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Ex-Outfielder Ivan Calderon Shot Dead, Robbery Ruled Out…Governor Claims Achievements & Sets High Goals, Says ‘Water For All’ Campaign Promise Will Be Fulfilled…Tight Supervision Of Imported Meat Guaranteed…Cordero: Mercado Scandal Will Affect PDP…SEC To Issue Digital Voting Cards…Status Is No. 1 Priority Of P.R. Republicans

Robbery Ruled Out In Death Of Baseball Player

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Police have ruled out robbery as the motive behind the killing of former major league baseball player Ivan Calderon, which happened Saturday evening in Loiza.

"We still don’t know the motive behind the killing, but they went to execute him. They approached him from the back and fired more than seven shots to his face, chest and arms with a 45" caliber gun, said Carolina Criminal Investigations Corps Lieutenant Kermit Anaya.

Calderon, 42, and a resident of Barrio Mediania Baja in Loiza was killed while making his usual stop at a local bar known as "El Trompo."

According to police reports the baseball player parked his car outside the bar at around 5:30 p.m. when there were approximately 15 people inside the premises. At around 6:45 p.m. two men arrived at the bar and shot him.

Calderon’s best years in major league were with the Chicago White Sox in 1987 and with the Montreal Expos in 1991.

Ex-Sox Outfielder Calderon Shot Dead; South Sider In 1980s, Early '90s

From Tribune news services

December 28, 2003
Copyright © 2003 Chicago Tribune. All rights reserved.

LOIZA, Puerto Rico -- Former White Sox outfielder Ivan Calderon was shot to death Saturday. He was 41.

Witnesses said Calderon was in a store when two people entered and, without a word, shot the former major-leaguer multiple times in the back, said police Sgt. Maribel Arzuaga.

Calderon played 10 seasons with Seattle, the White Sox, Boston and Montreal. He finished his big-league career in 1993 with a .272 batting average, 104 homers and 444 RBIs.

The Sox acquired Calderon from the Mariners in the middle of the 1986 season for Scott Bradley. Calderon broke out the next year by hitting .293 with 28 home runs and 83 RBIs. Injuries took a toll in 1988 when he played in only 73 games and batted .212. But he bounced back the next two seasons before the Sox sent him to Montreal after the 1990 season for Tim Raines. He rejoined the Sox in 1993 for their drive to the AL West title.

Calderon was born in eastern Puerto Rico and lived in Loiza, a northern coastal town.

Governor Claims Achievements And Sets High Goals

December 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Although her administration has only one year in power, Gov. Sila Calderon has lofty goals for 2004: to lower the crime rate, advance the island’s economic development, and accomplish the organization of the special communities.

"The goals are high; they have to be high, and I will demand that they be met," Calderon said following her annual summary of the year’s goals and achievements.

To generate the promised 100,000 new jobs in four years, her administration will work to create and promote 39,000 jobs.

Calderon claimed that between January 2001 and November 2003, her administration created some 77,000 jobs. Although members of the minority parties claim she got those numbers by including jobs in the public sector, she said such jobs are needed to offer quality services to the people.

The initiation of 4,000 public works projects, including the construction of 17,000 low-income houses, and an unspecified reduction in the unemployment rate were also mentioned among her achievements in 2003.

If her administration is able to complete the 4,000 public works projects, at a cost of $7.9 billion, then she will have completed the "most aggressive investment in a four-year term in the history of Puerto Rico."

According to data from her office, 2,906 of those projects have been constructed or are being built.

Calderon was unable, however, to say how many have been completed.

In addition, she promised that the dredging of the Ponce pier, which will eventually become the Port of the Americas, would begin by summer 2004.

The Condado Beach Trio could be partially open by the end of 2004, while 87% of the Isla Grande Convention Center is expected to be completed by summer 2004.

Still pending is the date of the Urban Train’s inauguration. Calderon said that when she took office, 50% of the train had been completed, not 74% as the previous administration had claimed when it left office.

The Eastern Corridor, formerly known as Route 66, has nine segments under construction, but she doesn’t know when it will be inaugurated.

Construction of the Puerto Rico Coliseum is about to be completed, with the coliseum expected to open in April.

Calderon said she plans to lower crime, eliminate some 500 drug-selling points, develop a maintenance plan for police vehicles, and install Global Positioning Systems in the patrol cars to help improve their response time.

She also plans to launch a plan for the construction, remodeling, and modernization of the infrastructure at the 686 special communities across the island.

