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The Bond Buyer

Dear Mr. President: New Beginning For Puerto Rico, Commitment To Tomorrow

September 12, 2000
Copyright © 2000 Thomson Financial Media. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2000 American Banker, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Dear Mr. President:

My first term was dedicated to spearheading a comprehensive New Beginning for Puerto Rico; my second term has built upon that foundation through a relentless Commitment to Tomorrow. Both of these agendas for constructive change have placed an extremely high priority on Infrastructure-enhancement as a vehicle for the empowerment of individuals and private enterprises. Indeed, since 1993, We the People of Puerto Rico have invested more than $10 billion to "reinvent" our society as a state-of-the-art launching pad for entrepreneurial ingenuity.

Typical of the scope of our undertakings is an ultra-modern $1.7-billion mass-transit rail-system now under construction to serve the metroplex that encompasses our capital city of San Juan. This project was so well conceived that, despite Puerto Rico's total lack of voting representation in Washington, D.C., it successfully competed with bids from dozens of cities and states to win hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

Although the constant improvement of our highway/seaport/airport grid has solidified Puerto Rico's status as the principal hub of Caribbean Basin transportation, we are looking beyond mere zonal preeminence: our sights are firmly set on emerging as a hemispheric and global commercial hub, via the imminent design and construction of an ocean-cargo transshipment super-port. Moreover, a World Trade Center and elaborate convention complex will complement that innovation by bringing untold thousands of additional visitors annually to America's ISLAND OF ENCHANTMENT. Essential too, if less glamorous, has been our removal of 5,000,000 cubic meters of sediment from the main water reservoir for the San Juan area; before we began dredging it, that reservoir's capacity had dropped to just 47% of its original volume. Meanwhile, we are in the final stages of installing a $345 million pipeline to link a second reservoir with communities located as much as 50 miles away. This "Super Aqueduct" will soon be providing the residents of 15 municipalities with a total of 75million gallons of drinking water each day.

On another front altogether-yet equally important-is the emphasis we are placing on "Operation Brainstorm" as a successor to the "Operation Bootstrap" that propelled Puerto Rico's industrialization a halfcentury ago. Among other things, "Operation Brainstorm" entails fully-computerized classrooms; the creation of a "Silicon Valley"-style Technology Corridor for the incubation of cutting-edge companies; and a free-trade zone center for researching, developing, and finding commercial applications for fresh ideas. In short, we understand that this new millennium demands both a superb physical infrastructure and a comparably topflight intellectual infrastructure.

Mr. President, your fellow citizens in Puerto Rico are enthusiastically engaged in a relentless crusade for permanent self-sufficiency and unprecedented prominence. We urge that you embrace our vision of Puerto Rico USA as a key national asset: a bilingual/bicultural BRIDGE OF THE AMERICAS in this 21st-century era of hemispheric economic integration.

Pedro Rossello

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