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Governor Promises Cooperation With Navy, Will Campaign For Pataki, Fortaleza Makes England’s Letter Public, Calderon: Relying On Bush’s Word, Occupation Not Same As "Tough Hand", Letter No Guarantee, Navy Says, Pesquera Asks UPR To Respect Ideological Diversity

Calderon To Comply With Navy’s Request For Cooperation

By Proviana Colon Diaz

October 24, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW News. All rights reserved. 

TOA ALTA – Gov. Sila Calderon said her administration will comply, "as it has until now," with the U.S. Navy’s latest request for cooperation from the local Police Department in ensuring that no trespassers break into the Vieques target range.

"Throughout this process, they have made such a request, both verbally and written. . .We have done all that is humanly possible and will continue to do so, but we can’t guarantee a fence of 7,000 feet," Calderon said.

The latest request for security came in the letter issued by Navy Secretary Gordon England on Oct. 18, which La Fortaleza released Wednesday night as proof of the written confirmation of an end to military exercises by May 2003.

England told Calderon that her efforts and those of the Puerto Rico Police to "maintain" security in the target range are "essential" during the transition process and criticized the performance during the last round of military exercises.

"Unfortunately, during the last training exercises, the Puerto Rico Police could and should have done more to reduce the threat of injury to our security personnel," England said.

England’s letter was interpreted by Calderon as confirmation of a cessation of military practices, this after Adm. Robert Natter, head of the U.S. Fleet Forces Command and chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, announced in Pensacola, Fla. during a Rotary Club lunch that the Navy is moving its military exercises from Vieques to ranges at sea and bases in Florida by spring 2003.

Since then, Calderon has said her administration has received both "oral and written" confirmation of the Navy’s intention to cease fire by May 2003 in Vieques.

The governor, however, has kept her belief in President George W. Bush and said the people of Puerto Rico should do the same.

"Not all communications have to be written. The president gave me his word, in which I believed and the majority of the people did, and that word was corroborated," Calderon said.

Governor Endorsing Pataki In Return For Vieques Support

October 24, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - A weekend trip to New York, which at first was intended to be official, turned into a political one Wednesday when Gov. George Pataki asked Gov. Sila Calderon to join him in his campaign efforts for re-election.

Calderon argued that her trip had been scheduled as an official one because she was invited as governor to be the main speaker before the Puerto Rican Legal and Education Defense Foundation.

But after receiving the call from Pataki, she decided to pay for the trip with her own money.

"I have decided that although the trip is fundamentally one with an official purpose, I will pay for the trip with my private funds," Calderon said.

She will participate Friday at 2 p.m. in a Pataki campaign activity along with Puerto Rican labor leader Dennis Rivera.

Calderon has affirmed that she is endorsing Pataki in appreciation for his efforts made in the effort to oust the U.S. Navy from Vieques.

The governor will leave for New York on Friday and be back in her office by Monday, said La Fortaleza Press Secretary Luis Torres Negron.

Fortaleza Makes Armed Forces Letter To Governor Public

October 23, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

La Fortaleza made public Wednesday the letter that Gov. Sila Calderon received from the U.S. Armed Forces with confirmation of the end of military practices in Vieques.

The letter, dated Oct. 18 and signed by Navy Secretary Gordon England, responds to a letter from the governor dated Sept. 17 about security problems in the military base in Vieques during the most recent round of military practices on the island municipality.

In the second paragraph of his letter, England said: "The Navy Department is in the process of implementing alternate training as part of the plan to cease military exercises on Vieques by May 2003."

Immediately following, he said "until that occurs, however, the training obtained by our naval forces on Vieques is necessary for our military readiness."

The rest of the one-page letter deals with the importance of Puerto Rican authorities maintaining security in the military base on Vieques and the safety of its soldiers and said the Puerto Rico Police could have done more to avoid incidents during this practice round.

Public Affairs Secretary Jorge Colberg said the letter was not made public at the request of the Armed Forces but said after the Navy decided to hand it over to the media Wednesday, the government did the same.

"With the presentation of these letters and the knowledge of the irreversible process of the transition, the people of Puerto Rico can corroborate once again that the governor has acted with the prudence and responsibility required by this moment," Colberg said in a press release. "The Puerto Rico government is ready to begin the transition process, and that process cannot be stopped by anybody."

The governor announced Friday in a press conference that she had received this letter, although at that moment, she refused to reveal whom the letter came from and details about the letter.

Governor Admits Bush’s Word Only Guarantee Of Navy Exit

October 23, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The only guarantee that the Puerto Rico government has that the U.S. Navy will leave Vieques on or before May 1, 2003, "is the word" of President George W. Bush, Gov. Sila Calderon acknowledged Wednesday.

