Lockwood: Sila Left GDB Without Money… Bush, Fortuno Pray Together… Prolific Writer Laguerre, 99, Dies, Politicians Lament His Passing… Puffer Machines For LMM… Complaint Filed vs. FBI Agents… Capt. Of The Sleepers… Curfew Bill Rejected… Ciudad Red Project Initiated… Huge Drug Cartel Smashed, 81 Indicted

Lockwood Admits Sila Left GDB Without Money

June 16, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Government Development Bank (GDB) President William Lockwood acknowledged that the administration of former Gov. Sila Calderon had affected the bank’s capital flow

Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio said that during a question-and-answer session with House members on Wednesday, Lockwood admitted that the island’s current financial and economic situation isn’t the result of the past five months, but of the decisions that the Popular Democratic Party majority had approved during the past four years.

According to Garcia San Inocencio, the GDB president said transactions such as transferring 10% of the bank’s profit to the general fund, the liquidation of the Housing Bank, as well as the several deficit loans and the $1 billion Special Communities Budget Fund, helped shake the stability and financial soundness of the GDB.

He also acknowledged that the recent $1.3 billion bond issue–of which $317 million went to cover the budget deficit and payroll–had also contradicted long-term recommendations against such transactions.

Bush Attends Hispanic Prayer Breakfast

June 16, 2005
Copyright © 2005
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Bush joined with Democrats and Republicans alike Thursday at the Hispanic prayer breakfast, thanking lawmakers for ''setting aside politics to come and honor the Almighty through prayer.''

Bush urged the audience of several hundred people, including religious leaders and business officials, to ''take time to pray. It really is the strength of America, isn't it?''

He recognized several lawmakers in the audience, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Hilda Solis, both of them California Democrats; Reps. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, and Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill.; and Luis Fortuno, the Republican delegate from Puerto Rico. Bush thanked them for serving their country.

The prayer meeting came two days after a Republican fund-raiser where Bush launched a combative attack on Democrats and accused them of standing for nothing but obstructionism.

Bush has attended a series of prayer meetings in recent months, including the National Prayer Breakfast, the National Day of Prayer and the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.

The Republican Party stepped up its efforts to recruit Hispanic voters after a poor showing in the 1996 election. The work has paid off: Bush claimed 35 percent of Hispanic voters in 2000 and at least 40 percent Nov. 2, according to exit polls.

Puerto Rican Writer Enrique Laguerre Dies

June 16, 2005
Copyright © 2005
EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Renowned Puerto Rican writer Enrique Laguerre died in his San Juan home on Thursday. He was 99.

The cause of death was yet unknown.

Laguerre, who had said he would have turned 100 on July 15, was known for his work as a novelist, playwriter, college professor, poet, public speaker, and literary critic.

Angie Vazquez, who is vice president of Editorial Cultural, said a press conference would be held at 2 p.m. to discuss the details of his death.

Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila has declared three days of mourning to honor the Puerto Rican writer.

Laguerre was born in Moca and graduated from a bachelor’s degree at the University of Puerto Rico in 1938, received a master’s degree in 1941, and studied for his PhD at Columbia University in 1949.

The Puerto Rican Humanities Foundation made him Humanist of the Year in 1985. He was also nominated for the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Laguerre is considered to be the most prolific Puerto Rican writer of all times.

Some of his novels are La Llamarada (1935), Solar Montoya (1941), and La Resaca (1949).

Politicians Lament Laguerre’s Death


June 16, 2005
Copyright © 2005 PRWOW News. All rights reserved. 

Following the news of Enrique Laguerre’s death, several government officials expressed their condolences for the loss of the Puerto Rican writer, whom many believe to be an icon in Puerto Rican literature.

Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila declared three days of mourning in his memory.

Laguerre died at his Isla Verde home on Thursday. He was 99.

"Don Enrique’s legacy is part of our cultural and literary development. It contains the spirit of our Puerto Rican identity," said Acevedo Vila, who also noted Laguerre’s international success.

Education Secretary-designate Gloria Baquero also expressed her condolences to Laguerre’s family and acknowledged his extensive literary work.

Laguerre’s literary work has been part of public schools’ curriculum for many years. Four of his books–‘La Resaca,’ ‘La Llamarada,’ ‘Cauce sin rio,’ and ‘Los amos benevolos’–are currently part of the Education Department’s Spanish Program.

New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Iris Miriam Ruiz also expressed regret by saying that Laguerre’s death has closed a chapter in the literary history of Puerto Rico.

