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Ceiba Residents Urge New RR Plan…PSA Considered For Americas’ Port, $36m Already Invested In Ponce Venture…Prats Neutral On Democratic Candidates…More Puerto Rican Soldiers Heading To Iraq, 280 Over The Weekend… 5 Inducted Into The Softball Hall Of Fame…La Sonora Poncena Celebrates 50th…No Bilingual Ballots In English-Speaking Nation

Ceiba Residents Urge New Roosevelt Roads Plan

February 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Ceiba residents living close to U.S. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads urged the government on Monday to discard its development plan for the base, once it is shut down in March, and begin a new process that takes their needs into consideration.

Over 40 residents meet with attorney Lilly Oronoz Rodriguez, the government’s coordinator for the development of the base, for her to explain the federal legislation that regulated the base closing.

The residents, visibly upset, said that although the government claims it is willing to talk, the community’s demands aren’t being heard since the government insists on presenting a proposal to develop the area that fails to include the opinions of Ceiba and Naguabo residents.

However, the attorney explained that among other things, federal authorities have priority over state agencies when claiming installations at the base. Some 200 out of 8,600 acres at Roosevelt Roads already have been claimed by federal authorities.

Rodriguez added that their work schedule has to be determined by the base’s closing dates. The airport has already shut down, the hospital will close Thursday, and the school in June. The base will cease operations March 31.

PSA Considered For Americas’ Port

February 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004
AFX News. All rights reserved. 

AFX International Focus

SINGAPORE (AFX-ASIA) - State-owned PSA Corp has advanced into the next stage in the competition for the concession to design, build and operate Puerto Rico's $700m Port of the Americas container terminal, a Business Times report said.

Three groups that have qualified include PSA, Manila-based International Container Terminal Services Inc, and an international consortium that comprises AP Moller, CSX Lines, the Port of Rotterdam, and Main Ports of Puerto Rico, the newspaper added, citing Business News Americas.

Successful candidates have till Jun 1 to submit their detailed proposals with the winner to be selected later this year, the Business Times said.

Construction on the project is expected to begin by year-end with completion targeted at 2006, the newspaper added.

Around $36 Million Already Invested In Ponce Port

By Jose Fernandez Colon of Associated Press

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

PONCE - In the first three years of this administration, around $36 million have already been allocated to or invested in the Port of the Americas, which is expected to be developed in Ponce.

Economic Development Secretary Milton Segarra said on Sunday that so far the central government has spent $14 million.

Segarra, who also presides the Port of the Americas Authority, said the public corporation has been allocated an operational budget of $3.7 million for this fiscal year.

He added that around $500 million will be invested in the project through Government Development Bank bond issues.

Prats Evaluates Stances Of Democratic Candidates

By Damaris Suarez of Associated Press

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

SAN JUAN - The National Democratic Party President on the island, Roberto Prats, has withdrawn his support for presidential pre-candidate Howard Dean and has said that he will assume a neutral position throughout the race until he can ascertain the position of all pre-candidates regarding Puerto Rico's right for self-determination.

The Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for resident commissioner has said he has kept in touch with the campaign committees of John Kerry and John Edwards to find out what their stances are regarding Puerto Rico issues.

However, the PDP senator said he hopes the candidates assume positions based on the need to solve the political status of the island, not on ideological formulas.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark was the first one to say that, should he reach the White House, he would support a status consultation to choose between statehood and independence.

Kerry, who is leading the race, has promised to hold a referendum that includes the Commonwealth option.

Although Prats was pleased with Kerry's position, he said he didn't want to endorse anyone and reiterated his decision to keep his options open until he has a clearer picture.

"I am president of the party and as president, I must make sure that I'm protecting the interest of the local party. As a Democrat, the doors are open and our goal is to defeat [George] Bush," he said.

Puerto Rican Soldiers Continue Heading Towards Iraq

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - Around 260 soldiers of the U.S. Army Reserve in Puerto Rico have left for Iraq this weekend, said military spokesman Pedro Silva.

Silva said 180 members of the 448th battalion of engineering left Saturday afternoon, while another 80 soldiers of the same battalion left Friday night.

An additional group of 180 soldiers of the aforementioned battalion are expected to leave for Iraq Monday morning, Silva said.

All of them may stay in Iraq for up to a year, he added.

Silva said there are 1,100 Puerto Rican reservists in Iraq.

