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Santini Leads Bhatia By 15.8%, Poll… J.LO Wants To Play The Spanish Guitar… Stars To Shine During Premios Tu Musica… Int’l Artist Of The Year: Tego Calderon… Water Quality Unaffected By Strike… Group OKs Vieques Master Plan… Acevedo Knocks Rossello On Sales Tax… Health Dept. Says Santini "Hiding" Behind HIPAA Law… Court Asked To End "Servitude," Allow PR To Vote

Poll Shows Santini Has A 15.8% Lead Over Bhatia

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – A public poll Monday said that if the elections were held today, the New Progressive candidate for mayor of San Juan, Jorge Santini, would win 52.5 percent of the vote over Popular candidate Eduardo Bhatia, who would win 36.7 percent.

Independent candidate Fernando Martin would get the vote of 4.7 percent of people polled, while 4.5 percent said they were undecided.

And 1.6 percent would vote for none of the three candidates.

The poll, with a margin of error of 3 percent, was done by Accumarketing for a Puerto Rican newspaper.

It used a sample of 1,100 people who live in San Juan, who were interviewed by telephone.

In the 2000 elections, Santini won over Bhatia by only 36,000 votes.

J.LO Wants To Play The Spanish Guitar

October 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004
World Entertainment News Network. All rights reserved. 

Jennifer Lopez wants to extend her musical skills by learning how to play the Spanish guitar.

The singer and actress, whose parents hail from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, admits it's something she's wanted to do for a long time, and she's now hoping to find time to make her dream a reality.

Lopez says, "I never have learned to play an instrument."

Latin Music Stars To Shine During Univisión's Premios Tu Musica

By Magaly Morales

October 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004
SO FL SUN-SENTINEL. All rights reserved., Tribune Co.

Music awards ceremonies continue on Spanish-language television. This time it's Premios Tu Musica 2004, a star-studded event produced by Univisión Puerto Rico.

Premios Tu Musica 2004, now in its 11th edition, was taped in August at the island's Hotel Paradisus in Rio Grande.

The telecast, which airs on TeleFutura, is hosted by Amelia Vega, Daniel Sarcos and Melina Leon, who will hand out awards to national and international Latin music stars.

In addition, the two-hour show features special awards for Dominican singer-composer Juan Luis Guerra, (Peace and Dedication Award), and the Lifetime Achievement Award for Mexican crooner Alejandro Fernandez.

The show will feature performances by Paulina Rubio, Victor Manuelle, Ednita Nazario, Grupo Manía, Manny Manuel, Elvis Crespo and Marlene Favela, among others.

Premios Tu Musica airs at 7 p.m. Friday.

International Artist Of The Year: Tego Calderon

Winners of Source Hip - Hop Music Awards

October 10, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

Winners of the 2004 Source Hip-Hop Music Awards:

International artist of the year: Tego Calderon (Puerto Rico)

Water Quality Is Not Affected, Health Department Says

October 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Despite the strike by the Independent Authentic Union of the Aquedcut and Sewer Authority entering its fourth day on Friday, the quality of water will not be affected, according to the Health Department.

Agency spokeswoman Sheila Sanchez told a newspaper they were continuing daily sampling to guarantee the water quality.

She said that of the 131 filtration plants studied, on Thursday the Health Department received reports from 70, and all were negative.

Sanchez said reports from the rest of the plants still were not available because the sample has to have a constant flow and the results would be published in 24 hours.

Group Approves Master Plan For Vieques, Culebra

October 9, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - The Sustainable Economic Development Master Plan for Vieques and Culebra received the approval of an interagency group charged with studying economic conditions on the islands, and the document could be made a law in December.

Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Milton Segarra announced the development on Friday, and said the plan’s recommendations would now be presented during public hearings on Nov. 5 and 9 on Vieques and Culebra.

"We estimate the first week of December we will submit the master plan for the approval of the governor," said Segarra in a press conference.

Segarra said final draft of the plan will be available on or before Oct. 20 for residents of the islands to review it in the assembly room of the Culebra mayor’s office and in Vieques and the OCEVIC office, at the mayor’s office and the library.

On Nov. 5 a public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. at the "Casa de la Juventud" on Culebra. Nov. 9 another hearing will be held at the "Centro de Usos Múltiples" on Vieques.

The plan, produced by the firm "Estudios Técnicos" deals with ecotourism, natural and cultural tourism as resources for development of the islands.

The plan also suggests possible industries that could be developed while still saving natural resources.

Acevedo Vilá Criticizes Rossello Sales Tax Proposal

October 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Aníbal Acevedo Vila on Friday criticized the proposal of his New Progressive opponent Pedro Rossello to establish a sales tax that would create additional tax charges for the middle class and poor.