"The president’s word and the process officially started with me, as governor of Puerto Rico, is the confidence the people need that this work is on course," Calderon said in a press conference.

Without entering into details, the governor reiterated that she received verbal and written communications Friday from high-ranking Navy officials requesting a series of actions. They also asked that she keep the contents of the letter that Navy Secretary Gordon England allegedly sent her secret.

"The guarantee for Puerto Rico is in the president’s word and in the process that has started, about which I received Friday oral and written communication that I shared with the people of Puerto Rico as much as I could," she said.

In spite of insistent questions from journalists, the governor refused to make the letter’s contents public.

"I will not go into details about the letter. I will not do anything that will fail the process that I am responsible for, and I will comply with the request that was made to me, for the moment not to make it public, and that is all," she said.

Calderon said the letter "is not fundamental" in the process that started and insisted that the letter’s importance is being taken completely out of context.

Bush has verbally promised that the Navy will cease military practices in May 2003, but has not responded to the governor’s letter asking him for a written commitment.

Calderon Denies Monday's Occupation Same As Rossello’s

October 23, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon denied Wednesday that the occupation of the public housing projects under her administration is the same as the ones for which she criticized her predecessor, former Gov. Pedro Rossello, under the program named "Tough Hand Against Crime."

She said she ordered Cabinet members to immediately start social services in the three public housing projects occupied by the police, Monte Park, Monte Hatillo, and Los Flamboyanes, all in Rio Piedras.

"What was called ‘Tough Hand’ was the occupation of all public housing projects and all places where there were low-income communities, something that to me was criminalizing the poor," she said.

She immediately established what she understands to be the difference between that program and what was done by the police, under the mandate of Superintendent Miguel Pereira.

"These are specific operations in places where there is a need for intervention and that have to have intervention for the security of the communities and the neighboring communities as well," the governor said in a press conference at La Peninsula de Cantera.

However, she recognized that there was no interagency coordination before the incursions.

That is why she instructed agency chiefs to prepare and implement as soon as possible a plan coordinated to provide social services to the residents of the occupied public housing projects and La Perla.

Police and FBI agents, as well as federal bailiffs, intervened Tuesday in the three public housing projects, posting police units to provide preventive vigilance without providing residents other services. La Perla was invaded more than a month ago.

Family Secretary Yolanda Zayas said Tuesday that personnel from her agency will arrive in the public housing projects in the next few weeks to provide human and social assistance to the residents.

Letter No Guarantee, Navy Says

By Matthew Hay Brown | San Juan Bureau

October 23, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The Navy on Tuesday acknowledged sending a letter to Gov. Sila M. Calderón about Vieques, but a spokesman said it did not include the "determination to conclude the Navy practice on the island" that she announced last week.

"It is not a written guarantee that we are leaving by May of 2003," Navy spokesman Ensign David Luckett said. "By no means is this the certification required by Congress prior to ceasing exercises."

After receiving the communication Friday, Calderón called a news conference in which she declared "victory" and "jubilation" in the long campaign to end the controversial training exercises on the offshore island.

But Luckett said the letter from Navy Secretary Gordon England said only that the Navy is in the process of identifying alternative training sites.

"It was to reassure the governor that we are in the process and making very good progress," Luckett said. "As we have said all along, we still have every intention of being out by May."

A spokesman for Calderón would not comment Tuesday. Neither Calderón nor the Navy would release the letter.

Pesquera Asks UPR For Tolerance To Diversity Of Ideas

October 23, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera asked the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) leadership Wednesday to show tolerance of the diversity of ideas in that institution and to respect the right of statehood students to express their views in the government’s university campuses.

An emphatic Pesquera said in a radio program sponsored by the NPP that he will not allow the UPR to impede young NPP members who seek to demonstrate on the university’s campuses.

"The Puerto Rico of today will not allow this outrageous situation to happen in the university," said Pesquera while commenting on the incidents that occurred Tuesday on the UPR Rio Piedras Campus where a large group of pro-independence students prevented a small group of statehood students from conducting an activity on the premises of the campus’ Business Administration Faculty.

"University authorities are trying to limit our expression. The U.S. flag is a symbol of our ideology, and any action to impede this demonstration is against freedom of expression," Pesquera warned the UPR leadership.

He asked the UPR leadership to do everything they can to give the statehood students the right to assembly so they can meet to express their ideological preferences.

"The university has to create an environment where plurality of ideas can be expressed," said Pesquera, who indicated that the university’s leadership cannot suppress any ideological sector from peacefully and freely demonstrating their political preferences and promoting their ideology.

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