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Legislature To OK Anti-Death Penalty Resolution, Judge Torruella Favors It… Gallisa Censures Calderon, She Won't Take Sides In Primaries…Former Gov. Ferre Leaves Hospital…Torres Ramirez: Miranda Marin’s Remarks Inappropriate…Schumer Seeks Vieques Medical Aid…1st Trial Over Political Dossiers Begins

Legislature To Approve Resolution Against Death Penalty

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

June 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

The local Legislature is expected to pass a joint resolution restating the government's public policy against the application of the death penalty in Puerto Rico, said the presidents of the House and Senate, Carlos Vizcarrondo and Antonio Fas Alzamora, on Wednesday.

Although the Commonwealth Constitution of 1952 forbids capital punishment, the Popular Democratic Party House and Senate majority unanimously voted in favor of reiterating that position through a joint resolution that they expect to approve next week. The announcement was made during a legislative meeting with Gov. Sila Calderon in La Fortaleza on Wednesday.

"At this moment, this is the most appropriate mechanism of expression that could be used," Fas Alzamora said.

The decision also takes place a day after local human rights activists protested the judicial proceedings on the island that will allow the application of the death penalty to two Puerto Ricans if they are convicted of first degree murder at the U.S. District Court.

However, the legislative leaders acknowledged that the resolution wouldn't have an effect on the aforementioned case that is being tried on the island.

"There is no way of intervening before a decision is reached in court because the judge may decide not to sentence them to death," Fas Alzamora said.

Nevertheless, he noted that the resolution would be sent to the federal court.

Judge Torruella Favors Death Penalty

June 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Former Boston Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Juan Torruella favors the death penalty because, in his opinion, there are criminals who deserve such punishment.

Torruella mentioned Adolf Hitler and American terrorist Timothy McVeigh as examples of people who deserved to be killed.

"Society doesn’t have to pay $35,000 a year, which is the cost of an inmate in prison, on a convict like McVeigh. He simply does not deserve it," Torruella said in published reports.

For his part, former Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo also favored capital punishment.

"There are criminals who are sentenced to 25 years in prison and are out in eight. Prior to committing a crime if they think they could be exposed to the death penalty, they will think about it twice because they are not as brave as they seem to be," Toledo said.

Puerto Ricans Hector Acosta Martinez and Joel Rivera Alejandro could face the death penalty if convicted for the kidnapping and killing of a businessman in Trujillo Alto.

Gallisa Censures Governor

June 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) – "Independentista" leader Carlos Gallisa bitterly censured Gov. Sila Calderon for participating in the selection of Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidates for the next elections without the input of gubernatorial candidate Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral.

"Calderon will not lead the party anymore, nor is running for re-election, but she has remained and is calling the candidates and placing them in different positions," Gallisa said Thursday in a radio interview. "And the person who will lead the PDP probably in a month, Hernandez Mayoral, is nowhere."

Gallisa is referring to a series of political meetings Calderon held at La Fortaleza in an attempt to achieve consensus for the candidate for San Juan mayor and encouraging some figures of her government to run for the Legislature.

The governor has also interviewed State Insurance Fund Executive Director Nicolas Lopez Peña to try to convince him to run for Bayamon mayor.

Gallisa believes that the political team for the next general elections in November 2004 should be chosen by Hernandez Mayoral and not Calderon.

Calderon Won’t Endorse San Juan Hopefuls

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

June 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

Gov. Sila Calderon refused to endorse her fellow partisan and at-large Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux for the candidacy of mayor of San Juan.

Calderon also declined to endorse former Sen. Eduardo Bathia, who this week talked with gubernatorial candidate Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral about his political future.

"I won’t make any comments because I do not want to create a misunderstanding among the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) members," she said.

This way, Calderon avoided entering into possible controversies with PDP members about the race for mayor of San Juan, and discarded known disagreements among PDP politicians who do not support Vigoreaux for the San Juan’s race.

On Thursday, Hernandez Mayoral confirmed that he met with Bathia to know about his intentions but said "he is open to all the PDP candidates seeking the capital’s leading post and other elective positions. Hernandez Mayoral attended the groundbreaking ceremony of the $152 million Fairmont Coco Beach in Rio Grande.

In addition, Calderon rejected the possibility of facing obstacles with her administration if some government officials quit their positions to run for political posts.

"I know a lot of them might be possible candidates; I understand it is part of the process, but I will make sure to identify the best replacement to continue the work I’m focused on," the governor said. Labor Secretary Victor Rivera and State Insurance Fund Administrator Nicolas Lopez Peña have expressed interest in running for elective positions. If they do so, officials are required to quit their posts to avoid a possible conflict of interest.

On the other hand, Calderon dismissed Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin’s statements about her performance as president of the PDP. The Caguas mayor criticized Calderon’s style of heading the party, said there is no participation, and suggested that she should resign the party’s presidency.

"I do not waste my time answering those comments. I only can say he got confused, again," she said.

Two weeks ago, Calderon announced her intention of not seeking re-election in 2004. Miranda Marin expressed his interest in the gubernatorial race but endorsed Hernandez Mayoral during a meeting held at the PDP headquarters in Puerta de Tierra.

