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Gays Defend Diversity…Here's The Pitch -- And It's A Strike!…Berrios To Run For Gov. Again…Hernandez Mayoral Won’t Accept Gov’t Post…Island’s 1K Kidney Transplant Performed…McClintock Will Seek ’04 Senate Presidency…P.R. In Pan Am Games Tuneup…Carrion Defends Himself…Religious Groups Threaten Lawmakers Over Art. 103

Gays Take To The Streets To Defend Diversity

June 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Dozens of homosexuals, lesbians, transsexuals, and transgender individuals carried out their traditional Gay Pride Parade on the streets of San Juan on Sunday to prove that they are productive members of the Puerto Rican society.

"We are on the street to make ourselves visible and to demonstrate that we are mothers and fathers, we are brothers and sisters, we are sons and daughters of Puerto Ricans," said activist Pedro Julio Serrano, one of the event coordinators.

People began to gather up around 10 a.m. on Ashford Avenue in the touristy San Juan area of El Condado. They marched up to the Luis Muñoz Rivera Park, where several human rights activists gave their speech.

The event has been held on the island for 13 consecutive years. This year it carried more importance because of the recent Supreme Court ruling that domestic violence Law 54 doesn't apply to same-sex couples.

"We have the right to demand respect and a space in society," Serrano said.

Meanwhile, a handful of antigay moralists stood across the parade taking video shots and photographs of gay participants. They claimed the pictures would be used to denounce the excesses of those they described as shameless people.

Here's The Pitch -- And It's A Strike!

Softball teams split a doubleheader


June 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

It better be: It was thrown by Miami police Chief John Timoney -- and what ump is going to challenge him? Probably not worth the jail time.

The Miami Police Department played the Puerto Rico Police Department's softball team Saturday at the first Law Enforcement Officers Community Classic Goodwill Softball Tournament & Family Day.

Try saying that three times.

The field at Wynwood's Roberto Clemente Park was filled with men armed with bats, trying to outrun the cops.

Just another day on the force.

''Como se dice en español `afraid'?'' -- 'How do you say `afraid' in Spanish?'' Timoney said, taunting his opponents. ``I just hope the Puerto Rican police department doesn't take the loss too badly.''

Thing is, Miami was playing against the former champs of the Law Enforcement Olympics, who travel around the United States competing on the national circuit.

And Miami, well, it sticks to covering the bases of its investigations.

Mayor Manny Diaz's forecast: ``Unfortunately, we are playing against a very powerful team. It's going to be rough.''

The Puerto Rican Blue Power team was put on notice by the chief.

Said Timoney: ``If they steal any bases, we'll lock them up. That's our prerogative as the home team.''

Sportscaster Felo Ramirez, who lives in Puerto Rico, helped keep score.

In the first game, Miami Commissioner Joe Sanchez hit one into right field and scored.

It was the run Miami needed, giving the home team a 10-9 victory.

That's where the win streak ended. In blistering heat, Puerto Rico came back to prevail 15-13 in a lengthy second game.

Said the mayor: ``I hope our workman's comp policy hasn't expired.''

Ruben Berrios To Run For Governor Again

By Luis R. Varela of Associated Press

May 31, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE – Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Executive President Sen. Fernando Martin maintained Saturday that 99.9% of PIP voters favor Ruben Berrios to run again for governor in the 2004 general elections.

"I think that if a referendum is done in the party, 99.9% of the people would want Ruben to be the gubernatorial candidate," said Martin, who is running for mayor of San Juan. "The obvious reason is that Ruben is the one with the most home runs and is the historic leader."

PIP leaders asserted that Berrios has already been chosen as gubernatorial candidate during a recent meeting in San Juan of the party’s executive committee.

Under Berrios’ leadership, the PIP surpassed for the first time in over 20 years 100,000 votes in the 2000 general elections.

The Aibonito lawyer received 104,705 votes, and for the first time in many years, the electoral franchise of the PIP was not in danger.

Martin said in a radio interview that Berrios is the natural gubernatorial candidate in November 2004 because he is the one with the greatest capacity of electoral gathering easily verified with historic evidence.

The PIP is expected to announce in the next few weeks that Vice President Maria de Lourdes Santiago will run for a Senate seat.

"The candidacies in my party have still not been decided," Santiago said Saturday when asked about the matter.

Hernandez Mayoral Won’t Accept Government Post

By Luis R. Varela of Associated Press

May 31, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE – Attorney Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral announced Saturday that he would not accept any position in Gov. Sila Calderon’s administration because he considers that to mock the people.

