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Congress To Probe PR Economy... Constitutional Assembly Proposed... Berrios Opposes Assembly... NPP Leaders React to Assembly... PDP Selects Governing Board... Government Granting Student Loans... Jose Feliciano Named Honorary Envoy... Probe of WIPR to Begin

U.S. Congress To Analyze Puerto Rico’s Economy

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – The U.S. Congress intends to conduct a study on the Puerto Rican economy, including its taxation system, and how it compares to those of the 50 states.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Minority Leader Max Baucus (D-MT) requested the study from the General Accounting Office (GAO) and Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation, according to published reports.

The senators stated in their letter that the GAO has until June 30, 2004, to submit its recommendations.

The committee made its request after Congress questioned the applicability of U.S. Internal Revenue Code Section 956 to the island.

The study should also evaluate the differences in federal taxes and customs rates between Puerto Rico and the 50 states and how federal and local taxation rates for individuals, corporations, property, and sales are established. In addition, the GAO should evaluate the applicability of social assistance programs.

Grassley and Baucus also requested an analysis of the economic activity of American corporations established in Puerto Rico and the flow of capital between the 50 states and the island since 1980.

Acevedo Vila Achieves Support For Constitutional Assembly

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

ISABELA (AP) – Resident Commissioner, Popular Democratic Party President and gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila achieved Saturday the support of the general assembly of the party to begin a process leading to a constitutional assembly.

"Today, I officially ask this assembly, the highest organism of this party, to favor the constitutional assembly as the right mechanism of the future to begin the search of the final solution of the status issue," said the excited gubernatorial candidate.

Some 6,000 delegates gathered at the Jose Buga Abreu Coliseum in Isabela, where the governing board was also chosen.

Acevedo Vila indicated that as the next governor, he will conduct a referendum.

"I believe in the constituent assembly, and I will promote and campaign because I believe that this is the most democratic and effective mechanism," he said, though he clarified that he would not impose it on the people.

During the assembly, a motion presented by Ponce Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago was approved wishing a fast recovery for former New Progressive Party Gov. Luis A. Ferre, who is also from Ponce.

Berrios Lambastes Acevedo Vila’s Proposal

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios, lambasted on Monday Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Anibal Acevedo Vila's proposal to have the people decide whether the Constitutional Assembly should be the mechanism used to decide whether the island’s status.

For Berrios, Acevedo Vila’s proposal shows "disrespect" and is an attempt to calm down PDP followers who are clamoring for a status solution.

"The question one has to ask is why not hold such a consultation now, when his party is the majority in the Legislature," said the PIP president during a midday press conference at the party's headquarters.

According to Berrios, if Acevedo Vila has not done anything to solve the status issue from the resident commissioner's post in Washington, then he will not do anything if he is elected governor.

Pesquera And Rossello React To Acevedo Proposal

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Anibal Acevedo Vila’s proposed referendum for the mechanism to determine the status issue should be held now and not in 2005.

Acevedo Vila said Saturday that should he be elected governor he would call for a referendum and ask the people to choose one of four mechanisms to solve the status issue.

"Why doesn’t he propose that such a referendum be held now and not in 2005... This shows he has no capacity to make it happen and what he is trying to do is to attract the vote of those in favor of independence," Pesquera said.

For his part, gubernatorial primary candidate former Gov. Pedro Rossello said the proposal is just "another trick" to continue delaying the discussion of the status issue.

"It seems to me that the proposal is just one of those things to continue the delay and not do anything regarding the status when they have had four years to do so and have not made anything happen," Rossello said.

Meanwhile the Puerto Rican Independence Party has called a press conference on Monday to discuss its position regarding the proposal.

New PDP Governing Board Selected

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

ISABELA (AP) – In a crowded assembly, some 6,000 delegates of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) chose the new governing board of the party, under the mandate of Resident Commissioner and PDP President Anibal Acevedo Vila.

