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Puerto Rico Remembers 9/11…Rivera: New Anti-Crime Measures Working…Casellas: Fed. Ct. Should Stay Out Of Politics… Uruguayan President To Visit…Chief Judge Resigns…Expos Future Uncertain…21 Cos. Seek DOD Contracts…$65m Pena Channel Dredging Funds In Jeopardy…Calderon Marries Cantero Frau

Puerto Rico Remembers Victims Of Terrorist Attacks

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Under the motto "Strengthened in Hope," the Puerto Rican government remembered Thursday the victims of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, with an ecumenical act of prayer.

At the activity, which Gov. Sila Calderon did not attend, Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado made a call "to keep hope alive and overcome the differences that generate violence."

"We come today strengthened with the hope that the effect of that terrible act of terror has only served to globally create societies more secure and more alert to the dangers that could threaten the future of their members and societies more conscious of cultural differences and more able to overcome their own prejudices and intolerance," Mercado said.

Meanwhile, Calderon issued a written statement, supporting the families of the victims and calling on citizens to be carriers of wisdom and understanding.

"May this test serve to reaffirm our determination to protect with all our energy the values of peace, liberty, and democracy that were violated that day," the governor said.

During the ecumenical service, religious and political leaders, as well as government officials, observed a minute of silence in remembrance of the more than 3,000 victims of the attacks that collapsed the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in New York, damaged the Pentagon near Washington D.C., and caused the crash of a hijacked plane in Pennsylvania.

Police Chief Claims Anti-Crime Measures Are Working

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

September 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Following last week’s reports of an increased crime rate in Puerto Rico, Police Superintendent Victor Rivera said Thursday that the measures taken this week to prevent violent deaths in the metropolitan area have resulted in four days with no reports of violent killings.

Rivera acknowledged that there has been a reduction of between 500 and 600 police officers in Bayamon and San Juan during the past two years. However, he was quick to announce the addition of 325 police agents each in San Juan and Bayamon, and 260 officers in Carolina as part of the government’s plan to fight crime.

"We haven’t had a killing in the last four days in San Juan and Bayamon, and that is the result of the measures implemented this week to fight crime," Rivera said.

The police superintendent said 799 officers would be working during the hours of increased crime risk in the metropolitan area of San Juan, Bayamon, and Carolina. An additional 330 Tactic Operations Unit officers have also been activated to provide support in these areas.

Rivera said vacation time and sporting events have been cancelled for 389 police officers.

"The immediate adoption of this action plan proves the serious commitment this administration has to the citizens’ safety. Our goal is to guarantee the safety of all Puerto Ricans," Rivera said.

In addition, he did not rule out the possibility of using the National Guard in the fight against crime.

"I have never ruled out the use of any police strategy that may reduce violent incidents," Rivera said.

However, the police chief said he believes it would be very hard to implement a curfew.

"I think a curfew is a type of prohibition that would be very hard to implement. We have all gone through adolescence, and to impose a curfew that may be unreasonable may invite them to violate it. In that sense, everything related to curfews must be evaluated carefully," the police chief added.

Rivera’s statements were made during a press conference at the Police Department’s headquarters in Hato Rey to detail the latest security plan for the island, especially the metropolitan area.

The police chief added that an additional 1,200 cadets and another 1,000 auxiliary police officers would aid police patrols throughout the island, while 75 cadets would be activated in Carolina, San Juan, and Bayamon to provide additional patrol Fridays and Saturdays.

Rivera also announced that 1,100 police vehicles would become available in November and that another 1,400 would be available at the beginning of 2004.

Casellas: Federal Court Shouldn’t Meddle In Politics

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — U.S. District Court Judge Salvador Casellas said the court shouldn’t have gotten involved in the dispute between former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila because it was a political issue.

Romero Barcelo had requested Acevedo Vila’s disbarment, but the panel of federal judges decided to issue a public reprimand. Casellas was the only member of the panel who voted against the reprimand.

"This court should abstain from electoral disputes. This should be especially so when the alleged bad conduct doesn’t include actions related to the professional practice before this court and when the defendant wasn’t acting as an attorney at the time of the alleged events, but as a politician in the midst of a very heated campaign," the judge said.

He also said there had been a judicial precedent in 1980 when the court was asked to disbar former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon. At that time, visiting Judge Robert Merhige said the court should abstain from exerting disciplinary action in cases in which the defendants were acting in their role as politicians.

Romero Barcelo and Acevedo Vila were running for resident commissioner when the dispute began in 2000. Acevedo Vila had based his allegations on the testimony of a former aide to Romero Barcelo who linked the former governor with a corruption scheme, which later proved to be false.

President Of Uruguay To Visit Island

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Uruguay President Jorge Batlle will visit Puerto Rico next week to promote commercial exchange between both countries, the State Department announced Thursday.

Batlle’s three-day visit, which starts Sunday, comes after an invitation from Gov. Sila Calderon during the Iberoamerican Summit held in the Dominican Republic in 2002, the Puerto Rico government said.

