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NPP Would Support Constitutional Status Assembly, Sues Over ‘Politicized’ Commonwealth Celebration… Festival Hails Anniversary…Trinidad In Side Bet…Meningitis Could Delay School Year…Rossello Isn’t Under Fed Investigation…Nat’l Guard Patrols The Streets…Delgado Asks Respect for Anti- War Stance…Acevedo Skips Dem Convention…Wizards Sign Ramos

NPP Could Join Constitutional Assembly On Status

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – If island voters support a 2005 Constitutional Assembly to resolve Puerto Rico’s political status, the New Progressive Party (NPP) would support the project proposed by the opposition, party leaders announced.

The use of that mechanism also depends on the Popular Democratic Party’s (PDP) ability to remain in power after November, as they are the main proponents of the 2005 referendum.

"I believe the NPP will participate in any process involving status," affirmed Rep. Anibal Vega Borges, who is among the NPP members who support the Constitutional Assembly as means of resolving Puerto Rico’s political status, but warned that any process should be coordinated with the federal authorities.

According to published reports, Vega Borges believes that the result of a Constitutional Assembly or a plebiscite would always be in favor of statehood.

However, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) president Fernando Martin said that the NPP would participate in any status-related process regardless of their preference.

NPP Files Lawsuit Against Commonwealth Celebration

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) electoral commissioner Thomas 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.

"It is necessary to condemn that Acevedo Vila used this, supposedly official event, to give a speech characterized by its strong political nature, using political slogans to gain electoral support, in the end, violating the regulations of our electoral process," reads the lawsuit presented by Rivera Schatz at a press conference.

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.

Rivera Schatz said the PDP would have to refund some $400,000, which government officials say were used for the event, because they constitute an illegal political donation.

Latin Festival Celebrates Puerto Rico's Anniversary

By Georgia East

July 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004
South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All rights reserved. 

FORT LAUDERDALE · When a singer asked whether Puerto Rico has the most beautiful flag, the answer came like a Spanish call and response. Drenched in sweat, one man moved to the beat and belted out, "You know it."

In a sea of red, white and blue, Saul Puente paid homage to Puerto Rico, his homeland. This, he said, reminded him of the festivals back in New York and the flavor of some of the celebrations in Puerto Rico. "You've got to feel it all the way down to the bones," said Puente, of Pompano Beach, as he kept with the rhythm. "Our music is like that. It's good exercise."

The event marked the 52nd anniversary of Puerto Rico becoming a U.S. commonwealth with bands, crafts and food.

Trinidad, Mayorga Agree On Side Bet

July 25, 2004
Copyright © 2004
South Florida Sun-Sentinel. All rights reserved. 

Three-time world champion Felix Trinidad, back in the ring after a two-year retirement, met his Oct. 2 opponent Ricardo Mayorga for the first time Friday at Don King's office in Deerfield Beach.

Both are in South Florida to promote the "Back With A Vengeance" pay-per-view WBA international middleweight championship bout at Madison Square Garden in New York. Trinidad and Mayorga, the former WBA/WBC welterweight champion, shook hands after agreeing on a $100,000 side bet for the winner of the fight.

The 31-year-old Trinidad (41-1, 34 KOs), a national hero in Puerto Rico, retired two years ago saying he wanted to quit boxing while he was still young and healthy. He has one of the most impressive resumes in the sport since turning pro at 17 in 1990. It includes three wins against Olympic gold medalists Oscar De La Hoya, Pernell Whitaker and David Reid.

Mayorga (27-4-1, 23 KOs), one of Nicaragua's brightest stars, said he is not impressed and initiated the side bet. "He will wish he never came out of retirement after he fights me," Mayorga said.

Beginning Of School Year Could Be Delayed, If Meningitis Continues

July 23, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – If it continues to spread, the outbreak of meningitis could put at risk the beginning of the school year, which is scheduled to begin on August 4.

However Health Secretary Cesar Rey and Health Department Epidemiologist Juan Alonso said the outbreak is under control and the beginning of the school year should remain on schedule.

"We want to emphasize that the outbreak is under control and is being monitored by both agencies and we believe is too early to reach that decision," Rey said.

However they both acknowledged that the dense populations of the schools could increase the incidence of the disease.

"We had already thought of deciding to postpone opening the schools, but this is aseptic meningitis, which is mild," said Alonso

Alonso added that the number of cases would determine if the decision to delay the beginning of classes is finally taken.

According to Alonso the number of cases has remained the same for the last 24 hours; 71.

Only one 11-year-old child that had the disease has died, but the cause of his death has yet to be determined.

Alonso noted that only one out of every 1,000 gets meningitis and he did not think people should refrain from celebrating the long weekend.

A Health Department study reveals the outburst began two weeks ago, when a sudden increase in cases of fever and headaches was noted.

Alonso said the average age of patients is 7 years although there was a case of a patient 25 days old and another of a 52-year-old patient.

Rossello Is Not Being Investigated By Federal Authorities

July 23, 2004
Copyright © 2004
. All rights reserved. 

