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Martin: Rossello Less Likely To Win… 2nd Phase Of LMM Commercialization Begins…Burgos Denounces Crime Rate Increase…Acevedo Vila’s Priority: Gubernatorial Campaign…Campaign Funds Increased…Arroyo Gives His Best: 30…FEMA To Assess Rain Damage…Island Participating In Ibero-American Summit…House Rejects Spanish Language Bill…Puerto Rico Takes Spotlight

Martin: Rossello Less Likely To Win In 2004

November 16, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) - Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Fernando Martin said New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello has fewer possibilities of winning the gubernatorial race of 2004 than his former primary contender Carlos Pesquera.

Martin, who is running for San Juan mayor, said Pesquera could have been able to attract more non-affiliated voters.

The also executive president of the PIP ruled out that his party members will vote for Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila to prevent Rossello from winning.

"The comparison of the two worn-out candidacies of Rossello and Acevedo Vila will be a good opportunity for the PIP to grow," Martin said.

Second Phase Of LMM Airport Commercialization Begins

November 16, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Ports Authority Executive Director Miguel Soto Lacourt announced on Sunday the beginning of the second phase of a strategic plan aimed at increasing the commercial potential of the Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport.

Soto Lacourt presented the graphic designs of the new and remodeled commercial areas of the main airport of the Caribbean.

The executive director said the project will create around 200 direct jobs and 300 indirect jobs. He added that it would generate an income of approximately $2.3 million during the first year.

Soto Lacourt said the design and construction phase will begin gradually during the next 45 days.

The area is expected to house a supermarket of local foods, clothing, music, and book stores, as well as ice cream parlors and candy stores.

The agency expects the first business establishments to open in February 2004.

NPP Sen. Burgos Denounces Crime Rate Increase

November 16, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Norma Burgos denounced that the anti-crime plan of Gov. Sila Calderon has failed and that statistics showing a drop in the number of felonies are deceiving.

"The ad that was published Nov. 13 alleging that the number of murders have dropped since 1994 doesn't reflect reality. That's why [the ad] doesn't reveal the source of that information," Burgos said during a press conference Sunday.

The legislator added that police official data don't match those the governor revealed in public ads.

"All these ads are deceiving, especially when they indiscriminately mistake the numbers offered by the police with those offered by the Forensic Science Institute, in terms of the number of homicides that are reported every year," Burgos said.

She insisted that the numbers aren't real and that it isn't true that the number of Type 1 felonies have dropped since 2000.

According to the senator, the government ad states that the number of murders reported in 2001 and 2003 were 747 and 774 respectively, which means that there was an increase in the number of murders, she said.

Acevedo Vila’s Priority To Be Gubernatorial Campaign

By Leonardo Aldridge of Associated Press

November 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila’s priority from now on will not be his elective post in Washington, but the campaign for his gubernatorial candidacy, he said Saturday in a press conference at the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) headquarters.

Acevedo Vila held a work meeting with PDP candidates to elective posts, mayors, and legislators to formulate strategies for the campaign for the 2004 general elections.

"The responsibility of taking Puerto Rico toward the future and defeating [former Gov.] Pedro Rossello, there is no greater responsibility that I have assumed," said Acevedo Vila to questions on whether he would push his work in the federal capital to a second plane.

Acevedo Vila indicated that he is not contemplating resigning his elective post during the height of his campaign next year, but he also is not ruling out the possibility.

In other news, the PDP president, who described his relationship with Gov. Sila Calderon as "very good," also announced several activities, in which he expects to collect almost half a million dollars for the party.

He announced that outings will be held in Caguas and Mayagüez on Dec. 13 and 14, respectively, to unite campaign forces and celebrate the Christmas holidays.

Acevedo Vila said several fund-raising activities have already been held, and he said the party’s finances are solid.

The gubernatorial candidate again criticized his New Progressive Party contender, Rossello, for not demanding investigations on friends of his who are attributed with irregular acts.