U.S. to Install Airport Puffer Machines

June 16, 2005
Copyright © 2005
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Security checks where travelers are patted down will end for many people at 10 more airports by summer's end, the government said Wednesday.

Passengers will see ''puffer'' machines that can detect explosives residue when people walk through. Airport screeners will not have to pat down people to make sure they are not carrying hidden bombs. But the new equipment may not be installed at every checkpoint at those airports.

Travelers selected for secondary screening will be asked to step into a walkthrough portal at the checkpoint. They will stand still for a few seconds while air is puffed onto them.

The machine then collects and analyzes the air for traces of explosives. A computerized voice tells the passengers when they can continue.

The machines have been used for years in power plants and military installations in the United States and Europe.

The Transportation Security Administration began testing last year in five airports to see if the machines would work without slowing down screening. Nine airports were later added. The agency plans to add 100 more machines by January so the 40 busiest airports will have them.

The airports set to get the machines this summer are: Charlotte, N.C., Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Newark, N.J., Palm Beach, Fla., Pittsburgh, San Juan, Puerto Rico, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York's LaGuardia Airport and both Dulles and Reagan National in Washington, D.C.

The first five to get them were Rochester, N.Y., Providence, R.I., San Diego, Tampa, Fla., and Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss.

Airports in Baltimore, Boston, Jacksonville, Fla., Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Phoenix, San Francisco and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport also have the machines.

The TSA said it will buy 25 machines from New Jersey-based Smiths Detection for $3.2 million and 19 from General Electric Corp. for $3.2 million.

On the Net:

Transportation Security Administration: http://www.tsa.gov

Homeland Security Department: http://www.dhs.gov

Soto Files Complaint Against FBI Agents

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

June 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005 PRWOW News. All rights reserved. 

Following Tuesday’s surprise visit from FBI agents, New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Lornna Soto and Carlos Pagan filed complaints against the FBI agents before the U.S. Inspector General’s Office and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday.

Soto said FBI agents Alexander Morales and Keith Kyers had gained access to her office by lying about their identity. She said Morales had told her receptionist that Kyers was an American basketball player who wanted to meet her.

The NPP senator said she met with the agents because she had nothing to hide and also because they had told her that they only wanted to ask her a few questions.

"They never said it was an investigation. They never said I was a suspect of anything. They only said I was going to be interviewed," Soto stated.

Pagan never granted the interview to the FBI, she said.

Soto also didn’t welcome the comments that NPP Sen. Orlando Parga had made regarding the issue. On Wednesday, Parga said he didn’t believe the FBI would meddle in political disputes, as NPP Secretary General Thomas Rivera Schatz had suggested.

"The FBI doesn’t make trivial investigations," Parga said. However, he said he wasn’t implying that Soto and Parga were involved in anything illegal.

On Wednesday, Soto confirmed in a radio interview that FBI agents had questioned her about the allegations that she might have been bribed into supporting Rossello’s attempt to wrest the Senate presidency away from current Senate President Kenneth McClintock.

The senator said she showed the agents several documents related to the allegations that someone might have offered to pay for certain personal debts in exchange for her support.

Pagan also told reporters that he too had received a visit from FBI agents, who asked him whether he was pressured into supporting Rossello for the Senate presidency. Several weeks ago, there were rumors that Pagan had been blackmailed with pictures of an alleged extramarital affair.

The NPP senator said she met with the agents because she had nothing to hide and also because they had told her that they only wanted to ask her a few questions.

Captain Of The Sleepers

Montero, Mayra

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

Kirkus Reviews

An abortive revolution in postwar Puerto Rico parallels a family's unraveling in Cuban-born Montero's intricate 2002 novel (her sixth in English translation).

Its narrative is a mosaic assembled from the memories of Andrés Yasin, the son of a half-Lebanese hotelier, Frank, and his beautiful, headstrong younger wife Estela. The present action describes 62-year-old AndrÉs's 2000 reunion on the island of St. Croix with elderly, cancer-ridden American J.T. Bunker, the family friend whom AndrÉs has hated since the aftermath of the 1950 "revolution" in which both adult Yasins had been involved, and which was easily quashed by U.S. military forces, prior to the establishment of the Puerto Rican commonwealth.

