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CRB: Acevedo Unfit, Calderon Intolerant…No Cause Ruling Vs. NPP Legislators Upheld…Santini: Pesquera Should Withdraw…Puerto Rican Vote Backed…European Parliament Formalized…NPP Legislators Defend Melecio Against PDP Allegations…Mundo: Gov. Wants To Use Tourism Ads In Her Favor… Mobilization Drains Ft. Buchanan

Romero: Acevedo Unfit To Be Resident Commissioner

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

March 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

While denying that his allegations have anything to do with his own aspirations to run again for resident commissioner, former Gov. Carlos Romero said on Tuesday that current Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila is unfit for the position.

Romero Barcelo said Acevedo Vila could soon be the first member of the U.S. House of Representatives to be impeached on the floor if the request by the former governor to disbar him progresses.

The former governor described Acevedo Vila’s actions as crimes punishable by the federal court, though he was unable to identify the charge for which his adversary could be taken to court.

"If you ask me for the specific charge then I can’t tell you. But I’m sure his actions are punishable by law," Romero Barcelo said.

Romero Barcelo’s animosity toward Acevedo Vila began when the latter filed a complaint in 1999 against the former based on the sworn statement of driver Andres Sanchez Delgado regarding an alleged fraud and extortion scheme. Sanchez Delgado later admitted that he lied under oath and was convicted on 17 counts of perjury.

Upon Sanchez Delgado’s conviction, Romero Barcelo demanded an apology from Acevedo Vila. The apology never came.

Romero Barcelo then initiated a process in federal court to have Acevedo Vila disbarred.

The process is still pending and no news of it has been issued by the court.

Given that there is nothing new in the case, Romero Barcelo was asked whether his accusations against Acevedo Vila were part of a political strategy.

Romero responded in the negative and added that he would not make public his decision to run for any office yet.

"I don’t rule out one thing or another, but I have yet to complete my analysis before making it public," Romero Barcelo said.

Acevedo Vila, for his part told, The Associated Press that Romero Barcelo’s allegations were "refried" and "pathetic."

Ex-Governor: Calderon’s Administration The Most Intolerant Ever

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

March 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, under whose tenure the police killed two pro-independence supporters, said Tuesday that Gov. Sila Calderon’s administration is the most ideologically intolerant government ever on the island.

A member of the New Progressive Party (NPP), Romero said Calderon’s Popular Democratic Party has a history of persecuting pro-independence followers and that now it is using those same persecution tactics against pro-statehood believers.

"The Popular Party is carrying out a campaign to plant hate against anyone who isn’t a "popular" (as the members of the PDP are known on the island)," Romero said.

Romero defended himself, however when asked if his administration had not also persecuted Carlos Soto Arrivi and Arlando Dario Rosado, the two pro-independence activists who were killed by the police at Cerro Maravilla in Villalba.

"The people who died there were committing a crime, and the police committed a crime against them. Those people kidnapped a man with the intention of later blowing up the communication towers at the site," Romero Barcelo.

The incident of Cerro Maravilla however has forever been associated with Romero Barcelo’s administration as many have alleged he had some knowledge of the slaying.

Public Hearings in the Legislature would later reveal that the two men were induced by an undercover cop to go to the tower and blow it up in an act of sabotage. When Soto Arivi and Rosado arrived at the site, the police were already there. The two men were ordered to kneel on the ground and were subsequently shot.

Romero Barcelo insists that under his administration, pro-independence followers were not persecuted and imprisoned for their political beliefs which had occurred under PDP founder Luis Munoz Marin’s administration.

The former governor made his statements at an Isla Verde restaurant following a press conference to issue allegations against current Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila.

Court Confirms Ruling Of No Cause Against NPP Legislators

March 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

San Juan Superior Court Judge Carmen Vargas Medina found no cause to arrest three New Progressive Party (NPP) legislators charged with rioting during a June 20 incident in which Party President Carlos Pesquera, along with party members, broke into the Women’s Advocate Office alleging that they were exercising their right to hoist a U.S. flag next to a Puerto Rican one.

