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Calderon Politicizes ECLAC Opening Ceremonies, Stirs Confuson… 69% Of Islanders Identify Themselves As Puerto Ricans… Students Protest FTAA, Disrupt ECLAC Seminar… House Bans Smoking On Premises… Marching For Peace… Court Rules SJ Ads Violate Electoral Law… Antiwar Protest Slated For 4th Of July… Constitutional Assembly Study On Status Approved

Calderon Opens ECLAC’s 30th Session By Roasting Past Government

By Marvin Rodriguez of WOW News

July 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

In a tone befitting a political rally, Gov. Sila Calderon officially welcomed on Thursday the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) to Puerto Rico.

The United Nations sponsored organization, which currently celebrates in San Juan its 30th Session, has been meeting since Monday but held its opening ceremonies on Thursday, which were officiated by ECLAC’s Executive Secretary Jose Luis Machinea and Gov. Calderon.

While her speech began as a run of the mill welcoming address, it quickly degenerated into an indictment of the previous administration.

Gov. Calderon, avoiding any direct references to the New Progressive Party (NPP) or its leadership, lambasted the past administration claiming it had damage the values of the Puerto Rican people, while at the same time boasting the accomplishments of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Calderon praised ECLAC’s economic report on Puerto Rico which according to her "exemplify what could be accomplished by keeping the essence instilled by those Puerto Ricans who created the Commonwealth more than fifty years ago."

She then went on to emit a harsh report on the previous administration which bordered on political roasting.

"In the eight years prior to my administration Puerto Rico experimented with an embarrassing deterioration of leadership accompanied by a progressive loss of our [Puerto Rican] values," said Calderon.

"When my administration took power we rescued our values from the moral degradation the had been subjected to, by once again taking the course we had been forced to abandon…our first order of business was to put the island’s finances in order," she added.

When asked why her speech had been so politically charged the governor replied, "I just told the truth."

The speech left many at a loss as they were not familiar with events which the governor made reference to in her address.

Yasushi Noguchi, a member of the Japanese delegation observing the Sessions, said "he was confused about the message."

The governor’s spokeswoman, Nilka Estrada, later explained that Calderon wanted to focus on the negative effects corruption could have on a country’s economic development.

The Economic Commission for Latin America & the Caribbean (ECLAC) was established by the UN’s Economic and Social Council resolution 106(VI) on February 25, 1948 and began to operate that same year.

69% Of Islanders Identify Themselves Puerto Ricans

July 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. 

69% of Puerto Rico's population identify themselves as "Puerto Ricans" while 2.5% identify themselves as "Americans", 2.1% as "Spaniards", 1.7% as "Dominicans" and .8% as "Hispanics", according to information revealed in a Census Bureau bulletin.

The document, signed by specialists Angela Brittingham and G. Patricia de la Cruz, points out that though the racial descriptions "may signify different things for different people," for purposes of the Census, they refer to "the ethnic origin of a given individual, his/her family history, ancestry or roots, which may reflect his parents' birthplace, or his own [birthplace]."

The bulletin, summarized by a newspaper, indicates that the results are based on a population of 3.8 million.

When the numbers corresponding to the US population were examined, .9% of respondents identified themselves as Puerto Rican.

Student Protestors Disrupt ECLAC Seminar

By Marvin Rodriguez of WOW News

July 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

A high level seminar during the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) 30th Session was disrupted on Thursday by students protesting the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA).

The seminar, moderated by Puerto Rico Secretary of State Jose Miguel Izquierdo, was interrupted by five college students who opposed the FTTA and the proposed creation of its headquarters on the island.

Jose Roman, 22 , produced a banner and placed it behind the panelists, while fellow protestor Cesar Gerena, 21, handed them a document citing FTTA’s negatives effects. The panelists included ECLAC Executive Secretary Jose Luis Machinea, Inter-American Development Bank President Enrique V. Iglesias, and Under Secretary General of the United Nations Department of Economic & Social Affairs Jose Antonio Ocampo

The banner read, "Everyone against neo-liberalism: Lord of the Empire, millions dying against FTTA."

