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Govenor’s Financial Reports Sought… PDP, NPP At Odds Over RR Use… Fortuño’s Role In NPP Admin Queried… Calderon Calls Rossello Unqualified, He Seeks People’s Vote, As Does Acevedo Vila For NPP Support… GOP Gets New Headquarters

Governor Asked To Disclose Financial Reports

April 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP)- New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Jorge de Castro Font asked the Government Ethics Office (GEO) on Thursday for a copy of the financial reports submitted by Gov. Sila M. Calderon.

De Castro Font made the request in a letter addressed to GEO Director Hiram Morales claiming that he found multiple violations of the law in the governor’s records.

"It is necessary and relevant to my duties as a legislator [to request] that the financial reports that the governor has submitted since taking office be examined," he said in a press release.

De Castro Font was prompted to request disclosure, he said, because every time there is are discrepancies and ethical conflicts, Calderon claims that she has given power of attorney over all matters to someone else.

"It is only by examining these financial records that we can ascertain…if the governor and her husband have violated ethics laws," added De Castro Font.

Resident Commissioner Seeks To Increase Cruise Ship Traffic

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

April 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced on Wednesday that, if elected in November, he would work to increase cruise ship traffic by using the Roosevelt Roads land and the San Juan bay dock to primarily for that purpose.

"This port should turned into another cruise ship port. The advantages in terms of location and existing infrastructure clearly show that that is the best use for it," Acevedo Vila stated.

The resident commissioner said the land’s proximity to the U.S. National Rainforest of El Yunque, the islands of Vieques and Culebra, as well as luxury hotels like El Conquistador, Rio Mar, and Palmas del Mar would be a great asset for the development of a cruise ship dock in the eastern area of Puerto Rico.

Acevedo Vila said he believes that Roosevelt Roads land would be able to better preserve its natural state through his proposal, rather than that of New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello.

Rossello’s intention is to use Roosevelt Roads to develop the transshipment port set for construction in Ponce. Although Rossello has emphasized that the project would be developed in areas not marked as natural reserves, Acevedo Vila insisted that the land should sustain the least environmental impact possible.

According to the Department of Natural & Environmental Resources, there are around 8,000 acres of land within the naval base of which around 3,000 acres of wetlands are intended to be marked as natural reserves and another 1,250 acres for ecotourism.

Acevedo Vila also said he would seek more participation of the non-government sectors in the Ports Authority Board of Directors to ensure the continuity of large projects within the agency regardless of the changes of administration.

"The participation of the maritime industry in the decision making of the authority is vital to adequately respond to the needs of that economic sector," Acevedo Vila said.

As for the San Juan bay, Acevedo Vila said he would habilitate the northern area for the use of cruise ships and tourist activity. This would mean transferring the cargo operations there to the area that comprises Isla Grande to Dock 15 of the bay, he said.

Prats: Fortuño Is Part Of NPP Corrupt Administration

By WOW News Staff & Wire Reports

April 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for resident commissioner, Roberto Prats, asked his New Progressive Party (NPP) opponent, Luis Fortuño, for an explanation of his involvement in fundraising activities with the organization Businessmen with Rossello.

Prats charged that as former executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, Fortuño may have participated in meetings with businessmen who made political donations for an opportunity to dine with a politician of their choice.

"During the time that Pedro Rossello was governor, the prevailing philosophy was: to do business with the government you must contribute to the party," stated Prats in a news conference.

Prats said that to dismiss the Superaqueduct scandal, as Fortuño has done by stating that those who break the law will bare the full weight of justice, is a vague attempt to address the problem of corruption.

"There is no room for doubt. The main benefactor of these events is Pedro Rossello," said prats

Prats also criticized Rossello’s use of religious language on Monday in his televised address to respond to attacks by the opposition.

Calderon: Rossello Not Qualified To Run For Governor

By WOW News Staff

April 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Following the accusations against three former members of the New Progressive Party (NPP), Gov. Sila Calderon on Tuesday said that NPP gubernatorial candidate is not qualified to run for governor.

However, Calderon noted that the decision of whether Rossello should withdraw from the gubernatorial race is out of her hands.

"That is up to the party to decide," Calderon said during a press conference on Tuesday.

The governor made the statements after her return from an Easter holiday.

Calderon was out of the island on Thursday when federal authorities indicted his former campaign director Rene Vazquez Botet, former NPP Secretary General Marcos Morell, and former NPP Rep. Jose Granados Navedo for $2 million extortion scheme involving the construction of the Superaqueduct project.

