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9/11 Puerto Rican Hero Promoted…P.R. 6th In Junior Basketball Worlds…Murder Rate On Track To Surpass ‘02…Governor Signs Salary Increase Law, Supports Rodriguez…Acevedo Vila Won’t Resign Res. Comm. Post…Bush Taps Clemente For Medal Of Freedom…Union: Expos' 2 Homes 1 Too Many…Gov’t Justifies Extradition Of Puerto Rican…Calderon: S&P Cut Won’t Affect Bond Pricing…Talking About Success

Puerto Rican Soldier Promoted

July 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Puerto Rican soldier Victor Correa, who rescued several people during the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the Pentagon, will be promoted Thursday to the rank of colonel.

Correa, 45, will be promoted in a ceremony led by the deputy director of Central Command Operations, Brig. Gen. Vincent Brooks. After the ceremony, he will report to Fort Jackson in South Carolina, where he will assume the post of assistant commander of the Soldier Support Institute.

For his efforts on the day of the attacks, Correa has received the Purple Heart, the Soldier’s Medal, and was also honored by the municipality of San Juan, according to published reports.

Correa was born on a military base in Germany to Puerto Rican parents who now live in Orlando, and he visits his relatives in Puerto Rico once a year.

P.R. 6th in Junior Basketball Worlds

July 20, 2003
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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) - Australia beat Lithuania 126-92 in the title game, and the United States finished fifth at the World Junior Basketball Championships on Sunday.

West Virginia center Kevin Pittsnogle scored 17 points to lead the U.S. team to an 82-80 win over Puerto Rico in the fifth-place game.

Greece defeated Croatia 73-64 for third place behind 20 points from Ian Vougioukas.

The United States led 51-35 lead at halftime but Jose Barea drew Puerto Rico within a point after three periods. Barea scored 32 points, including four 3-pointers.

Three Men Killed In Puerto Rico, Keeping Murder Rate On Track To Surpass Last Year's Total

July 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Three men were shot and killed in Puerto Rico in separate incidents, bringing the year's total to 409 killings and keeping the murder rate on track to surpass last year's, police said Saturday.

There have been 10 more killings compared to the same period in 2002, police spokesman Eduardo Adeno said. In all of 2002, there were 774 killings.

The latest killings occurred within a 10-hour period, from Friday evening through the early morning hours of Saturday, authorities said. They happened in the capital, San Juan, and the surrounding suburbs of Carolina and Vega Alta, police said.

One of the victims was identified as Jose Alicea Arriaga, 30, of Vega Alta, police said. The two other men remain unidentified.

No arrests have been made and authorities have not disclosed a motive for the killings.

Most killings in the U.S. Caribbean possession of nearly 4 million residents are drug related, police say.

Governor Announces Signing Of Salary Increase Law

July 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon is preparing to sign this week the law that grants a $100 monthly salary increase to public employees starting in January 2004, she announced Saturday in her weekly radio program, in which she specified that the raise entails an investment of $97 million.

"It is an increase that will be received by 130,000 employees of the central government, half of them are regular employees and the other half are employees who belong to a union," the governor said. "The members of the Puerto Rico Police will also be benefited by this law."

Calderon reminded that this is the third increase granted to public employees in this four-year term, which adds $300 to the salary of these workers.

However, Calderon’s announcement does not have the sympathy of the working sector, which unsuccessfully demanded that the raise be applied starting in August instead of postponing it until January of the election year.

The governor attributed the delay to the treasury’s unstable situation.

Meanwhile, Calderon summarized in her Saturday program the promises of economic aid to public employees that she has kept, including the Christmas bonus increase and the increase to the contribution to health insurance.

Governor Supports Justice Secretary

July 19, 2003
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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez’s conclusion to accuse 16 legislators of electoral violations received the strong support of Gov. Sila Calderon.

"Our Justice secretary is a completely straight, dedicated, impartial person, and I completely trust in her judgment," Calderon said in published reports.

Rodriguez has been criticized for leaving Sen. Roberto Prats out of the list of legislators who allegedly violated the Electoral Law. The secretary was a contributor to Prats’ campaign for the 2000 elections.

On Thursday, the Justice secretary announced that only the misdemeanor crime of soliciting and receiving excess contributions remained pending against four legislators of the New Progressive Party and two senators of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP). Prats had also been accused of this violation in the auditing process of the State Elections Commission but was not included in the Justice Department’s referral for investigation.

Calderon reiterated that she has "total confidence in the Justice secretary," and denied that Prats’ exclusion has nothing to do with his nomination for resident commissioner for the PDP.

Acevedo Vila Will Not Resign Resident Commissioner Post

July 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila will remain at his post while he campaigns for governor for 2004, according to published reports.

"Congress’ calendar was precisely designed because in 2004, all the members of the U.S. House are running in an election. Therefore, the calendar allows the legislators to return to their districts for their campaigns," said Acevedo Vila, reacting to a proposal that he leave his post and concentrate on his political campaign.

According to Ponce Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago, the likely gubernatorial candidate should pass the post in Washington to Sen. Roberto Prats, who is nominated by the Popular Democratic Party for that candidacy in the next elections.

