Cordero: PDP Has Failed To Oust The Navy, De Castro Font Criticizes Pesquera For Flag Incident, Course On Commonwealth Constitution Televised, Navy Remains Committed To Leaving Vieques, Governor OKs $620K For Anti-Navy Lawsuits, Jury Orders R.J. Reynolds To Pay Smoker's Son $500K
Cordero: PDP Has Failed To Oust The Navy From Vieques
September 29, 2002
PONCE (AP) Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Ponce Mayor Rafael Cordero said on Sunday that his party has failed to keep its promise to oust the U.S. Navy from Vieques in 60 days.
Cordero acknowledged the criticism that his party has received since the Calderon administration hasnt been able to halt the military practices on Vieques.
"That is not a perception. That is a fact; a reality," said Cordero.
The Ponce mayor admitted that during its political campaign, the PDP had promised it would halt the bombing on Vieques in 60 days.
On another note, Cordero said he was pleased with the governors decision to allocate money to aid in the legal battle against the Navy in Vieques.
De Castro Font Criticizes Pesquera For Flag Incident
September 28, 2002
PONCE (AP) A few hours after joining the New Progressive Party (NPP), Rep. Jorge de Castro Font criticized NPP President Carlos Pesquera for his participation in the incident at the Womens Advocate Office.
"The flag incident was a mistake, and if I would have been there, I would have done everything possible for that not to happen," de Castro Font said. "I would never have done that."
Pesquera is accused of the crime of riot for the disturbance at that office in Old San Juan, where he went to place a U.S. flag in the lobby.
De Castro Font said Pesquera did not go to the activity with the intention of participating in a criminal act but said the situation went out of his control.
"We are human, and we all commit mistakes," he said in a radio interview.
However, de Castro Font said after the incident, Pesquera has improved his speech and actions.
He added that the NPP president has his support to aspire as gubernatorial candidate for the second time in the 2004 general elections facing Gov. Sila Calderon.
In another matter, the once Popular Democratic Party legislator said he has no intention to run for the Legislature in 2004 and said he also does not want to run for San Juan mayor nor governor.
However, he left the door open for a possible candidature for resident commissioner, a position that is also expected to be wanted by Sen. Kenneth McClintock and former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez.
Course On Commonwealths Constitution Televised
September 27, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) Teachers and students of the public system held their first televised class about the Commonwealths Constitution, under the supervision of Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado and Education Secretary Cesar Reys.
The course was transmitted by Channel 6 and 940 AM radio station from the Pedro Albizu Campos public school in Toa Baja with the participation of 16 high school students guided by teacher Rosalinda Soto, the Education Department announced.
"The televised class will serve as a model for other teachers from all public schools to be able to offer courses about the Commonwealths Constitution", Mercado explained.
Mercado, who presides over the Special Committee for the 50th Anniversary of the Commonwealths Constitution, explained "the courses are part of the efforts of government agencies and private companies to celebrate these festivities."
The class began with a four-student panel, which discussed the dispositions of the Constitutions Bill of Rights, followed by a reaction from the rest of the students.
Navy Denies No Commitment To Vieques Military Removal
September 27, 2002
SAN JUAN (AP) Cpt. Kevin Wensing, spokesman of U.S. Navy Secretary Gordon England, denied that the military corps commitment to the cessation of maneuvers in Vieques by May 2003 is uncertain.
Wensing reacted to the high ranking Navy officials refusal to encourage President George W. Bush to sign an executive order to guarantee the cessation of military practices in Vieques.
"Secretary England has indicated that the plan is to get out of Vieques by May 2003. This commitment is still in place," Wensing said in published reports.
The White House U.S. Navy Affairs Office Director Christopher Roulin and the Adjutant Secretary for Facilities and Environment H.T. Johnson had expressed their concern over the request to put the Navys commitment in writing.
Governor Assigns $620,000 For Lawsuits Against Navy
September 27, 2002
Gov. Sila Calderon signed an executive order assigning $620,000 to the Justice Department to finance the legal expenses in the litigation against the U.S. Navy exercises in Vieques and to attend to lawsuits on civil rights.
Calderon also signed a second executive order assigning another $400,000 to the Justice Department to match federal funds.
According to a press release from La Fortaleza, Executive Order 2002-57, which assigns the $620,000, responds to the public policy of the permanent cessation of military practices in Vieques and the cleaning and return of the land.
Executive Order 2002-56 assigns $400,000 to the Justice Department to cover unforeseen expenses in the process of matching federal funds assigned by the federal government for investigation, criminal prosecution, and programs aimed at families and children.
"If the Justice Department does not instigate the fund matching, the federal funds could be put at risk and services in the areas of investigation and criminal prosecution could be harmed," the press release said.
The governor signed both executive orders Sept. 19, but La Fortaleza revealed them Friday.
Jury In Puerto Rico Orders R.J. Reynolds To Pay Smoker's Son $500K
September 27, 2002
NEW YORK (Reuters) - R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Holdings Inc., parent of the No. 2 U.S. tobacco firm, said on Thursday it has been ordered by a jury in Puerto Rico to pay $500,000 to the 23-year-old son of a man who had smoked since he was 12 years old, an award which it is opposing.
``The evidence presented in this case does not support the verdict against us,'' Seth Moskowitz, an R.J. Reynolds spokesman, said. He said the ruling stemmed from a lawsuit filed two years ago by two sons of a late Puerto Rican man who smoked.
The jury had initially ordered Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based R.J. Reynolds to pay $500,000 to each of the sons, but a judge overturned the portion accorded to the other son, aged 30.
``The judge determined that there were statutes of limitations,'' Moskowitz told Reuters. He said the company has asked the judge to overturn the remaining order, failing which it would lodge an appeal.
The jury established that Luis Rogelio Figueroa Serrano died in 1999 from heart failure provoked by his smoking habit.
Moskowitz claimed that an autopsy had not been conducted on the father. He added that the father may have had a history of ``high blood pressure which led to a number of other conditions,'' as the cause of his death was not ascertained at the court.
According to attorney Amarilis Arocho it is the first time that a jury has awarded compensation in Puerto Rico in a lawsuit against a tobacco company.