New High-Speed Ferry Connects SJ With Islands DEA RaidS La Perla Seeking Stolen Guns D.R. Considers Deporting P.R. Prisoners Lottery Gets New Operator Dairy Farmers Say Milk Industry Faces Bankruptcy McClintock Sees Vote On Status By Summer Massive Pattern Of Tax Evasion Found Urban Development Threatens El Yunque
New High-Speed Ferry Connects San Juan With Islands
March 16, 2005
SAN JUAN (AP) March 16, 2005 - A new high-speed passenger ferry will connect San Juan with the islands of Vieques and Culebra, as U.S. college students converge here for spring break, officials said Tuesday.
The service, operated by Island Hi-Speed Ferry, starts Friday and leaves from Pier 2 in historic Old San Juan, said Robert Leith Sr., a spokesman for the Narragansett, R.I.-based company.
The catamaran Athena leaves San Juan once daily on weekdays and twice daily on weekends, Leith said. It can reach Culebra in approximately one hour, 45 minutes, continuing on to Vieques in another half hour, he said.
The 30-meter (98-foot) Athena has 250 seats and can reach speeds of 33 knots, or 40 mph (65 kph).
Roundtrip fares to Culebra range from $63 for residents to $68 for nonresidents while children's prices range from $48 to $53. Vieques fares range from $73-$78 for adults and $58-$63 for children.
Passengers can buy roundtrip tickets between Culebra and Vieques for $33, and $23 for children.
DEA Agents Raid La Perla Seeking Stolen Handguns
March 15, 2005
SAN JUAN (AP) March 15, 2005 - Dozens of U.S. federal agents and police officers raided the La Perla slum in San Juan to search for two handguns stolen from a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
The DEA agent's pistols were stolen from an apartment in Isla Verde on Sunday, said police Lt. Ramon Nieves, the district's director of criminal investigations.
"The information we have is that (the weapons) were sold in the La Perla area," Nieves said.
The two weapons were .40-caliber Glocks, police spokesman Renato Cano said. Nobody was in the agent's apartment at the time of the robbery, he said. Initially, police said three of the agent's weapons were stolen.
DR Government Considers Deporting PR Prisoners
March 15, 2005
SAN JUAN (AP) March 15, 2005 The Dominican Republic Attorney General is optimistic about the possibility of establishing a judicial collaboration agreement with the United States, which would allow U.S. citizens being held in Dominican jails to complete their sentences in their home country.
Francisco Dominguez said the pact could facilitate the extradition of the 57 U.S. citizens held in Dominican prisons, among them 34 Puerto Ricans.
"The attorney general sees an agreement of this type between the Dominican Republic and the United States as very positive," Julieta Tejada, a spokeswoman for the Attorney Generals Office, said in media reports.
The Dominican government has already established similar agreements with Venezuela, Colombia and Spain.
Electronic Lottery Gets New Operating Company
March 15, 2005
SAN JUAN (AP) March 15, 2005 Starting Thursday, the Electronic Lottery will be operated by a new company, Scientific Games, which will hold its first lottery drawing on Friday.
Due to the transaction between GTech, the current Electronic Lottery operator, and Scientific Games, drawings for "Pega 2", "Pega 3" and "Pega 4" scheduled for Thursday night will be done Tuesday.
According to media reports, the deputy Treasury secretary in charge of the Electronic Lottery, Teresa Carrion, said they already had installed new machines in all establishments that offer the game, and she said currently the most important thing is to confirm their connection to the central system.
PR Dairy Farmers Say Milk Industry Could Go Bankrupt
March 15, 2005
SAN JUAN (AP) March 15, 2005 The Farmers Association on Tuesday claimed that the price of milk must be increased, because they say the milk industry runs the risk of going bankrupt.
Jose Aulet, president of the Milk Group of the Association, said that last year the price of food for cattle increased by some 20 to 25 percent, while there was also an increase in production costs.
Nevertheless, he said, the price of milk has stayed the same for the last five years.
"Today, we are making an urgent call for the Agriculture Secretary, Jose Orlando Fabre, and the administrator of the milk industry, to act immediately due to the difficult reality that the milk industry lives in and that puts at risk the future of the local industry," Aulet said at a press conference.
Currently, a liter of milk costs $1, while two liters costs $2.03, and a gallon is $3.89.
McClintock Sees Vote On Status Ready By Summer
March 15, 2005
SAN JUAN (AP) Senate President Kenneth McClintock said Monday that there is consensus amongst the three political parties to approve a bill that would allow voters to express themselves about Puerto Ricos political status.
"There is a real opportunity and consensus among the three political parties, so that there is a bill that can be changed into law during the coming weeks and months," McClintock said.
He confirmed that the legislation could move forward as early as this summer and "the people of Puerto Rico can make their initial statement that helps to (advance) the decolonization of Puerto Rico."
Meantime, Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño said he favors a recommendation by Sen. Carlos Vizcarrondo that would officially form a tripartisan committee that can present non-territorial status options to the federal government.
Massive Pattern of Tax Evasion Is Found
March 14, 2005
SAN JUAN (AP) The Treasury Department has revealed a widespread tax evasion formula, through which marriages where both parties work change their civil status to file their returns, representing an annual loss to the Treasury of some $135 million.
According to the designated Treasury Secretary Juan Carlos Mendez, under this pattern of evasion, people in the marriage file their tax returns separately, illegally using different tax code filing categories to evade paying higher taxes.
According to media reports the categories are: head of household, single, or married but not living with spouse.
When tax returns are filed under these categories, the income of each party in the marriage is taxed separately, and therefore lower tax rates apply.
Urban Development Threatens El Yunque
March 14, 2005
SAN JUAN (AP) Urban development on the edges of El Yunque Caribbean National Forest has invaded the better part of 9,307 acres that belong to the natural reserve, a study by the U.S. Forest Services International Institute of Tropical Forestry revealed.
The study, "Urbanization of the lands on the edge of El Yunque" by Ariel E. Lugo, Tania Lopez and Olga M. Ramos Gonzalez, is the second scientific study by the Institute to show the Planning Board that the only tropical forest in the United States needs more of a cushion zone.
"Especially, the urban coverage in 1995 almost surrounded the Caribbean National Forest and significantly fragmented the areas zoned as agricultural in the region," the report said.