Hernandez Mayoral made the statement while insisting that the persistent version that he will be named secretary of State as part of a process to present himself to the island as a candidate with government experience is totally false.

"I heard that rumor, and it is false. I won’t accept, nor has any government post been offered to me," Hernandez Mayoral said in a radio interview. "Accepting a post in the government would be almost a mockery."

He said he will present himself as a gubernatorial candidate in the general elections in November 2004 without occupying a government post because to be governor one needs the best ideas and the best programs and to have the capacity to gather the talents to execute them.

"The day people vote, they will know which of the three candidate has the best ideas and offers the greatest hope to the people. I will gain the people’s trust that way," said the second son of former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon.

The New Progressive Party (NPP) will choose its candidate between former Gov. Pedro Rossello and former gubernatorial candidate and NPP President Carlos Pesquera, and the Puerto Rican Independence Party announced Saturday that Ruben Berrios will run again for the post.

Hernandez Mayoral said Saturday that if elected, he will recruit talent for his government from other political parties.

"I don’t think 100% of the island’s problems can be solved by only recruiting from a bank of 50% of the island," he said.

San Juan Hospital Site Of Puerto Rico's 1,000th Kidney Transplant

May 31, 2003
Copyright © 2003 EFE NEWS SERVICE. All rights reserved.

San Juan, May 31 (EFE) - Puerto Rico's 1,000th kidney transplant was successfully performed this week at San Juan's Hospital Auxilio Mutuo, doctors said.

Eduardo Santiago Delpin, the surgeon in charge of the operation last Thursday, said the hospital's kidney transplant program began 33 years ago.

The procedure's success rate has nearly doubled in recent years because of technical advances and the specialized training the medical staff has received, Santiago said.

The success rate for kidney transplants has risen from approximately 50 percent in 1970 to 92 percent currently, Santiago said.

"We have improved. Services and medications are better. We are performing 75-80 transplants a year. That makes us first in Latin America," the surgeon said.

Commenting on the 1,000th transplant celebration, Santiago told the press that "what is important is not the operation or the doctors, but the fact that the kidney donation changes someone's life."

"The living donor gives away some of his life. In the case of dead donors, his death may acquire different meaning in the eyes of relatives. This changes the negative viewpoint we usually see in society and provides a positive angle," Santiago said.

Doctors hope to start performing liver and pancreas transplants at Hospital Auxilio Mutuo in the near future, the doctor said, and are in the process of training the medical staff.

McClintock Will Seek The Senate Presidency In 2004

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

May 31, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

After months of speculation, during which he did not deny nor confirm his plans to run for the resident commissioner post, New Progressive Party (NPP) Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock announced Friday that he will seek re-election in 2004.

Using the theme "Our leader at the Senate," McClintock also made clear his intention to seek the Senate presidency if the NPP wins control of that legislative body.

"The (Calderon) administration has caused great damage to the political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States, and as result, former Gov. Pedro Rossello will need all government structures, department heads, mayors, and lawmakers to bolster Puerto Rico’s image and its relationship with the mainland," McClintock said.

The senator made his announcements during a press conference at a restaurant in Hato Rey that was packed with NPP followers, pre-candidates, and fellow senators, including Migdalia Padilla and Pablo Lafontaine.

If re-elected and chosen by his peers as president, he plans to totally reform the Senate and reduce the privileges of the chairman’s office. McClintock mentioned that the Legislature needs to be evaluated by its contribution in solving problems affecting Puerto Rico and not by the numbers of bills approved each year.

The leader, who has been in the Senate since 1993, said he will look forward to developing consensus and teamwork at the Legislature.

When questioned about his withdrawal from consideration for the NPP resident commissioner’s race, McClintock explained that he decided to stay at the Senate after talking to Rossello and fellow partisans, who convinced him that he would be better serve Puerto Rico from the local Capitol.

With this statement, McClintock seemed to deny that he withdrew from the resident commissioner race because he didn’t have a chance of winning the primary.

San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini, former Tourism Co. Executive Director Luis Fortuño, and Sens. Migdalia Padilla, Pablo Lafontaine, and Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer all endorsed McClintock’s re-election bid.

Nevertheless, McClintock—who is National Committeeman at the Democrat Party—refused to endorse Republican Ramirez de Ferrer, who will be seeking the candidacy for resident commissioner in the NPP primary scheduled for Nov. 9.

Finally, McClintock also dismissed the idea of facing possible opponents from his own party, including Norma Burgos and Orlando Parga, by saying he has the support of many NPP leaders and took into consideration the opinion of many party members that he has interviewed and talked to throughout the island.

