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Iraq Accident Claims 2nd Soldier’s Life… AAV Asked To Be Open To Status Options… Calderon Seeks "Severe Sanctions" vs. El Vocero… UT Expansion Gets Boost… Murders Decline… Ponce’s Tibes Barrio Finally Getting Phones… Santini Opposes Municipal Tax… 2nd Female Soldier Dies In Iraq

Iraq Accident Claims Lives Of Two Puerto Ricans

March 3, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

POMPANO BEACH, FLORIDA (AP) - Sgt. Julio E. Negrón, a native of San German, died when the military vehicle he was riding in was in an accident in Bavji, Iraq, the U.S. Defense Department said Wednesday.

Negron is the second Puerto Rican killed in the accident. Specialist Lisbeth Robles, a native of Vega Baja, was also injured in the crash, and died later at a Tikrit military hospital.

Negron, 28, died Monday. He was a resident of Pompano Beach, Fla.

[Sgt. Negron joined the Army in April 1997 after moving to Pompano Beach from Maryland, the family said. He was the youngest of the three brothers, all of whom were soldiers.

Sgt. Negron was first deployed to Iraq in August 2003 to work with field artillery. Sgt. Negron's first tour of duty in Iraq ended in April, and he spent several months stationed in Fort Carson, Colo. He returned to Iraq in December.

The Humvee he was in Monday was part of a convoy, and he was serving as a mounted gunner. The unidentified driver of the Humvee apparently lost control, and the vehicle rolled over and crashed.

Jose Negron Jr. says his younger brother Julio was meant to be a soldier -- he was born on the Fourth of July.

"My brothers and I have always loved to be Americans and we always dreamed of doing something for this country."

"The war is not the cause of my brother's death," Jose Negron said. "The life of a soldier is to serve your country and die for your country if needed."

In addition to his brothers, Sgt. Negron is survived by his parents, Jose and Teresa Negron, of Orlando; sisters Diana Negron of Coral Springs, Nancy Torres of Orlando, and Marilyn Estrada of Laurel, Md.; and several nieces and nephews.]

Negron and Robles were members of Company 360 of the 917 Combat Support Group, headquartered in Fort Carson, Colo., and had arrived in Iraq at the end of December.

Gonzalez Asks That Governor Be Open To Status Options

March 3, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — To avoid the status discussion reaching a complete impasse, New Progressive Party Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez asked Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila not to close the door to any of the options presented to deal with the issue.

The legislator, who made her request in a letter sent to the governor Thursday, said Acevedo Vila put "a straightjacket" on an objective analysis of the proposals presented about the future political status of the island, when he said he will not sign a bill that does not include a constitutional assembly.

"We are going to ask from you the opportunity to define the procedural mechanisms, that you not be closed off to other options … We want each legislator to study the alternatives without the pressure that you are not going to sign if it is not a constitutional assembly," she said at a press conference.

Gonzalez denied that the request will be a sign that the Legislature is not going to include the constitutional assembly in the final bill that is filed.

Calderon Asks For "Severe Sanctions" Against El Vocero

March 3, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Former governor Sila M. Calderon and her two daughters have requested that "severe sanctions" be imposed on El Vocero newspaper, for allegedly violating the agreement they reached on Feb. 22 in the case about a false article that said the former governor and her family had mistreated a household employee.

Lawyers for Calderon filed a motion Tuesday, that alleged the newspaper did not comply with the stipulation to publish a correction article, and the article they did publish threw a shadow on the content of the apology.

The judicial appeal says the paper also violated the agreement by publishing an editorial that, according to the motion, is a "flagrant violation, a lack of respect to the court and makes a joke of the proceedings," media reports said.

The former governor’s lawyers demand unspecified sanctions.

Calderon and her family reached an agreement with El Vocero Feb. 22 in the courtroom of Judge Jose Loubriel Vazquez of the San Juan Superior Court.

As part of the pact, the newspaper had to pay a sum of $75,000 and publish a correction on the front page.

Urban Train Expansion Gets Boost

March 3, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The extension of the Urban Train to Carolina and Minillas looks more likely, after the U.S. Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the House of Representatives approved legislation that increases federal funding for transportation and highways on the island.

This was announced Wednesday by Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño, who belongs to the committee that approved the measure. It will allocate $2.84 billion for initiatives in the United States and Puerto Rico.

"It is an extraordinary advance," Fortuño said in Washington, D.C., according to media reports.

Although the legislation does not directly assign funds to the Urban Train, Fortuño expressed his support for the second phase of the project, headed to Carolina — at a possible cost of $900 million — and that the first phase continues with service from Parada 26 in Santurce to the Minillas government center.

Fortuño said the measure includes 17 new projects for Puerto Rico, valued at $45 million.

Murders Decline In First Two Months Of Year

March 3, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Police statistics show a decline in the number of murders and traffic-related deaths in the first two months of the year, compared to the same period in 2004.

From Jan. 1 to March 2, 2005, police recorded 127 murders, 24 fewer that by the same date last year.

Crime in San Juan, where there were 51 homicides in the first two months of 2004, had the biggest drop in violent deaths, with a reduction of 22 murders.

"We have focused on raising awareness of the places with high criminal activity, slums," said Inspector Jose Marrero Rivera, director of the Criminal Investigations Unit in San Juan.

Phone Service Will Finally Reach Remote Ponce Community

March 2, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Some 100 families of the Tibes Barrio in Ponce will have telephone service for the first time, after a telephone infrastructure project is completed, Puerto Rico Telephone Co. said Wednesday. The project has cost $360,400.

PRT President Cristina Lambert, and the head of the Telecommunications Regulation Board, Miguel Reyes Davila, said that service was installed in the sectors of Jácana, Aguacate and Burenes, whose residents until now have had to travel nine miles to make a call on a public telephone.

"The Telecommunications Regulation Board … is extremely committed to achieving the objective of every family in every corner of Puerto Rico having access to basic telecommunication services. Our Remote Communities program supports … our reaching this objective," Reyes Davila said in a statement.

Tibes Barrio in Ponce is one of three communities identified by the board for the expansion of telephone service.

Santini Opposes Municipal Tax

March 2, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Because it would mean a double tax and a tough blow to wallets of taxpayers, San Juan Mayor Jorge Santini on Tuesday said he opposes the proposed municipal retail sales tax, and said it would not be implemented in the capital.

Santini emphasized that the "Law of Autonomous Municipalities establishes as the source of cities’ income the rights, shares, taxes, charges and tariffs that they established by law on things that have not been the object of taxation by the state."

Nevertheless, he left the door open to possibly supporting a new tax if the general tax of 6.6 percent is eliminated.

Puerto Rican Soldier Dies In Iraq

March 2, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — Specialist Lisbeth Robles, a native of Vega Baja, died Tuesday in an accident in Iraq, becoming the second Puerto Rican woman to die in the war.

Jose Pagan, spokesman for the U.S. Army here, said Robles died when the driver of the military vehicle she was riding in lost control of the truck.

"The Humvee ran into another vehicle and tipped over, rolling several times. The soldier died in the accident," he said in a statement.

According to Pagan, Robles’ family decided she will be buried in Puerto Rico. He did not know when the body would arrive on the island.

Robles was a member of 360 Company of the 917 Combat Support Group, based in Fort Carson, Colo. Her husband also is a soldier in active military service.

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