Commonwealth No Longer A Viable Option Delgado Pitching Arce Honored DACO: Stoppage Costly, Unnecessary Fortuño Perseveres Terror Is Terror Trafficking in Broken Hearts DTPW: Toll Increase Helps Economy Prasa Ups Rates 128% Consumer Code Opposed AAV Endorses Corzine Fortuño Calls For Unity El Niño, Global Warming Fuel Hurricanes Too Tough To Exercise AAV Blamed For Uncertainty Office's Future Hazy
Daliot: Commonwealth No Longer A Viable Option
July 25, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) On the day of the 53rd anniversary of the Commonwealth Constitution, former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Jose Ortiz Daliot, who also used to preside over the PDP Status Committee, said the current status of the island is no longer a viable option for the future.
"In terms of a viable political option, the Commonwealth as we know it has no possibilities. Its no longer an option for the future," the former senator said in a prepared statement.
For Ortiz Daliot, adopting a Constitution was an important step, as it allowed Puerto Ricans to focus on local public policies that would guide the island in an unprecedented economic and political progress when compared to the Puerto Rico that used to exist prior to 1952.
"This and the American citizenship have greatly helped Puerto Ricans make their way to the U.S. and benefit from multiple federal programs," Ortiz Daliot said.
However, in terms of political powers for the Puerto Rican people, the current status has stayed the same, he said.
"I urge the populares to acknowledge our lack of power and work towards achieving a future under a free association with the U.S. The deterioration of our quality of life results from our lack of political powers to improve our daily lives," Ortiz Daliot concluded.
Delgado Tries Pitching
July 24, 2005
Talk about a ringing endorsement.
Marlins first baseman Carlos Delgado has become the South Florida spokesman for Cingular Wireless.
English and Spanish ads shot with Delgado in uniform at Dolphins Stadium are to begin airing locally Monday during Marlins broadcasts on FSN and on Spanish-language television. He will also appear in print and radio ads for Cingular's GoPhone line, said Adaliz Vicens, Cingular's Hispanic sponsorship senior manager.
As with all his other endorsement earnings, the undisclosed amount Delgado earns from the deal, which runs through March, will go to his foundation, Extra Bases (extrabases.org). It helps individuals and organizations in his native Puerto Rico.
"All the money is being paid to his foundation. It's not going into his pockets," said David Sloane, Delgado's Coral Springs-based agent.
Sloane said Delgado hopes to establish charitable events and activities in South Florida similar to those in Puerto Rico. "We're trying to build a bridge from here to Puerto Rico," Sloane said.
Delgado has a deal with Pepsi in Puerto Rico, a shoe deal with adidas, batting and fielding glove agreements with Franklin, and has appeared in magazine ads for Under Armour sports performance apparel.
Apprentice Gets Jockey Honor
BY FRANK CARLSON
July 24, 2005
Josue Arce was named July's Jockey of the Month at Calder Race Course.
Arce, 22, is the leading apprentice at Calder with a 189-16-21-36 record and earnings of $327,015. Through Friday he ranked 10th in the jockey standings.
The runaway leader at the meet with 102 winners is Eddie Castro, who was the top apprentice at Calder, and the nation, in 2003.
Arce, who as an apprentice benefits from a seven-pound allowance, might not enjoy the same type of success as Castro, but Calder often has been a springboard for ''bug'' riders and their careers as professionals.
Arce is from Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, where he learned to groom horses. He came to the United States last winter to become a jockey and won his first race at Gulfstream Park.
He already has a following at Calder, as evidenced by his ''fan club'' at the winner's circle when he wins.
DACO: Stoppage Costly, Unnecessary
By PRWOW News
July 23, 2005
Now that teamsters and government officials have reached an agreement to end the stoppage that caused widespread tension on the island, Alejandro Garcia Padilla, secretary of Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym), hinted that the stoppage had been unnecessary.
"The friends who were holding the work stoppage agreed to the same [conditions] that Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila had been offering from the start," Garcia Padilla said to EFE. "Thats why the governor didnt give into pressure and did listen to reason."
Teamsters went on strike after failing to reach an agreement with government officials on Wednesday.
Union leaders have been insisting on a 10% increase in general cargo rates. They are also calling for a 30% increase in current transport rates.
However, after meeting with the department heads of Labor, Roman Velasco; Transportation & Public Works, Gabriel Alcaraz; Ports, Fernando Bonilla; Public Service, Roberto Maldonado; State Insurance Fund, Salvador Rovira; Economic Development & Commerce, Jorge Silva Puras; as well as with aide Gustavo Velez, the teamsters agreed to begin a rate revision process as soon as possible.
