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Rossello Disputes Preliminary Election Results… NPP Senators Claim Mandate, CRB Says Acevedo Must Heed Legislative Majority… Aponte Will Lead House… Fagundo: UT Will Run By Year-End… Acevedo Begins Transition, Appoints Committee & Reaches Out To Fortuño

Rossello Disputes Preliminary Election Results Showing Win For Opponent


November 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Former Gov. Pedro Rossello disputed preliminary election results suggesting a win for his opponent and said Thursday he was confident he would prevail in a recount.

The recount is planned Monday following an extremely close vote Tuesday between Rossello, who supports making Puerto Rico a U.S. state, and Anibal Acevedo Vila, the U.S. territory's nonvoting delegate to Congress.

"We have information showing that when this process is over, we'll prevail," Rossello told reporters Thursday in his first public statements since the vote.

Puerto Rico's election commission said Acevedo Vila had won by 3,880 votes, according to preliminary results. But the margin was so slim -- Acevedo Vila's lead was about 0.2 percent -- that officials ordered a recount.

Acevedo Vila claimed victory Wednesday, and began announcing plans for the transition. Rossello declined to give details about his victory claim but criticized Acevedo Vila for beginning to name a transition team before the recount.

"It's disrespectful" to the election process, Rossello said.

Acevedo Vila, from the pro-commonwealth Popular Democratic Party, was running to replace his ally Gov. Sila Calderon, who didn't seek re-election.

Rossello, of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party, was governor from 1993 through 2000. He has pledged a new campaign to make Puerto Rico the 51st U.S. state through a referendum on statehood, an option narrowly defeated in nonbinding votes in 1993 and 1998.

Acevedo Vila criticized Rossello for corruption scandals involving officials in his government, and a number of supporters said that was a major concern.

Acevedo Vila has pledged a constitutional assembly to discuss Puerto Rico's status next year. He says he favors reforming the commonwealth system to allow for greater autonomy, particularly in economic development.

NPP Senators Say People Of PR Have Given Them A Mandate

November 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Thirteen of the 18 New Progressive Party (NPP) members that will form the majority of the Senate starting in January, on Wednesday offered their take on the unusual results of the general elections: the people voted for the government programs that their party presented and not for those of projected governor-elect Anibal Acevedo Vila.

Also, they decided that the NPP candidate with the most votes obtained by the Senate for accumulation, Norma Burgos, will not take up leadership roles in the new legislative body.

"We had a historic vote where the people, by the majority of completed votes, clearly voted in favor of the New Progressive Party above all the completed votes obtained by the Popular Democratic Party," said Sen. Kenneth McClintock, who announced that he will preside over the House in the new term.

"The people chose the program of government of the New Progressive party in the elections," he said at a press conference at an Hato Rey restaurant, flanked by other party members.

In total, the NPP now has 18 of the 27 seats in the Senate, and McClintock said this result is a public mandate "so that the Puerto Rico Senate approves the public politics espoused by the NPP."

As for the leadership positions in the Senate, McClintock said that he will have as vice speaker Orlando Parga, who was an alternate spokesperson during this term.

The new spokesman will be current Rep. Jorge de Castro Font, who left the PDP this term as it ended, while the alternate spokesman will be the former mayor of Coamo, Margarita Nolasco, elected by the district of Guayama.

Also, McClintock said Bayamon Sen. Migdalia Padilla will lead the Treasury Committee, and the vice president of the NPP, Sen. Lucy Arce, will head the Government Committee.

McClintock added that this scene will be ratified Thursday during a caucus that will be led by former governor Pedro Rossello. The meeting will be held at 2 p.m. at the NPP headquarters in Hato Rey.

But, from the start, this decision seemed to not have the unanimous consensus of the delegation.

According to Sen. Burgos, other elected candidates have called to support it.

"I have to be available for the leadership positions and this includes the presidency of the Senate of Puerto Rico," she said to questions about the decision of her fellow party members.

With 1,741 of 1,786 units reported, for 97.48 percent of the votes, Burgos held the second position on the list of senators elected by accumulation, with 165,201 votes (8.72 percent), 24,362 votes above the next NPP member on the list, De Castro Font, who had 7.43 percent of the votes.

Romero Barcelo Says Anibal Must Acknowledge NPP Mandate

By Leonardo Aldridge

November 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Former governor Carlos Romero Barcelo, anticipating conflicts between the Popular Democratic (PDP) executive power and the New Progressive-dominated Legislature, said Thursday that projected governor-elect Anibal Acevedo Vila must recognize the majority mandate of the NPP in the House and the Senate.

According to Romero Barcelo, the experience with Acevedo Vila was "so bad" during the political campaign that he can’t foresee a harmonious co-government.

"Who decides what is in the interests of the people of Puerto Rico, Acevedo Vila or the Legislature? It’s the Legislature. He has to adjust to this mandate," the former governor said, emphasizing that Acevedo Vila will have to cede more.

Romero Barcelo recalled that for him, as well as Luis A. Ferre, the PDP Legislative majorities held up initiatives.

