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Bush Family Mourns Death... PR Leaders Praise Ferré... Week of Mourning Declared... Tiodi Ferré - People Loved My Husband... Ferré Family is Grateful... PR Soldiers Iraq Rotation In Doubt... White House To Act On Status

Bushes Send Their Condolences To Ferre Family

By Istra Pacheco de Associated Press

October 23, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

In the midst of his full agenda as part of his visit to Australia, President George W. Bush took time to express his sadness over the death of top Republican leader on the island, former Gov. Luis A. Ferre.

"Laura [Bush’s wife] joins me in sending our condolences to the Ferre family and the people of Puerto Rico," Bush said in written statements sent Wednesday from Australia.

His father, former President George H.W. Bush, said from his office in Houston, "a great man has passed into history."

"Barbara [the senior Bush’s wife] and I feel that we have lost a treasured friend. . . Luis taught us all a valuable lesson about leadership, humility, and decency," the former president said.

Thomas Frechette, spokesman for the former president, said Bush would not be able to attend Ferre’s funeral but would like to go to a memorial service if one is held.

Ferre, a philanthropist, statesman, and the father of the statehood movement in Puerto Rico, died Tuesday of respiratory failure. He was 99.

President Bush said the greatest contributions that most distinguished Ferre, whom he called "a great friend of my family and mine," were his fight for Puerto Ricans to achieve political power and his dedication to the culture.

"Don Luis Ferre was a distinguished statesman and a great American who was dedicated to his family and to the economic and cultural growth of Puerto Rico," Bush said.

"As a member of the House of Representatives, the president of the Senate, and governor, he was a very effective defender in achieving political power for the people of Puerto Rico," the president said.

Bush also recalled that throughout his relationship with the former governor, he received on several occasions his advice, which the president said he still values.

He also emphasized that all of Ferre’s contributions garnered him in 1991 the Presidential Medal of Liberty in honor "of his years of distinguished service in favor of America."

Bush, the father, said Ferre will be remembered for much more than his participation in the public world, since he was one "of the most generous people I know, a great and true philanthropist."

Gov. Sila Calderon decreed seven days of mourning for Ferre and granted Thursday off as a vacation day for public employees who wish to attend his funeral.

Puerto Rican Leaders Reminisce About Their Time With Ferre

October 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

Former Gov. Luis A. Ferre is dead, but his memory lives on.

On Wednesday, several Puerto Rican leaders who attended the wake at the Capitol rotunda shared their sorrow and their cherished memories of their time with the late former governor.

New Progressive Party (NPP) resident commissioner pre-candidate Carlos Romero Barcelo praised Ferre and gave him credit for creating the person Romero Barcelo is today.

Romero Barcelo attributed his persistence to the teachings of Ferre, whom he described as a tenacious and dedicated man who never shied away from obstacles.

"When I was at La Fortaleza, we would always celebrate his birthday. I would invite him and his immediate family over," said Romero Barcelo.

Former Gov. Pedro Rossello, who is running for the 2004 NPP gubernatorial nomination, had a few stories to tell as well.

"When I decided to go into politics, I sought his advice, and he welcomed me into his home. At that time, he had a macaw walking freely around the house and participating in the conversation," Rossello said with a smile.

Rossello also recalled one time when he admired Ferre's necktie. Immediately Ferre removed the tie and gave it to Rossello.

"Yesterday I had the opportunity to remember that time, and so I wore the tie that he gave me [to the religious service Tuesday night]," Rossello added.

NPP President Carlos Pesquera, Rossello's opponent in the NPP gubernatorial primary, said he would always be grateful for Ferre’s generosity.

"He helped me with the most basic and important thing: the education of my children. That is something I will never forget," Pesquera said.

"He gave me advice and wisdom. Don Luis was a very wise, moderate, and centered person. Being at his side always gave me peace," he added.

NPP Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer, who is seeking the resident commissioner candidacy, said that, for her, Ferre has not died.

"Don Luis has gone from mortal to immortal, and with immortality comes additional greatness," Ramirez de Ferrer said.

"Now, his presence has become more evident in our movement [for statehood]. His words, his teachings, his education, and his style are now the order of the day for the pro-statehood movement," the NPP senator added.

