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Navy’s Vieques Exit To Be Commemorated… Beat That, Cris Judd!… Rivera-Soto Nominated To Top NJ Court…PDP, NPP Seek Gov’t Investigation Of Acevedo Vila…PDP: Costa Rica Trip Worth It… Unemployment Up Despite 14k New Jobs… Denial Of Funds For Controller Decried… Fortuño Opens His Books, Will Prats?… War Affects Nat’l Guard Recruitment

Navy Withdrawal From Vieques To Be Commemorated

April 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Vieques Rescue and Redevelopment Committee called on supporters of "peace for Vieques and the world" to celebrate the one year anniversary of the Navy withdrawal from the municipality on May 1st.

On April 30th the organization will hold series of events, the majority of which will be of a religious nature, to commemorate the end of the Navy’s 60 year presence on the island which it used as bombing range.

"The Vieques Rescue and Redevelopment Committee is calling on organizations that share solidarity with Vieques to join a vigil that will be held on April 30th," stated the group in a press conference.

"May 1st of 2003 was the end of all Naval operations on the island. This great victory of the people of Vieques and of Puerto Rico, with the help of thousands of people and organizations from around the world, attest to the power of love over hate, of peace over war, and of the desire to give life rather than take it," added the group.

The group, which for many years led a campaign to oust the Navy from Vieques, has scheduled a mass service on April 30, 2004 at 6:00PM in the People’s Church at Isabel Segunda sector of the island municipality.

That same evening at 9:00 an vigil will be held in front of the former Garcia Camp, now referred to as the Peace and Justice Camp.

The committee said the activities have been coordinated by the Vieques Catholic Church and the Vieques Committee of the Caguas Diocese.

Beat That, Cris Judd!

April 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 National Post. All rights reserved. 

How's this for playing the gossip pages like a Spanish guitar? After making a string of high-profile appearances with new flame Jennifer Lopez, salsa sensation Marc Anthony has announced his plans for a summer tour. The kicker: it's called Nada Personal. The tour kicks off in Puerto Rico on June 11.

Born Marco Antonio Muniz, Anthony first hit the charts in 1993 with his Otra Nota album and reached the No. 1 slot on Billboard's Top Latin Albums chart with Todo A Su Tiempo (1995), Contra La Corriente (1997), which earned him the Grammy in the extremely competitive Tropical Latin Album category in 1998, and Libre (2001).

Driven in part by the crossover success of smash single, I Need to Know, his self-titled English language debut, was at the forefront of 1999's Latin pop explosion, and went on to achieve triple platinum status in the U.S. and apparently warranted an HBO concert special.

Mended, 2002's English language successor to Marc Anthony, debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 the week of its release in May, 2002, and has gone on to sell more than 1.3 million copies worldwide. He's also an accomplished thespian, having starred in Big Night, Bringing Out the Dead and Man on Fire. Beat that, Cris Judd!

His next album comes out in June, at which time his relationship with Lopez is expected to be in the early stages of its inevitable dissolution.

Rivera-Soto Nominated To Top Court


April 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

RENTON, April 20 - Gov. James E. McGreevey on Tuesday nominated Roberto A. Rivera-Soto, a Republican who has spent much of his career as a lawyer for casinos in Atlantic City, to the state's high court.

Mr. Rivera-Soto, 50, was born in New York City, raised in Puerto Rico and educated at Haverford College and Cornell University Law School. He said he did not feel daunted by the prospect that, if confirmed, he would become the state's first Hispanic Supreme Court justice.

"It doesn't carry any burden at all," he said. "What it does carry is a significant amount of pride."

Legislators and legal experts rushed to praise Mr. Rivera-Soto, saying that he was a creative thinker and a hard worker and had exhibited unquestioned integrity during his 27 years as a lawyer.

PPD Endorses NPP Request For An Investigation

April 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP)- Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Electoral Commissioner, Gerardo Cruz, asked State Elections Committee president, Aurelio Gracia, to open an investigation on a campaign donation made by Richard Machado in 1999, which was deposited into a back account under the name "Friends of Acevedo Vila."

Cruz, sure about the legality of the donation, did not hesitate in endorsing Tuesday’s New Progressive Party (NPP) request for an investigation.

"We wholeheartedly support this investigation. Our Party has nothing to hide and nothing to fear," stated Cruz in a press conference held at PDP headquarters.

