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Rossello Criticizes Izquierdo’s Confirmation, He’s Sworn In As Secretary Of State…Prats Promises To Increase Federal Housing Funds… Queen Mary 2 Visits… RR Free Water To Be Shut Down… Where The Guards Are Gone…Coast Guard Intercepts 348 Dominicans…Puerto Rico Says Farewell To Jose Miguel Agrelot, Flags At Half-Staff, Thousands Pay Respects

Rossello Criticizes Izquierdo’s Confirmation

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

PONCE (AP) — New Progressive Party Gubernatorial Candidate Pedro Rossello, said the confirmation of Jose Izquierdo Encarnacion as Secretary of State is a terrible error.

"The Popular Democratic Party (PPD) and the administration of Sila Calderon and Anibal Acevedo Vila are again imposing on the people of Puerto Rico a nominee who has serious problems with violations to the ethics law," Rossello said.

He added that the wisest thing would have been to wait until the Government Ethics Office finished its investigation.

In addition Rossello questioned what would happen if the GEO determines that Izquierdo did commit violations to the Government Ethics Law, noting that Puerto Rico could then have a questionable Secretary of State.

Izquierdo Is Sworn In As Secretary Of State

By Manuel Ernesto Rivera of Associated Press

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rico has a new Secretary of State who faces three investigations for presumed violations to the Government Ethics Law.

Still, Jose M. Izquierdo Encarnacion, who was sworn in on Sunday as Secretary of State, defended his performance in the public service sector, despite his abrupt resignation from the Department of Transportation and Public Works when he was referred to the Special Independent Prosecutor for alleged irregularities in granting contracts to the firm of which he had been a partner.

"Even though I knew I was innocent I quit my post to protect the image of my family and of the post I used to occupy," Izquierdo said.

He added that the SIP ruled there was not proof of any violation nor motive to name a special independent prosecutor.

Izquierdo was confirmed by the House and Senate majority late Friday.

He is the Calderon administration’s second Secretary of State.

Prats Promises To Increase Federal Housing Funds If Elected

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

February 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Resident Commissioner candidate Roberto Prats announced his plan to improve and increase public housing in Puerto Rico through the allocation of more federal funds, which he believes it will be possible to achieve with hard work and lobbying efforts.

The President of the National Democratic Party on the island mentioned five key ideas which he intends to put into action if elected in November.

The first one is to file legislation so that construction developers install infrastructure to provide technology solutions or information systems in public housings.

The second point is aimed at increasing the monthly pay that the U.S. Housing & Urban Development (HUD) gives for the maintenance, administration, and community service of each unit. He intends to increase that amount from $148 to $250, which he said has been recommended by a study Harvard University made two years ago.

"Puerto Rico is the second largest public housing system in the U.S. after New York which receives $495 per month per unit. The housing need of a Puerto Rican is not different from that of a citizen living in New York," Prats said, noting the inequity between the state and this island.

The third idea is to establish rent caps for public housing residents so that they are not penalized for increased income. Prats said this would go hand-in-hand with efforts to enable public housing residents to purchase their own unit

The fourth point is to increase HUD funds for the better management of the Section 8 Housing Program.

The fifth idea is to seek funds for drug rehabilitation programs for public housing residents.

Prats was confident that his plan can be achieved and promised to work hard to bring it into being with the help of both the Democrats and Republicans.

"I’ll go to Congress first to establish good relations and that should be the basis of a resident commissioner candidate. I have my plan and I’ll go there with a purpose knowing what my job will be," Prats said.

He added that he has already spoken to Phil Crane (R-IL,) who recently visited the island, about his plan. The PDP resident commissioner candidate assured the press that what he has presented is viable.

World’s Most Luxurious Cruise Ship Visits PR

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — The largest and most luxurious cruise ship in the world, Queen Mary II, arrived with all its splendor on Monday at the San Juan Bay as part of its inaugural trip through the Caribbean.

Queen Mary II left on Saturday from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on its 12th day trip through the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is its first stop.

The cruise will leave today at 5 p.m. en route to Saint Kitts, Martinique, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Dominica and Saint Thomas, returning to Fort Lauderdale on Feb. 11.

Tourism Company Executive Director Jose M. Suarez, was among those who officially greeted the passengers and crew members of the $800 million cruise ship.

Suarez said he was pleased with the fact that Puerto Rico was included in the route of the inaugural trip.

"This shows that our port has the capacity to attract any kind of tourist, Suarez said.

The ship has a capacity for 2,620 passengers and a crew of 1,253.

Due to its size the Queen Mary II will not dock at the San Juan pier, those passengers who wish to visit Old San Juan will be transported in smaller boats.

