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Nat’l Guard To Mobilize 1,500 Soldiers…Radcliffe’s Misses 10k Triple…Malls Tops In U.S. Sales…Teachers Reject Acevedo Vila's Proposal…Cotto Stays Unbeaten…AA Calls To Mexico…EPA, Education In Asbestos Accord…Gov’t OKs $23m In Aid For Ceiba, Agrees To Modify Signs…Vieques Ferry Launched…La Perla Wall Collapses…Marc Anthony Wins Big…Troops Leave For Iraq

National Guard To Mobilize 1,500 Puerto Rican Soldiers

March 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

 SAN JUAN (AP) – Puerto Rico National Guard Adjutant General Francisco Marquez announced that 1,500 Puerto Rican soldiers would be mobilized to different missions outside the island starting this summer.

Marquez said many of these troops may serve in U.S. operations in Iraq.

"The National Guard Bureau visualizes the nation’s national guards being involved in this process, as well as in future mobilizations," Marquez said.

The adjutant general added that the Department of Defense model consists in having 50% of the military forces of each U.S. jurisdiction available to ensure national security.

He also said the units most likely to be mobilized are infantry and support & supply.

Radcliffe Fails In Her Bid For Third 10k Road Victory

The Evening Standard

March 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Newspapers. All rights reserved.

A third successive 10 kilometre victory in Puerto Rico eluded Paula Radcliffe when the world marathon record holder was narrowly beaten by Holland’s Lornah Kiplagat.

Yet it was still a satisfying start to the Olympic year for Radcliffe, whose victory in a world record time of 30min 21sec last year won her a bonus of £54,000.

Yesterday, she may have had to settle for the runners-up spot but, given the weather, her time of 30min 45sec - four seconds behind Kiplagat - was still a world-class performance.

P.R. Malls Tops In Sales Per Sq. Ft.

Caribbean Update

March 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Gale Group Inc. All rights reserved.

P.R. MALLS TOPS IN SALES PER SQ. FT. For years it has been known that shopping centers in Puerto Rico outsell those in the U.S. mainland. Local malls continued the trend in 2003, enjoying higher sales per square foot than malls in the States, reports Caribbean Business (Feb. 9, 2004). Research from the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) indicates that in calendar year 2002, stateside shopping centers' sales per square foot ranged from US$269.92 for strip malls to $318.02 for enclosed malls. Between January and November 2003, the per-square-foot sales for all types of malls in the U.S. averaged US$285. Research by Economist Heidie Calero reveals that local shopping centers averaged per-square-foot sales of US$350 in 2000. In 2003, Plaza Las Americas averaged per-square-foot sales of US$662, Plaza del Norte averaged US$431, Plaza Palma Real US$379, Plaza Escorial US$360, Plaza del Sol US$508, Santa Rosa Mall US$342, Plaza Isabela US$297, and Plaza del Caribe US$418.

Teachers Reject Acevedo Vila's Education Proposal

February 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) - Teachers Federation President Rafael Feliciano said the education proposal of Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila is a step back to the 1940s.

The union leader said turning education over to municipal governments would subject the public school system to the whims of politicians.

"We cannot accept it because we are the ones who, through our own schools and communities, must find the solutions to our problems," Feliciano said.

He urged Acevedo Vila to talk with the federation to find a viable solution to the many problems that affect the public education system.

Feliciano also said Acevedo Vila is not yet aware that the biggest problem of the education system in Puerto Rico is politicization.

Feliciano, a science teacher from Cayey, insisted that implementing Acevedo Vila's plan would be a huge mistake.

According to Feliciano, the governor shouldn't be the one to appoint the Education secretary and favored a constitutional amendment to that effect.

Cotto Remains Unbeaten With Knockout

February 28, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Victoriano Sosa was supposed to be Miguel Cotto's toughest test yet. Cotto passed it easily Saturday night, knocking the veteran fighter down three times in the fourth round to remain unbeaten in 19 fights.

Cotto was simply too strong for Sosa, landing some big left hooks and bloodying his lip before finally putting him down midway through the fourth round of the 140-pound fight with a left hook.

Sosa got up at the count of seven, but it wasn't long before he was dropped by a left-right-left combination. He got up again, but was shaky as the action resumed and Cotto landed a flurry to put him down for a final time at 2:51 of the round.

The 2000 Olympian from Puerto Rico scored his 16th knockout in 19 fights in what may have been his most impressive performance yet.

``He's a really good fighter,'' Sosa said. ``He's got a real good chance of being a world champion.''

AA Calls To Mexico

February 28, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

American Airlines is adding to its workforce in Mexico and rerouting calls there that were formerly handled by domestic customer-service representatives -- even as it has been cutting similar jobs in the United States.

Since last spring, AMR Corp., the carrier's parent company, has hired about 130 reservation agents in Mexico to handle calls from Spanish-speaking customers in the United States and Latin America, the company acknowledged Friday.

Meanwhile, AMR recently informed about 100 workers at a call center in Puerto Rico that the San Juan office would be shut down this spring. In the past year, AMR also has closed reservation offices in Las Vegas, Norfolk, Va., and St. Louis, which together had employed about 1,400 people.

AMR said the growth of its Mexico operations had not come at the expense of U.S. workers.

EPA And Education Department Reach An Agreement

February 28, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Environmental Protection Agency and the Education Department signed a historic cooperation agreement on Friday to eliminate asbestos from the island’s public school system.

EPA Regional Administrator Jane Kenny said that with the agreement, the Education Department will invest $5.6 million to repair the buildings which have asbestos.

"This agreement represents an historic event that marks how buildings with asbestos should be dealt with," Kenny said.

