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Prepa Followed Protocol During Jeanne, Engineers Say… HP P.R. To Oversee Central American Operations… 3 Schools Win Education Awards…FBI Investigates ASA Vandalism… 4 Water Filtration Plants Closed… Martin Seeks Anti-Iraq War Resolution… Calderon Hails Special Communities, Opposes Presidential Vote

Engineers’ Report Says Prepa Followed Protocol During Jeanne

October 7, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

CAGUAS (AP) - Gov. Sila M. Calderon on Thursday recognized the executive director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, Hector Rosario, for his decision to shut down the electric system during tropical storm Jeanne in September.

The governor called a report issued on Thursday by the College of Engineers and Surveyors, "positive" after it determined that Prepa followed the established protocol for shutting down the system.

"This report, in general terms, backs up and supports all the measures taken by the executive director and his team to maintain and safeguard the Puerto Rico energy system," the governor said at a press conference in Caguas.

Rosario’s decision was widely criticized and questioned due to some areas of the island remaining without power for up to a week after the storm, which caused large economic losses.

The report released Thursday by the special committee from the College of Engineers and Surveyors which evaluated the situation said "the technical administration of the electrical system on the part of the engineers and technical personnel at the Technical Operations Center was done with good engineering practices and within protocols and established procedures."

Puerto Rico Subsidiary To Head Hewlett Packard Operations in Central America

October 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004 AII Data Processing. All rights reserved. 

Latin America News Digest

U.S. computer maker Hewlett Packard (HP) turned its subsidiary in Puerto Rico into headquarters for all of its operations in Central America and the Caribbean, it was reported on October 7, 2004.

The headquarters, which are located in Hato Rey, will manage the company's operations in the countries in the region, including the soon to be established subsidiary in Costa Rica.

Previously headquarters for the region were HP's office in Houston, in the state of Texas, USA.

The main factor for the strategic decision is the sharp increase in HP's sales in Puerto Rico for the last four years, the human resources, and the strategic location of the island, which will allow the company to increase the efficiency of its operations and management. HP is also studying the possibility to increase its research and exploration activities in Puerto Rico.

HP's subsidiary in Puerto Rico, which employs 130 staff, will continue to be headed by Martin Castillo. HP employs 530 staff in the region.

Three PR Schools Win Education Awards

October 7, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Three Puerto Rico schools received three of 10 prizes from the Organization of Latin American States for Education, Science and Culture as part of the "Escuelas que hacen escuela" contest, meant for the staff to create programs to improve education.

Among the 189 schools participating from Mexico and the Caribbean, the following were winners: Pre-Técnica Federico Asenjo in Santurce, Jesús Sanabria Cruz in Yabucoa and Nuestra Escuela in Caguas. Three schools in Cuba and four in Mexico also won awards.

"For me, we have won the Olympics of education … Already we, as a people, recognize that we are great. Today we give evidence of it," said Education Secretary Cesar Rey, according to press reports.

FBI Investigates Alleged Vandalism At ASA Facilities

October 7, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The agent in charge of the FBI on the island, Luis Fraticelli, confirmed that the agency is investigating two alleged acts of sabotage at Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (ASA) facilities.

Although Fraticelli would not be specific about the incidents, Police Superintendent Agustin Cartagena said that both were related to the throwing of several boxes of motor oil at the facilities in Orocovis and Aguadilla.

"During the last few days I have brought to the FBI’s attention two alleged criminal acts at ASA facilities. Any criminal act that affects the infrastructure and function of the water system, and therefore harms citizens, can be investigated by the FBI," Fraticelli said in a press release.

Thursday marked the fourth day of the strike called by the Independent Authentic Union of the ASA, in protest of the stalled negotiations for a new collective agreement.

Health Department Closes 4 Water Filtration Plants

October 6, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Health Department closed four water filtration plants because they could not count on personnel to maintain operations after the strike was declared by the Independent Authentic Union (IAU) at the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (ASA), Health Secretary Johnny Rullan announced Tuesday.

Rullan could not say precisely the number of clients that would be without water service.

"We are not allowed to operate a plant without personnel," Rullan told a newspaper.

He said the closed plants were in Aibonito, Peñuelas, Barranquitas and Cayey.

He also said the plants would be reopened as soon as they could count on personnel, but that so far he had not received information from ASA about when they could assign employees.

The IAU began a strike Monday due to a stall in negotiations for a new collective agreement, but the ASA and the governor have said that a contingency plan is in plane that will keep water available for the entire island.

The health plan is the main source of discord, after company management in July decided to cancel the insurance administered by the union and contracted with more expensive Triple S, following a report by the Insurance Commissioner which cited possible irregularities in the management of the union plan’s funds.

Fernando Martin Calls For Resolution Against Iraq War

October 6, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Independent Sen. Fernando Martin on Wednesday filed a resolution before the Legislature expressing his opposition to the U.S.-Iraq war, and called for the immediate return of all Puerto Rican soldiers.

"After the death of 20 Puerto Ricans in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is unforgivable that the Senate would meet and not approve this measure to demand the return of the thousands of Puerto Ricans that are risking their lives for an absurd and fabricated war," he said in a press release.

Martin, who also is the executive president of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, referred to the notification from Gov. Sila M. Calderon for a new special session this week that will consider some court appointments.

As of Sept. 29, the number of Puerto Rican soldiers serving in the National Guard and the Reserve mobilized as part of the "war on terrorism" increased to 2,468, according to Fort Buchanan.

"Already the governor has called a special session to fill vacant judgeships, and other things of this nature, days before the election, and by doing so continues a history of this terrible practice, which it seems we approve most of the time in the Senate if we discuss specific issues and approve real demands important for our people," Martin said.

A similar resolution introduced in May was considered by the Popular majority, the senator said.

Governor Fights For Special Communities Program

October 6, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – With the conviction that it will be "the biggest social justice program" in the history of the island, Gov. Sila M. Calderon defended her Special Communities project before the board of governors of the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB).

Calderon said the program, for which $1 billion has been earmarked, needs additional funds, but she said it is not possible to request funds from IDB because Puerto Rico is considered a developed country.

"This is the most important initiative of my governorship and the biggest social justice program ever put into action on the island," the governor said.

Calderon met with the president of the IDB, Enrique Iglesias and some of his coworkers, in Washington, D.C.

Governor Does Not Feel PR Needs Presidential Vote

October 6, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila M. Calderon said she does not think it is necessary for Puerto Rico to sacrifice its "fiscal autonomy" to vote in the U.S. presidential election, as the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston prepares to hear a petition on this topic.

Calderon said the right to vote for the president of the United States will mean that Puerto Ricans must pay federal income taxes.

"At this time, I feel good about the unique relationship we have and I do not feel it is necessary to vote in the U.S. elections," the governor said, according to newspaper reports.

A panel of the Appeals Court in Boston is expected to evaluate on Friday the oral arguments of Puerto Rican lawyer Gregorio Igartúa, who has been fighting for Puerto Rican people to get the right to vote in the presidential election.

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