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Santini Backs Pesquera…Called Weak By Calderon, NPP Leader Discounts Threat Of A Primary Challenge…Rossello Decries Selective Prosecutions By The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Former Governor Seeks Federal Investigation Of Gil’s Actions As Does Pesquera

Santini Not Foresee NPP Primaries For Gubernatorial Post

October 31, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini, who presides over the New Progressive Party (NPP) Committee in San Juan, does not believe there would be primaries in the party for the gubernatorial post candidacy.

He also predicted that the NPP will continue to consolidate its power, as well as gubernatorial candidate Carlos Pesquera.

"I don’t think there will be a primary. The NPP will continue to strengthen, as well as Pesquera," Santini said about the internal controversy in the NPP.

Santini reiterated that he will be seeking re-election as San Juan mayor in the next general elections. Although he does not expect to be challenged in a primary election, he said he was prepared for it.

The NPP leader said he was confident that his party would continue to strengthen and affirmed that he will demonstrate his strength in the next general elections.

Santini avoided entering the controversy that emerged after former Govs. Carlos Romero Barcelo and Pedro Rossello stated that that foresaw a possibility of primaries in the NPP for gubernatorial candidate.

Romero Barcelo has said it is too early to proclaim a gubernatorial candidate.

Rossello said he would be participating in the next electoral campaign supporting the NPP candidates elected in primaries.

Pesquera assumed the NPP presidency last year and according to the party rules he then becomes the gubernatorial candidate.

Pesquera reaffirmed that he is the party gubernatorial candidate and that he is ready to face anyone in a primary.

Calderon: Everybody Challenges Weak Leaders

October 29, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

BARCELONETA (AP) — Gov. and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Sila Calderon joined the voices within the New Progressive Party (NPP) questioning the leadership of its current president Carlos Pesquera.

"When leaders are weak, everybody challenges them," Calderon said when asked about Pesquera’s political situation, whose leadership has been questioned by former Govs. Carlos Romero Barcelo and Pedro Rossello.

Romero Barcelo said it is not time to discuss candidacies within the NPP and that it should not be until next year that the party should choose the candidates to elective posts, including the gubernatorial candidate and the one for resident commissioner.

While Rossello said any NPP candidate could beat Calderon, he would come to Puerto Rico to participate in the political campaign along with the NPP candidates, which some have interpreted as a challenge to Pesquera’s leadership.

On Tuesday, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio said the constant questioning of Pesquera’s leadership by NPP members is a strategy to oust him as the gubernatorial candidate.

"They are performing an autopsy on Pesquera’s political cadaver. It has nothing to do with supporting Pesquera because he is accused [of rioting charges]; this is a strategy to rule him out," the PIP legislator said.

PDP attorney Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral said the NPP is in crisis and its president does not have the capacity to lead the party.

"What has been much anticipated, a movement to replace him [Pesquera], is beginning to surface," Hernandez Mayoral said.

NPP Sen. Kenneth McClintock, meanwhile, thinks that Pesquera will prevail and finally will be the party’s gubernatorial candidate.

Pesquera Does Not Fear NPP Gubernatorial Primaries

October 29, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said Tuesday that he does not fear his party’s primaries, although he denied that they will occur.

According to Pesquera, what is fundamental at this moment is the NPP’s reorganization and collecting funds.

"I am not afraid of primaries, but I don’t expect there to be any," Pesquera said while acknowledging the vital importance of voters’ support and working in the NPP to achieve this support.

He said his priority right now is to continue working on NPP financial matters, which sources in the party allege is not very good.

On Tuesday, former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo reiterated that it is necessary for NPP leaders to put the party and the statehood cause about personal aspirations.

Rossello Insists In Selective Prosecution Practices By The U.S. District Attorney’s Office

By Proviana Colon Diaz

October 28, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Former Gov. Pedro Rossello insisted in his theory of a selective prosecution by the U.S. District Attorney’s Office in Puerto Rico against members of the New Progressive Party (NPP) during a Monday afternoon radio interview.

"I believe that although there could be, and there are by own admission, people that improperly used funds, there is also a selective prosecution," Rossello said.

He also invited the NPP collectivity to file a request for an investigation like he did last week.

Rossello made his statements on Monday afternoon during a live radio interview with WUNO, Noti-Uno.

The radio interview comes one week after Rossello filed an official complaint before U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft against Federal Assistant District Attorney Guillermo Gill for selective prosecution.

It also comes at the heels of Gil’s request to dismiss all charges against a dozen defendants in a federal kickback and fraud scheme at the Education Department.

