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Calderon Defers To Colin Powell On Status, Mercado Defends ELA… Congress OK’S $43m For UT, $300k For Alzheimers… Rossello Promises Anticorruption Plan…Cities Seek Constitutional Rights… Kutztown Univ., UPR To Pool Their Resources…P.R. Wins Pan Am Horsemanship Gold…Viequenses’ Participation In Transition Urged

Calderon Bows To Colin Powell On Status

By Joanisabel Gonzalez-Velazquez of WOW News

August 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WOW NEWS. All rights reserved. 

Gov. Sila Calderon disregarded Tuesday published reports revealing that U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell asked his diplomats in Latin America to remind the presidents of those states of the political relationship of Puerto Rico with the United States.

Moreover, Calderon claimed that her relationship with the Bush administration is good and that all efforts to strengthen the commercial and cultural links with other countries are conducted with the advice of the federal administration.

"The relationship of my administration with the Bush administration is good, and my personal relationship with President George W. Bush is excellent," Calderon said.

On Tuesday, a local paper allegedly revealed that Powell’s instructions on Puerto Rico were stated in an internal memorandum and that the U.S. State Department intended to stop some lobbying efforts carried out by the Calderon administration to participate in the 13th Latin American Summit to be held in Bolivia.

Calderon does not plan to attend the summit but said Puerto Rican Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado might go. But Calderon did not give further details on Mercado’s actions.

Calderon added that her administration will continue with her policy to strengthen the commercial link with other countries and said the island has good relations with Panama, Costa Rica, and Dominican Republic, among other countries.

"Everything we are doing is for the good of Puerto Rico, the economic development, and the creation of new jobs; and we will do it under the Commonwealth’s jurisprudence, following the standards of the U.S. State Department," she added.

Mercado Defends Island’s International Personality

August 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — After defending the Commonwealth’s international personality Tuesday, Secretary of State Ferdinand Mercado assured that Puerto Rico has never requested to participate as an independent country in the Latin American Summit of State and Government Leaders.

According to Mercado, the island’s participation in international organizations has been conducted within the constitutional and legal frame with the United States.

"We have never requested to participate as an independent country in any international organization because we are not a sovereign country," he said in a press release.

"Yes, we have requested a special link to the Latin American Summit, which is not an international organization but a system of conferences in which Latin American state and government leaders meet each year to create and follow up on 16 cooperation programs," he added.

Mercado reacted to published reports that revealed the alleged existence of a written order of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell for his ambassadors in Latin America to detain Puerto Rico’s intent to independently participate in the Latin American Summit.

State Department spokeswoman Joanne Prokopowicz refused Tuesday to confirm the existence of the order claiming that "we generally do not discuss Powell’s correspondence."

Mercado said "he has not received any communication, neither written nor verbal, that expresses objections of the U.S. State Department about our participation in the Latin American Summit."

The alleged order was to the effect of having U.S. ambassadors meet with the presidents of several Latin American countries to remind them that Puerto Rico is politically dependent on the U.S.

Published reports alleged that Powell also asked them to warn Puerto Rican government officials that they are not authorized to join any international organism as an independent entity without the approval of the U.S. government. The order was allegedly issued during the first week of August.

Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) officials have already referred to the order as a colonial humiliation and urged the governing Popular Democratic Party (PDP) to issue a firm reaction against it.

Meanwhile, New Progressive Party President Carlos Pesquera said the order proves that Gov. Sila Calderon’s administration has damaged the island’s relations with the U.S.

Congress Approves Over $43 Million For Urban Train

August 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) — The U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved granting $43.5 million to the Puerto Rico government to continue the construction of the Urban Train.

The funds will be available for the next fiscal year, according to published reports.

However, the improvement plan in the Sergio Cuevas Plant did not have the same luck, since the U.S. House Veterans and Urban Development Affairs Subcommittee vetoed an allocation of $8 million for that project.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Energy Committee cut almost 50% of the allocations proposed by President George W. Bush aimed at a project for flood control.

Bush had submitted legislation to assign almost $21 million, but the committee approved approximately $10.1 million that would be divided in $1 million for improvements to the Rio Grande of Arecibo, $3 million for rivers Portugues and Bucana, $1.1 million for Rio La Plata, and $5 million for Rio Puerto Nuevo.

$300,000 In Federal Funds For Alzheimer’s Programs

August 19, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Puerto Rico is one of 32 jurisdictions that will receive funds from the U.S. Health Department for the development of innovative health care and support programs for Alzheimer’s patients and their relatives.

According to published reports, the federal funds amount to $300,000 and will be managed by the Governor’s Office for Elderly Affairs.