The electoral commissioners of all three parties have scheduled a meeting on Thursday to begin a formal investigation.

PDP gubernatorial candidate, Anibal Acevedo Vila, denied on Tuesday that he personally received a check for $20,000 for any political campaign, as Machado alleges.

However, he did admit that in 1999 the check was deposited in the "Friends of Acevedo Vila" account, but he claims that there was no wrong doing because he not was running for office at the time.

Acevedo Vila announced on Tuesday that he had ordered an internal investigation into the matter, as well as the return of the funds to Machado.

NPP Requests Government Investigation Against Acevedo Vila

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

April 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) Electoral Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz announced on Tuesday that the party has filed requests to several government agencies to investigate Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila on possible law violations.

The announcement followed a morning press conference in which Acevedo Vila confirmed the allegations of former San Juan mayor pre-candidate Antonio Machado regarding a $20,000 donation to a political action committee in 1999.

Rivera Schatz said the petition for investigation has been sent to State Elections Commission (SEC) President Aurelio Gracia, Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez, Government Ethics Office Executive Director Hiram Morales, and Treasury Secretary Juan Flores Galarza.

"This fact violates several law dispositions and represents other potential law violations," Rivera Schatz said during a press conference at NPP headquarters in Hato Rey.

Acevedo Vila argued that he didn’t have to report the $20,000 because he wasn’t a candidate for any elective post, but Rivera Schatz disagreed.

"The fact that he was not a candidate at the time doesn’t exempt him from complying with the law," Rivera Schatz said.

He also reminded Acevedo Vila that former PDP Rep. Alida Arizmendi had made a similar claim which failed to exempt her from facing charges and resigning her post.

"We will not let you get away," Rivera Schatz said referring to Acevedo Vila.

Rivera Schatz added that Acevedo Vila’s acknowledgement of the $20,000 check may constitute a violation of the Government Ethics Law because at the time he was a House representative. He said that if it’s true that the money had been used to pay for lobbying efforts in Washington D.C., he may be liable for abusing his position of power to obtain personal or political benefits.

Rivera Schatz also said Acevedo Vila may have violated the Internal Revenue Code because he should have included the $20,000 in his financial statements, if it’s true that he used the money for personal expenses.

Secretary Of State: Trip To Costa Rica Worth The Expense

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

April 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

The New Progressive Party’s (NPP) criticism of Gov. Sila Calderon’s trip to Costa Rica prompted Secretary of State Jose Izquierdo on Tuesday to defend the government’s investment in the commercial meetings to be held in the Central American country this week.

Izquierdo said the government of Puerto Rico would spend almost $60,000 in the event in which Calderon will also receive a special award from the Republic of Costa Rica.

"I think these expenses are insignificant compared to this effort’s potential," Izquierdo said during a press conference at the Department of State in Old San Juan.

The Secretary of State said that since Puerto Rico is Costa Rica’s main market in the Caribbean, it could become a doorway through which Central American countries can do business with other Caribbean islands. Similarly, he said Costa Rica could do the same to help Puerto Rico do business with Central America.

"Puerto Rico must take advantage of its geographic, cultural, and political opportunities that result from its relationship with the United States. If the Puerto Rican industry progresses, so will the quality of life of the Puerto Rican people," Izquierdo said.

Promoexports Executive Director Antonio Sosa Pascual added that the trip’s main focus will be to find ways to help Puerto Rico reverse its declining export activity to Costa Rica.

According to Sosa Pascual, the export to Costa Rica has declined from $25.7 million in 2000 to $15.6 million in 2003. He cited the economic recession and the transferring of two local companies to Costa Rica as the main reasons for the decline.

The imports from Costa Rica dropped from $164.1 million in 2000 to $162.6 million in 2003.

Izquierdo said the governor will travel with five agency chiefs. The heads are Izquierdo, Economic Development & Commerce Secretary Milton Segarra, Agriculture Secretary Luis Rivero Cubano, Sosa Pascual, and University of Puerto Rico President Antonio Garcia Padilla.

Eleven business representatives of the private sector will also accompany the governor. The local companies to be represented in Costa Rica are Tipper Tie Co., Molinos de Puerto Rico, Golden Cross/HMO Health Plan, Amerivap Systems, PR Valvue & Fitting Co., NSC Puerto Rico,, Atlantic Pipe Corp., Industrias Vassallo, Flexible Packaging Group, and Cosvi.

