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Wal - Mart Can Buy Amigo... Pesquera Calls For Status Referendum…Governor Withdraws Electoral Reform Bill… Rodriguez Urged To Prohibit Summoning Of Journalists… Hispanic CC Opening SJ Office… Most Wanted Apprehended

Wal - Mart Can Buy Amigo

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

SAN JUAN, P.R., Dec. 26 (AP) – Reversing a local court decision, a federal judge ruled today that the Puerto Rican government could not block the purchase of a supermarket chain by Wal-Mart Stores.

Puerto Rico's Justice Department had argued that Wal-Mart's $225 million purchase of the supermarket chain, Supermercados Amigo, violated the island's antitrust laws.

Wal-Mart closed its deal with Amigo on Dec. 5. The next day it sued the territory's Justice Department in United States District Court in San Juan, seeking to prevent the department from blocking the deal.

The lawsuit accused the department of discrimination in pursuing an antitrust action in a Puerto Rico court. Puerto Rico's justice secretary, Anabelle Rodriguez, argued that Wal-Mart's transaction ran contrary to the best interests of consumers, business owners and distributors on the island.

Today's ruling, by Federal District Judge Juan Perez Gimenez, reversed the local court's decision earlier this month to block the deal and ordered Ms. Rodriguez and the Justice Department not to interfere further. In his 54-page opinion, Judge Perez Gimenez said Ms. Rodriguez had "abused her power" by trying to block the transaction, which he said amounted to "protectionism of local suppliers that is forbidden" by federal law.

Ms. Rodriguez said she would appeal the decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.

NPP Challenges Calderon To Convoke A Status Referendum

December 26, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera on Thursday challenged Gov. Sila M. Calderon to convoke a referendum during next year and to define the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) status option.

Pesquera said his refusal to participate in the dialog convoked by the governor to seek a status solution should not be used as an excuse to delay a referendum.

"Do not use me an as excuse. Convoke a referendum, and we will be there, we will demonstrate that we are the most powerful party on the island," Pesquera said in a radio interview.

The NPP leader said that before convoking a referendum, the governor and PDP president has to define the option her party would present to the people.

"She should define her status option first," Pesquera said.

"She has to define the PDP status option, if it is the Commonwealth as we know it, if it is an associated republic or a more conservative option," he said.

On the other hand, Pesquera said his decision of not going to La Fortaleza next Jan. 8, is final and described it as a matter of principles.

"This is matter of principles and of acknowledging that statehood supporters are concern and tired for the discrimination and persecution against them," Pesquera said.

Governor Withdraws Electoral Reform Bill

December 26, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Gov. Sila Calderon announced Thursday that she withdrew the Electoral Reform bill filed by her administration under consideration by the Legislature in order to present new legislation regarding the public financing of political campaigns.

The administration’s bill, which included the public financing of political campaigns and date change for the filing of candidacies–faced great opposition not only from the political opposition, but from Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislators, who were not convinced of its benefits.

Most of the criticism was based on the high cost that would have resulted to finance the campaigns, originally estimated at some $100 million.

Calderon also said she will be appointing a Special Committee for the Electoral Reform, whose members will be announced soon.

The committee will be in charge of preparing a new electoral reform bill that she expects to file during the next Legislature’s Ordinary Session in January.

The governor made the announcement several weeks after ending a series of meetings held at La Fortaleza with several sectors of the population. The process in the Legislature was halted when PDP legislators publicly expressed their opposition to the bill’s approval.

Calderon recently acknowledged that the delay in approving a bill for the electoral reform has been one of her disappointments in 2002.

The governor said the committee should come up with simple legislation that establishes the voluntary nature for the political parties and reduces the cost to government. It also has to consider the possibility of matching the private funds with the public allocation.

Calderon said the commission should include stipulations in the bill to prevent the filing of frivolous candidacies through the financing of primaries.

The committee would have 90 days to file the report with the alternative legislation to the be filed during the next legislative session, which begins on Jan. 13.

Justice Urged To Prohibit Summoning Journalists

December 26, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The organizations that group journalists again summoned Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez to sign an administrative order that prohibits district attorneys from summoning members of the press to cooperate with their investigations.

Puerto Rico Journalists Association (ASPPRO by its Spanish acronym) President Daisy Sanchez said Thursday that former Justice Secretary Pedro Pierluisi signed a similar decree.

The ASPPRO, as well as the Overseas Press Club (OPC) and the Photojournalists Association, summoned all their members to gather Friday at 2 p.m. to support the two colleagues summoned to appear at the Special Independent Prosecutor’s (SIP) Office in the Ochoa building in Old San Juan.

Annette Alvarez of TUTV and Marcos Ramirez of Claridad are obligated by a judicial order to appear at the citation about the case of the legislators accused of rioting in the incident that occurred June 20 in the Women’s Advocate Office.

Sanchez said Judge Carmen Dolores Ruiz’s decree "orders them to appear but does not order them to testify," so the journalists will refuse to respond to questions from the authorities.

"We recognize the professionalism and integrity of Alvarez and the rest of the colleagues summoned to appear before the SIP, and we reaffirm that journalists cannot nor should be used to carry cases that agents of law and order cannot sustain in the courts," said OPC President Proviana Colon Diaz, who is also a WOW News reporter.

The three organizations urged the chiefs of communication media to support the journalists in this case.

"This concerns all of us," Sanchez said.

Hispanic Chamber Opening Office In Puerto Rico

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

FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) - The Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce plans to open an office in San Juan, Puerto Rico early next year, with the hopes of enticing business owners there to expand their operations, officials said.

Chamber executive director Leonardo Garcia met last week with representatives of PromoExport Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican government's trade development agency, and said he was encouraged by what he learned.

"They are making Florida the number one place they want to do business with because they know Florida is a gateway to Latin America," Garcia said. "If they are coming to Florida, we want them to come to southwest Florida."

Garcia said the office in San Juan will provide demographics and economic development information about southwest Florida to interested Puerto Rican firms.

The branch is scheduled to open in March and the space will be donated by a group of lawyers who routinely visit Southwest Florida, Garcia said.

Southwest Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce:

Most Wanted Apprehended


December 25, 2002
Copyright © 2002 MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

One of Puerto Rico's most wanted criminals, Yelin Beckit Otano-Matos, was arrested without incident in Grand Rapids, Mich., federal officials said.

Otano-Matos, wanted in connection with the fatal shooting of Puerto Rican police officer Wilfredo Monserrate-Rivera in June 2001, was arrested Monday, U.S. Marshal Herman Wirshing of the District of Puerto Rico said.

Otano-Matos, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, is a legal resident alien in the United States. He was able to flee Puerto Rico to the continental United States with falsified documents, investigators said.

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