Montero reveals historical details skillfully, mostly through AndrÉs's recollections of his adolescence, when his own inchoate awareness of sex was distracted by evidence of "nationalist" activity (centered in a local barbershop), and by intimations of his mother's suspiciously close friendship with the dashing American. For Bunker was an amateur pilot, who flew dead bodies from the states to tiny Vieques Island, east of Puerto Rico (the site of Frank's hotel) for home burial–and also transported small arms for nationalist conspirators.

Another series of flashbacks detail the adult AndrÉs's 1973 visit to the U.S., where his dying father lives with his second family–and begins to reveal the truth about Estela's infidelity and his family's complicity in the failed revolution. Then the full truth emerges years later in St. Croix, as "the captain of the sleepers" prepares for his final flight. Montero–who has a wizard's ability to transfix readers' attention as she peels away successive, deceptive layers of plot and meaning–has never written better than in this increasingly suspenseful tale of divided loyalties and lingering resentment and sorrow.

She's one of Latin America's finest writers, and this is her best novel yet.

Senate Committee Rejects Curfew Bill

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

SAN JUAN (EFE) — New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Hector Martinez, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Safety, announced Wednesday that he would file a negative report on the administration bill that proposes a curfew for minors under 15.

Martinez said the state’s desire to protect children from criminal activity and violence is legitimate, but not enough to restrict the fundamental rights of the young.

The bill forbids minors under 15 to wander the streets without adult supervision after 11 p.m.

Martinez said the bill lacked the scientific data to establish a link between criminal activity and minors.

The Senate’s position regarding the bill is at odds with that of House Judicial Committee Chairman Liza Fernandez, who said she would present amendments to the bill.

However, Martinez said that should the House approve such amendments, he would be willing to evaluate them.

Government Starts Ciudad Red Project

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

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila on Wednesday announced the beginning of the first phase of the so-called ‘Ciudad Red’, a project which will consist of relocating agency headquarters to maximize urban train services and redesign the San Juan area.

Acevedo Vila said the idea is to make key agencies more accessible to the public by relocating them to areas that area closer to urban train stations.

The agencies to be relocated are the departments of Justice, Education, and Health, as well as the Government Development Bank.

"This project is intended to redesign the metro area of San Juan to help increase its daily activity. We will also maximize the use of public spaces," the governor said.

Acevedo Vila said the total cost of the project has been estimated at $1 billion.

Agents Smash Huge Drug Cartel

77 charged in $50 million operation

By Larry Neumeister

June 15, 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

NEW YORK · Investigators said Tuesday that they have gutted a giant Colombian drug cartel with charges against 77 people and four businesses accused of smuggling more than $50 million worth of cocaine, heroin and marijuana into the United States.

Almost 50 people had been arrested by Tuesday in New York, Miami, Canada, Puerto Rico and California, said U.S. Attorney David N. Kelley.

He said the two-year investigation put 20-year veterans of the drug trade out of business.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the investigation, named Operation Mallorca, started in 2002 when a detective arrested a drug dealer in Miami and persuaded him to cooperate with the government by infiltrating nine drug rings in New York City.

By Tuesday, $50 million worth of drugs and $7 million in drug money had been confiscated from bank accounts in Miami, New York and Puerto Rico, Kelley said.

Officials said the investigation included the infiltration of a sophisticated black market peso exchange used by drug organizations to launder their money.

Karen P. Tandy, administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, called the exchange "the largest known drug money laundering mechanism in the Western Hemisphere."

Investigators said they traced 300 illegal financial transfers to 200 bank accounts involving 170 account holders in 16 U.S. cities and 13 other nations.

Grand Jury Indicts 81 People In Drug-Trafficking Scheme

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

SAN JUAN (EFE) — A grand jury indicted 81 people of different nationalities, including Colombians, Dominicans, and Puerto Ricans who allegedly participated in drug-trafficking and money-laundering activities, U.S. District Attorney for Puerto Rico Humberto Garcia said Tuesday.

In the so-called Operation Malloca, 39 people were arrested after a U.S. grand jury issued the indictments of nine drug organizations linked to the Colombia cartel, Garcia said.

He noted that eight of them were Puerto Rican, 16 were Colombian, and 13 Dominican. The group also included two individuals from Cuba and Costa Rica, respectively.

Garcia added that the indictment doesn’t include people who will also be arrested in New York and Canada. Drug & Enforcement Administration agents are expected to participate in the operation.

The district attorney said these groups funneled money from Puerto Rico, Florida, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic into international and domestic accounts in the U.S., Colombia, and Venezuela.

Garcia also said these groups face 10 years to life in prison and a fine of up to $4 million.

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