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McClintock Airs Kerry Concerns… Vidro Inks $30M, 4-Year Deal… Jose Cotto Wins Lightweight Title… Vieques Leaders Go To Washington To Revive Cause… Acevedo Presents His Health Plan… Rodriguez Questions Poll Accuracy… Red Cross Wants New Blood… Fed Funds To Fight Coqui Sought… Army Reservist Back From Iraq Shot Dead

McClintock Airs Kerry Concerns

By Mark Silva | Sentinel Political Editor

May 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All rights reserved. 

As the contest for Central Florida's swing-voting Hispanic blocs heats up, a seasoned Puerto Rican politician says Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry is missing the boat.

Forget about health care and education, says Kenneth McClintock, Senate minority leader in Puerto Rico. Talk about Puerto Rican statehood.

"The Kerry campaign really doesn't get it," McClintock said Friday, settling into Orlando for a weekend Latino Leadership Summit sponsored by the Democratic National Committee.

McClintock, a DNC committeeman, maintains the Kerry campaign looks at Hispanic voters like one solid voting bloc, rather than the "mosaic" they represent.

Around Orlando, he says, thousands of Puerto Ricans have moved into the area in recent years with two pressing concerns: a bad economy at home and a passion for statehood.

"That is issue No. 1 for voters in Central Florida," McClintock said. "In Puerto Rico, the sole issue on which we associate politically is political status."

Kerry is paying attention, spokesman Mark Kornblau says. As president, he says, Kerry would expedite a Puerto Rican referendum on statehood as well as other constitutional options. "From a broad view," Kornblau said Friday, "his policy is that this is a matter of self-determination" for Puerto Rico.

Vidro Gets $30M, 4-Year Deal

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

PHOENIX -- Jose Vidro is staying home, wherever home might be next season.

The All-Star second baseman agreed to a $30 million, four-year contract extension with the Montreal Expos on Friday.

"I've told you guys I didn't see myself in another uniform," Vidro said. "By signing me, it's a sign we are going to have a home next year. We don't have a permanent home but I feel like in this team I'm in my home."

The Expos, owned by the other 29 major league clubs, are playing 22 "home" games in Puerto Rico again this season to increase revenue. Baseball is searching for a new home for the team.

Vidro has spent his entire seven-year career in Montreal, becoming the Expos' player with the longest current tenure. The three-time All-Star is hitting .262 with a team-high four homers and 13 RBIs.

Vidro entered Friday's game fifth on the Expos' career list in doubles (242), sixth in runs (482), seventh in hits (973) and ninth in RBIs (424).

Jose Cotto Wins Lightweight Boxing Title

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

PHOENIX (AP) -- Jose Cotto of Puerto Rico stopped substitute opponent Luis Lizarraga of Mexico at 2:27 of the first round to win the vacant International Boxing Council lightweight title Friday night.

The 26-year-old Cotto, the older brother of WBA No. 1 super lightweight contender Miguel Cotto, improved to 23-0 with one of the quickest of his 16 knockouts.

Cotto knocked Lizarraga, a last-minute replacement for Luis Fuente, off balance with a looping left at the start, then landed a right to the body and a left to the jaw. Minutes later, three left hands drove Lizarraga to the ropes. He then dropped to his right knee and took a 10-count from referee Bobby Ferrara.

Vieques Leaders Go To Washington To Revive Cause

May 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — With the purpose of gaining support for the efforts to decontaminate, redistribute, and develop lands held by the United States Navy for more than 60 years, a delegation of Vieques activists will travel to Washington DC.

The leaders will take part in a conference titled "Vieques: Turning Dreams into Reality, The Struggle Continues!" and will hold meetings with politicians and peace activist, among other activities.

"Representatives from various organizations in solidarity with Vieques will report on their activities and availability to continue their support of Vieques," said the Vieques Woman’s League and Committee Pro Rescue and Development of Vieques in a joint communiqué.

The coalition announced that on Monday and Tuesday they will meet with Hispanic legislators and civic leaders with the purpose of discussing how the political climate prior to November’s election will affect the Vieques’ struggle.

Among participating organizations are Everyone in Support of Vieques, The Caribbean Peace and Justice Project, and delegations from New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Connecticut, Philadelphia and San Antonio.

Acevedo Vila Presents His Health Plan Proposals

By Mariaelena Javier - Special for WOW News

May 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Popular Democratic Party president Anibal Acevedo Vila, presented a proposal to improve health services which focuses on giving the approximately 400,000 people who do not have health insurance different options to reduce the cost of their medical bills.

"The access to a quality health system is the right of every Puerto Rican" said Acevedo Vila and added that his program will try to provide health services for all.

Acevedo’s option include making government insurance available for a minimum contribution, giving a discount card for medical services and medications, and offering incentives to employers to offer insurance to their employees.

He also said that he will try to end the reduction in medical services caused by the model of the Health Reform.

"The reality of the health system in Puerto Rico is not encouraging" said Acevedo and added that "the system suffers from a great many problems which affect the people health both in the public and private system."

