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Government Aims To Boost Electoral Turnout…Parga: PDP Abusers Will Pay…Make Tax Returns Public, Rossello Prodded…Islanders Invited To 'Adopt A Beach' …Marc Sayonara Fells Dayanara…Dismantling Of Anti-ROTC Camp Begin…Hurricane Hunter Visits…Treasury Urged To Investigate Rossello…Pereira Won’t Tolerate Prison Gangs

Local Government Aims To Boost Electoral Turnout

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

March 18, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

A downward trend in local electoral turnout has convinced the State Elections Commission (SEC) to start a campaign to boost the participation of eligible citizens, especially young adults, in the November general elections.

SEC President Aurelio Gracia said that starting on March 23, the commission will run a media campaign to urge Puerto Rico residents age 18 or older to register.

Based on the SEC’s information, more than 151,000 registered voters between the ages of 18-30 didn’t participate in the 2000 general election.

"As you can imagine, that number of voters could decide an election," Gracia said during a press conference at SEC’s headquarters in Hato Rey.

The SEC president said the campaign will focus on convincing people born on or before Nov. 2, 1986 to register.

Gracia believes that the slight decline in the electoral turnout among young people could be caused by their lack of interest in local political issues or misinformation.

Puerto Rican Independence Party Electoral Commissioner Juan Dalmau–who at age 30 is the youngest of the three electoral commissioners on the island–said he thinks young people aren’t aware that one vote can make a difference.

Gracia said the turnout in 1992, 1996, and 2000 was 84.8%, 82.8%, and 82.3%, respectively.

He added that SEC personnel will visit private and public high schools as well as universities to provide information to young people and help them register.

The campaign will use catchy slogans and "perreo" rhythms to draw students’ attention.

BBDO advertising agency will run the first phase of the campaign until June 30 at a cost of $840,000. The cost of the second phase will be disclosed once the SEC’s budget for fiscal year 2005 is allocated, Gracia said. The new fiscal year starts July 1.

Parga: PDP Abusers Will Pay

March 18, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — On Thursday New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Orlando Parga reiterated that his party has been the target of political persecution and warned opposition leaders that they will have to suffer the consequences of their behavior once they leave office.

"I have no desire for revenge, but those who are persecuting us must know that once they leave power, they will have to pay," said Parga.

Moreover the senator compared the alleged persecution with the practice of keeping police dossiers against people based solely on their pro-independence political beliefs.

"I believe such practices have been carried out in Puerto Rico against those who favor independence and now it is being carried out against NPP members. We need to put an end to this," said Parga.

Parga attributed the alleged persecution against NPP members to their fierce battle against the Popular Democratic Party.

Rossello Urged To Make His Federal Income Tax Forms Public

March 18, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PDP) campaign director Carlos Dalmau, urged the New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello to make his state and federal income tax forms public.

"The People of Puerto Rico deserve an explanation of Rossello’s financial statements to judge if he filed local and federal taxes legally," Dalmau said during a press conference at PDP headquarters in Puerta de Tierra.

Dalmau was referring to the income tax forms filed in 2001 and 2002 in which Rossello declared himself a nonresident of Puerto Rico. Nonetheless when he submitted his candidacy papers to the State Election Commission, he claimed he had been a resident for at least five consecutive years.

Dalmau showed Acevedo Vila’s income tax forms and said Rossello should make his public too.

"If he did nothing illegal, he has nothing to hide. He has to face the people and do just as Acevedo Vila has done. He has made all his state and federal income tax forms public, Dalmau said.

Rossello moved to the U.S. in January 2001 and returned to the island last year. The question of his residence has become the source of controversy because the Commonwealth Constitution requires those aspiring to be governor must be a resident for five straight years before being certified as official candidates.

Puerto Rico Invites Islanders To 'Adopt A Beach'

March 18, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - The government is inviting people to "adopt a beach" in Puerto Rico and help authorities keep the island's shorelines free of debris, an official said Wednesday.

The Natural Resources Department does not have the resources to maintain its 132 beaches, spanning 140 kilometers (87.5 miles) along the U.S. Caribbean territory's coasts, department Secretary Luis Rodriguez said.

"The beaches are one of our natural resources most used and visited by thousands of people every day," Rodriguez said. "These visits generate thousands of pounds of garbage" left strewn on the sand instead of thrown in trash cans.

Other environmental offenders remove sand, cut trees, poach endangered sea turtles or do construction on beaches without permits, department spokeswoman Leila Andreu said.

With a yearly operational budget of US$42.2 million and 1,200 employees, the department cannot afford to hire more beach workers than its current 130, Andreu said.

Already one hotel in south-coast Ponce has expressed interest in adopting a beach, and other businesses might want to participate to promote themselves through public work, she said.

"There are lots of people interested in cleaning beaches where they have their businesses," Andreu said.

By adopting a beach, individuals or companies would take legal and financial responsibility for maintaining the shoreline and protecting its plant and sea life.

Participants are also responsible for doing the cleanup work, from picking up garbage to planting trees. They are forbidden from digging, extracting materials or pruning trees without department supervision.

