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NPP Contenders Attack Each Other…Gov. Meets With Sen. Murray Over UT…NPP Fund-Raiser Falls Short…Island Wins Centrobasket Tourney…Vizcarrondo Unsure Vigoreaux Can Beat Santini, He’s Criticized In Handling Of Fight…Calderon Claims Economic Gains…Misla Sentenced To Prison…Rossello Moves To Vega Alta…McClintock Blasts Census, Says 3.8m Citizens Omitted

NPP Gubernatorial Primary Contenders Attack Each Other

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial primary contenders Carlos Pesquera and Pedro Rossello verbally attacked each other during a political activity to raise funds for the party on Sunday.

Party President Pesquera and his wife, Irasema Rivera, lashed out at former governor Rossello, who walked out of the Pedrin Zorrilla Coliseum in Hato Rey saying that he was to attend another activity prior to Pesquera’s turn at the podium.

"Those who are used to fleeing, continue to do so," Rivera said from the podium as Rossello and his committee were walking out of the facility.

Rossello alleged participants at the event were aware that he would leave the activity prior to its conclusion in order to attend another activity. Later, he argued he was making "an extraordinary effort of discipline not to respond to what could seem as an attack."

Pesquera also blamed several mayors and followers of Rossello for the party’s failure to meet the $450,000 goal of Saturday’s fund raiser at which only $151,000 was collected.

Governor Meets With Senator Murray

June 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon met Sunday with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray to discuss matters regarding the construction of the Urban Train, according to La Fortaleza.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila and Transportation & Public Works Secretary Fernando Fagundo also participated in the meeting, according to a press release.

The Democrat senator for Washington is a member of the Senate Subcommittee of Transportation of the Allocations Committee and of the Senate Subcommittee of Labor, Health, & Human Services.

The governor said the senator’s visit is important to promote local transportation and infrastructure works, like the Urban Train, in the new federal transportation law.

NPP Fails To Reach Goal In Fund-Raising Event

Por Sandra Ivelisse Villerrael

June 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN - After counting $151,500, New Progressive Party (NPP) leaders had to admit that Saturday's radiomarathon had not been what they had hoped for.

However, NPP President Carlos Pesquera said he believes the number will go up once they finish counting all the money.

"It is a step in the right direction," Pesquera said, adding that he would continue his efforts to collect funds, dollar by dollar, to help strengthen the party.

NPP Secretary General NPP William Rosales had warned that if the NPP failed to reach the $450,000 mark during the radiomarathon, they would have to close the party's headquarters.

During a press conference following the radiomarathon, Pesquera said the money collected will help cover the most urgent issues.

He also welcomed a $100 contribution which he said came from his gubernatorial primary contender, former Gov. Pedro Rossello. However, he noted that it should have been at least $250, which is what all NPP candidates were expected to give.

On another note, Pesquera justified having several NPP leaders collecting endorsements for himself during the radiomarathon.

"Endorsing a candidate (in institutional activities) is allowed in the Electoral Law," Pesquera said.

Puerto Rico Wins Centrobasket Tournament; Dominican Republic And Mexico Qualify For Pre-Olympic Tournament

June 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

CULIACAN, Mexico (AP) - Puerto Rico defeated Dominican Republic 93-83 to win the Centrobasket tournament among Central American and Caribbean teams.

Favored from the start, Puerto Rico dominated all five of its games in the tournament played in northwest Mexico.

The Dominicans finished with a 3-2 record, after a second loss to Puerto Rico on Saturday. They had lost their first game 96-60.

Two players for Puerto Rico scored more than half the team's points: Elias Ayuso had 24, and Carlos Arroyo had 23.

Mexico took third place in the tournament by beating the U.S. Virgin Islands 78-76 - assuring the team a spot in a pre-Olympic tournament in Puerto Rico in August. Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic also qualified.

Vizcarrondo Not Sure Vigoreaux Can Beat Santini

By Luis R. Varela of Associated Press

June 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE – House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo said he is not sure if Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux can beat San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini in the race for San Juan mayor.

Vizcarrondo is confident, however, that the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) will win without difficulties the next general elections of 2004 if the gubernatorial candidate is attorney Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral.

"The challenge is big, but we have the money and the candidate. It is a challenge, and if I would say otherwise, I would be lying," Vizcarrondo said in a radio interview.

Vizcarrondo said in the elections of San Juan, many surprises could arise because Vigoreaux is very well accepted in public housing and the communities.

Vigoreaux is the only PDP candidate for San Juan mayor for now, but the PDP is seeking another candidate.

However, the House leader said he was confident in Hernandez Mayoral’s triumph.

"If our candidate is Jose Alfredo, we will comfortably win the general elections, without difficulty," Vizcarrondo said.

Vizcarrondo's Way Of Handling House Fight Criticized

By Luis R. Varela of Associated Press

June 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Two former legislators censured House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo on Saturday for the way in which he conducted Thursday's legislative works that brought forth a violent incident among the legislators.

Former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Celeste Benitez said Vizcarrondo did a poor service to the Legislature during the incident in which New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Edwin Mundo had a heavy argument with PDP Rep. Hector Ferrer.

Benitez said Vizcarrondo should have stopped it on time, instead of letting the situation get worse. She said Mundo is known for being unruly on the floor and said it would be a mistake to let him preside the House if the NPP wins the 2004 general election.

Former Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Rep. David Noriega also criticized Vizcarrondo, who was insulted by PDP Rep. Roberto Cruz on Thursday.