Acevedo Vila insisted that the congressional calendar "adjusts to the election year," which allows him to attend to matters in Washington while organizing his gubernatorial campaign.

Bush Picks Medal of Freedom Honorees


July 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush has selected 11 leaders in arts, sports, politics, science and business for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Friday.

Three of the recipients are receiving the nation's highest civilian honor posthumously. The others are invited to claim their medal at a White House ceremony with the president on July 23.

The Medal of Freedom, established by President Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their service during World War II, was reinstated by President Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished service.

Bush will award the medal to:

--Jacques Barzun, a former Columbia University professor and dean and author and scholar of modern European thought and culture.

--Julia Child, a master chef, an author of numerous cookbooks and a host of a number of television series.

--Roberto Clemente, a Hall of Fame baseball star from Puerto Rico who played for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Clemente, who had a lifetime batting average of .317, 240 home runs and 1,305 RBIs, died in 1972, delivering emergency relief to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

--Van Cliburn, who at the age of 23 won the first Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition held in 1958 in Moscow.

--Vaclav Havel, former president of the new Czech Republic who led the nation until earlier this year.

--Charlton Heston, an Academy Award winning actor and political activist.

--Edward Teller, a physicist who emigrated to America from his native Hungary to escape the rise of Nazi Germany.

--Dave Thomas, who created the Wendy's restaurant chain.

--Byron Raymond White, who served 31 years as a Supreme Court justice, was an All-American athlete and Rhodes Scholar who earned a Bronze Star in World War II.

--James Q. Wilson, who has written on the nature of human morality, government, and criminal justice.

--John R. Wooden, a record-setting college basketball coach and teacher whose UCLA Bruins won 10 national championships in 12 years.

Union: Expos' 2 Homes 1 Too Many

Wire reports

July 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
. All rights reserved. 

NEW YORK · Baseball players may try to block the Montreal Expos from playing home games at two sites next year.

The commissioner's office moved 22 of the team's 81 home games to San Juan, Puerto Rico, this year under an agreement with the players' association.

"It is far from clear to me that the players will agree to play part of the season in Montreal and part of the season in Puerto Rico," Gene Orza, the union's No. 2 official, said Thursday. "I just don't see that flying as smoothly as it did the last time around, if at all."

Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer, said that Puerto Rico has bid to have the Expos play their entire schedule in San Juan next year. Expos outfielder Brad Wilkerson said he would rather play all 81 home games in San Juan than split the sites.

"It's pretty ludicrous to have us play in two different homes," he said. "It's unfair, but if we have to do it, we will. If they wanted to give this team the best chance to win, they wouldn't do it."

Government Justifies Extradition Of Puerto Rican

July 18, 2003
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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado said Thursday that he can’t delay the extradition of a Puerto Rican charged with murder in Pennsylvania

Mercado said the Puerto Rico government must extradite Juan Martinez Cruz, who is charged with the murder of Luis Galan outside a discotheque in Philadelphia in August 2000.

"The fact thee death penalty exists in the state of Pennsylvania can in no way be a determining factor in the extradition. If it were that way, Puerto Rico would be a shelter for murderers that can’t be extradited to the places where the crimes took place," Mercado said.

Calderon Says S&P Cut Will Not Hurt Bond Pricing

July 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
REUTERS LTD. All rights reserved. 

MIAMI, July 17 (Reuters) - Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderon on Thursday said a downgrade from ratings agency Standard & Poor's on a government entity's debt would not hurt its ability to access funds to continue capital improvements.

"Of course we'd like to get as good of ratings as we can and I will continue pushing my government but at this point we have no concern," Calderon said in a telephone interview.

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Wednesday downgraded its rating on the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, a government entity that promotes the island to investors by offering tailored incentives packages. The agency, called PRIDCO, also sells debt for capital improvements.

S&P analyst Kenneth Gear cited Puerto Rico's weakened credit quality and an increased use of debt rather than internally generated revenue to fund capital improvements. S&P lowered its bond rating on the government entity to BBB from BBB-plus, affecting $318 million of outstanding debt.

"(PRIDCO) tells me it has no significant impact on the pricing of our bonds," Calderon said. "The market can and has been absorbing our bonds."

Puerto Rico's bonds enjoy strong demand thanks to their status as triple-tax-free investments, meaning interest on the bonds is not taxed at the federal, state or local level.

Talking About Success


July 16, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Our position: Orlando's newest university strengthens this area as a global player.

Orlando is getting a new private university aimed at helping Hispanic professionals earn their degrees through bilingual instruction. It's an innovative way to help Puerto Ricans and Latin American immigrants who already have earned degrees or college credits in universities abroad to obtain accreditation in Florida.

Puerto Ricans already are familiar with the solid reputation of the Ana G. Mendez University System, which serves more than 28,000 students on the island. Now Hispanics from throughout Central Florida will get an opportunity to become fluent in English while studying in a variety of fields.

Orlando's newest university offers yet another sign that this area is poised to become a major global economic player. It's a win-win for the region.

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