Candidates Rally Crowds In Final Campaign Push SJ Sets Elections Security Measures Feds Work To Prevent Voter Fraud April Deadline For Ed Dept. To Resolve Audit Issues IAU Members Suspected Of Sabotage 14,000 Vote From Home & Hospitals, 10,000 From Prisons Juan "One" Sepulveda PR Cock-Fight Supply Route Revealed Cardona Reelected PROC President Unemployment Drops To 9.8%
Candidates Rally Crowds In Final Campaign Push
By Ricardo Zuniga
November 1, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) The rain on Sunday could not dampen the enthusiasm of the thousands of people that, to the sounds of reggae and other catchy rhythms, applauded their candidates during the final campaign rallies held by the three political parties two days before the election.
Although the gray sky foretold rain showers to come, the candidates for governor, New Progressive Pedro Rossello, the Popular Democratic Anibal Acevedo Vila, and Independent Ruben Berrios, were enthusiastically received by ecstatic crowds at three separate rallies held in the capital.
In the shadow of the Urban Train at Parada 26 in Santurce, Acevedo Vila told voters that they must choose Monday between a past of corruption and a future with dignity.
"In these elections, vote with your conscience, vote for Puerto Rico, vote Popular," he said while waving a Puerto Rican flag.
In his speech, the resident commissioner also lauded the achievements of past PDP governors.
"Luis Muñoz Marín put us on the road to progress and social justice, Rafael Hernández Colón put us on the road the national reaffirmation and Sila Calderon put us on the road to a clean and immaculate government," Acevedo Vila said, receiving a large ovation.
Carlos Dalmau, director of the PDP campaign, estimated that more than 200,000 people participated in the rally.
Meanwhile at Hiram Bithorn Stadium, former governor Rossello said that Tuesday he will achieve "the largest win" of the NPP.
"Puerto Rican brothers and sisters, this is my enthusiastic call; this is the call to a confident victory, this is a powerful sign that in two days we will have the largest triumph of our party," Rossello said after taking the stage that extended into the crowd, as he had done during his campaigns for governor in 1992 and 1996.
Rossello used the refrain of "Se puede" that he made popular during his previous campaigns, asking the crowd several times if they can or can not make society better.
"Next Tuesday, with your vote, you will decide if we will continue on this same road or if we want a better future, of great work, of progress and of justice for all," he said. "They say it cant be done. And to you I say, can it or cant it?" the former governor said, drawing a roar from the crowd.
NPP spokesman Javier Maymi estimated that the space could hold some 70,000 people. Others gathered on the Expreso Las Americas.
With a group smaller than his opponents, Berrios placed importance on who to choose in the contest, and said that what is indispensable is a rise in votes for his party to advance the fight for independence.
"The only question that can be made to the people that understand the processes in the towns, is what will be the result of the independent votes, because, in a measure in which there are a higher number of votes, the process accelerates (of independence) and this depends on you," he said before a crowd of mainly university-age people in front of the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras campus.
Berrios aimed his message directly at the youth population, to who he told the history of the Independent Party and the future projects of the group.
According to the State Election Commission, more than 2.4 million people will vote Tuesday, and the electoral participation is usually higher than 80 percent.
San Juan Announces Security Measures During Elections
November 1, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) Approximately 1,000 city police officers will be activated in 12-hour shifts from Sunday morning until Tuesday night to keep order and control traffic in the capital during the general elections.
San Juan Security Commissioner Adalberto Mercado, said that as part of the plan, they will provide preventive security during the day at the electoral colleges, and will assist with traffic.
"Tonight (Monday) as part of the security plan, we will continue ensuring compliance with the Election Law that prohibits the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages starting at midnight (on Nov. 1) and extending until 9 p.m. (on Nov. 2)," he said at a press conference at the mayors mansion.
Mercado said city officials will provide security at all committee offices of the political parties during the day on Tuesday, especially at main party headquarters.
