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Congress OK’s $130M Grant To Island…Hernandez Mayoral Accepts Gubernatorial Nomination, Seeks Votes Outside Of PDP & Status Resolution….Public Employees Protest To Claim Salary Raise…Calderon Sets Back Women’s Political Prospects…Pataki Praises Governor…65th Infantry Regiment Story Is On Film

Congress Approves Bill That Grants $130 Million To Island

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — With the approval of the federal legislation on tax relief, Puerto Rico could receive no later than September almost $130 million in federal funds of discretional use, according to published reports.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said if it was necessary, these funds could finance commitments such as the promised $150 increase to the employees of the Education and Family departments.

The approved bill grants a special allocation to state governments, an allocation of $20 billion, of which Puerto Rico would receive $130 million in block allocations and another $12 million for the Medicaid program, according to Acevedo Vila’s office.

Hernandez Mayoral Accepts Gubernatorial Nomination

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

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

As expected, Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral on Friday evening was elected as the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate.

Following a recommendation of the PDP’s general council for Hernandez Mayoral to accept the nomination, the 44-year-old attorney and son of former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon became the party’s new gubernatorial candidate.

"I have decided to accept the recommendation of this council, and if the feeling of this council is that of the people, then I will be the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate," Hernandez Mayoral said

His partner in the gubernatorial ballot will be Sen. Roberto Prats, who also accepted the resident commissioner nomination.

Thus, the PDP general council’s recommended ballot is that of the two young attorneys. The slate for Hernandez Mayoral and Prats included Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila as mayor for San Juan. PDP Mayors Association President Jose Aponte presented the slate.

But Acevedo Vila requested that the recommendation be amended to include that he be given time to think.

"I already began the process to determine where and when I can best serve this party at this moment. The only thing I ask is that the motion be modified to give me the space to complete the process of reflection, evaluation, and analysis," Acevedo Vila said.

WOW News sources said the resident commissioner is so upset over Gov. Sila Calderon’s failure to notify him of her decision not to run for re-election that he is considering not running for anything at all.

Before entering the general council meeting, Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin said he would oppose the general council’s decision, arguing that slates within the party should not be approved 24 hours after the governor’s announcement that she will not seek re-election.

"I don’t think people should be selected by heredity," Miranda Marin said.

But following the amendment presented by Aponte in the general council, Miranda Marin seconded the motion, and the slate was approved.

He would later tell reporters that he got confused, as his intention was to second only Acevedo Vila’s request. He added that he would continue to evaluate his candidacy for governor. Miranda Marin then exited party headquarters without hearing the thanks that Hernandez Mayoral gave him.

The general council is the second organism within the party with most power, the first is the general assembly. But the general council includes representatives of all levels within the party from municipal leaders to the party president.

Although the general council meeting was expected to last way into the night, it was clear that it would be a short one as the mentioned characters began to arrive at PDP headquarters in Puerta de Tierra. The meeting ended around 8:30 p.m.

Acevedo Vila was the first of the three to arrive and did so at 5:30 p.m. In accordance with what had been informed by WOW News sources, his discontent was evident as he declined to talk to the media, entered through the backdoor, and did so in a hasty manner.

Within the minute, Prats arrived alone and was received by dozens of supporters.

Five minutes later and walking down the street alone, Hernandez Mayoral arrived and was immediately surrounded by supporters.

Calderon arrived at 6 p.m. wearing a red suit and was escorted by former Economic Development Secretary Ramon Cantero Frau. Her son and two daughters were also with them.

Her participation in the general council meeting began at 7:30 p.m.

A smiling Calderon later confirmed to WOW News staff that her decision not to run for re-election had nothing to do with being sick, as rumors surfaced following her announcement.

"I am perfectly fine of health, and I think it shows. . .And I could say more things, but I will leave it at that," Calderon said.

Following the meeting, Calderon greeted PDP supporters from the second floor balcony of the party headquarters.

She was accompanied by her family, and Cantero Frau stayed in the back of the room, but the crowd began to yell his nickname "Moncho, Moncho."

Calderon then turned to Cantero Frau and said, "They are applauding you more than they do me. . .this is bad."

Hernandez Mayoral To Seek Votes Outside Of PDP

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — The new Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral, affirmed that he wants to seek the vote of those not affiliated if his intention to run in the 2004 elections materializes.

