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Rossello: Fear Drove PIP Vote For Acevedo… McClintock Creates Appointment Screening Unit… NPP Must Explain Basis For Vote-Count Suit… 1st Int’l Merengue Festival - 11/24… Bush Hails Fortuño… Flu Shots On The Way… Calderon: No Budget Deficit Regrets… Hispanic Voters… $3m Monthly Spent On Medicines… NPP Requests Feds, Ramirez Asks Bush To Investigate Elections

Rossello: PIP Members Voted For Anibal Out Of Fear

November 17, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive candidate for governor, Pedro Rossello, said the fear that he will resolve the status issue caused many Puerto Rican Independence Party members to vote for his Popular Democratic Party opponent, Anibal Acevedo Vila.

Rossello said, also, that due to this vote it will be shown that the PDP leaves to be a majority group and now will have a "secessionist direction."

"The ‘independentistas’ abandoned their ideals out of fear that I will be in a position to carry out what I have been saying to the public, that we are going to end the colonial status … This fear was more powerful than the support of their ideals. The ‘independentistas’ sold out, it is as simple as that," Rossello said in a newspaper interview.

"The PDP had historically been a strong party, that could establish its own base, with a claim to the majority, but now this PDP has disappeared and I anticipate it will be a party that will have to pay back such alliances, a party of separate direction," he said.

Incoming Senate Leader Creates Group To Examine Executive Appointees

November 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The next president of the Senate, Kenneth McClintock, on Tuesday announced the creation of a committee that will be charged with investigating people nominated for appointments by the governor, which must pass through the Senate Appointment Committee.

McClintock said the Appointment Investigation Unit, which will have members from all three parties, will investigate the credentials and history of the nominees and prepare a report.

According to McClintock, the group will provide data to each of the committees so they will know all they can about the appointees.

"Each committee is going to be evaluating the appointees, but there is common work that must be carried out, for example the psychological studies and the evaluation of the financial information that each nominee provides," McClintock said at a press conference.

He said the new group would not make recommendations in favor of or against the confirmation of the nominees.

NPP Must Explain Legal Basis For Vote-Count Lawsuit

November 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Federal Judge Daniel Dominguez received a motion from the Incoming Transition Committee asking that the New Progressive Party plaintiffs who called for the general vote count and the vote recount be held simultaneously and that the transition process be halted, to state the legal basis for the appeal.

Nevertheless, Dominguez rejected another request from the Incoming Transition Committee – appointed by PDP governor candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila – for the plaintiffs, headed by Pedro Rossello, to explain the alleged damages suffered because of the State Election Commission’s decision to continue with the general vote count before beginning a recount.

According to the press, the committee’s legal representative, Luis Sanchez, argued in the motion that the lawsuit did not explain the nature of the damages allegedly suffered "any more than the mere inconvenience of waiting for a final certification (of a winner) by the State Election Commission."

The plaintiffs had to present the document about the legal basis before 5 p.m. Tuesday. On Thursday, the first hearing on the complaint will be held.

First International Merengue Festival Will Be Held Nov. 24

November 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Johnny Ventura, Bonny Cepeda, Gisselle and Elvis Crespo will share the stage on Nov. 24 for the first International Merengue Festival, being held at the Tito Puente Amphitheatre in Hato Rey.

José Nelson Díaz, producer of the event, said that the first festival will be dedicated to Ventura, and will also have the participation of Jossie Esteban and la Patrulla 15, Joseph Fonseca and Los Sabrosos del Merengue.

"All the stars will perform their hits in homage to Johnny Ventura, one of the great men of merengue," Diaz said.

"We are sure that the first International Merengue Festival … will be an event that will make history," he added.

The festival, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., will have among its attractions a reunion of Elvis Crespo and Grupomania, who will sing together after more than six years apart.

Pres. Bush Congratulates Fortuño At White House

November 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – As part of his second day in Washington preparing for his new post, resident commissioner-elect Luis Fortuño received congratulations from President George W. Bush and thanks for his campaigning among the Puerto Rican community in Florida.

Fortuño said that during a lunch at the White House he also had a conversation with Karl Rove, one of the main advisers to President Bush.

"I never had spoken with him one on one. He told me he had heard of me and came over to greet me. I hope, later, to discuss specific topics regarding Puerto Rico with the White House," Fortuño told a newspaper.

Fortuño, the highest-ranking Republican in Puerto Rico, said that during his stay in Washington he had meetings with the House minority spokesman, Democrat Stenny Hoyer and with Democratic Congressman John Salazar.

110,000 Flu Vaccines Are On The Way

November 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The Health Department Monday said that it still has not received 110,000 of the 150,000 flu vaccines assigned to the island and said it expects the rest to arrive late next week.

