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Barrales Endorses Statehood At NPP’s Barbosa Birthday Bash…PDP Dismisses NPP July 25 Lawsuit, Asks Rossello To Explain ‘96 Campaign Finances…$54.8m Allocated For The Urban Train…Hernandez Mayoral Backs Acevedo… Berrios Claims Anti-Independence Prejudice…Calderon Taps Hernandez Denton For Chief Judge, Rodriguez Nomination Opposed

Barrales Supports Statehood For Puerto Rico

July 28, 2004
Copyright © 2004
EFE News Service. All rights reserved. 

San Juan, Jul 27 (EFE).- A White House official expressed support for statehood for Puerto Rico at an event Tuesday in which thousands commemorated the 147th anniversary of the birth of pro-statehood leader Jose Celso Barbosa.

Ruben Barrales, head of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, said he would like to see 51 stars on the U.S. flag.

Barrales' speech before a crowd of more than 40,000 people on Barbosa square in Bayamon, a city next to San Juan, prompted approving shouts and prolonged applause.

Michelle Cuevas, spokeswoman for the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, told EFE that Barrales attended the event in representation of President George W. Bush, and that his statements had the backing of the White House.

She could not state categorically, however, whether Barrales spoke in Bush's name.

Barrales said Puerto Rico would be better off if it had a permanent relationship with the United States to help it achieve its objectives.

NPP Celebrates Barbosa’s Birthday Amidst Divisions

July 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

BAYAMON (AP) – With the shadow of internal divisions looming, New Progressive Party (NPP) supporters celebrated on Tuesday the birthday of statehood leader Jose Celso Barbosa with signs and chants calling for victory in November’s election.

A simultaneous yet separate event was held by followers of former NPP gubernatorial candidate Carlos Pesquera who held a separate event at Las Americas Expressway, while at the Bayamon event some held signs in support of independent Cataño mayoral candidate Edwin Rivera Sierra.

Rep. Jose Aponte, one of Pedro Rossello’s most loyal supporters, dismissed the situation as "part of the democratic process we partake in."

"They have a right to express themselves, but I’m sure that they desire a change and that change will come with Pedro Rossello, who is the official NPP candidate," said Aponte.

Aponte said he had seen "many" Pesquera sympathizers in the Bayamon gathering, which cost $35,000 and was paid by that municipality’s NPP committee.

Rossello was the keynote speaker at the event.

In the activity two small planes flew flyers which read "Unity and Triumph for Rossello" and "Rossello for Governor in 2004."

Barbosa, who is known as the father of statehood, founded the Puerto Rican Republican Party in 1899 and was a senator from 1917 and 1920.

PDP Dismisses NPP July 25 Lawsuit

July 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) Secretary General Anibal Jose Torres on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit filled by New Progressive Party (NPP) electoral commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz, citing that both Calderon and Acevedo Vila violated laws which state that public funds and public property can only be used for public ends.

Torres reiterated that the activity, which cost $400,000, was conducted as stipulated by the law.

"They can file all the lawsuits they want. They do this every year…all July 25 activities were carried out in a lawful manner," said Torres.

"I understand the NPP’s pain, seeing so many people come out to celebrate the Commonwealth’s Constitution on July 25," added Torres in a ironic tone.

Rivera Schatz filed a lawsuit against Gov. Sila Calderon and Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila for alleged criminal violations stemming from the commemoration of the 52 anniversary of the Commonwealth's Constitution, claiming the event was used for political ends.

The lawsuit, dated Monday July 26, 2004, was forwarded to the State Elections Commission (SEC) and the Department of Justice, accusing Calderon and Acevedo Vila of spending half a million dollars in public funds to boost the candidacy of Popular Democratic Party (PDP) president, Acevedo Vila.

On July 25 the central government celebrated the 52 anniversary of the Commonwealth's Constitution, in which Calderon and Acevedo Vila gave spirited addresses defending their administration and outlining their vision of the future respectively.

According to the lawsuit filled by Rivera Schatz, both Calderon and Acevedo Vila violated the law that state that public funds and public property can only be used for public ends, furthermore, they allegedly violated seven articles of the Electoral Law and Four articles of the Penal Code, including illegal appropriation and conspiracy.

PDP Asks Rossello To Explain 1996 Campaign Finances

July 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) Secretary General Anibal Jose Torres asked New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello to confirm whether he still stands by financial reports from his 1996 reelection campaign, even despite the fact that they were signed by party members who have been accused and convicted of corruption.

The majority of the reports filled with State Elections Commission (SEC) by the NPP during that period were signed and certified by Rene Vazquez Botet, Jose Cobian, and Angel Luis Ocasio, all accused or convicted by in a federal forum for extortion, said Torres.

Torres questioned why the reports fail to note payments made to pollsters and publicist involved in the 1996 campaign, as claimed by witnesses in the corruption cases involving the Department of Education and the Superaqueduct.

"It is high time that Pedro Rossello tell the public whether he stands by the 1996 campaign financial reports filed with the SEC, he must confirm that they are truthful," said Torres.

The Federal Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Division recently requested that Rossello make copies of his 1996 campaign financial reports available in relation to a government corruption investigation.

Rossello stands by the veracity of the 1996 reports and says that several agencies have failed to find any discrepancies within them.

Chief Federal Prosecutor on the island Humbert Garcia and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have verified that Pedro Rossello is not being investigated by those agencies.

