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Rossello Begins Campaign On Sunday …Calderon Promises Continuity, Yields On Pay Increase…Jazz Festival Opens…Gays Denounce Judiciary, Rodriguez: Legislature Should Amend Law 54…PDP Solicits Businesses For Donations

Rossello Begins Campaign On Sunday

May 29, 2003
Copyright ©2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial hopeful former Gov. Pedro Rossello will officially begin his primary campaign on Sunday.

Campaign Executive Director Frances Rodriguez said the campaign will kick off at 10 a.m. on the bridge that provides access to Ciales.

"The beginning of this campaign represents an opportunity for progress, security, and the welfare needed by the Puerto Rican people to move on from the economic and social stillness it has lived with during the past two years," Rodriguez said.

Rossello faces opposition from NPP President Carlos Pesquera, who will challenge the former governor in the primary for the governor’s post.

Union Government Workers To Receive Salary Increase In July

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

May 28, 2003
Copyright ©2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Months of bickering and threats came to an end Wednesday after Gov. Sila Calderon announced that her administration will have the money to grant the $150 monthly salary increase to employees of the Education and Family departments starting July 1.

"Given the availability that has come up and thanks to the efforts of Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila, I am pleased to announced that Education employees will receive the increase by July 1," the governor said.

The impasse was solved through a federal legislation known as the Jobs & Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003, which will grant $139 million to Puerto Rico, of which $14.8 million will be for healthcare services and $60 million will be used to cover what was needed to pay for the salary increase of Education employees from the beginning of fiscal year 2004, which starts July 1, 2003.

The money to cover the salary increase of Family Department employees will come from another federal allocation. The governor said the fund of $25 million--of which $13 million would be used to cover the salary increase--has yet to be allocated. However, she noted that remaining moneys of the other $139 million allocation could also be used to make up for any shortage in this case.

"In other words, we are covered. God has been very generous. We have been very lucky," the governor said.

Following the governor's meeting with Education Secretary Cesar Rey, Family Secretary Yolanda Zayas, and the union leaders of the island at La Fortaleza, Teachers Federation President Jesus Delgado expressed his gratitude for having granted them what they wanted.

"The rest is water under the bridge," said Delgado referring to the several protests against Calderon's administration and even the threats of withdrawing their political support for the governing Popular Democratic Party in the 2004 general elections.

Had the federal funds not been available, the governor's stance on the impasse with union workers would have prevailed. The salary increase would have been delayed until January 2004 and the employees would have received a deferred payment of $900 in August of 2004 to make up for the first six months of the fiscal year.

Puerto Rico Jazz Festival Honors Chick Corea

May 28, 2003
Copyright ©2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico is kicking off its annual jazz festival in honor of pianist-composer Chick Corea.

The 13th edition of the Puerto Rico Jazz Fest, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday, is a tribute to the 61-year-old for his contributions to jazz and his connections to Latin culture, organizers said.

"Chick's blood is warmed by the Latin rhythms," festival producer Luis Alvarez said during a news conference with the artists Wednesday.

Corea differed. "It's difficult to explain music by blood," he said. "It's more easy to explain music by spirit. It could be anything coming from anybody at any time."

The festival also features saxophonist and clarinetist Paquito D'Rivera, who said he was glad to be visiting the island and that "if I weren't Cuban, I wouldn't mind being Puerto Rican."

"I'm condemned to having all good things happen to me in Puerto Rico," D'Rivera said, referring to his Puerto Rican wife, vocalist Brenda Feliciano, and his friendship with the late Puerto Rican jazz master Tito Puente.

The festival is being held at the Tito Puente Amphitheater in San Juan. Other performers include trombonist William Cepeda, vibraphonist Gary Burton and pianist Makoto Ozone.

Gays Denounce Judiciary, Legislature Lack Responsibility

By Istra Pacheco of Associated Press

May 28, 2003
Copyright ©2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

Four days before the thirteenth Gay Pride Parade, more than a dozen organizations condemned Puerto Rican judges and legislators for "not taking responsibility" to create laws and legal precedents which would protect them on equal terms with the rest of the population.

Olga Orraca, spokeswoman for the coalition of organizations which will participate in the demonstration, said the recent decision of the local Supreme Court on the non-applicability of domestic violence Law 54 for gay couples contributes to existing prejudices against the homosexual community.

"Neither the judges, nor the legislators in Puerto Rico want to take responsibility to make positive changes for the lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, transgender or transsexual communities, because they respond to the conservative sector," Orraca said during a press conference at the Ateneo Puertorriqueño.

She added that the organizations will take advantage of the parade–scheduled for Sunday at 10:30 a.m. in Condado–to organize a lobbying strategy with legislators and promote an amendment to Law 54 to include homosexual wording in the statute.

In the meantime, activist Jose Mulinelli said event coordinators expect nearly 5,000 people to participate in the parade, which will begin at Plaza del Indio in Condado, go down Ashford Avenue and end at the Third Millennium Park in Puerta de Tierra.

This year’s theme "Peace through understanding", is a denunciation of violence which dominates society, and a call on respect the differences between human beings.

Justice Chief: Legislature Should Amend Law 54

By Lilliam Irrizary of Associated Press

May 28, 2003
Copyright ©2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

Following the Puerto Rico Supreme Court decision to exclude same-sex couples from protection under the domestic violence law, Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez, who had requested they be included, said Wednesday that it is now the Legislature's duty to amend the law.

"Certainly what proceeds is that the Legislative Assembly amends the law," Rodriguez said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Edualdo Baez Galib argued that the amendment should be made by way of an administrative bill so it has "more weight and a greater consensus is achieved."

Gov. Sila Calderon’s Press Secretary Luis Torres Negron, however, said the matter is not being considered by the Legislature at this moment.

According to Article 103 of the present penal code, same-sex relations are punishable by a maximum prison sentence of 12 years even when the sex is between consenting adults.

Although the Legislative Assembly is currently revising the penal code, Article 103 will not be amended.

PDP Raises Funds From Businessmen

May 28, 2003
Copyright ©2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral met Wednesday morning with businessmen in an activity where those in attendance paid a $500 entry fee.

Hernandez Mayoral said the activity was scheduled before Calderon announced last week her decision to not seek re-election in the next general elections.

At the same time, he denied that this activity compares to those that former Gov. Pedro Rossello had with businessmen also to raise funds to finance his campaign.

"This is different. We didn’t sit agency chiefs with the businessmen here," Hernandez Mayoral told the journalists who arrived at the activity in the Bankers Club in Hato Rey because of sources.

Annie Bird, director of Edelman’s public relations division of the advertising agency SIMA, said she organized the activity whose ticket cost $500 per person and that the money collected was for the PDP.

Bird said the company she works for has relationships with some governmental agencies and said the breakfast was attended by 60 people, including businessmen from printing companies, among others, "and they made a donation to the PDP in their individual character."

Bird said not all the people who attended have contracts with the government and that this was for people "who had concerns and anxieties about the island."

She said these activities are for the candidate to have the opportunity to talk up close with the people who have concerns about future plans, including what will happen in the government, "and who have suggestions they want to make so their concerns are taken into consideration when they are preparing their platform."

As for the governor, Bird said these meetings help her attacks these issued in particular during the two years she has left.

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