Former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez, another of the four NPP pre-candidates for resident commissioner, said he will never forget the time his father took him to a political rally Ferre held in Carolina; Rodriguez was only 13.

"I would have never thought that one day I would be sharing responsibilities to direct the party with Don Luis Ferre, the figure that I saw when I was barely 13," Rodriguez said.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila, the Popular Democratic Party’s gubernatorial candidate and president, recalled a surprising conversation he had with Ferre while waiting for a flight: "It was in 2000. We were both headed to Washington, but with different agendas regarding the status issue. He was extremely cheerful and cordial. We talked about the status [issue], about sports…that’s when he told me he had been a fencer, something I hadn’t known."

Supreme Court Associate Justice Baltasar Corrada del Rio said Ferre "was a man who, despite his riches, was unassuming and humble." He remembered a time when Ferre declined a luncheon invitation to a posh restaurant, opting for pork rind and bread in Bayamon.

Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. Fernando Martin talked about Ferre with admiration.

"He proved beyond a doubt that it is possible to be a very effective politician without insulting anyone. I never saw him underestimate the value of any person," Martin said.

The stories and the memories go on and on. Through them, Ferre's legacy remains intact, as though he never died, as though he is still alive among the people to whom he dedicated his riches, his wisdom, and his life.

Week Of Mourning Declared In San Juan

October 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini declared Tuesday a week of mourning in the city after the death of former Gov. Luis A. Ferre.

Santini said all social activities scheduled by the municipality of San Juan will be postponed.

"Today, we say goodbye to a great man who left us a legacy of humility, the wish to help our neighbor, and the love of the arts. The loss of this great engineer of dreams definitely allows us to reflect on how much dedication a human being can have for humanity and how much satisfaction can be felt because of that," he said in a press release.

"The engineer of dreams and the executor of great works will remain present with us. . .We [will] miss having examples such as Don Luis," Santini added.

Ferre, a philanthropist and the father of the statehood movement in Puerto Rico, died at 7 a.m. Tuesday. He was 99.

Tiody Ferre: "The People Loved My Husband"

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

October 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

In her first statements after the Ferre family announced the death of former Gov. Luis A. Ferre, his widow Tiody said the people loved her husband dearly.

Wearing a black dress and looking calmer than she did Tuesday morning, Doña Tiody said she was grateful to the people for their support in these moments of sorrow.

"The people of Puerto Rico have demonstrated their greatness with the death of Luis. In the same manner that Luis loved people, people love him," she said.

She said the people’s warmness and prayers have supported the family during Ferre’s suffering.

"The people were very important because he had medical complications minute after minute, not day by day. When we thought his condition was improving, something new showed up, until the [final] moment came," she said.

Tiody Ferre made her remarks after a mass Tuesday evening offered by New Progressive Party (NPP) former Gov. Pedro Rossello and his wife Maga.

The mass was held at the St. Agustin Church in Puerta de Tierra, at which hundreds of people, especially political leaders, attended.

Priests Rafael Candelas and Jerry Tul praised Ferre, whom Candelas described as a master.

"The master has left, but his disciples are here to continue what he wanted," Candelas said.

He added that it is not easy to speak about one he loved so much and for whom he served as spiritual mentor.

"Ferre was a master of wisdom and good sense. The 20th century now comes to an end with the death of a great politician," added Candelas, who also recalled the last time he visited Don Luis at the hospital Sunday.

"I told him, ‘This is Padre (Father) Candelas. I came to pray.’ He opened his eyes and looked at me as he never had. He grabbed my hand. I told him about Mother Theresa of Calcutta. I said, ‘I put your health in the hands of Mother Theresa,’" he said.

On Sunday, Pope John Paul II beatified Mother Theresa. "Now, he’s with her," Candelas added.

Rossello said the founder of the NPP had been a good man who left a legacy for Puerto Rico in his productive life.

He noted that pursuing Ferre’s dream of statehood for Puerto Rico is the responsibility of those who remain on Earth.

"Puerto Rico mourns. This is a time of reflection, and now it is our responsibility to make Ferre’s dream come true," Rossello said.

Rossello and NPP President Carlos Pesquera canceled all political activities related to the Nov. 9 primaries.

Rossello said Ferre was a symbol of unity and noted that "now the NPP founder traces the road to unity more than ever."

