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Gubernatorial Candidates Address PRCC… Status Discussion Urged…Whoever Wins, Fernos Won’t Quit…Hoy To Start LA Edition…Pineiro, Mariners Ink Deal…Acevedo Vila Declines Comment On Resignation…Columbia College Closing RR Campus…Warriors Sign Santos

Gubernatorial Candidates Speak Before Chamber Of Commerce

By Marialba Martinez of Caribbean Business

January 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Caribbean Business. All rights reserved. 

The Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce’s (PRCC) Economic & Social Development Summit brought together on Tuesday the island’s three gubernatorial candidates to ask them to adopt sustainable economic development proposals within their political platforms related to planning & infrastructure, business development, social & quality of life development.

New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate Pedro Rossello, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila, and Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Ruben Berrios were all in agreement with the proposals advocated by the CCPR, except for the health reform which the PIP opposes in favor of a universal health plan.

"More than 95% of our proposals had the consensus of the three political parties," said PRCC President-Elect Leonardo Cordero Jr. "But this is only the first step. Now we will start a mediation process so this consensus does not remain as words but translates into action."

PRCC President Hector Mayol and Cordero made it clear that the organization would not be endorsing any single candidate, but instead would pursue all political parties to adopt the proposals.

During former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s turn, he proposed what he called ‘A new model for progress’, describing the process as minds at work instead of hands at work, a play on words on the famous slogan created by former Gov. Luis Munoz Marin in the 1950s.

"Puerto Rico’s assets–its geography, climate, and political stability–must be maximized and turned into our greatest competitive advantages," said Rossello. "We must develop world-class physical infrastructure in sectors such as communication, transportation, electricity generation and diversification, water supply, solid waste disposal, and environmental development. This is the basis for our future."

Rossello also touched on the development of human resources, citing education as the most important investment, followed by health and social environment. The former governor said that former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo’s indictment for misuse of state and federal funds did not void that department’s achievements during his administration. He cited as examples the community schools, bilingual education program, and distribution of computers to teachers in public schools that took place during his tenure.

The PDP’s Anibal Acevedo Vila emphasized the need to convert the island’s economy into a multi-sectorial economy, leaving behind old economic development patterns that do not work in today’s economy.

"We must turn towards a multi-sectorial economy that does not depend on manufacturing and tourism only," said Acevedo Vila. "The island must be competitive in different sectors to become a stronger leader in the region. When the economic barriers come down, Puerto Rico must be ready."

Among Acevedo Vila’s proposals were the economic development of Mayaguez and Ceiba as tourism hubs for the regions; finishing the Port of the Americas’ transshipment project in Ponce and linking its value added activities to Aguadilla’s Rafael Hernandez Airport; and encouraging investing outside Puerto Rico to generate returns that can be spent on the island.

The PIP’s Ruben Berrios encouraged the island’s leaders to demand equal treatment and economic benefits for local businesses.

"In a world of equals, if we do not have economic development tools we are at a disadvantage," said Berrios. "We are dealing with mechanisms that date back to the 1950s which are not effective anymore. Puerto Rico’s economy must be opened not only to U.S. mainland businesses but also to European Union countries and Asia. If they can do business with the U.S. mainland, why can’t we do business with them?"

Citing examples of foreign economies that have demonstrated impressive growth, Berrios mentioned Singapore, Malta, and Boswana, countries whose economic growth rate exceeded the island’s by five or six times. Among Berrios’ suggestions for a sustainable economy was creating tax incentives encouraging controlled foreign corporations to invest their profits on the island. He also mentioned obtaining control of tax regulations on imports to make them fit to Puerto Rico’s needs and amending the cabotage laws applying to Puerto Rico.

Status Discussion Urged

January 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Popular Democratic Party Rep. Jorge Colberg urged party leaders to call a meeting this week to discuss the possibility of holding a referendum on the issue of the island’s status as soon as possible.

Sen. Eudaldo Baez Galib said he has asked fellow party leaders their opinion on the matter and found many are in favor of holding a referendum before the general election.

They haven’t reached consensus, however, on the number of options that should be included in the referendum.

Although some say the referendum should only pose the question of whether a constitutional assembly should be held, Colberg believes that option is too limited. He noted that should the people vote against a constitutional assembly, the process of finding a way to resolve the status issue comes to an end.

"This is the right time [for the referendum]. It is now that the votes exist," said Puerto Rican Independence Party Sen. Fernando Martin.

Regardless Of Who Becomes Governor, Fernos Won’t Quit

January 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Women’s Advocate Maria Dolores Fernos said Tuesday that she will complete her term regardless of who is elected governor in November.

"I have a responsibility to the women of my island to complete the task for which I was appointed for 10 years. I will work with whomever the people of Puerto Rico select as governor," Fernos said.

Former Gov. Pedro Rossello said that if elected governor, he will work with Fernos under certain conditions. He again blamed her for the June 2002 incident at the Women’s Advocate Office for which four New Progressive Party leaders are facing trial.

