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Rossello Asks If He’s Being Investigated, Berrios: Explanation Needed… RHC Offers Memoirs…Vieques Radiation Findings Inconsistent…Cidra Sector In Superfund…Delgado Did Not Stand…Fas Sure Of PDP Win… More Police Doesn’t Mean Less Crime, Says Commission…Public Housing Leaders Oppose Use Of Nat’l Guard…NPP: PDP Commonwealth Celebration Violates Electoral Law

Rossello Wants Authorities To Say If He Is Being Investigated

July 22, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) President, former governor Pedro Rossello urged authorities to clear up whether he is or not being investigated for a corruption scheme that occurred during his eight years in office.

"The rumor has been spreading. If they are investigating, let them say so and if not say they are not," Rossello said during a press conference in Caguas.

That was Rossello’s reaction to a letter to the State Elections Commission from U.S. Assistant District Attorney Mary Butler requesting copies of his records for 1996.

Rossello urged federal authorities to stay away from their usual response of "it can’t be confirmed nor denied" when asked if someone is being investigated.

"All the NPP records are available. They have been audited and nothing has been found," said Rossello.

Berrios: Both Federals And Rossello Should Explain

July 22, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) – Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) gubernatorial candidate, Ruben Berrios, demanded that New Progressive Candidate Pedro Rossello explain his 1996 campaign funds, but also demanded from federal authorities an explanation as to why they are asking for that information now.

Berrios’s explanation comes one day after a letter from the U.S. Prosecution to the State Elections Commission (SEC) requesting all records of Rossello’s 1996 campaign income.

"Rossello ows an explanation to the people about the income of the NPP. That explanation has yet to be made and is now being requested by the federal prosecution," said Berrios.

Berrios added that the federal prosecution should explain why the request comes now, two or three months short of the general elections.

The NPP issued a letter on Wednesday to Attorney General, John Ashcroft, asking for a explanation of the petition made by Assistant District Attorneys Mary Butler and Matthew Solomon.

Hernandez Colon Presents Airs Of Change

By CB Staff

July 22, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All rights reserved. 

Former governor Rafael Hernandez Colon today unveiled the first tome of his memoirs at a jam-packed midday ceremony at El Convento hotel in Old San Juan.

The event was attended by a who’s who of both the old and new guards in the Popular Democratic Party that Hernandez Colon led for more than 19 years while in active politics.

Among them were his former La Fortaleza aide and current PDP president and gubernatorial candidate, Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila, his former Secretary of Justice and now President of the Board of the Rafael Hernandez Colon Library Foundation, that published the book, Francisco de Jesus Schuck, his wife, current Secretary of Justice Anabelle Rodriguez, former House Speaker Ronaldo Jarabo, former President of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture Ricardo Alegría.

Also in attendance were PDP candidate for Mayor of San Juan Eduardo Bahtia, Rep. Jorge Colberg Toro, Rep. Juan Dalmau, Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux.

Governor Sila Calderon sent a congratulatory letter that was read at the event.

Following a press conference, a formal presentation was held. After an introduction of the book by historian Luis Agrait, current president of the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Hernandez Colon addressed the 400-strong crowd that gathered at the El Convento ballroom for the affair and who gave him a standing ovation that lasted several minutes before his was allowed to speak.

"I dedicate this book to Lila," said Hernandez Colon, with a knot in his throat and tears in his eyes that forced him to stop. "Without her, nothing of what is written in this book would have happened." The crowd filled the cavernous hall with thunderous applause.

Former First Lady Lila Mayoral died of cancer last year.

Vientos de Cambio (Airs of Change) covers the first period in Hernandez Colon’s public life from the time he entered politics in 1964 to his successful run for the governorship in 1972.

According to the former governor, the second volume, to be yet written, will cover his first term as governor (1973-76) and the succeeding eight years when he led his party’s opposition to then governor Carlos Romero Barcelo. The third volume will cover his second and third terms as governor (1985-1992).

Besides his three terms as governor, Hernandez Colon had served as Secretary of Justice (1965-67) under former governor Roberto Sanchez Vilella and later became President of the Senate (1969-72). He remains the youngest person ever to have held each of those three positions.

Study Over Radiation In Vieques Contains Inconsistencies

July 22, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A group of scientists collaborating with the All of Puerto Rico with Vieques Coordinator described the findings of a Justice Department study as inconsistent when if ruled that there is no danger of radiation in the USS Killen, sunken in the waters near the municipality.

Ram Lamba, University of Puerto Rico chemistry professor said the inconsistencies include the conclusion that fish in the sunken vessel don’t represent any danger when in another area of the study lobsters and certain other species are identified as not being safe for consumption.

"The study gives the impression that there is not a serious, radiological problem in the area of the USS Killen and that we should feel at ease about it. But when one analyses the study it is revealed that the same investigators affirm that there is a chemical contamination, of explosives and heavy metals that represent a danger to the maritime and human life in the area," Lamba said.

The study, ordered by the Justice Department was made by a private firm which took samples from the water surrounding the USS Killen, sunk less than a mile from Vieques, decades ago.

Cidra’s Sector Included In Superfund

July 22, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Thursday that a Cidra location that contains contaminated underground water was included in the Superfund program.

The inclusion of the location in the Superfund allows federal funds to be released for the cleaning of the area said EPA regional director Jane Kenny.

"That the Cidra location, with contaminated underground water, was included in the List of National Priorities is an essential step towards the cleaning of the sector. The EPA is working with the community and will attend any health threat to citizens or to the environment," said Kerry in a written press release.

The EPA said that due to the contamination of the area the Health Department has closed four water wells in the area since late 1999.