Ferre Family Thanks The People For Their Support

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

October 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

With clenched teeth and sad faces, as though trying to hold back a flood of tears, relatives and friends of former Gov. Luis A. Ferre gathered at the Metropolitan Hospital in Guaynabo to thank the people of Puerto Rico for their support and prayers for their beloved Papa Ferre.

Surrounded by Ferre’s wife Tiody De Jesus, his children Antonio Luis and Rosario, and his grandchildren Antonio Luis Jr., Luis Alberto, Maria Eugenia, and Maria Luisa, Dr. Juan Montes said the former governor began having respiratory failures on Monday afternoon and died at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

"Don Luis was a fighter, and that hope [that he would pull through] was there until the end. Nobody wanted to lose Don Luis," said Montes during a morning press conference.

"I want to emphasize to the people of Puerto Rico, who I know are suffering, that Don Luis remained calm at all times, always answering in monosyllables and short phrases. He died peacefully next to his wife Tiody and a group of physicians," he added.

Visibly moved by her loss, Ferre’s wife was brief in her address to the press.

"He was a very brave patient. We all know how much he suffered with this last illness. I am so grateful to the people of Puerto Rico. I adore you. Thank you so much," said De Jesus, her words choking.

Ferre’s children kept silent, holding on to one another as though relying on each other’s strength.

Antonio Luis Jr. was the only one who spoke on the grandchildren’s behalf. He also extended his gratitude to the people and to the hospital’s staff.

"It was as though they were treating a father," he said in describing the care given to his grandfather and his family.

The death of Ferre ended a year-long battle with numerous health ailments. Montes acknowledged that the former governor was treated for several urinary, intestinal, respiratory, and cardiovascular conditions. He had only words of admiration for the kind of patient Ferre was.

"Don Luis was wonderful in every way. I never heard him complain. He was always brave; even with the surgeries, he would face them head on and with a fortitude that should be admired," Montes said.

Ferre had been in intensive care since Sept. 29 because of a urinary tract infection. Once he recuperated from that condition, he suffered an intestinal obstruction Oct. 1 and underwent surgery. Soon after, he developed pneumonia, from which Montes said Ferre never fully recovered.

Montes said Ferre’s condition deteriorated Monday night until the former governor died of respiratory failure Tuesday morning.

No Date For Return Of 800 Puerto Rican Soldiers

October 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Some 800 Puerto Rican soldiers of the Army Reserve are still stationed in Iraq without knowing when or how many could be benefited from a rotation plan that will allow them to return to the island for vacation for a few weeks, officials said.

"We are waiting for word for when the rotation will begin. Some units have already done it, like Massachusetts, and it is something that is being discussed in general throughout the United States," spokesman of the Fort Buchanan Mobilization Station, Joe Pagan, said in published reports.

Pedro Silva, spokesman of the Army Reserve, indicated that any change will depend on the needs of the Defense Department, which recently decided to extend by a year its stay in the Iraqi operations camp beginning from the date that they started to arrive in Iraq in March.

Meanwhile, some 600 National Guard troops remain in Iraq and Kuwait without knowing when they can return to the island. Another 170 have returned because of health problems, of which 41 came from Iraq.

So far, nine Puerto Rican soldiers have lost their lives in incidents occurring in the Persian Gulf before, during, and after the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

White House To Announce Working Group On Status

October 21, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

By Leonardo Aldridge of Associated Press SAN JUAN (AP) – The National Republican Party in Puerto Rico said on Monday that the White House is about to activate an interagency working group, created by former President Bill Clinton, to evaluate the island’s political status.

Republican Party National Committeeman Luis Fortuño said the White House could be make the announcement on Monday.

The information could not be immediately confirmed with the White House.

According to Fortuñ, who is also a New Progressive Party Resident commissioner primary candidate, the working group is expected to hand in its recommendations by 2005.

"The conditions for us to choose our political status - and that it be final - will come through," Fortuño said.

Fortuño said efforts for the committee to be reactivated were begun about a year ago by the former president of the National Republican Party, former governor Luis A Ferre.

The group was formed by Clinton but never activated.

Republican Party delegate Zoraida Fonalledas and secretary Carlos Chardon added there is a genuine interest on behalf of the White House to define the island’s status.

Real and viable options to resolve the status issue must come from the federal authorities, they said.

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