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Prats Won’t Run For GovernorNo Political Speeches On Barbosa DayNPP Certifies Burgos’ CandidacyVizcarrondo Resents Colberg Toro’s AttacksDr. Rullan Criticizes Dr. Rossello…NPP Leaders Back Hernandez Mayoral’s Withdrawal, PDP Leaders Shocked By It…Calderon Rejects Return

Prats Will Not Run For Governor

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

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

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Roberto Prats on Thursday ruled out the possibility of running for governor, leaving the door open for Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila.

Upon his arrival from Washington D.C., Prats held a press conference at Luis Muñoz Marin Airport to announce he will run for the congressional post in the 2004 general elections.

"My position has been consistent in terms of my wish to run for resident commissioner of Puerto Rico in the United States," Prats said.

The senator praised the courage of Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral for stepping back from the gubernatorial race to deal with the medical condition of his son.

Although Prats acknowledged he would have liked Hernandez Mayoral as his ballot mate, he said the PDP needs to move on, "closing this chapter of the party’s history (Hernandez Mayoral’s withdrawal) and opening a new one to select the candidate who will give a victory to the PDP in the next elections."

Prats thanked the people who have supported him for governor, but said his decision is firm.

When asked if he would run for governor if the PDP top leadership asked him to, Prats rejected the possibility.

"I am, and will continue to be the candidate for resident commissioner. That has been my decision from the first day; the party’s council gave me that responsibility," said Prats. He added the PDP leaders should endorse a candidate from among those willing to run, and that the candidate should be chosen by consensus.

Prats informed Gov. Sila M. Calderon, Mayors Association President Jose Aponte, and Acevedo Vila of his decision while visiting the federal capital.

The senator said he spoke to Acevedo Vila–who already filed a candidacy for representative-at-large–about a possible candidacy for governor.

He also said that "Acevedo Vila is a man who has given the PDP many triumphs," described him as his friend, and said he initiated a consultation process to make the gubernatorial candidacy of Acevedo Vila viable.

However, Prats declined to reveal the contents of his conversations with Acevedo Vila when asked if he had traveled to Washington, D.C. to convince him to run for the leading post on the island.

Prats called Acevedo Vila a "potential candidate for governor," and said he will continue his consultation process to solidify Acevedo Vila’s candidacy.

Since the withdrawal of Hernandez Mayoral, PDP partisans have mentioned several possible candidates, but Acevedo Vila and Prats head the list.

Acevedo Vila, a former aide to Gov. Hernandez Colon and then a House representative, was president of the PDP from December 1997 until 1999, when Calderon announced her candidacy for governor and replaced him as the head of the current governing party.

Political Speeches Excluded During Barbosa Day

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Bayamon Mayor Ramon Luis Rivera Cruz announced that this year the birth anniversary of Jose Celso Barbosa will be observed by a ceremony to place flowers at the foot of his statue and that no speeches will be made by any of the New Progressive Party (NPP) pre-gubernatorial candidates.

The NPP primary candidates — NPP President Carlos Pesquera and former Gov. Pedro Rossello - have both confirmed their attendance, according to published reports.

It had been announced that both Pesquera and Rossello would assist the observance and each would make a speech, but following a controversy regarding the logistics of the event, the political element of the celebration was eliminated.

NPP Certifies Burgos’ Candidacy

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

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

New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Norma Burgos filed a petition Wednesday requesting the party's Evaluating Committee to reconsider its decision to deny her certification as an at-large senatorial candidate for the NPP in the 2004 general elections.

As of 5 p.m., the Evaluating Committee ruled in Burgos favor, and she was certified to run, TV reports said.

During a press conference held at her office, Burgos lambasted the arguments on which the committee had based its decision of July 3, accusing her of not complying with the constitutional and legal dispositions of her position; violating the requirement of not having been convicted of a felony involving violence, moral depravation, or dishonesty; not following the agreements and resolutions of the NPP; and violating her commitment to promote straight votes in the elections.

"If I must go back to prison for defending the human and civil rights of the Puerto Rican people, because I am convinced that equality and statehood is what's best for Puerto Rico, [I will]. I don't tolerate injustice," said Burgos, referring to the time she served in prison for the Vieques cause.

Burgos is one of several legislators who have been convicted of trespassing on the former U.S. Navy land in Vieques to protest the military training that was conducted there for more than 60 years. However, the conviction is for a misdemeanor that, according to former Gov. Pedro Rossello, doesn't disqualify Burgos.

The NPP senator reminded Hector Cordero Vega, chairman of the NPP Evaluating Committee, that it is up to the party directorate, not the committee, to pass judgment on her loyalty to the NPP. Therefore, she said she would also file a petition asking the NPP directorate to intervene in this issue.

