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PDP Legislative Leaders Quiet About Sodomy…McClintock: PDP Bill ‘Victimizes’ Tourism Industry…10K Summer Jobs Created…Fernos Praises Rossello’s Art. 103 Stance…UN OK’s Self-Determination Resolution…Urban Train Running Late…Thailand To Take On P.R.…Acevedo Vila Will Run For Rep-At-Large…CRB: Pesquera Should Resign

PDP Legislative Leaders Keep Quiet About Sodomy

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

June 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Despite the fact that the main gubernatorial candidates of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and the New Progressive Party (NPP) favor the elimination of Article 103 of the Penal Code, also known as the illicit sex code, concerning sodomy among consenting adults, House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo and Senate Judicial Committee Chairman Eudaldo Baez Galib said they preferred to keep their opinions to themselves.

"I don't dare say if a consensus will be reached. I have yet to see the bill," Vizcarrondo said.

"At this moment I don't want to influence anyone, but I obviously do have an opinion on the issue," Baez Galib said.

The two PDP leaders made their statements following a legislative conference meeting at La Fortaleza on Tuesday in which they also discussed the possibility of increasing autonomous powers of the island's 78 municipalities.

Vizcarrondo added that the House will wait until the Senate finishes voting on the new Penal Code to start evaluating the issue.

Meanwhile, Baez Galib reiterated that he expects the U.S. Supreme Court to issue its decision on whether illicit sex laws are unconstitutional by June 25, which is the last day for the Senate to approve the bill. The PDP senator said if the Supreme Court bases its decision on the constitutional right to privacy, it will be applicable to all U.S. jurisdictions, including Puerto Rico.

PDP gubernatorial candidate Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral and NPP primary gubernatorial candidate former Gov. Pedro Rossello have agreed that the aforementioned article should be eliminated.

McClintock Protests Bill That ‘Victimizes’ Tourism Industry

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

June 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) Senate Minority Leader Kenneth McClintock voiced his opposition to an administration bill that, if approved, would give the Puerto Rico Tourism Co. the power to penalize industry members.

He said the bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code to transfer responsibilities to the Tourism Co. from the Treasury Department to impose and collect room taxes. It would also enable the Tourism Co. to conduct investigations, fine, or intervene with tourism business owners who don’t comply with the law.

"The bill goes to the extent of allowing searches regardless of whether the owner or the person in charge of a business is present at the time of the search," McClintock said during a press conference Tuesday.

McClintock, who was accompanied by NPP Sen. Lucy Arce, said the transfer of responsibilities will turn the Tourism Co. from a tourism promoter into a regulating company.

"This bill has the effect of transforming the Tourism Co.’s role of facilitator into that of a virtual stalker, thus destroying the environment of collaboration and trust that should exist between the Tourism Co. and the components of the industry," McClintock said.

Arce added that industry members have approached them with worries and objections regarding the possible approval of the bill. She said the bill creates insecurity in an industry that has been faced with serious financial difficulties like hotel shutdowns, lay offs, and tourism decline.

Both legislators said the NPP delegation will vote against the bill and urged the Tourism Co. representatives not to endorse it.

Governor Announces 10,000 Summer Jobs For Young People

June 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

MAYAGUEZ (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon announced Tuesday the creation of 10,000 summer jobs for young people age 16 to 21.

Calderon said the jobs would be created at a cost of $5.6 million to the Labor & Human Resources Department.

The governor made the announcement in Mayaguez during the Second National Youth Forum, in which some 250 university students expressed their concerns about education, the media, public service, public health, mental health, and others.

Calderon said the young people would "have to produce work" and that under her administration, no young person will be employed without being assigned work.

"I don’t know how it has been in the past, but under my government, everyone has to earn their pay with the sweat on their brow and with dignity," she added.

As part of the summer jobs program of the Labor Department, the young people will work in various government agencies from June 16 to July 11, officials said.

