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Governor's Race In Virtual Deadlock... Acevedo Certified Preliminary Victor, Recount Ordered…Prats Concedes To Fortuno… Santini Reelected Mayor Of San Juan…NPP Wins In Legislature…FBI Raids Homes Of Union Leaders… Serrano Beats Mendez…Total Acquires PR Gas Stations…Fortuño Will Look To Modify Vieques Pact

Governor's Race In Virtual Deadlock

NOVEMBER 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004. All rights reserved. 


Over 80 percent of Puerto Rico's 2.4 million voters went to the polls across the island to cast their ballots in a gubernatorial race that was too close to call.

With 98% of the votes counted, preliminary results gave a slight lead to Resident Commissioner Aníbal Acevedo Avilá, 42, of the governing Popular Democratic Party PDP) over the challenge of former governor Pedro Rosselló, 60, of the New Progressive Party (NPP).

According to the latest tallies released by the State Electoral Commission, Acevedo Vila had 48.4% of the vote, while Rossello had 48.2%.

Election officials said they did not expect a definitive tally until sometime today.

In the race for Resident Commissioner, Luis Fortuno of the NPP was ahead of Roberto Prats of the PDP. Fortuno had 48.5% of the vote compared to Prats’ 48%.

Additionally, the NPP was poised to take control of both chambers of the territory’s legislature.

Election laws allow a recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent.

If a complete recount is mandated, the procedure might take until Dec. 31.

Election Commission Will Recount Votes, But Preliminarily Certifies Acevedo Vila As Victor

November 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Although he warned that it was not an official certification, the president of the State Election Commission, Aurelio Gracia, confirmed preliminarily on Wednesday morning that Popular Democratic candidate Aníbal Acevedo Vila was the winner of the race for governor.

Also, he certified that the New Progressive candidate for resident commissioner, Luis Fortuño, won a victory in his race.

Gracia added that a recount of the votes would begin Monday.

"This certification is of the preliminary results, which by law must be made within 72 hours (after the close of the polls)," Gracia said at a press conference at Election Commission headquarters.

"We proceed directly to issue this resolution, that does not constitute a certification for a formal end to the candidacy, since by law we have to wait for the final results from the recount and, according to that, a formal certification of the candidate can be made," he said.

With 98.3 percent of the electoral units reporting, Acevedo Vila maintained his lead with 953,459 votes (48.38 percent), while the New Progressive Party candidate Pedro Rossello had 949,579 (48.18 percent), and Puerto Rican Independence Party candidate Ruben Berrios had 52,660 (2.7 percent).

The race for resident commissioner was led by NPP candidate Luis Fortuño, who had 947,098 votes (48.52 percent), followed by PDP candidate Roberto Prats with 937,572 votes (48.03 percent), and PIP candidate Edwin Irizarry Mora, who had 55,503 votes.

Gracia said that 32 units still had to report, two of which were regular and another 20 that pertained to the absentee votes of those in hospitals.

There were also 6,602 protested and not allotted ballots and another 14,706 additional ballots from the infirm and prisoners which will be counted in the results.

Prats Concedes Resident Commissioner Race To Fortuño

November 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Saying it would be irresponsible to keep the island in suspense until a recount is over, the Popular Democratic candidate for resident commissioner, Roberto Prats, gave an emotional speech on Wednesday in which he conceded the election to opponent Luis Fortuño.

He said that Tuesday will be remembered as the day Puerto Ricans "shook the democratic structure of the country."

"In democracies, those that participate must comply with the verdicts of the country, when the verdicts favor them and when the verdicts do not favor them," Prats said.

He said that Wednesday morning he spoke on the phone with Fortuño, whom he described as a friend, and to his wife Luce Vela, to offer congratulations.

"I will not be responsible for putting in suspense a transition of government for the results of an election recount," he said.

Prats said that on the contrary, the most responsible decision is "to attack with verticality that which I understand to be the final verdict of the people." The young senator several times had to pause in his comments as he was overcome with emotion.

With 1,816 of the 1,848 units reported, for 98.3 percent of the votes, NPP candidate Luis Fortuño had an advantage with 947,098 votes (48.52 percent), while Prats had 937,572 votes (48.03 percent). PIP candidate Edwin Irizarry Mora received 55,503 votes (2.8 percent).

Santini Wins Reelection As Mayor Of San Juan

November 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Eduardo Bhatia on Wednesday accepted his second loss to Jorge Santini in the race for mayor of San Juan, but highlighted the alliance that backed him in his second consecutive attempt for the office.

Accompanied by the defeated candidates for reelection to the Senate, José Ortiz Daliot and Margarita Ostolaza, Bhatia congratulated Santini, with whom he exchanged insults during the campaign.

"It is certain that although this triumph was not achieved, we achieved a bridge of communication with important groups," the former senator said, whose candidacy received the backing of the Independence party.

Bhatia would not say if he will abandon his political platform and said that now is the time to reconcile the carious sectors in the capital.

Early Wednesday, Mayor Santini thanked people for his victory and promised to work for the good of all San Juan residents.

"I am very satisfied the support of the people to continue as your mayor. I feel very committed to my city, to my people, with my colleagues," Santini said in a statement.

With 98.9 percent of the votes issued in the elections Tuesday, Santini won 94,995 votes, or 49 percent, while PDP candidates Bhatia won 89,916, or 46.3 percent and PIP Fernando Martin won 7,847, or 4 percent.

