Para ver esta página en español, oprima aquí.

NPP To Discuss Platform… High PDP Pensions Questioned, Rossello’s Defended… Immigrants’ U.S. Integration Key… Paradores Unveil New Travel Guide…Officials On Aid Mission To DR, Haiti… Fed Vieques Fish Study Challenged…Guantanamo MPs Won’t Go To Iraq… Rossello Will Fight Pension Reduction

NPP Delegates To Discuss Platform Draft On Saturday

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

June 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW News. All rights reserved. 

Charlie Rodriguez, who is chairman of New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello's Platform Committee, said the party would hold a mini convention on Saturday to discuss the proposals which have been drafted so far regarding the political status of the island and other government issues.

Rodriguez said the event would be held at Pichi's Convention Center in Guayanilla at 10 a.m. Saturday.

He stressed Rossello's focus on consulting the Puerto Rican people whether they wish to have the local government and U.S. Congress conduct a decolonization process of the island.

"It will be different from previous efforts in the sense that we would go there with the people's mandate demanding a plebiscite process containing non-colonial and non-territorial formulas with congressional support," Rodriguez said on Thursday.

Rodriguez said the draft also contains proposals to eliminate pork barrel funds, to include taxation on legislators' per diems, and to cut down spending at the Legislature.

He said that even when a few NPP legislators may be opposed to these proposals, it will be submitted for the party's final approval during a general assembly to be held in San Juan on June 27.

"We believe the people have expressed themselves very much in favor of this," Rodriguez said.

Among other subjects, Rodriguez said Rossello's platform proposals include efforts to ensure that government employees work at ease knowing that their political affiliation won't threaten their careers or jobs.

Rodriguez said they would also present proposals to improve the judicial branch, but ruled out the possibility of changing the number of Supreme Court justices.

Charbonier: Rossello's Pension Less Expensive Than That Of PDP Leaders

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

June 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW News. All rights reserved. 

The controversy surrounding the legitimacy of former governor's pension prompted New Progressive Party (NPP) Secretary General Maria Milagros Charbonier on Thursday to defend Rossello by questioning the motives of Popular Democratic Party (PDP) former government officials who have received greater pension benefits than those of Rossello's.

As an example, Charbonier reminded the press that Gov. Sila Calderon's administration never raised a red flag when former Supreme Court Chief Justice Jose Andreu Garcia increased his yearly salary to $125,000 just months before his retirement and continues to receive his full salary to this day.

She also mentioned the case of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority Executive Director Hector Rosario, who increased his salary to $140,000 so that he'll be able to receive a pension of $105,000 a year when he leaves office in a few months.

Charbonier also said that in 1977 former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon, then 39, received a pension of $25,000, which at that time, was a considerable amount.

"The PDP, the government, and several media have the nerve to attack Rossello for his pension which he has earned after 30 years of service, when there are people who have been granted greater pensions without working half of what Rossello's has worked," Charbonier said.

On the same note, Charbonier added that the NPP has the necessary evidence to prove the legitimacy of Rossello's $52,500 pension, but refused to discuss it alleging that the burden of proof falls on those who question it.

Charbonier said the NPP's strategy will be to let the administrative process end where it may before discussing the possibility of solving the issue in court.

Health Secretary Johnny Rullan has concluded after an investigation that there is no evidence that Rossello has worked the summer jobs he said he did during the 1960s, which would amount to the 1/4 a year's work needed to complete his 30 years of service and be eligible to receive the $52,500 pension.

Citizenship Official Visits N.O.

Ana Ester Gershanik

June 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 


Alfonso Aguilar, chief of the new Office of Citizenship within the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, recently was in New Orleans to meet with members of the local Hispanic and Vietnamese communities.

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, he was appointed by the Bush administration, and he travels the country to meet with community organizations to share his plans.

His most important objective is to work on legal immigrants' integration to life in the United States. He says he strongly believes that the federal government has to be more proactive in that area.

"Immigrants continue to enrich the culture of our nation, and I want to help them in the process of nationalization," he said. To achieve that objective, Aguilar wants to make sure that legal immigrants have free access to civic literacy classes, especially the study of American history and civics, and to information about health care, insurance and other needs. But he says he also believes in alliances with the private sector to secure financing for some of those areas.

Aguilar said 7 million to 8 million immigrants have nationalized since 1999 and that 8 million to 10 million remain undocumented.

Paradores Unveil New Travel Guide

June 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Paradores from all over Puerto Rico will debut in June a new bilingual travel guide geared to promoting those lodging facilities local and foreign tourist.

Thus announced Tourism Company Director Jose M. Suarez, who on Wednesday detailed that the guide would feature abundant information about the 24 participating Paradores as well as activities an sites near their vicinity.

