Para ver esta página en español, oprima aquí.

Settlement Reached In Humberto Vidal Explosion Case…Bush Signs El Yunque Preservation Bill…Clinton To Visit Next April…Transshipment Port Extension Reduced…Order Summoning Journalists Reiterated…Prepa Lambastes Comptroller For Audit

Settlement Reached In Humberto Vidal Explosion Case

December 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

The U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico on Friday announced a $28 million settlement in the cases of Enron Corp.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Hector Laffitte said the court was delighted with the settlement, particularly because of the benefits to the victims of the tragic explosion, "in which so many persons lost their lives or were injured."

Laffitte congratulated visiting U.S. District Judge Robert Ward from the southern district of New York and Judge Hector Lopez Garcia, from the Puerto Rico Superior Court, for their assistance in a settlement process that brought the parties together and made it possible to avert more years of litigation.

The settlement process commenced after U.S. District Court Judge Carmen Consuelo Cerezo ruled on the pending complex legal issues, according to a press release.

The settled cases, which entail 1,500 separate plaintiffs, stem from the explosion in the Humberto Vidal building in Rio Piedras on Nov. 21, 1996, in which 33 persons died as a result of a blast that shook the old city’s downtown area. The explosion also resulted in dozens of other people being injured and severe loss of property including damaged or partially destroyed buildings.

The U.S. District Court entertained 101 separate complaints filed against several respondents, headed by the matrix entity Enron Corp. 725 plaintiffs settled their cases with private stipulations, and approximately 750 others will finalize their cases with a global settlement from which ultimately more than 400 plaintiffs will benefit.

Ward said the very complex and difficult settlement process involved 64 lawyers. Ward also noted that out of the 101 pending cases before the district court, 80 are part of the global settlement, 14 were settled with private stipulations, and 7 others were dismissed for several reasons.

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the district of New York had earlier authorized the parties to engage in the settlement negotiations. Ward entered the final order of the settlement on Dec. 3, 2002.

According to U.S. District Court officials, a $28 million check has already been deposited in a local bank.

Bush Signs Bill Regarding El Yunque Preservation

December 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced Friday that President George W. Bush had turned into law the bill aimed at preserving the water quality of El Yunque rivers.

The bill was approved in the U.S. House of Representatives with the support of Democrats and Republicans, as well as that of the U.S. Forest Service, Acevedo Vila said in a press release.

"With the inclusion of the Mameyes, La Mina, and Icacos rivers in the U.S. Scenic Rivers Systems comes the imposition of strict restrictions to prevent the federal and local government developing the areas near the tropical forest," the resident commissioner said.

The bill was turned into law by Bush on Thursday, Acevedo Vila explained.

"Bush’s action guarantees that future generations will be able to enjoy, as we do today, the natural beauties of these rivers and the quality of its waters," he added.

Acevedo Vila said the Mameyes River, from which several of El Yunque’s waterfalls flow, provides water of maximum quality.

Clinton To Visit Puerto Rico Next April

December 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will visit Puerto Rico on April 5, when he will offer a speech in a conference for the benefit of the non profit organization Caribbean Council for Global Studies.

Manuel Velilla, president of the organization, said in published reports that the event will be held in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at a cost of $400 per person.

"The event will be held a month before the expected departure of the U.S. Navy. Since he was the one who signed the executive order for the removal of the Navy by May 2003, that could certainly be one of the themes related to Puerto Rico to be discussed," said Velilla, adding that the visit has nothing to do with politics.

Transshipment Port Extension Reduced

December 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Hector Jimenez Juarbe, general manager of the Las Americas port project, announced that the work on the Guayanilla Bay will not take place because of environmental considerations pointed out by federal authorities and to prevent delays in the project.

The also Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. executive director said in published reports that the final study of the project’s redefinition will be filed in one to two weeks.

The plan now establishes the reduction of the terminal extension from 6,000 to 3,000 feet, and the filling in of 70 acres in the Ponce Bay is included in the new plans to compensate for the changes in Guayanilla.

Under the new configuration, the Ponce port will have capacity to manage 1.2 million to 1.4 million twenty foot equivalent units.

Judge Reiterates Order To Summon Journalists

December 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Superior Court Judge Carmen Dolores Ruiz reiterated that the journalists summoned by the Special Independent Prosecutor’s (SIP) Office will have to appear before the SIP to testify regarding the investigation being performed against several New Progressive Party (NPP) leaders.

The judge reaffirmed that her order is intended to make sure they appear before the SIP, but does not oblige them to testify.

According to published reports, journalists Annette Alvarez, from Channel 6, and Marcos Perez Ramirez, from the weekly Claridad, were summoned for Dec. 27 at 2 p.m.

Attorney Manuel Suarez Jr., who represents the Journalists Association, did not rule out an appeal against the judge’s decision.

Journalists Association President Daisy Sanchez urged the journalists not to testify in order to prevent being turned into government agents.

Prepa Lambastes Comptroller For Audit

December 20, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) Executive Director Hector Rosario on Friday lambasted Commonwealth Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña for not distancing himself from the audit that revealed that the public corporation has a $170.8 million debt that was not returned from tax exemptions.

The comptroller’s audit indicates that for four consecutive years, Prepa failed to comply with a law that obliges the corporation to pay 7% of earnings for the selling of energy to municipalities.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Rosario defended the decision and said the law is being interpreted now as it was interpreted during the past administration, under Miguel Cordero’s tenure.

He pointed out that Diaz Saldaña was Treasury secretary from 1993 to 1997, during the period that most of the debt was accumulated.

Rosario said since then, the Treasury Department receives a letter with a check, in which specifies how the funds should be granted by municipality.

He affirmed that every year the money goes to the Treasury Department and he is sure it was reimbursed to the municipalities.

The Prepa executive director said the debt complaint is under court evaluation and accused the comptroller of being reckless by reaching such a conclusion in the audit report when the court has yet to reach a decision.

The lawsuit filed by the municipalities against Prepa was presented in 1998.

"The comptroller should refrain from making any statements that might influence the lawsuit," Rosario said.

The comptroller’s audit established that the situation is contrary to the law and prevented municipalities from receiving $170,803,570.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback