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Victory Treated Like Gold, Puerto Rico Stuns USA 92-73… Dominican Navy Arrests 6 In Immigrants' Deadly Trip… Arroyo Carries The Flag For Puerto Rico… Electoral Auditor Requested For Santini… Irregularities Still Plague Mental Health… Rossello Finds Acevedo’s Health Reform Stance Curious, He & Pesquera Meet Over Shared Statehood Ideals, Goals… Island Part Of Santander's Main Focus

Puerto Ricans Treat Victory Over U.S. Team Like Gold

August 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Ricans celebrated the island's historic 92-73 thumping of the U.S. basketball team at the Olympics, treating the victory like gold.

Islanders honked horns and waved Puerto Rican flags after Sunday's game, which was only the third Olympic loss for the United States and its first since adding professional players.

"This is like winning a gold medal," teacher Carmen D. Torres said from the north-coast city of Arecibo. "I expected the Puerto Rican team to play well, but the fact that it defeated the world's greatest team is like a dream. I still don't believe it."

Even Gov. Sila Calderon issued a statement after the game. "This victory demonstrates the level of excellence and professionalism that our players have reached," she said. "It makes us all proud."

It was by far the most lopsided defeat for a U.S. men's team. Puerto Rico, which had lost to the United States five times in the past 13 months, led for more than 33 minutes of the 40-minute game.

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.

Dominican Navy Arrests 6 In Immigrants' Deadly Trip

August 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. 

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Six members of the Dominican navy were arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes to allow a boatload of migrants to depart for Puerto Rico on an ill-fated trip that left about 55 people dead or missing, navy officials said Saturday.

Three officers and three sailors were arrested late Friday and will be tried in a naval court, said Col. Sandy Tejaba, a spokesman.

Tejaba said the arrests were made based on testimony from residents in El Limón, the northeastern town where an estimated 86 Dominicans got into a small wooden motorboat and took off July 29 hoping to reach the wealthier U.S. territory of Puerto Rico.

Carlos Arroyo Carries The Flag For Puerto Rico


August 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved. 

ATHENS - Staging spectacular, innovative Opening Ceremonies that would have made Zeus and Athena proud, Greece showed the world there was no need for worry beads.

Not only were the Games' original hosts ready for the event's long-awaited homecoming, they kicked it off in style. On this steamy night, the ancient Parthenon took a back seat as a mammoth steel and glass stadium illuminated the sky with pyrotechnics, Olympic rings made of fire, floating faux marble statues and an enormous torch that will burn for the next 16 days.

The 72,000 fans, waving light sticks, erupted into a deafening ''Hellas!'' cheer when weightlifter Pyrros Dimas led the Greek delegation into the building. That wrapped up the two-hour Parade of Nations, which included a record 202 countries and more than 10,000 athletes.


Former Florida International University basketball player Carlos Arroyo carried the flag for Puerto Rico, and three-time Olympian and two-time gold medalist Dawn Staley, who plays for the WNBA Charlotte Sting and coaches at Temple University, carried the flag for the United States.

The ceremony opened with 400 drummers pounding in unison to the rhythm of a heartbeat.

It ended with athletes dancing to a techno beat. The perfect bookends for a ceremony that bridged the ancient with the new.

Electoral Auditor Requested For Santini

August 14, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Popular Democratic Party mayoral hopeful, Eduardo Bhatia, requested on Friday that the State Electoral Commission (SEC) assign an electoral auditor to incumbent San Juan mayor Jorge Santini. The request was a result of speculations that Santini might be using municipal employees for his reelection campaign.

The appeal came through Bhatia’s campaign manager, Gabriel Alonso. Alonso said that the strongest evidence as to Santini’s usage of human resources could be made through deputy mayor Alfredo Escalera’s responses to the mayor’s political appointments.

"Santini has been developing his campaign from the mayor’s officewith public funds, and municipal employees and contractors. Everybody knows it and is commenting on the situation, which is appalling due to its impudence. We are asking that this be investigated immediately," Alonso said.

Alonso sent a letter to SEC president, Aurelio Gracia, and hopes that he will give his blessing to the request.

Attempts to reach Santini gave no result.

Bhatia’s campaign manager also asked Santini to present his campaign, press, and field operations managers so that their positions within the municipality could be cleared up.

Alonso even expressed doubts as to who was behind the reins of the advertising agency Genius which is in charge of Santini’s ad campaign in the media. His doubts were raised because the firm that consolidated Genius performed the same task for Publicidad Tere Suarez, which works with the municipality.

