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Ponce De León's Letter To King Ferdinand Fetches Record Price…Schumer Standing By Irizarry... House Postpones Penal Code Revision…SJ Among Most Expensive Cities… Calderon Kicks Off U.S. Voter Drive, Denies Budget Impact, She’s Accused Of Politicizing PRFAA…Garcia’s Pan- Am Health Appt. Lauded

1511 Treasure: Ponce De León's Letter To King Ferdinand Sets Auction Record

From Wire Services

June 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
. All rights reserved. 

Rare? You want rare?

Auctioned in New York on Wednesday was a letter written in 1511 by Ponce de León, who came to the New World with Columbus on his second voyage in 1493. The letter is one of the earliest letters ever sent from the New World

The winning bid was $511,500.00, exceeding the pre-sale estimate of $300,000 to $500,000. This was a World Auction Record for any Spanish letter.

''There are five of these in the world,'' Chris Coover, a specialist in books and manuscripts at Christie's Fine Art Auctioneers, said by phone from Manhattan. ``Four are in Seville, and the fifth is here.''

Coover wouldn't say where the letter came from, but it's the first De León letter ever offered at auction and the only one in private hands, he said.

De León (1474-1521), Governor and Captain-General of the island of San Juan Bautista (later Puerto Rico), reports to King Ferdinand of Spain that mining for precious metals is going well but that gold hasn't been sent because there are no furnaces to smelt it, Coover said. De León was in the midst of an Indian revolt; ''the Caribes have always been bad for this island,'' Coover said he wrote.

De León also requested permission to lead a formal expedition to ''additional islands to the north,'' according to Coover. That led to the March 3, 1513, launch of his epic voyage to North America. On April 3, he set foot on soil that he ended up naming Florida.

Written in ink made of walnut shells and oak galls, the letter is on rag paper ''of very good quality, probably brought from Spain,'' Coover said.

Schumer Standing By Judicial Nominee Irizarry

June 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Times Union, Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday that he still supported judicial nominee Dora Irizarry after the former prosecutor was reportedly voted "unqualified" by the Association of the Bar of the City of New York. Irizarry, supported by both Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, and Schumer, D-N.Y., is awaiting a confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate.

Schumer said he would stand by the nomination and noted that Irizarry had the support of Pataki and the White House.

"If they'll stick with her, so will I," Schumer said. "I think she'll be a fine addition to the bench."

A former candidate for New York state attorney general, Irizarry was nominated by President Bush to the Eastern District of New York. A native of Puerto Rico, she would be the first Hispanic judge on that district's bench.

House Postpones Revision Of New Penal Code

June 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party Rep. Charlie Hernandez said the new Penal Code will not be approved in this legislative session because the House of Representatives wants to conduct its own public hearings about the bill in the next few months.

"The Senate had two years to work on this bill. It would be a bit ambitious for it to be approved in the House when there are only six days left to approve measures in this session," Hernandez said in published reports.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Eudaldo Baez Galib said the Senate could approve a version of the new code and expressed surprise that the House of Representatives delayed the approval.

San Juan Among Most Expensive Cities In World

June 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS
. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — A study conducted by the firm Mercer HR this year revealed that among 144 world cities, San Juan was ranked No. 43 on the most expensive cities list.

The study, according to published reports, showed that in 2002, San Juan was ranked No. 35, which reveals a slight improvement when comparing 2002 and 2003.

The list is headed by cities in Asia, Europe, and United States, while Latin American cities occupy the last places on the list.

According to the study, in the world context, San Juan and U.S. cities are less expensive due to the decline of the U.S. dollar against the euro and the main Asian currencies.

Calderon Kicks Off Voter Registration Campaign In U.S.

June 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS
. All rights reserved. 

Despite criticism from Puerto Rican leaders against the government for advertising expenditures, Gov. Sila Calderon began Wednesday another round of promotional efforts to register Puerto Rican voters in the United States.

Calderon and Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell launched an educational campaign to register Puerto Rican voters during an event held at the United Latin Congress in Philadelphia.

"This campaign is about solidarity, pride, and empowerment. We want to mobilize our fellow citizens in the United States and make them see the power they have as voters in Pennsylvania and with other affairs affecting our island," said Calderon.

Rendell said he and Calderon recognized the important role citizens have in the political process.

