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Puerto Rico’s Status Added To Kerry’s Platform, Fortuño, Prats React… Still Great... Sanchez Sworn In As Fed Judge…Triton Wireless Gets Island Customers…Rossello Defends Wife’s Program…Kennedy Center Dedicates AmericArtes To Puerto Rico…U.S. House OKs Domestic Violence Funds…$2.5m For Vieques Home Construction…Milk Producers Sue Gov’t…Ind. Campaign Begins

Puerto Rico’s Status Has Been Added To Kerry’s Platform

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

July 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Melinda Romero announced on Monday that she has managed to convince the National Democratic Party to include the status issue of Puerto Rico in presidential candidate John Kerry’s agenda.

According to Romero, the Kerry platform has acknowledged that Puerto Rico’s status quo is not a democratic form of government and that any future attempts to solve the issue should have the full support of the U.S. Congress and the White House.

"This has been a triumph for the Puerto Rican people," said Romero, who was accompanied by her father, former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, and NPP Senate minority leader Kenneth McClintock during a press conference at NPP headquarters in Hato Rey.

Romero said the platform now states that just as the U.S. has promoted democracy in the world, it should start by promoting it at home. She said it acknowledges that the four million U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico have the right to vote and to choose a permanent and fully democratic government status.

"The approved text acknowledges the fact that Puerto Rico continues to be a non-incorporated territory, and most importantly, indicates that the White House and the U.S. Congress would determine the viability of the status formulas, thus impeding the Popular Democratic Party from lying to the people again with a definition of the status quo that is not in synch with reality," Romero said.

She said the amendment was included in the so-called Manager’s amendment, which is a document that contains all amendments the National Democratic Party Platform Committee chairman believes should be included in Kerry’s government plan.

Only Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral–former Popular Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate–objected to the document. According to Romero, Hernandez Mayoral said the text would be an insult to all Puerto Ricans because it would prevent them from presenting their own definitions of possible status formulas for the island.

Romero said she is convinced that Kerry will become the next U.S. president and that the National Democratic Party will fulfill its promise of solving the status issue of Puerto Rico.

According to Romero, the Republican Party has had a history of hampering the efforts to solve the status of the island. However, she noted a few exceptions and acknowledged that some Republicans have shown their support in the matter.

Fortuño, Prats React To Melinda Romero's Statements

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

July 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Melinda Romero’s declaration of triumph regarding Democratic Party Presidential Candidate John Kerry’s acknowledgement of Puerto Rico’s status issue triggered different reactions from both the NPP and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) candidates for resident commissioner on Monday.

PDP candidate for resident commissioner Roberto Prats denied that Romero had succeeded in having Kerry’s platform committee exclude the status quo as a formula for Puerto Rico’s government.

"The program doesn’t mention the Commonwealth, statehood or independence," Prats said during a press conference following Melinda’s statements.

Former Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, who was present at his daughter’s press conference, said that, contrary to the party’s 2000 platform, Kerry’s government plan has included the words disenfranchised American citizens to describe Puerto Rico residents who don’t have the right to vote.

"I believe it is the clearest text yet [regarding the status issue] for two reasons. Firstly, it specifically states that U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico don’t have the right to vote. Secondly, it states that the solution must be permanent and democratic. Since the current status can’t be democratic, the text rejects the status quo outright," said Romero Barcelo.

NPP candidate for resident commissioner Luis Fortuño also had something to say about Melinda’s statements. However, his reaction pertained to the legislator’s lambasting words against the Republicans and U.S. President George W. Bush.

Although she acknowledged the support of several Republicans, Melinda said the Republican Party has had a history of hampering efforts to solve the status of the island. She also lambasted President Bush’s policies and the wars he has waged against other countries.

Fortuño said that "for the first time in our history, we have a coincidence of opinions both the Republican and the Democratic parties regarding the resolution of the status of Puerto Rico. It is evident that those in a position of power in Washington are reaching the same conclusion that many of us reached some time ago in the sense that we need to finalize the discussion of the status of Puerto Rico and move towards the selection of a status option that is definite and final in nature."

