28th P.R. Soldier Killed In Iraq War… Pope John Paul II Expwy?… Professors Urge Tuition Hike Repeal… Staying Power… U.S. Military Base In D.R.?… P.R. Eatery Coming To Orange City… Fortuño Seeks To Protect Karst Region… Treasury: No Tax Amnesty… Del Toro Won’t Direct Hunter's Rum Diary… The Golden Flower… Ojeda Rios Reward To Be Increased

Soldiers From Forts Stewart, Benning Die In Iraq

By The Associated Press

April 18, 2005
Copyright © 2005 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

Two soldiers based in Georgia have died in Iraq over the past few days, military authorities said Monday.

The Pentagon said Army Specialist Aleina Ramirez Gonzalez, 33, of Hormigueros, Puerto Rico, of the Fort Stewart-based 3rd Infantry Division was killed in a mortar attack in Tikrit on Friday.

Pvt. 1st Class Steven F. Sirko, 20, of Portage, Ind., died Sunday Muqdadiyah, Iraq, of non-combat related injuries, officials said. Sirko was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment, of the 3rd Infantry's 3rd Brigade, based at Fort Benning.

Ramirez Gonzalez was assigned to the Third Brigade Troop Battalion of the 3rd Infantry based at Fort Stewart, officials said. She was the 20th Fort Stewart-based soldier to die since the 19,000 3rd Infantry members from the post deployed to Iraq in January for second time since the 2003 invasion.

Ramirez Gonzalez became the third Puerto Rican woman and the 28th person overall from the U.S. Caribbean territory to die in the Iraq war. Another five Puerto Ricans have died in Afghanistan.

"She was a brave one because it was the third time she went to Iraq," her father, William Ramirez, was quoted as saying in El Nuevo Dia newspaper's Monday edition.

Her father said that Ramirez Gonzalez was born in the southwestern town of Guayanilla and saw him as an example because he had spent 27 years in the U.S. military, serving in Vietnam for two years and twice in Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He said she was hoping to retire from military service after 20 years and become eligible for a pension.

He said his daughter arrived in Iraq for the last time in December after she joined up for active duty less than a year ago. Previously, Ramirez Gonzalez spent 14 years in the National Guard in the southern town of Yauco.

Puerto Rico Senator Wants To Name Expressway Section After Pope

April 17, 2005
Copyright © 2005 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - A senator on Sunday said he wants the government to name a section of a Puerto Rico expressway after Pope John Paul II, who visited the U.S. Caribbean possession in 1984.

Sen. Antonio Fas Alzamora, of the opposition Popular Democratic Party, said he would file legislation in the coming days to name a section of the De Diego Expressway after the late pope.

The three-mile-long (five-kilometer-long) section would run from The Americas Expressway connector in the capital, San Juan, to the Fort Buchanan toll in suburban Guaynabo.

The pope gave a Mass for thousands on Oct. 12, 1984 right off the expressway in the Hato Rey section of the capital. He visited the Dominican Republic and Spain during the same trip.

Professors Urge Repeal Of Hike In Fees


April 17, 2005
Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN -- Professors at Puerto Rico's largest university urged administrators Saturday to repeal a 33 percent tuition hike that has prompted thousands of students to boycott classes.

Administrators at the University of Puerto Rico should repeal the tuition raise and start negotiating with students, said Carlos Rodríguez Fraticelli, the association's president.

Three campuses -- including the main one in the San Juan suburb of Rio Piedras, with 21,000 students -- are on an indefinite strike that began April 6.

Staying Power


April 17, 2005
Copyright © 2005 MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved. 

Reggaetón, the once little-known genre that's taken over South Florida airwaves, will never run out of gas -- at least that's what Daddy Yankee says, reports The Associated Press.

Ramón Ayala (Daddy Yankee's real name), whose hit Gasolina helped the genre go mainstream, said the fusion of classic salsa with hip-hop beats will become a musical staple, despite cries from some music critics that reggaetón is just a fad.

''In Puerto Rico it wasn't easy to get the respect the music deserves because people thought it was just a sub-culture,'' he said. ``But little by little people have begun to understand that it's here to stay forever, and soon the world will understand it too.''