Health Secretary Johnny Rullan said they have already received 44,000 doses. Another 55,000 will arrive this week and the remaining 55,000 will arrive next week.

"Health received 44,000 doses that have already been administered. And at this time we are waiting for the next 110,000," he said.

Of the 150,000 doses, the Health Department will administer 142,000 of the vaccines and the Puerto Rican Lung Association will administer the other 8,000. The Veterans Administration has another 35,000 vaccines available and the private sector has 500.

Calderon Does Not Regret Loan, Budget Deficit

November 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – Gov. Sila M. Calderon does not regret having taken a loan of more than $500 million to cover the government budget.

And she said the structural deficit left for the incoming administration is mainly due to the higher salaries given to public workers.

"If I had to do it, I would do it over again because I think I have to do justice to public employees, who earn so little," Calderon said in a radio interview.

According to the governor, the structural deficit is a problem for every administration.

"For many years the people of Puerto Rico and the government of Puerto Rico have had a deficit within the budget. This means that the resources that we generate, not only in our government, but also in all the previous governments, are not sufficient for the necessities," she said.

Also, she denied statements by opponents of her administration that say she approved an unbalanced budget.

"There is not such a deficit - the budget is covered, a loan for only $500 million was taken," she said.

The incoming government will have to pay a loan of $550 million taken by the Calderon administration to pay for recurring expenses.

The loan, made by the Government Development Bank, creates what is known as a "structural deficit" because it uses non-recurring money to pay recurring government expenses.

Hispanic Voters


November 16, 2004
Copyright © 2004
THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 

To the Editor:

Desperate for new angles to explain President Bush's razor-thin victory, pundits are now suggesting that the Hispanic community is drifting to the right ("Hispanic Voters Declared Their Independence," front page, Nov. 9).

While one much-ballyhooed exit poll showed modest gains for Mr. Bush among Hispanic voters, the William C. Velasquez Institute, a respected nonpartisan think tank, released comprehensive exit polling data showing that Hispanic voters overwhelmingly supported John Kerry, 67.7 percent to 31 percent.

Such numbers actually indicate a Democratic gain from 2000, when Al Gore won the Hispanic vote 65 percent to 35 percent. A Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration poll found that Puerto Ricans voted an overwhelming 82 percent for Mr. Kerry.

Hispanics know that families can flourish only in communities that value jobs, education, environmental justice and broad access to health care. These are the causes that Democrats have long championed and will continue to fight for.

José E. Serrano

Member of Congress
16th District, New York
Washington, Nov. 11, 2004

Puerto Ricans Spend $3 Million Monthly On Medicines

November 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – An economist who specializes in health issues said Puerto Ricans spend $3 million monthly on tranquilizers and hypnotics – sleep medications – and on narcotic analgesics, medicines that are only used by prescription and can cause dependency.

Carlos Muñoz Bravo, also president of the MCS medical plan, said sleep medications represent 47 percent of the total of the controlled medications used by Puerto Ricans.

"Before they used Valium and Librium more, and they still exist, but (the new versions of) this type of medication have had a dramatic increase. In the last four years, we have seen a rise in growth of 30 percent annually," Muñoz Bravo told a newspaper.

In the line of the narcotic analgesics, the cost was calculated at $1 million monthly, with an annual increase of 18 percent.

NPP Requests Federal Inquiry Into Alleged Election Fraud

November 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The election commissioner of the New Progressive Party, Thomas Rivera Schatz, on Monday requested that federal authorities investigate alleged electoral fraud due to the discovery of ballots that he said have apparently been altered.

Rivera Schatz wrote a letter to the federal attorney in Puerto Rico, Humberto Garcia, in which he alleges that election officials found state ballots on which a vote was issued in pencil under the insignia of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, and two others, with pen, next to the names of the candidates Anibal Acevedo Vila and Roberto Prats of the Popular Democratic Party.

"We are asking for the intervention of the federal attorney to proceed with the obligatory investigation," the NPP commissioner said at a press conference.

The letter, dated Monday, also was sent to outgoing U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and the director of the Division of Electoral Crimes, Craig C. Donsanto.

Rivera Schatz said federal authorities have jurisdiction to investigate the alleged fraud because the ballot included the candidate for resident commissioner, a federal position in the U.S. Congress.

Senator Asks Bush To Investigate Local Elections

November 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – In an apparent snub to the work of the State Election Commission, NPP Sen. Miriam Ramirez on Sunday wrote to President George W. Bush to alert him to what she called "election fraud" and asked for him to intervene.

The senator’s request came as the Election Commission is holding a general vote count in which NPP officials are actively participating.

Ramirez did not participate in the vote count or present evidence of the alleged fraud.

"The result of our territorial elections for governor is highly suspicious. Literally thousands of ballots have been altered, destroyed or ruined to award the win to the candidate of the party in power," she said in the letter to Bush.

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