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War On Drugs: Same Goal, Different Strategies, Acevedo Rejects Legalization…Toledo: Arm PRNG If Deployed To Housing Projects…Vieques Employment Jeopardized…Fortuño, Prats Criticized For Not Debating…Dieppa Title Bout On Tyson Card…Prasa In Dire State… Rossello Promises To Reinstate Anti-Crime Methods…Gov’t Won’t Activate Nat’l Guard

War On Drugs: Same Goal, Different Strategies

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - Luis Fortuño, Roberto Prats, and Edwin Irizarry Mora agreed on Thursday that the drug and crime problem plaguing Puerto Rico needs to be addressed from a preventive standpoint rather that a punitive one, but the candidates for resident commissioner disagreed on the strategies to follow.

Prats, from the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), favored treatment and legalization as a means of "opening discussion on the subject," but rejected any dissemination of narcotics.

Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) opponent Irizarry Mora said treatment is the best way to deal with drug addiction, while New Progressive Party counterpart, Luis Fortuño, said he wouldn’t consider legalization at any level.

"Legalization would mean admitting that we have lost the war. However, there has to be more than one approach to this problem. In the long term, all three of us agree on what should be done," said Fortuño in a joint radio interview.

Irizarry Mora insisted that the drug problem, to which authorities attribute 80% of the crime, is a "medical problem."

As preventive measures, Fortuño suggested giving more funding to community based and religious organizations to treat addicts, while Irizarry Mora said treatment should be carried out by the healthcare sector.

Prats said he would work to establish a court specifically empowered to deal drug related offenses.

Acevedo Vila Rejects Legalization Of Drugs

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila on Thursday rejected legalization of some drugs as proposed by his party’s mayoral candidate for San Juan Eduardo Bhatia as an alternative in the fight against narcotics related crime.

Acevedo Vila said countries which have opted for legalization initiatives face different circumstances from those in Puerto Rico, whose high rate of drug addiction is the number one mental health problem.

"I am not in favor of medicating or legalizing drugs," said Acevedo Vila after addressing the Interamerican Entrepreneurs Men Association.

The resident commissioner acknowledged that addicts should be treated as patients suffering from an illness and said he is willing to discuss other options.

Toledo: PRNG Should Be Armed If Deployed To Public Housing Projects

By Hilario de Leon of Associated Press

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Former Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo said on Thursday that contrary to what the current administration is saying, weapons should be part of the standard equipment carried by the Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) if they are deployed to the island’s public housing projects.

Toledo said that if serious measures are not taken, such as the activation of the PRNG, crime will continue to increase and warned that if the soldiers are deployed they should carry enough ammunition to face drug dealers.

"Drug dealers are powerfully equipped and they can’t be confronted with short ammunition. The police has to be well equipped, it can’t go in with water pistols," said Toledo in a radio interview.

La Fortaleza chief of staff Cesar Miranda said Wednesday that the activation of the PRNG is being evaluated as a mean to halt the violent wave of crime that has occurred in the island in the past week, but noted such activation should not bee interpreted as the past administration iron-fist policy against crime.

"If the National Guard was to be used it would not be used to stigmatize the poor people of Puerto Rico. It would be used in places where it is indispensable to ensure the safety of the people. Their job won’t involve the use of weapons," Miranda said.

Toledo defended the "iron fist against crime", which was former governor Pedro Rossello public policy against crime, noting that crime should be confronted without any excuse.

The sudden increase in crime began on Friday when one of the alleged top drug dealers of Cataño was shot inside a hardware store in Bayamon. Retaliation continued with a triple homicide on Monday at Luis Llorens Torres public housing project in San Juan.

As of Thursday the number of violent deaths stood at 434, 32 more than when compared with the same time last year.

Agriculture Order Jeopardizes Employment In Vieques

By Jose Fernandez Colon of Associated Press

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

PONCE — Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano warned on Thursday that an administrative order from the Department Agriculture may eliminate 21 jobs in Vieques, thus increasing the unemployment rate on that island municipality.

The administrative order filed by Agriculture Secretary Luis Rivero Cubano may eliminate 21 jobs under the Renacer Viequense program by 2005.

"I didn’t know of the executive order. If it’s that way, then there will be more unemployment in Vieques," Serrano said.

Rivero Cubano justified his decision to cut expenses at the agency to resolve the budget deficit at the Livestock Farmers Development Services Administration.

According to the agency’s order, the elimination of those 21 jobs would save more than $ 290,000.

Rivero Cubano said the farming project in Vieques may continue operating as a cooperative or under private investors without the agency’s intervention.