Federal Government Works To Prevent Voter Fraud Here
November 1, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) With the intent of paying attention to complaints of possible electoral fraud and voting abuses, the federal attorney announced Monday the designation of Ernesto Lopez to supervise the votes for resident commissioner.
This was announced by federal attorney Humberto García, who said the appointment of the delegate of the U.S. attorney in the district of Puerto Rico as a voting official was part of the Election Day Program of the federal Justice Department.
"Voter fraud and abuses of the right to vote dilute the value of the votes that are made honestly. They also corrupt the essence of our way of representative government. As they are crimes against the government as much as against the individual, they will be investigated promptly," he said in a statement.
"Any person that has information that there may have been electoral corruption or abuses against the right to vote must immediately provide that information to my office, to the FBI, or to the Division of Civil Rights," he added.
The federal attorney said that to assist in inquiries into fraud and voter discrimination and to verify that they are processed by the pertinent authorities, it is necessary to call Lopez at (787) 282-1936. People can reach the FBI at (787) 754-6000.
Education Dept. Has Until April To Resolve Audit Issues
November 1, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) The Education Department has until April 2005 to resolve all the points brought up in audits done between 1994 and 2003, for which it must return almost $20 million to federal authorities.
The figure could go higher than $140 million if several dates expire for the federal Education Department to claim funds which they dont know how they were used.
For this reason, U.S. authorities do not receive some $90 million.
The director of the Education Departments Office of Federal Issues, Ileana Fas Pecheco, told a newspaper that the agency will take steps with the intent of returning the minimum amount.
Of the 694 points established by the audits, 39 pertain to the current administration, while the rest correspond to the administration of the convicted former Education Secretary, Victor Fajardo.
IAU Members Suspected Of Sabotage
November 1, 2004
SAN GERMÁN (AP) The mayor of San German, Isidro Negrón, announced Monday that he referred the names of three members of the Independent Authentic Union to the FBI, for allegedly throwing oil in a reservoir, causing thousands of families in the west to be without water.
Negron said the clients of Sabana Grande and Lajas and areas of San German and Cabo Rojo, including Boqueron, on Monday were still without water service. He did not say the exact number of families affected.
"They threw oil in the lake and we are supplying water in trucks for the thousands of voters that can comply with going to vote We passed to the Fbi the names of the three members of the Independent Union that we suspect committed this act," he said at a press conference held together with the mayor of Mayaguez, José Guillermo Rodriguez.
Negron, who did not identify the suspects, said this week the individuals threw oil into the lake of Barrio Magina de Sabana Grande, which supplies water to the filtration plant in Lajas.
Some 14,000 Voters Will Vote From Home Or Hospital Beds
November 1, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) Some 14,000 voters that are hospitalized or confined to their homes can vote Monday using a program implemented this year by the State Election Commission (SEC).
SEC President Aurelio Gracia said that he approved the service for 7,800 persons that asked to vote at home, but he calculated that another 6,000 could vote from the hospitals, where they have established electoral colleges.
Our main objective is to help these people, that for involuntary reasons can not cote, to exercise their rights," Gracia said to a newspaper, and added that the program was not created with the intention of increasing voter participation.
10,000 Prisoners Vote
November 1, 2004
Some 10,000 prisoners in various prisons in the nation voted on Sunday through a procedure which is the same as what will occur in Tuesday's elections, except for the fact that none of them had a voter's card.
The President of the State Electoral Commission, Aurelio Gracias, said that close to 9,800 prisoners requested the advance vote, and specified that this statistic must have increased due to the prisoners who decided to vote on Sunday itself. They would be added to the lists by hand.
The official emphasized in a press conference (El Nuevo Día) that no violent incidents were reported in any of the institutions, and that it was necessary to provide extra ballots to the Ponce Correctional Complex.
Instead of a voter's card, the prisoners had different-colored cards that identified the module to which they belonged.
