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Rossello, Berrios Set Status Meeting…Calderon Lays Rte 66 Bridge Cornerstone…Producers, Director & Actors Decry Censorship…Bishop Supports Gay Bishop…PIP Targets Unaffiliated Voters…Rossello Promises West Revitalization…Acevedo Vila Seeks Mayors’ Support…Gov.: Retailers ‘Vital’ For Economy

Rossello And Berrios Leaders To Meet Friday

August 13, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello and Puerto Rican Independence Party President Ruben Berrios will meet Friday to discuss the island’s status issue.

Frances Rodriguez, Rossello’s campaign executive director, confirmed that the meeting will take place Friday but did not disclose the time or location.

"They have a meeting Friday at Berrios’ request. It is my understanding that the petition was received and in good terms was accepted," Rodriguez said.

Governor: Route 66 Bridge To Be Finished October 2004

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

August 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW News. All rights reserved. 

Gov. Sila Calderon laid the first stone on the bridge that will cross the Rio Grande River as part of the Eastern Corridor, formerly known as Route 66, intended to relieve traffic from Trujillo Alto, Carolina, Canovanas to Rio Grande.

The bridge is expected to be finished by October 2004–a month before the general election–at a cost of $24.5 million, the governor said. Calderon said it would be 570 meters long and three lanes wide in each direction and it should serve as a relief to 88,000 drivers who commute to the eastern side of the island everyday.

"This project will create 290 jobs. We continue to focus on our main priorities: economic development and job creation. The acceleration of the public work is fundamental, and we are working on it full throttle," the governor said during a press conference Tuesday at the project’s construction site in Carolina, where she stood in front of a banner that read "Accelerating the Public Work."

The Eastern Corridor project was intended to begin during the past New Progressive Party administration, but it was halted by strong opposition from then minority Popular Democratic Party and by several environmentalist groups who protested the alteration of green and wetland areas. The total investment of the Eastern Corridor has been estimated at $203 million.

The governor underlined that the methods to be used will be more environmentally friendly than the original. She said the bridge wouldn’t require excavation or drying of the land, thus reducing the impact on the riverbed.

These exceptions aside, the Eastern Corridor’s main alignment remains pretty much the same as before. When asked if she thought that former Gov. Pedro Rossello should take credit for the project, the governor said she only cared about what is best for the people of Puerto Rico.

"The important thing is that the project will be done right, according to the law, that it complies with environmental requirements and that it is a clean project, free of corruption. I could care less who should take credit for it. It is the people of Puerto Rico, who will benefit from it," the governor said.

Calderon added that infrastructure projects sometimes take up to 20 years and go through several different administrations before they can be finished.

Puerto Rican Producers, Director And Actors Decry Censorship

August 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003
EFE News Service. All rights reserved. 

San Juan, Aug 11 (EFE) - Much of Puerto Rico's theater world was up in arms Monday and decrying alleged censorship after a city-run venue backed out of staging "Naked Boys Singing" following complaints from several Puerto Rican conservative and religious groups over its nude scenes, the producers said.

The musical comedy was scheduled at Old San Juan's Teatro Tapia, the capital's oldest theater and one of the country's most prestigious venues. Instead, it will make its debut at the smaller Teatro El Josco, located in Santurce.

Raymond Gerena and Ulises Rodriguez, the producers of the play, issued a press release in which they characterized the development as censorship.

The development "marks a black page in Puerto Rican theater," said the producers, who qualified themselves as "victims of political demagoguery, the capricious conceit of the neighborhood politician."

Maria de Lourdes Otero Rivera, legal counsel for the theater company, filed a complaint with a U.S. federal court in San Juan against City Hall and Mayor Jorge Santini.

Otero Rivera told EFE the complaint was for "violation of civil rights and specifically for violation of freedom of expression."

"The economic losses are huge. This cannot continue ... We will pursue this to the end," said Gil Rene, director of the play.

Meanwhile, the actors feel "outraged and trampled upon," Gerena told EFE, noting "there has been a lot of pressure on the mayor here by moralizing and religious groups.

Puerto Rican Bishop Supports Designation Of Gay Bishop

August 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rican Episcopal Church Monsignor David Alvarez said Tuesday that he supports the designation of the first openly homosexual bishop in the United States.