It is expected that by August 31 all public schools should be inspected and free of asbestos.

The agencies also agreed to train personnel how to detect the toxic material.

One school still remains shut down because of asbestos while 17 others have areas that are being cleaned.

Government Approves $23 Million In Aid For Ceiba

February 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – The government of Puerto Rico will create a $23 million fund to help the municipalities of Ceiba and Guaynbabo once U.S. Naval Station Roosevelt Roads closes next month.

Economic Development Secretary and the director of the recently created Authority for the Redevelopment of Roosevelt Roads, Milton Segarra said on Friday that 847 people have lost their jobs and 300 more are expected to do so by the time the base shuts down operations on March 31.

"The government has been, is, and continues to be, a facilitator in this process," Segarra said during a Friday afternoon press conference in his office.

The aid will also apply to business establishes in the area after the base has been shut down.

Government Agrees To Modify Signs

February 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – To prevent violations to the electoral law the government agreed on Friday to modify the signs being used to announce their investments in the infrastructure.

State Elections Committee Advertisement Regulating Board President Ramon Gomez said La Fortaleza’s attorneys have committed themselves to eliminating from all sign Gov. Sila Calderon’s name.

They will also eliminate the numbers of jobs that will be created with the investment.

The slogans "speeding up the workr," and "Puerto Rico towards the future on a good path," will also be erased Gomez said.

The signs will only display a brief description of the investment, the amount of money being invested, the logos of the government agencies involved and the name "Commonwealth of Puerto Rico".

The board gave the government until March 8 to certify the number of signs across the island that the action will be taken to modify.

New Progressive Party Rep Iris Miriam Ruiz, who filed a complaint about the signs before the SEC, was pleased with the ruling.

Ruiz said that by agreeing to change the signs the government is acknowledging that it was violating the electoral law.

The electoral year ban prohibits the use of public funds to advertise the government’s work.

VT Halter Launches Ferry For Port In Puerto Rico

February 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE SUN HERALD . All rights reserved.

GULFPORT -- VT Halter Marine on Thursday launched the Caribena, a 272-passenger, 95-foot seagoing ferry that will be used in Puerto Rico.

The all-aluminum vessel was designed and built by VT Halter Marine for the Puerto Rico Port Authority. It will provide inter-island transportation for the Fajardo-Vieques-Culebra Ferry Line.

VT Halter Marine plans to complete and deliver the Caribena during the second quarter of 2004.

It could take 10 or more days to make the 1,600- mile trip to the Caribena's home at the Port of Fajardo, on the east side of the Island of Puerto Rico.

Historic Wall Dating To Spanish Colonial Period Collapses In Puerto Rican Capital

February 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A chunk of a historic wall dating to the Spanish colonial period collapsed Friday, prompting authorities to close a main street in Old San Juan.

The stone wall -- measuring 70 feet (21 meters) long and 20 feet (6 meters) high -- was built about two centuries ago at the entrance to the San Juan's seaside shantytown of La Perla.

Authorities have closed a main street bordering the wall, because investigators believe the collapse may have been caused by excessive vehicular traffic, said Enid Torregrosa, director of the U.S. territory's Office of Historic Preservation.

The U.S. National Park Service, responsible for maintaining the walls, was investigating and working to restore the section.

"One stage of the wall was built in the 1960s," Torregrosa said. "The other two stages are obviously from the Spanish period." It was the first incident of this kind in recent times, officials said.

The Spanish crown built the fortress walls surrounding Old San Juan to defend the capital against attacks from enemies. The defense system includes El Morro and San Cristobal forts, two of the city's main tourist attractions.

Puerto Rico was a Spanish colony from 1493 until 1898, when it passed to the United States after the Spanish-American War.

Marc Anthony, Big Winner At ``Premio Lo Nuestro'' Latin Music Awards

February 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Business Wire. All rights reserved.

MIAMI World-famous megastar Ricky Martin brought down the house as the sensational opening act of the 2004 "Premio Lo Nuestro a la Musica Latina," which was telecast LIVE from the Miami Arena Thursday night on the Univision Network.

Thousands of passionate fans screamed nonstop while Martin performed the breakout hit from his new Spanish-language album, a Flamenco-style dance tune titled "Jaleo." Later, Puerto Rican legend Jose Feliciano made a rare appearance to present Martin with the prestigious "Premio a la Excelencia" lifetime achievement award.

Marc Anthony was the night's biggest winner, with three awards in the categories of Best Salsa Performance, Best Tropical Male Artist, and Best Tropical Song. Marco Antonio Solis, Olga Tanon, Juanes, El General, Kumbia Kings and La Onda followed with two awards each.

Puerto Rican Troops Leave For Iraq

February 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - About 200 Puerto Rican Army reservists left Friday to report for duty in Iraq, the U.S. military said.

The soldiers from the 277th Mobile Munitions Company will join more than 800 other Army Reserve and National Guard soldiers from Puerto Rico already in Iraq.

The troops, who were activated in December, left Luis Munoz Marin airport on two C-17 transport planes bound for Kuwait, where they will await deployment to Iraq, a U.S. Army release said.

Hundreds of additional soldiers are training and awaiting orders at Puerto Rico's Camp Santiago. Most of them are expected to be sent to Iraq.

Counting troops from the Army Reserve and Puerto Rico National Guard, some 4,000 troops from the Caribbean island are stationed around the world, more than 1,100 of them in the Middle East.

Puerto Rico's 4 million residents cannot vote for president and have no vote in the U.S. Congress, though they are U.S. citizens and have served in the U.S. military for generations.

At least 12 Puerto Rican soldiers have been killed since the conflict began in Iraq.

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