The visit of Batlle — who assumed the presidency in March 2000 — would be the first by an Uruguayan president to Puerto Rico, officials said.

"The presence of a South American head of state on our island frames the efforts of the governor’s administration to expand the commercial opportunities of Puerto Rican businesses in the Mercosur," Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado explained in a press release.

According to government data, Puerto Rican industries exported $1,917,737 in products to Uruguay in 2002. Most of the exports were chemical and pharmaceutical products, electric machinery, and professional and scientific instruments.

In the same year, Puerto Rico imported Uruguayan products valued at $1,467,219 — mainly food, electrical machinery, and chemical products.

The Puerto Rico government said they are conducting talks with Uruguayan officials to make that nation a "port of entry for the export of Puerto Rican goods and services to the Mercosur, one of the main commercial blocks of the Americas."

Montevideo, the capital of the South American country of 3.4 million people, is the administrative headquarters of the Mercosur, which includes Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

Andreu Resigns, Trusts Calderon Will Make The Right Decision

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

September 11, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Declining to make a statement in favor of any of the people being mentioned as his possible replacement, outgoing Puerto Rico Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Andreu said Thursday that he trusts Gov. Sila Calderon will make the right decision in the selection of his substitute.

" I am sure that the governor will select the person that in her opinion complies with the criteria that she clearly knows a person who will occupy this post should have," Andreu said.

Andreu added that the governor did not ask him for recommendations but that he gave her some advice as to the person who should be selected.

His resignation had been rumored for several months and so have the names of his possible replacement, including University of Puerto Rico President Antonio Garcia Padilla, Justice Secretary Annabelle Rodriguez, and Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado.

Mercado is said to be Calderon’s favorite, but issues regarding his close ties to the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) have raised some opposition.

Although Andreu said he had not discussed politics with the governor, he saw no problem in the fact that Mercado is associated with the PDP because other members of the island’s top court have in the past held political positions and been impartial once appointed.

Mercado declined to comment and said he would not speculate as the decision was the governor’s alone.

Meanwhile, another possible replacement being mentioned is Associate Supreme Court Justice Federico Hernandez Denton, who some say would be the ideal replacement because of his experience and relatively young age.

Hernandez Denton said he was honored to be mentioned but also declined to comment.

Andreu was asked if he would prefer his replacement to be one of his peers and not someone from outside.

"I think that all judges on the Supreme Court possess the qualities for the post. But the decision depends on many circumstances. I would be very pleased, because I love them all, but that does not necessarily mean that because they are here that should be the only criterion used by the governor," Andreu said.

Among the qualifications he recommended is that the person selected for the chief justice post should be someone with great sensibility, great knowledge of public administration, and someone respected by the people and the judicial branch.

In addition, he or she should be capable of detaching himself from any political ideology or special interest.

Andreu noted that those qualities would guarantee that the person selected would implement justice not only from the bench but also as an administrator.

Selig: Future Of Expos Still Uncertain

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

SAN JUAN (AP) -- Baseball's relocation committee has not ruled out any option for the Montreal Expos next season.

The options for the team include finding a buyer, playing all 81 home games in Montreal, or playing a split home schedule between Montreal and San Juan or Montreal and Monterrey, Mexico, commissioner Bud Selig said Wednesday at a news conference in Puerto Rico.

There is also a proposal by local Puerto Rican promoter Antonio Munoz to host all 81 home games in Hiram Bithorn Stadium, where the Expos play 22 ``home'' games this season.

``Obviously the options are the various cities that have expressed interest (to relocate), as well as the cities that have expressed interest in a series of games or all the games,'' Selig said.

``The relocation committee is hard at work in finding a home for the Expos. We'll make that determination in the coming weeks, or how long it takes. We haven't ruled out anything out yet.''

The Expos, bought by the other 29 major league teams before the 2002 season, are being sought by Northern Virginia, Portland, Ore., and Washington, D.C.

Expos players met Tuesday and decided not to vote on whether to accept another split home season. They did agree to present their concerns over playing another 22 home games away from Montreal and also made suggestions on how to improve their working conditions.

``Comfort and competitiveness'' were the main issues, player representative Brian Schnider said. ``We want everything to be better.''

Selig praised the effort made by the city of San Juan and Munoz to bring the games to Puerto Rico, and the commissioner said he was pleasantly surprised at the organization and the fan support the Expos received.

``This has worked out far better than anyone had the right to expect. This has been a wonderful success,'' Selig said.

Munoz and San Juan mayor Jorge Santini said they want to bring back the team next year.

``We are strongly committed in trying to repeat this event next year and in years to come,'' Santini said.

Munoz said he presented three proposals to major league baseball: one for 81 games, for 36 games, and for 22 games.

``I feel positive. We've done everything possible to make the players comfortable in Puerto Rico,'' said Munoz.

The average attendance for the Expos' first 20 games has been around 15,000.

