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PDP, NPP Confident After Boston Arguments… Hurricane Jeanne Aid Hits $385m… ASA Ends Negotiations, IAU Continues Strike… Great Reads…Cotto Remains Unbeaten… Raise Your Pina Colada…Quake Felt…Slain Trio Were CRB’s Kin… Dems Must Do More For Hispanic Votes… Work Starts On UT’s Caguas Line… Man Convicted Of Violent Acts On Vieques Freed… NPPs Declare Support For Federal Court

Both Sides Are Confident After Boston Arguments End


December 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

BOSTON (AP) – Lawyers for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) argued Monday before the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, that the federal court in Puerto Rico "meddled in a local issue," when it became involved in the case over whether mixed-vote ballots should be valid.

The legal team for the New Progressive Party (NPP) argued that the controversy must be kept under federal jurisdiction, as it involves issues related to the U.S. Constitution.

The panel of three judges on the Boston Appeals Court – Puerto Rican Juan Torruella, Jeffrey Howard and Norman Stahl – spent one and a half hours listening to arguments from lawyers for the PDP gubernatorial candidate, Anibal Acevedo Vila, and the NPP candidate, Pedro Rossello.

The panel must decide whether to allow Federal District Judge Daniel Dominguez to continue hearing the case, or to return jurisdiction to the local courts. The judges did not indicate when they will decide, however lawyers from both sides thought it would be resolved quickly.

Charles Cooper, lawyer for Acevedo Vila, argued that Dominguez "meddled in a local issue," and said the intention of the voters of the disputed votes clearly was in favor of his client.

Some of the disputed ballots had an ‘x’ under the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) and other marks by the names of Acevedo Vila and Roberto Prats, the PDP candidate for resident commissioner.

Supporters of Acevedo Vila say it is legal to mark one party – in this case the PIP – as well as a certain candidate. Rossello says that on these ballots it is impossible to determine the voter’s preference.

Rossello’s lawyer, Theodore Olson, said the federal judge in Puerto Rico has jurisdiction in the case and must be allowed to make a final decision.

Olson, who was a lawyer for President George W. Bush in the case of Bush vs. Gore in 2000, said after the hearing, that "we think there are serious Constitutional considerations related to these votes that are being evaluated."

"And the judge (Dominguez) in Puerto Rico has made a scrupulous effort to evaluate them to decide if they are valid or not," he added.

Judge Torruella expressed surprise that Dominguez has taken so long to make a decision.

The judges stayed active during the hearing and asked questions of both parties about procedural aspects of the case. The arguments began at 10 a.m. (Boston time) and ended at 11:30 a.m.

After the hearing, Acevedo Vila expressed hope the appeals process would begin to untangle the confusion created in Puerto Rico after the Nov. 2 elections.

"There has been much confusion on Puerto Rico with this case and I think that today Puerto Ricans have seen the beginning of the process of clearing up the situation," he said.

Outside the court, dozens of demonstrators carried signs demanding that the federal court return the ballot case to Puerto Rican courts.

NPP Election Commissioner Thomas Rivera Schatz said that from the questions the judges asked, they seemed inclined to keep jurisdiction with the federal forum.

"I am pleased. It seems that it is clear from the questions they asked that there is no doubt about the jurisdiction," he said in a radio interview.

Aid For Hurricane Jeanne Hits $385 Million So Far

December 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. government has approved some $385 million in federal disaster funds so far to Puerto Ricans who suffered damage in Tropical Storm Jeanne in September, officials said Monday.

More than 205,000 residents in 58 eligible municipalities applied for assistance from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, authorities said.

The FEMA aid covers repairs to infrastructure, alternate housing and basic necessities, among other things, the agency said. The storm, just below the threshold of a hurricane when it crossed Puerto Rico on Sept. 15, left at least eight people dead on the island.

Two southeastern towns near where the storm made landfall have received the most aid so far - Humacao ($23.2 million) and Yabucoa ($20.8 million). They were followed by the central mountain town of Barranquitas ($18.4 million).