According to the federal agency the samples taken from the wells reveal the presence of several volatile components.

There are 15 water wells in the area that provide drinking water to 9,000 residents of the area.

Carlos Delgado Did Not Stand

Yankees 10, Blue Jays 3


July 22, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

As is his custom, Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado did not stand on the field during the seventh inning stretch last night when a recording of "God Bless America" was played because he disagrees with the American-led war in Iraq and the past use of a bombing range in his native Puerto Rico by the Navy. There was an extra reason for Delgado's absence last night. Just before the song, with his team trailing, 10-3, Delgado was removed from the game by Manager Carlos Tosca and replaced by Josh Phelps. When Delgado lined out to first base to begin the seventh, some fans in the lower deck chanted: "U-S-A! U-S-A!" While "God Bless America" played, a few fans shouted crude comments about Delgado, but there was no major demonstration by the crowd of 53,031.

Fas Alzamora Sure Of His Re-Election

July 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Noting that he has never been wrong when it comes to political forecasts, Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora predicted on Wednesday a victory for the Popular Democratic Party and anticipated that he will remain in his position.

"Based on my experience, I knew that the 1980 political race (during his first run for the Senate) would be a close one...but one that the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) would win, and that is what will happen this year," said Fas Alzamora.

Fas Alzamora, who believes he will once again be elected senate president, denied the alleged weaknesses of Ponce PDP Senate District candidates Bruno Ramos and Modesto Agosto Alicea, adding that Ponce is the party's stronghold.

However, Ponce PDP Mayoral Candidate Francisco Zayas Seijo has expressed concern with the candidacies of Agosto Alicea and Ramos.

More Police Doesn’t Mean Less Crime, Says Commission

July 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 


SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rico boasts being the country with the third greatest number of police per capita -- 711 officials for every 100,000 citizens -- and yet, the per capita homicide rate is three times as much as the US, and four times greater than Europe.

In presenting these figures based upon an Interpol analysis, the Commission on Coexistence and Citizen Security Matters questioned the greatly-debated assigning of more police and the mobilization of the National Guard to deal with crime.

"In Puerto Rico, we are sometimes very focused on increasing the number of police... The countries which have a greater number of police (per capita) are not the ones that have the lowest rates of crime," said Commission Chairman Salvador Santiago Negrón.

The brand new commission pointed out that Puerto Rico might be able to reduce its high crime rate by creating quality of life standards, as well as preventive programs and rehab programs.

Santiago Negrón indicated that the commission -- created on May 10, 2004 by an Executive Order from Gov. Sila M. Calderón, with a budget of 2 million dollars -- is attempting to establish a database of "intellectual capital" which will allow for the in-depth study of solutions and the wielding of influence in public policy relative to violence.

Profesor Julio Muriente, one of the commission's members, asserted that an administration change after the November elections could be an obstacle to the commission's work, but he expressed hope that the commission would gain the "trust" of Puerto Ricans to thus continue its studies on violence.

Public Housing Projects Leaders Voice Their Demands

July 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Leaders of several public housing projects in San Juan met on Wednesday at the Capitol with their lawmakers to voice their concerns and solutions for the crime wave that is affecting the island.

Some acknowledged the lack of cooperation with police authorities on the part of the residents of the area but said that it is because they don’t trust the agents.

Others demanded that they shouldn’t be stigmatized and urged the media to highlight not only crime that goes on in the area but also the good things that come out of their communities.

All of them agreed on one thing; they reject the use of the National Guard in their communities.

Tomasa Rodriguez, community leader for Monte Hatillo public housing project in Rio Piedras said that most of the times the residents that don’t cooperate with authorities it is because they are fearful of corrupt police agents assigned to their areas.

"The community can count on leaders like us; what happens is that there are a lot of police agents one can’t count on," said Rodriguez.

Victor Latimer, of Leopoldo Figueroa public housing project in Rio Piedras, said it is difficult for residents to trust the agents, especially when they are being abused all the time.

According to Sen. Jose Ortiz Dalliot and Rep. Jose Luis Colon the residents also want:

- More permanent police presence in the housing projects.

- More respect from the police to the residents when dealing with their problems.

- More activities oriented to the young residents of the area.

- More communication with government agency representatives.

NPP: PDP Commonwealth Celebration Violates Electoral Law

July 21, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Mayor of Bayamon, Ramón Luis Rivera Jr., criticized Wednesday that the celebration of the anniversary of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was being financed by public funds, and he said that in doing so, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) is breaking Electoral Law.

The activity is organized and sponsored by the central government and the city of Ponce, both led by the PDP.

The Mayor insisted that Sunday's celebration of the Commonwealth is partisan in nature, and to emphasize his point, he showed a TV commercial in which PDP gubernatorial candidate Aníbal Acevedo Vilá appears standing at a podium before a large crowd, with his hands raised up in the air.

"We invite the Popular Party to refrain from using public funds. They are violating electoral law because this activity is clearly [representative of] partisan politics," he said in a press conference in which he emphasized that the activities planned to commemorate the birth of José Celso Barbosa will be taken from political campaign funds.

Rivera maintained that the PDP had sneakily included political propaganda in an official act. However, it wasn't possible to definitively determine if the activity in which Acevedo Vilá appears is a public event intended to persuade others [on behalf of his party], or if it relates to a private governmental meeting in which he appears as Resident Commissioner.

Secretary of State Jose Izquierdo affirmed the day before that commemorating the Commonwealth "is a government activity" and not one of political parties, and therefore, the use of popular insignia on public messages is forbidden.

"This is not a 'rally' for any one party," Izquierdo assured.

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