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Powell Opposes Attempts To Internationalize Island…Rossello Not Looking For Revenge…Intel Auctions Off Plant…Anti-Corruption Law Signed…Violence Harms Preventive Medicine Efforts…Gov. Wants Tougher Weapons LawU.S. Rep. Backs Island Role In RR Development

Powell Resents Attempts To Internationalize Island

September 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell issued two communications to his ambassadors in Latin America opposing some attempts of the Puerto Rico government to establish cooperation agreements, arguing that this authority corresponds "only to sovereign nations."

The communications, revealed in published reports, dated Aug. 6 and 19, hold the Puerto Rico government responsible for "false representation" to neighboring countries when requesting agreements and seeking help to include the island in the Caribbean States Association (CSA).

Gov. Sila Calderon said two weeks ago that Puerto Rico never asked to be included in the CSA and on many occasions has said that the agreements signed with countries such as Chile and the Dominican Republic had the support of Powell’s department.

"The [U.S. State] Department is aware that officials of the Puerto Rico government have communicated with several countries of the region seeking acknowledgement reserved only to sovereign nations. The two most recent examples are Nicaragua and Panama, where the Puerto Rico government pressured officials of these governments to sign cooperation agreements that contain language reserved for agreements between sovereign nations," one of the letters says.

Powell explained to his ambassadors in Belize, Colombia, El Salvador, Spain, Barbados, Venezuela, Guyana, Guatemala, and Jamaica, that on July 10, 2002, he wrote to government officials to discuss how Puerto Rico could participate more actively in international matters, but he did not receive a response.

The second wire sent to the ambassadors of Nicaragua, Curacao, Belize, Colombia, Guyana, Jamaica, Bahamas, Panama, and France reiterates that Puerto Rico is incapable of participating as a sovereign nation in the Iberoamerican Summit, to be held in Bolivia.

"Since Bolivia is the host country of the summit, if it receives a request [from the Puerto Rico government], the embassy in La Paz should inform the government of Bolivia that any invitation for Puerto Rico should be conducted through the State Department in Washington," the wire says.

Rossello: I’m Not Looking For Vengeance

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

September 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Former Gov. Pedro Rossello acknowledged Thursday that he feels the administration of Gov. Sila Calderon has persecuted him, but said he is not coming back to the political arena seeking vengeance.

"I’m not coming back for revenge, but I have to admit some who join me want it," said Rossello.

The New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate said some people in Puerto Rico have suffered discrimination for their political beliefs and recalled that during the French Revolution, guillotine inventors intended to silence the opposition and then, died through the same method they created.

Rossello said the present administration has judged him—as well as others from his administration—through public opinion, spreading rumors, making allegations, and linking him to people indicted for corruption, even though they don’t have evidence to process him through judicial channels.

"We are on a very dangerous path," Rossello noted.

As a result, he committed to "rescue the equal treatment of people using the same evaluation criteria for all."

Rossello also said he will eliminate the Blue Ribbon Committee created by Calderon to investigate government transactions during his administration, and will let government agencies in charge of overseeing public funds investigate transactions according to their ministerial duties.

He emphasized that prevention of corruption cases will be one of his top priorities if he is elected.

"In that aspect, I believe we can make a difference," he said.

Rossello made his remarks during a luncheon of the Federal Bar Association, at which he urged attorneys to discuss the limitations Puerto Ricans face in terms of their civil rights.

Intel Auctions Off Puerto Rico Assembly Plant

September 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
REUTERS LTD. All rights reserved. 

SAN JOSE, Calif., Sept 17 (Reuters) - Intel Corp., the world's largest maker of semiconductors, said on Wednesday it has auctioned off a plant in Puerto Rico that it had been unable to sell directly for two years.

The amount of the bid for the six-story building was not disclosed. The minimum bid was $10 million.

The auction was finalized this week with buyer Lightstone Real Estate Partners LLC of Lakewood, New Jersey, said a spokesman for Inland Real Estate Auctions Inc. of Oak Brook, Illinois.

The 428,000 square-foot plant on 60 acres of property, where about 1,300 people worked, was used for assembling network interface cards and motherboards.