Noting that they were making an exception to the rule, both the FBI’s Puerto Rico and Caribbean Office and the U.S. District Attorney Office for Puerto Rico, said on Friday that New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rossello is not being investigated by their office.

"As you all know our policy is to neither confirm nor deny any investigation. We will be making an exception to that rule on this particular case, which has been blown out of proportion; the U.S. District Attorney Office in Puerto Rico is not investigating Anibal Acevedo Vila, Ruben Berrios, or Pedro Rossello, nor any of the three political parties as an institution," said U.S. District Attorney for Puerto Rico Humberto Garcia.

Berrrios is the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) gubernatorial candidate and Acevedo Vila is the gubernatorial candidate for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP)

FBI Special Agent in Charge for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean Luis Fraticelli also confirmed that his office is not investigating Rossello.

"Mr. Rossello is not being investigated by the FBI," said Fraticelli.

Fraticelli however noted that he would not comment on ongoing investigation by other federal authorities in Puerto Rico.

Garcia and Fraticelli statements come one day after 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.

Rossello’s request came as reaction to a letter to the State Elections Commission from U.S. Assistant District Attorney Mary Butler requesting copies of his records for the 1996 electoral campaign.

Garcia was clear to point that Butler was assigned from Washington to conduct an independent investigation the Super Aqueduct and that she does not report to him. Therefore he declined to answer any questions related to her request.

Garcia and Fraticelli made their statements on Friday following a press conference to announce the arrest and indictment of former Mental Health Anti-Addiction Services Administration, AMSCA for it’s Spanish acronym, Administrator Jose Acevedo Martinez.

Martinez was charged with nine counts of bribery, extortion and witness tampering.

The National Guard Is Officially Patrolling The Streets

July 23, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Areas of Bayamon, Carolina, San Juan and Ponce, identified by authorities as high crime zones, on Friday effectively began to be patrolled by police officers and members of the Puerto Rico National Guard.

The joint patrolling efforts are part of the government’s latest attempt to fight crime.

But no one knows for certain when the mission, in which 500 guards armed with M-16 riffles are deployed, will end.

Puerto Rico National Guard spokeswoman Millie Rosa said their is no end date for the mission ordered by Gov. Sila Calderon, but said they are prepared to continue cooperating with police until December 31.

"We don’t have a date as to when this operation will come to an end. Approximately $10 million have been assigned for the mission, that covers expenses for the soldiers salary, gasoline and other cost," said Rosa.

Rosa said the soldiers, who began patrolling the streets at 4 a.m. Friday, received training from the police department about the laws that rules that apply to detentions and interventions.

Rosa noted that some of the soldiers assigned to the special mission served in Iraq.

Delgado Asks Fans To Respect Is Position Against The War

July 23, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Puerto Rican Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Carlos Delgado urged his fans on Friday to respect his freedom of speech, which is cherished in the United States, when he chose to remain in the dugout as "God Bless America" was played.

Delgado assured he will remain seated when the song is played during the seventh inning, regardless of criticism generated for his antiwar stance; evident when he was booed on Wednesday during a game at Yankee Stadium.

"I do not know how these people think. They say the U.S> is the mother of democracy but every time someone says something they don’t like chaos ensues. Cultural fanaticism is very high here," said Delgado.

Mayor newspapers in Puerto Rico published editorials in support of Delgado.

"Of course I’m going to keep doing it. Why do I have to change now? Why God Bless America? Yes, god should bless America, but he should also bless the rest of the world," added Delgado.

The starter said that he chose to remain in the dugout as protest to the war in Iraq, which he referred to as "the stupidest war in history," was taken out of proportion.

"As a human being, a small town citizen don’t understand this war, if someone were to explain the valid reasons to me maybe I would supported", he added.

Very few people had taken note of his personal protest until the Canadian squad played in Yankee Stadium were god bless America is played in every game after September 11.

Acevedo Vila Will Not Attend Democratic Convention

July 23, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila, who as a member of the U.S. Congress was assured a spot in Puerto Rico’s delegation to the National Democratic Convention, will not attend the gathering that will confirm John Kerry’s nomination as the democratic presidential candidate.

Acevedo Vila said he will not attend the convention, which will begin on Monday in Boston, because his campaign schedule, as Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, will not permit him to leave Puerto Rico.

"I have too many commitments in Puerto Rico…My priority at this moment are the elections on the island and I am dedicating all my time to that. I will not attend, put PDP democrats will be there," said Acevedo Vila.

The PDP leader said that decisions such as the nomination of the Kerry and Edwards team and the democratic policy regarding Puerto Rico’s status have already been decided.

The Democratic Party’s Political Program Committee in recent weeks approved language that recognizes Puerto Rico’s right to a democratic and permanent government chosen by the people, move that was supported by the statehood delegation to the convention.

Wizards Sign Ramos

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

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Washington Wizards on Thursday signed Peter John Ramos, their second-round pick in last month's draft.

Ramos, 19, will join the Wizards after next month's Olympics, where he will represent Puerto Rico.

The 7-foot-3 center, an early entry candidate, was chosen No. 32 overall. He played the last four seasons with Criollos De Caguas in Puerto Rico. He averaged 20.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots in 24 games in the 2003-04 season.

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