Juan "One" Sepulveda
SPECIAL TO THE SENTINEL ORLANDO
October 31, 2004
Juan "One" Sepulveda is the artist of the month at the Osceola Center for the Arts in Kissimmee.
What is your medium? The strength of my collection lies on my oil paintings and ink drawings.
Describe your style: I like to describe my style as surrealist and symbolic.
What art training or influences have you had? I have had very little formal training. I have been influenced by the work of great masters from the Renaissance as well as more modern masters like M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali.
How long have you been an artist? Despite my uninterrupted participation in the arts from an early age, I have considered myself to be a serious artist for the last 10 years.
When I am not creating art I am: I enjoy reading and broadening my knowledge in many different areas.
If you could be any famous artist, who would it be and why? I have a profound admiration for Salvador Dali. I admire that he was brave to choose a different path despite the criticism of his peers. Creating art can take a lot of energy.
What do you do to rejuvenate yourself? I enjoy traveling and spending time with my family. I often travel to Puerto Rico to visit my family.
Does artistic talent run in your family? My mother, Ada Velez, was very artistic and before passing away helped me appreciate the beauty behind creativity. She is one of the reasons I decided to pursue a career as an artist, especially after seeing what an impact she had in the lives of others through her work.
Where can people see your work? My work can be seen during November at Osceola Center for the Arts, and images are always available on my Web site, www.OnesGallery.com.
The Center for the Arts is at 2411 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway (U.S. Highway 192). For information, call the Center for the Arts' box office at 407-846-6257 or go online at www.ocfta.com.
Cock-Fight Supply Route Is Revealed - Agents Seize Roosters At Newark Airport
BRIAN T. MURRAY
October 30, 2004
Seventeen fighting roosters intercepted this week on a Continental Airlines flight from Puerto Rico to Newark revealed what authorities are calling a major supply route for an underground gaming industry.
A New York City man who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport on Wednesday to claim the individually crated roosters was charged with possession of fighting birds, a third-degree crime in New Jersey.
Agents said there was evidence of several prior shipments in a supply route that illegally sends hundreds of birds into the New Jersey-New York area each year.
"It's a cultural thing. Cock-fighting, raising fighting birds and possessing fighting birds is illegal in New Jersey and many places, but it is legal and respected as a legitimate sport in many cultures and in places like Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic," said Frank Rizzo of the SPCA.
Cockfighting is specifically prohibited by law in all states but Louisiana and most parts of New Mexico. However, the gaming continues underground, and the birds, depending on pedigree, sell for $1,000 to $10,000.
Authorities said the source of the birds in Puerto Rico regularly ships to the New York-New Jersey area and they will continue to investigate.
Cardona Reelected President Of PR Olympic Committee
October 29, 2004
SAN JUAN (AP) Hector Francisco Cardona was reelected Thursday as president of the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee (PROC) for a four-year term.
It wasnt necessary to hold a vote, because unlike other years, Cardona did not have a challenger.
"I want to thank everyone for the confidence that they have one more time placed in me to continue working for the good of the federation and the Olympic movement," Cardona said after his reelection.
Acacia Rojas, a physician and president of the Handball Federation, on Thursday became the first woman in the history of Puerto Rico to be elected vice president of the PROC.
Rojas takes over the office from Hector Manuel Reyes, president of the Basketball Federation, who was elected treasurer.
Unemployment Rate Drops To 9.8% In September
October 29, 2004
PONCE (AP) Secretary of Economic Development Milton Segarra announced Wednesday that unemployment on the island fell to 9.8 percent, the first time in four years that the unemployment rate is under 10 percent.
Segarra attributed the drop to moderate but "important" economic growth that the island has experienced due to an increase in business activity.
"This past month we recorded unemployment of 9.8 percent, which is extremely important for all Puerto Ricans due to an improvement in the economy," he said during a press conference a the Puerto de las Americas in Ponce.
Segarra said based on current indicators, unemployment may continue to drop or could stay below 10 percent for the rest of the year.