Castro Wins Trans-Am Series Finale PIP Seeks More Reply Time For Military Forms Status Impedes Legalization Of Drugs Anti-Alcohol & Tobacco Camapign Set 20 U.S. Cong. Members Back Acevedo Vila Barrales Offers Ferre Family Bushs Condolences, FDA Begins Glaxo Inquiry Expos Close To SJ Return Cong. Caucuses Meet Democrats Go Island Hopping
Wally Castro Wins Puerto Rico Trans-Am Series Finale
October 27, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) - Local driver Wally Castro clinched the Trans-Am Series finale on Sunday, winning after favorite Scott Pruett made a pit stop just minutes before the end of the race.
Driving a No. 3 Jaguar XKR, Castro finished in 1:15:45.367 to win the Motorock Puerto Rico Grand Prix. Second-place Bobby Sak, from West Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, clocked 1:15:53.699 in the 55-lap race covering 1.6 miles.
It was only the second Trans-Am race for Castro, 35, who had his first in 1996 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
"It was a super race," said Castro, from this U.S. territory's capital of San Juan. "The car was so good."
Pruett, who already has the series title after winning his third championship race earlier this month, had been leading the pack for most of Sunday's race but pitted out at lap 50 with a problem in his right hub drive pin.
Pruett had been having motor trouble before the race, and missed Friday afternoon's practice session when a hairline crack in the oil pan force a last-minute engine change. He also had a throttle linkage problem, he said.
The race attracted 23 world-class drivers from the United States and the Caribbean. It was the first time since 1962 that organizers chose Puerto Rico as a location.
PIP Asks For Additional Reply Time For Military Recruit Forms
October 27, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) urged Secretary of Education Cesar Rey to extend beyond October 31 the deadline for parents to reply to the military recruit forms for high school students.
PIP vice president and at-large Senate candidate Maria de Lourdes Santiago claimed on Monday that Rey is helping the military recruiters collect personal data on high school students.
Santiago said that in a written letter to the PIP issued on September 19, Rey acknowledged that it had yet to send information regarding the military recruit forms to parents, guardians, school directors or teachers.
But Santiago said that one day prior to sending the letter to the PIP, Rey had sent out letters to the school directors ordering them to gather data on the students.
In that memo, Rey also established Oct 31 as the deadline for parents to complete the forms to authorize or forbid their sons data be handed over to the military recruiters, Santiago said.
She urged parents to answer the form forbidding data their childrens to be released to military authorities.
The PIP will be handing out copies of the forms at its Puerto Nuevo headquarters and at its 78 municipal committee headquarters.
"This is an effort to take the Puerto Rican youth to die in the North American wars," Santiago said.
Out of 97,000 forms returned, 37,000 parents have declined to release information on their children.
Puerto Rico's Political Status Impedes Legalization Of Drugs
October 26, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) - The local government would be unable to legalize the use of controlled substances for therapy because of its political status.
The Justice Department concluded in a legal opinion requested by Drug Control Office Director Luis Zambrana that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico would be impeded to authorize the use of heroine and marihuana for therapeutic purposes.
"The Justice secretary has confirmed what we have been saying," Zambrana said when stating that Puerto Rico can only legislate according to federal laws.
Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez explained that state efforts to prescribe marihuana and heroine to cure a disease or to enable an easier death in terminal cases can easily clash with federal laws.
Rodriguez was referring to the Controlled Substances Act through which the U.S. Congress concluded that marihuana and heroine don't have a medical use.
Campaign Against Alcohol And Tobacco Announced
By Jose Rivera Renta of Associated Press
October 26, 2003
PONCE Concerned about the high incidence of alcoholic young people, Drug Control Office Executive Director Luis Zambrana announced Saturday the launching of a publicity campaign aimed at halting the problem.
According to Zambrana, recent studies conducted in schools demonstrate that alcohol is the substance most used by adolescents, followed by tobacco and marijuana.
The official cited studies that reveal that the amount of alcoholic young people is three times greater than adolescents addicted to drugs.
"Alcohol is the [substance] of greater preference and most used by our youth," Zambrana said.
He indicated that the new campaign, whose cost he could not specify, is scheduled to begin in November.
Zambrana cited a recent study titled "Profile and Needs of the Puerto Rican young person 2003," conducted by sociologist Pedro Vales, which demonstrated a significant increase in the use of alcohol by adolescents.
The sample of 4,591 young people revealed that six of every 10 students between the ages of 13 and 17 have consumed alcoholic beverages, he said.
"Alcohol is causing more problems than drugs; there are three times more alcoholics than drug addicts," Zambrana said
20 U.S. Congress Members Support Acevedo Vila For Governor
October 26, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) - Twenty members of the U.S. Congress announced their support for Anibal Acevedo Vila's aspirations for governor in a joint statement on Sunday.
Hispanic Caucus President Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), African-American Caucus President Elijah Cummings (D-MD), and Asian-American Caucus President David Wu (D-OR) were among those who expressed their support for Acevedo Vila, said Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Secretary General Anibal Jose Torres.
"During his term as resident commissioner we have worked together in several issues and supported many bills in favor of the people of Puerto Rico, like the Urban Train and the Martin Peña Channel," the declaration states.
"We would also like to acknowledge him for his commitment and leadership in defending the civil rights of Vieques residents," the document read.
Contrary to what the leaders of the New Progressive Party have said, the congressmen said Acevedo Vila has served the people of Puerto Rico well.
"As members of Congress, we support and endorse Anibal Acevedo Vila as the next governor of Puerto Rico," they said.
