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Vieques Protests Taken To UN

First Gubernatorial Debate Scheduled For Oct. 11

Courts Have Hope Of Cash Now

Martin Won't Pay Fine

Vieques Land To Be Returned Includes Contaminated Plots

Vieques Protests Taken To UN

July 12, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Puerto Rican activists took their protests against the U.S. Navy practice bombing on Vieques to the United Nations, demanding that Washington halt its military maneuvers and recognize Puerto Rico's right to independence.

Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Vice President Fernando Martin and other activists made their case before the U.N. Decolonization Committee, a U.N. body overseeing the settlement of outstanding colonial issues.

The committee is expected to approve a Cuban-drafted resolution at the close of its hearing Wednesday encouraging the United States to end its military exercises, return the land to civilians, "halt the persecution, arrests and harassment of peaceful demonstrators," and respect Puerto Ricans' fundamental human rights.

The non-binding draft resolution reaffirms the committee's hope that the United States will expedite its process to allow Puerto Ricans "to fully exercise their inalienable right to self-determination and independence."

Martin, who was among those arrested, said he was exposing himself to future arrest because he had refused to pay a $ 1,000 fine and had violated the conditions of his supervised release by traveling to New York to testify before the U.N. committee without telling his parole officer.

"I thought it a bit absurd if nothing else to ask permission from the U.S. government to come to testify to the U.N. to denounce colonialism in Puerto Rico," he said in an interview.

First Gubernatorial Debate Scheduled For Oct. 11

July 11, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The first debate among the three gubernatorial candidates for the upcoming general election will be held Oct. 11, public officials said.

The Overseas Press Club (OPC), which has been talking with three representatives of the New Progressive (NPP), the Popular Democratic (PDP), and the Puerto Rican Independence (PIP) parties with the help of WLII-TV Channel 11 (TeleOnce), made the announcement Tuesday.

NPP President Carlos Pesquera, PDP President Sila Calderon and PIP President Ruben Berrios will respond to questions made by four OPC journalists during a two-hour session.

Puerto Rico's Courts Have Hope Of Cash Now

July 19, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ORLANDO SENTINEL. All Rights Reserved.

By Iván Román

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The heads of the three branches of government fighting over money finally put aside threats and accusations, sat down and came up with a solution.

The tense dynamic had seemed almost humorous -- except that it had severe constitutional implications. Chief Judge Jose Andreu Garcia threatened to sue Gov. Pedro Rossello and the Legislature for the $84 million more he needed to run the courts and deal with debt.

Legislators had given the judiciary another $12 million, increasing its allotment to $188 million out of the island`s $21 billion operating budget signed last week.

Critics said the dispute seemed to be payback. Rossello and the NPP had accused the Puerto Rico Supreme Court of having political motivations behind recent orders to stop two projects -- Highway 66 and the demolition and rebuilding of hotels in Condado.

Legislators and the governor agreed to allow the courts to borrow between $47 million and $55 million. A commission will seek long-term solutions.

Martin And Thomas Won't Pay Fine In 30 Days

July 9, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Vice President Fernando Martin on Friday said he and San Juan mayoral candidate Vance Thomas won't pay the fine imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Hector Laffitte.

Describing Laffitte as "a shame and discredit" to the judiciary, Martin said the judge, who sentenced him to pay a $1,000 fine for trespassing on U.S. Navy land in Vieques, isn't fit to render justice because he is prejudiced against pro-independence supporters.

Martin and Thomas were freed from federal prison late Thursday night after Laffitte, who had ordered them imprisoned, acknowledged he had made a technical error, said PIP Sen. Manuel Rodriguez Orellana, who also represents both defendants.

Martin and Thomas were jailed last week after heading a group of PIP members who trespassed on Navy land in Vieques. At their trial, they were imposed a fine, which they refused to pay, and were sent back to federal prison.

Vieques Land To Be Returned To PR Includes Contaminated Plots

July 8, 2000
Copyright © 2000 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The U.S. Navy has identified 490 acres of potentially contaminated land in the western side of Vieques, which would be transferred to the Puerto Rico government by year's end, according to published reports.

Luz Amalis Muriel, acting director of the Environmental Quality Board's Toxic Waste Division, said the contaminated acres include areas where the Navy detonated or incinerated munitions.

The information is contained in a document sent by Rear Adm. Kevin Green to Gov. Pedro Rossello on June 17 titled "Identification of Non-Contaminated Properties in the Naval Ammunition Support Detachment Vieques Island."

Meanwhile, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., through spokesman Gary Hoitsma, said he won't allow the western lands in Vieques to be transferred to Puerto Rico if naval forces don't benefit from the proposed referendum about the future of the Navy in Vieques.

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