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Richard Perez, Advocate For Puerto Rican Rights, Dies… Food Expo 2004 To Attract 10,000… Humanitarian Campaign For Haiti Begins…FBI Reinforces Search For Filiberto Ojeda…Drugs, Cell Phones Confiscated In Bayamon Prison…Student Murder Reflects Education Crisis…Bill To Get FTAA HQ Filed…Vacation Rates Head South…Puerto Ricans Are U.S. Citizens

Richard Perez, Advocate For Minority Rights, Dies at 59


March 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

Richard Perez in 1978.

Richard Perez, a South Bronx teacher who became a well-known advocate for human rights and social justice for Hispanics and other minorities, died Saturday in Manhattan. He was 59.

Mr. Perez, widely known as Richie, became a community activist in 1969 when he joined the Young Lords, a Puerto Rican rights group. The group furthered its cause through radical, nonviolent means, like commandeering a city medical vehicle to perform tuberculosis tests in poor neighborhoods, taking over an East Harlem church to create a day care center and taking over part of a South Bronx hospital to set up a drug rehabilitation program and call for local health care improvement.

As director of community development at the Community Service Society, a nonprofit group that serves the poor, during the 1980's until his death, Mr. Perez organized campaigns against racially motivated violence and pushed for voter registration. He often spoke publicly about the marginalization of minorities.

Mr. Perez was born and raised in the South Bronx and attended public schools and the City University of New York in Harlem.

While teaching at James Monroe High School in the Bronx in the late 1960's, he began calling for community control of schools, and in 1969 joined the Young Lords, becoming its deputy minister of information and also editing its weekly newspaper, Palante. In the early 1980's, Mr. Perez helped found the National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights and became its national coordinator.

Puerto Rican Food Expo 2004 To Attract 10,000 Entrepreneurs

Latin America News Digest

March 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 AII Data Processing. All rights reserved. 

The eighth edition of the International Food Expo, ExpoAlimentos 2004, will attract 10,000 entrepreneurs from North and South America and Europe in Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, on April 3 to 4, 2004.

ExpoAlimentos, whose first edition was celebrated in 1998, provides best opportunities to food distributors to expand in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, the executive vice-president of Puerto Rico Chamber of Food Marketing, Industry and Distribution (MIDA), Edwin Colon, said.

Apart from businessmen and executives, ExpoAlimentos 2004 will be attended by representatives of various Latin American governments. Attendance confirmation has been made by Colombian state-run exports promotion agency Proexport, Mexican National Foreign Trade Bank (Bancomex), Panamanian export promotion agency Vicomex and Costa Rican state-owned export-promotion agency Procomer, Colon added.

ExpoAlimentos is being organised by Puerto Rican trade fair organiser Tourism Events Unlimited.

The food industry generates over $5.6 bln (4.614 bln euro) sales annually in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Begins Humanitarian Campaign For Haiti

By WOW News staff

March 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Secretary of State Jose Izquierdo on Friday announced the beginning of a humanitarian relief campaign to help Haiti’s economic and social crisis.

"Today I am pleased to announce the beginning of the Puerto Rico for Haiti humanitarian campaign," Izquierdo said during a press conference at the Department of State in Old San Juan.

Izquierdo announced that the local government will work together with the American Red Cross, the Banks Association, the Puerto Rico Manufacturers’ Association, and the commercial sector to raise funds for Haiti.

The campaign will consist of five initiatives. The first one will be to collect funds from government agencies and corporations.

The second initiative will be to sell $1 tickets in local supermarkets. The third will be to collect money from the members of the Puerto Rico Manufacturers’ Association.

The fourth initiative will be to open special accounts at the banks affiliated to the Puerto Rico Banks Association so that people can deposit their donations.

The fifth will consist of mobilizing members of the Puerto Rico Police Department, the Puerto Rico National Guard, the Fire Department, and the State Emergency Management Agency to collect money at the island’s main intersections.

Grande Supermarkets has already agreed to sell the $1 tickets, Izquierdo said.

He added that the everyone who wishes to contribute to Haiti’s relief campaign may do so at Banco Popular, Banco Bilbao Vizcaya, Banco Santander, Citibank, Doral Bank, Eurobank, First Bank, RG Premier Bank, Scotiabank, and The Bank & Trust of PR.

Izquierdo said around 80% of Haiti’s population live in extreme poverty. Haiti’s per capita income is $480 per year.

Izquierdo added that 4.5% of the population is infected with HIV; the highest rate in the Americas.

Also, only half of the people in Haiti have access to clean water and sanitary facilities and its literacy rate stands at 50%.

