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Calderon Urged To Approve Vieques Plan…31,309 Request FEMA Aid…Romero Seeks Fed Hearing On Acevedo Donations… Pesquera Will Get Write-In Votes… Romeu Sues PRIDCO…$46m Invested In Megaport… Munitions Expert Checks Vieques Beaches … UT Inaugural After Elections…EDB Touts Job Creation… H-P Increasing R&D… FEMA Opens Aid Centers

Calderon Urged To Approve Plan For Vieques

September 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 EFE News Service. All rights reserved. 

San Juan, Sep 29 (EFE).- Community leaders from Vieques appealed Wednesday to outgoing Puerto Rican Gov. Sila Calderon to approve before she leaves office the so-called master plan for sustainable development on the southeastern island that served for six decades as a U.S. Navy firing range.

Community leaders told the press that the master plan report - drafted by consulting group Estudios Tecnicos at a cost of almost $500,000 - includes land use and zoning recommendations as well as suggestions from the island's residents.

Failure to approve the plan could bring about consequences such as land speculation, the construction of large hotels in environmentally sensitive areas and uncontrolled development, the spokesman for the Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques, Robert Rabin, said.

"The possibility exists that some of the major economic interests may not want the approval of the plan because it protects the community and (those interests) could be behind some elements in the government," Rabin said.

The last step in approving the plan is for public hearings to be held on the island, the spokesman for the Coordinating Committee-All Puerto Rico with Vieques, Jorge Colon, said.

The spokesmen said even though elections in Puerto Rico are one month away, there is still enough time to get the plan approved before Calderon leaves office.

FEMA Aid Requested By 31,309 Puerto Ricans

September 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Some 31,309 Puerto Ricans have requested aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for losses related to tropical storm Jeanne, a spokeswoman for the agency said.

Of that figure, 34 percent live in 14 towns in the Southesast and Central regions of the island, FEMA spokeswoman Michelle Feliciano said.

According to press reports, as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, 31,309 people in 56 towns that have been declared disaster zones by President George W. Bush have called to request help for damages suffered by their homes or other belongings.

Jeanne passed over Puerto Rico on Sept. 15, causing seven deaths and flooding highways and residential areas.

Romero Asks For Federal Hearing On Acevedo Vila Donations

September 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The former resident commissioner Carlos Romero Barceló has requested through a letter to the chief of the federal attorneys on the island, Humberto Garcia, that he investigate the legality of some donations over $400,000 received by the Popular Democratic candidate for governor, Anibal Acevedo Vila.

Romero, who was defeated by Acevedo Vila in the 2000 elections, alleged that the Popular leader received the donations between now and 2002, principally from dental groups in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

According to press reports, Romero also said that an Acevedo Vila donor was available to testify before federal authorities.

When Romero announced that this week he would request the hearing with the federal authorities, Acevedo Vila’s campaign director, Carlos Dalmau, rejected any illegality and stressed that the Federal Election Commission audited all the donations received by the president of the Popular Democratic Party while he was a candidate for resident commissioner.

Pesquera Will Get Write-In Votes

September 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Members of the now-incorporated "Movimiento Pro Estadidad Digna" will write-in the name of Carlos Pesquera in the ballot for governor, althought they leave this Thursday the "free will" of all the "estadistas" the vote for candidates of the New Progressive Party.

The group was formed after Pedro Rossello defeated Pesquera in the primaries as the official New Progressive Party candidate for governor.

The organization’s president, Lourdes Espinet, as well as Milagros Figueroa, Abraham Ramos and Carmen Barbosa, granddaughter of the statehooder José Celso Barbosa, are among the people that will vote for Pesquera.

"I will not vote for Rossello… I will vote for the other New Progressive candidates and I will express my wish to vote freely for Carlos Pesquera as a write-in," she said at a press conference.

The oldest granddaughter of Barbosa said that it does not bother her if the Popular candidate for governor, Aníbal Acevedo Vila, wins the election because she is not going to vote for him.

Espinet echoed her words.

"The role of the governor we are going to leave to free will … but I , Lourdes Esoinet, am giving my vote in the nomination directly to Carlos Pesquera," she said.

On the other part, the group announced its official incorporation before the State Department as an organization whose work is to promote honorable statehood and support senators and congressmen who are in favor of this status.

Romeu Sues PRIDCO

September 30, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The former executive director of the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Co. (PRIDCO), Xavier Romeu, sued the agency in a federal court in the Southern District of New York for alleged violations of his civil rights.

Romeu also sued another agency that he led during the past New Progressive administration, the Department of Economic Development, as well as PRIDCO employees Ángel Acevedo, Maritza Cruz, Enrique Laguerre, José Ramírez and Jorge Rodriguez.

According to press reports, the suit was filed Monday and is going to be heard by Judge William H. Pauley.

Romeu has been the object of several audits, investigations and has a complaint before the Office of Governmental Ethics, related to the use of government credit cards for personal expenses and the management of the controversial Puerto Rico Industrial Incentives Fund.

