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Prats: Island Is Not A Colony… International Supreme Courts To Meet In Puerto Rico…EPA Proposes Cidra For Superfund…$478m Margin Left For Deficit Spending…Probe Cites Possibility Of Terrorists On Ships…The Noise Of Infinite Longing…Mother Reunited With Daughter…$10m Anti-Violence Ad Campaign Criticized…Acevedo Vila Promises Status Referendum

Prats: Island Is Not A Colony

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for resident commissioner Roberto Prats denied Puerto Rico is a U.S. colony. However, he acknowledged that the issue concerning the island’s political status has yet to be resolved.

Prats said he belongs to a generation that doesn’t believe the status issue has been resolved.

"We believe there are problems that need to be corrected. We believe the Puerto Rico Commonwealth needs to be developed in order to bring it up-to-date with the globalization of the 21st century," Prats said during a radio interview on Monday.

The senator said PDP gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila is as committed as he is to solving the status issue Puerto Rico.

"It may take us a more than four years, but the reality is we have been debating this issue for more than 104 years and we need to put it to rest," Prats said.

International Supreme Courts To Meet In Puerto Rico

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rico will be the site of the 14th Summit of Supreme Courts of Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico, said Miriam Naviera, president of the local Supreme Court.

The event will be held in October. The chief justices of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico are expected to participate.

According to a prepared statement, the summit will address possible solutions to the problems that affect the supreme courts of the region.

Naveira also said the participants will examine the need to develop new computing tools.

She added that they will study the implications of liberalizing commercial barriers among the judicial systems of Central America and the Caribbean.

EPA Proposes Cidra, 10 Other Sites For Superfund

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

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday proposed adding another 11 sites, including one in Puerto Rico (Cidra Ground Water Contamination in Cidra, Puerto Rico), to its Superfund program for cleaning up the nation's worst toxic waste contamination.

The sites range from lead mine wastes threatening downstream fisheries to an unknown source of drinking well contamination for thousands of people.

They are located in nine states -- Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and West Virginia -- and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

EPA officials said the problems found at these sites exemplify a recent trend in the program handling bigger, costlier and more complex cleanups.

``They are the worst of the worst, the real turkeys that the states don't want to touch,'' said Randolph Dietz, an attorney adviser for EPA's Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, which oversees the Superfund program.

Since the Superfund program began in 1980, the EPA has completed cleanups at almost 900 sites but has 1,240 on its uncompleted list. Adding the 11 new sites and others that have been proposed, would bring the total to more than 1,300, said Thomas Dunne, the office's associate assistant administrator.

$478 Million Margin To Spend For Deficit Spending

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – The current margin the Puerto Rico government has for deficit spending has risen to some $478 million per year, although that does not mean that it has the resources to spend that amount, said Government Development Bank(GDB) President Antonio Faria said Friday.

This amount means that Puerto Rico has less than half of the debt limit allowed by the Puerto Rico Constitution left, and it will allow the government to pay $3,751 million for additional needs during a 25-year term, Faria explained.

According to the Constitution, the government can pay back debt that does not exceed 15% of the average income from the two previous years. The $478 million the state has leaves it a 6.7% margin.

Probe Cites Possibility Of Terrorists On Ships; A Review Of Crew Credentials Also Finds Alleged Fraud, Arrest Warrants

Kevin Johnson

USA Today

March 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON -- Nine people with credentials issued by the United States to crewmembers on cargo or passenger ships were identified as possible associates of terrorist groups during a 14-month federal investigation.

The investigation into potential national security threats and document fraud involving the U.S. maritime industry was conducted by the Coast Guard and the FBI.

"We have reduced vulnerabilities to terrorism by preventing the fraudulent use of credentials by those who seek to harm our nation and its citizens," said Adm. Thomas Collins, commandant of the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard had long feared that terrorists could infiltrate the crews of cargo and passenger ships. In 2000, a Coast Guard official said a counterfeiting ring operating out of Puerto Rico was found issuing fraudulent mariner credentials.

After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Coast Guard officials and other federal authorities seized on the Puerto Rico incident and moved to review the Coast Guard's entire inventory of mariner credentials.

