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France Seeks P.R. Trade Ties

French Senators On Economic Mission To P.R.

Electoral Reform Bill Ready

Gov’t To Defend Commemorative License Plates

Calderon Warns Against Corruption

De La Hoya Will Retire After Vargas Fight

PDP Opens Telemarathon Books

Justice Investigating Cruzado

Bill To Allow Controller to Probe Donations Filed

French Senators On Economic Mission To P.R.


February 12th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Six French senators met with top officials in Puerto Rico Monday during a visit to discuss trade and economic ties between their country and the U.S. territory.

The senators, who arrived on the island Saturday night, visited the capitol building in San Juan on Monday and spoke with Puerto Rican legislators.

"The French delegation asked that we orient them about Puerto Rico 's economic development and infrastructure so that French companies that want to invest in Puerto Rico have this information," Puerto Rican Sen. Jose Ortiz Daliot said in a statement.

He said the legislators also discussed the possibility of resuming direct Air France flights between San Juan and Paris, which have not existed for about a decade.

"We have an interest to bring back Air France to Puerto Rico ," said Francois Bidault, the honorary French consul in Puerto Rico . He said Air France was considering the new route, but officials with the airline could not immediately be reached for comment.

The senators also were to meet with Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado Monday night before departing on Tuesday, Bidault said.

Puerto Rico 's government and private sector last year organized a trade mission in France in an effort to improve economic relations.

The senators came to Puerto Rico after a visit to Cuba, where officials said they arrived last Wednesday.

Electoral Reform Bill Ready For The Legislature

February 11th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - The administration bill to reform the political campaigns financing methods is ready.

What is yet to be known is if Gov. Sila M. Calderon will present it as soon as Tuesday, or if it will be filed before the Legislature "within the next days", said La Fortaleza's Press Secretary Luis Torres Negron.

Calderon remained at La Fortaleza dealing with the details of her address to the Legislature, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

State Secretary Ferdinand Mercado, as well as Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda remained with the governor reviewing the message content.

In her second State of the Commonwealth address, along with the budget, the electoral campaign reform will also be announced.

Calderon proposed that all political party campaigns be funded by the government to prevent private donations.

Gov’t To Defend Commemorative License Plates

February 10th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - The local government will defend in court the legitimacy of the license plates that hold the commemorative logo of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. The constitutionality of such plates was challenged by one of the candidates to substitute former New Progressive Party Rep. Edison Misla Aldarondo.

"I am clear as too how legitimate is to celebrate our juridical state, which is the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico," Gov. Sila Calderon said.

"Those things will be seen in court," the governor added.

Virgilio Melendez filed on Friday a preliminary and permanent interdiction to stop the distribution, promotion, and printing of the license plates for the commemoration of the Commonwealth's 50th anniversary.

Governor Warns Public Officials Against Corruption Again

February 10th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - The public officials of Gov. Sila Calderon's administration have been warned that the governor won't tolerate any action that goes against the proceedings of a healthy administration.

Calderon reminded her officials about this warning after she was asked about her opinion regarding the corruption allegations made against the WIC federal program at the Health Department.

On Saturday, the governor ordered Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez through her Chief of Staff Cesar Miranda to "immediately" investigate the allegations.

Calderon gave Health Secretary Johnny Rullan her full support, and said "he is an honorable man," but warned that "there must be a total transparency in my administration."

According to independent Rep. Jorge de Castro Font, who carries a fierce campaign against the Calderon administration, officials of the Health Department participated in an alleged fraud scheme linked to the WIC program.

De Castro Font urged Rullan to intervene and the Health chief asked De Castro Font to present the evidence in his power so he can take the proper disciplinary actions against the accused.

For her part, Calderon stressed that there isn't any room for the smallest deviation in her administration and that her cabinet members and government officials have been warned about it.

De La Hoya Says He Will Retire After Fight With Vargas

February 12th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - It seems like Oscar De La Hoya changed his mind about his future in boxing, according to reports in Puerto Rican media.