The Commonwealth leader stated in a press release that nearly 100,000 Puerto Ricans have registered to vote on the mainland since the beginning of the campaign last year. During 2002, Calderon participated at similar events in New York, New Jersey, and Florida.

The Puerto Rico government spent $6 million for the campaign during 2002 and assigned another $6 million for 2003. Calderon’s initiative is one of the government’s priorities carried out by the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) on the mainland.

The press statement also says that "since Democrats and Republicans are seeking the Hispanic vote in the United States, Puerto Ricans have the opportunity to dramatically intervene in Pennsylvania’s politics. The Puerto Rican vote will be a key factor in municipal election events, in the election of 19 congressional seats for the state of Pennsylvania, and one in the Senate."

PRFAA Executive Director Mari Carmen Aponte said the program was sponsored by 100 small businesses and 20 civic organizations in Pennsylvania, including Latino Partnership.

The Puerto Rican government agency on the mainland has offices in Washington D.C. and 13 other U.S. cities and has a proposed budget for fiscal year 2004 of $9.99 million.

Although PRFAA coordinates the educational and promotional campaign, the increase in the number of Puerto Rican voters registered on the mainland Calderon mentioned during the event is not included in the budget proposal of PRFAA for fiscal year 2004-05.

Calderon Denies Budget Rise For Voter Registration In U.S.

June 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS
. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon denied Wednesday that she increased the budget for the electoral registration of Puerto Ricans living in the United States.

Calderon, through her press official, Luis Torres Negron, said the budget for the fiscal year that begins in July will remain at $6 million.

"The budget remains the same," she said in a radio interview from Philadelphia, where the governor will present the registration campaign Wednesday along with Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell.

According to Torres Negron, the non-partisan national campaign seeks to register thousands of new voters and demonstrate the political power of the Puerto Rican communities in the United States.

The campaign began last year with the slogan "Nothing will stop us" and under the direct supervision of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration.

Calderon Accused Of Politicizing PRFAA

Compiled from staff reports

June 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Ex-congressional candidate Eddie Diaz, who was considered the front-runner to replace the head of the Office of the Government of Puerto Rico in Orlando, said Tuesday that he no longer was in the running for the job.

Diaz accused Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderon, who makes the appointment, of politicizing the nonpartisan post by consulting with Gov. Jeb Bush.

The Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration, which oversees the Orlando office, "should be more involved with the Puerto Rican community in Orlando than with the Republican Party," Diaz said.

PRFAA spokeswoman Celeste Díaz Ferraro confirmed that Bush was being consulted but would not comment further.

Bush spokeswoman Aila Faraj said Bush has not had any recent conversations with Calderon on any issues.

Last week, the head of the Orlando office, Luis Pastrana, resigned from his post, effective June 30, citing the "politicization" of the Orlando office.

Statement By Tommy G. Thompson Secretary Of Health And Human Services Regarding The Appointment Of Dr. Joxel Garcia As Deputy Director Of The Pan- American Health Organization.

By Department Of Health And Human Services
FDCH Regulatory Intelligence Database

June 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Federal Document Clearing House, Inc.. All rights reserved. 

I welcome the appointment of Dr. Joxel Garcia as Deputy Director of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO). It has been my privilege to know and work with Dr. Garcia on a host of issues during my tenure as Secretary of Health and Human Services. He is a leader in the public health arena, an outstanding physician and a great choice to be a leader at PAHO. He is also the first Deputy Director to bring with him the expertise of an MBA. This common-sense, businesslike approach to matters of public health is a fresh and needed perspective.

Dr. Garcia's selection is particularly appropriate given his unique status as a bridge between the Americas. As a leader in his home state of Connecticut and a proud son of Puerto Rico, Dr. Garcia embodies the multilingual, multiethnic face of our hemisphere. There is no question that the United States and all the nations of the Americas will find a constructive, engaged partner in Dr. Garcia.

Under the leadership of Director Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, PAHO and the United States have cooperated on several issues of importance to the U.S. and to the hemisphere at large, including the threat of AIDS, children's environmental health, and tuberculosis eradication. The Organization is an indispensable partner in our fight to bring the benefits of medicine and science to the more remote corners of the Americas. Our humanity and our obligations as good neighbors demand no less. We look forward to continuing and expanding this constructive engagement with Dr. Garcia.

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