When the press reminded her that, just like Rossello, she also has had cabinet members accused of corruption, Calderon was quick to note the difference. Calderon said that when former Agriculture Secretary Fernando Toledo was accused of illegally benefiting from federal emergency loans, he was asked to resign.

"I immediately asked for his resignation. There is a great difference in the way we handle irregularities," Calderon said.

At a time of speculation regarding Rossello’s chances of winning the November elections, Calderon–who has remained distant from Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila, used Tuesday’s press conference to reiterate her support for the Popular Democratic Party president.

"I am part of Acevedo Vila’s campaign. I fully support him and I will be actively campaigning for him when the time is right," Calderon stated.

Rossello Reiterates Commitment; Asks For People’s Vote

By WOW News Staff

April 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

In a televised message on Monday, New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello called on the Puerto Rican people to look past the extortion scandals of his past administration and the political propaganda of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and to vote for him.

"I ask you to join me in the defense of democracy, to return to a decent debate. Let us go to the promised land of progress and justice that you need," Rossello said.

Rossello has been lambasted by his opponents since Thursday when federal authorities indicted his former campaign director Rene Vazquez Botet, former NPP Secretary General Marcos Morell, and former NPP Rep. Jose Granados Navedo for a more than $2 million extortion scheme involving the construction of the Superaqueduct project.

Although he had already addressed the scandal issue in several broadcast news and radio shows on Sunday, Rossello used the 12-minute spot to reiterate his clean record and to distance himself from the people who–during his administration–used their positions of power to obtain personal gain.

"Those responsible should pay to the full extent of the law," said Rossello.

Just as he had done on a Sunday radio program, Rossello warned the people that the governing party would try to compensate for their lack of vision with below-the-belt blows to his character.

"We should move forward towards that new Puerto Rico we started to build. I warn you that they will continue their attacks, but whether they succeed will be up to you," Rossello said.

In a humble tone, Rossello admitted that he feels let down by those who failed his administration and promised that, if he is given the chance in November, he would do everything in his power to prevent government corruption.

Rossello urged the people to remember the good that came from his administration and to ask themselves if they are better off now than they were four years ago at the beginning of Gov. Sila Calderon’s term in office.

Rossello called on the people to remember the good done by thousands of government employees during his administration, instead of judging them by the wickedness of a few.

He summarized a list of reforms and mega projects that he started during his administration such as the Healthcare Plan, the Iron Fist security plan against crime, the Urban Train, the Coliseum of Puerto Rico, and even the very Superaqueduct that has now come under investigation.

Rossello also used the opportunity to announce that he had finally made his federal and state tax returns public.

Acevedo Vila Calls For The Support Of Honest NPP Voters

April 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Amid allegations of corruption against three former leaders of the New Progressive Party (NPP), Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila asked registered voters on Monday to give him their support this November.

"Today I make a call to the public, including those decent and honest members of the NPP who may feel ashamed and who do not find one voice in their party that speaks to the people. To those NPP members I say that there is hope, a future, that Puerto Rico deserves more…there are no leaps back," said Acevedo Vila in a press conference.

This was the Resident Commissioner’s reaction to the arrest of Rene Vazquez Botet, former campaign manager for Pedro Rossello, and NPP secretary general. Marcos Morell.

According to Acevedo Vila, the present administration cleaned house and was able to "put public finances in order," as well as liberating the public from the fiscal nightmare that was Rossello’s eight-year administration.

"We are ready to build a better future and we have laid the foundation that will allow me, as the next governor of Puerto Rico, to built the future we all want. Thank God we have rid ourselves of them (the NPP) in 2000," added Acevedo Vila.

The statement was made during a press conference to announce the filing of his federal income tax reports.

Republican Party Gets New Headquarters

April 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — For the first time, the local committee of the United States Republican Party will have an official headquarters in Puerto Rico, which will be named after former governor Luis A. Ferre, who headed the local committee for 30 years.

The inauguration was attended by Ed Gillespie, president of the Republican Party of the United Sates.

"Today is a day of jubilation and triumph for the local Republican party, which after hard work has not only inaugurated a central office for the first time, but has named it the Luis A. Ferre Headquarters," said local Republican Party President Tiody Ferre.

Tiody said that her late husband’s dream of building a home for those Puerto Ricans who identify with the values and beliefs of the Republican Party had been realized.

During the inaugural ceremony, Gillespie made a $5,000 donation to New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for resident commissioner, Luis Fortuño, who is a national delegate to the local Republican Party.

Gillespie did not hesitate to answer questions about the recent arrest of three former leaders of the NPP.

"Anyone who commits a crime must be prosecuted and justice served; those who break the law must pay," added Gillespie

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