Vargas upheld the ruling of fellow Superior Court Judge Ada Rosa Juarbe, who had originally ruled that there was no cause to arrest NPP Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer nor NPP Reps. Jennifer Gonzalez and Jose Aponte.

Gonzalez and Aponte also faced a charge of aggravated damage to public property. TV crews and photojournalist had recorded and photographed Gonzalez helping Pesquera to hoist a U.S. flag at the lobby of the Women’s Advocate Office. Aponte was allegedly seen stomping on Women’s Advocate Maria Dolores Fernos’ official vehicle.

Aponte faced an additional charge of aggression for allegedly grabbing and trying to choke an agency employee during the melee. WOW Staff was unable to get an immediate reaction from the legislators as of 6 p.m.

Vargas Medina’s ruling puts an end to the special prosecutor’s case against the NPP legislators.

Pesquera, as well as NPP Rep. Edwin Mundo, former NPP President Leo Diaz, and NPP Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Shatz are pending trial for the charge of riot.

They faced a separate court proceeding because they were not elected officials at the time.

Santini Suggests Pesquera To Withdraw From Race

March 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) – San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini joined others who have recommended that New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera withdraw his bid to become the party’s gubernatorial candidate.

Even though he didn’t mention Pesquera’s name directly, Santini insisted that one of the candidates should consider withdrawing his bid before the primary in November.

Santini has made no secret of his support for former Gov. Pedro Rossello, who is also competing for the NPP gubernatorial candidacy.

"It would be best if one of them considers to withdraw. If one of them desists, he knows he would save money," Santini said, while reiterating his support for Rossello.

Puerto Rican Vote Backed

March 25, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ONLINE SUNSHINE. All rights reserved. 

TALLAHASSEE – Florida Democratic lawmakers have filed a measure that would call on Congress to let Puerto Rico vote on statehood.

The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Bob Henriquez, D-Tampa, and Senate Democratic leader Ron Klein, D-Delray Beach, would only be an advisory message to Congress.

Democrats said the proposal (HB 1165) was important because Puerto Ricans are serving in the U.S. military in Iraq but cannot vote for president and have no vote in congressional representation. Puerto Rico has been a U.S. commonwealth since 1952.

House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, R-Plant City, hasn't given any indication about taking up the proposal.

Senate Formalizes Relationship With European Parliament

March 24, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Puerto Rico Senate announced Monday that it has formalized its relationship with the European Parliament, which would serve to exhibit the island’s resources on the old continent and interchange legislative initiatives over matters such as public security, education, and culture.

Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora made the announcement at a press conference in his office, where he was accompanied by European Parliament United States-Canada Commission President James Nicholson and Vice President Heer Bastiaan Belder.

Both members of the European Parliament visited the island on the weekend to familiarize themselves with "the benefits and investment capabilities."

Fas Alzamora said one of the agreements that the Senate achieved with the European Parliament is the observance at the beginning of next year of "Puerto Rico Week in the European Parliament."

As part of this event, a sample of artists, culture, traditions, and industrial, economic, and tourism offers will be taken to Brussels, headquarters of the European Union.

NPP Legislators Defend Melecio’s Decisions

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

March 24, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Two New Progressive Party (NPP) legislators came out in defense of the newly appointed campaign committee president for former Gov. Pedro Rossello, Juan R. Melecio, who Monday was accused of having been biased in his decisions as former State Elections Commission (SEC) president.

Rep. Melinda Romero said the allegations by three members of the House Popular Democratic Party (PDP) delegation were "vicious, ridiculous, and without any basis."

PDP House Majority Alternate Leader Hector Ferrer demanded that Melecio come forward and explain his position regarding numerous complaints filed by the PDP in which the judge’s ruling favored the NPP and Rossello.

Ferrer showed copies of seven complaints filed by the PDP in court against rulings issued by Melecio that, according to the legislator, favored the NPP.

PDP Secretary General Fernando Torres Ramirez also questioned Melecio’s decisions as former SEC president.