She added that she has never been linked to corruption scandals or accused of immoral or violent behavior and defended her right to disagree with her party and to participate in peaceful protests as she did in Vieques.

Burgos said she was grateful for the support of her peers including directorate members such as Rossello, House NPP Minority Leader Anibal Vega Borges, and former Bayamon Mayor Ramon Luis Rivera, all of whom have publicly said Burgos shouldn't be prevented from running for re-election under the NPP.

"I trust the structure of the party; I belong to this party, and I will continue to be in this party. This is a party of inclusion, not exclusion. I reject actions that provoke the exclusion of its members," Burgos said in the press conference.

The senator dodged insistent questions from the press as to whether she would run for senator in 2004 regardless of the committee's final decision, but said the committee's ruling would determine her next step, which she declined to specify.

"I will run for senator at-large for the NPP in 2004, and I expect to have their support," Burgos concluded.

The NPP senator said she trusted her party to do the right thing and underlined the urgency of resolving this situation so that she can collect the signatures needed to make her candidacy official. Burgos must collect 5,000 signatures and needs half of them by Aug. 1, which is the last day to certify electoral candidates for the 2004 general elections.

Vizcarrondo, Vega Ramos Resent Jorge Colberg Toro’s Attacks

By Ismael Torres of Associated Press

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

House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo and his former advisor, Luis Vega Ramos, said they regret the verbal attacks by Rep. Jorge Colberg Toro, who claimed a vendetta by the House leader to take him out of the race and prevent his re-election next year.

In an upset tone, Vizcarrondo said "one takes the things that come and the people’s attitudes and conduct reveal who the person is, and we already know what we must live with regarding this colleague."

He said he hopes in what remains of this term that Colberg Toro will remember that he is part of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and while he has the tolerance of bearing his attitudes, he will seek avenues of communication.

Vega Ramos said he was surprised by the statements of Colberg Toro, who said Vizcarrondo seeks to ruin Colberg Toro’s chances for re-election in favor of the candidacy of his former advisor, who supports Vizcarrondo for speaker if the PDP retains control of the House in the next general elections.

"These statements only correspond to a unfortunate pattern by Jorge to create unnecessary confrontations that the PDP members don’t want," Vega Ramos said.

Colberg Toro said his dismissal from the chairmanship of the Public Integrity Committee for not backing the Judicial Reform was part of a vendetta by Vizcarrondo to affect his re-election chances.

Colberg Toro said in view of Vizcarrondo’s attitude, the House of Representatives needs new dynamic legislative leadership and that his dismissal from the chairmanship of the committee is out of proportion with what he did because he is a legislator who works hard and is not linked to any acts of corruption.

Rullan Won't Run For Governor, Criticizes Rossello

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

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

Health Secretary Johnny Rullan said he is not interested in replacing Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral as the gubernatorial candidate for the Popular Democratic Party (PPD).

Rullan, who is an epidemiologist, said his commitment to Puerto Rico has to do with what he can offer as a physician, not as a politician, and added that politics and medicine don't mix.

"I feel very honored, but what is really important for me is the public health of Puerto Rico," said Rullan who noted that he hasn't been approached by PDP members with a proposition and that he is first and foremost a physician.

In a clear allusion to former Gov. Pedro Rossello, who is a pediatrician, Rullan said he believes that doctors should do what doctors do, and nothing more.

When asked his opinion of Rossello, whose medical background didn't impede him from serving as governor for eight years or seeking the gubernatorial candidacy of the New Progressive Party (NPP) for the 2004 elections, Rullan lambasted his fellow physician's political and administrative performance.

"I think the surgeon did more harm than good to Puerto Rico, and we will never be able to recover from that," Rullan said.

The Health chief stated that the local health system collapsed because Dr. Rossello didn't know how to manage the health system's infrastructure or access to healthcare services. He criticized Rossello's privatization policy and said that, because of him, more than 25 diagnostic treatment centers have gone bankrupt.

"This surgeon performed a surgery on the public health system. We didn't need surgery, we needed planning, epidemiology, and most importantly, data to be able to make decisions like this administration has made," Rullan said.

"The health reform was politicized...and Dr. Rossello obviously failed to realize that one should stick to what one knows," the Health chief concluded.

Rullan's statements dissipated the rumors that had him as a possible gubernatorial candidate for the PDP after Hernandez Mayoral's withdrawal from the race, which has caused much speculation and uncertainty as to who will be the next PDP leader.

On Monday, Hernandez Mayoral surprised his supporters, including Gov. Sila Calderon to whom he owed his nomination by announcing that he wouldn't run for governor because he wants to dedicate himself to his family. One of his sons, Pablo Jose, suffers from gastrointestinal problems.

Key PDP leaders are expected to meet on Thursday to try to reach a consensus on who their next gubernatorial candidate will be.