While leaving the PDP headquarters, Miranda Marin said then "he got confused" during the parliamentary process to endorse candidates.

Calderon made clear she is in constant dialogue with Hernandez Mayoral and said she’s taking decisions in harmony with the gubernatorial candidate, son of former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon.

Finally, Calderon said she respects the Justice secretary’s autonomy to request a Special Independent Prosecutor (SIP) for former Rep. Alida Arizmendi, who allegedly violated the Electoral Law.

"I respect her criteria and trust in her good understanding," she concluded.

Former Gov. Luis A. Ferre Released From Hospital

June 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Former Gov. Luis A. Ferre was released from the hospital Thursday. He has been hospitalized since Sunday as a precaution after a bout of bronchitis.

Jose Serra, spokesman for the Ferre family, said the former governor, who is 99 years old, was released following an excellent recovery.

He added that the Ferre family has requested that friends and citizens let the founder of the New Progressive Party time to rest.

Ferre was born Feb. 17, 1904, in Ponce. He was elected governor in November 1968.

Torres Ramirez:: Miranda Marin’s Remarks Inappropriate

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

June 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Secretary General Fernando Torres Ramirez urged Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin to retract his position regarding Gov. Sila Calderon's performance, considering it inappropriate.

"I invite Miranda Marin to take it back, to reflect, and re-evaluate that at this moment he is in the minority and that base and leadership of the PDP isn't satisfied with his proposal," Torres Ramirez said.

Miranda Marin has criticized the Calderon administration for a lack of vision in the development of the island. He also urged the governor to resign the presidency of the PDP so that the party's virtual gubernatorial candidate, Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral, can take over.

However, Hernandez Mayoral has told The Associated Press that he isn't interested in assuming the party presidency before Aug. 2, which is what he had already agreed to.

Torres Ramirez made his remarks following a legislative conference Wednesday at La Fortaleza. Although House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo and Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora said there wasn't enough time to discuss the issue, PDP House Majority Leader Roberto 'Junior' Maldonado, who was also at meeting, said he believed the party should censure the Caguas mayor for issuing remarks that promote division within the PDP.

Torres Ramirez, Vizcarrondo, and Fas Alzamora said they believe it would be better to explore another approach to the issue without attacking an important member of the party.

Nevertheless, Torres Ramirez said Miranda Marin should have followed the party rules, which state that any objections or disagreements with the PDP's performance or decisions should first be discussed within the party.

"The rules state that he has the responsibility of presenting them to the party or the secretary general, and because he didn't do it, I think it was inappropriate, and I believe that he will reconsider because Miranda Marin is a leader who has served the party a lot," Torres Ramirez said.

Schumer Advocates For Vieques Residents’ Health

June 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer called on the Health & Human Services secretary to supply information on health services available for the residents of Vieques now that the U.S. Navy has concluded military practices on the island.

In a letter to Secretary Tommy Thompson, Schumer said 72% of the residents of Vieques live in poverty and half are unemployed. In addition, he noted the cancer rate among the residents of Vieques is higher than in any other municipality of Puerto Rico.

"Finally the Navy has left Vieques, which is good news to all. But part of the post-Navy era in Vieques should be providing medical services to all the people of Vieques. It is not clear whether there are enough hospitals or health clinics for the citizens," Schumer said.

First Trial Regarding Political Dossiers Begins

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

June 4, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

The first civil trial regarding Puerto Rico police practice at the keeping intelligence dossiers of more than 500 people based only on their pro-independence political ideology began on Tuesday.

Outside San Juan Superior Court Judge Julia Garriga courtroom was filed with victims, witnesses, and other independence advocates who attended the hearing said "there is no monetary amount that could ease the pain" suffered for decades.

Mayaguez independence activist Providencia "Pupa" Trabal Rivera, 77, took the stand to reveal how she was a victim of political persecution for 28 years.

"I knew I had a dossier in 1993, when they (referring to the government) began to release the documents," said Trabal Rivera, who explained her dossier has over 2,706 pages.

She discovered that government authorities gathered a file on her activities in 1956, when she accepted to run for a municipal legislative post in Mayaguez under the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP).

In 1988, judge Arnaldo Lopez Rodriguez, concluded that the practice of keeping political dossiers conducted by the Police Department after the Nationalist revolt in 1950 was an illegal action.

Eleven years after the decision, former governor Pedro Rossello presented a formal apology to the people on behalf of the government for the improper actions of the state, and signed an Executive Order to grant $5.7 million to compensate victims.

"There is nothing in this world that could repay what we’ve been through," said Trebal’s son Nestor Nazario Jr. "[T]he greatest damage has been done to the pro-independence movement," he added.

Another witness was attorney Juan Santiago Nieves, who won the first ‘carpetas’ case against the government for civil right violations of independent activist David Noriega and others.

According to Santiago Nieves the 135,000 files gathered by the Intelligence Division of the Police Department contain reports on every aspect of the activists lives, including photos, information on their jobs, and promotion requests which were denied for their ideology.

Judge Garriga made clear that "the only (one) responsible for these acts is the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico."

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