Calderon Wants Base To Stay, Requests War Contingency Plan Navy Abused Power, Says P.R. Justice Dept... Bush Proposes $8M For Island Water Cleanup Super Aqueduct Capacity Increased Expos Tickets Go On Sale Rey To Evaluate Antimilitarism Campaign
Calderon Wants Base To Stay
By RICARDO ZUNIGA
January 16, 2003
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico 's government hopes the U.S. Navy won't close its Roosevelt Roads Naval Station after it halts bombing exercises on the nearby island of Vieques in May, the U.S. territory's governor said.
Gov. Sila Calderon, who had pressed for a halt to the training, said Wednesday that her government will lobby for the base on the main island of Puerto Rico to remain open. With some 4,800 employees and temporary contractors, Roosevelt Roads is one of the the region's largest employers.
"The people of Puerto Rico don't have any interest in the closing of the Roosevelt Roads base," Calderon said. "The government of Puerto Rico is interested in that base staying in Puerto Rico , for all the economic benefits."
The Navy says training now under way is the last scheduled on Vieques . It will abandon its firing range there by May 1, turning over the island's eastern third to the U.S. Department of the Interior to become a wildlife refuge.
Once the Navy leaves Vieques , all operations at Roosevelt Roads associated with Vieques will be discontinued, Navy officials have said. Adm. Robert Natter, commander of the Atlantic Fleet, went further last week, saying: "Without Vieques there is no way I need the Navy facilities at Roosevelt Roads - none."
Other Navy officials said any decision about closing the base in eastern Puerto Rico would have to be made by an independent commission that has yet to begin its work.
The Navy estimates the base injects some $300 million each year into the Caribbean island's economy.
President Franklin Roosevelt ordered the base built in 1940, and it was used for World War II naval operations. The Navy has trained on Vieques since 1947.
Calderon Requests War Contingency Plan For Puerto Rico
By Marialba Martinez of Caribbean Business
January 16, 2003
Gov. Sila Calderon has requested the preparation of an economic contingency plan for the possibility of war in the Middle East.
"As we face the possibility of war and its effect on the global economy, I have asked the Economic Development & Commerce secretary to coordinate the preparation of an economic contingency plan and its effect on our island in the eventuality that war occurs," Calderon said during the 22nd Private Enterprise Forum with the Government sponsored by the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce. "This plan will be made in conjunction with private sector representatives."
The governor said the implementation and further development of the administrations 12 economic development strategies would be the basis of the governments efforts during 2003.
"It is also essential that we develop a vision for the future," said Calderon, referring to Project Puerto Rico 2025. "A vision that transcends particular governments and administrations. That includes the participation of non-governmental sectors and its organizations. That it be a vision of sustainable economic development, in which the economic sector is integrated coherently into the social and environmental sector. A vision that comes from Puerto Ricans and belongs to Puerto Ricans."
Local Justice Dept: Navy Abused Its Power In Vieques
January 16, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) The Puerto Rico Justice Department concluded that the military police standing guard during the U.S. Navy practices on Vieques in April abused their power when they threw tear gas cans and pepper spray at demonstrators of the Puerto Rican National Coalition, according to a report referred to U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft.
The document was sent Aug. 12, 2002.
"Our conclusion is that members of the Coalition were unnecessarily attacked by Navy personnel, which constituted an unnecessary and unjustified abuse of power in violation of the constitutional rights of the coalition members," the department stated in its report.
The investigation sustains that Navy personnel reacted to local youth who were throwing stones at the military police at the entrance of Camp Garcia in Vieques, according to published reports.
However, the Justice Department declared that the incident didnt justify an operation of that magnitude on April 6.
The coalition, one of the main Puerto Rican organizations on the U.S. mainland, participated in a protest against military training on Vieques that day.
President To Propose $8 Million For Clean Water On Island
January 16, 2003
President George W. Bush will propose $8 million to provide clean and safe drinking water for Puerto Rico in his fiscal year 2004 budget.
The Puerto Rico Drinking Water Grant would provide funds for upgrades at Sergio Cuevas, a treatment plant within Puerto Ricos largest drinking water system. Upon implementation, the upgrades would provide cleaner water to the 1.4 million Puerto Ricans served by the water system. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will administer the grant.
According to the EPA, inadequate drinking water infrastructure in Puerto Rico has created a significant health risk, with less than 20% of the population receiving drinking water that meets all health-based standards.
Government To Increase Superaqueduct Capacity
January 15, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) The government plans to use the North Superaqueduct to its full capacity of 100 million gallons daily (mgd) to prevent establishing a rationing plan in the face of low water levels at La Plata reservoir.
Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority President Juan Agosto Alicea made the announcement Wednesday and said the aqueduct currently has a capacity of 75 mgd, 25 mgd under its maximum.
Agosto Alicea acknowledged that La Plata is in a critical state but said the communities served by the system can benefit from the Superaqueduct.
"La Plata reservoir is under its normal level, but unlike in past droughts, that area is now also served by the Superaqueduct. That is why we dont have to be concerned about an imminent rationing plan," the official said in a press conference.
He said they are going to ask the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the necessary permits to operate the aqueduct at its full capacity.
Agosto Alicea said, however, that he cannot guarantee that a rationing plan wont be implemented if more rainfall is not registered soon.
Season Tickets For Puerto Rico Games Go On Sale Saturday
January 15, 2003
NEW YORK (AP) - Tickets for the Montreal Expos' 22 home games in Puerto Rico will go on sale this weekend.
Tickets at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which seats about 20,000, will range from $10 a game for the bleachers to $85 for the best box seats. More than half the tickets will cost under $25 a game.
Season tickets will also be available, ranging from $242 to $1,936, including service charges.
Tickets can be bought at stores in Puerto Rico and on the Internet at www.ticketpop.com.
The Expos will play the New York Mets (April 11-14); Atlanta Braves (April 15-17); Cincinnati Reds (April 18-20); Anaheim Angels (June 3-5); Texas Rangers (June 6-8); Florida Marlins (Sept. 5-7) and Chicago Cubs (Sept. 9-11).
Education Chief To Evaluate Antimilitarism Campaign
January 15, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) Education Secretary Cesar Rey left the door open Wednesday for antimilitarist groups to campaign against military recruitment in public schools.
Rey promised to evaluate any plan presented by antimilitary groups but warned that the campaign should not obstruct academic work.
"We leave it to each organization to take whatever action they consider appropriate as long as it does not interfere with the school jurisdiction or obstruct the schools daily work," the agency head said.
Rey asked the groups interested in campaigning against the newly established law to submit their plan.
"We would evaluate everything in accordance with the law. We do not want to deprive anyone of their right of expression," Rey added.
On Tuesday, the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) announced that it would begin a campaign in public schools to fight the federal law.
Section 544 of the No Child Left Behind Act establishes that military recruiters will have access to the names, addresses, and phone numbers of high school students.
According to Cesar Dominguez, Education Department Federal Affairs Office legal advisor, the new law affects 165,000 students in 209 public schools, as well as 3,000 students in private schools that receive federal funds from the Title I program.