Gil, the former U.S. District Attorney who once said "corruption has a name and is called the New Progressive Party" asked that charges in the largest federal fund fraud scheme be dismissed after his star witness, convicted Education Secretary Victor Fajardo committed perjury on the witness stand.

Rossello said such action by Gil ads to his decision to file the complaint for persecution against members of the NPP.

The former governor did approve the investigation and prosecution of Fajardo, as if he had known the scheme he would have done the same.

"That is unacceptable, regardless of how you measure it….obviously he would had been fired from his post and second, we would have taken measures to have had him legally processed," Rossello said.

The former governor also endorsed a petition by the Puerto Rican Bar Association to make public all the trial transcripts.

This is the second time Rossello has abandoned his policy to keep away from the public light and has agreed to give interviews. The first was last August when his personal assistant at La Fortaleza, Maria de los Angeles Rivera was facing trial for fraud and sale of influence scheme. Rivera was convicted of both charges.

Then Rossello accused Gil, Gov. Sila Calderon and Empressas Ferre-Rangel of taking part in a "triumvirate of terror".

He reaffirmed his statement.

"Gil has tried that for the actions of some blame all members of the NPP," Rossello said, adding that the prosecution has filtered information to the media that is then used by the majority to diminish reputations.

Rossello thus insisted in the investigation of the prosecution tactics and requested the results be made public.

"It is important that once an investigation is made and the results of the investigation are made public," Rossello said.

The investigation must include interviews with federal witness, FBI agent and even federal judges because this is not the first times that in his opinion Gil’s practices are questionable.

Acknowledging that the prosecution against members of the NPP is unknown in U.S. Congress, Rossello hoped the Federal Department of Justice investigation will shed light on the subject on a national level.

Rossello spoke openly and candid via telephone interview from his home in Virginia for over an hour on Monday afternoon.

Vowing to come to the island and campaign in favor of the NPP gubernatorial candidate for 2004, Rossello said he does not see himself returning to politics.

"I believe that what the people want is new faces and the return to an ideology that is promoted by the youth," Rossello said.

Rossello said it is time for new faces in the NPP and declined to enter any controversy with his former Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo who said now was not the time for candidacies.

Political analyst Luis Davila Colon also asked Rossello for his opinion on Calderon’s actions regarding Vieques and her proclamation of victory for the ousting of the U.S. Navy.

"What I would have to ask is what victory? What are we talking about? Because if we have some memory we must remember that by Jan. 31, 2000 an announcement stated in a Presidential agreement certain guarantees were stated for the people of Vieques," Rossello said.

The former governor added that at present not even a date for the ousting of the Navy is written in any law.

Although President Clinton — Gov. Rossello agreement over Vieques was most criticized, the former governor said he would do it again.

"Absolutely, I am convinced and I believe time will give us reason. I’m convinced we achieved the maximum benefits for the people of Vieques, which was my responsibility and the responsibility of President Clinton," Rossello said.

Pesquera Favors Investigation Against Gil

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera agreed with former Gov. Pedro Rossello, who requested the U.S. Justice Department to investigate U.S. District Court prosecutor Guillermo Gil for allegedly committing ethical violations in the corruption case of NPP leaders.

"I welcome any investigation that helps reveal the truth and intends to regain the people's trust in the judicial system," Pesquera said.

According to published reports, the pro-statehood leader, whom Rossello has criticized for not being assertive enough in defending the party's ideal, reiterated the procedures used by the federal prosecution while investigating corruption cases of the past administration are highly questionable.

Rossello asked U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate Gil's duties and to interview FBI agents, witnesses, lawyers, and federal judges who may have been involved in the corruption cases.

Rossello Requests Federal Investigation On Gil’s Actions

October 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Former Gov. Pedro Rossello asked U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate the methods used by U.S. District Attorney Guillermo Gil in his investigations into the alleged corruption during his administration.

According to published reports, Rossello said in a lengthy letter to Ashcroft that Gil was guilty of ethics violations, including frightening and intimidating witnesses, leaking confidential information to the press, violating civil rights, and damaging the reputations of citizens.

The former governor placed himself at the disposition of the Justice Department to sustain his accusation.

Rossello said he felt obligated to take this course of action because Gil’s tactics interfered with Puerto Rican democracy and the credibility of the federal judicial system.

Although Rossello also accused Gil of seeking prominence, the former governor acknowledged the U.S. District Attorney’s work of trying to eradicate corruption on the island. He said the problem lay in the "characterization" that these acts were exclusively from the New Progressive Party.

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