Garcia Padilla said teamster leader Victor Rodriguez should know that the stoppage has cost a lot of money, as he had to mobilize department employees to work overtime.
On a more optimistic note, Garcia Padilla said fuel supply at different gas stations of the island was slowly but surely returning to normal. He said that as of noon Saturday, 50% of local gas stations were expected to have enough fuel.
He added that if everything went okay, he would eliminate the profit margin limit of 13 cents per gallon by Saturday afternoon.
According to DACO, the teamsters who were holding the work stoppage agreed to the same conditions that Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila had been offering from the start.
Fortuño Pushes Forward Despite Tension On Island
By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin
July 22, 2005
Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño is intent on working for the betterment of the people of Puerto Rico. However, with water rates and toll fares going up, teamsters taking to the streets, and now island residents, especially those living in the San Juan metro area, fighting for fuel, it may be fair to say that his fellow citizens arent necessarily making his work in this respect any easier.
On Friday, Fortuño called upon Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila and teamster leaders to resume negotiations for the sake of the people.
"In these difficult times that Puerto Rico is living, we cant entrench ourselves on each side without talks," the resident commissioner said in a prepared statement.
When asked about his perception of the current economic situation of the island, Fortuño told PRWOW News that the state of Florida should be used as an example.
"Florida has four times our population, but its government is half the sized of ours. That should tell you whats wrong about the tax-and-spend liberals who have run our government for the last five years," Fortuño said.
He also criticized the past government for compromising the Childrens Trust Fund until 2023 to continue growing an already bloated government bureaucracy.
"It is too bad that those directly affected, that is the children, cannot vote to let those who have done this know how they feel about it," Fortuño added.
He went on to say that Puerto Rico has lost some of its competitiveness in the last years because of an overregulated, overtaxed government structure.
"Unfortunately, there are other jurisdictions that are taking advantage of it by attracting new businesses," he noted.
When asked whether he felt thwarted in his efforts to improve the situation of the island, especially with an executive branch imposing more economic burdens on the people, Fortuño was optimistic.
"Certainly I have been quite successful in my job in Washington. However, I cannot undue whats wrong about our economy today. In has to be a concerted effort," said Fortuño.
He said one of the things he is intent on achieving is to include Puerto Rico in the list of U.S. jurisdictions where manufacturing companies can benefit from a 3% drop in tax rates.
Terror Is Terror, Whether It's In London Or Cuba
July 22, 2005
Re Jim DeFede's July 10 column, Terror is terror, whether it's in London or Cuba:
Did DeFede criticize President Clinton when he pardoned 11 members of the Federation for National Liberation (FALN) and four members of Los Macheteros? Both are domestic terrorist groups seeking national independence for the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Unlike Luis Posada Carriles, they were found guilty in court and were serving sentences of up to 99 years for planting more than 120 bombs in public places in the United States, killing six people and wounding more than 70.
ISABEL IRIBAR, Miami
Life, Love Are Rushing Past A New York Hustler
By Jack Zink
July 21, 2005
When Edwin Sanchez wrote his first drama, Trafficking in Broken Hearts in 1993, the revival of Times Square and 42nd Street was just beginning to take hold. The ravages of more than a half-century of decay were still apparent, especially along 42nd Street approaching Eighth Avenue, where Sanchez's lead character Papo hangs out.
Papo is a hustler, still in partial self-denial about his sexuality while turning tricks in peep-show booths with desperate white boys. He sends some of his earnings home to the family in Puerto Rico, a sign of the humanity that will become more evident as the Sol Theater Project's provocative staging unwinds.
Trafficking in Broken Hearts is gritty and sexually explicit, a gay melodrama in which Sol director Robert Hooker spares no imagery. The play is sprinkled with male nudity in at-times passionate embrace, and is not for the easily offended.
Hooker nevertheless conveys the drama's piercing sadness as Papo's life becomes entwined with two others who've found their way to this urban dead end.
Angel Perez delivers a compelling portrait in the lead role of a man struggling to get ahead without leaving his heart entirely behind.
One night, he takes in the confused, emotionally weak Bobby (Ross Pivec), who just got into town, has no money and is sure to become a victim if left on his own.
But Papo's one-night offer of safe haven quickly grows into a dangerous entanglement.
Meanwhile, a lawyer named Brian (Dominick Giombetti) who's terrified of his sexuality finds himself absent-mindedly prowling the street in Papo's direction.
Though searching for gratification, he's still unable to deal with his desires.