FBI Reinforces Efforts To Search For Filiberto Ojeda

March 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – FBI officials announced on Friday that they continue to search for Puerto Rican fugitive Filiberto Ojeda Rios, who had allegedly been spotted in Jayuya Thursday.

However, the federal agency declined to give further details of the search.

"The case continues to be open and the Department of Justice has forbidden us to give out any information of ongoing investigations," FBI press official Brenda Diaz said.

Police agents conducted a search at the Rio Grande sector in Jayuya to no avail on Thursday.

Ojeda Rios has been on the FBI’s most wanted list since 1990 when he escaped from a Connecticut prison where he was awaiting trial for his participation in a $7-million robbery of a Wells Fargo truck.

Although he has remained in hiding since his escape, he has issued statements to the press and pro-independence supporters.

The FBI has offered a $500,000 reward.

Drugs, Cell Phones Are Confiscated In Bayamon Prison

March 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Corrections authorities confiscated 50 decks of drugs and 23 cell phones along with eight chargers and seven batteries during a routine search at the Bayamon Prison, said Corrections Secretary Miguel Pereira on Friday.

Pereira said the search took place in buildings number one and two of annex 448 at that prison facility.

Pereira said in a prepared statement that the controlled substances were handed over to the police.

"During the months of January and February 2004, corrections authorities confiscated 58 cell phones, 161 shanks, 183 decks of cocaine, 41 decks of heroin, three decks of crack, and 18 packets of marijuana," Pereira said.

Pereira added that they also confiscated 1,557 shanks, 547 cell phones, 274 cocaine decks, 221 decks of heroin, and 173 packets of marijuana in 2003.

Student Murder Reflects Education Crisis

March 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) – Teachers Federation President Rafael Feliciano said on Thursday that the murder of a 15-year-old student at Jose Padin public school in Salinas is the result of an institutional crisis within the Education Department.

Feliciano is pained by the murder of eighth grader Jason Melendez Bristol as well as the injuries that his aggressor sustained during a fight.

The Federation president said that in the past two years, more violent incidents in public schools have been reported than ever before.

"The Education Department has never had so many violent incidents and deaths reported in our schools. This shows that there is a crisis that must be solved," Feliciano said during a telephone interview.

The union leader also said Education Secretary Cesar Rey should be held responsible for all the violence in local public schools because of his alleged unwillingness to create health and security groups in each of the island’s schools.

House Files Bills To Bring FTAA Headquarters Here

March 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – On Thursday, New Progressive Party (NPP) and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) representatives filed four bills aimed at offering economic incentives to help Puerto Rico become the official headquarter of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).

According to published reports, one of the bills would create the Americas Project Financing Authority. This would allow local private and public sectors to finance economic development projects in 34 countries of the FTAA.

Another bill would grant complete income-tax exemption to commercial delegation officials who move to the island to work at the FTAA.

The bills were filed by PDP Reps. Ferdinand Perez and Jose Varela, and NPP Rep. Jose Chico.

Vacation Rates Head South In The Caribbean

By Kitty Bean Yancey, USA TODAY

March 25, 2004
Copyright © 2004 USA TODAY. All rights reserved. 

As U.S. temperatures rise, Caribbean hotel rates are poised for their annual April plunge.

This winter, business was good enough that "I did not see a lot of discounting," says Arthur Mehmel, whose TourScan agency specializes in cut-rate Caribbean air and hotel packages. In the off season, "you get more for your money."

Come spring and summer, hotel rates in the islands can drop 50% and airfares dip, too (US Airways just announced a sale that ends April 2.) Lodgings and packagers are starting to unveil some sizzling deals, subject to availability:

• Summer rates for Puerto Rico's upscale Wyndham El Conquistador Resort & Golden Door Spa dip as low as $158 for Wyndham ByRequest members. (Information: 800-996-3426;

• Puerto Rico's Hyatt Dorado Beach Resort and Country Club is on sale. June 1-Oct. 31, a room in its "Puerto Rico is Fun" promotion starts at $185. The offer includes breakfast and a fourth night free. (800-633-7313;

Puerto Ricans Are U.S. Citizens


March 24, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Poughkeepsie Journal. All rights reserved. 

In the article ''Police may get immigration law duty'' by Rasheed Oluwa on March 22, the following was stated by Deputy Chief Michael Ferrara of the Newburgh police: ''There are more than 40 different groups of undocumented residents in the city, including Haitians, Russians, Puerto Ricans and Asians.''

Please be informed that Puerto Ricans are American citizens by birth, not only here, but in the island of Puerto Rico since the Jones Act was passed by Congress in 1917. As such, Puerto Ricans are not ''undocumented'' residents but legal residents, either here or in Puerto Rico.

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