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Rossello: Everyone Charged Should Be Prosecuted… Trinidad May Return To Ring…Fire Stations Get Federal Funds…EPA Searches For Contamination In Vieques… Calderon To Attend Last Protocol Greeting…Berrios: Voter’s Fear Of Independence Undermines PIP

Rossello: Everyone Charged Should Be Prosecuted

By Leonardo Aldridge of Associated Press

January 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - "Anyone charged with corruption should be prosecuted."

That was former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s reaction to the news that his former personal assistant, Maria de los Angeles "Angie" Rivera, could face trial in Puerto Rico if the Special Independent Prosecutor (SIP) accepts a recommendation issued Thursday by Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez.

Rodriguez asked the SIP to evaluate whether Rivera should be charged for exercising illegal influence from her former office at La Fortaleza in exchange for bribes from contractors.

"Everyone charged with corruption should be prosecuted through the mechanisms established by our judicial system. The SIP is an accepted instrument. If there are grounds for such charges then they should be presented," Rossello said during a press conference at his campaign headquarters in Hato Rey.

Rossello said he trusts the Justice Department but has serious concerns about some of its employees, whom he declined to identify.

Rossello also refused to classify the case of his former aide as selective persecution, a term being used by some members of his party to explain the numerous incidences of corruption found against members of his administration and contractors to it.

"I don’t see it as selective persecution if the charges are documented and filed," Rossello said.

In August 2002, Rivera was found guilty of conspiracy and extortion. Her co-conspirators, former La Fortaleza Deputy Chief of Staff Angel Luis Ocasio and contractor Jose Ventura Asilis, pleaded guilty to both charges.

Thirteen months after her conviction, the jury’s decision was overruled. U.S. Federal District Judge Juan Perez Gimenez acquitted Rivera on the grounds that the U.S. District Attorney’s Office had failed to prove the extortion charges against Rivera.

Trinidad May Return To Ring; Eventual Rematch With De La Hoya Is Possible Draw

Dan Rafael

USA Today

January 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

With few exceptions -- Rocky Marciano, Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Michael Spinks the most notable -- it is rare for an elite boxer to retire and never return.

Which is why it should come as little surprise that there is a strong indication former three-division champion Felix Trinidad, 30, one of the sport's biggest stars of the 1990s, is planning an imminent ring return.

"It looks good, and I'm hoping and praying" he returns, promoter Don King told USA TODAY. "They're having a meeting, Tito and his father (Felix Trinidad Sr.). Tito says he wants to come back. So he is talking it over with his old man. The fighter says yes, but he will do what the father says. I won't come between that. They'll call me, but this time I think it's real."

Trinidad's return could come as soon as March 20, although that is a long shot. After a comeback fight, the plan would be for a long- awaited rematch with Oscar De La Hoya in November. Their 1999 welterweight unification bout, which Trinidad won on a highly controversial decision, is the highest grossing non-heavyweight match in history. A rematch has been talked about since.

Jose Nicolas Medina, the Trinidad family attorney, said that although he has heard the rumors Trinidad planned to fight, nothing had been outlined to him.

"At this point I have not had any meeting or call to discuss formally those matters," Medina said from Puerto Rico. "Th[ere] are things he has to evaluate before a comeback."

Federal Funds Assigned For Fire Stations

January 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced on Thursday that the municipalities of Vieques, Yabucoa, and Carolina will receive a total $198,250 in federal funds to improve several fire stations.

Acevedo Vila said the money will also be used for training, the purchase of new equipment, and improvements to the stations’ infrastructure.

Of the funds, $18,000 will go to Vieques, $54,250 to Carolina, and $126,000 to Yabucoa.

EPA Searches For Contamination In Vieques

January 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - As part of the process to determine the possible extent of contamination in Vieques, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will begin investigating the eastern region of the island municipality.

The agency will take samples from the land and underground wells.

"The first step of the investigation is to see which are the contaminants. Then we identify the working areas and the alternatives for cleaning each site," said Environmental Quality Board (EQB) President Esteban Mujica, who is assisting in the investigation.

"We will look for organic volatile and semivolatile components, hybrid metals, and explosives," said the EPA in a press release.

The evaluation will determine the cleanup required in each area.

Calderon To Attend Last Protocol Greeting Friday

January 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Gov. Sila Calderon will attend tomorrow her last protocol greeting in the Hall of Mirrors at La Fortaleza. There will be notable absences, such as former Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado, who for the previous three years had been in charge of organizing the event and had stood by Calderon during the day.

Juan Diaz Mayor Ramon Hernandez Torres of the Popular Democratic Party and New Progressive Party President Pedro Rossello said they wouldn’t attend the activity.

Hernandez Torres told a local newspaper that Calderon failed to send an official representative to the 120th Three Kings Day celebration in Juana Diaz.

Although Rossello did hold the ceremony during his eight years in office, he said it has become "a monarchy event that has no relevance in public affairs issues."

The greeting will begin at 8:30 a.m. with representatives from the religious sectors of the island, the armed forces, and the consuls. At 8:40 a.m., members of the judiciary branch are expected to greet the governor, followed by representatives of the federal agencies on the island.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila is expected to greet the governor at 9:30 a.m.

Acevedo Vila will be followed by members of the legislature, the island’s mayors, political party presidents, union leaders, members of the constitutional cabinet, agency heads, representatives from the business sectors, and former governors of Puerto Rico.

Berrios Says He Will Be A Different Kind Of Government

January 7, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Ruben Berrios, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) gubernatorial candidate, said that if elected governor he would give the island a different kind of government.

"To begin with public employment would be according to merit. That would be a fundamental change that everyone would immediately be felt in the island. Second, we would have a tax system that would benefit the working class and not the great economic interest," Berrios said.

Berrios, who has unsuccessfully run for governor in four general elections over the past three decades noted that he would immediately take the necessary measures to stimulate the island’s economy.

The former senator added that another of his priorities would be to address once and for all the islands’ status issue which in his opinion is related to all the island’s problems.

Berrios acknowledged that a fear of independence is still present in the island voters and that the only reason why more PIP candidates are not elected is because they favor independence.

He reminded island voters that voting for the PIP and its candidates does not mean that independence will be granted by the U.S. Congress the day after the elections.

"I hope one day people will understand it and trust us," he added.

In addition he noted Puerto Rico is far from becoming a state because the majority of Puerto Ricans are not willing to endorse statehood and because the United States would not accept it under any circumstances.

"The United States know what has happed to all nations that are composed of multiple states and are not willing to run that risk with Puerto Rico," Berrios said.

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