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Miss Universe To Be Held On Island For Second Straight Year

Criminal Cases Slow To Process

Fight For Vieques Should Go On

Noriega Defends Rossello

PDP: Rodriguez May Have To Resign

Vieques Food Safe To Eat

Ruiz Keeps Title With Draw

Governor: Fight 'Has Not Finished'

Pereira Will Enforce Law

Committee Criminalizes Political Opponents

Miss Universe To Be Held On Island For Second Straight Year

December 19, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The Miss Universe pageant will be held in Puerto Rico next year, bringing the event to the island for the second year in a row, organizers announced Wednesday.

San Juan was chosen from among eight locations that applied, said Mary Hilliard, a spokeswoman for the New York-based Miss Universe Organization.

Puerto Rico happens to be the homeland of current Miss Universe Denise Quiñones, though organizers said their decision came down to other considerations.

"San Juan is the safest place for us to bring 80 delegates from around the world, especially in the wake of Sept. 11, when security is of the utmost concern," Hilliard said.

Justice Dept. Admits Criminal Cases Slow To Process

December 18, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez admitted that the judicial process in criminal cases regarding murder and other Type 1 felonies is slow and described this as a problem in Puerto Rico.

Rodriguez said she would find a way to create more awareness among prosecutors and other members of the judicial criminal system "that this is a matter that must be attended to without delay," according to published reports.

The Justice chief mentioned the example of a man accused of abusing his children in December 2000 and was finally indicted two weeks ago.

However, Rodriguez assured that there is a group of prosecutors in the Violent Crimes Unit that are especially designated to submit criminal cases. She also noted that due to a recent allocation of federal funds, the number of these prosecutors will increase, which should also speed up the solving of the cases.

Cancel Alegria: Fight For Vieques Should Go On

December 17, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Juan Cancel Alegria reiterated on Sunday that the efforts to halt the U.S. Navy bombing on Vieques and to oust the military from the island municipality should go on regardless of the circumstances created by the war between the U.S. and Afghanistan.

According to the legislator, Puerto Rico already collaborates with the national defense through its soldiers, a contribution that he said is enough.

Cancel Alegria argued that prior to the events of Sept. 11, the Navy said it could leave Vieques before 2003, even though they believed that the island municipality was essential for training. This argument hasn't changed, which is why the plans for relocation shouldn't change either.

For this reason, Cancel Alegria, who was arrested for trespassing on Navy land in April, sent a letter to President George W. Bush asking him to order the ousting of the Navy and to honor the results of the local referendum in which almost 70% of the Vieques residents voted in favor of the immediate halt of the military practices there.

Cancel Alegria also urged Bush to grant a presidential pardon to the people who are still serving their sentences for trespassing on Navy land.

Noriega Defends Rossello's Effort To Solve Vieques Issue

December 17, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) - In an unusual occurrence, former Puerto Rican Independent Party (PIP) Rep. David Noriega applauded the efforts of former Gov. Pedro Rossello to find a solution to the controversy surrounding the presence of the U.S. Navy on Vieques.

"I honestly believe that Rossello tried to bring peace to Vieques," Noriega said on Saturday in a radio report. "He made some efforts and he made some mistakes," Noriega added.

Rossello reached an agreement with former U.S. President Bill Clinton to have the Navy out of Vieques by 2003.

Pro independence and Popular Democratic Party followers, including Gov. Sila Calderon opposed to such agreement that has now been invalidated with the U.S. Congress decision of eliminating the exact date for ending the military practices on the island municipality.

Noriega believes this is not the moment for recriminations between Puerto Ricans, nor for finding culprits because "the only one guilty in this situation of repression in Vieques is the Navy."

The former legislator also defended Calderon, who he believes made a commitment with the peace for Vieques and sincerely tried to halt the Navy bombing.

"The governor also made mistakes along the way," Noriega stated.

PDP: Rodriguez May Have To Resign If Accusations Are True

December 17, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) - Popular Democratic Party (PDP) General Secretary Jorge Colberg Toro admitted that if the accusations against PDP Sen. Maribel Rodriguez due to alleged government corruption are true, Rodriguez would have no choice but to resign her post.

Colberg Toro also prompted the Senate to decide as soon as possible on its investigation regarding Rodriguez.

However, Colberg Toro said only the Senate Ethics Committee has the constitutional power to judge Rodriguez's actions.

Rodriguez, who is in her first year at the Senate, has been accused of illegal use of public money.

