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Puerto Rico Adds Specialty Screens…PSA In Next Round Of Port Of The Americas Bid

Puerto Rico Adds Specialty Screens


March 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Reed Business Information Limited. All rights reserved.

Daily Variety - HOLLYWOOD

Arthouse cinemas are rising at an historical monument in Puerto Rico.

These will be the first screens for the island's popular tourist destination, the nearly 500-year old neighborhood of Old San Juan.

Not a single screen has gone up within the walled confines of this historic district during the past 20 years. Starting April 28 , the Cuartel de Ballaja, the barracks that housed Spanish soldiers and their families in the late 1800s, will boast three new arthouse screens, one of them for digital format.

An attached store will sell posters, screenplays and foreign pics in VHS and DVD. The barracks face the formidable six-level fortress El Morro, visited by about 1 million tourists per year.

Cine en Ballaja is the brainchild of Weisner Distribution, the only indie arthouse distributor on the island of nearly 3.8 million inhabitants.

"The past four years, we have noticed a growing appreciation for local and foreign independent cinema. We hope to satisfy that demand," says founder-president Cynthia Weisner. According to Weisner, one of the 106-seat screens will be dedicated to Spanish-language cinema. "Before we launched in 2000, the only Spanish-language films coming into Puerto Rico were Pedro Almodovar's," she adds.

Toplining its slate is Julio Medem's controversial "Pelota Vasca," a documentary about the Basque nationalist movement in Spain which kicked up a lot of dust at San Sebastian last year. Other upcoming pics from Weisner include Cuban pics "Aunque este lejos" by Juan Carlos Tabio and Fernando Perez's "Suite Habana."

Santi Amodeo's "Astronauta," Eduard Cortes' "La Vida de Nadie," Antonio Cuadri's "Eres mi heroe," Achero Manas' "Noviembre," and Cesc Gay's "En la ciudad," will be among the first pics to screen at the Cines Ballaja.

The new screens will add to a paltry 263 on the entire island, which makes a whopping 17,000 inhabitants per screen.

Only two exhibs operate in Puerto Rico, with Caribbean Cinemas owning the bulk (215). Rival Cinevista operates the rest. Caribbean Cinemas runs three arthouse screens in metropolitan San Juan.

PSA Goes Into Next Round Of Puerto Rico Bid

Two other groups also qualify for US$700m port terminal project

By Donald Urquhart

February 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Singapore Press Holdings Limited. All rights reserved.

The Shipping Times

(SINGAPORE) PSA Corporation has advanced to the next stage in the competition for the concession to design, build and operate Puerto Rico's US$700 million Port of the Americas container terminal.

The government of Puerto Rico - a commonwealth of the United States - last week signalled the next stage in the process to select a company to design, build and operate the country's Port of the Americas.

Successful candidates have until June 1 to submit their detailed proposals with the winning bidder selected later this year and construction to begin by year-end with completion some time in 2006.

Three groups have qualified for the concession to date, which aside from PSA include Manila-based International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) and an international-Puerto Rican consortium understood to include AP Moller, CSX Lines, the Port of Rotterdam and Main Ports of Puerto Rico Inc, according to a report in Business News Americas.

The port will occupy twin sites at Ponce and Guayanilla, which will have a total annual capacity of 2.2-3 million TEUs. Guayanilla is the island's second largest city after San Juan, where the country's main port, the Port of Puerto Nuevo, is located. Puerto Nuevo handled nearly 1.7 million TEUs in 2002.

The country's Department of Economic Development and Commerce said in a statement that the project would be financed through a 'joint venture of public and private entities'.

The project includes building four container berths, including dredging, in Guayanilla and two in Ponce, both located on the island's southern coast.

The government is hoping that its geographic location near major shipping lanes, stable political system and strong import and export market, sweetened with tax breaks and other incentives, will help lure new liner operators to the terminals.

'As one of the most modern, high-tech and efficient ports in the Caribbean, the Port of the Americas will provide a central geographic location that will allow clients to optimise their supply chains and deliver value to their customers,' Economic Development and Commerce department deputy secretary Edgardo Torres-Caballero said in the statement.

It is also planning to develop the Caribe Business Parks - a 404 ha free trade zone adjacent to the terminals - in a bid to attract export-focused businesses. Global commercial real estate developer CB Richard Ellis has been hired to develop the parks.

'Coupled with the island's economic and political stability, level of economic development and strong infrastructure, the port will put Puerto Rico in a position to offer a significant advantage as an integrated transhipment/import/export hub and Free Trade Zone,' Mr Torres-Caballero said.

But sceptics of the project point to Puerto Rico's relatively higher labour costs - with the country using the US minimum wage rate - compared with nearby ports in Panama, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico, with a gross domestic product of US$74.4 billion last year, has one of the highest per capita incomes in Latin America. It exports more than US$47 billion in goods each year.

The island must also convince politicians in Washington to amend the Jones Act - which also applies to Puerto Rico - in order to allow non-US flagged ships to move cargo from the island to the continental US. Currently US cabotage laws restrict this ability to US-flagged vessels.

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