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Mari Bras: Constitution Blocks Rossello’s Comeback… Gov. OK’s Aid To Reservists…Congress To Decide On Vieques Land Transfer…Pesquera Undeterred As Rossello, A Threat To PDP, Announces Candidacy & Gets NPP Backing …Violations Found In Calderon’s ‘02 TV Address… Nat’l Guard Call-Up Biggest Ever

Mari Bras: Constitution Prevents Rossello’s Comeback

February 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

MAYAGUEZ (AP) – Pro-independence lawyer Juan Mari Bras said Wednesday that former Gov. Pedro Rossello is constitutionally prevented from running for the governorship again because he has not lived on the island during the last five years.

According to Mari Bras, the Commonwealth Constitution clearly establishes that to run for governor, the person has to have lived here for the previous five years.

Other constitutional lawyers consulted by the media said the opposite and stated that the former governor had maintained his legal residence in Puerto Rico because he intended to return, although he has resided in the United States for years.

"They are confusing the concept of legal residence with living in a home," Mari Bras said.

He indicated that the constitution refers to "living in a home" and not "legal residence."

Mari Bras recognized that any voter or political leader could contest Rossello’s aspirations in court if he finally decides to run.

Rossello announced Tuesday that he will seek the gubernatorial candidacy for the New Progressive Party, a position that Party President Carlos Pesquera also wants.

Rossello was governor for two terms, from 1993 to 2000 and then announced that he would not seek reelection for a third consecutive term.

Governor Authorizes Help To Active Reservists

February 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon authorized Wednesday the transfer of personnel from the National Guard to Ft. Buchanan Base to support the active reservists in case of the possible U.S. war against Iraq.

The authorization will be given through an executive order to be signed Wednesday, according to National Guard Asst. Gen. Francisco Marquez, who met with Calderon at La Fortaleza Wednesday.

The National Guard will help the Puerto Rican reservists in the process of training, paper procedures, and vaccinations, which means they could remain on the island approximately two weeks after their mobilization.

At present, the soldiers who have been mobilized have to travel in three days to U.S. bases, where they do the training and procedures, a process that Marquez recognized as very "traumatic."

Marquez explained that the government will also make social workers and psychologists available to the National Guard to counsel family members of the mobilized soldiers.

These social conduct experts will be posted in five centers that the National Guard will locate in Aguadilla, Arecibo, Juncos, Juana Diaz, and San Juan.

He emphasized that this is the first time a governor of any state has done this.

Congress To Decide On Vieques Land Transfer

February 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — The U.S. Congress will have the last word on whether the land vacated by the U.S. Navy in Vieques will finally be transferred to the Puerto Rico government, La Fortaleza Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda acknowledged Tuesday.

Miranda noted that a letter from former Navy Secretary Gordon England, announcing the cessation of military maneuvers at the Vieques target range, clearly indicates that the land will be transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Miranda made the statements after a meeting between the transition committee appointed by Gov. Sila Calderon and representatives of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

"They were very frank. They told us that the land will be transferred to the department [of the Interior] and that other alternatives would be the prerogative of Congress," Miranda said. "Obviously, we want a transfer as soon as possible, and we will work toward that in Congress."

Miranda said at the moment, conversations with the federal authorities are concentrated on the legal process that will be used for the Navy to get the necessary funds to clean the contaminated land.

The secretary failed to establish a date for the cleanup to begin.

However, Oscar Diaz, administrator of the Vieques Wildlife Refuge, said they expect to rehabilitate the land that is not contaminated as soon as possible so that the civilian population can use it.

Susan Silander, chief of the Caribbean Wildlife Refuges, said her agency is currently performing a study of the zones that have been bombed and the kinds of ammunition used before determining a cleanup method.

For his part, Sam Hamilton, U.S. Fish & Wildlife southeast regional director, said the Vieques land transfer will be a historical event.

