Para ver esta página en español, oprima aquí.

Calderon, Criticized For Signing Electoral Reform, Calls Rossello’s Acceptance Of Misguided Law ‘A Contradiction’…$90M In U.S. Education Funds Frozen…Gov. Backs Away From Spanish Only Law…Pereira Seeks End To Prison Case…DNER Cites Navy Land Transfer Delays…Garcia: Probes Are Apolitical…MTV’s 'Wuthering Heights' Filming In P.R.

Governor Criticized For Signing Electoral Reform

By Manuel Ernesto Rivera of Associated Press

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

Gov. Sila Calderon’s announcement that she will sign the controversial electoral reform bill caused the irate reaction of leaders of the political opposition who maintain that the only one to benefit from the new law is the Popular Democratic Party (PDP).

New Progressive Party Sen. Kenneth McClintock said the governor is leaving the opposition at a disadvantage, while Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Fernando Martin said the measure the governor will sign is a move away from her campaign promise.

McClintock affirmed that the opposition parties don’t have a choice but to receive the new law so that they are not "at a terrible disadvantage" against the governing party.

He added that the political opposition’s serious problem is that "Calderon will confiscate everything we have Dec. 31," he said.

Martin said the legislation represents a major expense for the treasury in allowing an increase in the limits of campaign expenses.

"It’s a shame to listen to the governor stutter on this issue. The reality is that although she originally promised to reduce private donations, the measure she will sign increases them," the pro-independence legislator said.

He said PIP candidates will use the measure to be able to face the inequality in the distribution of the money of the people that he said benefits the PDP.

The governor defended the measure as one that will prevent acts of corruption and reminded the opposition parties that accepting the treasury’s money for the political campaigns is voluntary.

Governor Signs New Electoral Law

By Manuel Ernesto Rivera of Associated Press

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

The new Electoral Law signed Friday by Gov. Sila Calderon will have an expense limit of $11 million and will allow campaigns to be shared among several candidates.

However, Hector Luis Acevedo, president of the Electoral Reform Commission, clarified that the law continues to classify as a crime the transfer of funds of a party to a candidate or vice versa.

During a press conference, Calderon denied the opposition’s criticism that the law was made to benefit the government’s party.

"We are here for the signing of a historic bill that advances a deep reform for the financing of political campaigns in Puerto Rico. This bill was not made to benefit any political party nor any candidate. It is for the benefit of the people of Puerto Rico," Calderon said.

The governor emphasized that the new Electoral Law reduces private donations, establishes rigorous supervision mechanisms, and fixes realistic limits for campaign expenses.

Calderon added that "for the first time, public relations agencies and candidates, according to the new law, have to clearly divulge if they participated in a shared campaign."

She reaffirmed that the bill "is part of the government’s fight against corruption since 2001."

Governor: Rossello Contradictory On Electoral Reform

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon said Friday that former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s position on the recently signed electoral reform is contradictory.

"It is an innate contradiction," Calderon said in a press conference hours before making the changes to the financing system of electoral campaigns official.

"It is a contradiction to criticize the law and then use it," she added.

The governor responded to the statements of her political opponent, who said the electoral reform is based on a mistaken concept although the New Progressive Party would have to accept its new regulations.

Calderon said the new changes to the Electoral Law emerge "precisely from the innumerable cases that had to be taken to court. . .that later have turned out to be cases of corruption."

The governor added that the new regulations on electoral financing are "the beginning of a deep reform that the political campaigns in Puerto Rico need" in regard to financial aspects.

Rossello: NPP To Accept Electoral Reform Though Misguided

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — To former Gov. Pedro Rossello, the electoral reform that Gov. Sila Calderon made law Friday is misguided, although he affirmed that his New Progressive Party (NPP) will have to accept its new regulations.

"The reform is based on a misguided concept. . .that instead of trying to add supervision, what is added are public funds to the process of the parties," said the former governor, who recently arrived to finalize details of his primary campaign for gubernatorial candidacy.

He also described as "a waste of public funds" the governmental proposal to increase from $3 million to $11 million, the amount that each party could potentially have for their election campaigns.

Rossello acknowledged, however, that since the NPP minority in the Legislature lacks the power to veto, the NPP has no other option than to accept the fund the new statute provides.

"Our party cannot go to an election at a disadvantage of $11 million against zero," he told journalists.

$90 Million Of Federal Funds For Education Frozen

By Luis R. Varela of Associated Press

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

JUANA DIAZ — Irregularities at the Education Department have resulted in the freezing of $90 million worth of federal funds that should have been assigned to Puerto Rico, Education Secretary Cesar Rey said Thursday.

"There are still $90 million frozen in federal funds for training, computers, and service programs," Rey said.

The money, according to Rey, has not been released to Puerto Rico because of problems related to the previous administration of convicted former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo.

"That money is still frozen because of the errors of the previous administration," Rey added.

He said he has traveled several times to Washington D.C. in an attempt to get the release of the funds and to explain that the administration has changed and amendments have been made.

He trusts that following a Commonwealth Comptroller’s Office report on the irregularities under the Fajardo administration that the funds would be released.

Rey confirmed that the previous administration invested nearly $160 million in a computer system that were never installed.

He added that the department no longer hires the management and executive employees who committed the abnormal transactions that lead to the $160 million investment.

Governor Won’t Discuss Spanish Only Issue For Now

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

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

JUANA DIAZ - Gov. Sila Calderon dismissed as foolish the initiatives of the Guaynabo and San Juan mayors to change the language from Spanish to English of official facilities but noted that the language issue would not be discussed for the moment.

