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Melinda Romero: Governor Lacks Interest In Crime…De Castro Font Makes Amends…Calderon Faults Rossello…NPP: To Sue If Mundo Isn’t Sworn In, Calls $299M Prasa Allocation A ‘Gift’ …PDP Seeks SJ Mayoral Candidate…Vizcarrondo: De Castro Font Switched For Reelection…Garcia San Inocencio Criticizes Police Operations

Melinda Romero: Governor Shows Lack Of Interest In Crime

October 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Melinda Romero demanded Thursday that instead of calling Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira to a questioning session in the Legislature, Gov. Sila Calderon should be called to depose so she can explain her "incapacity" to solve the crime problem.

In a press conference at the Capitol, Romero attributed an alleged 25% increase in violent crimes to the governor’s lack of interest, which she said was demonstrated when she entrusted La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda with announcing the awaited anti-crime plan, instead of doing it herself.

The legislator also questioned why the government emphasized million-dollar savings in the Police Department "when everyone know there are critical needs."

According to Romero, based on the same model of lifting statistics dated back to the administration of Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon, police figures demonstrate increases in crime during the governments of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and a substantial decrease during the period of the NPP government.

According to these statistics, 864 homicides occurred in 1992, and the rate decreased to 724 in 1997, and 652 in 1998.

"These figures confirm the negative tradition exhibited by the PDP administrations to fight the crime problem in Puerto Rico," she said.

De Castro Font Makes Amends With NPP

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

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

Rep. Jorge de Castro Font, who last week joined the New Progressive Party (NPP), emerged from a meeting with NPP Fajardo Mayor Anibal Melendez on Wednesday ready to make amends for the negative remarks he made against NPP President Carlos Pesquera last weekend.

"I will do everything I can to have [Carlos] Pesquera become governor of Puerto Rico, and I will do everything I can to prevent this nightmare of Gov. Sila Calderon’s administration from ever happening again," said the former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislator.

The meeting was held at the Capitol during midday Wednesday. NPP Secretary General William Rosales was also present.

De Castro Font, who has already been shunned by the PDP for his constant criticism of Calderon’s administration, criticized Pesquera for the way he handled the incident at the Women’s Advocate Office on June 20.

Immediately, Melendez retaliated by accusing De Castro Font of wanting to join the party because he secretly covets the San Juan mayoral seat. De Castro Font, however, denied the allegations on Wednesday. He said at the moment, he has no intention of running for any elective post in 2004 and that his main interest was to prove his loyalty to his constituents and to the NPP.

"I don’t intend to run for San Juan mayor. I support the reelection of San Juan Mayor [Jorge Santini] the same way he supports Pesquera’s candidacy for [the 2004 gubernatorial race]," De Castro Font said.

Meanwhile, at the NPP headquarters, Rosales said the meeting between Melendez and De Castro Font was productive. He said they worked out their differences and have agreed to work for the good of the party.

"I listened to both sides. We agreed to start out a new agenda to take Pesquera to the gubernatorial seat, which is more important than these little differences," Rosales concluded.

Calderon Censors Rossello For Halting Ponce En Marcha

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

PONCE (AP) — With strong attacks against former Gov. Pedro Rossello, Gov. Sila Calderon laid the first stone of a road project while announcing her government had resumed the work of the Ponce en Marcha project.

"I come here to comply with my promise of resuming the work of the Ponce en Marcha project. The plan that the past administration halted, with no justification," Calderon said in front a small group of people in Baramaya Avenue in Ponce.

Calderon, dressed in blue, placed the first stone of the third phase of the avenue surrounding Ponce.

She was joined by Ponce Mayor Rafael "Churumba" Cordero, who filed and won a lawsuit for the Ponce en Marcha project.

Attorney Jose Enrique Ayoroa Santaliz, leader of the group Ponceños de Verdad, and former Gov. Hernandez Colon, who created the plan, were not present at the ceremony.

Calderon alleged Wednesday that the 50 projects that had been halted, with an investment of $457 million, will be continued, creating 6,720 jobs.

"The four projects that we initiate today [Wednesday] amounts to $25.7 million," the governor said.

After years of judicial fights, the Supreme Court decided in favor of Cordero and determined that all the projects had to be completed.

NPP Ready To Go To Court If Mundo Isn’t Sworn In

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

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

It’s as simple as that. New Progressive Party (NPP) Secretary General William Rosales told House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo that if former House Vice President Edwin Mundo isn’t sworn in as NPP representative on Friday, the NPP will take legal action against Popular Democratic Party (PDP) representatives.

"I am convinced that the committee suggested by the House majority is unnecessary, and it would only succeed in delaying the representation of constituents Mundo should rightfully represent," Rosales said in a letter sent to Vizcarrondo on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the PDP House majority approved the creation of a special committee to evaluate Mundo’s capacity to replace former NPP Rep. Angel Cintron.

