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P.R., 6 UK Territories Discuss Anti-Drug Effort…Calderon Denies Decision To Cancel Ondeo Contract…Acevedo: Mercado OK For Assoc. Justice…Navy To Clean 8 Areas In Vieques…11,000 Residents Request FEMA Aid…Quick Thinking & Heroic Actions…Burgos May Seek Senate Presidency…Noriega Criticizes PIP…SEC To Activate Ads Examining Board…Acevedo's Iraqi Trip Gets Mixed Reaction

Calderon Vows To Help U.S. & British Virgin Islands

December 1, 2003
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ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila Calderon vowed on Monday to help the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands in the fight against drug trafficking in the region.

Calderon also vowed to give special training to police of the nearby island groups through the local Interpol offices.

"The fight against drug trafficking requires more cooperation agreements in the region. And as part of that effort, our government is willing to offer all the help we can provide," the governor said.

Leaders of six Caribbean islands and Bermuda are meeting in Puerto Rico to discuss human rights issues and drug trafficking in the region.

In addition, the issues of budget and natural disaster areas management will be discussed.

Among those attending the conference are the following governors: Anthony Longrigg of Monserrat; Bruce Dinwiddy of the Cayman Islands; Peter Johnstone of Anguila; Thomas Macan of the U.S. Virgin Islands; James Poston of the Turks and Caicos; and John Vereker of Bermuda.

Calderon Denies Reaching Decision To Cancel Ondeo Contract

December 1, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The decision to cancel the multimillion contract with Ondeo for the administration of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) has not been reached, Gov. Sila Calderon said Monday.

Still she said she would meet with PRASA President Juan Agosto Alicea to hear firsthand the status of the negotiations.

"From what I know, that information is not correct," Calderon said, referring to published reports that indicated the contract had been terminated.

"Negotiations are ongoing. There is information that one way or the other is being leaked and I won’t answer to that kind of information. To put it in simple terms, when the decision is reached--which hasn’t been reached--I will announce it," Calderon said.

Ondeo seeks to renegotiate PRASA’s contract to get more money, arguing they were given false information regarding the condition of the island’s water system.

The government, however, argues that real facts were given and that the conditions have gotten worse at PRASA since Ondeo took over.

Agosto Alicea has said the government is ready to reassume administration of PRASA.

The governor has declined to state an opinion on the matter.

"We certainly won’t reach a decision that is bad for the people of Puerto Rico. Our decision must be made based on how we can provide the people of Puerto Rico with the best service," Calderon said.

Acevedo Would Support Mercado Nod For Associate Justice

December 1, 2003
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ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President and gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila said Monday that he still endorses the possible nomination of Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado for an associate justice post at the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.

Acevedo Vila said he would support Gov Sila Calderon if she decided to nominate Mercado for as an associate justice, but at the moment all six posts are occupied.

"I have said it all the time, I have no objection to that nomination for associate justice," Acevedo Vila said in a Monday morning radio interview.

Acevedo Vila noted that at the same time he is still against Mercado’s nomination as chief justice.

Calderon was forced to withdraw Mercado’s nomination as chief justice after she was unable to get the necessary votes for his confirmation.

It won’t be until summer that an associate judgeship will become available; Miriam Naveira will turn 75 and by law must retire. At that time, the governor could nominate Mercado as her replacement.

Associate Judge Francisco Rebollo has been acting as interim chief justice since Jose Andreu retired in September.

U.S. Navy To Clean Eight Areas In Vieques

December 1, 2003
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ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. Navy will clean up only eight of the 17 areas west of Vieques which were used until May as a target range.

In a report filed with the Environmental Quality Board (EQB) of Puerto Rico and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Navy claimed the other nine areas do not require cleanup.

"Based on a conservative potential risk analysis for the human heath in each of the nine areas, there is no risk above acceptable limits, for further investigation or repair action," the report read.

Among the nine areas to be cleaned up are two garbage dumps, one used water treatment plant, and one parking lot.

The land on the west coast of Vieques, used as a target range by the Navy for over 60 years, was turned over to the Department of Interior last May and is currently administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Nearly 11,000 Residents Request Aid From FEMA

November 30, 2003
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ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Some 10,988 people living in the 16 municipalities that U.S. President George W. Bush declared as disaster areas following the heavy rain, have requested aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

In its weekly summary, FEMA said more than $3.4 million in basic assistance to individuals have already been disbursed.