Roosevelt Roads Free Water Intake To Be Shut Down

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

 SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PPD) Sen. Jose Luis Dalmau will file a resolution on Monday ordering the Department of Transportation and Public Works to shut down the free water intake that U.S. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba has maintained.

With the resolution, filed prior to the March 31 shut-down of the base, the Senator hopes the problems faced by millions of families on the east coast for lack of water will be solved.

In 1999, the community-based program known as Water for All complained that since 1942 the base had been receiving between four to six million gallons of water on a daily basis from the Rio Blanco de Naguabo for free.

The residents of Naguabo and Humacao suffer constantly from water shortage as they only get nine out of the 12 million gallons of water needed daily.

DNER officials then concluded that the intake was illegal and set fines up to $17 million. But the U.S. Navy argued in federal court that they had had a permit since 1944 to take water from the river. The court accepted the permit, and the Justice Department did not appeal.

Where The Guards Are Gone

February 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004
National Conference of State Legislatures. All rights reserved. 

State Legislatures
ISSN: 0147-6041; Volume 30; Issue 2
Copyright 2004 Gale Group Inc. All rights reserved.

A handful of states are supplying the bulk of National Guard troops for U.S. military actions, as the number being deployed reaches historic highs. Not since the Korean War have so many guard soldiers been called up for active duty, according to the National Guard Association of the United States. Currently, more than one-third of the guard troops activated or alerted for federal service come from just 10 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. At the top of the list is Oklahoma, with Arkansas, Maine, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Utah and Washington following.

Coast Guard Intercepts 2 Boats Carrying 348 Dominicans

January 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted two boats and detained 348 Dominican migrants off the west coast of Puerto Rico on Friday. The boats were discovered late Thursday and Friday in the Mona Passage, which separates the Dominican Republic from Puerto Rico, the Coast Guard said. The Coast Guard has detained nearly 1,500 Dominicans this month alone, compared with 180 in December.

Puerto Rico Says Farewell To Jose Miguel Agrelot

By Leonardo Aldridge of Associate Press

January 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

San Juan (AP) - "Master of comedians", José Miguel Agrelot, was buried Saturday in midst of multiple expressions of respect and love by the Puerto Rican public, including politicians from all ideologies and people from the entertainment business.

The eulogy was given by governor Sila M. Calderon, who emphasized that Agrelot was the best representative of the Puerto Rican idiosyncrasy.

"Jose Miguel incarnated in each and every one of his characters aspects of the best of our collective personality…he had an sharp eye for the reality that surrounded him and he portrayed us in each of his characters. He taught us with this, to laugh about our particularities and at the same time his portrayals were a tribute to the essence of our people", said Calderon.

Comedian Emmanuel "Sunchine Logroño" who also spoke during the burial ceremony urged the State not to forget it’s heroes.

The former mayor of Bayamon Ramon Luis Rivera expressed himself in similar terms, which was where the "Cuidad Torito" was constructed dedicated to all the characters of the deceased comedian.

Before the burial, the song theme "Que te parece Cholito" and a sonorous applause boomed through the Centro de Bellas Artes in Santurce, as the mass in the memory of comedian José Miguel Agrelot, who popularized the character "Don Cholito" in honor to the puertorrican "jíbaro", came to an end.

Agrelot, popularized the character "Don Cholito" in honor to the puertorrican "jíbaro".

During the crowded mass, priest Efrain Rodriguez, urged those present to emulate in their respective professions, the verticality and perseverance shown by the deceased "master of comedians".

"He has taught us that we cannot be mediocre nor conformists, that we have to persevere", said Rodriguez before a dozen of politicians, including governor Sila M. Calderon.

He remembered that through "Don Cholito", Agrelot became "the master of concealing with comedy the crudeness of life and interpreting it to the public".

The priest urged the media and the young comedians to imitate, in their own way, Agrelot’s legacy.

A heavily guarded police force accompanied the procession to his last resting place in the Buxeda cemetery in Isla Verde, and the streets were full of people showing the special editions the local newspapers had prepared about his fructiferous career in radio and television.

During the mass, the comedian’s casket, who had won the love of the Puerto Rican public with his varied range of characters, was covered by Don Cholito’s "pava" hat and the Puerto Rican flag.

Singers Chucho Avellanet, Tony Croatto and Gilberto Santa Rosa, sang several songs during the religious ceremony.

In Centro de Bellas Artes, where the official acts were held, there were posters of the different characters that the comedian popularized, like "Torito" and "Don Cholito".

