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Presidential Vote Hearings Begin

Poll: NPP, PDP Gubernatorial Candidates Tied, Acevedo Vila Ahead

Nominees Woo Dominican Immigrants

Legislative Hearings On Presidential Vote Kick Off Wednesday

By Proviana Colon Diaz

August 24, 2000
Copyright © 2000 PuertoRicoWOW News Service. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN — Calling the bill enabling a presidential vote a "Midsummer Night's Dream," Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) Vice President Fernando Martin on Wednesday said the only purpose of the measure was "strictly as a political advertisement" with "no real consequences."

Martin added that to get the presidential vote for Puerto Ricans would require an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which grants that right only to citizens living in states.

If the bill is approved and signed into law, it would mandate that Puerto Rico votes for the presidential candidates be converted into one electoral vote each for the eight senatorial districts on the island. That would mean that Puerto Rico would issue eight electoral votes.

Also testifying before the joint committee Wednesday were former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Marco Rigau, Bar Association President Eduardo Villanueva and PDP Sen. Eudaldo Baez Galib, who also is president of the Democratic Party chapter in Puerto Rico.

[They] said the hearings were unconstitutional and noted that the only way in which Puerto Ricans would be able for vote for president and vice president would entail the island becoming a state.

The hearings will continue with the testimonies of former Govs. Carlos Romero Barcelo, of the NPP, Rafael Hernandez Colon, of the PDP, and gubernatorial candidates, NPP President Carlos Pesquera, and PDP President Sila Calderon.


Poll: NPP, PDP Gubernatorial Candidates Tied, Acevedo Vila Ahead

August 22, 2000
Copyright © 2000 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - A poll published Tuesday showed the gubernatorial candidates for the New Progressive Party (NPP), Carlos Pesquera, and for the Popular Democratic Party (PDP), Sila Calderon, tied with 44.6% of the vote 77 days before the general elections.

The Precision Research poll was carried out from Aug. 8-16 and resulted from personal interviews of 861 registered voters who are likely to vote. The survey has a 3.1% margin of error, and the confidence level of the survey is 95%, according to published reports.

The survey shows that the Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP) gubernatorial candidate, Ruben Berrios, has 4.5% of the votes.

The poll said the number of pro-independence supporters who plan to vote for the PDP (known as "melonismo" in Spanish) appears to be strengthening since 17.4% of the "independentistas" said they would vote for Calderon. This is 3.4% more than another poll carried out in June, published reports said.

Meanwhile, the poll showed PDP resident commissioner candidate Anibal Acevedo Vila is 3.3 percentage points ahead of the NPP incumbent Carlos Romero Barcelo.

Acevedo Vila obtained 45.5% of the vote, while Romero Barcelo had 42.2%, and PIP candidate Manuel Rodriguez Orellana had 4.3%.

The survey shows that 7.7% are undecided, and 0.3% of those asked said they would not vote.


Puerto Rican Candidates Woo Dominican Immigrants

August 21, 2000
Copyright © 2000 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All Rights Reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Long the object of prejudice, Dominican immigrants are beginning to attract the attention of political candidates in Puerto Rico.

Bearing promises of broader health care and anti-discrimination measures, political hopefuls are meeting with Dominican groups, campaigning heavily in immigrant neighborhoods and backing candidates with Dominican roots.

"Never before have (candidates) shown themselves to be so interested in what problems we face," said Dominican Consul Julio Cesar Santana.

About 100,000 Dominicans live in this island of 3.8 million people, and some 25,000 are eligible to vote in the Nov. 7 elections, Santana said.

Puerto Rican Independence Party mayoral candidate Vance Thomas said the immigrant vote is critical in San Juan because of the city's history of close mayoral races. In the last election, the mayoral race was decided by 8,300 votes.

The State Elections Commission said as of July 31 there were nearly 32,000 foreign-born citizens registered to vote in Puerto Rico, 13,000 in San Juan.

Typically the poorest residents in one of the poorest parts of the U.S., Dominicans have long complained they are ignored by the local government.

But this year, two Dominicans are running for the first time in municipal assembly races in San Juan and northern Bayamon. Both are running on the Popular Democratic Party (PDP) ticket.

Both leading gubernatorial candidates, New Progressive Party's Carlos Pesquera and PDP's Sila Maria Calderon, have promised to extend public health care to illegal aliens - a pledge aimed at the Dominican community. And Calderon, the current San Juan mayor, has touted the Office of Services to the Foreigner, an agency she created when she took office in 1996.

Mayoral candidates in San Juan, where Santana estimated 60% of Dominicans live, have promised tougher measures to fight discrimination against immigrants. PDP candidate Eduardo Bhatia has launched a voter registration drive aimed at Dominican residents.

"It's not just the (party) looking for those votes," Bhatia said. "There is a deep recognition of the participation and enormous contribution of the Dominican community in San Juan."

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