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Rossello, Fortuño, Bhatia Win Primaries… Poll: Acevedo Vila Would Lose To Rossello Or Pesquera…NY Officials Studying Vieques…Another Soldier Dies In Iraq…Maui Struggles To Rid Coqui…Legislators ‘Using’ PAN…84 D.R. Migrants Detained…P.R., OECS Seek Closer Ties…Pesquera Urges Voters To Defy Poll: Rossello, Fortuño, Bhatia To Win Primaries

Rossello And Fortuño Celebrate Victory

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

November 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

All disputes that surfaced during the heat of the primary campaign seemed to be forgotten by former Gov. Pedro Rossello and Republican Party National Committeeman Luis Fortuño as they both took the stage to celebrate their victory in Sunday's primaries for New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate and resident commissioner, respectively.

In his acceptance speech, Rossello invited opponent NPP President Carlos Pesquera to join him in his quest to defeat Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila and to achieve statehood for Puerto Rico.

"I know that tonight there are feelings of happiness, triumph, and brotherhood among progresistas, but must of all I feel grateful to you, and I want to extend that gratitude to a worthy opponent, Carlos Pesquera," Rossello said.

Despite the booing and several cries for Pesquera to leave the party, the majority of the crowd applauded Rossello for praising his contender.

"As soon as I can, I will talk with Carlos. . . I will offer my brotherly hand to him whenever and wherever he wants because I know that he shares my wish to put an end to this administration that has done so much damage to Puerto Rico," Rossello stated.

The now official NPP gubernatorial candidate arrived a few minutes past 7 p.m. However, it took him approximately 40 minutes to reach the stage under a pouring rain to address an ecstatic audience who chanted "Rossello be calm, the people are with you." Rossello responded that "as always, when the people talk, I obey."

Rossello also thanked resident commissioner pre-candidates former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer, and former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez for their support and invited them to work with him and Fortuño to defeat the PDP in the general election of 2004.

Fortuño also had words for his opponents and expressed his willingness to work with them with no hard feelings.

"I extended my hand to the three of them because we need them all," said Fortuño when asked how he felt about his contenders.

Since the beginning of the race, Fortuño has been the target of his opponents, especially Romero Barcelo and Rodriguez. Both of them took turns criticizing him for being inexperienced and for having the support of Republican Congress members who allegedly are anti-Puerto Rican and anti-statehood.

Romero Barcelo was the only resident commissioner pre-candidate who didn't show up at the committee headquarters.

Daughter NPP Rep. Melinda Romero, who was at the rally since early in the afternoon, spoke on his behalf and told reporters that she was sure her father's defeat wouldn't deter him from his ideal for statehood.

"He will be in the front line of the battle for Puerto Rico to become a state," Melinda said.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez was all smiles and didn't show disappointment despite his loss.

"I am very enthusiastic and happy with what has happened in terms of the turnout. I thank those who voted for me, and I will honor those who didn't vote for me. I will honor all voters with my dedication and my work to achieve the NPP triumph in 2004," said Rodriguez upon his arrival to the stage, accompanied by his wife and daughters.

Earlier in the evening, Ramirez de Ferrer was the first to congratulate Fortuño and Rossello and to express her disposition to let bygones be bygones.

"Some battles I win; others I don't, but you know I've been fighting for 20 years and will continue to fight to achieve statehood for Puerto Rico," said Ramirez de Ferrer, noting that she will accept the people's will and that she will not be defeated by the primary results.

Tiody De Jesus, widow of recently deceased former Gov. Luis A. Ferre was also present next to Rossello and used the opportunity to urge the NPP members to fulfill Ferre's dream of statehood. She said she was there on his behalf because it had been one of Ferre's dying wish to be there and remind them that they must finish what he started when he founded the party in 1967.

Following Rossello's speech, the now official NPP gubernatorial candidate and resident commissioner candidate started dancing in front of a cheering crowd. Rossello, urged by the public, played the congas with merengue group Mayombe. Meanwhile, people went on partying outside the committee headquarters, seemingly unbothered by a constant drizzle.

Candidates for Governor - NPP


*Pedro Rosselló: 427,743 votes (75.99%)

*Carlos Pesquera: 131,884 votes (23.43%)

*Otros: 3,256 votes (0.58%)

Units reported: 1743 of 1791

Candidates for Resident Commissioner in Washington - NPP


*Luis Fortuño: 343,982 votes (61.28%)

*Carlos Romero Barceló: 144,693 votes (25.78%)

*Charlie Rodríguez: 35,307 votes (6.29%)

*Myriam Ramírez: 23,892 votes (4.26%)

*Other candidates: 13,469 votes (2.39%)

Units reported: 1743 of 1791

Bhatia Wins PDP San Juan Primary

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

November 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Vowing to give the people of San Juan a "real administration," former Sen. Eduardo Bhatia thanked the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) voters of San Juan for his election and asked his defeated contender, Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux, to join him in his campaign to win the capital in 2004.

Just one hour after Vigoreaux had accepted his defeat, he and his family joined Bhatia for his acceptance speech at his Hato Rey headquarters.

Minutes later, Gov. Sila Calderon and her daughter, who won an at-large Senate candidacy joined Bhatia.

Bhatia, accompanied by District Sens. Margarita Oztolaza and Jose Ortiz Daliot, vowed to act as a no nonsense mayor, in direct reference to New Progressive Party Mayor Jorge Santini.

"I will not be the mayor of a golf-camp; I won’t act with that nonsense. I will be a mayor for the people of San Juan," Bhatia said.

Just three hours after voting centers had closed and with less than 10% of the electoral units counted, Vigoreaux accepted his defeat in the San Juan mayor primary race.

With only 10 out of 180 voting units counted by the State Elections Commission, Vigoreaux addressed the media at his campaign headquarters and said his voting college officials had informed him that the tendency was official and Bhatia had won the election.

Accompanied by his wife and children and with his characteristic nonchalant way of answering the media, Vigoreaux said he will finish his term in office, wait for the PDP to win the general election of 2004, and request that he be given back the chance to announce the lotto’s winning numbers in the island’s public broadcasting corporation.

"Well, now I will wait for [PDP gubernatorial candidate] Anibal Acevedo Vila to win the elections so that he can appoint me again to sing the Pega 3 winning numbers," Vigoreaux said.

Vigoreaux, who throughout the campaign declined to criticize his contender or Santini, had only words of praise for Bhatia.

"He is an excellent candidate for the mayor of San Juan, and there will be a union between all the people who voted for me and voted for him so that we can recover the capital in 2004," Vigoreaux said.

Bhatia, in return, also praised Vigoreaux.

"I want you all to receive with a warm welcome a man who has been a clean contender and who I know will join me in my efforts to win back the capitol for the PDP," Bhatia said, as the crowd applauded Vigoreaux.

Candidates for Mayor- PDP


San Juan

*Eduardo Bhatia: 21,157 votes (74.51%)

*Roberto Vigoreaux: 6,991 votes (24.62%)   

*Other candidates: 245 votes (0.87%)

Units reported: 179 of 180

Poll: Acevedo Vila Would Lose To Rossello Or Pesquera

November 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – If the elections had been held the last week of October, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila would have lost to either of the New Progressive Party (NPP) pre-gubernatorial candidates, former Gov. Pedro Rossello or NPP President Carlos Pesquera.

A poll published in a local newspaper indicates that Acevedo Vila would have received 31% of the vote to Pesquera’s 48%; Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) candidate Ruben Berrios would have received 5%. Nearly 13% of those interviewed said they were undecided or did not answer the question.

Had the election been between Rossello, Acevedo Vila, and Berrios, the poll shows that the NPP candidate would have received 45% of the votes, the PDP candidate would have received 33%, and the PIP candidate would have received 4%. Eighteen percent said they wouldn’t vote, are undecided, or did not answer the question.

Some 1,000 registered voters throughout the island were interviewed for the poll.

New York Officials Studying Vieques Situation

November 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A delegation of New York elected officials from Puerto Rico arrived here Thursday to study the health and environmental conditions in Vieques six months after the end of U.S. Navy maneuvers in the island municipality.

State Rep. Jose Rivera said the group’s itinerary includes meetings of the legislative commission on Puerto Rican and Hispanic affairs of New York and a visit to Vieques on Saturday.

The delegation also includes State Rep. Joseph Crowley and Bronx Community President Adolfo Carrion, Rivera said in published reports.

"We will go to Vieques to personally observe the condition of the island after the Navy’s exit and to meet and talk with members of the Vieques Rescue and Development Committee and other local leaders to design new strategies to help clean and revitalize Vieques," he said.

Fourth Puerto Rican Soldier To Die In Iraq This Week

November 6, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Another Puerto Rican soldier died in Iraq on Wednesday from multiple gun shot wounds in an incident that has yet to be clarified in Bagdad, said U.S. Army officials of the island on Thursday.

This is the fourth Puerto Rican soldier to die this week and the 13th to perish in the U.S. conflict in Iraq.

U.S. Army spokesman Jose Pagan said sergeant Jose Rivera, 34, belonged to the 82nd Air transport division in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Rivera died in an attack in Mahmudiyah, 15 miles south of Baghdad, at around 8 p.m. Wednesday, the military said.

"Although his immediate family living in Fort Bragg has been notified, the soldier’s name has yet to be revealed pending notification of relatives in the island," Pagan said in a prepared statement.

Department of Defense’s reports stated that 3,474 Puerto Rican soldiers from the National Guard and the National Guard Reserve are on active duty, as are 91 marine reserves, and 78 members of the Air National Guard.

Maui Struggles To Rid Noisy Frog

November 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003
Asia Pulse PTE Ltd. All rights reserved. 

PACNEWS, the Pacific News Agency Service

05 NOVEMBER 2003 MAUI (Pacnews) - The Maui Invasive Species Committee (MISC) has not given up on efforts to eradicate the coqui frog from Maui, despite a report out of Honolulu that the frog is beyond control. A recent report out of Oahu said there are 40 or more areas on Maui where the frogs have been heard. The coqui, a quarter-size frog that is native to Puerto Rico, was apparently introduced to the islands in a shipment of tropical plants from the Caribbean. There is an approved method for controlling the frogs, involving a spray of a citric acid solution that will kill the tiny amphibians without harming the plants in which they hide. The MISC is working with the state Department of Agriculture on a project to make the citric acid spray more accessible for homeowners.

However, it will take cooperation of all residents in an infested area to look for and capture the frogs, to spray for control and to eliminate frog habitats - removing dead leaves from plants that provide frog shelters, disposing of green waste and eliminating sources of moisture.

Legislators Accept ‘Using’ PAN For A Month

By Ricardo Zuñiga of Associated Press

November 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

Imagine leaving your lifestyle in the upper middle class, emptying your refrigerator and larder, and feeding your family with only the help of the Nutritional Assistance Program (PAN by its Spanish acronym).

This is the challenge that four legislators accepted by agreeing to participate for the month of November in the Walk a Mile program organized by the Puerto Rico Communal Agencies Association.

Popular Democratic Party Sen. Julio Rodriguez, New Progressive Party (NPP) Sens. Norma Burgos and Lucy Arce, and NPP Rep. Anibal Vega Borges will have to feed their families with the equivalent of what they would receive if they participated in PAN.

All were matched with low-income families with whom they will compare notes to better understand the needs of this extensive sector of Puerto Rican society.

"The purpose is to promote greater understanding of low-income citizens among legislators by exposing them directly to the experiences of a participant of PAN," Communal Agencies Association Director Camilo Torres said.

As part of the program, PAN beneficiaries who are paired with the legislators will have to visit the Capitol at least once to learn about the legislative process.

Meanwhile, the food that the legislators removed from their kitchens will be donated to a homeless shelter in Aguada and the Puerto Rico Food Bank.

84 Dominican Migrants Detained In Quebradillas

November 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. Border Patrol detained 84 illegal Dominican migrants who reached land in Puerto Rico early Wednesday and were searching for dozens of others who escaped, authorities said.

The 64 men, 18 women, and two female teenagers were captured near the northeastern coastal town of Quebradrillas, Border Patrol spokesman Victor Colon said.