"I would take the message to that voter who is not affiliated to not look at the colors and that I have great respect for the minorities," Hernandez Mayoral said in published reports.

Although he affirmed that he is not a statehooder, he understands and accepts the size of the statehood sector and he will give them the space to promote their ideal.

As for an eventual election with any of the two New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidates, former Gov. Pedro Rossello and NPP President Carlos Pesquera, Hernandez Mayoral said he prefers that "the voters choose between what the PDP and NPP present — ideas and programs — and not because of favoritism."

Hernandez Mayoral Has Status On His Mind

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Seeking the solution to the hundred-year problem of the political status is one of the priorities of the recently announced gubernatorial candidate for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral.

"My intention is to propose to the people a mechanism to resolve the status problem. I want to propose it to them and commit with the people that the PDP government will be neutral and give all options equal space," the second son of former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon said in published reports.

He also assured that if he is chosen to lead the government, "when the status issue is discussed, the statehooders and the ‘independentistas’ will have the same opportunities."

Hernandez Mayoral accepted Friday night the unanimous recommendation of the PDP General Board to be the next gubernatorial candidate in the 2004 elections, along with Sen. Roberto Prats as resident commissioner.

Public Employees Protest At Capitol To Claim Salary Raise

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

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

A group of nearly 1,000 public employees went to the Capitol on Friday as a strategy to put pressure on the government to get a $150 monthly salary raise negotiated with labor unions. There, lawmakers committed with demonstrators to seek alternatives to confer the promised raise with the approval of the budget for Fiscal Year 2004.

House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo said the Legislature will keep looking for a solution to the impasse between labor unions and the government, once the latter proposed to give a raise in January 2004.

Union leaders expressed satisfaction with the number of participants and claimed that workers’ pressure made the lawmaker’s commitment possible.

"We think the government will grant the raise due to the constant demand made by the workers," said Jose Rodriguez, chairman of the AFL-CIO.

Rodriguez explained that Gov. Sila Calderon convoked a meeting with union leaders for Wednesday, when they expect Calderon to make the announcement.

Public employees of the Family and Education departments demand a salary increase of $150 to be effective by July 1, while the government has proposed to make it effective in January 2004. The $900 from the period of July to December 2003 will be paid to employees in August 2004, according to the government proposal.

Two weeks ago, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislators identified $63 million in cuts from advertising expenses and the health reform in the budget proposal to give the 75,000 public employees the raise, but Calderon rejected it.

Jose Delgado, president of the Teachers Syndicate, said the teachers won’t discard going on strike until the government gives the salary raise, which was agreed last year.

PDP Reps. Severo Colberg Toro and Ariel Garcia Caban, chairman of the House Labor and Education committees, respectively, committed with the workers’ claim, and conditioned their vote to the government’s budget for Fiscal Year 2004 until funds to give the raise are identified.

At the same time, New Progressive Party Sens. Lucy Arce and Norma Burgos and Rep. Albita Rivera went to the Capitol plaza to reaffirm their commitment with the demonstrators.

Burgos received an ovation when she recalled that besides the $150 raise, the government owes public employees $600 due to a previous increase promise made by Calderon in 2002 that hasn’t been satisfied. "The money needs to appear now," said Burgos.

Demonstrators gave legislators a box full of letters signed by employees demanding the salary raise and recognized lawmakers and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila for identifying alternatives to fund the raises.

According to some protesters, the organizations won’t stop demanding the raise, even when Calderon announced she won’t run for the leading post on the island in 2004.

"Our fight is stronger now that the governor won’t seek re-election in 2004. The commitment has to be accomplished July 1," said Carmen Daisy Rodriguez Santos, chairwoman of the School Cafeteria Employees Union.

"What we negotiated, is negotiated," yelled public employees while leaving the Capitol. As part of the demonstration, protesters walked to La Fortaleza, without knowing if the governor or some of her aides will receive them at the governor’s mansion.

Calderon’s Retirement Affects Women’s Political Trajectory

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

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

The retirement of Gov. Sila Calderon from the political scene may negatively affect women’s trajectory in politics because of her poor performance as governor, according to women leaders of the New Progressive Party (NPP) and Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP).

NPP Sen. Norma Burgos said the governor’s decision will affect women’s aspirations in politics, not because they are women, but because of Calderon’s deficient performance managing the government.

