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All 3 Parties Will Conclude Campaigns In SJ… Mari Bras Sees End Of Independence If Rossello Wins… SEC Sends Rossello’s ’96 Campaign Reports To Feds, Gets Acevedo’s Electoral Audit Findings…. Dean Calls For Vieques Clean-Up… Governor Inaugurates School Year… Nat’l Guard Funds Await Bush’s OK… PDP Officially Backs Kerry And Edwards

All Campaigns Will Conclude The Same Day In San Juan

August 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — All three political parties will be closing their campaign activities on October 31 in the same municipality, San Juan.

That was the announcement on Thursday by representatives of the New Progressive Party (NPP), Popular Democratic Party (PDP), and The Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP), who met with Police Superintendent Agustin Cartagena to discuss security at the mass political rallies.

"We are going to take preventive security measures and work together to ensure the public safety during the election," said Cartagena after the meeting.

The NPP was represented by Frances Rodriguez, the PDP by Carlos Dalmau, and the PIP by Ariel Colon.

The NPP will close its campaign in Hiram Bithorn Stadium in Hato Rey and the PIP in front of the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), while Dalmau refused to say where the PDP would wrap-up its campaign.

Afterward the NPP requested the location from Dalmau in a letter.

"I urge you to divulge the location immediately and not to try to gain a political advantage at the expense of the public safety," read the missive signed by Rodriguez.

Regarding caravans, Cartagena said that the Police are prepared to provide security.

Mari Bras Forecast Consequences Of A Rossello Victory

August 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

MAYAGUEZ (AP) —Pro-independence leader Juan Mari Bras said that a victory by Pedro Rossello in the upcoming elections could mean the end of independence.

Mari Bras said a victory from the NPP candidate could even mean the prosecution of pro-independence leaders again.

"If Rossello is elected governor, independence will radically come to an end," said Mari Bras.

According to Mari Bras independence, autonomists, and pro statehood leaders could reach an agreement to file a bill for the redefinition of the United States relations with Puerto Rico.

Mari Bras noted that a constitutional assembly could set the basis for a solution to the status issue.

The Popular Democratic Party and the Puerto Rican Independence Party both favor the Constitutional Assembly option.

While the New Progressive Party promotes the celebration of a referendum within the first six months of 2005 to ask the voters if they want the U.S. Congress for a solution to the status issue by providing non territorial non colonial choices.

Rossello Financial Reports Handed To Federal Authorities

August 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — A spokesman for State Elections Commission (SEC) said that the agency has already forwarded Pedro Rossello’s 1996 gubernatorial campaign financial reports to federal officials, under orders from the Justice Department in Washington DC.

"The documents were sent yesterday to federal officials who came personally to retrieve them," said SEC spokesman Jose Enrique Alvarado.

Although he did not specify what documents were handed over, Alvarado assured SEC’s complete collaboration with federal authorities. "Everything they requested was handed over," he added.

Federal prosecutors Mary Butler and Matthew Solomon, attached to the Public Integrity Division of the Federal Department of Justice, forwarded a missive to the SEC Secretary requesting all financial reports related to the New Progressive Party’s (NPP) 1996 gubernatorial campaign.

Butler heads the investigation into alleged corruption schemes related to the Superaqueduct project, which resulted in the indictment of former NPP secretary general and Rossello 1996 campaign manager, Marcos Morell and Rene Vasquez Botet, respectively.

Although the chief of Puerto Rico based federal prosecutors, Humberto Garcia, has denied the former governor is being investigated by his office, he did clarify that Butler works independently from federal authorities on the island.

Rossello, who was governor from 1993 to 2000, once again bids for the governors seat in the upcoming November 2 elections.

Report Against Acevedo Vila Filed Before The SEC

August 5, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — State Elections Commission (SEC) President Aurelio Gracia has received an electoral audit report that finds irregularities in the $30,000 donation by doctor Richard Machado to Popular Democratic Party Anibal Acevedo Vila’s 1999 campaign.

Once Gracia issues a ruling on the audit, both parties can appeal to the courts.

And although the Gracia will issue his ruling within a few weeks, he has by law 30 days to do so.

