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Berrios To Discuss CUPCO With Calderon, Hispanic, African-American Leaders Unswerving On Vieques, PDP Leaders Disagree With Action Against Mundo, Navy Free Speech Case Dismissed, Pesquera: High Voter Turnout Vindicates NPP, Puerto Rico In Northern Command, Mundo To Replace Cintron

Berrios To Discuss CUPCO With Governor

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios said he expects to meet with Gov. Sila Calderon soon to determine what will happen with the Puerto Rican Consensus & Unity Committee (CUPCO).

According to published reports, Berrios will present Calderon a proposal aimed at reaching the broadest consensus in the search for a mechanism to solve the status issue, but no details were given.

The PIP leader’s proposal is a response to the firm refusal of New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera to take part in the committee.

Berrios said the group can work without Pesquera but with other statehood supporters, whom he did not identify. However, the committee doors will remain open for Pesquera.

The committee, announced by the governor in July, has not been able to begin its work. Efforts to convince Pesquera to participate have failed.

Hispanic, African-American Leaders Unswerving On Vieques,

October 1, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios announced Tuesday that the Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and African-American political leadership in New York promised to participate in acts of massive civil disobedience in Vieques if the U.S. Navy does not leave the island municipality by May 2003.

Berrios also said they agreed to send a message to President George W. Bush that they are willing to trespass on military land if he does not comply with his word on the Navy’s exit date.

The PIP leader made the announcement after meeting in New York with African American Rev. Al Sharpton and with Puerto Rican and Hispanic leaders of the Big Apple.

Berrios also said a massive cultural activity in support of Vieques will be celebrated in New York in March or April with the participation of prominent artists of the African American and Hispanic communities.

According to the PIP leader, the event might be staged in Madison Square Garden or Central Park with more than 100,000 people expected to attend.

PDP Leaders Disagree With Action Against Mundo

October 1, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin and Rep. Roberto Cruz disagreed Tuesday with the decision of Popular Democratic Party (PDP) representatives to hinder the swearing-in ceremony of newly elected New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Edwin Mundo.

Cruz, representative for the Ponce district, noted that in the past when the NPP had the majority in the House of Representatives, two PDP legislators accused of crimes were allowed to occupy their posts and were later acquitted of the charges against them.

Miranda Marin said Mundo should be allowed to be sworn in and any action on his possible expulsion should be made after the case about his involvement in the incident at the Women’s Advocate Office is finished.

"This is a political decision in favor of the PDP, but it is not a legally correct decision," Cruz said in a radio interview after the Caguas mayor expressed himself in similar terms.

The PDP majority in the House of Representatives decided Monday to impede the swearing in of the recently elected representative until a special commission determines Mundo’s "legal capacity" to belong to the body.

House Speaker and PDP leader Carlos Vizcarrondo said the PDP caucus agreed to approve in Monday’s session a resolution to create the referred commission.

House NPP Minority Leader Anibal Vega Borges criticized the PDP legislators’ initiative, indicating that with this decision, Vizcarrondo gives the impression of living in a republic.

He also said if Vizcarrondo persists in his attitude, they will seek the help of the court.

Judge Fuste Dismisses Case Against U.S. Navy

October 1, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — U.S. District Court Judge Jose A. Fuste dismissed a lawsuit filed against the U.S. Navy for allegedly violating the right to free speech.

According to published reports, the federal judge concluded that if those fighting for the cessation of military maneuvers in Vieques chose to protest elsewhere than in front of Camp Garcia, they would not be affected by the tear gas or pepper spray thrown by the military police.

"If the defendants fail to persist in their anti-Navy demonstrations in Vieques, they obviously would not be affected by the use of chemical agents by the Navy there," Judge Fuste said in dismissing the claim of a group that alleged the Navy violated their Constitutional free speech right.

The defendants’ allegations were presented by several attorneys led by Nora Vargas Acosta, in representation of the U.S. civil rights organization the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The court seemed to accept the explanation given by the Navy to avoid being ousted from Vieques: "The defendants are mere spectators opposing the practices of our military forces, which are in dangerous missions in distant locations to protect our nation’s vital interests. The defendants are not litigants in position to challenge the military actions."

Pesquera Satisfied With Special Election Participation

September 30, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Ignacio Pesquera showed his satisfaction with the participation in the special elections, held on Sunday to fill the vacant post at the Legislature, after NPP Rep. Angel Cintron’s resignation.

Unofficial numbers estimated that 111,000 voters participated in the NPP special election where Mundo Rios resulted elected over former representative Lourdes Ramos and Jose Julio Diaz.

Pesquera said the high participation rate was a clear message for Gov. Sila Maria Calderon’s administration for the alleged discrimination against NPP party members.

The NPP leader said House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo has no other alternative, after the election result, than to sworn-in Mundo Rios as soon as possible.

"It is crucial for this government not to play with the results of the election. Mundo complies with all the requisites to be sworn—in as a representative. We are going to be watching what happens closely, because there is only one alternative," said Pesquera in a press conference.

Pesquera said the participation rate also demonstrates the party’s power to convoke his followers.

He said that after those results, the State Elections Commission (SEC) prepares to certify Mundo Rios between Thursday Friday.

Puerto Rico In Northern Command

September 30, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Major general Alfred Valenzuela, Chief of Army South, assigned to the Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) confirmed the recently created Northern Command (NORTHCOM), whose mission includes the defense of the island, on Tuesday will inaugurate its general headquarters in the Peterson Air Base in Colorado.

According to Valenzuela, Puerto Rico, as well as the Virgin Islands will be a "strategic point" in the command priorities, because of their location.

Valenzuela, said in published reports that the National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico will continue to give support to the Armed Forces in international missions, although NORTHCOM will undertake new security tasks on the U.S. frontiers.

Currently, SOUTHCOM, whose mission is centered in Latin America–except Mexico–has the primary responsibility over Puerto Rico.

Mundo To Replace Former NPP Representative

September 30, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Former House Vice President Edwin Mundo proclaimed himself as the winner of the special election held on Sunday to select the candidate who would replace former New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Angel Cintron.

Mundo said he felt confident that he wouldn’t face any problem in returning to the House of Representatives.

"They know the law is clear. There is nothing that impedes me to become a legislator. They have no evidence against [NPP President] Carlos Pesquera, [NPP Electoral Commissioner] Thomas Rivera, Leo Diaz, and I," said Mundo.

The former NPP legislator was referring to the rioting charges for which the four NPP leaders will have to stand trial in November.

With 80.9% of the ballots already tallied, Mundo was in front with 55.6%. Former NPP Rep. Lourdes Ramos followed with 28.3% and Jose Julio Diaz had 15.4%.

The turnout of the special election exceeded the NPP’s expectation, as the party leaders expected about 80,000 voters at the polls.

Pesquera said he was satisfied with the turnout.

The special election cost $2 million and was supervised by State Elections Commission personnel.

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