"It is very strange because Genius and Tere Suarez are on the same street and were consolidated by the same lawyer. To top it off the person who is in charge of Genius is unknown in the media and it is highly doubtful that Santini would trust his advertising to someone without experience," he indicated.

According to Alonso, Santini could have to refund the money that was assigned to his campaign. "If our suspicions are confirmed, the investment would have to be subtracted from his electoral fund," he remarked.

Irregularities Still Prevalent In Mental Health

August 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A report by federal monitor David Helfeld states that the island’s public mental health system is still not complying with stipulations made by the Judge who presides over the Navarro Ayala Psychiatric Hospital overcrowding case.

Despite government efforts, there is still no compliance with federal and local laws and the rights thousands of patients are being violated," read Helfeld’s report.

"Only through a strict regiments of recommendations implementation and with the support of the pertinent agencies will be able to close this case," said Helfeld.

Helfeld recommended to Judge Laffite, who presides over the case, that all parties in violation be given the proper procedures as to conform with conditions for mental healthcare established in 1996.

He also petitioned the Judge to deny a dismissal request filed by the Commonwealth, to end the case which has been in the courts since 1974.

According to the document, the main violations stem from the retention of patients that are fit for release and the governments inability to comply with court ordered recommendations.

Rossello Weighs In On Acevedo Vila’s Health Reform Stance

August 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) –New Progressive Party (NPP) candidate, Pedro Rossello, finds it interesting that Anibal Acevedo Vila now wants to refrain from debunking the health reform card.

"It’s interesting that in recent days the Popular Democratic Party is trying to institute programs that they have opposed, which at all cost they’ve tried to destroy," said Rossello.

"Now they say they don’t want to eliminate the health reform card, when for three years they’ve tried to destroy it," he added.

According to Rossello, the people who had the health reform cards revoked and the few who still have it are witnesses to the fact.

"Go ask those who had their cards taken away, who number a quarter of million, or those who still have it , 1.6 million, but have had their benefits reduced and their premiums raised," said the former governor.

Rossello reacted to Anibal Acevedo Vila pledge to safe guard the health reform card, while raising the benefits for mental health and strengthening diagnosis and treatment centers.

Rossello pointed out that the health reform card is not the only one of his initiative the PDP have embraced, citing route 66 and the use of the national Guard to combat crime.

"It is a clear agenda of destruction aimed at the programs we instituted during our 1993-2000 administration," said Rossello.

Pesquera Met With Rossello Because Of Ideological Pledge

August 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – For Carlos Pesquera, the ideals of statehood are on the line in the upcoming elections. It was for that reason that he agreed to a meeting with former primary opponent and rightful New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate, Pedro Rossello.

Pesquera, overwhelmingly beaten by Rossello in the NPP primaries and who had a falling out during the campaign, said that he agreed to the meeting because he had to put all aside for the ideals of statehood.

"I was invited to a meeting and I attended. It was a candid and cordial meeting," he refused to give further details at the time..

"As a statehood supporter I have to give my all so that those ideals are propelled forward," he added.

Pesquera made the comments before entering the Bayamon district attorneys office where he was going to give information about an incident in which he was subject to kidnapping and robbery.

"I came her to cooperate with police," said the former NPP president.

The suspect, 23-year-old Jose A. Perez Diaz, was arrested on three other counts of carjacking not related to the Pesquera incident at his home in the Rosales housing project in Guaynabo, bail was set at $1.6 million.

According to Police Lt. Gualberto Garcia, Perez Diaz is the chief suspect in the Pesquera incident, in which he allegedly robbed and kidnapped the former candidate, making him withdraw a $1,000 from his bank account and credit cards.

Puerto Rico Part Of Santander's Main Focus

August 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Business News Americas. All rights reserved. 

Spanish financial group Grupo Santander (NYSE: STD) sees Puerto Rico as a market central to its Latin American operations, local daily El Diario Financiero reported Santander's Latin America director Francisco Luzón as saying.

Along with Brazil, Mexico and Chile, the regional director said that Puerto Rico will see recovery in coming years and that will factor into the bank's main strategy for Latin America.

Santander's Puerto Rican subsidiary, Santander BanCorp (NYSE: SBP), is one of the country's top banks in terms of market share and saw second quarter net income jump 128% to US$16mn compared to the same period last year.

Grupo Santander is one of the largest financial groups in Spain and Latin America and holds a leadership position in most of the region's markets.

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