NPP Wins Many Seats In Legislature

November 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The New Progressive Party stockpiled seats in the Legislature, sending 12 of its candidates to the Capitol for the next term, while the Puerto Rican Independence Party again had the candidates with the highest number of votes.

With 97.48 percent of the units reporting, PIP María de Lourdes Santiago has received the highest number of votes with 167,548 (8.84 percent), while her counterpart in the house, Víctor García San Inocencio, headed the ballots 176,616 votes (9.19 percent).

In the Senate, the NPP candidates Norma Burgos, Jorge de Castro Font, José Garriga Picó, Kenneth McClintock, Orlando Parga and Lucy Arce won without any problems.

The Popular Democratic Party only had four senators with the high number of votes among the first 11 that achieved a seat: Sila Mari González, Antonio Fas Alzamora, Juan Eugenio Hernández Mayoral and Eudaldo Báez Galib.

The current Senate Vice Speaker, Velda Gonzalez, and Rep. Severo Colberg, who ran for a seat in the Senate, remained out.

In the House, NPP’s José Aponte was in the lead, and was accompanied by Iris Miriam Ruiz, Jennifer González, Rolando Crespo, Lourdes Ramos and José Chico.

The House Vice Speaker Ferdinand Perez, appeared fourth and was the PDP candidate with the highest number of votes among candidates for reelection, followed by Héctor Ferrer, Carlos Vizcarrondo y Jorge Colberg, who also won with the last three positions available.

PDP candidates Julia Torres and José Eligio Vélez remained without seats.

The NPP will control the Puerto Rico House of Representatives with 32 members to 18 for the PDP and 1 for the PIP. The NPP will also control the Senate with 18 members to 8 for the PDP and 1 for the PIP.

FBI Agents Raid Homes Of Union Leaders

November 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – FBI and IRS agents on Wednesday morning raided the homes of several leaders of the Independent Authentic Union.

The vice president of the union, Andrés Carrasquillo, said federal officials raided his home, as well as the homes of his son, and union president Hector Rene Lugo and the union’s executive secretary Elba Garcia.

"This is a raid more to pressure us, to put pressure on the strike and our collective negotiation. We are not going to yield, they can’t kill us … and we are not going to end the strike. The strike will end when negotiations on the agreement are complete," Carrasquillo said in a radio interview.

"They told me I had to leave (the house) and if I left, I could not enter and if I remained, I couldn’t take anything I had there. Then, I decided to leave," he said, adding that he did not know they arrived at his house.

The vice president of the union said, also, that the FBI agents raided a townhouse belonging to the group "that is a storage where there are inactive documents on the union and the medical plan."

However he did not confirm or deny that he will deal with the residences of the IAU leaders, the spokesman for the FBI, Luis Feliciano said in an Associated Press interview that the federal agency at 7 a.m. carried out raids on Paseo del Prado, in Carolina; two in the Mar de Isla Verde condominiums; one in Riverwalk Encantada, in Trujillo Alto, and in Townhouse, a condominium in Río Piedras.

Feliciano would not say the reason for the intervention.

Serrano Beats Mendez



November 3, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Newsday, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Democrats claimed to be making a slight inroad into Republican control of the State Senate last night, picking up two or more seats.

"If I were a Republican in this state, I would be breaking out in a cold sweat," Democrat Fernando Ferrer, who is expected to run for mayor next year, said.

City Councilman Jose Marco Serrano had a commanding lead over Democratic defector Olga Mendez of East Harlem, now a Republican in the heavily Democratic district, which also includes part of the Bronx.

[With 98 percent of precincts reporting, José M. Serrano, a Democratic city councilman from the Bronx, was beating Ms. Mendez with more than 80 percent of the vote, according to an unofficial tally by The Associated Press.]

The Bronx part of the district is entirely within the confines of the 16th Congressional district, where Serrano's father, Rep. Jose Enrique Serrano, has held sway for 14 years.

Mendez, 79, was the first woman from Puerto Rico elected to any legislature in the mainland United States and, with 24 years in the State Senate, she was the longest-serving Puerto Rican elected official in the country.

France's Total Acquires GPR And CITGO Gas Stations In Puerto Rico

November 2, 2004
Copyright © 2004 EFE News Service. All rights reserved. 

Paris, Nov 2 (EFE).- French oil giant Total announced Tuesday the purchase of some 100 GPR and Citgo gas stations in Puerto Rico, which represent close to 6 percent of the island's market.

This acquisition marks the company's entry into the Puerto Rican market, where it plans to form an affiliate.

The switchover to the Total brand will begin immediately and should be completed by the end of 2005, the company said.

This purchase confirms the company's development plans in the Caribbean, "an area of significant growth of consumption."

Since the spring of this year, the company has been engaged in distribution activities in the French Antilles and Jamaica. EFE

Fortuño Will Look To Modify Vieques Agreement

November 1, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (AP) – New Progressive candidate for resident commissioner Luis Fortuño, said Monday that if he wins the election on Tuesday he will look to modify the agreement between the federal government and the local government about the island of Vieques.

Fortuño referred to changes made by the outgoing administration and the federal government, over the previous guidelines stipulated by former President Bill Clinton and former governor Pedro Rossello.

Fortuño, a former secretary of Economic Development, said that as resident commissioner he will use his political relationships in Washington to accelerate the process of cleaning the islands of Vieques and Culebra, which were used by the U.S. Army for war exercises.

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