Fortuño: Discipline, Don’t Expel... PIP To Demand Right To Independence… GI Dies In Afghanistan… Sanchez RamosConfirmed… Hispanics Fastest Growing Minority… Bhatia To Testify Before UN…… School Dropout Curb Sought… Toledo OKs Limiting Alcohol Sale… Infrastructure Unprepared For Disasters… McClintock: New Chairs Will Do Good Job

Luis Fortuño Surprised By Rivera Schatz’s Letter

June 9, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño said the unexpected letter New Progressive Party (NPP) Secretary General Thomas Rivera Schatz sent to him Thursday regarding the public remarks he had made about ousted Sen. Jorge de Castro Font surprised him.

In his letter, Rivera Schatz urged the resident commissioner to explain his position regarding De Castro Font. The secretary general said Fortuño had made some comments defending the senator whom the party permanently suspended for going against NPP rules and decisions.

Fortuño responded by saying that his position is no different from those of former governor Carlos Romero Barcelo and Bayamon Mayor Ramon Rivera. He said that they too have expressed a preference for disciplinary actions other than expulsion.

"I’m a firm believer that in politics, victories are made by adding rather than subtracting party followers," said Fortuño.

He also acknowledged the party’s right to change its leadership, but emphasized his belief that expulsion should always be a last resort.

PIP To Demand Right To Independence

June 9, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Executive President Fernando Martin on Thursday said he would participate in the United Nations Special Decolonization Committee hearings to be held Monday.

Martin said he and PIP Secretary General Juan Dalmau would testify before the UN and request the approval of a resolution that the Cuban government had filed, as he believes it meets all PIP expectations.

He said the resolution reiterates the fundamental elements regarding the case of Puerto Rico and the applicability of Resolution 1514 XV on Puerto Rico’s inalienable right to self-determination and independence.

Martin added that the resolution also reiterates the committee’s jurisdiction in the colonial issue of Puerto Rico and urges the United States to take action so that island residents can fully exercise their right to start a Decolonization process.

Puerto Rican Soldier Dies In Afghanistan

June 9, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — U.S. Army Reserve Public Affairs Officer Jose Pagan on Thursday confirmed that another Puerto Rican soldier has died in Afghanistan.

The soldier has been identified as Emmanuel Hernandez Cale, 22, born in Caguas and raised in Yauco.

Pagan said Hernandez Cale was helping other American soldiers unload military material from a Chinook CH-47 helicopter, near Shkin, in the mountainous terrain of the eastern province of Paktika, when they came under attack. Two soldiers were killed and another eight were wounded.

Hernandez Cale had been stationed in Vicenza, Italy, where he lived with his wife.

He is the second Puerto Rican soldier killed in a week’s time.

Last week, Puerto Rican Sgt. Miguel Ramos Vargas, 40, also died in a rebel attack against U.S. Army soldiers in Iraq.

Senate Confirms Sanchez Ramos

June 9, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — The Puerto Rico Senate confirmed Roberto Sanchez Ramos as Secretary of Justice by an absolute majority on Thursday.

Sanchez Ramos was favored in a 14-5 vote with three abstentions.

New Progressive Party (NPP) Sens. Pedro Rossello, Norma Burgos, Jose Garriga Pico, Margarita Nolasco, and Carlos Pagan voted against Sanchez Ramos’ appointment.

NPP Sens. Orlando Parga, Jorge de Castro Font, and Senate President Kenneth McClintock abstained from the vote.

Meanwhile, NPP Sens. Roberto Arango, Lucy Arce, Carlos Diaz, Luis Daniel Muñiz, and Lornna Soto were not present at the time of the vote.

Hispanics Are Fastest Growing Minority


June 9, 2005
Copyright © 2005 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON (AP) - One of every seven people in the United States is Hispanic, a record number that probably will keep rising because of immigration and a birth rate outstripping non-Hispanic blacks and whites.

The country's largest minority group accounted for one-half of the overall population growth of 2.9 million between July 2003 and July 2004, according to a Census Bureau report being released Thursday.