Romero said the allegations made by the leaders of the opposition only serve to reveal the "fear" of the opposition to face Rossello in a general election.

"How can Torres Ramirez judge Melecio’s performance as president of the SEC when it was Torres Ramirez himself who as judge sentenced former Sen. Victor Ramirez in an evident political manner," Romero said.

Meanwhile, Rep. Jennifer Gonzalez argued that the attacks against Melecio are aimed at destroying the reputation of someone that had a perfect record as SEC president, someone who made rulings based on the facts and not the party.

Gonzalez also argued that the PDP allegations were made as a result of a comparison to Melecio’s predecessor, Marcos Rodriguez Estrada, who ruled all his cases in favor of the PDP.

PDP Questions Melecio’s Impartiality At SEC

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

March 24, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

House Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Majority Alternate Leader Hector Ferrer demanded that former State Elections Commission (SEC) President Juan R. Melecio come forward and explain his position regarding numerous complaints filed by the PDP in which the judge’s ruling favored the New Progressive Party and former Gov. Pedro Rossello.

Ferrer showed copies of seven complaints filed by the PDP in court against rulings issued by Melecio that, according to the legislator, favored the NPP.

The first-term legislator issued his statements against the former judge during a press conference Monday, three days after Melecio was appointed president of the Rossello 2004 campaign committee.

Upon his appointment Friday, Melecio acknowledged that over the years, a friendship developed between him and Rossello.

Ferrer questioned Melecio’s impartiality when issuing rulings that failed to investigate the NPP or those that favored it.

"Melecio should explain to the people his reasons for not taking action in multiple complaints filed by the PDP against the NPP and Rossello," he said.

One of the copies Ferrer showed was of a complaint filed by former PDP Electoral Commissioner Cesar Miranda against several NPP legislators for posting ads in favor of Rossello.

Ferrer was joined in the mid-morning press conference at PDP headquarters by fellow legislators Jose Varela and Sylvia Corrujo.

The legislators argued that they waited until now to make their allegations public because prior to Friday, they felt their allegations should be handled solely by the courts as the complaints were before a judge.

However, having Melecio enter the world of politics by joining Rossello’s campaign, they felt the right to make their demands public.

Mundo: Governor Wants To Use Tourism Ads In Her Favor

March 24, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Edwin Mundo lambasted a bill that Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Sylvia Corujo had filed to exclude the Tourism Co. from the dispositions that ban government ads during an election year.

Mundo said that next fiscal year, the Tourism Co. will have $21 million for itsadvertising campaign. He noted that if the bill is approved, these funds could be used to enhance the image of Gov. Sila Calderon through Tourism Co. ads.

"The governor pretends to boost her reelection campaign by violating the Electoral Law with a $21 million allocation for the Tourism Co.’s advertising budget in order to carry out a campaign that would help her image in the elections," Mundo said during a press conference.

Meanwhile, Corujo said Mundo’s allegations were absurd. She also reminded him that the bill was subject to changes and urged him to help make the modifications he deems necessary to prevent the misuse of public funds.

The PDP representative also noted that the bill is meant to exempt ads shown outside Puerto Rico only.

However, Mundo said that if this were true, she wouldn’t be proposing that the Tourism Co. be exempted from the electoral ban.

Mobilization Of Local Soldiers Drains Fort Buchanan

March 24, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Fort Buchanan Garrison Cmdr. Col. Edward C. Short said the mobilization of Puerto Rican soldiers in the past three months has cost more than $2.2 million. He added that base expenses are expected to increase at the same rate.

Short, who is in charge of mobilizing soldiers for the attack on Iraq, declined to offer a projection of how much would have been spent by the end of the war.

He said Fort Buchanan will face financial difficulty if the U.S. Congress doesn’t allocate more federal resources for it this summer. So far, he said mobilization expenses have been financed with the base’s regular budget of $47 million for this fiscal year.

Until now, 4,000 soldiers have been mobilized through the Buchanan Mobilization Station.

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