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Rossello Returning With Loaded Agenda…Gov’t Plans Commonwealth Economic Forums… El Yunque Seriously Damaged By Heavy Rains…Medical Group To Eliminate C.P. Rhoads Award…50 More Agents Assigned To Vieques…Hotline Opens For Flood Donations…Fas To Refile Spanish Only Legislation, McClintock: Law Would Impoverish Education

Rossello To Return Friday With Loaded Agenda

By Luis R. Varela of Associated Press

April 23, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

Former Gov. Pedro Rossello returns to Puerto Rico on Friday to meet with farmers and New Progressive Party (NPP) mayors who favor his gubernatorial candidacy and to participate in a political rally in Juana Diaz.

Rep. Jose Aponte, a member of the former governor’s campaign committee, said Wednesday that Rossello will arrive at the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport in Carolina at 11:30 a.m. on an American Airlines flight from Washington.

Rossello, who has challenged NPP President Carlos Pesquera to a primary election for the gubernatorial candidacy in the general elections of 2004, will return to Washington on Wednesday.

Aponte explained that Rossello will meet Friday with NPP legislators and municipal committee presidents at an activity that will start at noon at the NPP Committee in San Juan, located on Luis Muñoz Rivera Avenue.

According to Aponte, the former governor will speak at noon on Saturday at an assembly of a group of public employees.

Later at 3 p.m., Rossello will participate in a political rally in the area of the of the "fiestas patronales" of Juana Diaz.

On Sunday, Rossello will visit the municipalities of San German, Cabo Rojo, Lajas, and Guanica starting at 12:30 p.m.

"Rossello will talk at political rallies in these municipalities," Aponte said.

On Monday, the former governor will hold meetings with supporters and will attend an activity organized by Rep. Melinda Romero at night.

At 10 a.m. Tuesday, Rossello will meet with the 27 mayors who favor his candidacy in the NPP Municipal Committee in San Juan, Aponte said.

At 3 p.m. Tuesday, Rossello will meet at the Luis Muñoz Marin Coliseum of San Sebastian with a group of farmers to get to know the problems they face.

The former governor returns Wednesday to Washington and returns to the island again May 9 for another series of political activities, officials said.

Rossello is scheduled to move to Puerto Rico to live on June 1, according to Aponte.

Economic Development Under Commonwealth Highlighted

April 23, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

The Puerto Rico government announced Wednesday a series of forums to be held on the contribution of the Commonwealth Constitution to the economic development of Puerto Rico.

The Special Commission for the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Government Development Bank (GDB) announced the series of forums "Fifty Years of Economic and Social Development," to be held April 28-30 in the Museum of Art and in the Law College of Interamerican University.

Secretary of State and Special Commission Chairman Ferdinand Mercado and GDB President Hector Mendez explained that the series of forums will consist of four discussions in which recognized jurists, educators, and economists will speak on the constitution’s contributions to culture, finance, constitutional rights, and the economic and social development of Puerto Rico.

The first of these discussions, under the title "The Commonwealth Constitution of Puerto Rico’s Contribution to Constitutional Rights," will be held April 28 at 9 a.m. at the Museum of Art.

Mercado said the series of forums will close April 30 at the Museum of Art with the discussion "Reflections on the Economic and Social Development of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico."

El Yunque In Poor State Following Heavy Rains

By Manuel Ernesto Rivera of Associated Press

April 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

The National Caribbean Forest, also know as El Yunque, has been seriously damaged by the constant rains of the past few days.

Forest Supervisor Pablo Cruz asked the public on Tuesday to refrain from visiting the area in the next few days as there is no electricity or water service in the recreational areas of the forest.

However, there is no monetary estimate of the damage caused by the rains. A final report could be ready by Thursday, Cruz said.

"We are evaluating El Yunque on a day-to-day basis, but right now we are in a critical situation," Cruz said.

Because of the rain, there are areas that are only operating partially, which he identified as La Coca waterfall and five of the walking trails: Carrillo, El Toro, Baño de Oro, Trade Winds, and La Coca.

"This is the first time that visitors and employees of the forest have been trapped inside it," said Cruz, noting that several people had to be rescued Thursday when 16 inches of rain fell within a 24-hour period.

Cruz added that the rains on Holy Thursday provoked seven landslides on Highway 191, the main road leading to El Yunque. Other landslides occurred on connecting roads 988 and 966.

The Mamey River rose by 12 inches of water and Icaco by 16 inches.

Clean up of the forest will begin at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. Federal authorities and the nonprofit organization "I Clean Puerto Rico" will be in charge of cleaning and restoring the area.

El Yunque is the only tropical forest on the island and extends 25 miles of Luquillo.

AACR To Eliminate Cornelius P. Rhoads Award

April 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) said Monday that it decided to remove the name of Dr. Cornelius P. Rhoads from a prize that the organization awards annually after evaluating complaints about his experiments in Puerto Rico.

