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Antiterrorism Mission For National Guard

Unemployment Rate Up

Fajardo Seeks Cooperation Agreement

Poverty Dropped Under Rossello

Governor Shuns Press

Zenon Gets 6 Months

Claiming Political Persecution, Pesquera Demands Proof Of Accusations

Government Activates National Guard For Mideast Mission

January 17, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Gov. Sila Calderon announced Wednesday the activation of nearly a thousand members of the National Guard to serve in an antiterrorism mission in the Middle East.

La Fortaleza Press Office indicated that Calderon would visit Camp Santiago in Salinas Thursday to meet with the first group of Puerto Ricans that will serve in the mission in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

"As a Puerto Rican, as a governor, and as commander-in-chief of this National Guard, I feel honored to communicate to the people of Puerto Rico our contribution to the fight against terrorism," Calderon said in a prepared statement.

The first group to travel to the Middle East will be comprised of 169 members of Company 544 of the Military Police.

Unemployment Rate Increases In December

January 17, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The number of unemployed workers in December 2001 reached 128,000 people, which marks an increase of 12,000 individuals when compared to the 116,000 unemployed workers registered in December 2000, according to the Department of Labor and Human Resources.

The unemployment rate for December 2001 was 9.7%, and 8.9% in December 2000, according to published reports.

The decline in the employment rate for December 2001 when compared to the same month in 2000, is due mostly to a decrease of 12,500 jobs or 8.9% in the manufacturing industry, the lowest level in the past 21 years.

Fajardo's Attorney Seeks Cooperation Agreement

January 17, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Osvaldo Carlo, attorney of former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo, met again with officials from the U.S. District Attorney's Office in an attempt to land a cooperation agreement in the investigation against his client.

Carlo said Fajardo is offering his testimony under Rule 11 of the Criminal Proceeding, which establishes that his testimony may not be used against him.

"We are negotiating a possible collaboration agreement for my client. We are very satisfied with the treatment [we've received] from the U.S. District Attorney's Office," Carlo said.

However, the legal advisor didn't comment on the investigation against Fajardo.

Carlo noted that once a person gives his or her testimony under Rule 11, it is up to Acting U.S. District Attorney Guillermo Gil to decide who will be charged and for which charges.

Fajardo is suspected of accepting bribes while he was head of the Education Department during the past administration.

Island's Poverty Level Drops In Eight Years

January 16, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - The latest demographic studies of the U.S. Census Bureau revealed that poverty levels on the island dropped during the past eight years of former Gov. Pedro Rossello's administration, according to published reports.

The study showed that there were 498,937 poor children in 1997 between the ages of five and 17, which is less than the 552,423 in 1995, and the 570,512 in 1993.

The bureau's projections were that there would be 96,996 less children living in poverty levels between 1996 and 1999.

This type of statistic is used as a guide to allocate federal funds for special economic aid programs to poor families on the island.

Governor Keeps Quiet On Key Issues Regarding Her Government

January 16, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Following her participation in a breakfast prayer held Wednesday by members of the civil, political and religious sectors of the island, Gov. Sila Calderon refused to answer to the press on issues such as the sentencing of the Zenon fishermen and the government's alleged persecution plot against New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera.

"I won't invest my energies in answering political arguments. Everyone here in Puerto Rico wants a clean government and I will give Puerto Rico a clean government," said Calderon following her brief message during the morning event.

The governor also refused to explained why her government officials served as witnesses to the U.S. Attorney's Office in the trial against fisherman Carlos Zenon and his son Yabureibo, who were sentenced to six months in prison for trespassing on U.S. Navy restricted area in Vieques during military practices.

U.S. District Court Judge Jose A. Fuste imposed the highest sentence possible in such cases after examining the evidence presented by the U.S. Attorney's Office, mostly based on the testimonies and video footage taken by police sergeant Wilfredo Padilla and police office Luis Martinez, who chased the Zenons' fishing boat after the fishermen had trespassed on Navy restricted area.

Fisherman Given 6 Months for Protest

January 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- A federal judge sentenced a fisherman from the Puerto Rican island of Vieques to six months in prison Tuesday for trespassing with his speedboat on military waters to protest U.S. Navy bombing on the island.

The 180-day sentences given to Carlos Zenon, 65, head of an island fisherman's association and his 21-year-old son Yabureibo, were the longest handed down so far against Vieques protesters by federal courts in San Juan.

Hundreds of protesters were arrested last year on Vieques for trespassing on Navy lands. Fishermen, who say the bombing disrupts their livelihood, have played a large role in protests.

Pesquera Claims To Be Persecuted By The Government

January 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said he has been the target of a political persecution ordered by Gov. Sila Calderon's administration.

Pesquera didn't give details or present evidence to prove his accusations. However, he assured to have received confidential information from government officials pointing to that direction.

"It's true because I have evidence and I can prove it, but I won't do it because I want the people to reach their own conclusion of whether or not this administration is persecuting me," Pesquera said.

Pesquera said his intention was not to induce pity but to denounce a reality.

For her part, Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez denied Pesquera's allegation by saying that her agency is not investigating people for political reasons and that her personnel will continue doing their job.

On Monday, Rodriguez requested that a second special independent prosecutor be assigned to investigate former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo for allegedly accepting bribes. The Justice chief then assured to have evidence to prove that the money was intended to benefit the political campaign of the NPP. However, she refused to present such evidence.

Pesquera Demands Proof Of Accusations Against NPP

January 15, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera demanded that Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez present evidence to prove that the NPP benefited from bribes allegedly requested by former Education Secretary Victor Fajardo.

Visibly upset, Pesquera protested that the Justice Department is "staining the reputation" of the NPP by linking the party to new illegal acts.

Pesquera said during a press conference on Monday that he has no knowledge of Fajardo's alleged participation in raising funds for the NPP political campaign.

For his part, Fajardo refused to comment on the issue, as ordered by his attorneys.

Meanwhile, Gov. Sila Calderon described the alleged acts as "tragic and embarrassing," and assured that Rodriguez has strong evidence against Fajardo.

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