The Noise Of Infinite Longing

Michelle Kung

Entertainment Weekly

March 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

THE NOISE OF INFINITE LONGING Luisita Lopez Torregrosa Memoir (Rayo, $24.95)

The daughter of a doctor and a lawyer on an island of coffee growers and sugarcane farmers, young Luisita grew up a veritable princesita in 1950s Puerto Rico. Pampered by maids, she and her five siblings never realized that life could be better elsewhere. As the adult Torregrosa recounts in her touching memoir, though, the sandy shores of her youth harbored a culture that insisted its women make motherhood their primary careers--an unfathomable fate for a future New York Times editor. But in a series of lyrical anecdotes, she recalls succumbing to "sudden longings" for home. A- --Michelle Kung

Mother Reunited With Daughter Who Was Kidnapped As Infant

By Geoff Mulvihill of Associated Press

March 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) - With hugs and kisses, the Puerto Rican parents of a girl who was allegedly kidnapped as a newborn six years ago were reunited with the child, officials said Friday.

Luz Cuevas and Pedro Vera met the girl at a government office in New Jersey on Thursday, the same day a judge approved a plan to grant the parents custody, said Cuevas' lawyer, Andrew Micklin.

Philadelphia-area Rep. Angel Cruz, who represents the neighborhood where Cuevas lives and accompanied her to the reunion, said the mother was "thrilled" to meet the child she had named Delimar Vera.

"She said, 'She called me mommy and she accepts me,"' Cruz said Friday on ABC-TV's "Good Morning America."

"She got a hug and kiss, her daughter sat in her lap. The moment she expected six years ago, she got it last night," Cruz said.

Cuevas and Vera are no longer a couple, Micklin said.

Authorities say the girl was taken from her crib in December 1997 by Carolyn Correa, 42, who then set fire to the home to cover up the kidnapping. Cuevas had long believed that her daughter was alive, even though authorities said she had died in the fire.

Cruz said that a language barrier between authorities and Cuevas, who speaks Spanish, may have led to confusion about whether a body had been found in the fire.

Officials say Correa raised the girl as her own until January, when the two ended up at the same birthday party as Cuevas, who had a hunch that the girl _ introduced to her as Aliyah Hernandez _ was really her daughter. DNA tests confirmed her hunch, and Correa was charged this week. She is being held in Philadelphia on $1 million bail.

Under the custody arrangement, Cuevas and Vera will share legal custody but the girl, who will keep using the name Aliyah, will live with her mother. Micklin said the transfer of custody will be a gradual process.

The girl does not speak Spanish and her mother speaks very little English.

Antiviolence Campaign Criticized

March 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The nonprofit organization Justice and Peace Caribbean Project criticized Gov. Sila Calderon administration’s $10 million antiviolence advertising campaign arguing that peace is achieved through justice and not publicity.

The group’s spokeswoman Wanda Colon said the funds should be assigned to community groups that work day in and day out against violence.

"The millionaire investment should go to supporting the work that hundreds of community based organizations do on a daily basis to prevent violence. They don’t have economic resources," Colon said.

For Colon, a culture of peace is achieved by values, attitude, and behavior that reflect respect for life, the human being, and human dignity; these attitudes should be learned and not taught by advertising.

Acevedo Vila Calls For Referendum

By Ricardo Zuñiga of Associated Press

March 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Anibal Acevedo Vila said on Friday that the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is neither a colony nor a U.S. territory.

Therefore, his proposal to call for a Constitutional Assembly to solve the status issue could give commonwealth, pro-independence, and statehood supporters the opportunity to express themselves.

The PDP gubernatorial candidate made his statements on Friday during his testimony before the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees that were holding public hearings on legislation calling for a constitutional assembly to solve the status issue.

Acevedo Vila said that should he become governor, he would call for a referendum within the first 120 days of his administration and ask the people to choose the mechanism to solve the status issue.

Once the mechanism is selected, the results would then be taken to the U.S. Congress for it to act upon them.

The resident commissioner participated in a heated discussion with pro-independence leaders Fernando Martin and Victor Garcia San Inocencio, who questioned him on why the PDP did not call for the constitutional assembly now since the party is in power and controls both legislative bodies.

Martin also rekindled the long debated issue of the Commonwealth’s definition. Opponents and the international law community consider it a territory.

"I ask you whether you believe that today’s commonwealth complies with the necessary requirement’s to be considered a non-territorial, non-colonial status," Martin said.

"Yes it does," Acevedo Vila said.

Garcia San Inocencio then raised his voice and told Acevedo Vila that he must be referring to a different Commonwealth.

"I don’t respect your theory that this is neither a territory nor a colony," Garcia San Inocencio said.

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