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Puerto Rico Stuns USA 92-73… Calderon Seeks To Curb Dominican Migration… HUD Grants Island $167m, Aids New Homeowners… P.R. Gets $449m In Fed Education Funds… "Meningitis Still Going Strong"… Carrion On IOC Exec Bd… Survivors Relate Maritime Tragedy… $60m Allocated For Home Purchases… An 'Elect' Group… Rossello Calls For "Healthcare As A Right"

Puerto Rico Upsets United States Men


August 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

<---Carlos Arroyo led Puerto Rico with 24 points.

PHOTO: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

ATHENS, Aug. 15 -- The United States men's basketball team traveled all the way to Greece to find out they aren't even the best squad in their own neighborhood, losing a 92-73 decision today to Puerto Rico in their opening preliminary-round Olympic game at Helliniko Indoor Arena.

It was only the third loss ever for the United States in the Olympics, and the most lopsided of the three. The previous losses came in the gold medal game in 1972, and in the 1988 semifinals.

It was also the first time the American team had lost since professionals from the National Basketball Association began competing in the Olympics in 1992.

--->Puerto Rico's Carlos Arroyo celebrates as he leaves the game in a 92-73 upset of the United States.


For Puerto Rico, however, the victory represented one of its greatest Olympic achievements. The Americans had beaten Puerto Rico five times in the past 13 months, including a 96-71 trouncing on July 31 in an exhibition game in Jacksonville, Fla. But the Americans continued their inconsistent play against a team that has three players with National Basketball Association experience.

In the game's final minutes, a handful of Puerto Rican flags had been joined by the throaty roars of the multitudes. The world's basketball giant had been slain.

The loss could put the American gold medal hopes in jeopardy.

Carlos Arroyo, a point guard with the Utah Jazz, weaved between American defenders all night, putting on a sparkling display of passing and shooting and finishing with 24 points.

The United States were led by Allen Iverson and Duncan, who scored 15 points each.

The Americans shot 31 percent in the first half compared to 55 for Puerto Rico.

Calderon Will Hold Talks To Curb Dominican Migration

By Jose Fernandez Colon

August 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) – Governor Sila Calderon will attempt to coordinate efforts the incoming Dominican government in the hopes of reducing illegal voyages of migrants seeking economic opportunities in Puerto Rico.

Calderon’s initiative, which will be discussed when the Governor travels to the neighboring country for Leonel Fernandez’s presidential inauguration, hopes to prevent further migrant deaths in dangerous waters of the Mona Strait.

"This Monday I have accepted an invitation to attend the inauguration of the Dominican Republic’s new president, Leonel Fernandez, I hope to discuss the matter with him personally and hope to establish a working with new minister of foreign affairs.

Calderon’s resolve comes after more than 50 Dominicans lost their life after their vessel was lost at sea for 11 days. On Tuesday 39 of survivors were rescued, but of those seven lost their lives shortly after being found.

"I want to extend my deepest condolences to the Dominican people for in the name of the Puerto Rican people," added Calderon.

She said that she had engaged in talks with outgoing president Hipolito Mejia, but those efforts had not produced coordination between key members on both sides.

"The Dominican government has a responsibility to guard their beaches, so that its citizen are not exposed to the dangers inherent to such a dangerous crossing."

HUD Grants $167 Million For Economic And Housing Development In Puerto Rico

August 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, PR – Twenty-one communities in Puerto Rico will receive more than $167 million in federal funding to stimulate their local economies, produce more affordable housing and help the homeless individuals and families, Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Michael Liu today announced. The funding will also help house and serve individuals with HIV/AIDS and produce affordable housing for low-income families.

Included in the funding is more than $77 million to the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to assist lower income persons living in smaller communities throughout the island. Liu presented the funding to Puerto Rico during the Puerto Rico Bankers Association’s 12th Affordable Housing Congress.

"HUD is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with local communities in Puerto Rico to help build better communities and encourage the American Dream of homeownership," said Liu. "This funding will help local leaders to promote community development, create jobs, produce affordable homes and help our most vulnerable neighbors."

HUD’s assistance will be provided through four programs: Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG); HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME); Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG); and, Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA).

For the past 30 years, HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program has awarded over $100 billion to state and local governments to target their own community development priorities. CDBG is one of HUD’s oldest and most popular programs.

The Home Investment Partnerships Program is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to produce affordable housing for low-income families.

Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) help local communities to meet the basic shelter needs of homeless individuals and families. These grants also provide transitional housing and a variety of support services designed to move the homeless away from a life on the street toward permanent housing. This block grant program, in concert with more than $1 billion HUD awards by competition, helps thousands of local homeless assistance programs to help those who would otherwise call the streets their home.

HUD’s Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) grants are distributed based on the number of AIDS cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The grants provide rental assistance and support services to individuals with HIV/AIDS and their families.

HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS.