ASA Says It Will Make No More Offers To IAU

December 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) – The president of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority, Jorge Rodriguez, said Monday that negotiations between the corporation and the Independent Authentic Union had concluded.

Rodriguez said the government will not make any more economic offers.

"The negotiation is already over. We are drawing up the new agreement that was ratified by the board of directors this week … so that what I had presented is the only alternative that is on the table," Rodriguez said in a radio interview.

He said there are no more options and members of the IAU should ratify the new agreement to return to their jobs.

Some 4,300 IAU members have been on strike since Oct. 4.

IAU Membership Decides To Continue ASA Strike

December 13, 2004
Copyright © 2004 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

LOÍZA (AP) – The membership of the Independent Authentic Union on Monday rejected the final offer of the Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (ASA) and will continue the strike, which has gone on for more than 70 days.

At an assembly in Loiza, Héctor René Lugo, president of the 4,300-member IAU, said "our membership has shown an extraordinary capacity and we do not regret what we have done."

Lugo said the prolonged strike has had a significant effect on the union’s finances, as it is paying $600 monthly to the striking members.

The union leader said the "few" union members that have crossed the picket line to return to their jobs regret doing so, and even suggested that those that took such action could be agents from the company.

The Year's Best; 10 Great Reads For The Bibliophile On Your List

By Jeff Guinn

December 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram. All rights reserved. 

The authors of the following 10 books, listed in order of excellence, are to be wholeheartedly lauded for delivering quality rather than one-dimensional, proselytizing content.

10. The Noise of Infinite Longing by Luisita Lopez Torregrosa (El Rayo, $24.95)

In this stunning, unjustly overlooked memoir, Lopez Torregrosa recounts her family's early life in Puerto Rico and subsequent struggles to assimilate in America. Anyone who has ever felt uncomfortable, different, will relate; the power of the writing is equaled only by the emotions it will elicit in you or any other sensitive reader.

Cotto Remains Unbeaten

December 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Miguel Cotto of Puerto Rico remained unbeaten by stopping former champion Randall Bailey in the sixth round of their WBO 140-pound title fight.

Cotto put on an impressive show, dropping Bailey with a right hand in the second round and forcing him to take a knee for another knockdown after hitting him with a left hook to the body in the third round.

"My body work was the real key," Cotto said. "We knew if we could get to the body we could win."

Cotto, a 2000 member of the Puerto Rican Olympic team, is now 22-0 with 18 knockouts as a pro. Bailey fell to 28-5.

Raise Your Pina Colada To The End Of The Swill

Danielle Webster

December 12, 2004
Copyright © 2004 News Ltd. All rights reserved. 

The Sunday Mail

CAIRNS Hilton is celebrating 50 years of the pina colada and, coincidentally, the end of the six o'clock swill. The year 1954 not only saw a nationwide referendum narrowly overturn a law forcing bars to close early but also a bar manager at Puerto Rico's Hilton invent one of the world's most loved cocktails, the pina colada.

To commemorate the events, Hilton hotels in Australia and New Zealand will discount pina coladas to $1.95 between 6pm and 10pm from December 20 to 30.

Quake Jars Puerto Rico

December 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands (AP) - A magnitude 5.7 earthquake jolted the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on Saturday, the Puerto Rico Seismic Network said.

Police and rescue officials in all three Caribbean territories said there were no reports of injuries or damage.

The epicenter was 27 miles northwest of the main British Virgin Island of Tortola and 70 miles east of Puerto Rico.

A magnitude 5 quake can cause considerable damage in populated areas.

Puerto Rico Juvenile Crimes Prosecutor, Daughters Shot To Death

December 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 EFE News Service. All rights reserved. 

San Juan, Dec 11 (EFE).- The Puerto Rico Justice Department's chief prosecutor of juvenile offenses, Antonio Barcelo Jimenez was killed along with two of his daughters in a street shootout in which his vehicle was riddled with bullets, police said.