The Santa Clara, California-based company closed the plant because it was more expensive to run than its operations in Asia and transferred the work to a plant in Malaysia, he said.

Governor Signs Law To Fight Corruption

By WOW News staff

September 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Should cabinet members who receive bonuses when leaving office be convicted for corruption acts, they will be required to return the money, Gov. Sila Calderon said Thursday in a press release.

This new requirement came into effect with the signing of a law that amends a 1967 statute regulating everything regarding compensatory payments to government officials appointed by the governor.

Calderon said in a prepared statement that the bill is aimed at ridding the government from corruption.

"This bill constitutes another step to push this purpose forward," Calderon said.

The governor added that the statute will also serve to deter those intending to use their government positions for personal gain at the expense of the people’s best interests.

Meanwhile, the Puerto Rico Bar Association recommended imposing an additional penalty in these cases.

Violence Harms Preventive Medicine Efforts On Island

By Leonardo Aldridge of Associated Press

September 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

The violence that envelopes Puerto Rico is one of the reasons most of the governmental expense in public health is focused on curative medicine, pushing the preventive phase to a second tier, said Health Secretary Johnny Rullan.

"In a well-developed country, 80% of investment is put in preventive medicine and 20% in curative medicine. But here, 80% is put in curative medicine and 20% in preventive," Rullan said to questions in a press conference at La Fortaleza.

Curative medicine tries to resolve a trauma or grave or imminent risk, while preventive medicine tries to abate possible risks or illnesses by promoting better general health, he explained.

"We can’t seek the curative part until the problems of violence are resolved," said Rullan, mentioning that as the norm, "in the emergency rooms [of Puerto Rico], you know a [patient with a] bullet will arrive."

The Health secretary said in an emergency room on the U.S. mainland, five trauma cases are expected a day, while in an emergency room in Puerto Rico, 20 trauma patients could arrive daily because of violence.

Rullan also said the problem of mental health in Puerto Rico prevents a governmental focus on preventive medicine and hinders the creation of a realistic and viable public policy to promote preventive health.

The emergency rooms and medical centers are forced to serve some 7,000 abused children and 1,500 mistreated elderly people a year, Rullan said.

This reality, along with the violence of street gangs that inundate the emergency rooms with bullet wounds, demands that the government concentrate on the great number of cases that require immediate action, assured Rullan, who added that the situation will not change until "we resolve the problem of mental health."

Governor Files Bill To Amend Weapons Law

September 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon sent a bill to the Legislature that would amend the Weapons Law and impose more restrictions on selling and bearing arms.

The bill would also give anyone carrying an illegal or unregistered firearm six months to turn it in to the police without penalty.

The amendment would add to the list of felonies for which a license to bear a firearm can be denied.

Target shooters would be required to carry special permits and a copy of their membership card to prove they belong to a shooters club. They would also be required to have in their house a safety box with an alarm system connected to a police station or security company if they own more than five short-range weapons or more than 10 long-range weapons.

The bill also seeks to ban licenses to carry or sell high-potency weapons such as AK-47 and AR-15s as well as silencers, even for target practice, because shooting clubs don’t have the facilities for such weapons.

Each person licensed to carry a weapon would be allowed to purchase only 50 bullets per year. Those who hunt or target shoot would be allowed 1,200 bullets a year; those who compete in tournaments can request a dispensation from the police superintendent.

The bill would also prohibit tourists or business people from bringing firearms into Puerto Rico unless they are on-duty federal agents.

U.S. Congressman To Lobby For Development Of Naval Base

September 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – U.S. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) has promised to lobby the U.S. Congress Conference Committee, which is working on the Defense Allocations Law, so that the Puerto Rico government may participate in the future development of the Roosevelt Roads naval base in Ceiba.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila made the announcement in published reports.

"We don’t have an agreement, but I want to let you know that we will discuss that tonight," Lewis told the resident commissioner, according to Acevedo Vila.

The Puerto Rico government has demanded participation in the decisions regarding the future of the base and wants the military land transferred to local jurisdiction.

Roosevelt Roads is the largest naval base outside the U.S. mainland.

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