Federal Funds Help 53 Local Families Become Homeowners

August 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, PR – After more than 30 years of renting an apartment in the Las Delicias public housing development, today Luis Asencio-Madera and 52 other families in Puerto Rico became homeowners at the largest homeownership closing ceremony in U.S. history.

Their dreams of homeownership were made real thanks to two U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) programs that are turning renters into homeowners.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Assistant Secretary Michael Liu joined Ileanna Echegoyen, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Housing and Carlos Laboy, Administrator of the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration to recognize the historic event.

"Thanks to the perseverance of these families, the Puerto Rico Public Housing Administration and all of the mortgage banking partners these families were able to attain the great American dream – homeownership," said Liu at the closing event in San Juan. Earlier today Liu spoke at the Puerto Rico Bankers Association’s 12th Affordable Housing Congress.

The Asencio-Madera family and 32 other families used HUD’s Section 5(h) Program to buy their public housing units in Las Delicias in Ponce. The program helps low-income families purchase homes through an arrangement that benefits both the buyer and the public housing agency (PHA) that sells the unit. It gives the buyer access to an affordable homeownership opportunity.

Asencio-Madera, a self-employed painter and landscaper, lives with his wife, Iris Loyola and their three children – Luis M., Luis Ernesto and Fernando Luis Asencio-Loyola. He says he’s "the happiest man in the world" because he is finally a homeowner and his children now have a safe place to live.

Another 20 families utilized a Section 8 homeownership program to purchase their homes. HUD’s Housing Choice Vouchers Homeownership Program allows families to use their Section 8 vouchers to purchase homes. Since the program began in 1999, it has helped 2065 families who had been life-long renters become homeowners.

Puerto Rico Fifth In Federal Funding For Education

August 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Popular Democratic Party (PDP) gubernatorial candidate, Anibal Acevedo Vila, released on Thursday a memorandum from the U.S. House of Representatives’ Investigation Services Office, which reveals that Puerto Rico has received the fifth largest percentage increase in federal Chapter I education funding of all jurisdictions.

The report states that Puerto Rico holds the fifth position of all jurisdictions that benefit from Chapter I funding, showing a 63.7% increase. The national average was 40%.

"This goes to show that Puerto Rico has benefited greatly from Chapter I funding, it is in fifth place in jurisdictions with the highest growth in education aid," said Acevedo Vila.

The report, prepared at Acevedo Vila’s request, revealed that in 2001 Puerto Rico received $274 million in Chapter I aid and that this year it will receive $449 million.

"That was the same program from which convicted former Secretary of Education, Victor Fajardo, stole funds from…causing the aid to be frozen, but thanks to my efforts and those of current Secretary of Education, Cesar Rey, we have achieved equity in fund allocation."

"Meningitis Still Going Strong," Says Rullan

August 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Although he said on Thursday that the aseptic meningitis outbreak is "still going strong," Secretary of Health Johnny Rullan reiterated that the epidemic should die down within three weeks.

Rullan reaffirmed that it is not necessary to close schools due to the disease because the Department of Education has taken the necessary hygienic measures to ensure that faculty and students are protected.

"The outbreak is still strong, we do not want to say it is under control because it is not," said Rullan.

He acknowledged that there are schools that lack running water, soap, nor napkins, but he said that individual families are providing these to prevent further infection.

"I have been guaranteed that in every school there is water, soap, and paper towels, whether they were provided by the school or by parents who donated them," said Rullan.

Carrion Makes It To IOC Executive Board

August 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Xinhua News Agency. All rights reserved. 

ATHENS, Aug. 11 (Xinhua) -- Richard Carrion of Puerto Rico was elected into the International Olympic Committee executive board at the IOC 116th session here on Wednesday.

He beat Phillip Walter Coles (Australia), Mostafa Hashemi Taba (Iran) and Carlos Arthur Nuzman (Brazil) for the board's sixth seat.

Sergey Bubka of Ukraine, Denis Oswald of Switzerland, Ottavio Cingquanta of Italy and Mario Vazquez Rana of Mexico were earlier reelected into the executive board and Chinese Olympic Committee vice president Yu Zaiqing won the board's fifth seat.

Survivors Relate Maritime Tragedy


August 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

NAGUA, Dominican Republic -- A migrant lost at sea for nearly two weeks without food and water while trying to reach Puerto Rico said Wednesday more than 40 people died during the trip, and at least one woman who refused to give breast milk to passengers was thrown overboard into shark-infested waters.

Rafael Emilio Chalas, director of the Antonio Yapor Hospital in Nagua told a Dominican radio station Tuesday that some people said they resorted to cannibalism.

One survivor, however, denied that. ``Some wanted to eat the dead bodies, just their ears. But others of us said 'no,' and if we're going to die, we'll all die together,'' said Ramon Ballano, 40.]

Many of the more than 75 people crammed into a 40-foot wooden boat started acting irrationally when provisions for the one-day trip ran out after three days, said Faustina Santana. She was one of 33 migrants found alive Tuesday near this small fishing village, not far from where the boat departed.

