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Corruption Sure To Shape Outcome Of Fall Election

Rossello: Media Responsible For Belief That Corruption Is Worse

Corruption Sure To Shape Outcome Of Fall Election

by Iván Román
June 11, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Corruption clearly is the sledgehammer both major political parties will use in this year`s election. Not political status. Not health reform. Not even crime or jobs.

And the news keeps feeding into it, spawning diatribes on the radio and accusations in ads.

The latest to fall: former senator Freddy Valentin, arrested as he got off a plane from Argentina, accused of extortion and money laundering. Now a consultant, he was a leader of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party and head of the Senate`s influential Appointments Committee.

True to form, Gov. Pedro Rossello said those who commit crimes should pay, but that Valentin`s alleged dealings with the Housing Department and Port Authority wouldn`t taint the NPP.

He insisted his administration has done more than any other to weed out corruption. But the day front-page pictures showed Valentin leaving the federal courthouse, El Nuevo Dia`s newest poll showed 65percent of those surveyed think corruption is worse than before, and 42 percent give Rossello a "D" or an "F" on fighting corruption.

"Perceptions have a lot to do with projection, and if a Martian landed here today and got to Puerto Rico, he would think that this is the most corrupt place on Earth," Rossello said.

The NPP and opposition Popular Democratic Party have been fueling corruption hysteria. But there`s no erasing the facts.

NPP legislators, government officials and campaign contributors are facing the lion`s share of probes, indictments, convictions or guilty pleas for corruption crimes in various agencies. Federal prosecutors are handling them, and U.S. Attorney Guillermo Gil warned that more charges would come before the Nov.7 election.

Rossello: Media Responsible For Belief That Corruption Is Worse

by Proviana Colon Diaz
June 7, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.

Gov. Pedro Rossello, accompanied by Education Secretary Victor Fajardo, on Tuesdlty for the impressioay said the media was guin some people have that there is more corruption now than during prior administrations.  

SAN JUAN — Gov. Pedro Rossello said Tuesday that if the public perception is that there is more corruption now than ever it is because of the media’s projection of the issue.

Rossello said if more corruption cases have surfaced and been prosecuted during his tenure in office this is because his administration has filed more anti-corruption legislation than any previous one.

"I believe that there are now more instruments than ever before to take action against corruption and white-collar crime," Rossello said. "You [the media] have gotten A in the projection. The perceptions depends a lot on the projection, and I think that if a Martian were to come to Puerto Rico today he would think that this is the most corrupt place in the world because of the projections that precisely you [the media] make."

A poll by a Spanish daily published Tuesday revealed that 65% of those surveyed said corruption is worse now than before.

According to Rossello, the media has failed in its responsibility of projecting the good with the bad and a balance has been lost.

Rossello denied that most corruption cases have been criminally investigated and prosecuted in federal court although he acknowledged that high-profile cases such as the fraud charges involving the San Juan AIDS Institute, former Toa Alta Angel Buzo, and now the Housing Department have been tackled by U.S. officials. He said the Commonwealth Comptroller’s Office has issued reports and keeps statistics of all cases in which irregularities were reported.

"If you [the media] want to make an issue out of this, then do it. I’m used to it," Rossello said.

The governor made his statements following the Department of Education annual Excellence Fund Award given to the best teachers islandwide. Teachers nominate the candidates and after a case evaluation by the fund’s Board of Directors, the top 100 teachers are chosen. Those winning the award receive a $5,000 prize.

Tuesday’s award ceremony took place at the Condado Plaza Hotel.

Rossello congratulated those who won and thanked them for their excellent work and for promoting excellence among their students.

But the governor also took the opportunity to say farewell to the teachers as this is his last year in office.

"I know that soon, I will no longer be appearing as governor before such an excellent group. But as a Puerto Rican, wherever I might be, I will feel peace of spirit and great satisfaction because I know that you will keep on doing your job," Rossello said.

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