"We are going to establish one of the best wildlife refuges in the world," he affirmed.

Pesquera: I Will Run For Governor

February 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera announced Tuesday that although he welcomes former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s political comeback, he won’t withdraw his candidacy for the governorship.

"My firm desire to serve Puerto Rico is not negotiable. It doesn’t have to do with other elective positions or with working in other government seats," Pesquera said. "I acknowledge Rossello’s right or any other person’s rights to run for the party’s gubernatorial candidacy. I guarantee him that the doors will be open, that the institutional resources of our party will ensure that the primary will be fair to everyone."

Pesquera reacted a few hours after Rossello confirmed during a radio interview Tuesday morning that he would return to politics to rescue the work he started during his eight-year administration. Pesquera acknowledged Rossello’s political and social vision as a leader. However, he said he is the best NPP candidate to run against Gov. Sila Calderon in 2004.

The rumors of a possible showdown between Pesquera and Rossello have been running rampant for the past few weeks. Several pro-statehood groups and NPP leaders have publicly asked the former governor to return to Puerto Rico.

However, Pesquera emphasized that he doesn’t feel betrayed by any of those who have openly expressed their support for Rossello. Nevertheless, he confirmed that NPP Rep. Jose Aponte resigned his position in the NPP directorate at his request.

He also said he holds no grudges against Rossello. Pesquera even guaranteed that he would vote for him in 2004 should the former governor prevail in a primary.

"I am pro-statehood and progressive. I will vote for the NPP on the ballot in 2004," the party leader said.

Pesquera added that far from creating animosity among the party leadership, the NPP will benefit from this process. He invited Rossello to help with the party’s finances and strategies to win in the 2004 general elections.

"I invite Pedro to return to Puerto Rico as soon as possible to start scrutinizing this government, to work with us to strengthen the party’s finances and the electoral team, and to guarantee the Puerto Rican people that Puerto Rico will get back on track with an NPP victory," Pesquera said.

The party president added that he already has a team that will work on his primary campaign and thanked those who stood beside him Tuesday. Among them were NPP Reps. Edwin Mundo, Anibal Vega Borges, Jose Luis Guerra, Antonio Silva, Iris Miriam Ruiz, Junior Perez, as well as NPP Sens. Lucy Arce and Migdalia Padilla.

Corozal Mayor Roberto Hernandez, Rio Grande Mayor Emilio Rosa, and Yauco Mayor Abel Nazario were also at the press conference.

Rossello Announces His Candidacy

February 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Pedro Rossello

Former Gov. Pedro Rossello announced Tuesday his willingness to run for governor for the New Progressive Party (NPP) in the 2004 general elections.

During an interview with a local radio station from his residence in Virginia, the former governor said he made the decision after receiving calls expressing their concern about what he described the "wrong course Puerto Rico is taking," and he has decided to be available to lead the island’s destinies again.

"After a duly, self-imposed hiatus, I have taken the decision to return to the political bullring to run for governor in the 2004 elections," Rossello said.

Rossello said the moment has arrived to redefine justice and progress for Puerto Rico and to allow the people to make a decision.

"I consider this within the context that the people will decide if they think I will be useful to achieve a change in the island’s course," Rossello said.

Meanwhile, the former governor clarified that he won’t attack any of his fellow statehooders, a clear reference to NPP President Carlos Pesquera, whom Rossello described as an "extraordinary asset with excellent human qualities and extraordinary capabilities."

"I’m not in the mood to campaign against Pesquera," Rossello said.

With his statements, the former governor left the door open to include Pesquera in some capacity on his team. Rossello said Pesquera has had to face unheard of persecution and intimidation.

"I’m not here to campaign against anyone or to talk bad about anyone who has had the task of advancing the party’s goals. Personally, it’s not just the position that motivates me. What motivates me is being where I can make the greatest difference, and I can make the greatest difference as governor," said Rossello, adding that he has better capabilities now to face the problems.