"FTTA places the power in the hands of multinational companies which would privatize natural resources," said Gerena, who claimed to represent those in Puerto Rico and Latin America who oppose the FTTA.

The students were quickly escorted from the assembly room by police and hotel security personnel, after which time the seminar reconvened.

The FTTA proposes the removal of trade barriers for 34 countries in the hemisphere, but has not been implemented because of stalled negotiations.

House Of Representatives Bans Smoking On Premises

July 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Smokers will now have to move away from the Capitol Building if they want to light a cigarette after House Speaker Carlos Vizcarrondo signed an executive order to ban smoking in offices and their premises.

New Progressive Party (NPP) and Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) minority leaders Anibal Vega Borges and Victor Garcia San Inocencio, respectively, said they favored the order issued June 25, but disclosed on Wednesday.

"People at the Capitol must learn. This is where laws are passed. If they want to smoke, they should go outside," Vega Borges said in published reports.

Although Garcia San Inocencio favored the decision, he said he believes it to be too drastic.

Marching For Peace

July 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE HARTFORD COURANT. All rights reserved. 

SONIA SANTIAGO of Dorado, Puerto Rico, shouts peace slogans to passing cars on Capitol Avenue during an anti-war march and rally. Santiago is a member of Madres Contra la Guerra, or Mothers Against War, who came to Hartford to participate in the rally and march.

She carried a picture of her son, a U.S. Marine, who has been serving in Iraq for 16 months. Santiago covers her son's eyes with tape because she does not want to identify him. She says she does not speak for him, but she also says the tape is symbolic because she feels that many who enter the military join blindly, seeking opportunities for education and employment because of their economic hardships.

Court Rules Against San Juan Ads That Violate Electoral Law

By Laura Rivera Melendez of Associated Press

June 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

Judge Oscar Davila denied a petition by the city of San Juan to overturn a decision by the State Elections Commission (SEC) which unauthorized some ads displayed by the municipality during an election year.

Of the five violations in question incurred by the city of San Juan, three were thoroughly upheld, while another two, which included the phrase "More Health" were ratified with alterations.

"SEC was opposed to all the petitions," read the sentenced delivered on Monday but announced on Wednesday.

Davila determined that the phrases "More Health" and "San Juan, capital of Health" along with the name of San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini who seeks reelection, were in violation of the electoral law because they were similar to campaign slogans used in the previous elections, which read "More Santini for San Juan.

However, he did provide for the ads to be released if modifications were made.

Santini spokeswoman Wilmelis Marquez said the mayor had no reaction as he was not yet notified of the decision.

The judge also ruled that if the city presents justification for a banner and brochure detailing the merits of the Strong Families Program, they could be authorized for dissemination by the SEC.

A brochure was rejected because it made reference to campaign promises which were fulfilled, said Davila.

Antiwar Protest Slated For 4th Of July

June 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Antiwar Coalition will conduct a demonstration on the 4th of July, date celebrating U.S. Independence, to protest U.S. policy in Iraq.

The demonstration will begin at 10:00 Sunday morning, in front of Fort Buchanan in Guaynabo.

"This demonstration will refute the new lies disseminated by the U.S. government regarding the continued incursion into Iraq. It is ludicrous that they continue to convince the world that they have given the Iraqi people their freedom," said the group in a prepared statement.

According to the coalition, "we are dealing with a handover done in secrecy, underhandedly, and against the wishes of the people; protected by force of arms."

They will also voice their demand for a thorough cleanup of Vieques and the return of lands to island residents, a Puerto Rico free of a military presence, and Universities free of a military presence.

Constitutional Assembly Study On Status Approved

June 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The senate approved a resolution, which will celebrate a Constitutional Assembly as part of the government public policy regarding the resolution of the island’s political status.

The New Progressive Party (NPP) senate minority voted against the resolution as they did not believe a constitutional assembly would resolve the issue of status, while Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Sen. Fernando Martin called the resolution a farce.

"What do they find so appalling about citizens coming together to discuss the issue of status?," said resolution author Eudaldo Baez Galib.

According to press reports, Baez Galib said the resolution is supported by the United Nations and Independence activist such as Juan Mari Bras, Noel Colon Martinez y Julio Muriente.

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