He said Rossello’s fierce defense of Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz without first requesting an investigation of the irregularities revealed for the management of ballots in the primaries, shows that he is a "reoffender of covering things up."

Tripartite Unanimity To Increase Funds For Campaigns

November 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – In an unusual tripartite alliance, the Senate approved an amendment to the Public Financing of Campaigns Law to increase by $200,000 the amount of money that can be used for publicity from January to June in an electoral year.

The unanimous support was given without holding public hearings or conducting a study, according to published reports.

The Public Financing Law, which was worked by a group of citizens, originally stipulated that the parties could only use $300,000 for campaign expenses in that period.

The total was modified Thursday when the Legislature approved a bill that increased the amount to $500,000.

The initiative was presented just 24 hours before by Popular Democratic Party Sen. Roberto Prats, New Progressive Party Sen. Kenneth McClintock, and Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. Fernando Martin at the request of the electoral commissioners of the political parties, officials said.

Arroyo’s 30 Fuel Jazz Win Gives His Best: 30

From Herald Wire Services

November 15, 2003
Copyright © 2003
HERALD WIRE SERVICES. All rights reserved. 

Former Florida International University standout Carlos Arroyo scored a career-high 30 points to lead the Utah Jazz to its first road win this season, 85-77 on Friday night against the sluggish Minnesota Timberwolves.

Arroyo's previous high was 18 in Utah's opener against Portland. He tied that mark by halftime with a mix of short- and medium-range jumpers and a few strong drives to the basket.

The point guard from Puerto Rico, who also has played for Toronto and Denver, was 8 of 9 from the foul line with four assists and three steals.

FEMA To Join Local Agencies To Assess Rain Damage

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

November 14, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

After meeting with several agency heads, Gov. Sila Calderon said Friday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) would aid in the assessment of damages caused by the heavy rain that flooded the island this week.

The governor said the evaluation would help determine if the island should be declared a disaster area to qualify for federal disaster relief funds.

"Now that the rain has subsided, FEMA, the Management & Budget Office, and the Family Department will immediately begin a joint evaluation [to that effect]," Calderon said during a press conference held at State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) headquarters in Santurce.

Jose Bravo, director of FEMA’s Caribbean Area office, said he hoped to have a final estimate by the beginning of next week.

Calderon said the critical areas were being taken care of. However, she urged Puerto Rico residents to be cautious during the weekend as more rain may fall.

SEMA Director Rafael Guzman said his personnel as well as the police and the National Guard would continue to work around the clock until the emergency ends.

Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Prepa) Executive Director Hector Rosario said that as of 11 a.m. Friday, there were more than 12,600 clients without service. He added that there were more than 200 brigades working nonstop to restore electricity in the affected areas, especially in Ponce, Caguas, and a section of Bayamon.

Meanwhile, Juan Agosto Alicea, executive director of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) said that as of Friday morning there were more than 138,000 clients without water service. He said the main cause of the interruption is the cloudiness of untreated water and the lack of electricity in some of the water plants. Agosto Alicea said service might be restored four to six hours after it stops raining.

Health Secretary Johnny Rullan urged people to boil water for five minutes before consuming it after their water service is restored to avoid gastrointestinal problems.

Education Secretary Cesar Rey added that the school regions of Ponce, Caguas, Humacao, and Fajardo—which represent 40% of the public school student body—remained closed. He said 24 schools had been outfitted to shelter more than 800 people, and another 13 schools were ready to receive more refugees.

Family Department Secretary Yolanda Zayas said she hoped that by Monday all affected families would receive funds to attend their basic needs. Each family may receive $500, $700 or $1,000; the monies will come from the $3.5 million the governor allocated Thursday from the Government Emergency Fund.

The government has also opened an account at Banco Popular for anyone who wishes to make a donation. The account number is 030-381517. People may also dial 1-877-278-6345 to make a contribution.