Fernos Invites Politicians To Discuss Article 103

June 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

MAYAGUEZ (AP) — Women’s Advocate Maria Dolores Fernos acknowledged on Tuesday former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s opposition to Article 103 of the Penal Code, which criminalizes sexual intercourse between people of the same sex.

Fernos invited politicians to "discuss the controversial issue openly."

"It is a courageous opinion (referring to Rossello) and opens the door for other leaders to talk about the issue," said the government official after participating in the Youth Affairs Office’s Second Youth Forum in Mayaguez.

"I think his statement is excellent. . . It is important because he occupied a leadership position," she added.

The former governor and New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate in a recent televised interview said he favored eliminating Article 103 from the Penal Code because he believes that "people’s privacy is sacred."

Rossello’s opinion was endorsed by Fernos, who believes the issue is "a human rights one."

"Homosexuals have the right to have their private lives without intervention or punishment from the state," said Fernos who called upon those who shared her beliefs to speak loud and make their statements heard.

UN Committee Approves Measure Regarding Puerto Rico

June 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The United Nations Decolonization Committee ratified late Monday a new resolution endorsing the right of Puerto Rico to free determination and independence.

The measure, however, failed to include the demand that Puerto Rico be included in the list of territories that lack self-government.

It did recognize that the Puerto Rico legislature is evaluating a series of initiatives aimed at holding a Constitutional Assembly to review the island’s political relations with the United States.

Most of the island representatives testifying before the committee favored that a Constitutional Assembly be held including the Bar Association, ProELA, Puerto Rican Independence Party, New Independence Movement and the Congreso Nacional Hostosiano.

Scheduled Date For Opening Of UT Remains Uncertain

June 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Siemens Corporation, in charge of administering the Urban Train, is not sure about the scheduled opening date of September 29, Department of Transportation and Public Works Secretary Fernando Fagundo said.

Twelve stations were scheduled to begin operations on that date while the remaining stations had been scheduled for December.

"The civil and infrastructure work has been completed. It is up to them (Siemens) and the pace at which they can complete installation. I agreed not to hurry them because the train shouldn’t operate until it is completely safe," Fagundo said.

If Siemens begins operations on September 29, DTOP has to pay $60 million as part of the agreement reached when construction was halted after the company had invested $250 million.

If Siemens fails to meet the deadline it will have to pay the government $40,000 for each day of its delay.

Thailand To Take On Puerto Rico

by Preechachan Wiriyanupappong

June 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Nation Multimedia Group Public Co., Ltd. All rights reserved. 

(VOLLEYBALL) Thailand will take on North American champions Puerto Rico in the opening match of the World Under-19 Boys Volleyball Championship at the Silapa-archa Gymnasium in Suphan Buri from July 5 to 13.

Pool A consists of hosts Thailand, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and either the USA or Australia, while 1999 world champions Russia, China, Egypt and Slovakia are in Pool B.

Group C comprises four-time world champions Brazil, Poland, Czech Republic and Asian champions India, while 1997 world champions Italy are in Pool D with the Netherlands, Iran and Morocco.

Besides the Thailand-Puerto Rico match on the opening day, Venezuela face either the US or Australia, Slovakia take on China, Egypt play Russia, Poland meet India, Czech Republic face Brazil, Italy challenge the Netherlands and Morocco take on Iran.

National head coach Apinun Sridapong is confident that Thailand will win their opening match against Puerto Rico. "My team has never played Puerto Rico before. Neither of us has the physical advantage," he said.

Acevedo Vila Will Run For Representative-At-Large

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

June 9, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

After weeks of speculation, resident commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced on Monday his intention to seek an elective position in the House of Representatives in the general elections of 2004.

"Today, after an introspective process, I announce that the best place to develop a new agenda for the future is the House of Representatives," said Acevedo Vila in a crowded press conference held at the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) headquarters in Puerta de Tierra.

With that statement, Acevedo Vila ruled out the possibility of running for San Juan mayor, and added that the San Juan mayor post was not the proper place for him to develop his political agenda.