U.S. Health Secretary Tommy Thompson said the funds, $12 million in total, will also be allocated in Connecticut, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, Utah, Florida, and New York.

Governor’s Office for Elderly Affairs Director Rossana Lopez said the agency will use the funds to strengthen a patients’ ‘mega-station,’ located at the office’s headquarters in Old San Juan.

Lopez noted that at present, there is no specific criteria to diagnose Alzheimer’s and urged health professionals to establish a diagnosis protocol to conclude if the patient suffers from that condition or another mental problem.

The Alzheimer’s Association estimates that there are 62,000 patients on the island who suffer from the condition that gradually degenerates the brain.

Rossello Promises To Implement Anticorruption Plan

August 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Although several former cabinet members of former Gov. Pedro Rossello’s administration have been convicted for engaging in government corruption, Rossello–who is seeking the gubernatorial candidacy for the New Progressive Party (NPP)–said he would announce a new plan this week to fight corruption.

Rossello said his plan would focus on prevention and in early detection of felonies linked to embezzlement of public funds.

The former governor also said in published reports that, following the elections, many Popular Democratic Party members would have to answer for acts of corruption.

Rossello’s statements were issued during a political rally in Trujillo Alto.

Rossello Asked To Promote Cities' Constitutional Rights

August 18, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

The Federation of Legislators asked NPP pre-gubernatorial candidate Pedro Rosselló to include in his municipal reform program the elevation of cities to a constitutional level.

"We can't keep playing around with the municipalities each time there is a change in the governing parties," said Federation President Ganaro Sanchez. He reminded those present how whenever there is an administration change, the financial and administrative sectors in each city undergo serious upheaval.

"Right now we are seeing laws [in place] that affect the cities, like for example those involving the transfer of parks from the State to the cities, without assigning them the appropriate resources [to go along with it]", Sanchez said in a radio interview. He affirmed that individual mayors deserve the chance to develop their own agendas.

"The government created an office of Urban Affairs that works with the development of the urban sector. They arbitrarily grant exemptions as well as certain benefits to the detriment of cities," he said.

Sanchez attacked Gov. Sila M. Calderon for failing to keep her promise of promoting the constitutional rights of cities.

"Municipal reform is a fiasco of the Governor. Even the Popular mayors themselves are upset," he stated. The Federation represents 497 city legislators among the New Progressive mayoral offices.

2 University Chiefs Agree To Pool Their Resources

August 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
THE ALLENTOWN MORNING CALL. All rights reserved. 

KUTZTOWN - Kutztown University President F. Javier Cevallos and University of Puerto Rico-Mayagez Rector Jorge Velez have signed an agreement to work together to improve educational opportunities on both campuses.

One of the key areas of collaboration is between the marine science programs. UPR-Mayagez has the department of marine sciences for graduate students, while Kutztown has a marine science major as part of its biology curriculum.

Other potential areas of partnership are faculty and student exchanges in education, history, and modern languages. UPR-Mayagez hopes to establish an art program on its campus, and Velez said he is interested in partnering with Kutztown on that.

Puerto Rico Wins Gold In Horsemanship At Pan-American Games

August 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
XINHUA NEWS AGENCY. All rights reserved. 

SANTO DOMINGO - Puerto Rican Mark Watring on Saturday clinched the gold in individual horsemanship at the 14th Pan-American Games here.

Watring completed 5.83 errors in two rounds to defeat Chris Kappler and Margie Goldstein, both from the United States. Kappler ended with 10.40 errors and won the silver, while Goldstein completed 12.22 errors to finish third.

Watring, born in a military base at the Puerto Rican locality

of Aguadilla, lives in the United States and represented Puerto Rico for the first time in the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games.

Viequenses Urged To Participate In Transition Committee

August 17, 2003
Copyright © 2003
ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved. 

SAN JUAN (AP) - Vieques community leader Carlos Ventura called on Vieques residents to participate in the meetings that the Vieques Transition Committee will hold to express their opinions and recommend possible ways of developing the island municipality following the withdrawal of the U.S. Navy.

"It is important that they participate in those meetings, that they get out of their homes and feel free to express their opinions and play a leading role in the future of Vieques," said Ventura, who has recently been appointed to the aforementioned committee.

Last week, the committee announced a series of community meetings to begin Aug. 27 and to continue on Sept. 3, 4, 10, and 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Vieques Municipal Assembly Hall.

Ventura said it is important to asses the thoughts of the community regarding health, transportation, housing, and tourism in Vieques.

He added that the meetings respond to the community's need to keep informed about what the committee is doing.

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