Hooker and Jim Gibbons dress the stage with what little scenery will fit: two beds with a table between them, each on a different level. Carefully arranged boards, all backlit, vividly suggest the silhouette of the metropolis around them.
Sanchez's play follows Papo from one partner to the other as the emotional stakes build, and the probability of some tragedy becomes more pronounced. Without detouring from the story's gritty streetwise drama, Hooker gently underscores the tale with touching grace notes.
Trafficking in Broken Hearts
Drama, through Aug. 7 at Sol Theatre Project, 1140 N. Flagler Drive, Fort Lauderale. Shows 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets $20, $22 (students $12 except Saturday). Call 954-525-6555.
DTPW: Toll Increase To Help Economy
July 20, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Department of Transportation and Public Works (DTPW) Secretary Gabriel Alcaraz denied Wednesday that the increase in the tolls is to finance the agencys payroll.
Alcaraz explained that the increase will collect approximately $59 million for the Highways and Transportation Authority (HTA).
This income will permit the agency to issue $800 million in bonds by the end of August that will serve to stabilize the debts of the department and accelerate some 120 construction projects with a value of $1.3 billion.
"The economic impact of this public investment will be significant These roads represent greater agility in the transportation of cargo, more economic potential, and above all, less potholes," he said in a press conference.
The DTPW chief explained that with the toll increase, which could begin by the end of the year, the money collected will allow the agency to obtain recurring funds to be able to complete projects such as Route 66 and the Highway 2 expressway within the next two years.
Alcaraz said that contrary to the proposals of past administrations, his proposal will not only focus on the construction of new roads but will also improve the conditions of existing roads.
He said the HTA has an "aggressive resurfacing" program to fill potholes in the roads at a cost of $35 million.
Alcaraz denied the allegations that the tolls will finance the HTA payroll, which totals $95 million a month.
The DTPW chief admitted that he is considering a legislative bill that provides a discount for users of the "Autoexpreso" program.
He also acknowledged that the toll increase will receive major opposition during the public hearings that he must conduct. However, he said he will listen to the recommendations but he will also be emphatic in the need of additional resources to complete pending projects.
Prasa Announces Rate Increase Of 128%
July 20, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority (Prasa) Executive President Jorge Rodriguez on Wednesday presented his proposal for a new set of water rates that will consist of an increase of 128%.
Rodriguez said the new rates would allow the agency to attend to the economic crisis at Prasa and boost programs to help improve service.
The rate increase will affect all Prasa clients in industrial, commercial, and residential areas.
Rodriguez noted that the new rates are intended to allow for a more equitable distribution of service costs among Prasa clients.
Since government subsidies are no longer an option, under the new rate system, all Prasa clients will have to pay for the water that they use.
This is the first time in 19 years that Prasa has had to increase its rates. During that time, the agencys expenses have gone up by more than 270%, while revenues have increased by only 38%, Rodriguez said.
Senate President Kenneth McClintock said the new rates would be fatal for consumers.
"We will use all our legal means to evaluate and modify, to the best of our capabilities, the abusive increase of 128%," McClintock said after participating in a press conference with Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila.
However, Puerto Rican Independence Party Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio said that during the past administration, the Popular Democratic Party majority had voted against a bill that wouldve allowed the Legislative Assembly to interfere in the implementation of rate hikes from public corporations.
Sears, Macy's Oppose Consumer Code
July 20, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Sears and Macys department stores on Tuesday opposed the proposed Consumer Code, which they believe could spur an increase in the number of frivolous lawsuits that are filed against retailers.
During a hearing of the House Consumer Affairs Committee, Antonio J. Ramirez, legal adviser of Sears and Macys, said the proposed code gives the Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO by its Spanish acronym) ample jurisdiction in areas that arent within the departments expertise.
Ramirez said "the Consumer Code imposes requirements that are extremely burdensome and impossible to comply with, particularly in the case of small businesses."
However, the attorney of the two multinational companies said the code violates due process of law.
Ramirez said that placing the burden of proof on the employer, could result in more frivolous lawsuits.
He also opposed the requirement guaranteeing the permanent supply of items available in a store.
"A business owner may face fines and penalties if he doesnt meet the standard. The code assumes that all business owners act on bad faith, while it does nothing to establish an equal standard of conduct on the part of the consumer," Ramirez emphasized.
AAV Endorses Corzine Bid
BY GEOFF MULVIHILL
July 19, 2005
The governor of Puerto Rico endorsed U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine yesterday for governor of New Jersey.
Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila announced his backing for the Democratic nominee during a visit to a preschool in Camden. Corzine faces Republican Doug Forrester in November.
