AAV, Fortuño Oppose Ft Buchanan Shutdown Happy Mothers Day Green Card? $50K Reward In Loomis Fargo Heist PR 3rd In Firearm Deaths Tax Reform Proposal Criticized Salsa Fest P.R. To Eradicate, Control Non-Native Monkeys DEA Nabs 33 Suspected Drug Traffickers Judge Takes Homeland Security Post $200M Investment In SJ Port Set Senate Nixes Rios Muñiz 2 To Become Priests
Puerto Rico Governor Opposes Possible Shutdown Of Last Active U.S. Army Base On Island
By LEONARDO ALDRIDGE
May 9, 2005
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Puerto Rico's governor on Monday said he opposed the possible shutdown of Fort Buchanan, the last active U.S. Army base in the U.S. Caribbean territory.
Fort Buchanan, located in suburban Guaynabo, is the only active army post in the Caribbean basin. As early as this week, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is expected to submit a list of military bases which he believes should be closed or reorganized for economic and logistical reasons. One of the likeliest candidates is Fort Buchanan.
"The fort is open, and I'm going to keep on struggling to keep it open," Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila said.
Acevedo Vila, whose Popular Democratic Party wants to increase the autonomy of the island of 4 million residents, was elected in November in a close race against Pedro Rossello, whose party wants Puerto Rico to become the 51st U.S. state. Both parties oppose the shutdown of the base, which would have a serious impact on the economy.
"It's a blow, every time links in the union (between Puerto Rico and the United States) are eliminated," said Luis Fortuno, the island's nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress.
The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush might close the fort in reprisal for how the Navy base in Vieques Island was closed, he said.
In 2003, the Navy lefts its base on Vieques island, off Puerto Rico's east coast. Four years earlier, errant bombs killed a civilian guard during bombing exercises. The death sparked protests by opponents who contended the bombing harmed the environment and the health of Vieques residents.
Guantanamo Bay Naval Station in Cuba became the last U.S. naval base left in the Caribbean after Roosevelt Roads on Puerto Rico's east coast was shut down last year. Roosevelt Roads had been a support base for U.S. invasions of the Dominican Republic in 1965, Grenada in 1983, and Haiti in 1994. Thousands of troops and civilians packed up and left, depriving the economy of an estimated $300 million (euro234 million) a year.
Established in 1923, Fort Buchanan mobilizes, readies and deploys some 15,000 National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve soldiers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. More than 450 buildings dot its 4,500 acres (1,820 hectares). At the end of last year, about 630 people were employed on the base, which was the headquarters for U.S. Army South from 1999 to 2003.
Fort Buchanan first appeared on the list of bases whose closure was contemplated in 1995.
The U.S. Congress created the closure and realignment process in 1988. A special commission, working with the U.S. Department of Defense, recommends potential candidates. The commission then holds regional hearings and visits the installations.
Bush will announce his decision on the recommendations in September. Congress then votes to approve or disapprove the entire list. If Congress does not disapprove, the list becomes law. Over 350 U.S. military bases have been closed since 1988.
Happy Mothers Day From La Fortaleza
May 8, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila and First Lady Luisa Gandara wished island mothers a Happy Mothers Day.
"We congratulate them with all of our heart on this special occasion. May this day bring happiness to everybody," the governor said in a prepared statement.
Acevedo Vila thanked God for the opportunity to enjoy their mothers presence. He also urged everyone to pray for the memory of mothers who have passed.
The governor also sent words of encouragement to those whose sons have yet to return from Iraq.
"We ask God to let them come home soon," he said.
By Allan Wernick
May 8, 2005
Q. Can I get a green card through my Puerto Rican husband? I came here on an F-1 international student visa. I married a Puerto Rican man five months ago. Can he petition for me to become a permanent resident? -- Mina, Philadelphia
A. Your husband can petition for you to become a permanent resident.
In 1917, the U.S. Congress passed legislation making people born in Puerto Rico U.S. citizens. They have most of the same rights and benefits as people born in the United States. That includes the right to petition for a spouse, and if the petitioner is 21 or older, he or she may petition for a parent or brother or sister.
Besides individuals born in the United States and Puerto Rico, people born in American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Swain's Island and the U.S. Virgin Islands also get citizenship at birth. That's true regardless of the status of their parents.
Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York's Citizenship and Immigration Project. He is the author of U.S. Immigration and Citizenship -- Your Complete Guide.
FBI Offers $50,000 Reward In Loomis Fargo Robbery Case
May 7, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) The FBI has offered a $50,000 reward to anyone who can provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for robbing a Loomis Fargo armored truck on Friday.
According to a prepared statement, those who have information about the robbery may call the FBI at (787) 754-0000 under strict confidentiality.
The robbery took place at 9:45 a.m. Friday when security guard Angel Vicente Matos was returning to the truck after handing a case with money to the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast-food restaurant at Los Angeles residential area in Carolina.
Matos was intercepted by an armed robber who was wearing a mask, while another assailant withdrew several cases from the truck containing $1.2 million.
The thieves fled the scene in a Toyota without harming Loomis Fargo employees. The vehicle was later found burnt near the Torres Coop Condominium in Carolina, which is close to the scene of the robbery.
PR 3rd In Firearm Deaths
May 7, 2005
CARACAS -- Venezuela tops a list of 57 countries in deaths caused by firearms, U.N. officials said Friday.
Venezuela was followed by Brazil and Puerto Rico, while Japan was last on the list.
Venezuela reported more than 34 deaths caused by guns per 100,000 people in 2000, out of which more than 22 were homicides. The figures were compiled drawing on the latest statistics provided by countries to the World Health Organization.
Economist Criticizes Tax Reform Proposal
May 7, 2005
PONCE (EFE) Economist Francisco Catala Oliveras on Friday said the recommendations of the Tax Reform Committee are unfair because they fail to impose more responsibility on those who have more economic resources.
The former University of Puerto Rico professor said a 10% tax rate for all taxpayers would only impose a greater burden on the islands middle class.
It also warned against eliminating tax deductions.
"Lowering tax exemptions to $1,000 would be a virtual elimination. Right now, a retired employee who has yet to turn 60, is entitled to an exemption of $8,000, while those who have turned 60 have a tax exemption of $12,000," the economist said during a radio interview.
Catala Oliveras proposed a revision of the Industrial Incentives Law and recommended real estate appraisals as possible alternatives to the Committees recommendations.
Finally, he criticized the Committee for not proposing cuts on government expenditures.
By David Cazares
May 6, 2005
Some of Latin America's best salsa bands will be in Miami on May 14 for ¡Salsa En Vivo! (Salsa Live!) at Miami Arena, 721 NW First Ave.
For salsa lovers, the bands to watch will be those of South Florida's Willy Chirino, El Gran Combo de Puerto Rico and Oscar de León. Other scheduled performers include Fulanito, Monchy y Alexandra, Lenox and Zion.
Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets, $41.90-$51.90, are available through Ticketmaster.
Puerto Rico Draws Up Proposal To Eradicate And Control Non-Native Monkeys
May 6, 2005
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Environmental authorities have drawn up a proposal to control and eradicate non-native species of monkeys who are harming agriculture and endangering native species, officials said Friday.
The proposal seeks to capture about 2,000 patas and rhesus monkeys in southwestern Puerto Rico and relocate as many as possible to zoos, laboratories or refuges in the United States, said Marylina Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. Those who can not be relocated will be euthanized with a lethal injection, she said.
The proposal, which would cost an estimated US$2.5 million (euro1.93 million), will be submitted to the Puerto Rican legislature for funding approval.
The monkeys were brought to the U.S. Caribbean territory in for scientific experiments in the 1970s and 80s and gradually escaped.
Officials say they damage pumpkin, melon and other fruit crops and eat the eggs of the endangered mariquita bird.
Some also carry the Herpes B virus, which can be fatal to humans.
DEA Nabs 33 Suspected Drug Traffickers In Puerto Rico
May 6, 2005
San Juan, May 6 (EFE).- In coordinated raids, Puerto Rican and U.S. federal agents arrested on Friday at least 33 members of four organizations engaged in drug trafficking in the southern part of the island, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and judicial sources announced.
On May 3, a federal grand jury handed down indictments against the individuals arrested on Friday, all of them Puerto Ricans, on charges of trafficking in controlled substances and other offenses, U.S. Attorney Humberto Garcia said in a communique.
The operation was conducted in the Puerto Rican municipalities of Salinas, Arroyo and Guayama.
According to the indictments, the 33 conspired to possess and distribute cocaine, crack and heroin.