Still, he argued, any PDP candidate could defeat San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini.

"Anyone could beat Santini, and I am still waiting for his reply to know what has been done in San Juan," said Acevedo Vila.

Using a red and blue sign reading ‘Anibal for the House’ as background, the resident commissioner said his agenda would be focused on legislative reform, broadening Puerto Rico’s trade faculties to promote the island as economic leader in the Caribbean, and strategies for job creation. He will also work for education reform and seek alternatives to develop the Commonwealth.

"The government of Puerto Rico has the responsibility of creating an opportunity with the United States to analyze the challenges of the Commonwealth," he said while explaining his legislative agenda.

Acevedo Vila identified three areas of opportunity for the Commonwealth’s development, including economy and trade, federal laws applicable to Puerto Rico and the transformation of federal transferences structure towards autonomy.

In addition, Acevedo Vila said that his experience in the U.S. Congress gives him a broader scope to reform the legislature, and said the people "need a mechanism to know about the Legislature’s performance and more participation to intervene with the legislative agenda."

He mentioned the possibility of assigning an individual budget to each lawmaker’s office that will be used to cover all the legislator’s expenses as an alternative to avoid mileage, meal and transportation benefits that current legislators have.

When questioned about a possible leading position in the House, Acevedo Vila said he supports the current Speaker and Vice Speaker, Carlos Vizcarrondo and Ferdinand Perez.

Perez, as well as many legislators and the PDP leadership, including Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin, attended the press conference. Vizcarrondo, the speaker was at the Puerto Rican Day Parade in New York on Sunday.

"They have my support and trust, and they are still Speaker and Vice Speaker until December 2004," said Acevedo Vila who served as representative at-large from 1993 to 2000.

Acevedo Vila denied he was upset with Gov. Sila Calderon, who won’t seek re-election in 2004, and made clear he invited her to the press conference when he talked to her on Friday.

A few weeks ago, Calderon announced her political retirement, and Acevedo Vila was not informed of Calderon’s decision until the last minute. A day after Calderon’s announcement, the PDP endorsed Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral and Sen. Roberto Prats for the gubernatorial and resident commissioner races. WOW sources had said Acevedo Vila was upset because he was excluded from the party’s decision-making process.

Finally, Vicky Acevedo Vila said she was very happy with her husband’s decision. "I’m glad to be back in Puerto Rico. Each time we were in public, people asked him to come back, and he listened to them; we are ready for everything," she concluded.

Romero Barcelo: Pesquera Should Resign

June 9, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

San Juan (AP) — Former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo said on Monday that Carlos Ignacio Pesquera should resign as New Progressive Party (NPP) president due to his inability to allocate funds for the organization, which faces serious political problems.

"If he does not have the ability to keep the political party operating he should quit," said Romero Barcelo, while stating his opinion that Pesquera is obsessed with the gubernatorial candidacy, which has unhinged him from political reality and the NPP.

"He has an obsession with the gubernatorial race, he is alienated from political reality and the party, and that damages the organization," Romero Barcelo said in a radio interview.

He was firm when saying that if Pesquera does not have the ability to collect money for the NPP, he should not continue in the presidency.

He mentioned there are mechanisms to remove Pesquera from the NPP presidency, but doing so, would transform Pesquera into a victim; "maybe that is what he has been looking for."

Romero Barcelo said that Pesquera’s obsession with the governor’s race and his lack of support induce him to blame third parties.

He recalled that when former representative Leo Diaz was NPP president and found he did not have enough support, he resigned.

Romero Barcelo even added that when he found himself without support at the NPP, he quit, after which Pedro Rossello was appointed president.

In addition, he said that if Pesquera does not have the party’s support, he won’t be able to fulfill his duties as president.

Romero Barcelo added that he’s not available to occupy the position in the interim if Pesquera resigns.

Regarding any desire to seek an elective post in the next general elections, Romero said he does not yet know if he will be running.

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