$46 Million Has Been Invested In Megaport In Ponce

September 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) – Between the state and city government of Ponce, $46 million has been invested in the development of the Puerto de Las Americas.

The city of Ponce has invested approximately $30 million in the construction on the port facility and in purchasing a new crane, said the director of the city’s port, Ramon Torres Morales.

"In the next weeks we hope to complete the work, except for a very few things," Torres Morales said.

Economic Development Secretary Milton Segarra said that between fiscal years 2001-2002 and 2003-2004 the central government has invested $16.8 million in the project.

"Some $16.8 million has been invested in the development of the Puerto de Las Americas, some $10 million having been approved in a proposal for fiscal years 2001-2002, and for fiscal years 2002-2003 and 2003-2004 some $7.4 million (was approved)," Segarra said.

According to Segarra, work on the port is 98 percent complete, with the asphalt and electrical system remaining to be worked on.

Vieques Beaches Still Closed As Munitions Expert Continues Checks

By Ricardo Zuñiga

September 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – A U.S. marine munitions expert arrived on Vieques Tuesday to inspect the beaches in the wildlife refuge in the east zone and certify that tropical storm Jeanne had not uncovered munitions, said refuge manager Oscar Diaz.

Diaz, an official with the Fish and Wildlife Service, said the expert would work Wednesday on Caracas Beach (Red Beach) and La Chiva (Blue Beach), which have been closed since tropical storm Jeanne passed over the island on Sept. 15.

"We hope that this weekend we will have complete information about the situation, if there is danger from munitions that the sea has brought ashore or that have been uncovered by erosion," Diaz told the Associated Press.

He said they had cleared the access roads to the refuge, and if the expert certifies there are no exposed munitions, they can open Caracas Beach to the public next weekend, to coincide with the high season for foreign tourists.

La Chiva beach, further from the entrance of the refuge, will remain closed for more time, he said.

"We want from now to the beginning of October to have Red Beach in good condition, with the gazebos and roads ready," he said.

Urban Train Opening Delayed Till After Elections

September 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Contrary to the wishes of Gov. Sila M. Calderon, the inauguration of the Urban Train will happen after the Nov. 2 elections, because some 80 flaws still remain, said the project manager and the Transportation and Public Works Secretary.

Manager Gabriel Alcaraz and the head of Transportation, Fernando Fagundo, said that although the flaws do not represent danger for passengers, they must be corrected by order of the Federal Transportation Administration.

"It could be as soon as four weeks or as long as three months," Alcaraz told a newspaper.

The flaws include abrupt halts by the train in the middle of its run, a result of an electromagnetic signal that affects the communication system, and a flaw in the spare parts.

Economic Development Bank Touts Job Creation Figures

September 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) - The president of the Economic Development Bank, Francisco Rodriguez, said Tuesday that 29,000 new jobs had been created through local companies since the fiscal year 2001 to June 30, 2004.

Rodriguez said in the fiscal year ended in 2001, 7,194 new jobs were created; in 2002, 6,390; in 2003, 12,727 and in 2004, 13,196.

"We, in the past fiscal years, have been able to create 26,000 new jobs in local businesses," he said.

He said the job creation figure is a way to measure the success of the EDB during the present four-year period.

He also said that every sector has benefited from the jobs created through EDB financing, but the highest number of new jobs was registered in the manufacturing, tourism and service industries.

Governor Signs Agreement With Hewlett-Packard

September 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila M. Calderon announced Tuesday the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Hewlett-Packard to increase research and development work on the island and discuss the possibility of establishing a laboratory here.

The agreement was signed by the vice president of research for Hewlett Packard, Dick Lampman, and the Economic Development and Commerce Secretary, Milton Segarra, during a meeting at La Fortaleza with Calderon.

"We are extremely pleased to have Hewlett-Packard as an ally in this proposition and proud of the bioscience innovations that have been developed by Hewlett-Packard researchers in Aguadilla," she said.

Lampman said the firm has been operating for some 25 years in manufacturing and development in Aguadilla, and he was optimistic about the possibility of expanding the company’s research operations on the island.

FEMA Opens Aid Centers For People Affected By Jeanne

September 29, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on Tuesday announced the opening of four Disaster Recovery Centers, where residents of the 56 municipalities that were declared disaster areas can get information about requests for assistance and other aid programs available.

The agency announced that federal and state representatives, as well as other recovery specialists, will be at the four centers from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.

FEMA said people affected by the hurricane should first call the telephone assistance line at 1-800-621-3362.

The centers are located in Aguada at the Café Teatro in the Centro de Bellas Artes, in Canovanas at the Multi-Use Community Center, in Santa Isabel at the Francisco Robledo Multi-Use Center and in Toa Baja at the Antonio R. Barcelo Court.

FEMA Lists Funding in Hurricane Disasters


September 28, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- States with declared disasters because of the series of hurricanes include:

--Puerto Rico: Jeanne, 32,444 applications, $5,546,998 approved.

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