``A lot of people just jumped off,'' a sobbing Santana, 27, said from her hospital room. ``They were going crazy.''

The wary father of another passenger then entered the hospital room, showed Santana a picture of his son and asked if he was among those who jumped. She told him she did not know.

Survivors said at least 45 people died during the journey and two died Tuesday on the way to hospitals. Many of the migrants are being treated for dehydration, and many remain unconscious.

Santana said the boat left the Dominican Republic on July 29 and made it to the Puerto Rican island of Desecheo, but its engine then failed. The boat then drifted out to sea, and desperation began to set in among passengers.

Two women offered their breast milk to passengers. One who refused to share her milk was thrown overboard by male passengers, Santana said.

``One woman refused to give breast milk and the men aboard grabbed her from behind and threw her overboard,'' Santana said. ``They told me to give milk and I said I couldn't.''

It was unclear whether the women had babies with them on the voyage.

The passengers also shared a coconut they found floating in the ocean.

Rafael Emilio Chalas, director of the Antonio Yapor Hospital in Nagua _ 112 miles northeast of Santo Domingo _ told a Dominican radio station Tuesday night that some people said they resorted to cannibalism to survive.

Worried relatives notified authorities when they did not hear from their loved ones in the days after they left. The journey to Puerto Rico can take a day in good weather.

"It's way too many lives lost needlessly,'' said Lt. Eric Willis, a spokesman for the U.S. Coast Guard, which sent cutters and planes to search for the migrants. "And they keep coming.''

There has been a huge influx of Dominican migrants to Puerto Rico in the past year as inflation in their Caribbean homeland has topped 30 percent, unemployment has reached 16 percent and blackouts plague the nation.

More than 7,000 Dominican migrants have been detained trying to reach wealthier Puerto Rico since Oct. 1, more than twice the number for the previous 12 months.

At least 60 migrants have been confirmed dead in the Mona Passage, a shark-infested and rough channel between the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. But the number of fatalities are likely higher, Coast Guard authorities say.

There were nine confirmed migrant deaths in the Mona Passage last year.

On Monday, the Dominican Navy rescued 19 boat migrants stranded at sea for two days after their outboard motor failed. They were treated for dehydration.

$60 Million Allocated For Home Purchases

August 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The central government on Wednesday assigned $60 million so that 4,000 families may put give their down payment towards the purchase of a home of their own.

Gov. Sila Calderon made the announcement at event of The Keys to Your Home program.

"I want to announce the investment of an additional $60 million to this wonderful program," said Calderon.

According to the governor, during her mandate, 9,915 have been aided in the purchase of their first home, with an investment of $140 dollars over three and a half years.

"Buy the end of my term we hope to hand over the keys to 13,815 homes," added the Governor.

The Keys to Your Home program offers qualifying low income families anywhere from $3,000 to $15,000 for the down payment on a new home.

An 'Elect' Group

August 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. 

New York Post

WITH the presidential election two months away, all the young, gorgeous and famous Latinos are getting down to real business. Rosario Dawson, Tego Caldern, Zoe Saldana, Tony Touch, Fat Joe, Aventura and Robbie Draco Rosa are among a group of entertainers who have recorded public service announcements for Voto Latino, the newest political effort to get young Hispanics to flex their mighty muscle at the voting booth.

The non-partisan national campaign, which begins August 17th and features the stunning bunch, urges viewers and fans - in Spanish and English - to get registered and head to the polls on Election Day.

"Both Republicans and Democrats alike have made it clear that they plan to court Latino voters aggressively. However, winning over this voting group will not be easy," says Voto Latino founder Phil Coln. "The days of candidates showing up at a Latino event and uttering a few badly pronounced words in Spanish in hopes of securing their votes are over."

The national ads will air on all networks and are being supported by MTVs Choose or Lose campaign.

Nearly 40 million strong in the U.S., Hispanics are considered the swing vote in the key states of New Jersey, Florida, New Mexico, Texas and Illinois.

Rossello Calls For "Healthcare As A Right"

August 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 WOW News. All rights reserved. 

By WOW News Staff

In a five minute televised address on Wednesday former governor and New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate, Pedro Rossello, blasted what he saw as the current administration’s return to a lackluster healthcare system and promised that if elected he would guarantee "Healthcare as a Right."

In the most recent installment of the "Dialogues with the People," Rossello highlighted his administrations advances in healthcare and urged viewers to see a 68 point health initiative that will be printed on Thursday in every major newspaper.

"I urge you to look for my 68 point health initiatives tomorrow, please read it with care as we are going to guarantee health care as a right to everyone," said Rossello in the prerecorded address.

Rossello said his initiative will feature five focal points:

-Healthcare as right.

-Universal access

-Quality service.

-The introduction of recreational components to health.

-Community education so that people are better informed.

Rossello promised to revolutionize the way healthcare is provided if elected.

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