He disagreed, however, with Melinda’s perception of the Bush administration.

"I totally disagree. I believe that after 9/11 the country went into a defensive mode like we have never experienced not even during the two world wars. The homeland was under direct attack for the first time and Americans experienced at first hand the terror planted by extremists," Fortuño said.

Still Great...

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

July 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved. 

As the Pirates traveled to Puerto Rico for their four-game series vs. the Expos this weekend, it had been nearly 31 years since Puerto Rican icon Roberto Clemente last wore a Pirates uniform. Better than three decades, yet Clemente still ranks in the top five of practically every major offensive category in club history. A refresher course on his Hall of Fame numbers:





First Hispanic Federal Judge In Eastern Pennsylvania Sworn In

July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WEST CHESTER , Pa. (AP) - Judge Juan R. Sanchez, who came from Puerto Rico to the mainland United States 35 years ago, was sworn in Friday as the first Hispanic federal judge in the history of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Sanchez, who took the oath of office in the Chester County Courthouse, is one of five Hispanic judges on federal benches nationwide. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination to the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on June 24.

"Yours is truly a Horatio Alger story, coming from Puerto Rico, mastering a new language and a new culture," said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., who attended the ceremony.

Sanchez received an undergraduate degree from the City College of the City University of New York in 1978 and earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981.

He provided legal assistance to migrant farm workers before joining the public defender's office in Chester County, where he worked 14 years.

Sanchez was elected the first Hispanic judge in Chester County in 1997.

"My parents taught me compassion for the plight of others and value of hard work," said Sanchez, whose mother and father attended the ceremony.

Triton To Swap Clients With Cingular; The Berwyn Wireless Provider Will Get $175 Million And 530,000 Customers In N.C. And Puerto Rico

By Wendy Tanaka
Inquirer Staff Writer

July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Philadelphia Inquirer. All rights reserved. 

Triton PCS Holdings Inc., a wireless provider based in Berwyn, said yesterday that it had agreed on a deal to swap some customers with Cingular Wireless L.L.C.

Triton also will receive $175 million in cash from Cingular.

Under terms of the swap, Triton will add about 530,000 customers in North Carolina and Puerto Rico, while it will shift 450,000 customers in Virginia to Cingular's network.

The 530,000 customers coming to Triton are part of AT&T Wireless Services Inc.'s network. Earlier this year, Cingular agreed to acquire AT&T Wireless for $41 billion; yesterday's swap is contingent on the closure of that deal, expected by the end of the year.

Rossello Defends Program Headed By His Wife

July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Pedro Rossello said on Friday that a Comptroller’s report alleging irregularities in the administration of Our Children First Congress (OCFC) represents just "administrative findings" that cannot diminish the program’s achievements under his wife Maga Nevares’ leadership (1993-2000).

The former governor and New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate ardently defended the program headed by his wife and lamented that the report did not include the program’s achievements.

"The services provided by the OCFC were a great help to Puerto Rican children and a few administrative accusations will not belittle those achievements," said Rossello.

Rossello said that "there is no proof that there was fiscal mismanagement" in the OCFC.

According to the report, OCFC’s expenses were never audited, regulations were not followed and there is no way of knowing if computers purchased with Department of Education (DE) funds were really given to needy children.

The report also recommends for an audit of the Governor’s Office and the Department of Education to determine all disbursements made to OCFC.

The Comptroller’s report encompassed the period from July 1, 1997 to December 31, 2000. The OCFC was created on April 1997 by an executive order from then governor Pedro Rossello.

The agency was under the administration of the First Lady’s Office and along with Maga Nevares, was headed by 12 agency heads, including now convicted former Department of Education head, Victor Fajardo.

The OCFC was responsible for providing children with physical fitness services. The project counted with a $2.5 million budget from 1997 to 2000, of which $1.8 million came from the DE.

Kennedy Center Dedicates AmericArtes To Puerto Rico

July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon announced on Friday that the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. has dedicated the AmericArtes Festival 2004 to Puerto Rico.