Alvarez said the designation of V. Eugene Robinson is "an acknowledgement that there are Christian homosexual people in our diocese and outside of it."

Robinson was designated bishop last week, causing conservative members of the Anglican Episcopate to abandon a national meeting and ask world Anglican leaders to intervene in what they called a "pastoral emergency."

According to Alvarez, "nothing in the faith and order of the church is altered in this case."

"The spiritual effectiveness of the sacraments is independent of the subjective condition of those who administer it," he added in a press release. "The matter of homosexuality is not an extensively treated point in the Bible."

Although he recognized that the act is "worrisome and annoying" for some Episcopalians, Alvarez made a call to "maintain the communion and community of the church."

PIP Relies On Non-Affiliate Voters

August 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios said he believes the vote of non-affiliates will boost the party’s chances in the upcoming general elections.

According to Berrios, who is running for governor in 2004, the PIP will get the votes of many people who have been disappointed by previous administrations.

Berrios said he is not worried about the possibility of not having the support of other pro-independence organizations, as happened in the 2000 elections.

"The problem in this election is not whether the independentistas will vote independentista, as I have no doubt that they will. The problem lies in the sectors of the New Progressive Party and the Popular Democratic Party that feel disappointed not only with the status issue, but with the incompetence of the Popular Democratic Party and of the disastrous past administration," Berrios said.

The PIP gubernatorial candidate said that the party’s 50 year clean record makes it a real alternative for the next general elections as well as an instrument to punish majority political parties of the island.

Rossello Promises Improvements To The West

August 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial primary candidate Pedro Rossello made a campaign promise to transform Rafael Hernandez regional airport in Aguadilla into the island second’s national airport.

He also vowed to improve and promote tourism in the western area.

Still he didn’t disclose specific proposals to sustain his promises.

Rossello was campaigning in the municipalities of Rincon, Añasco and Aguada along with the four candidates for resident commissioner and several district and at-large candidates for the legislature.

Acevedo Vila Seeks Support From Mayors

August 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PPD) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila made several promises during the weekend to important mayors of the island such as Jose Guillermo Rodriguez of Mayaguez and Rafael Cordero Santiago of Ponce, promises that he will fulfill if he is elected mayor.

In recent months Rodriguez has repeatedly denounced the Ports Authority abandonment of the Mayaguez port. Acevedo Vila promised he would transfer authority over the port to the municipal government if he gets elected.

Cordero for his part has insisted that the so-called Port of the Americas or mega port should be build in his municipality.

Acevedo Vila agreed.

In making both promises the current Resident Commissioner seeks to get the support of important leaders within the PDP and their followers.

"I believe in decentralization and that structures like that (Mayaguez port) should be in the hands of the municipal government," said Acevedo Vila.

He added that the Port of the Americas will improve the island’s economy and will begin in Ponce and future phases will be built across the south.

Calderon: Retailers ‘Vital’ For Economy

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon emphasized Saturday night the measures of her administration that have benefited retailers and highlighted the work of Enid Toro de Baez, the new president of the United Retailers Association (CUD by its Spanish acronym).

Calderon gave a message at the inauguration of the new CUD Board of Directors in an activity in Rincon, where she stressed that retail businesses make up a "vital" sector for the economy because they create most of the jobs on the island.

"This is a vital sector of our economy. You create most of the jobs on the island, and your success is essential for our progress," Calderon said to CUD members, according to a La Fortaleza press release.

According to CUD, retail businesses in Puerto Rico generate 200,000 direct jobs and a sales volume of $8 billion a year.

The governor added that she knows of "the challenges and difficulties that [retailers] face daily. That is why one of my main strategies is precisely to strengthen the Puerto Rican business. And we have taken the measures to achieve that."

The governor said the law of direct jobs for the urban center, the revitalization of the urban centers, the reform of tax relief for the middle class, and the fusion of the Export Development Corp. (PromoExport) and the Commercial Development Administration are some of the incentives aimed at benefiting retailers.

Calderon also said Law 169 of Dec. 3, 2001, provides incentives to big businesses to stimulate the export of Puerto Rican products.

Toro de Baez, the first female president of the CUD, substitutes Ricardo Calero in that position.

The CUD was founded in 1891 and represents almost 20,000 small and medium businesses, according to the organization’s Web page.

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