Burgos explained that the people gave Calderon their trust when electing her as the first female governor, breaking traditional paradigms from a male chauvinist culture.

"Calderon’s performance has been so deficient, her lack of achievements, and even her incapacity to satisfy people’s most simple needs, may provoke a big sector of voters to think incorrectly that incompetence is synonymous with allowing a woman to be governor," said Burgos.

The statehood leader, who won her post at the Senate with the largest number of votes of all senators, explained that she ran her political campaign emphasizing that elective positions have no gender.

"Women of all parties will have to deal with this reality," added Burgos, who explained that women have been able to overcome incorrect perceptions about their ability to work efficiently in jobs that traditionally were occupied by men.

"In politics, this (referring to Calderon’s deficient performance) makes us go back, because women will have to demonstrate that their abilities are superior to men’s in order to be elected," she said.

Calderon announced her decision not to run for re-election in 2004 in a televised speech Thursday. Calderon, who is the first woman elected to the most important post on the island, is also the first governor in Puerto Rican history who won’t seek re-election after the first term at La Fortaleza.

During the past months, the government has embarked on an intense advertising campaign to bolster Calderon’s image.

This week, criticism of her administration increased after an impasse over when to confer a $150 salary raise to public employees, and public opinion revealed great frustration with Calderon’s performance.

In the meantime, PIP Executive Vice President Maria de Lourdes Santiago agreed with Burgos, but minimized the impact of Calderon’s decision.

"It’s clear that her decision is not based on a gender issue, but in the people’s perception about her job at La Fortaleza," said Santiago, while explaining that public opinion on Calderon’s poor performance as governor doesn’t question women’s value or ability to manage the island.

Santiago said she was amazed that PDP legislators didn’t insist that Calderon reconsider her decision.

"During the last months, she (Calderon) was seen as a burden by the members of the PDP, and in politics the phrase ‘a rey muerto, rey puesto’ (dead king, new king) is the norm," noted the PIP leader.

Santiago said according to public opinion, Calderon might go down in history as someone who passed through the Governor’s Mansion without major achievements.

Nevertheless, Senate Vice President Velda Gonzalez said Calderon’s retirement won’t influence women’s participation in politics, and praised the governor’s performance.

"Absolutely not, because she (Calderon) has been very clear with the people. She has the right to be happy, and to protect her privacy," Gonzalez said.

"She has done an extraordinary job, she has done a moral reconstruction of Puerto Rico, and she left a legacy to make it possible for other women to govern," added Gonzalez.

Pataki Highlights Calderon’s Actions

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — New York Gov. George Pataki highlighted Thursday some of the contributions made by his Puerto Rican counterpart, Gov. Sila Calderon, in her two years as governor.

Calderon announced Thursday that she will not run for a second term in La Fortaleza in the 2004 general elections.

"Calderon has always tremendously supported New York, especially during the difficult days after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," Pataki said in a written statement.

Pataki recalled that Calderon immediately helped the city and the state of New York when the attacks happened by providing funds for the families affected and mobilizing personnel trained for this type of emergency.

"All New Yorkers are eternally grateful for their support, assistance, and compassion," Pataki said.

He also said he is "proud to have worked with her to help her return Vieques to the people of Puerto Rico."

Puerto Rican Regiment's Story Is On Film

May 22, 2003
Copyright ©2003 Newark Morning Ledger Co. All rights reserved.

A preview of the first major documentary to chronicle the history of the all-Puerto Rican 65th Infantry Regiment, will be shown at 2 p.m. June 7 at the Newark Public Library.

The program includes commentary by Noemi Figueroa Soulet, who directed and produced the documentary of the only Hispanic-segregated military unit in United States history. She also will answer questions posed by the audience as will veterans of the regiment who have been asked to participate. An exhibit of historic photographs will be on view.

Nicknamed the Borinqueneers, the volunteer unit was formed in 1899 and served with distinction from its inception during both world wars and the Korean Conflict. Soulet has received grants from the Latino Public Broadcasting Project, the Puerto Rico Humanities Council and the Westchester Arts Council to expand her original work, "The Borinqueneers: The 65th Infantry Regiment."

Sponsored by the Verizon Mid-Atlantic Hispanic Support Organization, the June 7 program has been organized by the library's New Jersey Hispanic Research and Information Center. For more information call (973) 733-7772 or visit

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