The announcement followed the demand of certain NPP groups that Rossello return to active politics since he publicly said he would listen to any call of the people before deciding to announce his candidacy.

WOW News learned that approximately 10 representatives will announce their support for the former governor in a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. by Rep. Jose Aponte.

Among the representatives are Cristobal Colon, Albita Rivera, Melinda Romero, Jeniffer Gonzalez, Oscar Ramos, Epi Gimenez, and Angel Bulerin.

NPP Legislators Announce Support For Rossello

By WOW News staff

February 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

The majority of the New Progressive Party (NPP) representatives announced Tuesday their support for former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s gubernatorial candidacy in the next general elections.

The group of 10 legislators, led by Rep. Jose Aponte, favored primaries to choose the NPP’s gubernatorial candidate, saying that process would strengthen the party.

"There have been primaries in other parties, and they have come out stronger, and we believe that we will come out reinforced from this primary, if it takes place," Aponte said.

The group said it support of Rossello is based on an eagerness to present a better alternative in the 2004 general elections.

Besides Aponte, the others who joined the support of Rossello’s candidacy include Albita Rivera, Jorge de Castro Font, Jeniffer Gonzalez, Cristobal Colon, Oscar Ramos, Melinda Romero, Jose Chico, Angel Bulerin, and Epi Jimenez.

Rossello’s announcement earlier Tuesday confirmed that he will run for governor in the next elections.

Rivera said the immediate reaction of NPP members is approval of Rossello’s candidacy.

"The reaction has been stupendous; there is a lot of enthusiasm in the people," Rivera said.

Rossello said he made the decision to run because of the wrong course the Puerto Rico government is taking and its possible economic and political consequences.

Without making reference to Carlos Pesquera, NPP president and gubernatorial candidate, Rossello said he is not running against anybody.

"I think that in view of the situation in which an electoral decision nears, the members of our party are in a position to prepare our organization to carry our message," Rossello said in a radio interview.

Cruz: Rossello Threatens The PDP

February 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Roberto Cruz acknowledged on Monday that the possible return to party politics of former Gov. Pedro Rossello might complicate the 2004 elections for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP).

For Cruz, Rossello was a charismatic leader who had the people’s support.

"We cannot deny that Rossello is dangerous. He has his qualities, and might turn an election that seems easy to win for the PDP, into a very difficult one, even if we win," the representative said in a radio interview.

New Progressive Party (NPP) are trying to recruit Rossello for the next general elections as the NPP gubernatorial candidate.

Cruz, who is in his fourth term at the House of Representatives, said the island has the perception that Rossello was a governor who achieved a lot.

Comptroller Finds Violations Of Law In Calderon’s 2002 Televised Address

February 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — An audit report of the Puerto Rico Comptroller’s Office found violations of law related to the use of public funds in the address given by Gov. Sila Calderon through several television channels last March.

The audit, which detected the irregularity evaluated the operations of La Fortaleza’s Central Communications Office from January 1994 to June of 2002.

The report includes the result of the evaluation regarding a lunch meeting held at La Fortaleza with Calderon and several Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislators, mayors and party leaders as well as a press conference held afterwards on March 18 2002.

It also examines the content of a message offered by the governor through several channels on March 19.

"It is our opinion, that those operations were not performed according to law," said Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña in a press release.

National Guard Call-Up Biggest Ever

February 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — In what was described as the biggest mobilization of Puerto Ricans faced with a possible war against Iraq, 2,165 National Guard soldiers were mobilized and will travel to an undisclosed location on Friday, announced the National Guard Adjutant General Francisco Marquez on Monday.

With this group there is a total of 3,190 Puerto Rican soldiers mobilized since January because of the "war on terrorism" declared by President George W. Bush.

The biggest group, which will travel to intermediate location throughout the U.S., is the 92nd of Infantry brigade, which has 1,600 soldiers, Marquez said.

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