Aponte Defends Self-Determination Rights… Murder Cases Difficult To Prosecute… De Castro Calls AAV A Liar… McClintock Denies Claims Of Massive Lay Offs… Fas, Rossello Debate Over Conspiracy… Cotto A-Weights Next Big Fight… Lay Offs Would Be Inevitable… Amnesty Protests Navy Ship's Visit… Viequenses To Attend UN Decolonization Hearings

Aponte Defends Self-Determination Rights

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin

June 14, 2005
Copyright © 2005 PRWOW News. All rights reserved. 

House Speaker Jose Aponte appeared before the United Nations Decolonization Committee on Monday to present his position regarding the political status of the island and to call for a solution to the status issue.

The New Progressive Party (NPP) leader, who supports the party’s efforts to achieve statehood for Puerto Rico, used the opportunity to lambaste Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila’s decision to veto a bill that had been approved by a consensus vote at the House and Senate to solve the issue.

"To the surprise of all Puerto Ricans, the governor changed his mind and he vetoed the bill," the House Speaker said.

Aponte, who was expected back on the island later that same day, urged the committee to do a follow up and support federal government efforts to achieve a true process of self-determination that complies with international laws and provides Puerto Ricans with permanent options that guarantee their right to have a true government with full powers.

Puerto Rican Independence Party Executive President Fernando Martin and Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration Executive Director Eduardo Bhatia–of the Popular Democratic Party–also participated in the Committee hearings Monday.

They each presented their positions regarding the political status of the island.

According to published reports, the Committee members adopted a Cuban resolution that addressed the right Puerto Ricans have to self-determination.

The resolution excluded the possibility of creating a status constituent assembly as a vehicle to move the island towards self-determination.

Gov. Acevedo Vila has repeatedly expressed himself in favor of a constituent assembly, which has been opposed by NPP and PIP leaders.

Local Murder Cases Difficult To Prosecute

June 14, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

PONCE (EFE) — Criminal Investigations Assistant Superintendent of Police Jose Caldero on Tuesday said 90% of murder cases on the island don’t get officially solved because of insufficient evidence.

Cadero said that in most cases, police are able to identify the perpetrator, but aren’t as successful in collecting sufficient evidence to prosecute the murderer.

"In 90% of murder cases, the investigator knows who committed the crime, but to know who did it, and gather enough evidence to prosecute the perpetrator are two very different things," Caldero said in a radio interview.

He reiterated that the main problem agents usually encounter is that witnesses are often reluctant to get involved in these cases.

Caldero said people have the general impression that those who are witnesses to violent crimes may also become targets themselves if they cooperate with the authorities.

However, he said most witnesses rarely come into harm for testifying against a felon.

Caldero said witnesses have received threats when they have also been co-authors of a crime and have refused police protection.

De Castro Proposes Solution To Avoid More Excise Taxes

June 14, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Sen. Jorge De Castro Font on Tuesday reiterated the need to cut back on the money that the government spends in professional services, to prevent the imposition of more excise taxes on businesses and local taxpayers.

According to De Castro Font, the government spends more than $1.3 billion in outside contract services, which he said haven’t been reduced in the budget plan that Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila proposed for the upcoming fiscal year.

He said the more than $1.3 billion were identified in an expense breakdown that the Commonwealth Comptroller’s Office had prepared in 2004. De Castro Font said the amount is divided into nearly $450.6 million in training expenses, about $436.2 million in miscellaneous expenses, $252 million in consultant services, and $112 million in artistic, advertisement, and representation services.

The senator also said the government invests more than $90 million in legal services and $15.2 million in auditing and accounting services.

De Castro Font called the governor a liar for claiming that he would reduce the public payroll, when he has included an increase of $115 million for the 2005-06 fiscal year. However, he didn’t say whether this money would go to the creation of government jobs or to cover salary increases for government employees who are also union workers.

He said the government should invest capital from retirement funds in Puerto Rico to generate more revenues and make a positive impact on the local economy. De Castro said these funds are currently invested outside the island.

McClintock Denies Claims Of Massive Lay Offs

June 14, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Senate President Kenneth McClintock assured the public on Tuesday that the budget plan the Legislature intends to approve this week wouldn’t trigger massive lay offs in the government sector.

"We will allocate all the funds requested by this administration to cover its payroll. Therefore, if the executive branch decides to dismiss employees it won’t be because of a lack of economic resources," McClintock said during a press conference Tuesday.

The Senate president also said the proposed budget cuts would only affect the areas of purchased services, legal expenses, and advertising expenses.

McClintock added that the Legislature will do its best to ensure sufficient funds are available to meet municipal government needs.

He also reiterated the Legislature’s intention to approve the budget plan this week.

Fas, Rossello Debate Over Conspiracy

June 13, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Pedro Rossello and Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Antonio Fas Alzamora took part in a heated debate over the alleged conspiracy that Rossello had denounced last month.

