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Rodriguez Will Seek Legislation That Affects U.S. On National Level

Will promote enterprise zones as a tool for Puerto Rico’s economic development

WOW News Editor

October 23, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Name: Charles "Charlie" A. Rodriguez

Birthdate: Aug. 26, 1954 in the Bronx, N.Y.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from Cornell University; Juris Doctor from University of Puerto Rico Law School

Professional experience: Elected at 26 to an at-large seat in the House of Representatives; lost race for Carolina mayor; vice president of the Democratic Party in Puerto Rico; has been a convention delegate on five occasions; won a Senate seat in 1992; was elected Senate president in 1997; lost primary for San Juan mayor to Jorge Santini; currently serving as consultant to San Juan law firm Woods & Woods

Marital status: Married to Kathy Erazo; three daughters: Nicole, 23; Valerie, 21; and Christie, 16.

Former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez thinks he has been pro-statehood since birth, an ideology inherited from his parents, and now he is ready to fight for it in the U.S. Congress.

He believes his experience and his contacts qualify him to be resident commissioner. "New Progressive Party voters should vote for me because I have been with this party in good times and in bad, and no one can say that I have failed him or her," said Rodriguez, who added that he is constantly being praised as an honest man.

Regarding his campaign platform and his responsibilities as resident commissioner, Rodriguez says an important duty of any legislator is to seek funds for his or her constituents. He says a resident commissioner should work for the people, but the wrong impression many in Congress have that Puerto Ricans are anti-American isn’t helping.

Rodriguez says he would seek to work on legislation that affects not just Puerto Rico but the U.S. on a national level. His areas of special interest include immigration, crime, the environment, and economic development.

He believes it is important for Congress to see that the resident commissioner isn’t only asking for money but is also taking an active role in national matters. "They [Congress] shouldn’t see us as people who go to ask for funds; they must also see us as people who care about improving the nation," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez’s proposal for resolving the island’s status is the same as that of gubernatorial primary candidates former Gov. Pedro Rossello and New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera: within a year of the 2004 elections, a referendum should be held whereby the people of Puerto Rico decide whether to ask the U.S. Congress to take action on the status issue.

There must be no colonial options, says Rodriguez. Statehood, independence, and an associated republic will likely be the options.

Rodriguez adds that federal tax incentives like Section 936 and the failed Section 956 provide benefits to Puerto Rico by way of exception from the rest of the country. As such, they don’t offer a sense of permanency or security.

The only incentive he would favor is on the national level. He would seek to make the island a federal enterprise zone, a poor area that is given priority in grants and other incentives for proper development. If Congress were to allow the commonwealth to participate in such program, the entire island would likely qualify as an enterprise zone because of its size, according to Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also would request funds to develop the Ponce and Mayaguez ports as well as the Rafael Hernandez Airport in Aguadilla, which could be turned into a second international airport.

He also wants federal funds to extend the Urban Train to Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport and to Carolina and Caguas.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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