Marc Sayonara Fells Dayanara


March 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

New York Daily News

A heartbroken Dayanara Torres sobbed as she spoke for the first time about her divorce from Marc Anthony. Listening to her every word was Cristina Saralegui, host of Univision's "The Cristina Show," the biggest Spanish-speaking talk show in the world.

"I asked her, 'Are you still in love with him?'" Saralegui told us yesterday. "And she answered, 'With all my heart and soul. I will be in love with him for the rest of my life.'

"She was crying a lot. You have to understand, she has a 7-month- old baby."

They have two children: Christian, 2, and Ryan, who was born in August.

In fact, the former Miss Universe was pregnant with Ryan when a Florida waitress claimed she was also pregnant with the soulful singer's baby. A DNA test proved he was not the father - but in taking the test he all but admitted an affair.

Still, Torres said, "That's not the reason we're getting divorced." She refused to elaborate.

Saralegui, who was a guest at their wedding, said: "They've always had the kind of relationship where they would love each other passionately, then fight, then separate, then get back together."

This time, though, it seems the cycle has ended.

As for Jennifer Lopez, in whose arms Anthony reportedly found solace after the split, Torres said, "I have shed a lot of tears over the years over that situation. If the tabloid rumors are true, I will shed more."

Dismantling Of Anti-ROTC Camp In Mayaguez Begins

March 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

MAYAGUEZ (AP) — The camp sites that were set up by students last semester in opposition of the ROTC program’s at the Mayaguez campus were being dismantled Wednesday after proterstors reached an agreement with dean Jorge Ivan Velez Arocho.

The dean issued a letter to the college community in which he stated that the buildings that the ROTC had wanted to take over, will be used instead as the dean’s office.

"The ROTC’s will remain in their old buildings and will also move into the Army ROTC’s installations in the Sanchez building," said the dean in his letter.

"I am pleased to announce to the college community and to the country that thanks to dialogue and the university’s [we have reached an agreement,] said Velez, who had met with different organizations from both sides of the conflict.

However, the agreement doesn’t guarantee that further conflict won’t occur given that the ROTC will keep operating inside the campus. Protest had rocked the university for about a year.

Velez Arocho said that the Academic Senate formed a committee to evaluate the matter. It has yet to finish its evaluation.

Hurricane Hunter Plane Visits The Island

March 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The new hurricane hunter plane that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration acquired at a cost of $48.5 million will come to Puerto Rico this week.

The State Emergency Management Agency announced on Wednesday that the WC-130-J plane will be in Ponce on Thursday and in San Juan on Saturday.

"Staff of the National Weather Service and Squadron 53 of the United States Air Force Reserve’s Weather Reconnaissance team are part of a group sent by the United Nations to share information and knowledge with meteorologists and local officials," the agency said in a press release.

The plane’s visit to the island one leg of trip to several Caribbean islands including Dominica, Martinique and Guadalupe. It will also visit Mexico.

Treasury Department Urged To Investigate Rossello

March 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Rep. Francisco Zayas Seijo urged Treasury Department Secretary Juan Flores Galarza to investigate if former governor Pedro Rossello owes money to the Commonwealth.

Zayas Seijo said there is a possibility that Rossello owes money to the state because he declared himself a nonresident of Puerto Rico on his income tax return forms for 2001-2002 but had informed the State Elections Commission that he was a resident.

"It’s been brought to the public’s recently attention that Rossello provided false information while under oath on his 2001 and 2002 income tax forms," said Zayas Seijo said.

In his letter to Flores Galarza, the lawmaker noted that Rossello can’t be a nonresident and a resident of Puerto Rico at the same time.

On Tuesday, NPP Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz said that in the past, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court has ruled that a person can keep his official residence in Puerto Rico while temporarily living on the U.S. mainland.

Pereira Firm On Not Allowing Prison Gangs

March 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — One day after a gang fight at the Bayamon Regional Prison led to the death of two inmates and several others injured Corrections and Rehabilitations Department’s Secretary Miguel Pereira said his agency will not tolerate prison gangs’ attempts to take over the institutions.

In addition, he blamed his predecessors for allowing such prison gangs as "Ñeta", "Los 25" and "Los 27" to take charge of the prisons.

"Corrections Administrations had kept quiet and had allowed these prison gangs to avoid problems in island prisons. But we will retake control of our prisons because that is the only way to rehabilitate the island’s prisoner population," Pereira said.

He claimed he has been working on this goal since he took office in December 2002.

Pereira added that searches are carried out on an almost daily basis in island prisons; 1,557 shanks, 548 mobile phones, and an undetermined amount of drugs have been seized in Bayamon since the year began.

Following Tuesday’s riot in which two people were killed and five others were wounded, prison guards found at least 40 shanks, which were allegedly used in the melee.

The riot allegedly began when two prison gang members started a fight over who would take control of an alleged cargo of drugs that were to be smuggled into the prison.

The Police and the Corrections Department continue to investigate the matter.

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