The agency estimated there are 41.3 million Hispanics in the U.S. The bureau does not ask people about their legal status; that number is intended to include both legal and other residents.

The population growth for Asians ran a close second. Increases in both groups are due largely to immigration, but also higher birth rates, said Lewis W. Goodman, an American University expert on U.S.-Latin American relations.

"If we didn't have those elements, we would be moving into a situation like Japan and Europe ... where the populations are graying in a way that is very alarming and endangering their productivity and endangering even their social security systems," he said.

Most immigrants to the U.S. tend to arrive in their 20s, when many people have children. A far greater percentage of whites than Hispanics is 65 or older; the opposite is true of those under 18.

Immigration has become a volatile issue in Congress and border states, as well as in Georgia and other places where there has been a surge in new arrivals. Critics say lax enforcement of immigration laws has allowed millions of people to enter the U.S. illegally, take jobs from legal residents and drain social services.

The Hispanic growth rate for the 12 months starting July 2003 was 3.6 percent compared with the overall population growth of 1 percent.

The growth rate was 3.4 percent for Asians, 1.7 percent for native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, 1.3 percent for blacks, 1 percent for American Indians and Alaska natives, and 0.8 percent for whites.

That meant that at the beginning of July last year, the population was an estimated 294 million with the following racial and ethnic breakdown: 240 million whites, 39.2 million blacks, 14 million Asians, 4.4 million native Indians and Alaskans, and 980,000 native Hawaiians and other islanders.

The numbers for all races and ethnic groups do not add up to the total because 4.4 million people listed themselves as having more than one race.

The Census Bureau counts "Hispanic" or "Latino" as an ethnicity rather than a race, so Hispanics can be of any race. The population of non-Hispanic whites indicating no other race increased just 0.3 percent in the past year, to 197.8 million.

"Looking toward the future, we see a different face of the U.S. population," said Audrey Singer, an immigration and census specialist at the Brookings Institution. "But I don't think that's necessarily new. It's a confirmation that this hasn't stopped or changed much."

The size of the Hispanic population and, to a lesser extent, the Asian population, rose in nearly every state over the 1990s. Also, the Census Bureau projected last year that whites and minority groups overall would be roughly equal in size by 2050.

"Sometimes this is portrayed as a problem for the United States _ that the ethnic composition of the country is changing and that new people are coming to take jobs," said Goodman, dean of American University's School of International Service.

"My view is just the opposite: increased fertility of young people makes the (social) structure one that is more sustaining of economic production and enables older people to be in a culture where their retirements can be financed."

The Census Bureau estimates population change using annual data on births, deaths and international migration.


On the Net:

Census Bureau:

Eduardo Bhatia To Testify Before The UN

June 8, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration (PRFAA) Executive Director Eduardo Bhatia is expected to testify before the United Nations Special Decolonization Committee on Monday, PRFAA press official Ana Carrion said Wednesday.

Bhatia will testify in the hearings that the committee will hold on the political status of the island.

"With the same openness and transparency that Gov. Acevedo Vila has shown so far, we have decided to attend the hearings to share our views on this issue," Bhatia said.

He will attend on behalf of Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila. Flavio Cumpiano, who is the governor’s aide at PRFAA is also expected to be there.

Carrion said Bhatia would present the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s official position in the issue regarding the political status of the island.

June 8, 2005
Copyright © 2005 Knight Ridder News Service. All rights reserved. 

Former New York ad exec Juliette Perez-Calaf runs this comprehensive kids' site from her home in Puerto Rico. Graphic shirts, mod toddler beds and custom crib sheets are just a few of the items offered.

Governor Tackles School Dropout Rate

June 8, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

LOIZA (EFE) — In an effort to curb school dropout rates in Puerto Rico, Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila on Wednesday inaugurated a center to provide special services to public school students who have trouble staying in school.

Acevedo Vila said the center, also known as CASA by its Spanish acronym, is the result of a joint effort between de Department of Education and the Loiza municipal government.