Twelve soldiers of Puerto Rican origin or descent have died in the Iraqi military conflict.

Eighty More Puerto Rican Soldiers Sent To Iraq

February 7, 2004
Copyright © 2004
EFE NEWS SERVICE. All rights reserved. 

San Juan, Feb 7 (EFE) - A total of 80 soldiers from Puerto Rico's army reserve units have been mobilized to join U.S. troops in Iraq, the military officials announced Saturday.

The troops left for Germany Friday night from Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in Carolina, outside San Juan.

From Europe, they will head for wherever the U.S. Army's Central Command decides to send them in the Persian Gulf region, an army bulletin said.

Another group of 138 reservists departed for the Persian Gulf region Friday to join U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Kuwait.

An undetermined number of Puerto Rican soldiers sent to Iraq starting in March 2003 have already been demobilized and more are expected to come home this week.

Since the United States invaded Iraq nearly a year ago, some 1,100 Puerto Rican troops have been deployed in the Persian Gulf region, army spokesmen said Friday.

Puerto Rican Soldiers Depart For Iraq

February 6, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - About 130 U.S. soldiers from Puerto Rico reported for duty in Iraq on Friday, boarding a charter flight to go help with construction projects.

The troops are to join about 800 other Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers from Puerto Rico already in Iraq, said Jose Pagan, a spokesman for the Army's Fort Buchanan in suburban San Juan.

The soldiers were given a two-day pass to spend time with relatives before departing, Pagan said. "Because of the security posture at the airport, the farewells were left for them to do them at home."

The soldiers departed on a flight to Kuwait from the U.S. Caribbean territory's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, Pagan said. They were to travel on to Iraq, he said.

About 800 additional soldiers are training and awaiting orders at Puerto Rico's Camp Santiago, Pagan said. Most of them are expected to be sent to Iraq.

At least 12 soldiers from Puerto Rico or of Puerto Rican descent have been killed in Iraq.

The island's 4 million residents cannot vote for president and have no vote in U.S. Congress. They were made American citizens in 1917 during World War I and have served in the U.S. military ever since.

Five Puerto Rican Inducted Into The Softball Hall Of Fame

By Luis R. Varela of Associated Press

February 6, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

GUAYNABO (AP) – Five Puerto Ricans will be inducted into the Softball Hall of Fame during a ceremony at Guaynabo’s Sport Museum.

Rafael Serrano Segarra, Miriam "Betty" Segarra, Ivelisse Echevarria, Clara Vazquez and "Tuto" Agosto are among the 17 athletes that will join.

International Softball Federation President Don Porter will head the ceremony, which will be lead on March 18.

Mayor Hector O’Neill and local Olympic Committee President Hector Francisco Cardona will also participate.

Serrano Segarra was a softball player for the Ponce team.

"Tuto" Agosto was the assistant co-coach and later the manager of the national team that won several international titles.

Clara Vazquez was the batting champion in 1986.

Ivelisse Echevarria and "Betty" Segarra," were pitchers.

"The three of us played in the world championship in New Zealand in which Puerto Rico tied for third place with Japan," Echevarria said.

They also participated in the Pan-American Games in San Juan in 1979, in Indianapolis in 1987, and in Mar del Plata in 1995.

"I am enjoying the wonderful time because the sacrifice of so many years is being recognized," Echevarria said.

Other Puerto Ricans inducted in the hall of fame include Jose "Chemi" Pacheco and pitchers Carlin "El Legendario" Velazquez and Jorge Tanco.

La Sonora Poncena’s 50th Anniversary

Randy Luna

February 7, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Information Access Company. All rights reserved. 


In Puerto Rico: Puerto Rican salsa combo La Sonora Poncena will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a concert Feb. 21 at the 8,000-capacity Ruben Rodriguez Coliseum in Bayamon. The event will be taped for release as an album and video. It will feature Justo Betancourt, Jose Alberto "El Canario" and Antonio Caban Vale "El Topo." The concert will be produced by Fundacion Pro Vida al Rinon, a nonprofit foundation for people with kidney problems.

No Bilingual Ballots In English-Speaking Nation

February 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004
The Allentown Morning Call. All rights reserved. 


No! to bilingual ballots for voting. Being Hispanic in the United States should make one proud to be an American. If you choose to come here from Puerto Rico, understand that you are in the United States, and this is an English-speaking country. Let's not cater to one culture. It is not fair to the rest!

Maria M. Rodriguez

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