It must be noted, however, that McClintock as minority leader has come under fire from his peers more than once. He faced off with Burgos and fired her from the caucus. The same thing occurred with NPP Sen. Sergio Peña Clos, who following arguments with the delegation left his post and is now an independent senator.

Puerto Rico To Box In Miami Cup

By Sharon Robb

May 31, 2003
Copyright © 2003 SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL. All rights reserved.

MIAMI · Yohny Perez of Colombia and Victor Bisbal of Puerto Rico, who boxed in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, will compete in the inaugural June 14 Miami Cup Championship at American Airlines Arena's Waterfront Theater.

Colombia and Puerto Rico will compete in an amateur boxing dual meet for the first time in the United States. It will serve as a tuneup for the Pan American Games in the Dominican Republic in August.

Perez, a bantamweight, was a gold medalist at the Pan American Games qualifier in Brazil and silver medalist at last year's Central American and Caribbean Games. At 26, he is Colombia's top amateur boxer. Bisbal, a heavyweight, fought at the World Cup and lost in the final to Russia.

Colombia won the Pan American box-off competition in Colombia last month.

The eight-bout card begins at 4 p.m. Tickets are priced at $65, $45, $25 and $15 and go on sale today through all Ticketmaster outlets or the arena.

Richard Carrion Defends Himself Before Legislature

By Istra Pacheco of Associated Press

May 30, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

Banco Popular President Richard Carrion on Friday defended himself from innuendos that arose after his institution paid a $21.6 million fine to avoid charges related to failure to inform the federal government about time activities related to money laundering from drug trafficking.

Carrion hinted that he agreed to pay the fine only because he felt cornered by the Federal Reserve Bank, which threatened to revoke Banco Popular’s insurance with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) if he were convicted of not informing authorities about suspicious money laundering activities.

"Although we believed, and still believe, that the possibilities of coming out guilty in a trial were very poor. . . the threat of losing the FDIC insurance in case that the bank was convicted, no matter how poor it was. . .put the bank’s survival at risk, with some very negative consequences for the Puerto Rico economy, such as the loss of thousands of jobs," he said.

Carrion made his statements during a public hearing of the Senate Bank & Consumer Affairs Committee, which seeks to determine if additional monitoring elements are needed to detect money laundering in Puerto Rico.

Religious Groups Threaten Lawmakers Over Article 103

By Istra Pacheco of Associated Press

May 30, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

In a series of threatening speeches, various religious groups on Friday opposed the derogation of Article 103 of the Penal Code, which classifies sexual relationships between couples of the same sex as illegal.

The Chairman of Pentecostal Churches of God, Rev. Pedro Torres Velazquez, said that if the legislature eliminates article 103 and tries to approve marriage between people of the same sex, his parishioners are ready to go to jail to prevent it.

"The Government will need a lot of money to expand prisons (because) we are ready to be in jail to avoid it," said Torres Velazquez at a packed legislative hearing, where a police officer had to control the entryway.

The chairman of the Pentecostal Fraternity (FRAPE), Rev. Angel Marcial, condemned the fact that only Judiciary Committee chairman Eudaldo Baez Galib was present at the public hearing.

"When the evangelists come to the legislature, senators vanish, but then, those are the ones who visit our churches seeking votes," said Marcial angrily. At the same time, he said, parishioners "will be paying attention to those legislators who listen to the gay population when they visit the legislature" at the time of general elections.

"Our population is bigger (than the one which endorses eliminating Article 103), and in electoral terms, that’s what counts," said Torres Velazquez.

Five religious organizations participated in the public hearing to oppose the derogation of Article 103, citing that it may promote a form of sexual intercourse which to their knowledge represents more risk of sexually transmitted disease.

Most of the speeches contained explicit language on anal intercourse and its alleged negative impact on human health.

"There are studies which reveal that sodomy is an urgent public health problem that has to be managed by the state. . . and the state is required to protect the health, safety and people’s morals," said Angel Esteban Martinez, chairman of the Evangelist Christian Churches Network.

Contrary to what Martinez has said he would do on Wednesday, he did not include in his written speech a proposal for a referendum to allow the people to decide if Article 103 of the Penal Code should be derogated.

Organizations added that leaving Article 103 intact protects children and is in harmony with Biblical principles.

Meanwhile, nearly 100 people prayed and sang hymns on the Capitol’s outskirts allegedly asking for "wisdom for the legislators" who are evaluating the code.

Article 103 allows a sentence from six to 12 years in prison for a person convicted of sodomy, even when adults have the intercourse takes place in private between consenting adults.

Homosexual groups say they look forward to derogation of the article, arguing that it violates the right to intimacy protected by the Constitution.

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