Officials: Vieques Food Safe To Eat

December 16, 2001
Copyright © 2001
The Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Agriculture officials last week assured Puerto Ricans that food products from the island of Vieques are safe to eat. Reacting to a study that found high levels of toxic heavy metals in sheep raised on Vieques , the Puerto Rican Agriculture Department said numerous tests of a variety of Vieques food products found levels of heavy metals to be the same or even lower than products from other areas. The Casa Pueblo organization last week released a study in which it said scientists had found considerably higher levels of lead, magnesium, copper and other toxic heavy metals in sheep. The study blamed years of practice bombing with live ammunition by the U.S. Navy on Vieques .

Ruiz Keeps Title With Draw Against Holyfield

December 16, 2001
Copyright © 2001 REUTERS. All rights reserved.

Ruiz/HolyfieldMASHANTUCKET, Connecticut (Reuters) - John Ruiz retained his World Boxing Association heavyweight title with a draw after 12 rounds against Evander Holyfield Saturday.

The fight featured almost as much wrestling as boxing as the two men grappled and pushed each other around the ring, especially in the first few rounds.

Holyfield appeared to have an exhausted-looking Ruiz in trouble in the 11th and 12th rounds, but could not finish him off despite Ruiz, who at 29 is 10 years younger than Holyfield, literally hanging on in the last round.

The 10th round was the most exciting of the fight when Holyfield hammered Ruiz into the corner with combinations to the head.

Ruiz then spun out of the corner, landed hard punches of his own and the two men proceeded to fight toe-to-toe to the cheers of the crowd of 4,200.

Judge Julie Lederman scored the fight 116-112 for Holyfield, Don O'Neill had it 115-113 for Ruiz, and Tommy Kaczmarek scored it even at 114-114.

This was the third fight between the two men, who split the previous two bouts. Ruiz is now 37-4-1 and Holyfield is 37-5-2.

Governor: Vieques Fight `Has Not Finished'

December 15, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Gov. Sila Calderon informed Friday that the fight to get the U.S. Navy out of Vieques "has not finished" with the U.S. Congress' approval of a bill that eliminates the date of May 2003 for the exit of the military entity.

Likewise, she promised to do "everything possible" so that President George W. Bush will be true to his word that the Navy will leave Vieques on or before May 2003.

"I'm in complete disagreement," the governor said about the amendments referring to Vieques, which were approved in the Defense Department's budget bill.

"The difficult moments are moments of tests, and this is one of those moments... The moments of tests require courage, strength, and determination," she said in a press conference.

Calderon reiterated that she continues to be in solidarity with Bush in his fight against terrorism but said "neither the principles nor the objectives of defending the rights of the Viequenses have changed."

"This has not finished," she said. "I will not yield, and no one should.

She declined to specify, however, if she will seek a personal meeting with Bush. She also did not wish to talk about the summons made Friday by the New Independence Movement, which urged her to go with them to Washington to make the decision expressed by the Viequenses in the July referendum valid.

Pereira Insists He Will Enforce Law In Vieques

December 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira reiterated Friday that even though civil disobedience appears sympathetic, he will enforce the Puerto Rico laws in Vieques.

He commented on this in view of the possibility that the military exercises scheduled in January in the island municipality will unleash new illegal incursions of activists into land occupied by the U.S. Navy.

"The Puerto Rico Police do not have the option to choose which crime they will enforce," he said in a radio interview.

Pereira said he will be "extremely sad" to order the arrest of, for example, Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano, if he returns to engage in civil disobedience, but he warned that those who engage in these acts know the consequences.

He also expressed his opinion that civil disobedience is an affirmation of democratic principles "because it only works in democracies."

Rossello: Blue Ribbon Committee Criminalizes Political Opponents

December 14, 2001
Copyright © 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - In his first radio interview since he left the island after handing over the command of the government in January, former Gov. Pedro Rossello Rossello rejected the attribution of political overtones to the subject of corruption and denounced that Gov. Sila Calderon's administration attends to the problem in a selective manner.

"You see how a mechanism at the margin of the law is established, the famous so-called Blue Ribbon Committee, even its own name has implication," he said, referring to blue as the distinctive color of his New Progressive Party.

Rossello also accused the Independent Citizens Commission to Evaluate Government Transactions of being a entity of political persecution.

"The Blue Ribbon Committee is the institutionalization of the process of criminalizing political opponents in Puerto Rico, and that is very dangerous for democracy," he said.

That's why he recommended to former officials of his administration that if they are cited to testify before the commission to not appear.

However, he said they should be available to testify before any other entity established by law.

"They should submit themselves to any investigation of institutions created through the Constitution or Puerto Rico laws, because if they have nothing to hide, then they should have no problem," he said.

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