Days after announcing that he would fight three times before retiring, De La Hoya said that his next fight against Fernando Vargas will be his last, a local newspaper reported.

"This will be my last fight. It's over," de la Hoya was quoted as saying in El Vocero.

De La Hoya fights on May 4 in Las Vegas, when he defends his WBC super welterweight title against Fernando Vargas.

He made his decision after consulting with his wife, Puerto Rican pop singer Millie Corretjer, the newspaper reported, and said this fight will allow him to retire as a champion in good financial and physical health.

"I made the decision thinking in my family and my health, my well being," the five-time world champion said.

De La Hoya, 34-2 with 27 knockouts, said his decision changes his earlier plan to avenge his only losses against Felix Trinidad and Shane Mosley.

PDP Opens Financial Books And Presents Telemarathon Tickets

By Proviana Colon Diaz

February 9th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

Following a week-long controversy, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Secretary General Jorge Colberg Toro opened up the financial records of the collectivity Friday in an attempt to explain where 85% of the funds collected during a December fundraising marathon came from.

Past 5 p.m., Colberg Toro met the press in his office at the Puerta de Tierra party headquarters.

Along with employees of the party's financial offices, Colberg Toro presented two thick brown folders with the municipal quotas imposed by the party and handwritten numbers of the quotas collected.

The former senatorial candidate also passed along two blocks of pink and yellow slips with the party's logo identifying the names and donations of people who gave over $50 to the collectivity during the marathon.

Colberg Toro then took the media on a tour of the headquarters until reaching the top floor where he opened the door to a room with the floor covered by the ballots of the much controversial raffle.

"Go in; touch them," Colberg Toro told the media.

Despite his cynical invitation, Colberg Toro was unable to answer the question on everybody's mind - How many tickets were there?

Colberg Toro's attempt to clear the party's financial records comes days after the source of the December marathon became public. It was revealed in published reports that 85% of the funds collected in the marathon came from donations under $50, so they do not have to be reported.

On Friday, Colberg Toro gave a detailed report sustaining the allegations. Out of the $864,435.86 collected in the marathon, $730,834.86 came from donations under $50.

$434,586.49 came from the municipalities, most of which failed to meet the quotas imposed. For example, San Juan was imposed a $101,497 quota but only contributed $22,869.10.

$278,535,00 came from public service employees, including a pink slip with a donation of over $6,000 came from the firefighters of San Juan.

Meanwhile, Colberg Toro urged the New Progressive Party to do the same and open up their financial records, as according to him, 100% of the donations from the two recent marathons are unidentified.

Justice Investigating Suspended Vega Alta Mayor

February 9th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - The Justice Department investigates the whereabouts of more than $26,000 of the bank account of the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) committee in Vega Alta, under the leadership of suspended Mayor Jose Cruzado.

PDP Secretary General Jorge Colberg indicated that he asked the Justice Department to investigate the committee's accounts under Cruzado's presidency to probe whether the money was used for illegal deposits.

The new municipal president, Eliezer Gonzalez, explained in published reports that after Cruzado won the elections, a fundraising activity was held in December 2000, where almost $26,000 was generated.

However, when Gonzalez assumed the presidency in October 2001, the municipal committee's account was in zero.

The local PDP president maintains that he does not know if the money was used to pay the party's debts.

Bill Filed To Allow Comptroller To Probe Party Donations

February 8th, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) Rep. Jose Chico announced Friday the filing of legislation that will allow the Commonwealth comptroller to audit the private donations of the three political parties, retroactive to 1991, to determine if any illegal donations were made.

Chico indicated that the legislation was filed because even though the State Elections Commission (SEC) has the faculty to audit the parties' financial records, the Comptroller's Office has more experience and has the qualified personnel to investigate this matter.

"Through this legislation, we are broadening the faculties of the Comptroller's Office in making sure nobody violates the law," Chico said in press release.

The NPP legislator clarified, however, that this legislation does not interferes with the SEC's faculties.

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