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4 Protesters Detained

Calderon: No Further Comment

Arrest Masked People

Demonstrators To Show Support For The Military

Governor May Act To Clear Her Name

Protesters Take It Easy

Senate To Investigate Offshore Accounts

Vieques Exercises Justified

Four Detained After Breaking Into Navy Land On Vieques

April 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) - Military police used pepper spray against a crowd of rock-throwing demonstrators Thursday as officers handcuffed and detained four protesters who broke onto restricted U.S. Navy land.

The clashes occurred on Vieques as the cruisers USS Arthur W. Radford and USS Mahan conducted ship-to-shore exercises during the fourth day of Navy war maneuvers.

Since the exercises began Monday, nine people have been detained, including Thursday's detentions.

While the four protesters were being arrested Thursday, another group began throwing rocks at military police, who in turn used pepper spray to disperse the crown, said Sixto Escobar, a Navy spokesman.

The arrests were also confirmed by Robert Rabin, of the Comite Pro Rescate y Desarrollo de Vieques, who alleged that the demonstrators in the civil area were only conducting a peaceful support activity when the gases were launched, which also affected half a dozen journalists that were present.

Rabin identified those arrested as former Museo del Barrio Director in New York Petra Barreras Del Rio, 49; retired worker Juan Ramon Cruz Perez, 66; retired legal secretary Emma Velez Hernandez, 69; and secretary Violeta Vega Rios, 50.

Governor Declines To Further Comment On Charges

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

April 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

SAN LORENZO – Gov. Sila Calderon declined Thursday to further comment on the allegations being made against her in recent days and accused unidentified "big forces" working against her as the ones responsible for all the imputations.

The governor affirmed that she has said all she knows and that she has made an "extraordinary" effort to answer all the allegations made during the past weeks. She added that there are forces working against her administration that should be held responsible.

"Obviously there some big forces in the island that are trying to divert the path I must follow and what I have to do, which is to govern Puerto Rico," Calderon said.

Calderon, however, declined to identify who are the "big forces" behind the allegations but said they are also the ones that are "behind all the corruption problems" on the island.

The governor has been in the spotlight this week following allegations that she is the subject of an investigation by Spanish authorities

"I have already expressed myself in regards to all the false allegations being made against me. I have nothing else to say; I already said all I have to say," Calderon said.

The governor issued a written statement Tuesday describing the allegation made by political analyst Juan Manuel Garcia Passalacqua as "defamatory" and as part of his "sick obsession."

Calderon also denied having off shore banking accounts or having any business relations with the Bilbao Vizcaya Bank of Spain.

In related matters, Calderon said it was Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez’s initiative to request Spanish Magistrate Baltasar Garzon to clarify that neither her nor Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Ramon Cantero Frau are the objects of the money-laundering investigation being conducted by him on the island.

Rodriguez later acknowledged that she issued such letter and said her intervention is based on her ministerial duty as Justice secretary of the Commonwealth and affirmed that she see nothing inappropriate with her action.

Calderon Orders Pereira To Arrest Masked People

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

April 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

SAN LORENZO – Gov. Sila Calderon ordered Police Superintendent Miguel Pereira on Thursday to arrest all masked people "whose intentions seem to be of breaking the law" in Vieques.

Arguing that she is not a police agent, the governor could not explain what would be the criteria used to determine when one of such demonstrators was breaking the law or what charges would be filed against them.

"I am not a police agent. That is to be determined by them," Calderon said.

Calderon’s order comes one day after a group of masked men, known as the "Encapuchados," held a press conference in Vieques to announce that they are ready to face the U.S. Navy in order to accomplish their "civil disobedience" agenda.

She added that she talks to Pereira every day to discuss any incidents that might have occurred in Vieques, where the Navy has resumed military practices and anti-Navy groups are protesting.

The governor made her statements following a chat with students from the Maria Cruz Buitrago High School on the Education Department’s initiative to implement mandatory ethics courses.

Pro-Navy Demonstrators To Show Support For The Military

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

April 3rd, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

VIEQUES — Pro-Navy followers in this island municipality will meet on Saturday at Palma Real sector in a solidarity act with the presence of the military this municipality, group leader Luis Sanchez said Wednesday.

Although the presence of other pro-Navy leaders from the big island, such as New Progressive Party (NPP) Sen. Miriam Ramirez De Ferrer has not been confirmed it is most likely that the senator will assist, Sanchez said.

"We talk all the time and I have no doubt that she will be more than willing to come to our activity," Sanchez said.

The Navy civilian employee, who is also a minister meet the press on Wednesday at his Barrio Lujan home a top a hill overlooking Camp Garcia.