Some of the problems that the Reform confronts include the lack of specialists, the prescribing of inadequate medications, and delays in referrals.

According to Acevedo one of the models that he is evaluating to try and solve those problems is one in which the Health System Administration would hire the medical groups directly, limiting the role of the insurer to that of an administrator.

This model is already functioning as a pilot program in Guayama, Carolina and Mayaguez, although Acevedo admits that "it is still too early to measure results."

Another part of his plan includes the strengthening of graduate medical education programs, and the establishment of regional medical centers.

"This initiative will expand and improve the service to Puerto Ricans, will relieve the pressure of the San Juan Medical Center, and will result in a higher number of positions for medical students" said Acevedo.

Rodriguez Questions Poll Accuracy

By WOW Staff

May 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Frances Rodriguez, campaign director for the Rossello 2004 Committee, classified a poll by the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) that favors that party’s gubernatorial candidate, Anibal Acevedo Vila, as a desperate move.

"What a coincidence. The only poll that favors Acevedo Vila comes out just when the PDP is considering replacing him as gubernatorial candidate. This is obviously a move by Acevedo Vila to consolidate his position within his own party," said Rodriguez in a press release.

According to a report by the Federal Elections Commission, The State Employee International Union (SEIU) has donated $20,000 to Acevedo Vila’s campaign during the years 2002 and 2003. SEIU also covered the cost of the poll.

"Look who sponsored the poll, the same union that has been funding Anibal Acevedo Vila’s campaign with thousands of dollars during the last two years," added Rodriguez.

"It obvious that Acevedo Vila’s campaign is stalling. PDP mayors have made it clear that they would like to replace him and the people don’t want him. So to legitimize his gubernatorial bid, he resorts to the thing he does best, lying shamelessly to the Puerto Rican people by way of a commissioned poll," said Rodriguez.

American Red Cross Seeks New Blood

By WOW Staff

May 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

The need to increase blood supply levels have forced the American Red Cross to drop the minimum age for donors from 17 to 16, Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter officials announced on Friday.

America Red Cross Blood Services Operations Director Roberto Valentin said in a prepared statement that resources have already been allocated to recruit new teenage donors.

"The only way we’re going to be able to meet the demand for blood in Puerto Rico in upcoming decades is by creating awareness of this need at an early age," Valentin said.

Although the law has allowed 16 year-olds to give blood with parental consent since 1998, the Red Cross has never authorized it.

Starting Monday, 16-year-olds will be allowed to donate blood with parental consent.

According to U.S. Census 2000, Puerto Rico has more than 180,000 people between the ages of 15-17.

Donors must be in good health and weigh at least 105 pounds.

For years, summer has been the Red Cross’ slowest collection season. Therefore, all youths who are of age to give blood are urged to do so at either Red Cross Blood Collection centers in Rio Piedras Medical Center, San Pablo Hospital in Bayamon, and Rovira Building in Ponce.

Congressman Asks For Federal Funds To Fight Frogs

May 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

HILO, Hawaii (AP) - U.S. Rep. Ed Case is getting involved in the fight to rid Hawaii of noisy coqui frogs, asking the federal government to contribute $7 million to help combat the invasive species.

Case said Congress is aware that invasive species is a problem, not just for Hawaii, but nationwide.

"If we can specifically get funding for coquis, that would be great," said, noting there was funding this year and the Hawaii battle is part of a national effort.

Last month, Big Island Mayor Harry Kim declared a state of emergency because of the island's coqui frog infestation. Maui and the Big Island have seen an increase in the pesky frogs, while Kauai and Oahu have eradicated them.

The coqui frog is about the size of quarter and emits a piercing, shrill sound that makes sleeping difficult for some people. It also threatens to destroy native species in Hawaii by eating them and their food.

Coqui frogs, beloved in their native Puerto Rico as a symbol of the island, likely ended up in Hawaii in shipments of tropical plants.

Army Reservist Back From Iraq Shot Dead In Puerto Rico In Possible Case Of Mistaken Identity

May 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A U.S. Army reservist who recently returned from Iraq was killed in a shooting that police believe may have been a case of mistaken identity, authorities said Friday.

Spc. Edwin Pena Santiago, 23, was shot multiple times Thursday when gunmen opened fire on the vehicle he was traveling in on an expressway near the island's main international airport, police spokesman Tulio Vazquez said.

Another man in the car, a 23-year-old music student at a local university, was also killed and a 17-year-old was injured in the shooting, Vazquez said. Detectives were investigating but authorities believe the victims were not the intended targets, he said.

Pena was assigned to the 430th Quartermaster Co. which was deployed to Baghdad in May 2003 and returned to Puerto Rico on April 7, Army spokesman Jose Pagan said. The unit, based at Fort Buchanan and which provided laundry and shower services, was later demobilized, Pagan said.

A military funeral was scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Puerto Rico National Cemetery in Bayamon, he said.

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