‘Water For All’ Campaign Promise Will Be Fulfilled

December 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - There are numerous and regular complaints from local communities about their constant lack of water, but Gov. Sila Calderon assured on Friday that 72% of the infrastructure projects aimed at solving the island’s water problems have been completed.

"All communities will have water," Calderon promised during a presentation of her achievements for 2003 and goals for 2004.

However, she didn’t say how she will meet the demand for service if the dozen projects in the east are completed.

She once again defended the performance of Juan Agosto Alicea, who negotiated a $4 billion contract with Ondeo to manage the Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa), saying it was one of the best contracts that could have been signed.

In addition, she defended the continuing negotiations between Agosto Alicea and Ondeo; the latter is demanding an additional $93 million and allegedly that the quality standards be lowered, which is something her administration won’t negotiate.

Although she doesn’t rule out retaking control of Prasa, no final decision has been reached.

She declined to reveal the details of what her administration will do if the government is to reassume the agency’s management.

Close Supervision Of Imported Meat Guaranteed

December 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The Agriculture Department said local consumers of meat shouldn’t worry about the first case of mad cow disease reported on the U.S. mainland.

Agronomist Carmen Oliver, deputy secretary of official services at the agency, said, "People should feel completely safe, as we are monitoring the quality of the product on a daily basis."

Since 2001, the Department Agriculture has been conducting inspections at the island’s ports to ensure the quality of the meat that enters the island.

Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia, and South Africa halted imports of meat from the U.S. on Wednesday.

Oliver said Puerto Rico hasn’t done the same because the government takes the necessary precautions to ensure imported meat is of good quality. However, she said, the people should always choose locally produced meat over imports.

Mad cow disease was detected in a farm near Yakima, Washington, on Tuesday. Since then, federal authorities have been investigating the origin of the sick animal and how far the disease may have spread.

Although the disease affects only livestock, people who consume infected beef products could develop the condition, which destroys the spinal chord and the brain. It is very difficult to diagnose.

Each year, Puerto Rico imports more than 140 million pounds of meat from the U.S. mainland and several Latin American countries. The local industry produces 16% of the local consumption, which is about 20 million pounds per year.

Cordero Said Mercado Situation Will Affect PDP

December 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

AP - Ponce mayor Rafael "Churumba" Cordero warned on Friday that the errors committed with the nomination of former Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado to the Puerto Rico Supreme Court will have disastrous consequences for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2004 general elections.

"A serious thing such as this and of such importance for all of Puerto Rico will affect the entire party," Cordero said.

"I believe the governor shouldn’t have nominated Mercado, not even for associate justice or for chief justice; he didn’t have the qualifications," he said.

The mayor said the controversy surrounding the nomination of Mercado will be a negative factor in all PDP political campaigns.

"Even Rafael Cordero will be affected by the situation," the mayor said.

Gov. Sila Calderon withdrew Mercado’s nominations after it was alleged that in 1975 he fled the scene of a car crash in which a co-worker was killed.

Mercado argued he wasn’t in the car when the accident occurred.

SEC To Issue Digital Voting Cards

December 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Voters who will vote for the first time in the 2004 general elections of 2004 will receive digital voting cards, State Elections Commission President Aurelio Gracia said.

Gracia said the usual voting cards will still be accepted. Only new voters and those who have lost their old cards or whose cards have been damaged will be issued the digital cards.

"It isn’t that the people have to change their cards," said Gracia Morales, who added that it will take at least five years to fully implement the project.

The plastic card will have a map of Puerto Rico in the front and two photos of the voter. In addition, it will have a hologram of the SEC logo and the voter’s signature.

"This card places us at an equal level with other jurisdictions, basically those in Latin America, which have identity cards that are also used as voting cards," Gracia said.

The advantage of the card is that it will help to prevent fraud.

Status Is No. 1 Priority Of Republicans In Puerto Rico

December 26, 2003
Copyright © 2003 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Determining the future political relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States will be the top priority for the local Republican National Party chapter this year, chapter President Tiody Ferre said.

To that end, Ferre, the widow of New Progressive Party founder Luis A Ferre, said local party members unanimously agreed to work closely with President George W. Bush’s recently formed Interagency Committee.

The committee of federal government officers was created early in December to discuss the island’s status.

Meanwhile, National Committeeman Luis Fortuño said freeing Puerto Rico from its colonial status is a vital issue.

"We will be very active in this process of opening doors and getting them to achieve the necessary knowledge to end 100 years of simply being a territory," Fortuño said.

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