Angela Sierra Robles, a 67 year old homemaker, said that she watched Agrelot in the small screen "since television started" and that for half a century "he made me laugh a lot". "To me, Agrelot is the only one for eternity", said Sierra Robles under a burning sun, as she was holding one of the special newspaper editions to commemorate his trajectory. She confirmed that she liked "all" the comedians characters.

Pioneer of our local Caribbean television, Agrelot died Wednesday night at his San Juan residence. He was 76 years old.

In January 31 of 2003,his morning radio show "Su alegre despertar", that Agrelot conducted for 55 years, was included in that years edition of "Guiness World Records", in the category of program radio conducted by the same person.

The morning program that he animated until his last day, "Su alegre despertar",is transmitted by a radio station in the near by city of Bayamon.

The morning program "Su alegre despertar", that he animated until his last day, is transmitted by a radio station in the neighbor city of Bayamón. Begun in the 1940s and maintained the same format and original ambiance.

Giusseppe Michel, Agrelot’s born name in honor to his Italian grandmother, was born April 21, 1927.

He started to work in radio programs when he was 14. When the first television signal was inaugurated in the early 50’s, he participated in the first produced programs of the island.

Agrelot was also known for some of his characters like "Profesor Pulula" y "Totito". He participated in television comedies like "El colegio de la alegría", "El profesor Colgate", "La criada malcriada", "Desafiando a los genios", "Parece increíble", "Ja ja, Ji ji, Jo jo" and "El especial de Corona".

Agrelot presented his comedy spectacles in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. He got his bachelor’s degree in Art from the University of Puerto Rico.

Flags At Half-Mast For The Death Of Agrelot

January 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon declared three days of national mourning for comedian Jose Miguel Agrelot, who died on died Wednesday.

Calderon ordered the Puerto Rico and American flags be placed at half-mast at all government offices during the next three days.

"Don Cholito" , as the comedian was known, died on Wednesday evening at his home while he was sleeping. He was 76.

"The death of Jose Miguel Agrelot is a very sad loss for the people of Puerto Rico. Jose Miguel Agrelot, "Don Cholito", and all his characters filled our homes with joy," Calderon said.

The remains of the radio and television comedian, who in 2003 was included in the "Guinness World Records" for the longest running radio show, 54 years, conducted by the same person, are being viewed at Buxeda memorial home in Hato Rey.

Thousands Of People Pay Their Respects To Agrelot

By WOW Staff

January 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

BAYAMON — Thousands of people from all over the island have been arriving since the early hours of Friday morning to "Torito City" to pay their last respect to beloved comedian Jose Miguel Agrelot "Don Cholito."

Named after one of his characters "Torito City" houses all of Agrelot’s memorabilia and is composed of series of buildings named after his most important radio and television program.

And there at the building named "Su alegre despertar" in honor of the radio program recognized by the Guinness World Records which he conducted for 54 years, the live broadcasting of the show began.

Fellow comedians, such as Shorty Castro, Efrain Lopez Neris, Emanuel "Sunshine" Logroño, and Andres Garcia among others recounted their personal memories of the comedian.

At 8:30 a.m. a group of the comedians re-enacted one of the television shows that made Agrelot famous "Retando a los genios," making many of those attending the special wake burst into laughter.

Many comedians noted that even in his death Agrelot still made them laugh.

Sen. Yasmin Mejias, whose Altagracia character, made many laugh for many years, said that there is no other way to pay tribute to Agrelot than by laughing.

"It has to be this way, he lived to make people laugh, and the best tribute we can give to him is to remember all those times that he made us laugh, and laugh about them," Mejias said.

Many have said that Agrelot’s personality transcended all boundaries and that he treated everyone equally and with respect, from the homeless to the governor.

A clear example of his ability to trespass boundaries is perhaps Torito City itself as it was built by New Progressive Party mayor Ramon Luis Rivera Jr., who decided to pay tribute to the comedian who was openly a member of the Popular Democratic Party.

"I have very fond memories of Agrelot, he was a great part of our family as we used to sit together if front of the TV to see his shows. My children grew up watching his comedy and it seemed only fair to pay tribute to someone who made so many families laugh," said former Bayamon mayor Ramon Luis Rivera Jr.

Agrelot died on Wednesday evening at his home while he was sleeping, he was 76.

His body will be in view at Torito City until 10 p.m.

Another comedy tribute has been scheduled to take place at 7 p.m.

A 6 a.m. his body will be on view in the Centro de Bellas Artes lobby where the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture will hold an honor guard, wake, and mass in his honor.

Following the religious ceremony, the funeral procession will leave for Buxeda cemetery in Isla Verde where he will be buried.

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