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Romero Barcelo: I Am The One With The Most Experience

Says he doesn’t need a platform because his priorities should be those of the governor

WOW News Editor

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

Name: Carlos Romero Barcelo

Birthdate: Sept. 4, 1932 in Santurce

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science and economics from Yale University; Juris Doctor from the University of Puerto Rico Law School

Professional experience: Former San Juan mayor (1968-76) and former governor (1976-84). Returned to private law practice in 1985; four years later was re-elected president of the New Progressive Party. Resident commissioner from 1992 to 2000; after eight years, returned to private practice

Marital status: Married to Kate Donnelly; three children: Carlos Andres, Juan Carlos, and Melinda; six grandchildren

Of the four New Progressive Party candidates for resident commissioner, Carlos Romero Barcelo is the only one to have previously held the job.

He is also a former San Juan mayor, and a former governor. With eight years of experience in the U.S. Congress, Romero Barcelo says that if elected, he would probably have more seniority than many of his peers. Seniority in Congress determines an official’s office, position in committees, and much more.

Romero was unfazed by recent criticism that revealed seniority is determined by years of uninterrupted service. "I have the knowledge and the contacts that none of the other candidates has," Romero Barcelo said.

He notes politics is handled differently in Congress than in the Puerto Rico Legislature, which is why his previous experience in Washington is such an asset. He believes Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila’s lack of experience in Congress has resulted in a poor job.

"There [in Acevedo Vila] you have an example of someone who didn’t know what to do once he got to Congress," Romero Barcelo said. "Now that he is there, he still doesn’t know what to do and therefore prefers not to attend [legislative sessions]."

Romero Barcelo says this is the first primary he is confident of winning, not only because that is what his polls indicate but because of the feedback from the people on the street. He is also certain that whatever the outcome of the primary, no one will be hurt.

"People might be hurt for one week or two, but not for long because we will unite to achieve statehood," Romero Barcelo said.

In a clear reference to his competitor Luis Fortuño, whom many consider the front-runner, Romero Barcelo denounces that one of the other candidates is taking stabs at his advanced age. Romero Barcelo says people might initially be attracted by a fresh face, but they soon realize there is no substance behind it.

Despite the stated purpose of the interview, Romero Barcelo declined to reveal what his priorities as resident commissioner would be, saying only that they should be the same as the governor’s.

"You can get funds and legislation in Congress, but the implementation is here [in Puerto Rico] and not in Congress, as some say," he said.

He adds that the commonwealth economy can’t depend on federal tax incentives such as Internal Revenue Code sections 956 and 30A because these are economic maintenance plans. In other words, they don’t foster new economic development.

Romero Barcelo notes that investments are attracted to locations that boast favorable business climates including, among other things, a speedy but responsible permitting process.

He says this favorable business climate in Puerto Rico could be achieved through federal enterprise zones, which are specifically designed to cater to domestic investments. Once approved for Puerto Rico, it should take less than a year to implement.

"It is better for us to compete with the states because that way we get good salaries and good, educated people," Romero Barcelo said.

Noting that most jobs are created by small businesses, Romero Barcelo says there is a need to provide incentives for their development, and the best incentives are funds to educate people.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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