The other members of Congress who support Acevedo Vila are Xavier Becerra (D-CA), Sanford Bishop (D-GA), Donna Christensen (D-U.S.V.I.), Luis Gutierrez (D- Illinois), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Michael Honda (D-CA), William Jefferson (D-Louisiana), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Solomon Ortiz (D-TX), Donald Payne (D-NJ), Lucile Roybal Allard (D-CA), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Albert Wynn (D-MD), and Bobby Scott (D-VA).
It was Acevedo Vila who, for the first time, had Title I Education funds allocated to Puerto Rico in the same proportion as the rest of the states.
This resulted in an unprecedented increase of more than $400 million in federal funds for the island's public schools.
Barrales Expresses Condolences In Name Of President
October 25, 2003
PONCE (AP) - White House Intergovernmental Affairs Director Ruben Barrales expressed Friday President George W. Bushs condolences to the family of former Gov. Luis A. Ferre and the people of Puerto Rico.
"He was a very good friend of the Bush family, and we are here to pay our respects," said Barrales, who represented the president at Ferres burial.
However, on the status issue, one of the greatest causes of the late governor, the White House official did not wish to comment.
"An announcement will be made soon," Barrales said succinctly about the interagency working group that will be in charge of clarifying the islands status alternatives.
Gov. Sila Calderon confirmed that she was notified by the Bush administration of its intention to reactivate the interagency group created by President Bill Clinton to evaluate the island's relationship with the United States.
Ferre musician, engineer, philanthropist, statesman, and father of the statehood movement in Puerto Rico died of respiratory failure Tuesday at age 99.
FDA Begins Investigation Against Glaxo
October 24, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began an investigation of manufacturing procedures between 2001 and 2002 in the GlaxoSmithKline plant in Cidra.
Patti Seis, spokeswoman for Glaxo on the island, said in published reports that the company is not sure what motivated the FDA investigation.
"We are working with them to clarify the matter," she said without providing details.
Glaxo, a European company which is the No. 1 pharmaceutical company in the world, manufactures the antidepressant Paxil, the cardiac treatment Coreg, and diabetes drugs Avandia and Avandamet at the Cidra plant.
The investigation emerged as the pharmaceutical company reported a 49% increase in profits for the third quarter and is currently working on the development of new drugs to replace products such as Paxil, which was previously a leader in sales but now faces competition from cheaper generic versions.
Expos Closer To Agreement On Return To San Juan
By Ronald Blum of Associated Press
October 24, 2003
MIAMI - Baseball and its union are moving closer to an agreement that would shift 22 Montreal Expos' games to San Juan for the second straight season.
Expos players, who previously said they were against returning to Puerto Rico, participated in a telephone conference call Wednesday with Gene Orza, the No. 2 official of the players' association, and he said an agreement was "within reach."
"I'm fairly confident that with some reasonability and good faith by major league baseball that we could conclude an agreement," Orza said. "There is a window of opportunity, but we're still not there yet."
Orza said players have two primary remaining issues, including an assurance on the Expos' payroll and how it is administered. Players also want to ensure 2004 is the final year of temporary solutions for the Expos, who were bought by the other 29 teams before the 2002 season.
To increase revenue, the commissioner's office moved 22 Montreal home games to San Juan in 2003, a shift that required the union's approval.
With the hope of finding a permanent solution in time for 2004, the commissioner's office interviewed potential bidders from northern Virginia; Portland, Oregon; and Washington. However, all three areas were unable to put complete financing in place for a new ballpark.
San Juan and Monterrey, Mexico, then asked to host some games next season. Orza said Monterrey had been eliminated from consideration.
"If the Expos don't play 81 home games in Montreal, they'll play the remaining games in San Juan, not Monterrey," he said. "San Juan deserves a second chance. They did a great job; they worked hard. It doesn't seem right to leave them and move someplace else."
Orza said if the union approves games in San Juan next year, all 22 would be played at Hiram Bithorn Stadium during the first half of the season.
He said he has been discussing the situation on a regular basis with Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations in the commissioner's office.
Three Congressional Caucuses To Meet On Island
October 24, 2003
SAN JUAN (AP) Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said Thursday that more than 20 Hispanic, African American, and Asian congress members will begin Friday in Puerto Rico their annual joint meeting in which they will discuss matters of interest to the three delegations.
Acevedo Vila said the meeting, to be held until Sunday at El Conquistador Hotel in Fajardo, will be attended by the presidents of the Hispanic Caucus, Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas); the Black Caucus, Elijah Cummings (D-Md.); and the Asian Caucus, David Wu (D-Ore.).
"It is an honor that by my invitation the organizers of the Tri-Caucus have selected Puerto Rico to hold this important meeting," the resident commissioner said in a press release.
According to Acevedo Vila, this type of event "offers an exceptional opportunity to get to know Puerto Rico," which he hopes will produce fruits in favor of the island in Congress.
Democrats Go Island Hopping
por Douglas Waller
October 20, 2003
Puerto Rico, where residents can't vote for the U.S. President, will hardly be a battleground in next year's election. So why have Democratic candidates been cultivating the island's key politicians? Kenneth McClintock, minority leader of Puerto Rico's Senate, got a visit last December at his San Juan office from Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, who dropped by to plug his candidacy. Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean has been a faithful McClintock phone pal. McClintock says his "added value" will kick in when he tours states like New York, Illinois and Florida next January to recruit the large number of Puerto Rican voters for his chosen candidate. Who's on McClintock's short list? The Senator says he likes Dean, who as Governor supported Puerto Rican statehood. But McClintock notes that when General Wesley Clark headed the U.S. Southern Command in 1997, he helped begin the relocation of its Army component from Panama to San Juan.
That, says McClintock, "would make him popular here."