Association Chairwoman Margaret Foti said in a letter issued Monday that the organization made the unanimous decision after evaluating the "worrying allegations" expressed by Prof. Edwin Vazquez de Jesus of the biology department of the University of Puerto Rico in Cayey.

Vazquez de Jesus sent to the AACR some evidence of the experiments of Rhoads, who allegedly injected cancerous cells in Puerto Ricans during his stay here in the early 1930s.

In the letter, Foti thanked of Vazquez de Jesus and others for their input "about this concerning matter."

"I hope this matter has been handled to your satisfaction," she added.

The AACR representative indicated that the organization will choose a new name for the prize that it has been awarding for 23 years to acknowledge "excellence within the community of young cancer researchers."

According to data obtained by researchers, in a letter sent to a friend in 1931, Rhoads described Puerto Ricans as the "dirtiest, laziest, degenerated, and most human race that has inhabited the planet."

That letter created an international scandal when he confessed to killing eight Puerto Ricans and transplanting cancerous cells "in some others" while he worked on the island as part of an investigation team to treat anemic patients.

"What the island needs is not public health work, but a wave or something to totally exterminate the population. Then it could be habitable. I have done the best I can to accelerate the process of extermination by killing eight and transplanting cancer in some others. This last step has not caused deaths yet," Rhoads wrote in the letter.

50 Additional Agents Assigned For Security In Vieques

April 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Police Superintendent Victor Rivera Gonzalez and approximately 50 police officers left for Vieques on Tuesday to implement a security plan before the activities to celebrate the U.S. Navy’s exit from the island municipality.

"Despite the initial objections by the organizing group regarding the police’s participation, we will be present with a force of between 30 to 50 additional officers in Vieques. . .This minimizes the possibility of conflicts," Rivera Gonzalez said in published reports.

The celebration activities will begin at 12:01 a.m. on May 1 with the symbolic cutting of the chain on the gates of Camp Garcia, led by Mayor Damaso Serrano, to facilitate entry to the land occupied by the Navy for more than 60 years.

Meanwhile, one of the camp’s fences is expected to be torn down Tuesday and a stage will be built.

Hotline Open For Donations To Victims Of Flooding

April 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Family Department will open, effective Tuesday, a hotline free of charge, to accept donations from those who wish to help victims of the flooding which continues to affect the island.

Secretary Yolanda Zayas said in a written press release that the hotline would speed up the process of collecting donations.

Those who wish to contribute can call 1-877-278-6345 from Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Zayas said that donations that will be accepted are clothing, for all ages, personal effects, baby diapers, canned food, water and appliances such as stoves, and refrigerators.

She added that a storage room for the donations would be open by midweek in Hato Rey.

Meanwhile Zayas noted that her agency has begun to conduct a census of those who were affected by the rains and flooding.

Fas Alzamora To File Spanish Only Legislation Again

April 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora said this weekend that before his tenure in office is over, he will again file legislation aimed at establishing Spanish as the island’s only official language.

"I will file legislation according to a report approved by the Senate to at least eliminate the "without distinction" from the official language law because it allow’s the government to commit abuse against the people," Fas Alzamora said noting that 80% of the island residents lack understanding of the English language.

Approved in 1993 by former governor Pedro Rossello establishes that Spanish and English are without distinction the official languages of Puerto Rico.

McClintock: Spanish Only Law Would Impoverish Education

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

April 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Kenneth McClintock criticized Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora for trying to resuscitate the so-called Spanish only law to establish Spanish as the sole official language of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

McClintock accused the Senate president of wasting time in a stalemate discussion and of preventing Puerto Rican children from learning and improving English language skills.

"This would only contribute to more students learning less English in times when English is the language of international business," said McClintock, who added that more government money should go to strengthening the public education system.

Nevertheless, the NPP senator didn’t seem threatened by Fas Alzamora’s intention. McClintock even urged the Senate chief to file the bill, as he is sure it would be a political suicide for the governing Popular Democratic Party (PDP).

"If he insists on that issue and the governor supports what he is doing, he would greatly damage the party’s possibility for reelection. The only thing I ask him is to do it now, not during a lame duck legislative session after being defeated in the general election of 2004," said McClintock.

The expressions of the NPP senator followed those of Fas Alzamora, who said he would file a new version of his Spanish only bill of 2001. However, this time, he would not seek to eliminate English as the first language, but to establish that Spanish and English should not be used indistinctly.

According to Fas Alzamora, approximately 80% of the island population doesn’t speak English. However, Gov. Sila Calderon, who is also president of the PDP, has stated that the language issue is not a priority in her administration.

English and Spanish have been the official languages of Puerto Rico ever since 1993, when former Gov. Pedro Rossello amended the Spanish only law previously filed by the former PDP Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon.

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