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MLB Close To OKing Expos in P.R….Pesquera Condemns Calderon’s Trip…Vieques: Bill Would Bar Cleanup, Bioweapons Data To Be Made Public… Governor Seeks Latin American Heads Of State Ties… House Approves $1B Special Communities Trust Fund

MLB Close To OKing Expos in P.R.

November 14, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) -- Baseball owners are close to approving a plan to have the Montreal Expos play 20 home games in Puerto Rico next year.

``I'm optimistic the deal will work,'' commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday after addressing the annual meeting of major league general managers. ``I'm hopeful. I'm reluctant to say anything until the deal is done.''

The most likely plan for the Expos would have them playing two 10-game homestands at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, where Texas and Toronto opened the 2001 season.

The plan could come to a vote next Wednesday, when owners meet at Irving, Texas.

John McHale Jr., executive vice president for administration in the commissioner's office, has taken the lead in the Expos' negotiations and could take a supervisory role over the team next season. He is expected to travel to Puerto Rico soon with other baseball officials to negotiate with the Puerto Ricans who would promote the games.

``We're working on it. We hope it's going to happen,'' McHale said in New York. ``We just have to keep talking about the format of the games that might work for them and or us and consult with the players' association and make sure it's acceptable.''

Puerto Rican promoters had discussed having Montreal play three six-game homestands in San Juan, but the union preferred two trips.

Selig would like to establish a 2003 budget for the Expos within the next week or so. The commissioner's office determines the team's budget after the other 29 clubs bought the Expos from Jeffrey Loria in February.

Pesquera Condemns Calderon’s Trip To Summit

November 14, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera censored Gov. Sila Calderon’s trip to the XII Latin American Summit for Heads of States, describing it as an attempt to play the role of a head of state from a republic.

"I summon Calderon to work with the issues that really affect citizens and to stop playing the role of Head of State," the NPP president said in a press release.

Pesquera’s statements are a reaction to the announcement made by La Fortaleza that Calderon will be traveling to the Dominican Republic to represent Puerto Rico.

Calderon will be leaving Friday to attend the summit’s opening ceremony.

The summit will also be attended by heads of states from 21 countries that have already confirmed their participation, among them Venezuela President Hugo Chavez Frias, the new Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Fidel Castro from Cuba, and Spain Prime Minister Jose M. Aznar.

The NPP president complained that since Calderon’s inauguration, she has been trying to position the island as a foreign country, one independent from the United States.

"We now see how Calderon continues her grand tour with a new itinerary in her separatist agenda," Pesquera said.

Bill Aimed At Preventing Military Land Cleanup In Vieques

November 14, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The outgoing chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Resources Committee, Jim Hansen (R-UT), filed a bill that will halt any intention to clean and decontaminate the areas currently occupied by the U.S. Navy in Vieques, according to published reports.

Hansen’s bill proposes to declare the military properties private, while the flora will be classified as exempted from the Endangered Species Law.

If approved, the legislation, would exempt military land from any environmental legislation, with the exception of bodies of water.

Hansen has fiercely defended the Navy’s presence in Vieques, despite the fact that President George W. Bush has said the military corps should abandon the range by May 2003.

Defense To Make Public All Data On Chemical Arms Tests

November 14, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – To comply with the requirements of a recently approved law granting funds to the Armed Forces, the Defense Department will have to make public all information regarding tests performed with chemical weapons between 1962 to 1973, U.S. House Armed Forces Committee Chairman Bob Stump (R-AZ) announced.

Stump announced that the final budget reached $393 billion, and as part of that legislation, it was required that all information regarding the tests be made public.

The initiative is aimed at granting all veterans who might have been exposed to these agents knowledge of what happened.

According to what has been reported, 46 tests were performed during 11 years, one in Vieques.

Governor Seeks LA Summit Membership

November 13, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — For the first time in its history, a Puerto Rican governor will officially seek to make the island a member of the Head of State and Presidents Latin American Summit, which will be held this year in the Dominican Republic.

Gov. Sila Calderon will attend the event scheduled for Friday and Saturday "to honor the invitation of Dominican President Hipolito Mejia," said her press officer, Luis Torres Negron.

However, The Associated Press was told that the governor will formalize her intention to become a permanent member of the entity and will take time to meet with several Latin American presidents.

The governor confirmed the trip and the meetings in a recent television interview, although she affirmed that she would not meet with Cuban President Fidel Castro.

"Definitely no. Fidel Castro is a person who has violated the most basic human rights and democracy," Calderon said.

La Fortaleza Public Affairs Secretary Jorge Colberg Toro refused to reveal details of Calderon’s schedule in the Dominican Republic and only said the government will be working on "efforts regarding economic development."

"In terms of her participation and possible efforts, we are in the process of determining a working calendar that will be ready by the end of the week," Colberg Toro said.

Calderon, who will travel with Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado, will arrive in the Dominican Republic on Friday afternoon and will return to Puerto Rico on Saturday, according to Torres Negron.

The government’s public policy regarding Puerto Rico’s international relations has been changing dramatically with the membership of the Puerto Rico government in international events and entities, in which the Commonwealth wants to establish its international personality.

The summit will be attended by 21 heads of state or their representatives, among them Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar.

This is the second time a Puerto Rican governor participates in this summit. In 1992, then Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon, also from the Popular Democratic Party, participated as an observer in the meeting, which commemorated the Fifth Centenary of the Discovery of the Americas.

House Approves Perpetual Trust Fund For Special Communities

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

November 13, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

On the last day of the current legislative session, the House of Representatives approved, with the opposition of the New Progressive Party (NPP) minority delegation, the creation of a $1 billion perpetual trust fund for Gov. Sila Calderon’s administration’s initiative for the island’s special communities.

Although at first they were inclined to vote in favor of the bill, the members of the NPP delegation changed their minds after the majority declined to accept an amendment presented by Minority Leader Anibal Vega Borges to include a representative from the Mayor’s Federation on the trust’s administrative board.

Vega Borges said the majority’s decision reject the amendment was based only on partisan politics and takes away from the good spirit of the bill.

The representative argued that allowing a member of the Mayor’s Federation, and one from the Mayor’s Association on the board would guarantees that all municipalities, regardless of their leaders’ political party, would be treated equally.

"There is no written agenda; we don’t know where the funds will go. A representative from the Mayors Association would guarantee that all municipalities would be treated equally," Vega Borges said.

Puerto Rican Independence Party Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio said he agreed with Vega Borges, and the amendment should have been approved. Nevertheless, he voted in favor of the bill, which he said would improve the quality of life of island’s residents.

The debate, which lasted over two hours, was dominated by arguments along party lines.

Government Committee Chairman Jose Varela said the law is needed to help the poor sectors of the island.

"The money will be used to rehabilitate 20,000 housing units in only five years. It will also help improve the plumbing and electrical infrastructure, as well as recreational facilities in special communities. There will be justice for the poor people of the island," Varela said.

The House also approved a $15 million allocation for the purchase of a Juvenile Institution Administration facility in Salinas.

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