Fortuño & Prats Criticized For Refusing To Debate

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

PONCE (AP) — The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) candidate for resident commissioner Edwin Irizarry Mora on Wednesday voiced strong criticism against his Popular Democratic Party (PDP) and New Progressive Party (NPP) counterparts for their unwillingness to debate important issues related to Puerto Rico’s future.

Irizarry Mora, an economics professor at the University of Puerto Rico’s Mayaguez Campus, accused PDP candidate Roberto Prats and NPP contender Luis Fortuño of rejecting invitations to media debates, as well as those organized by civic, professional, and academic organizations.

"Thus far none of my opponents have shown a desire to sit down and debate. I don’t know the reason why they refuse to debate important topics, which is what the Puerto Rican people expect," said Irizarry Mora.

Irizarry Mora believes that both candidates are avoiding the prospect of explaining all the promises they have made to voters during their campaigns.

According to Irizarry Mora, campaign advisors have urged the opposition to avoid debating until October so that they can avoid discussing "crucial matters" and may lead to "loaded questions" that may arise in such a venue.

Dieppa Title Bout Added To Tyson Card

July 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Courier-Journal Louisville, KY. All rights reserved. 

Mike Tyson's heavyweight fight against Danny Williams in Freedom Hall on July 30 now has a co-feature. And a blackout warning.

Nelson Dieppa (20-1-2, 12 knockouts) will defend his World Boxing Organization junior-flyweight title against Ulises "Archie" Solis (18-0-1, 13 KOs), it was announced yesterday.

The co-feature and main event will air on Showtime Pay Per View starting at 9 p.m. EDT.

Dieppa, 33, of Vieques, Puerto Rico, will be making his fourth title defense. Solis, 22, from Guadalajara, Mexico, is the reigning Mexican junior-flyweight titlist.

Prasa’s Infrastructure In Dire State

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa) President Jorge Rodriguez acknowledged that the agency’s infrastructure is in poor state, this after visiting three of the four operational regions of the island.

"The system is very poor…presently any anomaly threatens to leave many people without service," said Rodriguez.

The agency chief confirmed employee allegations that detailed deficiencies in the condition of the facilities and lack of proper equipment to maintain the struggling water system.

"Employees were right and I saw it with my own eyes," said Rodriguez, who assured that he had already instructed regional directors to take inventory pumps, wells, motors, that need urgent attention in order to design a maintenance plan.

He added that more than $1 Billion in investments over the last ten years, privatization, state of emergency declarations, and costly studies have done little to improve the public company, which three decades ago served as a world model.

However, Rodriguez he said there was some good news, like the service record of the Aguada and Humacao plants, as well as the high spirit and commitment of Prasa employees.

Rossello Promises To Fight Crime

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

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

New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello’s televised message on Wednesday served to discredit rumors of his alleged intention to withdraw from the race. Instead, it reiterated his commitment to reinstate his iron-fist policies to fight criminal activity in Puerto Rico.

Rossello, whose administration was noted for increasing the number of police agents and using the National Guard to eradicate drug-trafficking points in public housings, lambasted Sila Calderon-Anibal Acevedo Vila’s administration for the increase of murder cases during this four-year term.

He blamed the island’s skyrocketing murder rate on the government’s lack of vision, unemployment, continuous changes of police superintendents, improvisation, selective persecution, and dubious agreements with criminal gangs.

"We’ve succeeded in the past. We’ve also learned from other people’s mistakes. I come to guarantee the peace and safety that you want and deserve. I come to recover the route to progress filled with opportunities and obtainable goals," Rossello said.

He also urged the people to think carefully before casting their vote in November and promised to fulfill his 246 proposals to bring safety back to the streets.

Rossello said he plans to reinstate his former anti-crime methods, but with an improved outlook that would include prevention programs and the participation of community organizations.

He also promised to increase surveillance and improve police technology and equipment.

Rossello said people will be able to carefully read his anti-crime proposal which will be published in all major local dailies starting Thursday.

Government Won’t Activate National Guard For Now

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

SAN JUAN (AP) — Following a meeting with high-ranking police and National Guard officers on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda reiterated that at the moment it won’t be necessary to mobilize the National Guard to fight crime on the island.

However, he said that should the criminal activity increase, the National Guard would support police efforts.

"The police have been doing their job. We have yet to mobilize the National Guard because it is not necessary," Miranda said during a press conference at La Fortaleza.

"There is a strategic plan of the National Guard that may be used to support the police in high crime areas," Miranda said.

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