$54.8 Million Assignment For The Urban Train

July 27, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila announced on Monday the approval of a $54.8 million assignment for the Urban Train.

The contribution complements federal assignments for projects in San Juan, Bayamon and Guaynabo.

"I’m satisfied with the fact that the committee granted us the requested funds to provide Puerto Rico the needed resources to improve our transportation system," said Acevedo Vila.

The assignment of federal funds by the House of Representatives Assignments Committee was approved on Thursday

Hernandez Mayoral Urges Support For Acevedo Vila

July 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial hopeful Jose Alfredo Hernandez Mayoral will send letters to some 40,000 of his followers asking them to support the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila.

Hernandez Mayoral acknowledged that thousands of people who supported him in the 1999 primary elections for the post of resident commissioner, which was won by Acevedo Vila, did not vote in the 2000 elections.

"It is a fact that some 30,000 to 40,000 people who voted for me in the 1999 primary have not registered again, they were obviously PDP supporters. I feel a responsibility and that’s why I am calling on them to support Acevedo Vila," said Hernandez Mayoral.

When Governor Sila Calderon announced last year that she would not seek reelection, Hernandez Mayoral was presented as a successor to represent the PDP in the gubernatorial race.

Weeks later he announced his withdrawal from the gubernatorial race citing his sons health problems, opening the door for Acevedo Vila’s candidacy.

Berrios: Prejudice Against Independence Faction Continues

July 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

VILLALBA (AP) - 26 years after the murder of Carlos Soto Arrivi and Arnaldo Dario Rosado in Cerro Maravilla, discrimination against those who support Puerto Rican Independence continues, said Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) gubernatorial candidate Ruben Berrios.

"Still today in Puerto Rico, there is discrimination against independence supporters, there is discrimination in the form of an anti-independence culture, denying independentistas access to jobs, promotions, and thru the use of government to further the ends of political parties, be they red or blue," said Berrios.

Berrios was the keynote speaker at a memorial held in remembrance of the two youths killed by police at Cerro Maravilla on July 25, 1978.

The activity was dedicated to Puerto Rican political prisoners and to Jose 'Cheo' Carrasquillo, independence activist from Yabucoa, who recently passed away.

Calderon Appoints Hernandez Denton To The Chief Justice Post

By WOW Staff

July 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Gov. Sila Calderon appointed on Monday, Associate Judge Federico Hernandez Denton as Chief Justice of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court.

In addition she appointed Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez to the associate chief post that was left vacant by Hernandez Denton.

Hernandez Denton accepted the nomination and thanked the governor during an afternoon press conference at La Fortaleza.

Upon accepting his nomination Hernandez Denton said his priorities as Chief Judge would be to promote the stabilization of the judiciary branch, destabilized mainly by the changes brought upon by the recently approved judiciary reform.

Hernandez Denton added that he would also promote a rigorous evaluation of the members of the judiciary branch, including their productivity records. He would also promote continuing education and further preparation of judges.

Moreover the nominated chief justice said he would do his best to address the public’s demand for a speedier more accessible judiciary branch

"I will work to turn the judiciary branch into one that is accessible, technologically advanced and transparent," said Hernandez Denton.

Calderon made her appointment two days short of Chief Justice Miriam Naveira Merly official retirement date, when she turns 70.

Hernandez Denton To Be Confirmed With No Opposition

By WOW Staff

July 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Nominated Chief Justice, Associate Judge Federico Hernandez Denton will most likely be confirmed with no opposition as members of the minority openly expressed their endorsement to the candidate on Monday.

The Senate has been called for an extraordinary session beginning on Tuesday for the confirmation of Hernandez Denton’s nomination and that of his replacement as associate judge, Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez.

Senate Nominations Committee chairman Bruno Ramos said during a radio interview shortly after Gov Sila Calderon made the announcement at La Fortaleza that he expects no opposition to Hernandez Denton’s nomination.

That is because Hernandez Denton was the candidate of choice for both the members of the Judiciary Branch and the Bar Association since former Chief Judge Jose Andreu announced his retirement.

New Progressive Party committee member Norma Burgos said she favored Hernandez Denton for his judiciary record and will vote in his favor.

Meanwhile Puerto Rican Independence Party committee member Sen. Fernando Martin told the Associated Press that Calderon had made the right choice in selecting Hernandez Denton for the post.

Rodriguez Nominated For Associate Judge Post

July 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Gov. Sila Calderon on Monday nominated Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez for the post that will be left vacant by Puerto Rico Supreme Court associate judge Federico Hernandez Denton once he is confirmed by the Senate as Chief Judge.

And although Hernandez Denton nomination is expected to surely be confirmed, opposition to Rodriguez nomination immediately flourish.

The extraordinary session to confirm Hernandez Denton and Rodriguez is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

On Monday afternoon Senate Nominations Committee Chairman Bruno Ramos said Rodriguez will be evaluated for her merits to the post and not for political considerations.

But New Progressive Party (NPP) committee member Norma Burgos said she would be very aware of the nominations hearing process and noted that members of the majority had always said they would vote against Rodriguez.

"Let’s see what they (PDP majority members) do now, because we were always told they would vote against her nomination," Burgos said noting that Rodriguez nomination is of a political nature.

Like Burgos, Puerto Rican Independence Party committee member Fernando Martin told the Associated Press that Rodriguez nomination was of a political nature and that he was not inclined to vote in favor of it.

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