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NPP Questions Job Claims…Citizenship Day Celebrated…Jones Defeats Ruiz…Charges Filed Against Legislators In Flag Incident…Governor Says She’ll Create 58K Jobs…Isla Grande Airport Closing Alternative Sought…Comptroller Wants $8M More…16 Year-Old Gets Heart Transplant…Municipalities’ Settle Suit Against Prepa…$7.2B In Public Works Announced

NPP Legislators Denounce False Job Claims

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

March 3, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW News. All rights reserved.

New Progressive Party (NPP) legislators on Monday denounced Gov. Sila Calderon’s alleged false claims regarding job creation during her administration.

In a press conference at the capitol, the group of legislators claimed that Calderon has failed to comply with her campaign promise to create 100,000 jobs during her administration. They alleged that she has only been able to create 9,820 during the first two years of her government.

"Having created only 9,820 jobs, Gov. Calderon owes Puerto Ricans 40,180 new jobs added to the 50,000 jobs that would have to be created this year and the next in order to comply with her campaign promise," NPP minority leader Rep. Anibal Vega Borges said.

According to the delegation leaders, the governor claims to have created 57,000 jobs in 25 months, but Labor Department statistics reveal that from December 2002 to January 2003 some 9,000 jobs were lost.

The legislators noted that on top of the unemployment rate, the Planning Board has estimated an economic growth of 1.7%, which in their view, is an acknowledgment that the local economy is stuck.

Thousands Turn Out For Citizenship Day Event In Puerto Rico

By Leonardo Aldridge | The Associated Press

March 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Waving American flags and wearing Uncle Sam outfits, thousands who support statehood for Puerto Rico celebrated the 86th anniversary of U.S. citizenship on the island Sunday.

The New Progressive Party rally was marked by division, with one camp voicing support for party president Carlos Pesquera while another backed former Gov. Pedro Rossello, who last month announced that he would run for governor in 2004.

Rossello's followers chanted "Pedro, come back" while the opposing side shot back, "Pesquera, Pesquera!" About 10,000 people attended the rally, police Inspector Orlando Figueroa said.

One of the speakers, former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, interrupted his Citizenship Day speech at one point to ask the two sides to quiet down.

"There will be plenty of time for campaigning," Romero said. "Now is the moment to talk about citizenship."

Rossello was governor here from 1993 to 2001. He is scheduled to arrive in Puerto Rico on March 15 to hit the campaign trail.

Congress granted citizenship to Puerto Ricans with the Jones Act in 1917. Since then, many have fought and died in the U.S. military, evident at Sunday's rally with many wearing Vietnam and Korean War veteran hats. The U.S. military has mobilized about 3,300 of 8,500 troops from Puerto Rico's National Guard as America considers war with Iraq.

Puerto Rico became a U.S. commonwealth in 1952. Islanders can't vote for president, however, and have no vote in Congress. They pay no U.S. income tax, but the commonwealth receives more than $13 billion in federal funds each year. Nearly 4 million Puerto Ricans live on the island and another 3.4 million on the U.S. mainland.

Jones Defeats Ruiz In Unanimous Decision

By George Diaz | Sentinel Staff Writer

March 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved.


He did it!


LAS VEGAS -- Roy Jones Jr. made history Saturday night, methodically bagging the bigger man to win the World Boxing Association heavyweight championship.

Jones became only the second fighter in boxing history -- and first in 106 years -- to rise from middleweight to heavyweight champion.

Often baiting champion John Ruiz by dropping his hands and looking at him with a smirk of superiority, Jones (48-1, 38 KOs) scored a unanimous decision (116-112, 117-111, 118-110) at the Thomas & Mack Center.

"I did this fight to make history," Jones said. "It sounds wonderful to be called heavyweight champ."

Charges Filed Again Against Legislators In Advocate Incident

March 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Special Independent Prosecutor (SIP) Ruben Guzman filed again complaints against legislators Jennifer Gonzalez, Miriam Ramirez, and Jose Aponte for a hearing for cause to arrest in regard to the violent incident they starred in at the Women’s Advocate Office.

Published reports indicated that San Juan Judicial Center Judge Carmen Vargas, who would hear the case, had to previously withdraw herself because she married Rep. Edwin Mundo one of the accused, with Myrna Pasalacqua, who was a legislator.

The SIP said he would request postponing the hearing, scheduled for Monday.

On Feb. 6, San Juan Judicial Center Investigation Courtroom Judge Ada Rosa Juarbe determined no cause against the three legislators after an extensive hearing.

In that occasion, all three were accused of rioting. Gonzalez and Aponte were also accused of damaging a car, and Aponte had an aggression charge.

Governor Says She’ll Create 58,000 Jobs

March 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon said Saturday that several hundred construction projects of public works that her administration is developing throughout the island will create 58,000 jobs.

She said in these first two years, her administration achieved "that 57,000 Puerto Ricans who were unemployed obtain a good paying job."

The governor said of these jobs, 19,000 were created in the area of construction, "which means almost 60,000 more Puerto Ricans were working in 2003 than those who had a job. . .in 2001."

