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The Molinas Are Brothers In Arms, Data On Bio Tests Sought, Island Population Aging, Police Statistician Denies Altering Crime Numbers, Pereira Shows Evidence Of Alleged Tampering, Navy Cancer Registry Contract Bared, Marine Killed In Kuwait Born In SJ, Carlos Castaneda Dies At 70

The Molinas Are Brothers In Arms

October 14, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Los Angeles Times. All rights reserved.

Amid the postgame celebration in front of the Angel dugout Sunday afternoon, the catching Molina brothers, Bengie and Jose, locked arms and somehow found time and space to pose for a picture.

That shot will have to be worth a thousand words, because the Molinas couldn't come up with enough of their own to describe the feeling surrounding the Kodak moment.

"There's not enough words to explain it," said Bengie Molina, who had a single during the Angels' 10-run seventh inning. "We go way back as kids in Puerto Rico, dreaming about going to the World Series. This is awesome. I'm so glad he's here with me. We always wanted to be part of a championship."

Not only was Jose, the Angels' backup catcher, part of the championship, he got to catch the final two innings Sunday, leaping three or four times in the air before Tom Prince's game-ending pop-up landed in shortstop David Eckstein's glove.

"Two years ago I was without a job, and the Angels gave me a chance," Jose said. "Look at where I am now, going to the World Series. That's amazing. And going there with my brother makes it that much better."

Cancel Alegria Requests Information On Chemical Practices

October 13, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Juan Cancel Alegria requested in writing that William Winkenwerder, assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Defense, give information and assistance to Vieques residents who were exposed to chemical weapons that were tested on that island during the 1960s and 1970s.

"The information that was revealed this week constitutes additional evidence that we cannot trust the U.S. Navy. What other things has the Navy done in the name of national security without telling the world?" the senator questioned.

The legislator referred to a report that was recently published by the U.S. Department of Defense. In it, the federal government admits that as part of a program known as Project 112, chemical weapons were tested in several U.S. jurisdictions, including Vieques.

Cancel Alegria urged for more information and for a plan of action to assist civilians who were exposed to those tests.

He said the Navy has used a material which has been known to cause cancer in certain animal species. However, he said the effect on humans is unknown.

Gov. Sila Calderon, on her part, has said in published reports that she would request more information on the issue to determine if her administration should take a course of action in the matter. However, she didn't offer any details on what type of action she would take.

Island Population To Be Considerably Older By 2025

October 13, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - By 2025, the amount of Puerto Ricans older than 60 will increase to almost a million. This represents a 23.5% of the population, according to the projections of the U.S. Census 2000.

The island is on its way to face a reality for which it is not prepared, some experts said in published reports.

The information has not surprised demographers, who have been noticing that the average age on the island has been gradually increasing from 18.4 years in 1950 to 32.1 in 2000.

Ten years ago, when the average age reached 28.4 years, demographers warned of the need to pass laws and establish specialized services for people over 60. However, no one has paid attention.

"People today don't think of the implications of the aging of the population, which is inevitable," said demographer Judith Rodriguez Figueroa, who explained that the aging of a population is normal in countries that develop at a socioeconomic level.

Police Statistical Specialist Denies Altering Crime Numbers

October 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

PONCE (AP) — A statistical specialist in the Police Department of the Ponce region denied Friday having altered the crime report that has been made public on a monthly basis for several years.

"Never, I have never manipulated statistics; I have always been recognized as reporting accurate statistics," said agent Luis Gonzalez.

"I have been gathering information for crime reports for many years in Ponce and nobody can accuse me of tampering," Gonzalez told the AP.

The police agent also confirmed that a dramatic increase has been registered this year in the crime rate in the southern region.

Gonzalez’ statements are made in the midst of a controversy in which Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira accuses the past police administration of altering crime statistics.

Gonzalez handed over on Friday the most recent crime statistics of seven municipalities of the southern region and said it shows an increase in all types of crime.

"The daily average in the region is 24.98. These are accurate statistics, not manipulated ones," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez’ best defense is provided by the southern region mayors, including Popular Democratic Party Mayor Rafael Cordero, who admitted this week there is a serious crime problem in their region.

Statistics show there have been 74 murders registered this year, 20 more than the same period last year. It also compares 5,178 crimes registered last year with 7,095 reported for the same period of the current year.

Pereira Shows Evidence Of Alleged Statistic Tampering

October 12, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira showed Friday the alleged evidence that the statistics gathered by the Police Department of Type I crimes were tampered with during the past administration to make believe crime was decreasing.

Immediately, former Police Superintendent Pedro Toledo said "Pereira wants to distract the public attention to a personal controversy."

The current Police superintendent showed reports from the Forensic Sciences Institute (FSI) regarding the violent murders registered during the past administration. He pointed out that the most dramatic example was a difference of 175 cases in 1997 between the murder cases reported by the FSI and the Police Department.

He said there is a 19.5% discrepancy between both reports in 1997, despite the fact that the acceptable margin of error is two percent.

"A two percent difference is understandable, and that difference existed from 90 to 93. But beginning in 1994, the difference reaches 47 cases and ends in 97, 98, and 99 with a greater margin. This clearly reflects tampering with statistics, he said in a press conference.

Although he did not rule out that during Pierre Vivoni’s tenure an "institutional culture" of statistics manipulation existed, he affirmed that he has implemented internal and external controls that guarantee the eradication of such a practice.

Among the changes, he mentioned the swearing in of the reports presented by each regional commander regarding the amount of crimes reported, a method that he understands would endanger the commanders’ post.

He also emphasized the enforcement of a system identified as National Incidence Reporting System (NIRS), which he said is better because it is based on the incident reported and not the result.