The decision was based on the fact that Mundo has been accused of rioting in the violent incidents that took place at the Women’s Advocate Office in Old San Juan on June 20. Mundo, as well as NPP President Carlos Pesquera, NPP Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz, and former NPP Rep. Leo Diaz, will face trial Nov. 12 on the same charges.

"The constitution establishes the presumption of innocence. If the committee members know about law the way I know they all do, they have to recommend the swear-in of Edwin, because that’s what the Constitution states," said NPP House Minority Leader Anibal Vega Borges, who was also present at the press conference held at the NPP headquarters on Wednesday.

Pesquera is expected to accompany Mundo to the House of Representatives on Friday. If the House refuses to swear him in, then they will take legal action.

"They are playing with democracy. The NPP won’t put up with this nonsense, and it’s willing do whatever it takes, not only to defend Mundo, but to defend democracy," Rosales stated.

Mundo said the NPP may chose to file a mandamus or an injunction at the local court to demand that he be immediately sworn in. He also said they would file a civil lawsuit at the U.S. District Court against the House of Representatives for damages.

Pesquera is expected to return to the island from Washington D.C. on Thursday. Rosales said Rivera Schatz told him that by late Wednesday the State Elections Commission (SEC) should have finished the re-count required by law to certify an elected candidate. Once they have the SEC’s certification, Pesquera and Mundo will proceed as planned.

NPP Calls $299M Prasa Allocation A ‘Gift’

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — The House of Representatives approved in a partisan vote a resolution authorizing the Government Development Bank (GDB) to provide an interim financing of $299 million the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) to improve its infrastructure.

The money will be granted through a credit line for the corporation’s Capital Improvement Projects, to be financed by the federal funds obtained from the Rural Development Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a press release.

While defending the resolution, which was severely criticized by the New Progressive Party (NPP) delegation, House Treasury Committee Chairman Francisco Zayas Seijo described the transaction as a gift, since the money will be repaid at an interest rate of only 2% for a period of 20 years.

For his part, House Minority Leader Rep. Antonio Silva condemned that 96% of the funds will not go through an open bidding process, due to the amendments incorporated in the laws that rule Prasa processes.

PDP In Search Of New Option For San Juan Mayor

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) is evaluating several situations to decide who will be the best candidate for the next general election in San Juan, after receiving the results of a poll that places PDP Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux, as the people’s favorite.

Vigoreaux, for his part, said he had not seen the poll, but stated he has knowledge of polls with similar results.

"Of course the recognition factor is important, I can tell you that more than half of the votes that I have obtained come from that factor," Vigoreaux said.

He said that in the PDP primary election in 1995 he was the candidate who obtained the majority of the votes and that in 1999 came second, after Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora.

Of PDP Sens. Roberto Prats and Jose Ortiz Daliot the poll reveals that there is less recognition of them, as candidates and of former legislator Eduardo Bhatia, participants only expressed sympathy for his candidacy.

Vizcarrondo: De Castro Font Joined NPP For Reelection

September 27, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

JUANA DIAZ (AP) — According to House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo, Rep. Jorge de Castro Font joined the New Progressive Party (NPP) in search of reelection, since he did not have a political future as an independent candidate.

De Castro Font, reelected to the House as a Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate, officially joined the NPP on Friday.

"I think that what de Castro Font did today [Friday] was to be expected because after being expelled from the PDP, he had no alternative," said Vizcarrondo while participating in a commonwealth youth convention in Juana Diaz. "He didn’t have an alternative because it was too hard for him as an independent candidate."

After flirting for months with the statehooders, de Castro Font joined the NPP on Friday, arguing that he is a firm believer in permanent union with the United States.

"His membership does not change anything in the House because he was already an NPP member as he voted with that minority. He will not change the balance in the House," Vizcarrondo said.

Garcia San Inocencio Joins Critics Of Police Operations

September 27, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio joined Friday the chorus of voices criticizing police operations, which he branded as ineffective and filed a bill that seeks to reform the Organic Police Law.

The bill orders the committees of Government and Public Integrity to evaluate police operations, approach, and practices, as well as sounding out the possible fundamental reorganization of the police.

"With each day that passes, people are more scared and more severe crimes and violent situations never before seen on the island occur without a mark of effectiveness from the government. . .Among the most important things we have to do is the complete revision of the Police Department," the PIP minority leader said.

However, he explained that this revision should not be a return to the "mano dura" public policy of the past administration, which he also censured, arguing that this strategy only caused the drug points to move and multiply throughout the island.

This week, members of the House and Senate New Progressive Party delegations requested the dismissal of Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira after pointing out that his anti-crime plan has not worked.

In another matter, Garcia San Inocencio proposed to investigate the criminal recidivism and how inmate rehabilitation programs have worked.

He also asked for public discussions on drug treatment, the encouraging of job opportunities for those who get out of jail, and the protection of the families of inmates.

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