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Vietnam Veterans Support P.R. Self-Determination…National Military Cemetary Receives $2m Federal Grant…Police Block Musical…Puerto Rico Wins Bronze At Pan Am…Iverson To Host Youth Tournament…Island Wants D.R. In CAFTA… "Tite" Curet Dies At 77…Calderon Details School Curriculum Changes

Vietnam Veterans of America Support Self-Determination for Puerto Rico

August 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 Puerto Rico Herald. All rights reserved. 

Vietnam Veterans of America, an organization of over 50,000 members, passed a resolution on August 2 supporting self-determination for Puerto Rico. The resolution was adopted at the organization’s national convention in St. Louis, Missouri, attended by more than 600 voting delegates from throughout the United States and the U.S. territories.

The text of the resolution states: "Resolved that Vietnam Veterans of America, at the National Convention in St. Louis, MO, July 29 to August 3, 2003, supports legislation whereby the United States Congress would define the legal status options available to the approximately 200,000 Puerto Rican veterans who have served in the United States military and their families and authorize a plebiscite to provide an opportunity for the veterans of Puerto Rico and their families to make an informed decision regarding the island’s future."

After passage of the resolution, the Puerto Rico delegation, composed of Ramon Escalera, Wilfredo Fuentes, Jorge Pedroza, Enrique Pujol and Radames Torruella, received a standing ovation for their outstanding service in the Vietnam War and as representatives of all Puerto Ricans who have served the country since World War One.

Founded in 1978, Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. is a congressionally chartered veterans organization dedicated to promoting and supporting the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans.

Puerto Rico National Cemetery Receives $2 Million Federal Grant To Make Improvements

August 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP)- The Puerto Rico National Cemetery will receive a $2 million federal grant to renovate more than a quarter of its tombs because of crumbling gravestones and poor drainage, officials said Thursday.

The U.S. government recently completed a study on the cemetery, whose 42,000 tombs serve as the final resting place for veterans, their widows or widowers and children under 21 at the time of the veteran's death.

The project, undertaken by a private contractor and involving 12,000 of the cemetery's grave sites, will also replace flowerpots and remove weeds, said Jorge Baltar, the cemetery's director.

The project is scheduled to begin later this month and will take 14 months, Baltar said.

The tombs contain veterans of U.S. wars dating to the Spanish-American War in the late 19th century. The national cemetery in this U.S. Caribbean territory is located in the San Juan suburb of Bayamon.

Some 53,000 Puerto Ricans are in the U.S. military, more than half on active duty. There are more than 4,100 Puerto Rican soldiers deployed in the Middle East - the largest deployment from the territory of 4 million since the Korean War.

But Puerto Ricans living on the island cannot vote for president and have no vote in Congress. Puerto Ricans were made U.S. citizens in 1917, and 3.4 million of them now live in the U.S. mainland.

Six Puerto Rican soldiers have died in the recent war in Iraq. Additionally, one Puerto Rican soldier was killed this year in Kuwait, and two in Afghanistan.

Police Block Musical

By LILLIAM IRIZARRY | Associated Press Writer

August 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rican police blocked crowds from seeing "Naked Boys Singing" after an appeals court ruling halted all performances of the musical until a hearing next week.

It was the second time in less than a week the show has been canceled.

"They argue it's immoral that men are nude," said Rosaura Lopez, one of dozens who were blocked from entering the Tapia Theater by a throng of police. "But no one says anything about women who are nude."

Puerto Rico Wins Bronze At Pan Am


August 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic - For the first time in 32 years, the United States did not win a men's basketball medal at the Pan American Games.

The Americans went scoreless for nearly 4 1/2 minutes in the second quarter and couldn't recover, losing to Puerto Rico 76-70 for the bronze medal Wednesday night.

Puerto Rico scored 14 straight points in the second quarter en route to opening a 23-point lead.

Carlos Arroyo had 23 points and Sharif Fajardo added 22 for the winners. Ben Gordon of Connecticut led the United States with 12. The Americans had 23 turnovers.

The Americans matched the Puerto Ricans shot for shot for the first few minutes before Puerto Rico took advantage of some sloppy U.S. possessions and opened a 24-14 lead.

Allen Iverson To Host Youth Tournament In Puerto Rico

August 7, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Philadelphia 76ers superstar Allen Iverson will host a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in Puerto Rico, officials announced Wednesday.

Puerto Rican youths aged 10 to 18 have been invited to compete in the Aug. 29 tournament in the interior city of Caguas.

"I am thrilled to be able to take my message to Puerto Rico's youth," said Iverson, a three-time NBA scoring champion and former league MVP. "I want them to understand that there is no obstacle that can prevent someone from accomplishing one's goal as long as there is discipline and commitment."

Tournament winners will receive a trip to Philadelphia to watch a 76ers' game and spend time with Iverson.