Senate President Kenneth McClintock allowed each of them to state their views on the matter during the Senate session Monday.

The PDP senator claimed that Rossello had made allegations affecting his dignity and reputation.

Fas Alzamora’s statements followed the comments Rossello had issued in May, alleging that Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo, Fas Alzamora, and several other government officials had met in Hato Rey to concoct a plan to damage Rossello’s reputation and credibility.

The allegations were made in the midst of a dispute over the Senate helm, which Rossello has been trying to wrest away from McClintock.

Cotto A-Weights Next Big Fight


June 13, 2005
Copyright © 2005 N.Y.P. Holdings, Inc. All rights reserved. 

New York Post

Bob Arum and his gang at Top Rank are trying to do it again. They think they've found another Hispanic fighter with movie-star looks, professional poise and ring talent to create a star.

First it was Oscar De La Hoya. Now it's Miguel Cotto.

"We absolutely believe he's going to be one of the big stars in the sports," said Kery Davis, HBO's Senior VP of Sports Programming. "That's why we did a fight in the big building."

In the "big building," aka the Garden, Cotto knocked out the last man he lost to Muhammad Abdullaev, stopping him at 57 seconds of the ninth round to retain his WBO junior welterweight title Saturday night.

Abdullaev's right eye had taken so many Cotto lefts it looked like two plums glued together. It was a solid, professional performance by Cotto (24-0, 20 KOs), who was fighting in front of a largely pro Puerto Rican crowd of 10,231 but most of them went home wanting more.

Cotto never was in trouble against the man he lost to in the 2000 Olympics, but the performance lacked the machismo of the last great fighter to come out of Puerto Rico, Felix Trinidad.

"I never thought of being anybody's substitute," said Cotto. "I'm not replacing anybody. I'm my own man. That's how I want to be known."

Right now Cotto isn't even the best fighter in his weight class. That honor goes to Vivian Harris, or Arturo Gatti, who fights Floyd Mayweather on June 25 in Atlantic City, or Kostya Tszyu, who just lost his IBF crown to Ricky Hatton, who might be the best of all.

Cotto didn't prove he's ready to beat any of those fighters, no less move up to 147 pounds for a De La Hoya showdown. He certainly didn't do enough to warrant a pay-per-view bout.

The marketing of Cotto continued yesterday when he served as the junior grand marshal in the Puerto Rican Day Parade. Arum has the wheels turning. Cotto still has to show he has the fight to match.

Fas: Lay Offs Would Be Inevitable

June 13, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Management & Budget Office Director Ileana Fas Pacheco said that if the Legislature insists on cutting $1.3 billion from the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year, 14,000 government employees would have to be laid off or their salaries and work schedules reduced.

The agency chief said she believes New Progressive Party (NPP) legislators aren’t really interested in discussing the situation because they haven’t made time to meet with her.

"The $1.3 billion cut will include the government’s payroll. There is no way to avoid this reality. That’s why we urge legislators to submit their ideas," Fas Pacheco said.

"In case the Legislature insists on the budget cut, we would have to cut $700 million in operational costs and $400 million from the government’s payroll," she added.

The agency chief said the legislators haven’t been able to find areas from which to cut back expenses because they still think government salaries are the problem.

"We have said government expenditures must be reduced, but we can’t do this in an improvised manner," Fas Pacheco said.

She added that the agency has provided all the information they have requested.

Chief of Staff Anibal Jose Torres was also surprised to hear NPP legislators say that they didn’t have the information they needed in order to propose budget cuts. He also said the mediation committee is expected to meet with the legislators this week.

Amnesty Protests Navy Ship's Visit

June 13, 2005
Copyright © 2005. All rights reserved. 


SAN JUAN -- The local chapter of Amnesty International on Sunday condemned the visit of a Chilean Navy training ship that it says was actively used as a detention and torture center during the 1973 military coup that brought Gen. Augusto Pinochet to power.

Representatives of the London-based human-rights organization called on Chilean authorities ''to recognize the grave human rights violations committed aboard the Esmeralda ship'' and to ``procure justice.''

Amnesty said the ship was ''actively used as a detention and torture center during the first weeks'' of the coup.

Viequenses To Attend UN Decolonization Hearings

June 13, 2005
Copyright © 2005 EFE. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (EFE) — Two Vieques residents will show up before the United Nations Decolonization Committee to present their concerns regarding the decontamination process of the lands that were once used for military practice.

Ismael Guadalupe, who is a teacher and anti-military activist, and college student Ivan Torres will have six minutes each to present their views on the matter.

The U.S. Navy left Vieques in May 2003 after almost 60 years. However, the lands weren’t returned to island residents, but transferred to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Administration.

"They will describe the Vieques situation as a human rights issue; as a right to live in a habitable environment and in health," said Roberto Rabin, who is a spokesman for one of the anti-military organizations.

Rabin said these organizations are convinced that the pollutants that resulted from the military practices are to blame for the cancer rate in Vieques.

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