"When I was governor we made commitments with the Popular Party and they violated them. With Ferre, they would not let him appoint a Supreme Court chief justice," he said as he arrived at the NPP headquarters, where elected representatives would discuss on Thursday what places each will occupy in the new House of Representatives.

Jose Aponte, who won the most votes among his party’s candidates for representative, already has said publicly that he will try to preside over the House.

Iris Miriam Ruiz, with the second-most votes as an NPP representative, said she will look to be the spokesperson of the group, and added that "we have always worked together with Jose Aponte."

"I am going to be the spokesperson of the House, we are going to run the floor," she said.

It is expected that the senators-elect of the NPP will attend a meeting scheduled for 2 p.m. at the group’s headquarters in Hato Rey.

Aponte Will Lead House Of Representatives

November 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Jose Aponte will preside over the House of Representatives and his fellow NPP member, Epi Jimenez Jr. will be vice speaker when the administration changes hands, party leaders agreed at an NPP meeting held Thursday.

Iris Miriam Ruiz will be majority spokeswoman and Lourdes Ramos will be alternative spokeswoman, Aponte said during a press conference at NPP headquarters.

Aponte did not hide in recent months his intention to lead the House of Representatives if the NPP won the Legislature, as they did in the general elections on Tuesday.

Fagundo: Train Will Open Before Administration Changes

November 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Transportation Secretary Fernando Fagundo said Wednesday that the Urban Train will be ready and begin operations before the administration changes on Jan. 2.

Fagundo said that he is prepared to open the train immediately, but claimed that decision must be made by the Federal Transportation Authority, because of the federal funds that were invested in the project.

"It would not be fair to leave this project unfinished for the new administration. To us, we took years to find the injustices and aim everyone at the solution and we already have it ready," he told a newspaper.

Fagundo will travel to Washington Nov. 10 to report that the project is practically ready, except for some aspects that do not represent a security risk.

Acevedo Vila Begins Transition, Ignores NPP Requests For Restraint

November 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Ignoring requests for restraint from the New Progressive Party (NPP), the projected governor-elect, Anibal Acevedo Vila, on Thursday prepared to appoint three committees that will begin initiating his new administration.

Although the State Election Commission still has not issued a final certification for the governor’s race, the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) scheduled a press conference for 2 p.m., at which Acevedo Vila will announce his committees for transition, inauguration and the incoming government.

The press conference is being held by the State Department; the meetings traditionally are held between the transition committees of the outgoing and incoming administrations.

Last night, the president of the Rossello 2004 Committee, Juan R. Melecio, said it was "irresponsible" for Acevedo Vila to act as if he had received final certification as governor-elect.

According to Melecio, the race will not end until the recount of votes is over.

"To begin a transition process now would be irresponsible and detrimental to our democracy, particularly when Acevedo Vila is an integral member of the outgoing administration," he said.

With 98.3 percent of the electoral units reported, Acevedo Vila maintained a lead with 953,459 votes (48.38 percent), while NPP candidate Pedro Rosselló has 949,579 (48.18 percent), and Puerto Rican Independence Party candidate Rubén Berríos has 52,660 (2.7 percent).

The president of the State Election Commission, Aurelio Gracia, has announced that a vote recount will begin Monday.

Acevedo Vila Appoints Transition Committee

November 4, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – In order to show that his administration will transcend party lines, Anibal Acevedo Vila appointed statehood supporter Carlos Díaz Olivo as part of his transition committee, which will be comprised of 11 people.

The team will have its first meeting Saturday at the State Department, together with the committee appointed by the outgoing administration, despite the fact that Acevedo Vila has not been officially certified as the winner of the election.

Acevedo Vila also appointed the son of Noel Colon Martinez, Javier Colon Morera, who is known as an Independence Party member.

"I understand clearly the mandate of the Puerto Rican people … which is one of patriotic unity, dialogue and respect for all ideologies and political tendencies," he said at a press conference.

Diaz Olivo, who was an NPP candidate for mayor of San Juan in 1992, said his political feelings have not changed since then.

"Nobody should doubt what I am (ideologically) … when a friend asks for help in the midst of a difficult situation one can not say no," said the statehooder.

Acevedo Vila said that in the same way that it is independently necessary to do a recount in the race for governor, he is obliged by law to appoint a transition committee within 72 hours.

"The law can not be more clear," he said.

The State Election Commission preliminarily certified Acevedo Vila as the winner of the election by some 3,880 votes over Pedro Rossello, who Thursday said he has information that will acquit him when the recount is complete.

Acevedo Vila Says He Is Ready To Work With Fortuño

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

SAN JUAN (AP) - Due to the high probability that New Progressive Party candidate Luis Fortuño will be the next resident commissioner, Anibal Acevedo Vila, who was preliminarily certified as governor-elect, called Fortuño to start a dialogue.

And after declaring that there are no final numbers that give the advantage to Fortuño over his partner on the ballot, Roberto Prats, Acevedo Vila said he does not doubt that he can work with Fortuño because they both have styles that favor communication.

"I hope I am not mistaken," the PDP candidate said, who was preliminarily certified on Wednesday morning by the State Election Commission as the winner in the race for governor.

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