expected to participate in the alphabetization program.
Calderon To Sign Campaign Reform Bill By December
August 19, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) Gov. Sila M. Calderon expects to sign the political campaign public financing bill by December.
"From all the laws that I have presented; from all the efforts that we are working on to prevent the possibility that what happened in Puerto Rico, happens again, I believe the bill to reform the political campaign financing is the most important," Calderon affirmed.
According to published reports, the governor intends to communicate the legislators on their first legislative conference of the second ordinary session that she expects to sign the bill no later than December.
Likewise, Calderon affirmed not to have being informed, by the legislative leaders, about the amendments on the bill that instead of giving public money to the political parties establishes a better way to control the funds granted by the State Elections Commission.
Governor Wants Bush Vieques Commitment
August 19, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) Sila M. Calderon said President George W. Bush "cannot take back" what he said regarding the removal of the U.S. Navy from Vieques in 2003.
But Calderon would like a stronger expression on the matter and is trying to work "in a joint effort for a transition in Vieques".
"I would like him to articulate his commitment. But I really believe in his word. And, secondly, I think that politically, he cannot take it back," the governor said in published reports.
"It is very difficult for an elected official, who has made a public commitment, difficult to break that commitment. It could be very costly," Calderon added.
New Economic Advisor To Define Economic Outlook For 2025
August 19, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) The governments economic plan for the next 20 years will be designed by an advisor from the Harvard University Administration School.
Gov. Sila Calderon informed that Michel Porter, who has a doctoral degree in administration from the Harvard University will be advising the Puerto Rico government regarding the economic plan.
According to published reports, the governor explained the plan would have to define "the Puerto Rico we expect on 2025".
The professor is considered an authority in the development of strategies on competitiveness and economic development for different countries, which focuses in achieving that every nation compete with their own resources.
Porter will work with a group of advisors from the economic, educational, civic, and union sectors of the island, among others.
Doctor Accused In AIDS Institute Case Extradited, Pleads Innocent
August 18, 2002
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - The former director of an AIDS program in Puerto Rico is fighting charges that he fabricated evidence in an embezzlement trial.
Rafael Pagan Santini, former director of Puerto Rico Community Network for Clinical Research on AIDS, is due in court for a bail hearing on Thursday.
He pleaded innocent on Friday to charges of fabricating evidence, obstructing justice and committing perjury in the 1999 embezzlement trial.
Mexican authorities arrested the Puerto Rican microbiologist in Puebla, Mexico, three weeks ago. They turned him over to U.S. authorities, who kept him in a Texas detention center until his extradition to the U.S. Caribbean territory on Thursday.
Pagan Santini and lawyer Hector Luis Marquez also are charged with inducing witnesses to commit perjury during the trial, which ended in the conviction of the director of a separate program, the AIDS Institute, and 11 other administrators.
The 12 were convicted of funneling $2.2 million into false corporations and personal bank accounts between 1989 and 1994. Most pleaded guilty to having diverted funds for personal use or political campaigns.
The scandal shook politics in Puerto Rico and forced then-Gov. Pedro Rossello to take the stand to deny witnesses' allegations that he accepted part of the stolen money. He was not charged with any crime.
Yamil Kouri, then director of the now-defunct institute, is serving the harshest sentence of 14 years in federal prison in New Jersey.
During the 1999 trial, Pagan Santini and Marquez allegedly invented evidence to show the institute spent money on AIDS medication from Mexico. Testimony in the 1999 trial, however, showed the money was embezzled.
Senate Pays $253,722 For Peace Conference Planning
August 17, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) The Senate had to contribute $253,372 of the $529,722 cost of the International Peace and Development conference.
Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora justified on Friday the spending of public funds to an event, in which international figures participated, and affirmed it was "a contribution from Puerto Rico to humanity".
"As a sponsor, the Senate through a contract was committed to contributing a maximum of $300,000, but thanks to private donations and the participants, the outlay is not going to reach that amount," said Fas Alzamora in a press conference.
According to Fas Alzamora, the donations and subscriptions allowed the Senate to save $46,620.
A non profit organization, called "Peace and Human Progress Inc." presided over by attorney Marcos Ramirez Lavandero was the one in charge of looking for the private donations for the peace conference organized by the Puerto Rico Senate and the Oscar Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress.
NPP Demands Investigation Of Peace Conference
August 16, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) The New Progressive Party (NPP) Senate Alternate Leader Orlando Parga announced that NPP delegation would ask the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate the donations obtained by the Senate President for the international peace conference held on the island.
The petition, Parga said, is based on the fact that several of the entities that donated funds for the conference have been benefited by the Senate or have maintained direct relations with the legislative body.
Among the sponsors are Ondeo Co., Triple S insurance company and India Brewery.
"They are crossing the river before getting to the river, and if they are on a fishing expedition, this does not proceed," Fas Alzamora said.
The senate president said he is not afraid of any investigation.
Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Eudaldo Baez Galib indicated that the NPP senators would have to present a complaint before the committee for them to initiate any process.