In addition to the DEA, Puerto Rico's police, Special Investigations Bureau, Treasury Department and Customs Service took part in operation. EFE
Judge To Take Homeland Security Post
May 6, 2005
LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - State District Judge Grace Duran will head the U.S. Homeland Security Department's Customs Enforcement Law Division in Puerto Rico.
Her selection for the federal position was announced Friday. She will provide legal advice on issues including undercover operations, narcotics trafficking, money laundering and smuggling.
Duran's duties will also include coordinating with the U.S. attorney's office for the federal court in Puerto Rico on ongoing investigations.
Duran was the first woman selected as a state district judge in Dona Ana County in November 1996.
"I'm honored to have served the community of Dona Ana County as district judge for the past nine years," she said. "With the assistance of many good people, I have been able to help thousands of our fellow residents during some of the most difficult and trying times of their lives."
Duran has also served on the governor's Domestic Violence Advisory Board and has participated in the city of Las Cruces' domestic violence awareness campaign.
Ports Authority To Invest $200 Million In San Juan Port
May 6, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) - The Ports Authority announced a $200 million plan to improve the infrastructure and services in the San Juan Port during the next three years.
Ports Authority Executive Director Fernando Bonilla said the plan would include improvements to the docks for cruises and cargo ships.
Bonilla said maintenance to the island ports is necessary to keep an open economy.
"More than 90% of the islands imports and exports are currently done through seaports and airports that are managed by the Authority," Bonilla said.
He said the Integrated Security System in the San Juan Bay will be one of the most important projects of the plan. The five million-dollar security and surveillance system will cover the port's 11-mile perimeter.
Senate Votes Against Designated Youth Affairs Chief
May 6, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) The Senate voted against the nomination of Lourdes Rios Muñiz for the executive director position at the Youth Affairs Office.
Rios Muñiz said that despite the Senates decision, she would walk out of the Capitol building with her head held high. She also said that she had been the object of a political lynching.
Rios Muñiz added that she would defend her dignity and would continue to work for Puerto Rican youths wherever she goes.
The decision was reached after 14 senators voted in favor of a negative report on Rios Muñiz Thursday.
Rios Muñiz is the first cabinet member to fail the Senates approval during Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vilas administration.
According to the report, Rios Muñiz has had a history of tax evasion, of using government resources for her own personal benefit, and writing bad checks. She was also expelled from the Law Faculty of the Puerto Rico Catholic University.
Popular Democratic Party Sen. Sila Marie Gonzalez said she voted against the report because its conclusions were unfounded.
Puerto Rican Independent Party Sen. Maria de Lourdes Santiago said he abstained because the report proves that there is a double standard when it comes to the evaluation of the nominees. She said other candidates have had problems with their taxes and nothing has ever happened.
Two To Become Priests May 14
May 5, 2005
In a sacred priesthood ordination service set for May 14 at St. Mary's Cathedral, Deacons Harry Loubried and Flavio Montes-Colón will become priests.
Loubried, 34, one of 11 boys and seven sisters, was born in Puerto Rico to Harry Loubried Robles and Maria Agosto. A graduate of Puerto Rico's Polytechnic University, Loubried has a degree in civil engineering. He entered St. John Vianney College Seminary in the pre-theology program and recently graduated from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary while serving as deacon on weekends at Corpus Christi Church.
In addition to Corpus Christi Church, his pastoral assignments have included Palmetto Hospital, Maya Center in Palm Beach and Hospice of Palm Beach.
Archbishop John C. Favalora has appointed him as Parochial Vicar to St. Mark Parish in Southwest Ranches. He will start his new assignment June 14.
Montes-Colón, 37, also was born in Puerto Rico. The only son of Flavio A. Montes and Monserrate Colón, Montes-Colón has three sisters. A graduate of the University of Puerto Rico with a bachelor of fine arts degree in theater, he earned a certificate in pre-theology from St. John Vianney College Seminary and recently graduated from St. Vincent de Paul Regional Seminary while serving as deacon on weekends at All Saints Church.
His pastoral assignments have included La Ermita de la Caridad, Miami Youth Center, Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Opa-locka and St. Catherine of Siena in Kendall.
Montes-Colón's new assignment as Parochial Vicar to St. Andrew Parish in Coral Springs, will begin June 14.