Izquierdo, however, underlined that the business representatives would pay for their own travel expenses.

Greater Workforce Participation Raises Unemployment Rates

April 20, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP)- Unemployment rose almost one percentage point from February to March even with the creation of 14,000 jobs in the same period, according to official figures.

Department of Labor secretary, Frank Zorrilla, stated that the entry of 31,000 people into the work force in March has caused unemployment to rise from 10.8% in February to 11.7%.

"This sharp increase in employment, which does not conform to trends in the labor market, shows that once the economy improves in Puerto Rico people who are unemployed or did not presently work gain confidence and go out to look for work," said Zorrilla in a press release.

Labor participation rates rose from 46.1% of the total population in February to 47.1% in March, stated Zorrillla who classified the statistic as good news.

Presently there are 1.414 million employed people, compared to 1.383 million who were employed in February of 2004, according to government statistics.

Unemployment rates of 11.7% for March show a slight improvement from the same time last year, when employment stood at 12.1%.

Zorrilla stated that the most recent employment statistics show that Puerto Rico is on the verge of an economic boom.

Outrage Over Denial Of Funds For The Controller’s Office

April 19, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) — On Monday New Progressive Party (NPP) representative Anibal Vega Borges accused the House’s Popular Democratic Party (PDP) majority of blocking an $8 million increase in funding for the Commonwealth Controller’s Office.

Vega Borges claims that the House’s PDP majority is afraid that Commonwealth Comptroller’s, Manuel Diaz Saldaña, will investigate possible corruption in the current administration.

"There is no will in the PDP to approve $8 million increase in funding to the Controller’s Office. They are afraid that the Comptroller will investigate and inplicate certain individuals who may have been involved in acts of corruption," stated Vega Borges in a radio interview.

Vega Borges, who is also the NPP candidate for mayor of Toa Baja, maintained that a comptroller’s audit could identify electoral fraud in the inscription of absentee voter’s in the United States.

Vega Borges also urged the president of the House Treasury Committee, Francisco Zayas Seijo, to allocate $3 million the Government Ethics Office (GEO).

The NPP leader said that an increase in budgeting to the Commonwealth Controller’s Office and the GEO will facilitate monitoring of illegal activities within the government.

Fortuño Opens His Books, Urges Prats To Do The Same

By WOW Staff

April 19, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Arguing that he was tired of false political attacks New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate for resident commissioner candidate Luis Fortuño on Monday made public his campaign’s financial statements and urged his main contender Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Roberto Prats to do the same.

"Last week he (Prats) spent all week criticizing me, the books are now open everything is here," said Fortuño.

During a Monday morning press conference Fortuño presented to the press copies of his financial statements, as filed before the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), and copies of his income tax forms.

He also distributed copies of a State Election Committee (SEC) audit and a letter from the FEC querying Prats financial campaign reports.

Fortuño said that while his campaign has filed seven financial statements reports before the FEC, Prats’ committee has only filed three.

Moreover not only are Fortuño’s statements twice as thick in page volume, but Prats reports have allegedly failed to include information as simple as rent fee for his committee office or his payroll.

"Roberto Prats has not stated how much he has spent on professional services, cars, gas, or his campaign. In addition he has not informed his rent or how much he pays in utilities because Roberto Prats’ committee operates from the PDP headquarters," Fortuño said.

PRWOW News staff is working to obtain a reaction from Prats, committee.

War Affects National Guard Recruitment

April 19, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP)- The war in Iraq, the attacks of Sept. 11th, and terrorist attacks in Spain, have dramatically affected volunteer recruitment for Puerto Rico’s National Guard.

This information was given to a local newspaper by regional recruitment officer, Lt. Col. Victor Perez.

"It is obvious that world events influence an individuals decision to join the armed forces," stated Perez.

Nevertheless, he pointed out that the National Guard has a 92% soldier retention rate.

"We have no large numbers of soldiers wanting to leave the National Guard," said Perez.

He said that historically the National Guard looses 12% of its force for different reasons such as illness, family problems, etc.

Last year the National Guard recruited 745 soldiers, including some with previous military service. So far this year it has recruited 200 soldiers ages 17 a 35.

At present, Puerto Rico’s National Guard has 8,205 strong force, with additional 1,286 in its air corps.

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