Regarding the external controls, Pereira said the statistics of solved cases will be based on the courts’ statistics.

On the other hand, and without getting into much detail, the police superintendent acknowledged that they have already initiated administrative investigations of police agents who might have participated in the alleged statistics tampering.

Meanwhile, Toledo requested Gov. Sila Calderon to dismiss Pereira "for his incompetence to effectively address the increase in criminal incidence."

But for Pereira, the crime rate has only increased by 4% and added that the solution to the problem will not come "from one day to the next," but through a multi-agency effort.

Toledo said the most important thing was not the numbers, but the reality of the increasing volume of criminal activity on the island.

"They are creating a strategy to cover up their incompetence," Toledo affirmed.

Regarding the alleged statistics tampering, Toledo said whenever a deficiency was discovered, it was investigated and added that he would not allow Pereira to cover up his incompetence with these allegations.

"I would advise the Police superintendent to focus on fighting crime instead of continuing to criticize the past administration, because Puerto Rico can no longer tolerate his incompetence," Toledo said.

Contract Granted To Navy By Health Department Revealed

October 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — A contract revealed Friday describes how the U.S. Navy was in charge of managing and redesigning the Puerto Rico Cancer Registry in 1994, the same year in which the registry began to show delays in the availability of statistics, a Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) legislator denounced.

Rep. Victor Garcia San Inocencio alleged that the finding constitutes "key evidence in the great cover-up of the cancer situation in Vieques," which he attributed to the Navy. The military has denied that their maneuvers cause any harm to the environment or to the residents’ health.

The legislator revealed in a press conference the contract through which the U.S. Naval Command, Control, and Ocean Surveillance Center, West Coast Division, was in charge of designing and enforcing the new local cancer registry.

According to Garcia San Inocencio, the entity is "one of the four main war technology centers, the mission of which is to give support to the Navy in matters of investigation, development, tests, and evaluations, as well as engineering for the command, control, and operation of information systems, surveillance, maritime espionage, and their integration."

He said he could not obtain information indicating whether that division is allowed to offer services to the civilian population.

The PIP representative said the year the contract was granted not only coincides with the date in which the registry–considered one of the best in the hemisphere–began to dismantle, but also marks 20 years after the Navy conducted maneuvers using chemical and biological weapons in Vieques.

The legislator cited expert reports that certified before the Legislature that the period between the exposure to a cancerous substance and the development of the disease could take 20 years.

Due to the finding, the PIP legislator sent a letter to Gov. Sila Calderon and filed a House resolution urging an investigation into the circumstances under which Health Secretary Carmen Feliciano granted the contract and its possible effect on the health of Puerto Ricans, particularly Vieques residents.

Current Health Secretary Johnny Rullan has reported the investment of almost $1 million to update the Cancer Registry. He has also said the preliminary statistics indicate that the cancer incidence in Vieques is greater than in other municipalities.

The contract revealed by Garcia San Inocencio, a copy of which he gave to journalists, establishes, among other dispositions, that the entity contracted will design and control privileges of access to statistics and would create and modify records structures.

The contract granted for $155,000 was maintained for one year.

Marine Who Died In Kuwait Born In San Juan

October 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Antonio James Sledd, the 20-year-old marine who died Tuesday on the island of Failaka in an attack attributed to sectors linked to the al Qaeda terrorist group, was born in San Juan and resided in Jayuya with his family for almost two years before the family moved to Tampa.

Sledd’s relatives made arrangements Thursday to retrieve the body in order to have a farewell ceremony, his aunt Iris Figueroa said in published reports.

Antonio, whose twin brother Michael is also a member of the Marine Infantry, joined the military in January 2001 and had been assigned to the Persian Gulf since June.

Michael was mobilized to Japan.

Sledd’s mother, Norma Figueroa, has publicly criticized the lack of security in the Kuwait zone, where her son was training when attacked, and asked her other son to abandon his military career.

Publisher Carlos Castaneda Dies At 70

October 11, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

MIAMI (AP) -- Carlos Castaneda, who spent 28 years of his career as editor and publisher of El Nuevo Dia in Puerto Rico and worked in the Spanish-language press for more than five decades, died Thursday in Portugal. He was 70 and had leukemia.

Castaneda, who was born in Havana in 1932, was one of the first journalists to interview Cuban President Fidel Castro after Fulgencio Batista was ousted from power in 1959.

He fled to New York with his family in 1960 to escape the Castro regime. Five years later, he joined the Spanish-language version of Life in 1965, working as correspondent, editor and publisher until 1969.

The next year, he joined the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Dia. During his long tenure as the daily's editor and publisher, Castaneda saw circulation grow nearly thirteen-fold.

``Castaneda was a friend and a teacher -- an inspiration and instigator,'' said Luis A. Ferre Rangel, El Nuevo Dia's editor.

''Don Carlos lived journalism as a priesthood,'' said Puerto Rican entrepreneur Antonio Luis Ferré, who hired Castañeda. ``It was his life.''

Castaneda retired from El Nuevo Dia in 1998, but went back to work by the end of that year, when he became publisher and editor of El Nuevo Herald.

Democracy -- and the role news organizations play in bolstering that ideal -- was a driving force in Castañeda's life.

A longtime member of the Inter-American Press Association, Castañeda served on the Committee on Freedom of the Press, which monitors censorship in the region.

In April 1991, as regional vice president for Puerto Rico of the IAPA, he bristled at a decree from Gov. Rafael Hernández Colón to charge fees for information from a government agency. ''This is a tantrum by a man full of arrogance who is miffed because things are not turning the way he wants them,'' said Castañeda.

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