The incident occurred before dawn on Saturday near San Patricio shopping center in the municipality of Guaynabo, outside San Juan, as Barcelo, a nephew of former Puerto Rican Gov. Carlos Romero Barcelo, was driving his daughters and their friend home.

Police are investigating several hypotheses regarding the crime, including those of revenge, mistaken identity and unfortunate presence at a shootout between gangs.

Democrats Must Do More For Hispanic Votes

By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press Writer

December 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON - The Democratic Party has neglected Hispanic voters for a decade and risks severe election losses unless it changes course, Hispanic lawmakers wrote party leaders Thursday.

"It is time for the leadership of the Democratic Party to face the facts. ... Republicans have been committed, methodical and are clearly winning the battle for the Hispanic voters," said the letter by the leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

"If Democrats do not undertake a major paradigm shift in how they deal with (the) Latino vote, the future of the party is in serious jeopardy," the lawmakers said. "If the recent trends hold, several current Democratic strongholds will soon become swing states."

The lawmaker's letter says Democrats must stop this trend by treating Hispanic voters as a swing vote, not as part of their base, and improving their message to Hispanics.

Work Starts On Tren Urbano's Caguas Line

December 11, 2004
Copyright © 2004 Business News Americas. All rights reserved. 

A French company has started initial work on a second connection to Puerto Rico's metropolitan rapid transit rail system, dubbed Tren Urbano, an official from the transportation and public works department (DTOP) told BNamericas.

The 20km line to connect Caguas to the main line in capital San Juan is estimated to cost US$350mn. Work is "at the very beginning stages" and so neither a definite price nor finish date can be placed on the project yet, the official said.

Siemens built the 17km-long transit system that has cost more than US$2.1bn, making it Puerto Rico's largest infrastructure project. The DTOP estimates that more than 115,000 people/d will use the service.

Man Convicted Of Violent Acts On Vieques Will Be Freed Today

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – A man convicted of participating in "violent" acts during the celebration of U.S. Marines leaving Vieques in May 2003 will be freed Friday, a day after Néstor de Jesús Guishard was freed from the federal prison in Guaynabo, where he was jailed on similar charges.

It is expected that Andres Santiago will leave prison Friday after finishing his sentence for the acts, which occurred in the early morning of May 1, 2003, and for which four other still remain incarcerated.

De Jesús Guishard, counselor at a school in Rio Piedras and a doctoral student, left prison Thursday morning and was received by friends, family and demonstrators supporting the Vieques fight.

De Jesús Guishard, together with four men that remain jailed, is part of a group of 12 that were found guilty in federal court on charges of destruction of U.S. government property when they celebrated the exit of U.S. Marines, who were doing war exercises on the island for six decades.

The counselor was originally sentenced to eight months in jail, but federal magistrate Aida Delgado imposed six additional months when she revoked his probation for trespassing on land that was, at that time, federal.

They will remain on probation for three and a half years.

Jorge Cruz, José Montañez, José Vélez and José Pérez, who received the longest sentence of five years in prison, remain jailed for related crimes.

NPPs Declare Support For Federal Court

By Leonardo Aldridge

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

SAN JUAN (AP) – Some 300 New Progressive Party members on Friday gathered at the federal court to support the case for the state ballots with mixed votes.

The demonstrators carried picket signs that read: "Que viva la democracia," "Que viva el Tribunal Federal" and "Vieques nunca más", among others.

At 1:45 p.m., Federal Judge Daniel Dominguez still had not announced his decision about the case.

Frances Rodriguez, campaign director for Pedro Rossello, said the New Progressives support Dominguez’s decision.

"It doesn’t matter what decision is made under this court, these people defend the continuance of the federal court," Rodriguez said.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) President Anibal Acevedo Vila has issued strong criticisms of Judge Dominguez, but never has explained his desire to get the court to leave the island.

At the demonstration, Amelia Cotto, a 62-year-old housekeeper, said that "we are here to support the ideal. We are learning how to vote and we are all learning the electoral laws."

Some 20 police officers roped off an area for the NPP demonstration and another area for an anticipated protest of another group that opposes the federal presence on the island.

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