Standing next to the American flag Sanchez affirmed his position in favor of the Navy presence.

"We will continue to fight in favor of the presence and permanency of the U.S. Navy in Puerto Rico that has been and will continue to be our goal," Sanchez said.

Sanchez who had been in the hospital, recovering from an illness he declined to identify, until Tuesday, said he was surprised by the fact that two fellow pro—Navy activist were treated on Monday during a demonstration outside Camp Garcia.

The incident, which turned violent, occurred outside Camp Garcia when two members of the Statehood Reborn movement carrying an American flag arrived in the area in front of the Justice and Peace Camp to demonstrate their support for the presence of the Navy in the island municipality.

The duo presence was seen as a "provocation" by those who since the accidental death by a bomb of civilian David Sanes in April 1999 have formed camps, in opposition of the Navy presence, in the area.

Minutes after his arrival and just after movement leader Jose Julio Diaz had accepted a Vieques flag, anti-Navy demonstrators walked toward the duo and demanded they leave the area.

When Diaz, and his companion who declined to identify himself, refused to leave the area anti-navy demonstrators confronted the duo and in their discussion hit Diaz with their fist, making him fall to the ground and loose grab of the American flag, which was taken out of his hands and thrown in the air.

"They (anti-Navy) leaders talk about peace and claim that it what they are seeking but they are doing exactly the opposite seeking war," Sanchez said.

The leader however, was reluctant to say if he would have joined them, had he been out of the hospital.

Calderon Does Not Rule Out Efforts To Clean Her Image

April 3rd, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila M. Calderon did not rule out Wednesday the possibility of taking action to clean her image after the accusations made by political analyst Juan Manuel Garcia Passalacqua, who alleges the governor and her family corporations has entailed in illegal banking transactions.

Although Calderon denied she had asked the White House or the Spanish Embassy to refute that she is being investigated in the fraud case against the Bilbao Vizcaya Bank, she did not rule out to do it in a near future.

"I have not made any request to the White House, I have not made any request to the Embassy (Spain). Any other matter concerning this issue, I will make it public at the right moment," said Calderon.

Faced by repeated questions from the press about this issue, Calderon said the efforts would not be with the Spanish government.

Calderon added that she does not know anybody who has been investigated as part of a money laundering scheme, which is being investigated by Spanish Judge Baltasar Garzon.

On Tuesday, Calderon denied the accusations regarding her alleged participation in illegal banking transactions between her family corporations and offshore banks and described them as "defamatory" and "as part of a sick obsession of those who oppose her government and her priorities."

Calderon also denied ever having offshore bank accounts with Banco Bilbao Vizcaya or having used her family corporations to perform illegal transferring of funds.

The governor also denied in a prepared statement that her family corporations had been at some time clients of Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Ramon Cantero Frau, or of his businesses, or of having jointly participated in illegal transferring of funds.

"The mere fact of occupying public posts cannot expose decent people to this type of infamy," Calderon said in a prepared statement.

Cantero Frau for his part, described the political analyst’s comments as "slander."

"Those statements are totally false," said the former BBV executive, while adding that they are a "product of a sick mind."

Asked if he knew of an investigation in relation to offshore bank accounts, Cantero Frau answered that he didn’t.

"I don’t have any idea. I can assure you that these people are not investigating because it is totally false," said the Economic Development and Commerce secretary in a TV interview Tuesday.

Protesters Take It Easy This Time

By Proviana Colon Diaz of WOW News

April 3rd, 2002
Copyright © 2002
WOW News. All rights reserved.  

VIEQUES — The new round of U.S. Navy maneuvers that began Monday on this island municipality has continued as scheduled with no sign of trespassers at the firing range.

Contrary to previous rounds of military practices in which prominent local and international figures came to the island to engage in acts of civil disobedience, neither them nor common citizens have attempted to halt the maneuvers by trespassing on the Navy’s restricted land.

The number of demonstrators standing outside the camp is also considerably lower than in previous practices, such as the ones carried out in April last year.

Passing through the area, the number of state police officers is three times that of demonstrators.

One of the camps, that of the Carolina Giants, lead by Popular Democratic Party Carolina mayor Jose Aponte, has remained closed with no signs of opening soon.

As of Wednesday morning, only five female members of the Puerto Rican Independence Party, had been detained by military authorities for trespassing. The group, however, was inside federal ground for only a couple of hours, prior to the resumption of the practices, and was arrested in broad daylight, on the road bordering Camp Garcia in front of reporters.