And just as had been expected by San Juan mayoral pre-candidate Eduardo Bhatia, he defeated contender Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux, who he also faces in the Nov. 9 primaries, for the representative of San Juan.

Elected as members of the governing board by accumulation were Sen. Roberto Prats, Juan Eugenio Hernandez Mayoral, and Arecibo Mayor Frankie Hernandez Colon.

For the district of Guayama won Cayey Mayor Rolando Ortiz; for the district of Arecibo, Dorado Mayor Carlos Lopez won; and in representation of union organization, Rep. Severo Colberg Toro won.

Elected as president of the women was Carmen Yulin Cruz and as president of the young people, Orlando Rivera de Jesus, assistant of Rep. Charlie Hernandez.

Ratified in their positions were Carolina Mayor Jose Aponte as vice president, Ponce Mayor Rafael Cordero Santiago for the district of that municipality, Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora for the district of Mayagüez, Trujillo Alto Mayor Pedro Padilla for the district of Carolina, Caguas Mayor William Miranda Marin for the district of Humacao, and attorney Hector Grau for the district of Bayamon.

Mourning clouded the PDP Delegates Assembly when it was known that Acevedo Vila’s sister-in-law died from a long illness of cancer.

Despite the sorrow, Acevedo Vila and his wife Luisa Gandara participated in the assembly.

Juanita Colombani, the resident commissioner’s press official, said Dolores Gandara, 58, died Saturday at the Pavia Hospital. Gandara had four other siblings.

Government To Grant Student Loans

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Youth Affairs Office (OAJ by its Spanish acronym) will grant student loans to enable high school graduates to take specialized vocational courses.

OAJ officials intend to cover the most pressing needs identified in a study conducted among more than 4,500 students between the ages of 13 and 19.

On Monday, OAJ Director David Bernier discussed the findings of the study "Needs and Profile of the Puerto Rican Youth 2003."

Bernier said the study revealed that the teenagers’ most pressing needs are those related to family, occupation, and education issues.

The agency chief said the agency was allocated $2 million for the student loans.

"We will promote an interest in business by effectively presenting the available options to convince our generation that there are alternatives to low-paying jobs," Bernier said during a press conference at La Fortaleza.

He also said he would ask the University of Puerto Rico to expand the options of evening courses for working youths.

Feliciano Becomes Honorary Ambassador For Immigrants

October 22, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Puerto Rican singer and composer Jose Feliciano became an honorary ambassador for the International Immigrants Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of millions of people who come to America.

"Although Puerto Rico is a U.S. protectorate, I feel myself as an immigrant," Feliciano said Monday at the ceremony at U.N. headquarters. "I arrived in New York when I was 5 years old. I was poor, I spoke no English and I lived in one bedroom with my uncle and my aunt. Only in America can one achieve so much. I will never be able to repay the United States for all the things it has given me."

Feliciano, a six-time Grammy award winner, pioneered the cross-over of Latino artists into the mainstream musical world, adapting his style to fit rock, ballads and jazz as well as traditional Latin American songs.

"I want to do my best. I do not want it just to be a title thing," Feliciano said. "I am undertaking this commitment to strengthen the United States, which is already a great nation, by helping immigrants and all my Latino brothers."

Hearing In WIPR Case To Begin Tuesday

October 20, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Velda Gonzalez announced that the hearing to investigate the alleged scheme to commit ethics violations and grave felonies at the Public Media Corporation of Puerto Rico (WIPR by its Spanish acronym) would start Tuesday.

The legislator, who chaired a committee investigating the case, said she had evidence to prove that irregularities took place between 1993 and 2000.

"We will begin with the testimonies of Osvaldo Sandoval and his wife Mabel Aponte Berrios, who received immunity in May," Gonzalez said in a prepared statement.

Gonzalez said the testimonies had to do with the acquisition of a vehicle through corporation suppliers.

The senator added that the Interpol has supported the findings of the investigation which could be revealed during the hearing.

Gonzalez said she hopes former WIPR President Jorge Inserni will show up at the hearing Wednesday.

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