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400,000 PR Clients Without Long-Distance Service… Nutrition Funds Increase Not Guaranteed… Statehood Youth to Protest Calderon’s Message… Rossello Confirms Possible Candidacy…Calderon: Puerto Rico Would Reject Rossello… Carrier Deploys Overseas…Governor Promises to Save Picu

More Than 400,000 Clients Without Long-Distance Service

February 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Telefonica de Puerto Rico said Thursday that more than 400,000 clients are without long-distance telephone service in 27 of the island’s municipalities because of alleged "acts of sabotage."

Telefonica Press Official Irmarie Cervera indicated that early Thursday morning, unidentified people cut fiber optic cables on Road 165 at the intersection with Road 2 leaving clients in the municipalities between Dorado and Aguadilla without long-distance service.

According to Cervera, these 400,000 clients do have local telephone service.

"The damage also include the wireless service to all network users who transmit between those areas," she said in a press release.

The spokeswoman added that company teams are working to correct the situation, which is expected to be accomplished early Thursday afternoon.

The alleged acts of sabotage are taking place as negotiations for a new collective agreement in the company are at a standstill. The Telephone Employees Independent Union (UIET by its Spanish acronym) has already approved a strike vote that could be implemented at any moment.

In the past, UIET President Jose Acosta has denied that they are responsible for the alleged acts and did not rule out the possibility that they are real breakdowns.

Four-Year Increase To PAN Funds Not Guaranteed

February 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The federal budget law for 2002 does not contain a guarantee that Puerto Rico will receive a direct increase of $10 million for the next four years in the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN by its Spanish acronym), contrary to what Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced several months ago.

According to published reports, the 2002 legislation, which extended the PAN for five years, does not include the text prepared by Congress that establishes the four-year increase for the fiscal year.

However, Acevedo Vila was hopeful and said new funds will arrive on the island since the real increase will be revealed in June when the inflation analysis on food products is conducted.

Some months ago, Acevedo Vila calculated that Puerto Rico would receive increases of at least $50 million annually for this program as a consequence of the direct increase of $10 million and the traditional increase for inflation.

Statehood Youth To Protest Calderon’s Message

February 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Statehood Youth President William Villafañe announced Thursday that they will hold a protest in front of the Capitol when Gov. Sila Calderon goes there Feb. 18 to offer her State of the Commonwealth address.

Villafañe said the demonstration seeks to protest what he called "the environment of political persecution, bad administration, and managerial improvisation at all levels of government."

"Let’s show up during her State of the Commonwealth speech on Feb. 18 in front of the Capitol and tell her we have had enough of the abuse, persecution, and bad government," he said in a press release.

In the State of the Commonwealth address, the governor will announce the budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.

Rossello Confirms He Might Consider Running Again

February 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Former New Progressive Party (NPP) Gov. Pedro Rossello confirmed on Monday that he might be willing to run for governor in the 2004 general elections.

However, the former governor said in published reports that he has yet made the decision and it will depend on the message sent by the NPP supporters that they want him to return.

"I have been listening to a lot of people who have called me in recent months. I’m still not convinced that there is a consensus regarding my presence, but as I always said, the people talk and I obey," Rossello said.

This statement contrasts with what the former governor said back in November, at a meeting of Americans for Puerto Rican Statehood, when he said that returning to politics was not on his agenda.

Calderon: Puerto Rico Will Be Wise Enough To Reject Rossello

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

February 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

In light of the possibility of a comeback by former Gov. Pedro Rossello, Gov. Sila Calderon said she is confident the people of Puerto Rico are "wise enough to reject" him.

Calderon, who made the corruption within Rossello’s administration and the New Progressive Party one of the foundations of her gubernatorial campaign, made reference to the issue again on Tuesday.

"If the NPP leadership is so weak to allow such an aberration, I’m confident the people of Puerto Rico will be wise enough to reject the most corrupt government the island has had," Calderon said.

Rossello, who several months ago left open the possibility of returning to island politics told a Puerto Rico newspaper that he has been considering the possibility and would return, if the people asked him to.

Meanwhile NPP Secretary General William Rosales told The Associated Press that the party candidate continues to be the current NPP president Carlos Pesquera.

"Any other candidate will have to go to primaries because he [Pesquera] will not quit," Rosales said.

Virginia-based carrier deploys overseas, straight from Caribbean


February 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - The Norfolk-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its battle group finished training Tuesday in the Caribbean and began heading directly overseas, the Navy said.

The Navy would say only that the battle group deployed from the Puerto Rico area in support of the nation's war against terrorism and other contingencies as needed. But the Roosevelt is expected to join three aircraft carriers that have moved into striking range of Iraq.

The Roosevelt departed Norfolk on Jan. 6 for mandatory training prior to deployment. Now that the training is finished, the carrier will not return to its home port on its way overseas, said Cmdr. Ernest Duplessis, spokesman for the Second Fleet.

"She's been certified (to deploy) and now she's commencing her deployment," Duplessis said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld recently ordered the Navy to send two carrier battle groups to join two battle groups positioned within striking distance of Iraq: another Norfolk-based carrier, the USS Harry S. Truman, which deployed Dec. 5 and is now in the Mediterranean Sea, and the San Diego-based USS Constellation, operating in the northern Persian Gulf. The USS Abraham Lincoln, based in Everett, Wash., re-entered the Arabian Sea over the weekend, defense officials said.

The Roosevelt's last deployment began just days after the Sept. 11 terror attacks, and it was in the northern Arabian Sea during the U.S.-led air campaign over Afghanistan.

About 8,000 sailors and Marines are part of the battle group.

Besides the carrier, with Carrier Air Wing Eight embarked, ships deploying Tuesday included the guided missile cruisers USS Anzio and USS Cape St. George; the guided missile destroyers USS Arleigh Burke, USS Porter and USS Winston Churchill; the guided missile frigate USS Carr; and the fast combat support ship USNS Arctic.

Battle groups usually also include one or two submarines but the Navy does not disclose submarine operations, for security reasons.

Governor Promises To Keep Picu From Closing

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

February 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

CAROLINA — Gov. Sila Calderon said on Tuesday that her administration will do everything it can to make sure Picu Corporation remains open and with it the jobs of its employees. However, she declined to identify what specifically will be done to solve the matter.

"There are many options," Calderon said.

Calderon told Agriculture Department Secretary Luis Rivero Cubano to solve the matter as soon as possible, as there are already 600 employees of the processing plant out on the streets.

"In simple terms so that it is understood clearly, Picu will continue and jobs will be saved," Calderon said.

PICU private shareholders decided to close the processing plant on Monday arguing that the government, represented by the Agriculture Department which posses 48% of the stock, has failed to sign a contract granting them more economic aid.

Board of Directors President Samuel Reyes said on Monday they will be filling for bankruptcy [Chapter 11] in order to reorganize its finances.

Rivero said the government has filed a petition with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to name a trustee that will assume control of the daily and fiscal operations of the company. He also said the government has signed an administrative order to allocate $300,000 to help the chicken farmers.

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