The Popular candidate for governor said Rossello "has not explained to the country" that the tax would cause Puerto Ricans to pay more on everything they buy.

"This is a tax that you pay for everything you buy – for the school uniforms that you buy, for the hamburger that you buy at a fast-food store, for the tennis shoes for your son – for everything," Acevedo Vila said at a press conference.

Rossello’s platform states that he supports sustaining "the system of free will through a more effective, efficient and equitable sales tax."

Some organizations have said sales tax is the most efficient method for government to cover underground economic burdens, since on each sale the consumer would have to pay.

In response to this point, Acevedo Vila said "Everybody has tax they have to pay and this is where we have failed. Each has to pay according to his income."

"But we can’t penalize the middle class with a sales tax because we have been ineffective and inefficient in establishing a system that ends with tax evasion," he said.

Health Dept. Says Santini "Hiding" Behind HIPAA Law

October 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Health Department on Friday criticized San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini for "hiding" behind the HIPAA law by not submitting a list of patients that have had surgery at the municipal bariatric clinic.

The agency’s legal adviser, Mayra Maldonado Colón, said the HIPAA law allows a legal entity to require health information without patient consent.

"The city of San Juan must not hide behind the HIPAA law given that this is the same law that established the Health Department, and as a legal health agency, it can require necessary information without the authorization of the patient," she said in a statement.

Santini said he would only deliver of a list of patients that had surgery at the municipal bariatric clinic if the court exempted him from responsibility under the federal HIPAA law.

The Municipal Hospital of San Juan must hand over the lists, according to a court order. Such action does not violate in any way the law in question," Maldonado Colón said.

Attorney Asks Court To End "Servitude," Allow PR To Vote

By Jay Lindsay of The Associated Press

October 8, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

BOSTON (AP) - A Puerto Rican attorney asked a federal appeals court Friday to end "the state of servitude" that island residents find themselves in and allow them to vote in the upcoming presidential election.

It's unjust that Puerto Ricans in the U.S. military will defend Iraqis and Afghans as they elect new leaders, but can't vote for their own commander in chief, attorney Gregorio Igartua said in his argument before the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

"This is the time," Igartua told the panel of three judges. "Today the court has the opportunity to make history and eliminate the state of servitude for the residents of Puerto Rico."

An attorney for U.S. Department of Justice asked the court to endorse two prior rulings, in which it denied Puerto Ricans the right to vote until the U.S. territory becomes a state, or the Constitution is amended to allow it.

"This court has decided this question, not once but twice," said Gregory Katsas, deputy assistant attorney general.

The court's most recent ruling came before the 2000 election.

Ballots were printed in 2000, but only a tiny fraction of Puerto Ricans assigned to vote ahead of time actually cast presidential ballots.

Most ballots were never used because the Boston appeals court overruled a Puerto Rican federal court ruling that the presdiential election should be extended to the island. None of the ballots cast by Puerto Ricans was counted. All were destroyed.

Puerto Rican Sen. Kenneth McClintock, who supports statehood for the island, said each presidential election in which Puerto Ricans can't vote creates new grounds for a lawsuit. Before the hearing, Igartua said he would return to court as many times as it takes.

"There is no limit to eliminating servitude," he said, adding that Puerto Rico could be ready to cast ballots in this year's election in six days because voter registration mechanisms are already in place for local elections.

Puerto Ricans were granted U.S. citizenship in 1917. Residents have since been drafted into the military and pay more in federal taxes than many states, Igartua said. The island population has grown to 4 million, far more than the 500,000 required to be represented in the electoral college.

In a quirk, Puerto Ricans who leave the island can cast ballots in other states, but not in Puerto Rico.

In his argument, Igartua cited several U.S. laws and rulings that tie citizenship to voting. He also referred to what he called "false" treaties, in which the U.S. promoted international voting rights, even while denying Puerto Ricans the right to vote.

Judge Levin Campbell questioned whether creating "a unique situation for Puerto Rico" by giving them the vote without statehood might violate the Constitution.

"We are not talking about statehood today," Igartua said. "Voting rights are a civil rights issue."

But Katsas said the Constitution clearly "vests authority to appoint electors not in the citizens of the United States, but in the states."

Puerto Ricans narrowly rejected statehood in two nonbinding referenda, in 1993 and 1998.

Though Igartua has twice lost at the Appeal Court, he's won sympathy from some judges, including Judge Juan Torruella, who sat on Friday's panel.

In a concurring opinion in the 2000 ruling, Torruella wrote, "The perpetuation of this colonial condition runs against the very principles upon which this nation was founded."

He also wrote that the disparate treatment was unfair and could warrant "judicial intervention at some point."

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