The nearly $475,000 center is expected to provide services to 40 students in the Fajardo school region.

"With the opening of CASA, we have taken another step forward in our fight against school desertion. Each student who drops out of school represents a defeat for Puerto Rico. It is regrettable to know that Puerto Rico’s school dropout rate has reached 40%," Acevedo Vila said.

The center will provide tutoring service, courses, and exams to help student complete their grade and finish school.

The governor also said he has recommended a $10 million allocation to create 10 CASA centers, one for each school region in Puerto Rico.

Toledo OKs Limiting Alcohol Sale Until 2 A.M.

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

June 8, 2005
Copyright © 2005 PRWOW News . All rights reserved. 

For Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo, limiting the sale of alcoholic beverages until 2 a.m. is a good thing, not only because it could help prevent crime, but because it could also improve the quality of life in neighborhoods that are located near pubs, clubs, and other commercial establishments with a license to sell alcohol.

"Crime has many aspects. One of them is the quality of life of the people living in those areas," said Toledo when asked about his take on the House bill that Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Jose ‘Connie’ Varela has filed.

The bill, which is still being evaluated by the House, proposes the imposition of fines and the revocation of permits and licenses to all business owners who dare sell alcoholic beverages past 2 a.m.

In his view, residents who live close to these businesses are often faced with public nuisances as well as an increased risk of being exposed to criminal activity.

Toledo dismissed the arguments of club owners and organizations like Centro Unido de Detallistas who oppose the bill. They have said it is not their fault if streets aren't safe anymore and criticized the bill for linking crime rate to their businesses.

But Toledo said that is totally not the point and added that similar measures have been effective in curbing crime rate. However, statistics on this issue weren’t immediately available.

Local Infrastructure Not Too Ready For Natural Disasters

By Yaisha Vargas Perez of EFE

June 8, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN — Puerto Rico’s infrastructure will become more fragile as local developers continue to build housing projects without taking into consideration nearby structures and communities, architect Manuel Bermudez, president of the Architects & Landscape Architects Association said this week.

Bermudez participated in a forum on home safety during for the hurricane season. The event was held at the Puerto Rico Engineers & Surveyors Association headquarters.

The architect told EFE that home safety involves the homeowner or tenant, as well as the community and how it was built.

If the neighborhood is prone to floods or landslides, the home structure won’t be safe.

"The problem that many communities have nowadays isn’t that their homes aren’t safe. The problem is that the planning policies aren’t right," he said.

Bermudez said that in terms of urban planning, we have two Puerto Rico’s: one with good planning and the other with poor planning.

He said rural areas as well as large new neighborhoods with one-level homes and very little people living in them are examples of improvised development.

He said the state should boost developers’ interest in rebuilding urban centers on the island to populate those areas and protect the island’s open spaces.

For his part, Engineers & Surveyors Association President Roberto Rexach Cintron urged the public to check their homes for anything that may need to be repaired to prevent unfortunate accidents during the hurricane season.

He also urged them to watch out for cracks or shifts on the ground, especially if they live near the mountains or in rural areas, as these could be signs of possible landslides.

Rexach Cintron said people should also make sure to clean their backyards and nearby sewers to prevent flooding.

McClintock: New Chairs Will Do Good Job

June 8, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

LOIZA (EFE) — Senate President Kenneth McClintock on Wednesday said he has complete trust in the few senators who are now chairing all the Senate committees.

These senators are the only ones who have refused to support New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Pedro Rossello’s bid for the Senate helm.

McClintock said this redistribution, coupled with the ability of the new chairs will help improve the workflow at the Senate.

McClintock’s statements followed criticism of his latest decision to remove a group of NPP senators from their chairs.

On Monday McClintock removed NPP Sens. Roberto Arango and Carmelo Rios from their post as chairmen of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Tourism, Urbanism & Infrastructure and the Committee on Financial & Municipal Affairs, respectively.

On May 27, he replaced Sens. Jose Emilio Gonzalez, Norma Burgos, Jose Garriga, and Luis Daniel Muñiz for expressing their support for Rossello.

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