"I get the feeling we're going to work together, both as governors," said Acevedo Vila, who came to Camden from Philadelphia, where he was attending the annual meeting of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil-rights organization.
An estimated 367,000 people of Puerto Rican descent live in New Jersey. Only Florida and New York have more people with Puerto Rican roots, according to the 2000 Census.
Rep. Robert Menendez (D-13th Dist.), a co-chairman of Corzine's campaign, said he expects Acevedo Vila to do more campaigning in New Jersey before the Nov. 8 election.
"This is the earliest I have ever seen a campaign come to the Hispanic community, which says volumes that you won't forget us when you become governor," Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, said to Corzine.
A spokeswoman for Forrester said the Republican nominee will continue to seek support in the Hispanic community.
"We are very optimistic that Doug has and will continue to grow widespread support in communities that have been traditionally Democratic, just because people want change," said spokeswoman Sherry Sylvester.
Forrester met with the Latino Leadership Alliance Saturday in East Brunswick, his campaign said. Corzine also met with the group last weekend.
Acevedo Vila, who became governor of the U.S. commonwealth in January, said that when he was a nonvoting delegate to Congress from Puerto Rico, Corzine asked him to stop by every few months to talk about the issues on the island.
New Jersey has 1.1 million Hispanics out of a total population of 8.4 million, according to the Census.
Fortuño Calls For Unity Among Puerto Ricans
By PRWOW News
July 19, 2005
Despite being called a traitor by a group of disgruntled citizens, Resident Commissioner Luis Fortuño on Monday sent a message of unity to all Puerto Ricans during the commemorative acts of the 146th anniversary of Luis Muñoz Riveras birthday in Barranquitas.
Fortuñowho was the main speaker at the eventused the opportunity to reiterate his commitment in the fight for statehood. He also urged Puerto Rican leaders to respect each other despite their political and ideological differences.
The Resident Commissioner has been criticized by members of his own New Progressive Party (NPP) for not attending the partys event on the 4th of July, and choosing to accept the invitation to the commemorative acts in Barranquitas, which has traditionally been identified with the political ideologies of the Popular Democratic Party.
Fortuño noted that his participation was a sign of gratitude to someone whowhile being resident commissioner in Washingtonhelped his great grandfather, Guillermo Moscoso, pursue his career in law.
Fortuño was criticized by a group of demonstrators who called him a "traitor."
He later said the name-calling was an example of whats really wrong in Puerto Rico, and urged Puerto Ricans to relearn their moral values and demand that their leaders do the same.
"National heroes dont belong to a political party; Muñoz Rivera belongs to all of us, just like Barbosa, De Diego, Muñoz Marin, and Ferre [also belongs to us]," Fortuño said.
El Niño, Global Warming Fuel Hurricane Season
July 18, 2005
SAN JUAN (EFE) Meteorologists have different opinions about what may be causing this years active hurricane season.
However, Gladys Rubio, of the U.S. National Weather Service in Puerto Rico, said there is more than one explanation for the increase in the average number of hurricanes per season. In the past decade, the number of hurricanes have gone up from 10 to 14.
The meteorologist said some scientists have attributed this activity to global warming, while others believe it is the result of a cyclic change in the formation of hurricanes, based on the fact that cyclonic activity increased from 1950 until 1969 and declined from 1970 until 1994.
She said the current hurricane season that started six weeks ago has already seen five tropical storms, two of whichDennis and Emilyhave become high-intensity hurricanes.
"There are several factors; the sea temperatures have been higher than normal and the El Niño phenomenon (in the Pacific) this year doesnt exist," Rubio said.
El Niño, which owes its name to the fact that it takes place during Christmas, consists of wind currents from the Pacific that disturb cloud formations over the Atlantic Ocean.
Rubio noted that it is normal for hurricanes to get closer to Puerto Rico around the months of August and September.
Meanwhile, Rafael Mendez, director of the University of Puerto Rico Laboratory of Atmospheric Sciences in Carolina, explained that hurricanes help release the heat from the atmosphere.
"We are in a phase where a lot of energy has concentrated in the atmosphere," Mendez said.
He also said sea temperatures this year have been several degrees higher than usual, over 28 degrees Celsius, which has helped fuel hurricanes strength when entering the area.
Mendez believes the increase in temperature has to do with an increase in gas emissions that create a green-house effect by trapping the heat instead of releasing it into space. Some of these gases, like carbon dioxide, are generate by the burning of fossil fuels.
