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Calderon Dismisses UN Resolution On Puerto Rico Self-Determination Rights…Prats Proposes Modification Of Cabotage Laws…Insurance Countersignature Law Challenged…Emotional Farewell For Sgt. Mora…Harvey Hubbell Closing Aibonito Plant Leaving 240 Jobless…PIP Lambastes Acevedo Over Status At UN, PROELA Asks Decolonization Comm. To Visit P.R.…

Governor Dismisses UN Resolution On Decolonization

June 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SALINAS (AP) – After affirming that Puerto Rico is not an U.S. colony, Governor Sila Calderon dismissed the importance on Tuesday to a resolution passed by the U.N. Decolonization Committee regarding Puerto Rico’s status.

A U.N. committee on Monday approved a resolution calling for Puerto Rico to have self-determination and become independent, politicians on the island said.

"I have seen no new developments in a routine pilgrimage to the U.N. by those who believe Puerto Rico is a colony," said the Governor.

After reiterating that the U.N. has never classified Puerto Rico as a colony, Gov. Calderon said "there is no need for an U.N. delegation to visit the island to discuss the issue o status."

It was the fifth straight year that such a resolution was approved in the United Nations for the U.S. Caribbean territory. Cuba proposed the measure in the U.N. special committee on decolonization.

UN Panel Backs Puerto Rico Self-Determination Rights

June 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004
Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Dow Jones International News

UNITED NATIONS (AP)--The U.N. Special Committee on Decolonization adopted a Cuban-sponsored resolution urging the United States to expedite a process that will allow the people of Puerto Rico to exercise their right to self-determination and independence.

The resolution was adopted without a vote Monday at the end of a day-long debate in which 22 people appealed for the island's colonial status to be resolved and many backed independence. Several supported a recommendation by Puerto Rico's Legislative Assembly in 2003 for a constituent assembly to determine the island's future.

No U.S. representative spoke during the session.

Puerto Rico has been a U.S. commonwealth for more than 50 years, giving those born there American citizenship but denying them full representation in Congress.

Polls consistently show most residents support either maintaining commowealth status or full statehood, with only about 5% supporting independence.

The resolution also urged U.S. President George W. Bush to release all Puerto Rican political prisoners serving sentences in U.S. prisons, and all those serving sentences related to the effort to end U.S. military activities on Vieques Island.

Prats Proposes Modification Of Cabotage Laws

June 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidate for resident commissioner Roberto Prats pledged on Tuesday that if elected he would lobby for a 40 year moratorium on cabotage laws for the port of the Americas.

"Cabotage laws represent protective measures that are not practical for a global economy," said Prats in a press conference held to discuss the port project.

Although he acknowledged that cabotage laws are a remnant of another era, he said he would not lobby for their complete removal because some claim they foster market diversity.

Prats also cited that such efforts to remove the laws have failed.

Cabotage laws, instituted in 1917, stipulate that all commercial cargo transported between two ports under U.S. jurisdiction must be transported on ships flying the American flag.

The Council Of Insurance Agents & Brokers Files Federal Lawsuit To Strike Down Countersignature Statute In Puerto Rico

June 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004
BUSINESS WIRE. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON - (BUSINESS WIRE) - June 15, 2004 - The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers filed suit against the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico today challenging a statute that precludes non-resident insurance brokers from conducting business in Puerto Rico without the countersignature of a resident agent.

Scott Sinder, The Council's general counsel, said the lawsuits were filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. The suit argues that the Commonwealth's countersignature law violates the Privilege and Immunities Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The Council has successfully challenged the countersignature requirements in Florida and West Virginia.

With the latest lawsuit, The Council now has brought legal action to challenge every major countersignature requirement on the books in states or U.S. territories.

"There is no place for trade barriers in a global economy," said Ken A. Crerar, The Council's president. "These countersignature laws are the last vestiges of a bygone era of protectionism, and it is time to wipe them out."

Emotional Farewell For Soldier Killed In Iraq


June 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

ARECIBO, Puerto Rico (AP) - Dozens of relatives and friends wept as a U.S. soldier killed by a mortar blast in Iraq was buried Monday in his hometown in Puerto Rico.

As the family gathered at a cemetery to pay their last respects to Sgt. Melvin Mora Lopez, the 28-year-old soldier's father said he hopes the war in Iraq will soon be over.

"May the conflict end so that other don't have to go through the pain the Mora Lopez family is going through," said Hermes Mora, holding back tears. He called his son a hero.

Mora Lopez was killed June 6 in a mortar attack at Camp Cooke, on the Al Taji air base north of Baghdad, military officials said.

Among U.S. troops killed in Iraq, at least 17 have been Puerto Ricans or of Puerto Rican descent.

Harvey Hubbell To Close Aibonito Plant Leaving 240 Jobless

By Marialba Martinez of Caribbean Business

June 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004
CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All rights reserved. 

Harvey Hubbell announced on Monday it was closing its Aibonito electronic instruments manufacturing plant leaving 240 employees jobless despite reporting the highest cash flow level in the company’s 115-year history at the end of 2003.

Calls to the company’s Vega Baja headquarters in Puerto Rico and corporate offices in Connecticut were not returned on Friday.

In Puerto Rico, Hubbell Caribe has three facilities. In Vega Baja, as it did in Aibonito, lighting arrestors and wiring devices are produced while a third plant in Naguabo manufactures emergency light products. A fourth plant in Bayamon closed recently.

An international manufacturer of electrical and electronic products for commercial, industrial, utility, and telecommunication markets, the company has manufacturing facilities in North America, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Italy, Switzerland, and the U.K. Sales for the full year 2003 rose to $1.77 billion or an increase of 12% compared to $1.59 billion reported for 2002. Net income for the full year 2003 was $115.1 million versus $83.2 million or $1.38, respectively, reported for 2002.

In January of this year, Harvey Hubbell President and CEO Timothy H. Powers spoke about positive sales and profit comparisons gained in a sluggish economy. The company achieved a $165 million reduction over three years and reported it was debt free at the end of 2003.

PIP Lambastes Acevedo Vila Before The UN

June 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) executive president Fernando Martin, denounced on Monday before the United Nation’s Decolonization Committee the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) reluctance to hold a Constitutional Assembly on the status issue before the general elections of November.

Martin said PDP president and gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila pretends to cover up his lack of political will with an alleged promised to hold a referendum in 2005 asking the people whether they would endorse a Constitutional Assembly or not .

"(Acevedo Vila) manipulates the electoral vote with a promise for an undetermined future Constitutional Assembly in 2005 but in reality has refused to call for it," Acevedo Vila said.

The UN Decolonization Committee is evaluating on Monday a resolution that reaffirms the right of Puerto Rico free determination and independence and that could include the mechanism of a Constitutional Assembly as a mechanism to solve the island political status.

PROELA Asks UN Committee To Visit PR

June 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The President of the Autonomist Group PROELA Angel Ortiz asked the United Nations (UN) Decolonization Committee to visit Puerto Rico to see first hand the consequences of status issue on the island.

Ortiz said the closing of Roosevelt Roads in Ceiba "represents an extraordinary opportunity" to begin the decolonization process of Puerto Rico and favored the Constitutional Assembly as a mechanism to solve the status issue.

"We can’t discuss exclusively the status issue in the United Nations," Ortiz said.

"If we really want to start a discussion, action towards such end is indispensable, a mission must be sent to Puerto Rico to see the situation for themselves," said Ortiz.

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