Although Fernos predicted Rossello wouldn’t win in November 2004, she said she wouldn’t quit her post if he does.

Hoy To Start Los Angeles Edition

Tribune staff, wire reports

January 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Chicago Tribune. All rights reserved. 

Chicago-based Tribune Co., which owns the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune and other daily newspapers, said it would launch an edition of its Spanish-language newspaper Hoy in Los Angeles in March, a move that follows plans by two other newspapers to form the first nationwide Hispanic newspaper chain. Tribune publishes Hoy in New York, where it began in 1998, and in Chicago.

Last week, La Opinion, the dominant Spanish-language daily in Los Angeles, said it would merge with El Diario/La Prensa, its New York counterpart, as the growing U.S. Hispanic population becomes a prime market for advertisers. As part of that deal, La Opinion bought back an equity stake held by Tribune.

Hoy, which will stress local news coverage as well as any issues impacting Hispanic communities in the Los Angeles area, will be available on weekdays for 25 cents. In addition to its normal coverage of national and international events, Hoy will devote pages to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Joel Pineiro Agrees To Deal With Mariners

January 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SEATTLE (AP) -- Joel Pineiro won't worry for another three years.

The Seattle Mariners agreed Monday to a $14.5 million, three-year contract with the workhorse starter.

The 25-year-old Pineiro set career highs with 211 2-3 innings, 151 strikeouts, 32 starts and 16 wins in 2003. He went 16-11 with a 3.78 ERA, throwing two shutouts.

He promised the new contract won't change his approach.

If anything, Pineiro sounds more committed after hiring a personal trainer in his native Puerto Rico -- the same trainer who works with Utah Jazz point guard Carlos Arroyo.

``I'll do whatever I've got to do to help get the team get to the next level, and that's get us to the playoffs and hopefully the World Series,'' Pineiro said.

In three major league seasons, Pineiro has a 37-20 record and 3.38 ERA. Manager Bob Melvin has said the organization expects big things from Pineiro, and he could be poised for a breakthrough season in 2004.

``We believe he is already among the top-tier starters in the game, and poised to join a truly elite group,'' Bavasi said. ``He has electric stuff but it's his makeup that makes Joel truly special.''

Pineiro gets a $1.5 million signing bonus and $2.5 million next season.

Acevedo Vila Declines To Comment On Possible Resignation

January 19, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) — Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila declined to say if he would quit his post to fully dedicate himself to the electoral campaign as once requested by deceased Ponce Mayor Rafael "Churumba" Cordero Santiago.

After paying tribute to Cordero by attending his wake Acevedo Vila said the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) would win the general elections of 2004.

"The best gift for Churumba Cordero is win the general elections and secure the party’s victory in Ponce," Acevedo Vila said.

Acevedo Vila also said he will keep his promise to Cordero Santiago to work in favor of solving the island’s status dilemma.

Columbia College Closing RR Campus

January 19, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - Columbia College is closing its campus at a naval base in Puerto Rico and will open a new location at the military's base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The college, a major provider of college courses on U.S. military bases, will hold its final graduation at the Roosevelt Road Naval Station in Puerto Rico next month.

Columbia College has offered courses at the base since 1992. But the Navy is closing the base after Puerto Ricans won a long fight to end the use of the island of Vieques as a bombing range.

Meanwhile, beginning Monday, the college started offering courses at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where hundreds of suspected terrorists are being detained.

Columbia College enrolls about 10,000 students, about a quarter of them at its campus in Columbia and the rest scattered among 30 "extended campuses," most at military bases.

With the closing of the Puerto Rico base, Guantanamo Bay will be the college's only location outside the mainland.

Warriors Growing

BY Sharon Robb

January 18, 2004
Copyright © 2004
SO FL SUN-SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

Hollywood-based Warriors Boxing Promotions is increasing the talent pool in its large stable of boxers by signing its first reigning world champion.

World Boxing Organization junior-middleweight champion Daniel Santos joins a gym full of former world champions like Hector Camacho, Michael Moorer and Ray Mercer, and plenty of boxers with potential like Tito Mendoza and Ricky Quiles.

It's a huge step for the nation's fastest growing boxing company recently named North American Boxing Association Promoter of the Year for 2003.

Santos (27-2-1, 20 KOs), a 5-foot-11 left-hander from Puerto Rico, won the WBO welterweight title in 2000 with a fifth-round knockout of Ahmed Kotiev, avenging a controversial split decision loss in 1999.

Santos successfully defended the WBO welterweight title twice with knockout victories over Giovani Parisi and Neil Sinclair. In 2002, Santos defeated Yory Boy Campas to capture the vacant WBO junior-middleweight title. Santos defended that title twice.

"We have had our eye on Santos for the past two years and strongly feel that he is a serious player in the junior middleweight division," said Jessie Robinson, director of boxing. "We have some long term plans for Mr. Santos."

Santos said he was looking for a promotions company to showcase him.

"They will provide me with the platform to show the world that I am truly one of the best champions competing today," Santos said.

Santos will make his Warriors' debut in March or early April for the grand opening of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa.

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