"It is not a priority to be working with that issue. It is not something that directly concerns the lives of Puerto Ricans at the moment. That is my position, and it will continue to be my position," Calderon said during a press conference in Juana Diaz on Thursday.

Visitors to Guaynabo can find numerous signs in English, including street, road, and directions signs. Even the municipal police patrol cars are in English. In San Juan, the local baseball park was renamed Hiram Birthorn Stadium.

The governor called those initiatives "foolish."

However, she declined to discuss the newest attempt to amend the island’s language law.

Earlier this week, Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora said it is his intention to file a new version of his Spanish-only bill of 2001. However, this time, he would not seek to eliminate English as a first language, but to establish that Spanish and English should not be indistinctly used as first languages, as it is stated in a local law.

The Senate president has received much criticism, especially from New Progressive Party Sen. Kenneth McClintock, who has even urged Fas Alzamora to file the bill, as he is sure it would greatly damage the governing Popular Democratic Party’s possibility for reelection.

According to the Senate chief, approximately 80% of the island’s population doesn’t speak English.

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

Pereira Seeks To Conclude Morales-Feliciano Case

By Leonardo Aldridge of Associated Press

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

Since he took the reins of the Corrections Department, one of Secretary Miguel Pereira’s goals has been to conclude as soon as possible the case initiated by inmate Carlos Morales Feliciano 24 years ago, which since then has cost the government $241.5 million in fines.

The standards fixed by the federal court as a product of this case are one of the reasons why Pereira decided to close state penitentiary Oso Blanco and relocate its almost 1,000 inmates.

"One of my goals is to comply with the orders that exist as part of the Morales Feliciano case. I hope to be able to comply with them as soon as possible," Pereira said in a telephone interview Thursday.

Pereira, who became head of the agency at the beginning of the year, said 1,200 orders of the federal court of cases of overcrowding and flaws in health and diet services of the penal population still have to be complied with.

Pereira said each one of the almost 15,000 inmates on the island costs the treasury approximately $40,000 annually, something that will not change with the transfer of the inmates from Oso Blanco.

"I don’t think that will change," he said.

The official denied that the move is to facilitate his intention of "retaking control of the island’s prisons."

"It has nothing to do with retaking control of the prisons. That is not the purpose," he stated.

In Oso Blanco, the second prison with the greatest penal population on the island, many escapes have taken place, including the most famous known as The Great Escape of 1991.

The prison is also known for the fights between gangs that frequently occur.

DNER Secretary Denounces Delays In Navy Land Transfer

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Department of Natural & Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Luis Rodriguez said the U.S. Navy still has not finished a study about the contaminated sites inside Camp Garcia in Vieques, which passes to the U.S. Department of the Interior on May 1.

The secretary also said in published reports that the Navy seeks to limit as much as possible the use that could be given to the 14,500 acres that will be handed over so that it will then reduce the cost of cleanup.

These two factors have delayed the negotiations of the Memorandum of Understanding about the land transfer.

It was not immediately possible to obtain a reaction from Navy spokesmen.

On May 1, the Navy should hand over the land, of which 900 acres of the firing range will be banned. The other 13,600 acres will be a natural refuge.

The Department of the Interior will hold hearings so that the community can participate in the decision about the use of the land.

Bert Garcia: No Probe To Be Conducted Based On Politics

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

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

U.S. Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico Humberto "Bert" Garcia said Thursday that his office would not conduct any investigation or file any charges based on politics.

"Nothing later, nothing earlier, because of politics," Garcia said.

With that response, Garcia put an end to allegations regarding the imminent arrest of people connected with former New Progressive Party Gov. Pedro Rossello’s government.

He noted that his office would never issue a statement on the character of anyone being accused and that only if he believed an indictment was newsworthy would he make it public.

Garcia made his statements Thursday during a rare public appearance when he accepted an invitation to be the guest speaker at the Overseas Press Club monthly lunch forum.

There, Garcia acknowledged that upon his arrival on the island from Texas, he was surprised by the local media’s "fervor" in covering federal investigations.

Arguing that prosecutors are obliged to protect the integrity of the investigations, the judicial process, and the rights of the accused, Garcia issued an internal policy on how to deal with the local media. The policy was signed in February, one month prior to his official swearing-in.

Revealing some of its key points, Garcia said he has banned his office personnel from issuing off-the-record comments and official information would be revealed to all interested members of the media, with no favoritism.

Garcia said it would continue to be his office’s policy not to issue any comments on ongoing investigations but argued that investigation techniques are constantly being changed.

"Why? Because if we were to discuss it publicly each time we used a new technique, techniques would become like today’s train ticket, good for today’s time and today’s train only," Garcia said.

Meanwhile, while acknowledging that federal grand jury criminal procedure rules do not prohibit a witness from speaking to the press, he did accept that the FBI and his office personnel often advise witnesses not to comment on their testimony with anyone. He argued that it was done for security reasons.

MTV Plans Version Of 'Wuthering Heights'

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

NEW YORK (AP) -- First, MTV updated ``Carmen.'' Now, the cable music channel is offering a modern take on ``Wuthering Heights.''

Erika Christensen, who played a high school stalker in last year's ``Swimfan'' and a drug-addicted teen in 2000's ``Traffic,'' will star as Cate in a musical version of the Emily Bronte novel.

Mike Vogel will play a homeless musician named Heath with whom Cate falls in love, and Chris Masterson (Fox's ``Malcolm in the Middle'') will play Edward, whom Cate agrees to marry instead.

Christensen, Vogel and Johnny Whitworth, as Cate's brother, Hendrix, will make their on-screen singing debuts in the film, which is scheduled to begin production in May in Puerto Rico, MTV said Monday. It's set to air during the third quarter of this year.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback