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Acevedo Vila, Rossello Campaigns Trade Charges…Congress To Allocate $25m To Veterans Hospital…Vazquez Botet Seeks GOP Presidency…Gov’ts Crime Statistics Refuted…Nat’l Guard Mobilization To Continue Until ‘05…Special Ops - South HQ MovIng From SJ To Fla.

Rossello Campaign Responds To Acevedo Vila Campaign

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

November 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Frances Rodriguez, campaign director for former Gov. Pedro Rossello, the New Progressive Party’s (NPP) gubernatorial candidate, said Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila lacks the moral standing to accuse Rossello of being guilty of government corruption by association.

Rodriguez’s statements were issued in reaction to those made by PDP Secretary General Anibal Jose Torres on Tuesday, urging Rossello to explain the numerous corruption scandals of his gubernatorial administrations in the 1990s.

Torres had also criticized a television ad run by Rossello’s team that alleges Acevedo Vila is hurling mud at Rossello to conceal his own lack of leadership.

Rodriguez said the Rossello ad was in response to a PDP ad that showed Rossello with former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo, who is now in prison for misusing the agency’s public funds.

"While they insist on continuing with a low and dirty campaign, we will continue with a high-standing debate[. . .] People know this is a time to find solutions, not excuses. Let’s look for solutions, let’s work to make them a reality," Rodriguez said during a press conference at Rossello’s campaign committee headquarters in Hato Rey.

Rodriguez noted that Acevedo Vila was publicly reprimanded by the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico for pursuing a case against former Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo based on the testimony of an unreliable witness who had perjured himself.

"They cannot talk about coverups and lies because ‘Anibal Acevedo Vila’ is a synonym for ‘coverups and lies,’" Rodriguez concluded.

Congress To Allocate $25 Million To Veterans Hospital

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – The U.S. Congress will allocate $25 million to expand the facilities at the Veterans Hospital of Puerto Rico in order to have more available room for beds.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila made the announcement Thursday and said the funds will be added to the $46 million already available to improve the hospital’s infrastructure.

The new allocation was included in a veterans affairs bill that was formulated by a congressional conference committee and appeared likely to receive the president’s signature.

The hospital’s expansion project could begin in March, according to published reports.

"Puerto Rican veterans need a new hospital, but while we’re fighting that battle, the [hospital] we have will be able to continue its improvement plan," the resident commissioner said.

Vazquez Botet Challenges De Jesus In Republican Party

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – Dr. Rene Vazquez Botet will compete with Tiody De Jesus, widow of former Gov. Luis A. Ferre, for the presidency of the Republican Party in Puerto Rico.

Vazquez Botet said he decided to run for the post because he believes that a generational change within the party is needed and because he could further the statehood issue from that position.

"All Puerto Rico has a debt to Tiody, but I believe we can work together on many agendas for the party. I acknowledge that we need her help to meet our agenda," Vazquez Botet said in published reports.

Last week, De Jesus received the unanimous support of the top members of the party, but the new candidate said he isn’t worried about that.

The presidency will be decided in an election to be held Nov. 23 during a Republican Party general assembly in San Juan.

San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini and New Progressive Party Sen. Miriam Ramirez de Ferrer withdrew their names from consideration for the local party presidency after De Jesus announced her candidacy.

PDP Counterattacks Rossello’s Campaign Message

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – The war over the campaign messages spread by the gubernatorial candidates of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and New Progressive Party (NPP) continued Thursday.

This time, PDP campaign general manager Gabriel Alonso said the subject of education and the "noncompliance with the promises" of former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s past administration will continue to be the central themes of PDP gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila.

"Our campaign is ready to talk about education. . . Rossello should answer why he failed and did not comply with his [campaign] promises when he was governor," Alonso said.

Rep. Hector Ferrer attacked the NPP gubernatorial candidate in a press release, saying that Rossello did not improve the public education system during his eight years in office.

On Wednesday, Frances Rodriguez, Rossello’s campaign director, described as "repugnant and full of mud" an advertisement for Acevedo Vila that claims that Rossello did nothing to defend funds intended for education.