The day of the tournament, Iverson and professional Puerto Rican players will hold a basketball clinic. A local radio station, La Mix 107, will play rap music outside the gymnasium.

P.R. Wants D.R. To Join CAFTA

August 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Economic Development & Commerce Secretary Milton Segarra said Tuesday that Puerto Rico supports the Dominican Republic’s inclusion in the free-commerce treaty that the United States is negotiating with Central America (the Central American Free Trade Agreement – CAFTA).

He said "the economy of Puerto Rico can benefit greatly from a free-commerce treaty with the Dominican Republic."

Among the benefits, he emphasized that a treaty will allow the establishment of a solid and foreseeable legal mark for commercial transactions with the Dominican Republic, where many of the exports of local businesses are competitive.

Segarra explained that in preparation for the negotiations of the free-commerce agreement, the bilateral commercial commission of Puerto Rico with the Dominican Republic will have its first meeting by the end of August.

Segarra also noted that commercial representatives of the United States have already said the potential for the growth of commerce and the economy in Puerto Rico is one of the fundamental reasons for seeking a free-commerce agreement with the Dominican Republic.

Composer "Tite" Curet Dies At 77

August 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Caribbean music composer Catalino "Tite" Curet died Tuesday after going into cardiac arrest at the age of 77, his relatives informed.

Daughter Idla Curet said her father died at a Baltimore hospital.

Gov. Sila Calderon expressed her condolences and praised Curet’s musical career and his contributions as a humble human being.

"We Puerto Ricans have an enormous debt with Tite for being a great human being, his sensibility, and his extensive production of salsa and ballads that will endure in our musical history," Calderon said.

Curet was born in Guayama on February 12, 1926 and grew up in Santurce.

A U.S. Postal Service employee, Curet composed nearly 2,000 songs during his lifetime.

Some of the best known are "Las caras lindas" and "De todas maneras rosas," both made famous by salsa king Ismael Rivera.

Cuban legend La Lupe also made famous two of Curet’s songs, "La Tirana" and "Carcajada Final," while Hector Lavoe will forever be remembered for his interpretation of Curet’s "Periodico de ayer."

Panamanian singer-songwriter Ruben Blades made famous one of Curet’s songs: "La marea."

Calderon Announces Changes To School Curriculum

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

August 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Gov. Sila Calderon announced Wednesday changes to the school curriculum and the implementation of a professional capacitating program at a cost of $115 million.

Calderon toured schools Julio Selles, Mexican Republic, and Ramon Vila Mayo in San Juan during the first day of classes of the public school system composed of 600,000 students and nearly 39,000 teachers.

Calderon explained that the new curriculum will be effective immediately, since its implementation represents changes to the current programs.

According to Calderon, who was accompanied by Education Secretary Cesar Rey, the proposed changes seek to strengthen the education process.

When asked about whether the teachers were aware of the changes and whether those initiatives might affect their teaching plans, Calderon and Rey responded that the teachers will integrate the proposals to their plans.

"This is an ongoing process, the letter (about the curriculum) will be written this afternoon, and the teachers did know about the curriculum renovation because they participated in the process," said Rey.

Calderon made her statements during a press conference at the Ramon Vila Mayo High School in Rio Piedras, following a two-hour tour around metro area schools.

The governor said all schools are ready for the new school year and added that they have new books, computers, and tools to optimize the learning process.

But while Calderon praised Rey’s performance and claimed the system was ready to begin a new school year, parents and teachers flooded radio stations, television news programs, and other press to express their discomfort with some aspects of the education system. Complaints against the special education program, the designation of teachers for vacant positions, and the poor condition of some facilities headed the list.

While explaining the new changes, Calderon added that English courses will be extended from 50 to 90 minutes in 84 schools throughout the island, and for the first time, the Education Department began a certification process for English teachers, requiring them formal education in the language.

Calderon took advantage of the event to criticize former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo and said that under his administration, the department’s personnel set as priority the collection of money for political and personal purposes.

According to Rey, the English curriculum will emphasize conversational skills because students requested it to him and Calderon in previous occasions.

According to the governor, the curriculum renovation program emphasizes basic courses and also makes mandatory the learning of fine arts in the elementary, intermediate, and secondary levels.

In addition to the strengthening of Spanish and English language skills, the program focuses on Puerto Rican history, science, and mathematics.

Rey explained that in the case of chemistry and biology, the Education Department had not updated their books in 13 years.

She explained that the new curriculum was the result of a two-year working process, in which education experts, teachers, and officers from the Education Department participated.

For this school year 2003-04, the department bought 2,075,211 new books for a total cost of $17 million, including the acquisition of more than 60 new titles to be included in the curriculum.

They also invested $95 million in a capacitating program for teachers, who are enrolled in graduate studies, or taking specialized courses.

The department, along with the Drug Control Office, will also develop a drug prevention program to prevent the serious program of drug addiction, including the abuse of alcohol and tobacco.

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