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PR May Host Some Expo Games, Calderon: Santini "Doing Unacceptable Work In SJ", Mug Shots Of NPP Leaders Disseminated, EPA Opposes Bay Filling For Port Of The Americas, Santini Rebuts Governor’s Denial That Crime Is Up 25%, Rare Feat For The Molinas, U.S. House Allots $50M For Urban Train

Puerto Rico May Play Host To Some Expo Games

October 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Executives of the Expos and the commissioner's office met with Puerto Rican officials Thursday to discuss moving some of Montreal's home games to Hiram Bithorn Stadium next year.

Among those who traveled to the Caribbean island were Claude Delorme, the Expos' executive vice president of business affairs, and Lou Melendez, vice president of international baseball operations in the commissioner's office.

``They are making an exploratory trip to Puerto Rico to see if they can bring some games,'' said Ramon Cantero Frau, Puerto Rico's economic development secretary. ``Bringing the team here (permanently) was never discussed.''

Atlanta businessman Charles Vaughn and a group of Puerto Rican investors are interested in buying the Expos and moving the team to San Juan in 2004.

Calderon: PDP Has Not Supervised Santini

October 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President and Gov. Sila Calderon acknowledged Thursday that her party has not adequately supervised San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini’s actions.

She also affirmed that the reorganization process in San Juan should end before next year and she does not foresee a run-in with former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon, who allegedly supports the candidacy of Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux for mayor of San Juan.

"Supervision is necessary because it is extremely important. San Juan is the capital of Puerto Rico; it has advanced a lot during my incumbency; and it is a disgrace that work has now deteriorated for lack of action," she said.

For Calderon, Santini "is doing unacceptable work in Old San Juan." In criticism, she gave the example that the only action the mayor has taken has been limited to holding beauty contests, such as the international Miss Universe contest.

On the other hand, she maintained that she has no preference at the moment for anyone who has expressed interest in the PDP candidacy for San Juan mayor, although it is alleged that she supports Sen. Roberto Prats.

She indicated that the process to elect the San Juan mayoral candidate has to be "open" and pledged that "in the end, Hernandez Colon will support the person chosen by the party."

"That is what I trust, and I don’t visualize any run-ins of any kind," said the governor, who said she does not know about the alleged support of Hernandez Colon for Vigoreaux.

She also denied that the party has commissioned a survey to measure the recognition factor of the candidates, in which Vigoreaux was allegedly favored over Prats.

According to Calderon, the mayoral candidate should be a person with the necessary qualities for the PDP to recover the San Juan administration.

Mug Shots Of Pesquera, Other NPP Leaders Handed Out

October 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira distributed Thursday the mug shots of the New Progressive Party (NPP) leaders accused of rioting in the incident at the Women’s Advocate Office in June.

Pereira gave copies of the photos to Daisy Sanchez, president of the Journalist Association, the organization that went to court to order the Police chief to hand out the photos of NPP President Carlos Pesquera, Leo Diaz, Edwin Mundo, and Thomas Rivera Schatz.

"We the police obviously obey the orders of the courts of Puerto Rico. . .Our only concern was to safeguard the rights of citizens, a concern that we were told today [Thursday] was unnecessary," Pereira said before handing out the photos.

The official also announced that the mug shots of former House Speaker Edison Misla Aldarondo, accused of rape in the local court, will also be given to the press, although it is not part of the judicial order.

Meanwhile, Pesquera minimized the judicial decision, indicating that from the beginning he said he was not looking for preferential treatment.

"We respect the court’s decision. At all times I said I did not seek preferential treatment and asked to be given the same treatment as everyone who is in the same situation as we are," Pesquera said in a press release from Washington, where he is.

He indicated that the publication of the photos will serve to dramatize what he described as "the selective processing" against four leaders of the island’s political opposition.

Pereira had refused to distribute the photos, alleging that the action violates the constitutional rights of the accused.

New Federal Obstacle For Port Of The Americas

October 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) opposed a proposal to fill more than 110 acres of maritime space in the Guayanilla Bay, land that will be used for the planned Port of the Americas.

EPA in the Caribbean Director Carl Axel Soderberg indicated that his agency’s policy is to reject bay filling.

"We received the federal and state environmental impact statement, and our people commented that we oppose filling the Guayanilla Bay. That has been said since the beginning," Soderberg said.

The more than 110 acres that are supposed to be filled will be used to store hundreds of cargo boxcars for transshipment.

Gov. Sila Calderon’s administration intends to build a superport in the municipalities of Ponce, Guayanilla, and Peñuelas.

Calderon has said work on the renamed Port of the Americas will start in November with improvement works in the Ponce port.

Reacting to Soderberg’s statements, the governor said her administration will overcome any obstacle that arises in relation to these works.

"If some kind of mitigation needs to be done, we will comply with all the regulations. This project will go ahead," she said.

The governor added that communication with the regulatory agencies has been positive and indicated that she has no information that the federal permits to build the transshipment port will not be granted.

Soderberg thinks the filling of bodies of water should be avoided at all costs "unless it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that it is indispensable for the fulfillment of the megaport."

He indicated that the government will have to submit a mitigation or environmental compensation, such as the purchase of mangroves for preservation.

Santini: No Tampering With Police Statistics

October 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini denied Wednesday that police statistics on the crime rate had been tampered with during the past administration.