In Some States, It's Just Too Tough To Weather The Exercise
By Kevin W. McCullough | Tribune Newspapers: Los Angeles Times
July 17, 2005
A sunny, balmy day might seem like the perfect opportunity to exercise. But apparently not if it's also humid. A new study shows that people who live in hot, humid areas get much less exercise than people in cool, dry areas.
In a comparison of residents of 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, the last group was found to be the least active, with only 30.9 percent of Puerto Ricans getting the recommended amount of exercise each week. Topping the list of physically active areas was Montana, where 60.9 percent of the generally cool and dry state's population met recommended levels of physical activity.
"The correlation was even more strong than I thought it would be, given today's many alternatives to working out outside," said study author Ray Merrill, a professor of health sciences at Brigham Young University.
Using physical activity data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey of U.S. states and territories, researchers compared the results with information from 255 weather stations across the nation. The stations measured temperature, dew point temperature, wind, air pressure and cloud cover. They found that the hottest and most humid areas had the lowest levels of physical activity. The driest, most moderate areas had the highest levels of physical activity.
After Puerto Rico, the states with the lowest levels of physical activity were Hawaii, where only 36.4 percent of people got the recommended amount of exercise, and North Carolina with 37.4 percent. On the high end of the range were Utah, 59.2 percent, and Wisconsin, 57.9 percent. Illinois was 35th on the list, with 44.2 percent of people meeting recommended levels of activity. (Alaska wasn't included in the survey.)
The CDC recommends 30 minutes of moderate activity five or more days of the week, or 20 minutes of vigorous exercise three or more days per week.
The study was published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.
Governor Blamed For Creating Uncertainty
By PRWOW News
July 16, 2005
House Speaker Jose Aponte Hernandez urged Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila to stop instilling fear among government workers by creating a crisis where there is none, and once again called upon the governor to sign the budget bill that was approved by the Legislative Assembly.
Aponte said the budget bill guarantees the jobs and salary raise of government employees.
"The budget bill also provides for the continuance of those services which are essential to the people," Aponte said in a prepared statement.
He also noted that it was Acevedo Vila who, in his State of the Commonwealth address, had proposed to lay off government employees.
"The Legislature has never talked about lay offs. On the contrary, we have guaranteed those jobs by approving this budget bill," Aponte said.
The speakers statements were in reaction to what Treasury Secretary Juan Carlos Mendez had said in published reports Friday regarding the imminent lay off of government employees.
According to Mendez, Gov. Acevedo Vila has ordered his cabinet members to identify possible cuts in the governments payroll in light of the fact that the Legislative Assembly has refused to approve the budget that he had proposed.
Puerto Rican Office's Future Hazy
The island closed 3 U.S. offices this week as a result of budget and power struggles.
By Víctor Manuel Ramos | Sentinel Staff Writer
July 16, 2005
Puerto Rican government offices got the ax this week in Los Angeles, Houston and Cleveland as the island struggles with budget woes. But the Orlando office was picking up its pace Friday, despite ambivalence about its future from the Washington, D.C., office.
The Orlando office of the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration plays the equivalent of an embassy for the U.S. commonwealth. It is caught in a budget and power struggle between the pro-commonwealth party led by island Gov. Aníbal Acevedo Vilá and statehood forces in the island's legislature.
Orlando and Miami stand to lose their link to the island if Acevedo Vilá does not veto the budget proposal, said Eduardo Bhatia, the administration's director in Washington, D.C.
"This is the situation: We can't run a car without gasoline," Bhatia said Friday. "The Puerto Rico Legislature took all the fuel away from our regional offices. I would be forced to close the regional offices in Florida."
Whether by coincidence or design, the Orlando regional office seems to be going all out to make its presence known these days.
"It's a wait-and-see situation," said Sylvia Cáceres, Orlando regional office director, as she hosted more than 35 guests here from Puerto Rico for the fashion show.
Still, the prospect of the office closure was in the air.
"The community would be left with a big void if they had to close," said Ada Dominicci, organizer of the Orlando Fashion and Beauty Show.
It has already happened, with very short notice, in the three cities that Bhatia cut out of his office's budget.
"It's a terrible tragedy," said Ana María Maynard, who directs the Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance and Cultural Center in Austin, Texas. "Offices such as this [in Houston] are the only physical presence of the government of Puerto Rico on the mainland."
Tommy Martínez of the Asociación Borinqueña de Florida Central, a Puerto Rican social club in east Orlando, said the crisis couldn't have come at a worse time for Central Florida's Puerto Ricans -- more than 200,000 and growing.
"The Puerto Rican population here is exploding," Martínez said. "The office was a channel to get those newcomers registered to vote and have an impact in all of Florida."