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How much more proof do we need?


April 21, 2005
Copyright © 2005 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Immediately after the elections and before a final decision on the results of the elections was made, Aníbal Acevedo Vilá started talking about a "shared government." His personal history, however, clearly shows he lies, and is a hypocrite and an opportunist who will say whatever is necessary at the moment, without any intention of fulfilling his promise or commitment if it doesn’t serve his best personal interests.

Not only did the majority of the press immediately rally to his support, but also many professional, technical, and cultural organizations also praised him for his expressions, although they also knew he would always act according to his own personal and partisan political interests and would not hesitate to go back on his word. Even some of the New Progressive Party legislative leaders and mayors praised him and joined the chorus for a "shared government."

However, no sooner did he start making his appointments to the cabinet and to public agencies and corporations, it became apparent he had no intention of sharing his powers of appointment. He only wanted and wants to share the power of the New Progressive Party. Some of those who had praised Acevedo Vilá and joined him in praising his avowed "intention" to share the government, immediately saw he was lying and he had no such intentions.

For others, it took more time as they began to realize that Acevedo, the Usurper, had no intention whatsoever of sharing the governor’s powers of appointment. As it turned out, he was not even willing to "listen" to the objections of the New Progressive Party leaders to his appointments. Whenever one of the New Progressive Party Senators voices any objection to any one of his appointments, Acevedo immediately labels it as a "political" and "anti-Puerto Rican" motivation. Only his motives are "patriotic."

Obviously, this demeanor is expected from one who is confrontational and determined to have "his way." It is certainly not the behavior of a governor who wants to share government with the opposition.

As always, the truth will eventually prevail. The reality that Acevedo is not a man of his word, that he is a liar, a hypocrite, and an opportunist became obvious to all but his most recalcitrant supporter. It became obvious during the Legislature’s consideration of the Status Bill. I am referring to the Bill filed in the Legislature, which demanded the president and the U.S. Congress tell us what solution to the status dilemma they are willing to consider and support. It was further established that the status formula, which we would be willing to accept, must be "fully democratic, noncolonial, and nonterritorial." If the president and the U.S. Congress failed to answer on or before Dec. 31, 2006, we would then proceed on our own and consider methods of reaching a solution which would "include a referendum or a constitutional assembly."

Originally, the bill didn’t include any reference to a "constitutional assembly," because we, as a party, are opposed to such a method, which we consider to be a delaying tactic and a way to keep the people out of the decision-making process. The wording, including the phrase "constitutional assembly," was part of an amendment, drafted and approved by the Popular Party legislators in consultation with Gov. Acevedo Vilá. As a result, the bill was passed unanimously in both houses. However, Acevedo Vilá, the Usurper, went back on his word and vetoed the bill. Acevedo Vilá welched on his word and thereby declared himself to be a man without honor, a man in whose word no one can rely.

For the first time in the history of Puerto Rico, the three parties which support statehood, independence, and the territory (Commonwealth) have agreed on the language of a bill seeking a solution to the status dilemma, and the governor welched on his word.

How can you negotiate with someone who will not keep his word? How can anyone trust such a governor? A governor who talks about shared government, but refuses to withdraw appointments that aren’t acceptable to the opposition. The most obvious example is the appointment of Sánchez Ramos.

There is ample evidence that Sánchez Ramos is too politically prejudiced. His bias and behavior indicates he will cover up for the Populares, but he will persecute the Statehooders and New Progressive Party sympathizers. Yet, the majority of the press seems to be waging a campaign in support of his appointment.

The stories and articles in Primera Hora seem to be almost part of a paid publicity campaign. As a matter of fact, even more effective, because news stories and articles have more credibility than paid advertisements. Could the reason for this campaign by Primera Hora be due to the influence of Olga Sánchez, the manager of the newspaper’s Human Resources Department who allegedly is the nominee’s sister.

One of his professional misdeeds, which disqualifies him as secretary of Justice, occurred in the case of In re: Pedro Colton Fontán, 2001JTS117.

In that case, Pedro Colton Fontán was disbarred in 1991 by the Supreme Court. He was never charged nor convicted of any crime.

Five years after his disbarment, he filed a Petition for Reinstatement. The petition was referred to the Commission on the Reputation of Aspirants to the Legal Profession.

At that time, the attorney general was Gustavo Gelpí, a well-known and respected lawyer who now serves as U.S. Magistrate. Attorney General Gelpí directed the hearings in the Commission. A report to the Supreme Court was drafted and supported by the then-attorney general and the commission, which recommended the reinstatement of Pedro Colton. While the matter was pending decision before the Supreme Court, Sánchez Ramos was appointed attorney general. He knew of the cases pending before the Supreme Court, and he didn’t file any motion requesting the inhibition of Supreme Court Justice Efraín Rivera Pérez.

It was not until after the Supreme Court decided to reinstate Pedro Colton, in other words, after he knew how Judge Efraín Rivera had voted, that he filed a motion requesting his inhibition.

That is the first misdeed. If a lawyer thinks a judge should disqualify himself in a given case, he must make that request before the judge decides. Once the decision was made, it was highly improper for Sánchez Ramos to request the judge disqualify himself. Would he have done so if Judge Rivera had decided the way he wanted and Colton had not been reinstated? Of course not.

Not only was it improper for him to file a Request for Disqualification after he knew of the decision, but the motion filed was one based on lies, misrepresentations based on erroneous and false assumptions. This was the second and most serious misdeed.

Sánchez Ramos accused Judge Rivera Pérez, without any evidence whatsoever, of having discussed with me issues and events related to Pedro Colton, which we never discussed.

Judge Rivera Pérez, attorneys Virgilio Ramos and Francisco Valcarcel, all three of them, acted as my attorneys for a very short time during the Cerro Maravilla hearings. Their role was to represent me in procedural matters during the hearing. I never discussed with any of them any of the facts or events. And, most importantly, I was not charged with any violation of law. The purpose of the hearings was to find out what had transpired.

Sánchez Ramos alleged I was asked what I knew about Colton’s alleged cover-up. That is a lie. As a matter of fact, as far as I know, Colton was never charged or convicted of covering up criminal acts. Sánchez Ramos made up those alleged conversations between Judge Rivera Pérez and I. On the basis of those imagined and false conversations, he accused Judge Rivera Pérez of having tainted the image of justice in Puerto Rico. He further charged Judge Rivera Pérez of tainting the image of the Supreme Court because he did not disqualify himself.

For these misdeeds, for these false indictments against a Supreme Court justice, Sánchez Ramos should be disbarred. Other attorneys have been disbarred for much less serious offenses.

There are other substantial reasons why Sánchez Ramos should be denied the nomination. He would not be an impartial secretary of Justice. How much more proof do we need?

Carlos Romero Barceló is a two-term former governor of Puerto Rico (1977-84), a two-term former resident commissioner (1993-2000), and a two-term former mayor of San Juan (1969-78). He was president of the New Progressive Party for 11 years.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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