Daddy Yankee, who has endured heavy criticism himself from those who say his lyrics encourage sexual promiscuity and irresponsibility, was in Mexico promoting his album Barrio Fino (Fine Neighborhood.)


U.S. Military Base In D.R.?

New York's Latino Community To Get New Spanish-Language Weekly

April 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

New York, Apr 15 (EFE).- Beginning next week, Hispanics in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut will enjoy a new periodical in Spanish, a weekly that publisher Felix Jerez says will fill an "informational gap."

The Latin Post, to be published in the heart of the Dominican community in Upper Manhattan's Washington Heights section, plans to offer the reading public information of interest to Hispanics through its various sections "with a touch of sensationalism," Jerez said at the magazine's presentation to the media.

Because it is a weekly, the publication will go "beyond the news" and examine events with the help of 12 reporters and photographers as well as columnists, including famed musician and former Dominican mayor Johnny Ventura.

The weekly will be 48 pages long, have an initial print run of 20,000 issues and sell for $1. Long-range plans are to expand it into a daily.

The cover of the first issue features an article on the possibility of the United States building a military base in the Dominican Republican, where 3,000 troops are already stationed in the area of Pedernales.

According to the article, whose source preferred to remain anonymous, the Caribbean nation will replace Puerto Rico, where the U.S. Navy carried out live-fire training exercises for 60 years.

According to Jerez, the Pentagon refused to answer the weekly's questions in that regard.

"New York does not have a sensationalistic paper that's serious about probing the other side of the news. We are going to investigate news, go beyond it, something that is not being done" in the city's Hispanic media, he said.

"This is a Hispanic newspaper with quite a bit of political, entertainment and sports content. Everything that happens in New York of interest to Hispanics, we'll cover it," he vowed.

"The prospects for this newspaper are great," he remarked. "The Hispanic community is growing more than ever in New York, where there are few Spanish-language media, while others are shutting down."

Puerto Rican Eatery Coming To Orange City


April 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Daytona Beach News-Journal. All rights reserved. 

ORANGE CITY – Volusia County’s sizable Puerto Rican population will soon get a taste of their homeland when a Martin’s BBQ opens at 1270 Saxon Blvd. in the Greg’s Western Wear Shopping Center.

When the restaurant, operated by Luis Rivera, president of Ripor Investment Corp., opens in mid- to late-June, it will become the third San Juan, Puerto Rico-based business chain in Volusia County and the first nonbank chain. Banco Popular and R-G Crown Bank, which is owned by R&G Financial, both have offices in the West Volusia area.

Pat Northey, president of the Chamber of Commerce of West Volusia, said retailers pay attention to an area’s demographics and about 13 percent of Deltona’s population is of Puerto Rican descent.

"It’s not that more Hispanics are coming, but there’s more awareness they’re here," Northey said. "(Martin’s BBQ’s opening) probably acknowledges there’s a growing Hispanic community in Southwest Volusia."

Neither Rivera nor the restaurant chain could be reached for comment Thursday, but Kevin Farley, a co-owner of Greg’s Western Wear, said Ripor signed a long-term lease for its Martin’s BBQ restaurant.

The eatery will feature a menu that includes ribs, pork, rotisserie chicken, rice and beans, chicken and cream of plantain soup, grilled vegetables, cheesecake, flan and tres leche.

Fortuño Presents Bill To Protect Karst Region

April 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño on Friday presented a bill that would work toward conserving the karst region in Puerto Rico.

The bill would authorize the acquisition and management of lands in the region for conservation and recreation, a press release from Fortuño’s office said.

The region extends from the city of Aguadilla to Loiza and serves as the refill area for a large part of the aquifers in the north of the island, supplying water for almost a quarter of the Puerto Rico population.

"The project is focused on establishing as public policy at the federal level the protection of aquifers and the promotion of alliances between the federal and state government, community organizations and the private sectors so that together we can preserve this gem of nature," Fortuño said.

Treasury Department Says There Will Be No Tax amnesty

April 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) - Treasury Secretary Juan Carlos Mendez said Friday that there would be no tax amnesty and that 530,000 tax returns ("planillas") have been sent to the Department so far, which is "almost 40,000 more than last year by the same date".

Different centers established throughout the island by the Treasury Department have had dozens of people come in wanting to deliver their "planilla" personally by April 15, the last day to submit the form.

