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Acevedo Vila Says PIP & NPP United Against Commonwealth… Bail Reform Bills Opposed…Record Number Of Migrants Detained…FTAA HQ Bid Backed…Feds To File Charges In Superaqueduct Case…Pudge Goes From 1st To Worst…Acevedo Vila Dissatisfied With Government Structure

PDP Sees PIP And NPP United Against Commonwealth

By Leonardo Aldridge of Associated Press

February 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila sees the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) as an ally of the New Progressive Party to destroy the Commonwealth and the PDP.

"I wouldn’t say there is a conspiracy, but I think the people have realized both parties have tried and have had as an objective the destruction of the Commonwealth," Acevedo Vila said.

"Historically, the PIP has tried to destroy the Commonwealth. That is why, for example, in the Young Bill, the PIP and the NPP were in favor of it and I, as president of the PDP, had to fight alone against it," Acevedo Vila said.

Acevedo Vila, however, acknowledged there were pro-independence sectors who were also against the bill.

Asked whether he would seek the so-called "melon vote"--those who are in favor of independence but vote for the PDP in the general elections to punish statehood--Acevedo Vila said he wants to attract votes from all who are proud of their Puerto Rican identity.

Acevedo Vila added that in his opinion PIP Sen. Fernando Martin is the worst candidate the PIP could have chosen for San Juan mayor.

"Fernando Martin is the weakest candidate for mayor of San Juan. People won’t vote for him."

Martin will run against Eduardo Bhatia of the PDP and Mayor Jorge Santini of the NPP.

Bills Regarding Bail Right Meet Opposition

February 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Civil Rights Commission and the Legal Aid Society (SAL by its Spanish acronym) said the legislation that Gov. Calderon filed to limit citizens’ right to bail goes against the rights protected by the Constitution.

"More responsibility is a must in this type of legislation that attempts against the fundamental rights of the citizens of this country. It seems to me that the proposed legislation is only based on mistaken impressions," said Federico Rentas, who is the executive director of SAL.

Rentas reminded that in the referendum of 1994, people voted against a proposed constitutional amendment to eliminate the absolute right to bail.

The Civil Rights Commission also expressed a similar opinion saying that the presumption of innocence of a defendant is a fundamental right.

The statements were issued during a public hearing of the Senate Juridical Committee which is evaluating the administration’s bills reviewed in published reports.

Record Number Of Migrants Detained Trying To Reach P.R.

February 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

 SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - U.S. authorities have detained a record number of illegal migrants trying to reach Puerto Rico by boat; in only four months, the number has already surpassing the total for the previous fiscal year.

Since the start of federal fiscal year 2004 on Oct. 1, authorities have detained 3,480 migrants, mostly Dominicans, U.S. Border Patrol agent Victor Colon said. In fiscal 2003, authorities detained 3,477 migrants, the previous record.

Early Tuesday, the Border Patrol detained 45 Dominican migrants in southeastern La Parguera. On Monday, authorities detained 11 migrants, one of them Haitian and the rest Dominicans, on the tiny offshore island of Isla Mona between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Officials have said the increase is due to a number of factors, including increased patrols, better cooperation between agencies, and a deteriorating economy in the Dominican Republic.

Each year, thousands of Dominicans in search of jobs attempt the dangerous journey across the choppy Mona Passage separating the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico. Some have drowned during the trip; most of those who are caught are repatriated.

Senate Assigns $120,000 For FTAA

February 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora on Tuesday announced a $120,000 allocation to the Export Council, a trade association, so that it can lobby in favor of San Juan as the permanent headquarters of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

Fas Alzamora said Puerto Rico should take advantage of its unique relationship to Latin America, the Caribbean, and the U.S. to convince the other 34 nations involved in the negotiations that the island should be the FTAA headquarters.

He said the $120,000 came from his pork barrel and will be allocated to the recently created San Juan-FTAA Committee and the Puerto Rico Export Council.

"To get the permanent headquarters for Puerto Rico will mean more than $170 million to our economy, 7,206 direct and indirect jobs, and more than $139 million in payroll," Fas Alzamora said.

Other cities bidding for the headquarters are Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Colorado Springs, and Houston in the U.S.; Cancun and Puebla in Mexico; Puerto España in Trinidad & Tobago; and Panama City in Panama.

"We offer our permanent relationship with the U.S., safety, a strategic geographic position, and a link with Latin American and Caribbean countries."

Feds To File Charges In Superaqueduct Case

February 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - U.S. District Attorney in Puerto Rico Humberto Garcia confirmed that accusations would be filed this year in a gubernatorial corruption scheme to build the Superaqueduct.

According to published reports, Garcia denied that investigations into white-collar crimes have been halted, but he noted that the law establishes stricter procedures during an electoral year.

"Yes, there will be accusations; yes, from the Superaqueduct," Garcia said.

The investigation is being conducted by U.S. District Attorney Public Integrity Division Director Mary Butler.

Sources say the authorities are investigating developers who allegedly made generous donations to the New Progressive Party in exchange for contracts to build the Superaqueduct.

Going From First to Worst, Rodriguez Signs With Tigers


February 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004
REUTERS. All rights reserved. 

PHOTO: Reuters

Ivan Rodriguez left the World Series champion Florida Marlins to join a team that last year set the American League record for losses.

Ivan Rodriguez signed a four-year contract worth $40 million, with some strings attached, to play for the Detroit Tigers, last year's worst team and one of the worst in major league history.

"I'm very happy to be here, really," Rodriguez said at a news conference at Comerica Park in Detroit. "I know they had a bad season last year, but I think this year is going to be a completely different season."

He added later, "You're going to see this organization, this Detroit Tigers team, in the playoffs soon."

Rodriguez made a similar boast a year ago, when he signed with the Florida Marlins, another team that was down on its luck. The Marlins sneaked into the playoffs as a wild card and went on to win the World Series. Rodriguez was named the most valuable player of the National League Championship Series. He recorded the final out of Florida's division-series victory over the San Francisco Giants by holding onto the ball in a home-plate collision with J. T. Snow.

Rodriguez had good reason to hedge his playoff prediction. He is going from baseball's best team to one that set the American League record for losses and spent most of last summer trying to avoid the post-1900 record for defeats (120), owned by the 1962 Mets. The Tigers succeeded, barely, winding up 43-119.

Rodriguez spent the first 12 seasons of his career with the Texas Rangers and is a 10-time All-Star and a 10-time Gold Glove winner.

Acevedo Vila Dissatisfied With Government Structure

February 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila acknowledged on Monday his dissatisfaction with the current government structure, which he believes has become unmanageable.

However, he said his generation has the responsibility to bring about profound changes.

"I’m running for governor precisely because I want a better Puerto Rico. I am running for governor because I’m not satisfied with how we are living," Acevedo Vila said.

Acevedo Vila who is also PDP president, mentioned crime, unemployment, and education as the areas that are in urgent need of permanent solutions.

"We have inherited a system that worked well once, but now, no matter how good the governor, the government’s structure has become unmanageable," he told The AP.

For Acevedo Vila, the current government structure is too big, too bureaucratic, ineffective, and insensitive

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