The PDP has argued there is nothing illegal about the donation because the donation does not exceed the limits set for a non election year.

Dean Calls For Vieques Clean-Up

August 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

With just two months left until his trip to Vieques, ex-presidential Democratic candidate Howard Dean appealed to the US Government and its citizens to address "the health and clean-up crisis" on the municipal island.

Through his organization "Dean for America", the former pre-presidential candidate pointed out that, despite the fact that the US Navy has vacated Vieques, after over 60 years of naval practices there "the deaths and illnesses have continued."

"We currently spend billions of dollars on medical care for the citizens of Iraq. We also need to use our money for US citizens. And we must begin by attending to the health and clean-up crisis in Vieques," said Dean in a written statement reported by a newspaper.

He pointed out that although the TV cameras and protesters have left, Vieques still has "a significant amount of unexploded ammunition and the predictable leftovers from more than 60 years of bombardment exercises."

The democratic politician recalled how Vieques residents face higher incidences of cancer than residents of the island of Puerto Rico, and said that studies have indicated that Viequenses have higher levels of heavy metals in their system, such as aluminum, cadmium, lead and mercury.

Dean, former governor of Vermont who at one time seemed to be the Democratic hopeful for presidential candidacy, said that the US must not forget that Puerto Ricans are US citizens and serve in the US Armed Forces.

"They [Puerto Ricans] have received more Medals of Honor per capita than any other state," said Dean.

He expressed his opinion that Vieques can be a paradise, but it must first resolve the "environmental catastrophe" left behind by the US Navy.

Governor Inaugurates School Year

August 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — At exactly 8 a.m. Wednesday Gov. Sila M. Calderon rang the school bell at Manuel Febres junior high school in Carolina, symbolically marking the last school year of her administration.

As soon as she rang the bell the students went into their classrooms and Calderon said she was content.

"I am very happy with the beginning of the school year, this a day filled with joy," said Calderon during a press conference where she was joined by her daughters Maria Elena and Sila Marie Gonzalez as well as by Education Secretary Cesar Rey.

According to Calderon most of the schools are in optimum conditions although she recognized that there is a small number of schools that are not ready.

Rey said there are still 21 schools that are not equipped to begin operating but said the number is less than last year, when the number stood at 140.

In addition Rey acknowledged that there are 3,500 post still vacant at the Department, because 4,500 people have retired since May.

Some 610,000 students began the school year on Wednesday.

National Guard Funds Waiting For Bush’s Approval

August 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Resident Commissioner Anibal Acevedo Vila said on Wednesday that all that is needed for the allocation of $6.7 million in federal funds, for the creation of anti-terrorist unit in the Puerto Rican National Guard, is president Bush’s signature.

Acevedo Vila said the funds are part of the Defense Department Budget Allocations for 2005, already approved by the United States House and Senate.

"Defense Department allocations included $74.1 million for the creation of 11 new Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams (WMD-CST), one which will be in Puerto Rico," said Acevedo Vila in a prepared statement.

The budgetary assignment will be used to train 22 members of the National Guard in the areas of response and containment, in the event of a chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear attack.

"The funds will allow for the specialized training of National Guard in Puerto Rico, so that they can be prepared for the eventuality of an attack using WMD or other types of terrorist attacks on the island," added Acevedo Vila.

Assignment will also cover the cost od WMD-CST equipment, such radiation monitoring equipment, satellites, communication systems, and personal protection suits.

PDP Officially Backs Kerry And Edwards

August 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Governing Board of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) approved on Wednesday a resolution that gives the institutional support of the party to Democrats John Kerry and John Edwards, presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively.

The resolution was presented by PDP candidate for the post of resident commissioner, Senator Roberto Prats, and supported by those in attendance with the abstention of Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora.

"The resolution’s main purpose is informing the Puerto Rican community in the United States that PDP supports the Democratic ticket and to urge them to stand behind them," said Prats.

The Governing Board also approved a new stage in campaigning for Anibal Acevedo Vila’s gubernatorial bid dubbed "Popular Triathlon," which will combine rallies, walking tours, and caravans in all municipalities on the island.

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