Menendez Denies Support For Commonwealth Campaign To Free Political Prisoners Opens Conservatives Attack Rodriguez Nomination Meningitis Cases Increase V.I. Pushes Dems For Voting Rights P.R. Tops NZ Romero Criticizes Fortuños Boston Trip Natl Guard Presence Cuts Crime Rossello Asks Ashcroft To Take Action
U.S. Congressman Denies Support For Commonwealth
July 29, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) After a New Progressive Party (NPP) boycott of an event held for Puerto Rican delegates to the Democratic National Convention, U.S. Congressman Robert Menendez said he had never been an advocate of Puerto Ricos Commonwealth as a viable political status.
Menendez, the highest ranking Hispanic representative and number three among the democratic majority, delivered an address to island delegates highlighting the virtues of democratic presidential candidate John Kerry
"I support Puerto Ricos right to determine its own future in whatever plebiscite that is not biased, whatever decision the Puerto Rican people make will have my support," said Menendez
However, the representative from New Jersey reaffirmed his support to Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial and resident commissioner candidates, Anibal Acevedo Vila and Roberto Prats, respectively.
Campaign For Liberation Of Political Prisoners Begins
July 29, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) The Human Rights Committee announced on Thursday the beginning of a campaign to collect signatures and request to President George W. Bush the liberation of the so called political prisoners who are in federal prisons.
"For humanitarian reasons, we ask you to exercise your constitutional power to pardon, and concede the inmidiate and unconditional liberation of Oscar Lopez Rivera, Carlos Alberto Torres and Antonio Camacho Negron, Puerto Rican prisoners in custody of the United States for their actions and believes in favor of independence of Puerto Rico," reads the letter.
In the letter the group outlines for reasons for the liberation which includes the pardons granted by Clinton and Jimmy Carter in 1999 and 1979 during their tenures as presidents.
Carter commuted the sentence of the nationalist leaders that in 1954 attacked the United States Congress.
The letter also states that the sentences imposed against the pro independence leaders are not proportionate when compared with the ones being served by murder convicts.
Committee Spokesman Eduardo Villanueva, said they will also issue a similar request to Democratic Party gubernatorial candidate, John Kerry.
"At this historical moment, is most precise for the people of Puerto Rico to ask for the liberation of the remaining political prisoners. We have begun to collect signatures asking President Bush for the liberation," said Villanueva.
Of the 15 political prisoners that remained in jail in 1999, President Bill Clinton pardon 11. The ones still in jail are: Antonio Camacho Negron, who is scheduled to leave prison on August 13; Oscar Lopez and Carlos Alberto Torres, who will not leave prison until 2027 and 2024, respectively.
Juan Segarra Palmer was released from jail on January 24.
The three prisoners have already served over 20 years in prison for charges of engaging in arm struggle for the independence of Puerto Rico, a Commonwealth of the United States since 1898.
Lopez, 61, was the only of the 11 prisoners pardon by Clinton, who declined the offer. He remains in prison since 1980 and was sentenced to 70 years in prison for conspiracy against the United States.
Torres, 51, was imprisoned in 1981 and was sentenced to 78 years in prison. Haydee Beltran remains in prison serving an 80-years sentence, but since her imprisonment she decided to fight her liberation separate from the group.
Conservatives Attack Rodriguez Supreme Court Nomination
July 29, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) About 20 evangelist and conservative activist on Wednesday gathered near the Capitol Building opposed the nomination of Secretary of Justice Anabelle Rodriguez to the post of Associate Judge to Puerto Ricos Supreme Court.
The Evangelical Christian Network, which claims to represent 150 congregations, rejected Rodriguez nomination saying she would threaten the institution of marriage, citing her decision to apply Domestic Violence Laws to same sex couples.
"At the time when the family and traditional marriage are being attacked by activist judges, we cannot be at ease or have confidence that Secretary Rodriguez will be a true defender of the family or traditional marriage," said Evangelical Christian Network spokesman Angel Esteban Martinez.
After her nomination Rodriguez said she was against same sex marriage.
Viral Meningitis Cases Increase
FROM WIRE SERVICES
July 29, 2004
SAN JUAN -- Six new cases of of viral meningitis have been reported in Puerto Rico in the last 48 hours, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 102 since an outbreak began last week, health officials said Wednesday.
The number could rise to 300, said Juan Alonso Echanove, the director of the epidemiology office.
Virgin Islands Delegate Pushes For Voting Rights At Democratic National Convention
By MAT PROBASCO
July 28, 2004
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands (AP) - The congressional delegate for the U.S. Virgin Islands pleaded with delegates at the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday to extend voting rights to 5 million people living in U.S. territories.
