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Calderon Announces She Won’t Seek Re-Election, Lawmakers Surprised By Her Decision, She Guarantees 12 More Years Of PDP Rule

Gov. Sila Calderon Won’t Run For Re-Election

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

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

Gov. Sila Calderon announced Thursday that she will not seek re-election in 2004.

Stating that she accepted the nomination for governor in 1999 at the request of the people, Calderon said she has spent close to 17 years in public service, and after much thinking, has decided it is time to retire.

"It’s been a very difficult decision because it means that I will let go of something very important, which is public service," Calderon said.

Visibly affected, her voice trembling at times, the governor made her announcement in a 10-minute televised speech. Wearing a white blouse and sitting in front of the Puerto Rican and U.S. flags at La Fortaleza’s governor’s office, Calderon said she had made her decision some time ago, but it wasn’t until Thursday that she could make it public.

Her decision not to run for re-election was issued two days after a local poll had her losing against both New Progressive Party gubernatorial pre-candidates, Carlos Pesquera and former Gov. Pedro Rossello.

That same poll asked people to mention a single significant accomplishment within the Calderon administration, and "nothing" was the No. 1 answer.

Her reaction at the time was to say that her polls told her otherwise, and she re-affirmed her aspirations. It wasn’t until a Thursday afternoon press conference that Calderon gave an indication that she would not be the candidate, when she said that the only thing she could say was that the Popular Democratic Party would govern for 12 more years.

In her televised message, Calderon vowed to continue working for the well-being of the island. She added that the next 19 months of her administration will concentrate on three priorities - economic development and the creation of jobs, her administrative project on special communities, and a strong campaign on crime.

Critics have said the Calderon administration has failed to produce what had been expected. She, however, has defended her performance, citing the economic recession and the bad state in which Rossello left the island.

How she will conclude her four-year term remains to be seen, as minutes after her announcement, political figures of the opposition warned that a stampede effect would take place in her administration, something that has occurred since she took office. Dozens of members of her cabinet have quit their posts over the course of her three years in office.

Lawmakers Surprised With Calderon’s Political Retirement

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

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

Surprise. That was the common word lawmakers used when questioned about Gov. Sila Calderon’s political retirement.

The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) delegation at the Senate expressed surprise and sadness for Calderon’s decision and reaffirmed their support for the governor.

"She (Calderon) counts with our support to continue with the Puerto Rican Project for the 21st Century," Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora said after concluding a meeting with the members of the PDP delegation.

Calderon announced Thursday in a televised speech that she won’t seek re-election in 2004. The governor made her statement at the same time that public opinion revealed great frustration with the governor’s performance, public employees protest for a $150 salary increase to be effective in July, and the government spends public funds in expensive advertising campaigns.

Fas Alzamora said the delegation "respects" the governor’s decision and recognized Calderon’s commitment in a "clean" government for the people.

It was 5:30 p.m. when cell phones and telephones started ringing in the Capitol. Employees and legislator aides walked from one office to another, and PDP legislators began entering their respective leader’s office.

After the announcement, laughs and claps were heard in various offices, while in others, low voices and mourning phrases were the scene.

When questioned by the press if former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon’s son—Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral—would be the PDP candidate for the gubernatorial race in 2004, Fas Alzamora declined to make public the name of the candidate, even though he accepted that the delegation identified a candidate unanimously.

Insistently, members of the press asked if the candidate the delegation favors lives in Ponce, and Fas Alzamora replied: "in that case, our path takes us to Sol Street in Old San Juan, and not to Ponce," which caused laughs among the senators.

Hernandez Mayoral, who is a common name on the list of candidates for the leading post of the island, lives in the historic zone of the metro area.

On the other hand, after a 45-minute meeting of the PDP delegation at the House of Representatives, House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo lamented Calderon’s decision but refused to ask her to reconsider.

"Would you ask the governor to reconsider her decision?" asked WOW News. Immediately, some representatives made gestures rejecting the possibility.

"We absolutely respect the governor’s decision, and she has our support to make possible the government work she has envisioned," said Vizcarrondo, who also added that the caucus unanimously identified a candidate but withheld the name to "allow our party the space it needs to reorganize."

The PDP will have a general meeting Friday related to the party’s reorganization, but the meeting’s agenda wasn’t specific, according to Vizcarrondo.

Contrary to what PDP legislators said, opposition leaders said Calderon’s decision demonstrates her inability to run the government.

"Calderon’s decision is a recognition of her incompetence to manage the government and transforms her into a ‘lame duck’ (someone who is free of possible pressure for not seeking re-election) when there’s still 45% of the term left," said Senate New Progressive Party Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock.

McClintock explained that Calderon’s retirement from the political scene succumbs the PDP into the greatest crisis the party has had in its history.

The senator urged the governor to stop spending public funds on advertising campaigns to promote herself and asked the people to never forget the economic and social crisis Calderon and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila provoked.

McClintock said Calderon’s retirement was also an effect of the poor job made by the PDP Legislature, which never questioned Calderon’s mistakes.

Puerto Rican Independent Party (PIP) Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio said Calderon’s decision may provoke a crisis in the government and massive resignations of the members of the Cabinet, making the government "unmanageable." The leader recalled the uncertainty caused by former Gov. Pedro Rossello in 1999 when he announced his intention to not seek re-election.

Garcia San Inocencio explained that Calderon withdrew her aspirations for re-election because "she’s deceived with the government" and the results she has made possible. "The people haven’t accepted her style," he noted.

According to the independence leader, Calderon took an improvised decision after the results of some polls and public opinion.

"Politicians cannot come to public service relying on polls or public opinion, because the people who pay the polls (referring to the media) will run the government," Garcia San Inocencio added.

The representative showed concern with Calderon’s priorities related to the special communities program, crime, and economy.

"There are important things to discuss such as the unequal treatment of public employees and the health reform that may be out of Calderon’s agenda now," concluded the PIP lawmaker.

Finally, legislators expressed hope that Calderon’s retirement and its implications won’t affect the trajectory of women in local politics.

Governor Guarantees 12 More Years Of PDP In Power

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

COMERIO (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon guaranteed Thursday that the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) will be in power 12 more years, although she did not specify that she would be the person in front of that government.

Calderon responded to media questions about her political future after visiting a road-construction site in Comerio.

"What I will guarantee the Puerto Rican people is that the PDP will have 12 more years in power," the governor told journalists.

When asked if she would be the person in front of the government during that time, Calderon said she reaffirmed her response.

On the other hand, the governor refused to name the person she has in her sights as the PDP candidate for San Juan mayor.

However, she said that person is not former Comptroller and Blue Ribbon Committee member Ileana Colon Carlo.

"I am not polling nor have we polled Colon Carlo, not because she wouldn’t be an extraordinary potential candidate, but because she decided a long time ago that she will dedicate her life to her private matters and she is not available for political matters, which is a great shame," Calderon said.

Among those mentioned as potential candidates to challenge incumbent San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini are Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila, Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux, and former beauty queen Marisol Malaret.

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