They arrived aboard a 40-foot wooden yawl powered by two outboard engines, Colon said. The boat was overcrowded and carrying more than 100 people, prompting authorities to continue searching for between 20 and 40 other migrants.

Two Dominicans were being treated for severe dehydration and exposure at a hospital, but were in stable condition, Colon said.

The migrants, who ranged in age from teens to 40s, left from the northeastern Dominican town of Rio San Juan early Sunday and paid an average of 25,000 pesos (US$700) to smugglers, he said, citing migrant accounts.

Border Patrol agents were processing the migrants before repatriating them, authorities said. Authorities have detained 723 migrants, mostly Dominicans since Oct. 1, Colon said.

Border Patrol officials say the number of Dominicans detained after landing illegally in Puerto Rico has roughly doubled in the past year from 780 to 1,585.

Thousands of Dominicans make the treacherous voyage across the choppy Mona Passage each year, seeking better economic conditions in Puerto Rico.

Meeting Of OECS Leaders In St. Lucia Previewed

November 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003
The British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

Source: Caribbean Media Corporation news agency, Bridgetown.

Castries, St Lucia: Heads of government of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) begin a two-day meeting here from 10 November, called to discuss a number of economic development issues, the OECS Secretariat said on Tuesday.

It said that "Several cooperation initiatives will…go before the heads for consideration. Among them…plans for closer collaboration with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the French overseas territory of Guadeloupe," the secretariat said in a statement.

It said that there will "be a strong focus on economic development issues" during the two-day meeting, that will also receive a progress report on the implementation of the OECS Economic Development Strategy.

That strategy has been described as "a road map for the development of the sub-region".

The status of trade negotiations involving…the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)…will also be tabled at the meeting here.

The OECS groups the islands of Antigua-Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.

Pesquera Urges Voters To Prove Poll Wrong

By Sandra Ivelisse Villerrael of Associated Press

November 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

After dismissing Wednesday the results of a poll that predicts he will lose Sunday’s primary, New Progressive Party (NPP) pre-gubernatorial candidate Carlos Pesquera urged voters to come out en masse to prove the poll wrong.

In what started as a press conference to announce his promises for public employees and ended as a political rally, Pesquera alleged that the poll does not reflect what he feels on the street.

"I have no doubt that if the people understand the responsibility they have to choose the best person to lead Puerto Rico today, they will participate and they will resoundingly vote for me," he said.

According to a poll in a local newspaper, if the primaries had been held during the last week of October, former Gov. Pedro Rossello would have won the NPP gubernatorial candidacy with 67% of the votes; Pesquera would have received just 28%.

"Polls are polls; they are respected and used as an instrument, but in this case, more than any other, it is a call for the people," Pesquera said. "There you have a voice of warning."

He continued his speech by urging voters to join with the NPP and go out and vote to give "a lesson of decency and. . .responsibility."

He also verbally attacked Rossello, his former mentor.

"The traditional politics that you reject are finished," he shouted. "He who does not vote will be an accomplice to the decision."

"I will do the work without need for corruption. . .I don’t come here with a thirst for vengeance," Pesquera said.

Poll: Rossello, Fortuño, Bhatia To Win Primary

November 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – If Sunday’s primary had been held in the last week of October, former Gov. Pedro Rossello, former Tourism Director Luis Fortuño, and former Sen. Eduardo Bhatia would have been favored in their respective primary races, according to a poll in a local newspaper.

The poll, held between Oct. 24 to Nov. 1, in which 1,000 people were questioned, revealed that Rossello would obtain 67% of the New Progressive Party (NPP) votes in the gubernatorial primary race, while his contender, NPP President Carlos Pesquera, would obtain 28%. Four percent said they weren’t sure, and 1% did not answer.

In the NPP resident commissioner primary race, Fortuño would win with 48% of the votes, followed by former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo with 24%, Sen. Miriam Ramirez with 10%, and former Senate President Charlie Rodriguez with 8%. The remaining 10% said they were undecided.

In the Popular Democratic Party San Juan mayoral race, the winner was Bhatia with 66% of the votes, and his contender Roberto Vigoreaux obtained 28%. Five percent said they wouldn’t vote in this election, and 1% said they were not sure.

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