In her Saturday radio program, Calderon said industries and factories will open and expand in March, April, and May, representing the creation of 3,975 jobs in these technological fields.

She specified that her administration is promoting the economy toward the sectors of high technology in manufacturing, commerce, finance and services, and the tourism industry.

On the other hand, she said "to improve and strengthen the training programs" that are used to locate workers, she proposed the Fund for the Future of Puerto Rico with an allocating of $70 million.

She explained that the fund would provide training in the areas of greater job offerings through different educational institutions.

PIP Asks For Alternative To Isla Grande Airport Closing

March 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio asked Gov. Sila Calderon to seek alternatives to the projected closing of the Fernando Luis Ribas Dominicci Airport in Isla Grande, such as modernizing it.

He estimated Saturday that the cost of updating these port installations would cost some $23.7 million, compared to the more than $137 million it would take to build a new airport in another place.

The governor reiterated Friday that the plans to move the airport continue, but she clarified that this is not an immediate project, but one of long-term.

Garcia San Inocencio said this facility "is vital" for the proposed Convention District, propelled by the Calderon administration.

In a letter he sent to the governor Saturday, the legislator reviewed a study prepared by the Ports Authority Jan. 22, 2002, that detailed that among other conclusions, that the airport "is the main general transportation center of the island in terms of business trips."

According to the study mentioned by the representative in his letter, the airport has more than 1,160 employees and transport an average of 60,000 passengers annually, as well as 800,000 pounds of cargo.

The study also reports that the airport is frequented by inhabitants of the island municipalities and the Lesser Antilles, houses entities like the InterAmerican University Aerial Sciences Campus and the Rapid Action Joint Forces, and contributes almost $2 million to the municipal treasury annually.

According to Calderon’s plans, the projected Convention District in Isla Grande will have two hotels, office buildings, housing apartments, and entertainment areas such as movie theaters, retail, passive parks, and restaurants.

Comptroller Seeks $8 Million More

March 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Commonwealth Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña reaffirmed Friday his $8 million petition for his office for the next fiscal year, which will allow the office to enforce a new working plan.

Diaz Saldaña, for whose office a $3 million allocation was proposed, made the statements in a joint public hearing of the House and Senate, evaluating the budget recommended by Gov. Sila Calderon.

Questioned by the legislators, Diaz Saldaña suggested that his agency might benefit from the funds assigned to the Independent Citizens Committee to Evaluate Government Transactions, which, he has said in the past, is not necessary because it duplicates efforts.

"To be able to enforce a new working plan, it is essential for the Legislature to allocate a budget of $42,105,625. The increase requested represents $8,024,625 over the current budget of $34,081,000," he said during the hearing.

Heart Transplant Done On Island’s Youngest Patient

February 28, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - David Alexis Delgado, 16, became the youngest patient on the island to receive a heart transplant, which was needed to treat a condition called congenital obstructive hypertrophic cardiomiopatia.

According to published reports, this condition means that the heart’s walls markedly swell and obstruct the blood flow to and from the heart. The illness is not common on the island, but it is not rare in the world.

"I can get up fine now; I don’t tire," Delgado said after he was released from the hospital Thursday, seven days after the surgery.

He was on the donor waiting list for 258 days, and received a heart after the death of a patient in the Rio Piedras Medical Center who had authorized donating his organs.

Two of the boy’s maternal uncles died from the same illness at the ages of 15 and 16.

Municipalities’ Lawsuit Against Prepa Settled

February 28, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Municipalities will receive from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) some $55 million in cash and another $50 million in public works in the next three years as part of an agreement that ends a lawsuit filed by several mayors against the public corporation, Gov. Sila Calderon said Friday.

The agreement also stipulates the payment to the municipalities of 20% of Prepa’s net income, equivalent to an annual contribution of more than $130 million, the governor said during her speech before the 15th annual assembly of the Mayors Association, which groups Popular Democratic Party mayors.

"Starting today, no one else can wrongfully manipulate the salary formula to rob a just retribution to the municipalities," Calderon said in reference to the cause of the lawsuit that the Ponce municipality filed in 1998 against Prepa, which was later joined by 30 mayors.

The mayors were demanding that Prepa pay them taxes for the use of municipal land for facilities of the corporation.

The payment was made through a formula based on 7% of the gross income of the corporation, which the debt for municipal consumption was subtracted. But Prepa was doing the calculation, which rendered to manipulation.

$7.2 Billion Investment In Public Works Announced

February 28, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon said Friday that her administration has already invested more than $3 billion in the construction of more than 700 projects and she proposes to allocate another $4.2 billion to start some 650 works this year.

"I will play the game with anyone," the governor shouted in a speech before the Mayors Association in which she claimed that "no one, absolutely no one, has pursued more construction in two years."

The 15th annual assembly of the association, which groups Popular Democratic Party mayors, gave Calderon a platform for a message that at times adopted a pre-election campaign tone.

In her speech, Calderon announced that she would send legislation during this session that will contain 43 proposals that were submitted by the Evaluative Commission of Autonomous Municipalities Law, in which also participated the Mayors Federation, which groups New Progressive Party mayors.

"What they ruined in eight years, we have straightened in two," she said.

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