Rodriguez showed the press an advertisement with Rossello’s answer, which, although it does not deny the accusations, criticizes Acevedo Vila for focusing on corruption in the Education Department as the holiday season approaches.

"What occurred in the Education Department during the Rossello administration and what we have presented in our campaign are facts. What the NPP is doing to respond is based on lies and falsehood. If this is not true, may they produce the evidence to prove what they are saying," Alonso said.

Ferrer said Rossello did not comply with at least seven campaign promises outlined in his 1996 platform, including goals to establish libraries in all schools and extend their schedules; provide all schools with computers and connections to the Internet; and improve special education.

"If Rossello’s educational management was so bad that talking about them will ruin Christmas, we are sorry; that is the consequence of returning to Puerto Rico to attempt to deceive everyone again," Ferrer said in a press release.

Norma Burgos Questions Calderon’s Crime Statistics

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

November 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Countering government ads that claim a decrease in the island’s crime rate, on Wednesday New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Norma Burgos presented police statistics she said proved just the opposite.

"[Neither] the official police data nor that of the FBI reconcile with what the governor has presented in her public ads," Burgos said at her office at the Capitol.

She added that according to Police Department records, Calderon won’t be able to close 2003 with the lowest number of homicide cases in the past 10 years.

Burgos said while official police data showed 1999 as the year with the lowest number of murder cases—567—the government ad showed 722 for the same year.

According to police statistics Burgos presented, murder cases have been continually on the rise, with 695 in 2000, 747 in 2001, and 774 in 2002. The number of murders as of Nov. 12 this year was 670.

"All these ads are deceptive. This administration tries to trick the people by using false statistics in ads to give the false impression that crime is going down," Burgos said.

This is the second time in less than a week Burgos has pointed out Calderon’s alleged intention to deceive the public by presenting numbers that are different from police records.

Meanwhile, Police Superintendent Victor Rivera Gonzalez acknowledged in published reports that there was a problem with the way the statistics figured in the ads, but distanced himself from the issue by saying he didn’t participate in the work conducted by the advertising agency that made the ads.

Mobilization Of Local Soldiers To Continue Until 2005

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – National Guard Adj. Gen. Francisco Marquez said the mobilization of Puerto Rican soliders to the Mideast will continue until 2005, according to federal authorities.

The transfer of soldiers would continue even if an exit strategy for the United States from Iraq is completed and a new transitional government for the country is inaugurated in June because it is necessary to leave a security force, the official said in published reports.

Marquez denied that the conflict with Iraq is comparable with the one in Vietnam because he said there was no exit strategy in that war and it was an operation that did not have the "support of the nation."

Lt. Col. Reynaldo Rosado said 70 members of his company – National Guard Military Police 125 – would be mobilized in December. He explained, however, that the troops, including 13 women, would remain on the island until February and leave for the Mideast sometime that month or in March.

Another 700 troops have already been activated and are expected to leave the island before the end of the year.

Special Ops - South HQ Moves From SJ To Fla.


November 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

MIAMI (AP) -- The U.S. Special Operations Command South headquarters is moving from Puerto Rico to Florida's Homestead Air Reserve Base to bring it closer to the U.S. Southern Command in Miami, the military said Wednesday.

The staff of some 150 Army special forces and Navy SEALS will relocate from Roosevelt Roads Naval Station in Puerto Rico to Homestead, 30 miles southwest of Miami, by March 31, a command spokesman said.

Other troops once stationed at Roosevelt Roads had previously been relocated to Fort Bragg, N.C., and Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base in Virginia Beach where they will remain, Butler said.

The command's South headquarters provides military assistance to every country in the Western Hemisphere with the exception of Mexico. Its work includes anti-drug operations and training in small weapons and first aid.

"The state is proud of our military presence, with 21 active installations and three unified commands contributing significantly to the $44 billion defense industry impact to Florida's economy, and the addition of SOCSOUTH is welcomed news," said Gov. Jeb Bush in a statement.

The command, which moved to the U.S. territory from Panama in 1999, is comprised of three units -- Army special forces, Navy SEALS and one helicopter company.

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