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Feisty Governor's Debate

Navy Believes They Could Win Referendum

CRB Pledges More Economic Development

Massive Military Exercises Resume Off Veques

Poll: Pesquera, Calderon Tied

Romero And Acevedo In A Dead Heat

Santini Way Ahead

Funds For Medicare Will Not Increase

Senate Honors RHC


Feisty Governor's Debate Erupts In San Juan

Iván Román

October 19, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Orlando Sentinel. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Keeping in tone with this nasty election campaign, Puerto Rico`s three gubernatorial candidates faced off in the first of two debates Wednesday night in a discussion full of attacks and evasive moves and short on new ideas.

As expected, Carlos Pesquera of the pro-statehood New Progressive Party and San Juan Mayor Sila Maria Calderon of the opposition Popular Democratic Party, which defends the current commonwealth status, slugged it out over the corruption scandals that have mostly plagued the current NPP administration.

Pesquera, the former head of transportation and public works, told voters that he was the man to continue the health reform, the Urban Train, housing construction, crime reduction and other mega projects showcased by this administration.

Calderon answered that her government would see through the good projects from the past administration and would restart those projects she has stopped in the courts by following environmental laws the current government has violated.

She criticized the government`s sale of the Puerto Rico Telephone Co. in 1998 and the sale of most government hospitals and clinics, and she stuck to her theme defending the public`s assets and giving priority to Puerto Rican identity within its relationship to the United States. Berrios talked of equal pay for women, infant care and promised a clean government. And he talked about the unavoidable subject: the confrontation between Puerto Rico and the United States over the Navy`s use of the Vieques target range.

Pesquera defended the presidential directives that allow the U.S. Navy to carry out limited bombing on the range for another three years until voters in Vieques get a chance to vote them out by 2003.

"The Vieques problem has already been solved," said Pesquera. "Real peace is on the way, and everyone must see it as a victory."

Calderon said Pesquera was in denial. "How is it possible that this government could be so insensitive as to tell the people that the Vieques issue is solved?" she said.


U.S. Navy Believes They Could Win Referendum In Vieques

October 18, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

ON BOARD THE USS NASSAU, VIEQUES, (AP) -U.S. Navy spokesman Jeff Gordon said Tuesday that the Navy could win the referendum that would decide if it should stay or leave Vieques by May 1, 2003.

Since the approval of the presidential directives on Vieques Jan. 31, Gordon said the Navy has won followers among Vieques residents by investing money in the Vieques' health center and in improving infrastructure. He added that the Navy has also paid compensation to the fishermen in the island municipality, and has done some improvements in the Mosquito Bay port.

"We want to win the referendum and we are working for it," said Gordon.

Gordon also criticized anti-Navy protesters, who he said "are not accomplishing anything" by discrediting the Navy.


Romero Barcelo Pledges More Economic Development, If Elected

By Proviana Colon Diaz

October 17, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN - Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo said Monday that if he were re-elected on Nov. 7 he would keep economic development for the island as one of his top priorities.

Included in his campaign promises will be to lobby and get approval in the U.S. Congress for an extension of the Income Tax Revenue Code Section 30A beyond 2006. That section, slated to be phased out by that year, gives U.S. companies with manufacturing operations in Puerto Rico a tax credit based on the number of employees.

Among other things, Romero Barcelo said he will continue to lobby for approval of a bill to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.15 per hour.


Navy Begins Massive Exercise Off Disputed Vieques Range


October 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

ABOARD THE USS NASSAU (AP) - Guns boomed off the coast of a disputed Navy training ground in Puerto Rico and tens of thousands of troops prepared for a massive amphibious landing as NATO began its biggest exercise there in four years.

The monumental show of force by 50 vessels, 31,000 U.S. soldiers and an undisclosed number of troops from Canada, France, Denmark, Germany and Britain comes despite fierce protests over the past year against military exercises on the island, called Vieques.

The Navy said the exercises that began Monday include 36 U.S. ships and a submarine, as well as six ships from Canada, four from Germany, two from Britain and one French vessel.

The forces are simulating a NATO-led U.N. peacekeeping mission, Navy spokesman John Kirby said. On Tuesday morning, thousands of troops were to "invade" a beach on the island's eastern end, the Navy said. The simulation concludes Oct. 28.


Poll: Pesquera And Calderon Tied For Governor

October 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party gubernatorial candidate Carlos Pesquera garnered 46.2% of the vote in a poll published Monday, against 43.1% for Popular Democratic Party candidate Sila Calderon.

Because the poll had a 3.1% margin of error, and the difference between them falls within the margin, they are considered to be statistically tied.

In published reports, Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) President Ruben Berrios obtained 5.6% of the votes.


Poll: Romero And Acevedo In A Dead Heat

October 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - A poll published Monday showed Resident Commissioner Carlos Romero Barcelo in a virtual tie with Popular Democratic Party challenger Anibal Acevedo Vila.

In published reports, Romero obtained 46.3% of the vote to Acevedo Vila's 45.7%, with a 3.9% margin of error. Because the difference falls within the margin of error, it is considered too close to call.


Poll: Santini Way Ahead Of Bhatia In San Juan

October 16, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) San Juan mayoral candidate Jorge Santini is way ahead of his Popular Democratic Party (PDP) rival Eduardo Bhatia, according to a poll published Monday.

Santini received 50% of the vote compared to Bhatia's 31%, published reports said.


Funds For Medicare In Puerto Rico Will Not Increase

October 15, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The proposal to increase disbursements to the Medicare program in Puerto Rico was left out of the congressional plan to reform the program of health insurance for the elderly in the U.S., which was confirmed by the office of Sen. Charles Rangel (D-NY).

The additional $25 million to $50 million that was requested for Puerto Rico hospitals was eliminated from the Medicare bill by Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) in a private meeting with other Republican leaders, according to published reports.


Senate Honors Former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon

October 15, 2000
Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The New Progressive Party leadership set aside their ideological differences for one night when the Senate honored former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon for his political trajectory.

Senate President Charlie Rodriguez said the tribute to Hernandez Colon was to testify to the respect and admiration of that institution for his contribution to the development of the Puerto Rican democracy.

He said although Hernandez Colon belongs to the opposition party, "that does not mean we will not recognize his work for the people while he occupied different positions."

Hernandez Colon seemed moved by the tribute.

"We serve Puerto Rico with determination, each one from our point of view and our own ideology," he said, remembering his time as a Senate leader.

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