"We created this guide specially for Paradores, to promote that resource to foreign and local tourist alike. We have begun to distribute 10,000 copies to travel agents in the United States, Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean through out foreign offices," said Suarez.

The guides will include CD ROMs that would facilitate booking for travel agents.

Local Government Officials To Visit Dominican Republic & Haiti

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

June 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

The crisis triggered by the heavy rain and landslides in the Dominican Republic and Haiti in May has prompted a group of Puerto Rican government officials to visit the two neighboring countries. The delegation is expected to depart on Thursday.

Secretary of State Jose Izquierdo said the visit will serve two purposes. Firstly, the delegation will ensure the proper distribution of provisions and first aid articles collected in Puerto Rico.

Secondly, they intend to establish contact with Dominican and Haitian government heads to help design a mitigation plan to prevent similar natural catastrophes in the future.

"This visit will provide an excellent opportunity to begin a dialogue and collaboration with several sectors," Izquierdo said.

The secretary of State said the Haitian community in Puerto Rico has urged help with the protection and preservation of natural resources, since severe deforestation is one of the major causes of the landslides and flooding that claimed the lives of hundreds in Haiti.

Natural & Environmental Resources Secretary Luis E. Rodriguez said Puerto Rico could help the Haitian government engineer a series of mitigation plans near bodies of water to minimize flood damage.

"Deforestation has increased sediment levels in reservoirs and lakes," said Rodriguez. The damage caused by torrents of water barreling down into the sea was severe because of the lack of vegetation, he said.

Izquierdo said there is a federal Conservation Trust that provides money in exchange for reforestation plans which could be used in Haiti.

According to Izquierdo, the people of Puerto Rico, with the help of both the government and private sectors, will send 12 shipping containers of first aid provisions.

They will be sent to the Dominican Republic with the help of Ferries del Caribe and American Eagle. Then, the provisions will be distributed by land to the most affected areas in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Izquierdo said the delegation will visit the communities of Font Verrette and Mapou in Haiti, and Jimani in Dominican Republic.

In addition to Izquierdo and Rodriguez, State Emergency Management Agency and National Guard Adjutant Gen. Francisco Marquez will also be part of the delegation.

Study Contradicts Federal Analysis Of Vieques

June 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A study by the Health and Environment Director at Yale University challenges Federal findings that claim fish caught in Vieques waters do not pose health hazards to residents.

Dr. John Wargo maintains that the samples used by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry(ATSDR) were not large enough to conclusively determine fish in Vieques water were free of contaminants.

"There were no more than five samples taken for each species in all sites. The examples were so few that a educated conclusion could not be reached in comparing different areas," said Wargo in a report.

The scholar, who in the past has collaborated with the ATSDR, says that findings were based on the study of 11 yellow tail snapper, even though it is the most consumed fish on the island.

Guantanamo Soldiers Will Not Go To Iraq

June 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – An unit made up of more than 100 Puerto Rican soldiers was relieved from duty after Military authorities decided it would not be prudent in light of their nine month service as military police at the Guantanamo Naval Base in Cuba.

Thus announced National Guard General Francisco Marquez noting that the 125 soldiers from Military Police Unit 240th under direction of the National Guard had just returned from Guantanamo two months ago, but were put on alert for deployment to Iraq.

"We do not consider it prudent to dispatch an unit that served as prison security under hostile conditions to Iraq, we did not think this to be wise so we removed them from the list," said Marquez.

Marquez formally petitioned Washington to remove the 240th from the deployment list, noting their service as military police guarding enemy combatants in Guantanamo Naval Base.

The General received Washington’s reply early on Tuesday agreeing not deploy the unit to Iraq.

"We understand the necessity from qualified personnel in Iraq, but I think the 240th has done its duty and should remain inactive," added Marquez.

There are still over 3,079 Puerto Rican soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, and the United States according to a Fort Buchanan spokesperson.

Rossello Will Fight Pension Reduction

June 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - "On principal," New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello affirmed that he will fight to retain the maximum pension benefit of $52,500 awarded for public service.

The Government Employees Retirement System Administration has announced that it will reduce Rossello’s pension by almost $19,000 per year and has asked for the return of funds already paid in excess because there is no evidence that he fulfilled 30 years of public service.

"This has nothing to do with the issue or the money, it has to do with personal principles. I am not going to accept this, not even if it were a $1 reduction," said Rossello in a press conference.

"I am not going to budge because that is what they want. They want me to say ok, there were irregularities. But on principle, I stand by the veracity of the certification," he added.

The former governor said that he will follow the matter through to the end, not specifying what actions he would take.

Self-Determination Legislation | Puerto Rico Herald Home
Newsstand | Puerto Rico | U.S. Government | Archives
Search | Mailing List | Contact Us | Feedback