NPP Leaders Support Hernandez Mayoral’s Decision

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

July 8, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral’s decision to not run for governor for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) was welcomed by New Progressive Party (NPP) leaders who applauded Hernandez Mayoral for being a true family man.

In the political area, however, the NPP leaders agreed that Hernandez Mayoral’s withdrawal from the gubernatorial race has practically nullified the PDP’s chances of an electoral victory in 2004.

"Whoever runs for the PDP will have to carry the weight of this government’s disaster," said NPP President Carlos Pesquera during a radio interview on Monday afternoon. Nevertheless, the NPP leader said that, as a father and Puerto Rican, he understood the decision.

After much speculation, Hernandez Mayoral had to admit on Monday what the PDP had been denying for more than a week: that he won’t run for governor in 2004. Hernandez Mayoral made his decision after acknowledging that the health problems of his 12-year-old son Pablo Jose would require his undivided attention at this moment.

Pablo Jose has been suffering from gastrointestinal afflictions for some time and is currently in Boston seeking treatment.

Now that Hernandez Mayoral is out of the political picture, NPP leaders believe that the PDP faces a leadership crisis that will be hard to get out of.

"Jose Alfredo has won my respect and admiration. Now the PDP has fallen into a leadership vacuum," said NPP House minority leader Anibal Vega Borges, who believes Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila doesn’t have what it takes to lead a political party.

"Anibal is no good as resident commissioner. He won’t run for San Juan mayor because he cannot defeat San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini, let alone former Gov. Pedro Rossello or Pesquera for governor," Vega Borges stated.

Vega Borges said he believes that had the PDP given Hernandez Mayoral more time to asses the situation, he wouldn’t have withdrawn from the gubernatorial race.

NPP Senate minority leader Kenneth McClintock also believed the PDP is in crisis.

"The decision forces the PDP to consider a candidate whose withdrawal had generated a general sigh of relief; it forces the PDP to also consider the worst resident commissioner ever, and a mayor whose gubernatorial aspirations were unanimously rejected by the party," said McClintock, referring to Gov. Sila Calderon, Acevedo Vila, and Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin, respectively.

PDP Leaders Shocked By Hernandez Mayoral’s Decision

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

July 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

While minority leaders praised Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral for withdrawing from the gubernatorial race, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) legislative leaders were in shock after learning that the leadership of the governing party is adrift and running out of time.

"This has really been a splash of cold water for the PDP, not only because he was going to be our candidate, but also because now the party has the responsibility of avoiding a primary and finding a candidate of consensus who can immediately take control of the party to begin the campaign for 2004," said PDP House majority leader Roberto Maldonado.

Maldonado said a primary would put the party at a disadvantage with the opposition New Progressive Party (NPP) because it has have less than 29 days to collect endorsements for the candidacies, and because they would have to wait until a candidate is officially certified in order to start the political campaign.

On Nov. 6, the NPP will hold a primary to choose a gubernatorial candidate. So far, former Gov. Pedro Rossello and NPP President Carlos Pesquera are bidding for the post.

Maldonado said he believed that Hernandez Mayoral would run for governor until the very last minute. He said that while being responsible to his family, Hernandez Mayoral has left the party in a bad position.

The PDP majority leader declined to say if he had a preference for any PDP candidate to replace Hernandez Mayoral. However, he said the PDP has many possibilities both inside and outside of the political arena.

Hernandez Mayoral was unanimously endorsed as Gov Sila Calderon’s replacement when she announced her decision not to seek re-election. But following weeks of speculation about his possible retirement, triggered by his 12-year-old son’s health problems, Hernandez Mayoral traveled to San Juan on Monday and announced his decision not to seek the governor’s post. He was scheduled to return to Boston in the afternoon for further tests on his son, Pablo.

Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora is one of the people who has been mentioned as a possible replacement for Hernandez Mayoral, but the Senate leader has reiterated his decision to seek re-election in 2004. However, he has yet to completely rule out the possibility of running for governor.

"As I have said in the past, my interest is to revalidate my position as senator at-large and as Senate president. As always, I will be available to work for the victory of the PDP and for the defense of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico," Fas Alzamora said in a prepared statement on Monday.

PDP House alternate majority leader Hector Ferre also expressed amazement and disappointment at Hernandez Mayoral’s decision.

"It was unexpected news and without a doubt it leaves the PDP without a candidate, in the midst of uncertainty, and adrift, if you like," Ferrer told The Associated Press.

Governor Rejects Returning To Politics

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — In view of the uncertainty that the Popular Democratic Party is facing regarding the political future of likely gubernatorial candidate Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral, Gov. Sila Calderon rejected returning to politics.

She said her decision is "final and firm," despite the petitions to reconsider, which she has received due to Hernandez Mayoral’s family situation.

"It is true that I have received many petitions in that regard, but my decision is final and firm," she said in published reports.

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