"The police statistics were not tampered with. Were the murders hidden? That is false. That was not the case," answered Santini in a press conference at the Pedrin Zorrilla Coliseum in Hato Rey.

"It’s very easy to blame others, said the San Juan mayor regarding the statements of Gov. Sila Calderon and Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira, who excused the increase in murder and Type I crimes in the first nine months of 2002.

A report on the results of the anti-crime plan revealed that as of Sept. 30, 68,251 complaints had been reported, 25.1% more than the same period last year.

From the statistics, the San Juan area is the most affected by the increase in criminal activity, with 16,309 complaints, an increase of 51.2% compared to last year.

"I am concerned, and obviously, I am scared about what’s happening," Santini said.

He offered the municipal agents help to fight crime along with state police.

The mayor identified Hato Rey Centro, Santurce (from Miramar to Villa Palmeras), and Rio Piedras as the most critical areas.

Governor Alleges Reduction In Crime

October 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon assured Wednesday that crime has declined in Puerto Rico under her administration.

Calderon made the statement during a press conference in Ponce while asserting that more crimes are being reported now because "the statistics were manipulated" in former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s administration.

"A fundamental part of the anti-crime plan was to fix the police’s security statistics to tell the people the truth. That has been fixed with the new statistics system," the governor said. "Therefore, the announced increase in crime is totally false and incorrect because true statistics are being compared with false and dishonest ones."

The governor’s response contradicts police statistics that claim an increase in the number of murders this year.

Calderon denied that her government’s anti-crime plan has failed and said positive results are already showing as solved crime cases are increasing.

"I am demanding strict compliance from the superintendent and the Anti-Drug czar," she said, referring to the anti-crime plan.

One journalist told the governor that she did not understand how the anti-crime plan would successfully work in Guayanilla when the police did not have patrol cars and had to borrow one from the municipality of Peñuelas.

"I am not aware of the details, but if there is a municipality that does not have patrol cars, I will personally take care that it has its patrol cars when I get back to San Juan," Calderon responded.

Crime Increases By 25% In First Nine Months Of 2002

October 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Crime increased by 25% during the first nine months of the year, compared to the same period last year, police said Wednesday.

From Jan. 1 to Oct. 1, police said 68,720 crimes were reported, compared to 54,800 in the same period in 2001.

San Juan was the hardest-hit by the crime increase, with a nearly 51% rise in total crimes reported, police said.

Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira said Wednesday that he expects a reduction in the crime rate by the end of the year.

For Pereira, the rise in crime is not a new problem, but one that goes back two decades.

"I expect to at least halt the constant increase in the crime rate experienced for the last 20 to 25 years, by the end of the year," the Police superintendent said in a radio interview.

According to Pereira, the reduction in the crime rate during the past administration was not real.

"That reduction was achieved only on paper; it was never reported, as the real murder numbers were not reported. I don’t know if the superintendent was aware of it, but statistics were certainly manipulated," Pereira said.

As of Sept. 30 there have been 576 murders on the island, 14 more than in the first nine months of 2001, according to police statistics.

Nearly half of the murders—280—were drug-related, and 40 took place during a robbery or carjacking, police said.

Violent crimes—including murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery _ increased by about 16%, while property crimes, including car theft and burglary, increased 27%.

Three new murders were registered in Guaynabo, Naguabo, and Rio Piedras between 10 p.m. and 10:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Rare Feat For The Molinas

By Damon Hack 

October 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved.

To the brothers, it's nothing special. They are just playing baseball, the game their father taught them in Puerto Rico.

But Bengie Molina and Jose Molina are doing something that hasn't been done since the 19th century. The Molinas are catchers on the Anaheim Angels, the second tandem of siblings to appear at catcher on the same major league team in the same season. Amos Cross and Lave Cross became the first when they played catcher for the Louisville Colonels of the American Association in 1887.

Bengie Molina, 28, is the starter. Jose, 27, is his backup.

''It's just like playing in the backyard of the house when we were little,'' Jose said yesterday while his brother warmed up. ''It's a great feeling to have your brother with you.''

The brothers played in the same game for the first time on Sept. 8, 2001. This season, Bengie batted .245 with 5 home runs and 47 runs batted in. He played 122 games. Jose played in 29 games and batted .271 with no home runs and five R.B.I.

U.S. House Allots $50M For Urban Train

October 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee assigned $59 million for the continuation of construction works of the Urban Train project and for the first time in many years an allocation for the Metropolitan Buses Authority, Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced Wednesday.

The resident commissioner said the allocation approved by the committee exceeds by $19 million the amount approved by the correspondent Senate committee—which amounted to $40 million.

The allocation is part of the $27.7 billion approved by the committee for transportation projects across the U.S. for the next fiscal year, explained Acevedo Vila.

Regarding, the allocation for the Metropolitan Buses Authority, the resident commissioner said this direct allocation of $1 million would be used to buy four new buses. This amount would have to match with a local allocation of 20% of the federal funds assigned.

"The most significant thing about this allocation is not only the amount, but the fact that it has been more than 10 years since Congress has been in a position to allocate funds directly to the AMA. In the past years, the AMA was unable to request federal funds because of the lack of compliance with the federal rules, which demand having 80% of the fleet available," Acevedo Vila said.

The resident commissioner explained that the final approval should be completed by next year.

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