Donna M. Christensen, the only territorial delegate to speak at the convention this year, introduced a bill to the House of Representatives last week that would grant the right to vote in presidential elections, said spokesman Brian Modeste.
Christensen drew a burst of cheers at the Boston convention when she said the United States should be a place "where all Americans -- in the states of its offshore areas -- can vote, as ever other American does, for our commander in chief."
Residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam and American Samoa can't vote in presidential elections. They also don't pay federal income taxes.
The territories each have a delegate to Congress able to introduce bills, but not able to cast votes. Residents are eligible for U.S. passports and may serve in the military.
Politics in the Virgin Islands, a U.S. Caribbean territory of 110,000, leans heavily toward Democrats.
Former Puerto Rican pro-statehood Gov. Pedro Rossello, a Democrat, has long advocated the right to vote in federal elections. Rossello is running for re-election on the pro-statehood New Progressive Party this year.
Puerto Rico Beat NZ 110-85
July 28, 2004
Wellington, July 28 - Puerto Rico beat New Zealand 110-85 in a men's basketball international in Jacksonville, Florida, today.
Puerto Rico 110 (Sharif Fajardo 25, Christian Dalmau 20, Larry Ayuso 18, Rick Apodaca 14, Jose Ortiz 10, Eddie Casiano 10) New Zealand 85 (Kirk Penney 24, Phill Jones 19). Halftime: 59-39.
Romero Criticizes Fortuños Trip To Boston
July 28, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) Former New Progressive Party (NPP) resident commissioner hopeful Carlos Romero Barcelo joined Charlie Rodriguez in criticizing the partys candidate for the post of resident commissioner Luis Fortuño, who traveled on Wednesday to Boston to counter campaign in the Democratic National Convention.
Romero Barcelo, who after loosing to Fortuño in last years primary has had no praise for him, said that his presence in Boston will do more to harm his running mates, democrat Pedro Rossello, campaign.
"I think it ridiculous I dont know whether he (Fortuño) knows that he is in the Democratic Convention, not the Republicans," said Romero.
Rodriguez on Monday urged Fortuño to remain in Puerto Rico concentrating on his campaign, because his opponent Roberto Prats is leading in the polls.
National Guard Presence Responsible For Drop In Crime
July 28, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) Less than a week after National Guardsmen began joint patrols with Puerto Rican police, crime has dropped significantly announced Police Superintendent Agustin Cartagena and National Guard Deputy General Francisco Marquez.
The officials said that "after four days of deployment" of 500 National Guardsmen, the murder rate has significantly dropped when compared with last years rate.
A week before the National Guard was activated the murder rate held 33 more than the same time in 2003, while after deployment the number dropped to 24.
"Areas where the National Guard and the Police are on patrol crime has dropped dramatically," said Cartagena.
Citing Persecution, Rossello Asks Ashcroft To Take Action
By Leonardo Aldridge
July 28, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello called on Attorney General John Ashcroft to take action against members of the Federal Department of Justices, whom the former governor accuses of trying to sabotage his reelection campaign.
In a letter to Ashcroft, dated Wednesday July 28, 2004, Rossello provides evidence of past letters exchanged between himself and the federal agency, in which he cites a personal vendetta against him and his annexationist philosophy.
"At this juncture, some officials from the Federal Department of Justice Public Integrity Division Prosecutor and Department of Justice in Washington, insist in continuing a selective stigmatization of the New Progressive Party, continuing a pattern begun in the 1990s," read the missive sent by Rossello to Ashcroft.
Last week Federal Department of Justice Public Integrity Division Prosecutor asked the State Elections Commission (SEC) for certified copies of financial reports from Rossellos 1996 reelection campaign, prompting outrange from NPP supporters.
"These officials are playing with the rights of American citizens on the island who believe in the NPPs goal of making Puerto Rico the 51st state in the Union," said Rossello.
Rossello limited his request, only asking Ashcroft to take action, but he did not specify how that action should come about, as he did in 2002 when he requested disciplinary action against Puerto Ricos Chief Federal Prosecutor Guillermo Gil.
Rossello did in fact mention that he has not received an answer in the 21 months since he requested action against Gil.
The local offices for Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Federal Prosecutors said on Friday that the former governor was not being investigated, but clarified that they do not speak for Central Federal agencies.
Rossello, who has referred to the Federal Prosecutors Office as an "axis of terror" against the annexationist movement along with the Calderon administration and the media, made a call on federal authorities not to interfere in Puerto Ricos electoral process.