On Tuesday residents of the Monte Carmelo community, a sector located on what is still considered to be Navy property, claimed that a group of over ten people had broken into Camp Garcia. The group is prepared to survive for five days in hiding, according to resident Miguel Angel Reyes.

Reyes urged Vieques Special Commissioner Juan R. Fernandez to alert the Navy of the group’s presence and to order the halt of the military training.

Nonetheless, Fernandez was quick to point out that he has no authority to do that and that the maneuvers will continue unless someone is spotted within the firing range.

U.S. Navy public affairs officer Lt. Comm. Katherine Goode confirmed later in the afternoon that no trespassers had been spotted at the range.

Goode added that ship-to-shore exercises have been performed as scheduled and that the U.S.S. Barry and U.S.S. Monterey aircraft carriers were used in the practices.

Meanwhile, representatives of Committee for the Rescue and Development of Vieques (CRDV) insist that groups of trespassers have been formed and are ready to enter the firing zone.

But contrary to previous times, the alleged trespassers weren’t identified.

CRDV spokeswoman Nilda Medina said their refusal to release the names is due to a change of strategy.

"Strategies change, the practices have just begun. I think there are people ready to go in. What happens is that using one’s experience, we wait until the most important moment of the practices to use our people," Medina said.

Fellow spokesman Robert Rabin however, acknowledged that it has been difficult to recruit international figures for this round of military practices, the first since the terrorist attacks of September 11.

"There are many people in the United States that at this time are less capable of supporting civil disobedience," Rabin said.

On the other hand, Guatemalan Nobel Peace Prize Winner Rigorberta Menchu is expected to visit Vieques next week, but has declined to trespass on Navy land.

Senate To Investigate Offshore-Banking Accounts

April 2nd, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — The Puerto Rico Senate will investigate the operations, contributions, and incorporations of the international banking entities that operate in Puerto Rico, officials informed Tuesday.

The investigation is requested in the midst of a public discussion over the use of this financial tool by important island personalities to evade taxes and for electoral campaign financing.

Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Roberto Vigoreaux, who chairs the Senate Banking and Consumer Affairs Committee, informed that the committee’s perception is that neither the International Banking Center Regulatory Law nor the amendments made to it has produced the expected results.

The legislator reminded that the aforementioned 1989 law was approved to attract to the island the most important financing services companies, including commercial banking, deposits, granting loans, emission and negotiation of credit notes generally granted to non resident individuals, stocks investments, insurance, financial services, management, and information services, among others.

Vigoreaux said the committee wants to investigate if the credit resources and jobs are being produced and if it is serving to give the island a name within the international markets with efficiency, integrity, and professionalism.

"It is the Senate Banking and Consumer Affairs Committee’s perception that neither that law nor the amendments that have been made to it have produced significant results," the legislator said in a press release where he informs of the filing of the investigative resolution.

The PDP legislator also said those banks are exempt of taxes from dividends, interests, and financial charges paid to non resident individuals or foreign corporation, including retention taxes and federal tax exemptions.

Navy Justifies Need To Practice In Vieques

April 2nd, 2002
Copyright © 2002
The Associated Press. All rights reserved.  

SAN JUAN (AP) — The U.S. Navy claimed before the U.S. District Court that the military practices that resumed Monday on the island municipality of Vieques are intended to train soldiers "for the war against terrorism" and requested the dismissal of the case against them filed by Vieques Mayor Damaso Serrano.

"The battle group doesn’t have any alternate site where it can conduct its critical combat training other than Vieques. Halting the training exercises is a great risk for the achievement of the battle group while it deploys, and certainly a risk for losing American lives in combat operations," read the 27-page-long petition filed by the Navy.

According to published reports, the naval group also alleged that Serrano’s cause should be dismissed because the military group has sovereign immunity, and the plaintiffs "failed to identify some juridical base applicable to the immunity."

The Navy said Serrano only challenged that immunity based on the result of the local referendum where 68% of the population voted in favor of the immediate cease of the maneuvers. The Navy noted in its motion that "this referendum doesn’t obligate."

In regards to the arguments stated in Serrano’s lawsuit claiming that the Navy violated the Coastal Zone Management Act, the military group alleged that it isn’t true, and only the Environmental Quality Board has the power to evaluate the compatibility of the federal activities that directly or indirectly affect the coastal zone of Puerto Rico.

Also, the Navy alleged that the plaintiff failed in establishing that there would be irreparable damages if the bombing continues, citing that the National Marine and Fishing Service concluded March 29 that they didn’t "anticipate damages, wounds, or deaths to any species" under their jurisdiction.

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