Calderon said the famous festival has the purpose of highlighting the cultural richness of Latin American countries through a wide presentation of their many artistic manifestations.

"This year the Kennedy Center will honor Puerto Rican art and culture with the title Spirit of Puerto Rico," the governor said in a prepared statement.

For Calderon, the event is a great opportunity for Puerto Rico.

"This is a one in a lifetime opportunity to promote tourism for the island to strengthen commercial and political ties with the federal financial and governmental sectors, as well as with the Washington D.C. community," the governor said.

The festival will be held from Sept. 7-26 with the participation of Puerto Rican artists such as Ednita Nazario, Gilberto Santa Rosa, Olga Tañon, Chucho Avellanet, Danny Rivera, Lucecita Benitez.

Puerto Rican theater will be represented by Luis Rafael Sanchez’s ‘Quintuples’, writers Rosario Ferre and Mayra Santos Febres, and visual artists Antonio Martorell Jaime Suarez.

U.S. House Approves Funds For Domestic Violence

July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — U.S. House has approved a bill that authorizes the allocation of funds through the U.S. Department of Justice, for a domestic violence prevention program of the Pontificia Universidad Catolica of Ponce.

Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said the exact amount of money will be disclosed after the bill is approved in a House and Senate conference committee.

"I’m pleased to know that the program will receive assistance through this bill to continue the work needed to ensure the safety of Puerto Rican women and their children," he said in a prepared statement.

Acevedo Vila said U.S. House also approved a recommendation of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to use part of its budget to provide counseling service and assistance to the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for Vieques’ cleanup efforts.

The dispositions were approved Thursday, but were disclosed on Friday.

$2.5 Million Allocated For Home Constructions In Vieques

July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano announced on Friday the allocation of $2.5 million by the Department of Housing for the building of 63 housing units for low-income families.

Serrano said that the 63 housing units are part of a larger plan to build 147 houses through the federal government’s Home program.

"With this first allocation of funds we will begin a large construction effort that will bring quality housing under eight federal programs," said Serrano in a prepared statement.

He said that the construction of 63 reinforced concrete housing units will begin in 90 days.

Milk Producers Take Government To Court

July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Representatives of the two milk-processing plants of the island announced on Friday the filing of a judicial action at the U.S. District Court against Milk Industry Regulation Office (ORIL by its Spanish acronym).

Tres Monjitas General Manager Juan Corrada del Rio and Suiza Dairy President Carmen Laura Marrero, said the legal action is aimed at getting ORIL Administrator Juan Pedro to review regulations regarding the purchasing of milk from farmers.

"(The regulations) are unfair, discriminatory, and detrimental to the sales and production of fresh milk in Puerto Rico," the plaintiffs said.

The regulations establish that processing plants should pay farmers 62 cents per liter of crude milk. However, Indulac–which uses milk surpluses to produce UHT, only pays 10 cents per liter.

Marrero explained that regulations allow Indulac to produce UHT milk at an artificially low price subsided by the price that milk processing plants like Tres Monjitas and Suiza Dairy pay to farmers.

"The competition is unfair and Indulac’s operations as a competitor is possible only because of the low price at which they acquire milk," Corrada del Rio said.

Independent Candidate Begins Campaign

July 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Environmental political party Puerto Ricans for Puerto Rico announced on Friday it would begin campaigning for its gubernatorial write-in candidate Rogelio Figueroa.

The campaign began on Thursday with the slogan "Restoring our environment and our quality of life."

"My campaign is geared towards educating the public as to the importance community activism as well as electoral participation to achieve a better quality of life and functional environment," said Figueroa.

The campaign will feature ads that will call for involvement in the community as well as explaining the unfamiliar write-in process.

"It is important for voters to understand that there are four gubernatorial candidates. That is why we will continue our campaign, which will go door to door, publicize at intersections, use the Internet, debates, and the island’s mass media," added Figueroa.

According Figueroa, their campaign will strive not to create noise or visual pollution up to the November election.

"We understand that we can campaign without being loud or offensive."

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