The federal agency also said there are five aid centers in Juana Diaz, Guanica, Patillas, Maunabo, and Salinas.

People may go to those centers to obtain information about available aid. FEMA has set aside $5 million to give individual aid to those who need it.

The federal agency will provide money to help pay for temporary housing, home repair, and to cover damage to uninsured properties.

People affected by the heavy rain will have until Jan. 21 to file their requests to the federal agency.

Quick Thinking And Heroic Actions

Two Assailants Slash, Shoot at D.C. Officer

November 30, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

Washington-AP (AP) - -- D-C police are identifying the officer who survived being shot at and stabbed overnight.

He's 30-year-old Eldred Boria (BOR'-ee-ah), who's been on the job 14 months. He is one of a group of officers D.C. police recruited in Puerto Rico, to fill a need for Spanish speakers.

Boria was in the 31-hundred block of 16th Street as part of a mobile police station patrol when a man was robbed at gunpoint nearby.

Two men took off from near the robbery scene, and Boria caught one of them a short distance away. That man then stabbed him in the chest and leg, but neither stab broke his skin.

The second suspect shot at Boria from a block away, but he missed. Both suspects ultimately got away.

Police Chief Charles Ramsey says Boria demonstrated quick thinking and heroic actions.

Norma Burgos Doesn't Rule Out Presiding The Senate

By Luis R. Varela of The Associated Press

November 29, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE - New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Norma Burgos left the door open on Saturday to preside the Senate should the NPP win the general elections of 2004 and dominate that legislative body.

"I understand that the vote of the majority of the NPP and pro-statehood people in the primary in favor of my candidacy is an expression of support," Burgos said.

The NPP legislator said that while campaigning for the primary, she always asked her sympathizers to vote for her if they wanted Burgos to preside the Senate.

She obtained the highest number of votes for a Senate-at large position in the Nov. 9 primary.

Another NPP candidate aspiring for the Senate presidency is NPP Senate minority leader Kenneth McClintock, who ended up third in the primary.

Burgos said she would eventually formalize her intention through an official statement, but for now, she said her priority is to help the NPP win back the senatorial districts that were lost in the general elections of 2000.

Noriega Criticizes Puerto Rican Independence Party

November 29, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Former Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) legislator David Noriega censured his old party on Saturday for wanting to participate in a debate with the gubernatorial candidates of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and the New Progressive Party (NPP) after failing to participate in daily public discussions.

"The debate (with Anibal Acevedo Vila and Pedro Rossello) is not that important. The most important debate is the one that takes place everyday, and the PIP is not participating in that daily controversy," Noriega said in a radio interview.

According to Noriega, that daily debate attracts votes and really helps the cause for independence.

After the PDP gubernatorial candidate accepted to hold a debate with opposition contender Rossello, PIP President Ruben Berrios demanded that he too be included.

But as of Saturday, Berrios had yet to receive a formal invitation from the representatives of the other two gubernatorial candidates.

SEC To Activate Ads Examining Board

November 29, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Starting Monday, the State Elections Commission (SEC) will activate an Ads Examining Board that will make sure the limitations on government ads during an election year be observed.

The board will be chaired by Superior Court Judge Raymond Gomez, said Popular Democratic Party (PDP) interim electoral commissioner Ivan Algarin Garcia in published reports.

The board will also be comprised of former PDP electoral commissioner Carlos Lopez Feliciano, attorney Jose Carlos, of the New Progressive Party, and attorney Gilberto Concepcion Suarez for the Puerto Rican Independence Party.

Acevedo Vila's Trip To Iraq Gets Mixed Reaction

November 29, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Celeste Benitez defended Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila's trip to Iraq, where he visited a group of Puerto Rican soldiers. She described the visit as a humanitarian--not political--gesture.

"Anibal's visit to Iraq has a component of solidarity that tells the people there risking their lives that we haven't forgotten them," Benitez said in a radio interview.

However, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Executive President Fernando Martin accused the resident commissioner of taking political advantage of the situation.

The trip has been criticized by opposition leaders, although some of Acevedo Vila's political opponents have crossed party lines to commend him for his effort. Such was the case of New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Norma Burgos.

But on Saturday, Martin questioned Acevedo Vila's "humanitarian intentions" and accused him of failing to raise his voice in the U.S. Congress to oppose the war in Iraq.

"That sounds, smells, and looks like pure political opportunism," Martin concluded.

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