Calderon: Slight Improvement In Economic Development

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

June 2, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

FAJARDO -- Gov. Sila M. Calderon said Friday that measures taken by her administration have already resulted in a slight economic improvement,and announced development of a 16-initiative plan to continue the island’s economic development in which attention will be given to the reduction of costs when doing business.

Attention will also be given to providing additional financing and technological support to local entrepreneurs, broadening manufacturing economic incentives, and speeding up the government permits process.

Calderon said that some measures—like economic incentive programs, the stabilization of energy costs, and the simplification of agency rulings and procedures—already taken by her administration have resulted in a slight economic improvement "which represents more commercial and production opportunities."

She unveiled her proposals at the Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce’s 90th , which is being held in Fajardo.

The Commonwealth leader pointed out an increase of 8.2% in retail sales during the first quarter of 2003, the completion of 24 tourism projects, and an estimated economic growth of 1.7% for year 2003 and 2.4% for 2004, as results of her administration’s efforts.

"These initiatives are the result of a dialogue between the government and the private sector, in which most of you participated," said Calderon when addressing the audience.

As part of the working agenda, Calderon announced the integration of three different permits at the Environmental Quality Board into a single one, and the simplification of Natural & Environmental Resources permits related to tree trimming or removal, hydrology/hydraulic studies and soil removal.

Calderon these proposals had the approval of her Environmental Advisory Council.

Other proposals to reduce the costs of doing business include an increase of 2% in the energy credit for industrial customers, the implementation of extended service hours at the Treasury’s collection offices located at the Muñiz Air Base and the Port of San Juan, and the establishment of a computerized system to manage excise tax payments and merchandise movement.

"This (the extended hour service) will expedite the releasing of merchandise on Saturdays and holidays," the governor added.

Calderon will also expand economic incentives for manufacturing companies, research & development projects, and companies that promote that the export of local products.

Calderon also announced her administration will merge Promoexport and the Administration for Commerce Development, seeking to strengthen efforts to promote Puerto Rican products globally.

The governor also noted the construction of two high-technology industrial parks in Dorado and Aguadilla that will be completed by 2004, and the development of specialized industrial development promoters, who will use site selectors, brokers, and marketing experts to promote Puerto Rico as an ideal location for manufacturing operations.

Members of Calderon’s economic staff attended the convention, including Secretary of Commerce & Development Milton Segarra, Treasury Secretary Juan Flores Galarza, and nominated Tourism Co. Executive Director Jose Suarez.

Segarra noted the creation of a technological services office that will assist local manufacturers in creating e-commerce solutions to export and sell their products online. The center will be opened in Guaynabo during the first quarter of 2004 at a cost of $600,000.

Misla To Serve Five Years And Eleven Months In Prison

By Leonardo Aldridge of Associated Press

June 20, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Federal District Court Judge Carmen Consuelo Vargas on Friday sentenced former House Speaker and National Committeeman for the Republican Party Edison Misla Aldarondo to five years and eleven months in prison on charges related to a money laundering scheme in the sale of the Manati regional hospital.

A $12,500 fine and the restitution of $147,400 was also imposed.

Following his prison sentence, Misla Aldarondo will serve three years probation.

A jury convicted Misla Aldarondo in January on three counts of extortion, two counts of money laundering and one count of witness tampering.

Defense attorney Laura Maldonado said she has already filed an appeal.

"We give thanks to all those who have supported us," said Omar Misla, one of the former speaker’s three sons, as he was walking out of the courtroom.

Misla Aldarondo, was taken back to the Federal Detention Center in Guaynabo where he has been detained since bail was revoked following local court charges of rape, lascivious acts and giving narcotics to minors, one of whom was his stepdaughter.

The teenager, Misla Aldarondo’s stepdaughter, now alleges that she lied in her testimony and that she wants the charges to be dropped.

The local court case for four counts of lascivious acts is scheduled for July 9, while the rape case has been scheduled for August 6.

Rossello Moves To Vega Alta

June 20, 2003
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ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Former Gov. Pedro Rossello and his wife, Irma Margarita Nevares, on Thursday registered with Vega Alta’s Permanent Inscription Board which will allow them to vote in that municipality.

"I now live in Vega Alta," said Rossello, who until recently lived in Virginia, will now live in an exclusive and elegant mansion at Barrio Breñas in Vega Alta. The beachfront property is located between the Cerromar and Dorado Beach hotels.

McClintock Blasts Census Bureau, 3.8m Citizens Omitted

June 20, 2003
Copyright © 2003
PR NEWSWIRE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN - Kenneth McClintock, Puerto Rico's Senate Minority Leader is appalled that the United States Census Bureau omitted 3.8 million U.S. citizens from its recently announced findings that Hispanics are the largest minority group.

"How can the U.S. Census Bureau be so reckless to forget close to 4 million American citizens who live in Puerto Rico?" McClintock said.

While the Census Bureau announced this week that Hispanic Americans numbered 38.8 million nationwide, the real total of Hispanic Americans already surpasses 42.6 million, including the more than 3.8 million Hispanic Americans residing in the United States territory of Puerto Rico. It has been under the American flag for 105 years next month and they have been American citizens for more than 86 years.

Mc Clintock continued "Ignorance about Puerto Rico's political status as America's oldest territory leads even United States Census publicists to allow more than 3.8 million Hispanics living there fall through the cracks, and our national media hasn't seemed to catch on to this massive "disappearance" of Americans!"

Senator Kenneth McClintock is a member of the Pro statehood New Progressive Party.

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