Méndez said that he is confident that the featured tax campaign "was a success" and said even though it was aggressive "it’s possible that the campaign is responsible for the positive effect experienced in this year’s tax collection."

"Due to the fiscal situation that we are facing," Méndez added, "I believe that the citizens understand that it’s important to contribute and comply with the responsibility of helping Puerto Rico move forward."

Del Toro Won’t Direct Hunter's Rum Diary

April 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005 World Entertainment News Network. All rights reserved. 

Benicio Del Toro has passed on directing a movie adaptation of Hunter S Thompson's The Rum Diary because it has taken 18 months to get cameras rolling.

According to the film's star, Josh Hartnett, the movie is now being directed by Bruce Robinson.

The film, which was due to start shooting in December 2003, follows the romantic exploits of an alcoholic journalist in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Del Toro and Fear + Loathing In Las Vegas co-star Johnny Depp are set to join Hartnett in the cast.

The Golden Flower

Jaffe, Nina

April 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005 VNU eMedia Inc. All rights reserved. 

Kirkus Reviews

The island of Puerto Rico, originally called BoriquÉn by its Taino inhabitants, was once, according to legend, a barren mountain.

A child, looking for food, collected a pouch full of seeds and planted them at the top of the mountain, which then sprouted a forest. A vine in the forest grew a magnificent orange flower, from which emerged an enormous golden "globe that shone like the sun"–a pumpkin (calabaza).

Unbeknownst to the people, this pumpkin contained the sea. When two men, fighting over the pumpkin, dropped it, it rolled down the mountain, where it burst open, releasing the sea and "whales, dolphins, crabs, and sunfish." The waters rose until they stopped at the edge of the magic forest, creating the island of BoriquÉn.

Beautifully and simply written, this little-known tale is a welcome addition to creation myths. Unfortunately, although Jaffe acknowledges help in ascertaining "historical and linguistic accuracy and detail," she includes no original source.

The illustrations in luscious tropical colors, with shapes and patterns (especially spirals) reminiscent of pre-Columbian art, are perfect.

Authorities To Increase Reward For Suspect In Wells Fargo Robbery


April 14, 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - U.S. authorities will soon increase the reward for information leading to the capture of Filiberto Ojeda Rios, a member of a Puerto Rico nationalist group accused of robbing an armored truck depot of $7 million in 1983, an official said Thursday.

Ojeda Rios currently has a $500,000 reward against him, said Herman Wirshing, who heads the U.S. Marshals Service office in Puerto Rico.

"The $500,000 reward will be increased," Wirshing told reporters. "There are people calling (to give confidential information)."

Wirshing declined to comment further, saying the investigation was in progress. The FBI initially had complete jurisdiction over the case but the federal agency decided to share it with the U.S. Marshals Service a few months ago, he said.

The robbery of the Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Conn. is considered an act of domestic terrorism because it was allegedly carried out by 19 members of the Puerto Rican nationalist group Macheteros, or Cane Cutters, the FBI said.

Ojeda Rios is one of four men still being sought for the robbery. He was released on bail in 1988 after about three years in prison awaiting trial in Connecticut. In 1990, while he was still awaiting trial, he cut off an electronic monitoring bracelet and went into hiding.

He was convicted in absentia in 1992 on charges of robbery, conspiracy and transportation of stolen money and was sentenced to 55 years in prison. Ojeda Rios sometimes grants interviews to Puerto Rican reporters and issues statements in favor of independence for this U.S. Caribbean possession of 4 million people.

In December, the FBI announced that it will offer a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of Victor Manuel Gerena, who is on the FBI's list of most-wanted fugitives. The FBI increased the reward from $50,000.

The government has said the Macheteros recruited Gerena, a former Wells Fargo guard, to carry out the robbery, then helped him escape to Cuba. Gerena allegedly injected two other guards with a sleeping substance to facilitate the robbery.

Proceeds from the robbery -- the largest in U.S. history at the time -- were used to fund acts of terrorism, the FBI said. Only about $80,000 of the stolen money has been recovered. The government believes most of it was used in Puerto Rico to finance the independence movement.

The two other fugitives are brothers, Avelino and Norberto Gonzalez Claudio.

One man imprisoned in the case, Juan Segarra Palmer, was granted clemency by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999.

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