Funds For Dredging Martin Peña Channel In Jeopardy

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Transportation & Public Works Secretary Fernando Fagundo said the federal funds to dredge the Martin Peña Channel could be impacted by the $87 billion request made by President George W. Bush to cover the military intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Fagundo said Bush’s petition could affect a $65 million allocation made under the Water Resources Development Act, thus delaying the plans to dredge the channel.

Should that happen, Fagundo said the local government would have to find the money, as there is no excuse for delaying the project, which he described as one of the most important in Puerto Rico.

The rehabilitation of the channel and neighboring residential area will require the relocation of more than 1,500 families.

The Martin Peña Channel used to be 230 feet wide, and in 1936 was still navigable. The government then started using it as a landfill, leading to its high levels of pollution.

Industries Promoted For Contracts With Defense Dept.

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Industrial Development Co. Executive Director Milton Segarra said Wednesday that 21 Puerto Rican industries presented their products and services to the U.S. Defense Department in an effort to obtain contracts.

The companies made their exhibitions in Philadelphia and Virginia, two important purchase centers for the department, according to Segarra.

"During 2002, the Defense Department granted contracts to Puerto Rican companies that totaled approximately $40 million," Segarra said in a press release.

The Puerto Rican industries that presented products before the Defense Department were Caribbean Outwear, LFM Manufacturing, Wear Tech, Kandor Manufacturing, Caribbean Needle Point, and Ciales Uniforms, all dedicated to making clothes.

RD Medical and MTS, which produce medical equipment, as well as Avant Technologies, Electronical & Electronic Suppliers, and Opti Manufacturing, which specialize in electronics, also presented their products.

International Custom Molders, SPC, and Wally, of the plastics industry, and AKM Sheet Metal, CNC 2000, Tooling & Stamping, Atlas Stamping, Metal Tech, and RH Products, of the metallurgic industry, also participated in the event.

Segarra said DJ Manufacturing obtained a $5 million contract in 2002 to make pants and backpacks, while Advanced Contractors received $4 million for providing maintenance and repair service to the U.S. Armed Forces.

The presentation of the Puerto Rican industries is part of an initiative of the Center for Obtaining Technical Assistance, a federal program of the Industrial Development Co. that seeks to promote local companies and achieve contracts.

Calderon Marries Cantero Frau

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

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

Gov. Sila M. Calderon & Ramon Cantero Frau

At noon Wednesday, Gov. Sila Calderon and businessman Ramon Cantero Frau became husband and wife in a private ceremony presided by Chief Judge Jose Andreu Garcia in the Throne Room at La Fortaleza.

The ceremony began at noon when Calderon entered the Throne Room–which is adjacent to the governor’s office–while the Philharmonic Orchestra performed a classical selection.

"I want to express the happiness Ramon and I feel on this day, which has become the most important of our lives. Our feelings are hard to describe in words," Calderon said in a written statement.

Calderon wore a long beige and terra cotta-colored dress–similar to the golden, bronze, and beige ribbons hanging from the balcony along with Italian foliage–while Cantero Frau wore a dark suit.

Orchids and roses of colors complimenting Calderon’s dress decorated the room and the dining area.

Calderon’s two daughters and son, Sila Marie, Maria Elena, and Francisco Xavier Gonzalez, served as witnesses at the wedding.

Only Calderon and Cantero Frau’s immediate relatives attended the private ceremony. They could be seen minutes before noon through the room’s glass and wooden doors, which face Fortaleza Street.

The newlyweds had a luncheon with their relatives after the ceremony, and Cantero Frau’s brother-in-law, Ernesto Fronteras, made the toast to the couple.

Pianist Ruben Escabi entertained the couple and their guests during the luncheon.

Cost estimates for the decorations and flower arrangements surpass $9,000. Calderon previously said she and Cantero Frau would cover those expenses.

Protocol expert and Assistant Secretary of State Bill Mendez told WOW News that the event’s schedule was on time and weather conditions were perfect.

Press Secretary Nilka Estrada revealed that during the ceremony, Nydia Caro and Chucho Avellanet sang "Himno al amor" (Hymn to love), "Mi amor por ti" (My love for you), "Donde quiera que tu vayas" (Wherever you go), and "Mi amor" (My love).

Avellanet performed first, and then Caro sang two melodies. Avellanet closed the presentation with "Himno al amor."

Before leaving the ceremony, the singers told the press that the ceremony was well organized. Caro added that the mood at the ceremony was calm and romance was in the air.

"I believe the most important things in life cannot be described; you feel them," Caro said.

Caro noted that she felt privileged to have sung for the governor.

"We had the privilege of being there, and you could feel in your heart a great sense of love and a wish for the union to be blessed and sacred," Caro said.

Government officials, lawmakers, and mayors are expected to greet the newlyweds after 3 p.m., and around 5 p.m., the public will able to pay its respects to the couple.

Two cakes — one for the couple’s guests and another for nearly 1,000 people - were prepared by pastry chef Lourdes Padilla.

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