A Family Department collection center has been established at Tres Monjitas Industrial Zone in Hato Rey for commercial stores or individuals who wish to donate canned foods, mattresses, or any other basic articles.

Other government officials who participated in the meeting were Housing Secretary Ileana Echegoyen, Police Superintendent Victor Rivera, and National Guard Adjutant Gen. Francisco Marquez.

For more information, please call the following agencies:

SEMA Operations Center – 787-724-0124

Education Department – 787-274-0002

Mental Health hotline – 1-800-981-0023

Medical Emergencies – 787-775-1200 or 787-754-2550

FEMA (flood insurance) – 1-800-427-4661

Prepa – 787-289-3434 (San Juan metro area), 1-800-981-2434 (outside metro area) or, for the hearing-impaired, 787-289-3050.

Prasa – 787-620-2482

Housing Department – 1-888-852-2272

Family Department – 787-977-8022 (metro area) and 1-888-359-7777 (outside metro area).

Puerto Rico Participating In Ibero-American Summit

November 14, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico participated in the Ibero-American Summit as an observer Friday, joining Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries at their annual meeting in Bolivia.

Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado led a three-member delegation from the U.S. territory, which also was an observer in the past two summits.

"All of this is within the legal boundaries of our relation with the U.S.," Mercado said in a telephone interview from Bolivia Thursday night. "There's a lot of interest in other countries to work with Puerto Rico."

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Lou Fintor said the department "must review any Puerto Rican proposal to join or participate in an international organization."

He said the policy is intended to make sure Puerto Rico's participation is "consistent with the overall foreign policy of the United States."

Fintor declined to comment on whether the U.S. government had any objections to the island's involvement in the Ibero-American Summit, but said Washington "has supported Puerto Rico's participation in international organizations and bodies whenever possible."

Mercado said Puerto Rico's involvement in the two-day summit offers "a unique and practical opportunity to advance our commercial and cultural agenda with our Iberian American brothers."

He said Puerto Rico would play a role in cooperative programs dealing with urban development, business and the development of libraries.

Twenty-one other leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal were attending the summit starting Friday, discussing an aid plan for Bolivia and ways to alleviate economic and political turmoil across the region.

House Caucus Rejects Spanish Language Bill

November 14, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The bill to name Spanish the official language of Puerto Rico was rejected by a caucus in the House of Representatives on Thursday, the last possible day for its approval.

House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo called a caucus to discuss approval of the bill, but several representatives raised objections, according to published reports.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Francisco Zayas Seijo was absent from the caucus, but said he was against the bill. PDP Rep. Roberto Cruz also opposed it.

Vizcarrondo said the bill wasn’t part of the caucus’ agenda, thus he couldn’t force anyone to vote in its favor.

Puerto Rico Takes Spotlight

Donna Skattum

November 13, 2003
Copyright © 2003
FLORIDA TODAY. All rights reserved. 

The Puerto Rican Day Parade Black-Tie Gala and Taino Award Dance on Friday brought 180 residents to the Radisson Hotel in Indialantic to celebrate their heritage and raise money for local scholarships. State Rep. John Quinones spoke eloquently to the crowd about Hispanic unity and empowerment. With more people from Puerto Rico moving to Central Florida, Quinones stressed how important it is they get involved to create change through the political process.

Among those in attendance were Ken Agiluar, a director at NASA, Teresa Lopez, board president of the new Florida Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, which opened Saturday, and Yvette Torres, who was honored as the first Hispanic liaison for Brevard County.

Three days of events were organized by United Third Bridge President Samuel Lopez. He said the National Puerto Rican Day Parade committees and the Puerto Rican/Hispanic Chamber of Commerce will gather in Orlando during the presidential conventions to present their social and business agendas. Lopez said 32 parades are held throughout the country, and in Florida, there are four Puerto Rican Chambers of Commerce.

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