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Pesquera Confident Of NPP Candidacy For Governor…UPR, NY Universities Seek Minority Graduate Students…Governor: Vieques Negotiations Continue, Tells Obstetricians To Take On New Cases…Navy Won’t Act Against La Yayi Cay Protesters… COPA To Intercede In Vieques…Comptroller: Calderon’s Trying To Undermine My Credibility

Pesquera Confidant Of His NPP Candidacy For Governor

December 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – New Progressive Party (NPP) President Carlos Pesquera said Wednesday that he does not fear a primary for the gubernatorial post and affirmed that he is confident in prevailing as the NPP candidate for 2004.

Pesquera’s statements were made as statements are coming to light from members of his party, such as Sen. Miriam Ramirez, that there are at least five people who might be considering running for the NPP gubernatorial post in the next elections.

Other NPP leaders like Carlos Romero Barcelo have stated on several occasions that it is too early to categorically affirm who is the party’s candidate.

"It doesn’t matter if there are primaries; we are going to prevail. I have no fear," said Pesquera in a radio interview, in which he said under his leadership, the NPP is at present in the middle of a political reorganization and fundraising activities to cover operational costs.

He said as part of these works, the assemblies of the organizations inside the NPP, like the youth and public employees, are on agenda.

Pesquera insisted that he has work at all levels on his political agenda and "I frankly say that if there are primaries, I don’t fear it, and I assure you that we will prevail.

For some, the presidency of Pesquera is pending until the court case in which Pesquera and three other NPP leaders are charged with rioting regarding the incident at the Women’s Advocate Office in Old San Juan is resolved.

Among the names that are being mentioned as possible NPP gubernatorial candidates is lawyer and Puerto Rico Republic Party leader Luis Fortuño, who has said he supports Pesquera.

Others have mentioned that former Gov. Pedro Rossello could move at the last minute to Puerto Rico, where he has his permanent residence, to aspire again for the governor’s post under the NPP.

UPR, NY Universities Seek Minority Graduate Students

December 4, 2002
Copyright © 2002 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved.

Three upstate New York universities have formed an alliance with the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez to enroll more minority students in graduate programs and to produce more minority professors. The alliance, which involves Cornell University in Ithaca, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy and Syracuse University, is supported by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

The universities will jointly recruit graduate students from predominantly minority colleges, offer summer programs for prospective graduate students and offer multiyear aid packages to minority students interested in science, mathematics and engineering. The goal is to recruit 75 to 100 doctoral candidates in science, mathematics and engineering annually to each of the four universities, starting next fall.

Navy Negotiations Continue

December 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – After referring to Vieques as "a seagull that has begun to fly and fly high it will," Gov. Sila Calderon affirmed Tuesday that the negotiations between the local government and the U.S. Navy for the end of military maneuvers in Vieques continues.

However, Calderon refused to specify just how high these conversations will go, preferring to limit her comments, for now, until military exercises cease.

"Our objective at this time is to cease all military exercises. The second objective is to finalize a clean-up plan, and the third objective is to determine what will happen with the land. For now, we will address each issue one by one, while continuing to focus on our first objective," Calderon said in a press conference.

The governor also said she was confident that President George Bush will honor his word of ending military maneuvers on the island municipality by May 2003.

"Conversations between local government representatives and the Navy have continued. I feel confidant that we’ll be successful and that the president will honor his word," Calderon added.

Calderon Urges Obstetricians To Take On New Pregnancy Cases

By Melissa B. Gonzalez Valentin of WOW News

December 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 WOW NEWS. All rights reserved.

Following an intense dispute among obstetricians and government officials that ended with the commitment of both parties to find a solution to the crisis that drove many doctors to refrain from treating newly pregnant women, Gov. Sila Calderon called for the normalization of these services.

"I want to join the president of the Puerto Rico Doctor’s Association to urge obstetricians and gynecologists to treat pregnant women, since after all, that’s what they swore they would do," the governor said.

On Monday, La Fortaleza officials agreed to file a bill to create a balance to prevent frivolous lawsuits against local obstetricians.

"I feel satisfied with the work jointly done by medical leaders with the chief of staff and my team rendering the decisions made yesterday," the governor said.

Obstetricians are still pushing for the establishment of a cap on patients’ compensations for emotional damages in malpractice lawsuits and lowering the statute of limitations from 22 years, during which time patients can sue their doctor for any damages resulting from medical negligence during and after birth.

"The government and the private medical sector must comply with our obligation because pregnant women and their unborn children are what really matters here," Calderon added.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Johnny Rullan has also said he’s satisfied with the agreement.

"This benefits the patients because doctors can work with peace of mind while not having to surrender their rights. Those who would not benefit from the measures are those who continue to file frivolous lawsuits. The arbitration board will support anyone with a real lawsuit," he said in a radio interview.

The crisis with obstetricians surged when the premiums doctors had to pay for insurance against malpractice lawsuits became too expensive and the insurance became more limited.

Navy Will Not Act Against Protesters At La Yayi Cay

December 3, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – U.S. Navy spokeswoman Ligia Cohen said the military corps will not act for now against the protesters who set up camp on La Yayi Cay in Vieques on Saturday.

The cay is located close to a beach that the Navy uses during military practices in the island municipality. During those periods, the cay is classified as a "dangerous zone."

Cohen said in published reports that they will not act because the cay is not on Navy land. However, she declined to say what would happen if practices resume.

"It is not on our land. We have nothing more to say on that matter," Cohen said.

Hector Olivieri, spokesman for the activists who took over La Yayi Cay, said two or three people enter the target range every night and are relieved periodically so there is a constant presence "until the Navy leaves Vieques."

Las Americas Parliaments To Intercede In Favor Of Vieques

December 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Members of the Las Americas Parliamentary Confederation (COPA by its Spanish acronym) agreed to ask the U.S. government to honor its commitment for the cessation of military maneuvers in Vieques by May 2003.

COPA members also requested the U.S. not to perform a new round of maneuvers in the Vieques target range, to prevent possible harm to the island residents, according to Senate President Antonio Fas Alzamora, who described the agreement as one of the most important in the fight against the military maneuvers in Vieques.

Fas Alzamora said that copies of the resolution will be sent to the U.S. President George W. Bush and to Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Calderon.

The parliamentary meeting was held this weekend in Mexico.

Comptroller: Officials Are Trying To Undermine My Credibility

December 2, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) – Puerto Rico Comptroller Manuel Diaz Saldaña said on Monday that Gov. Sila Calderon’s administration is trying to undermine his credibility.

"I think this is one of the strategies, they are trying to confuse people, trying to undermine the people’s confidence in the Comptroller’s office and myself," Diaz Saldaña said in a radio interview.

However, according to the official, nothing will divert him from continuing his fight against government corruption.

"I have been the first comptroller to take cases to court... the first to send the message that we have to fight corruption, and I have taken to the federal authorities all the information available to help indict any person who has betrayed the people’s confidence," he added.

Last week, New Progressive Party President (NPP) Carlos Pesquera defended Diaz Saldaña by stating that Calderon and her cabinet were trying to discredit the Comptroller to undermine the comptroller’s office's credibility and the audits that have to do with Popular Democratic Party (PDP) leaders.

Pesquera’s statements were made after Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Ramon Cantero Frau said Diaz Saldaña should resign his post because of his alleged participation in the granting of contracts regarding the construction of the North East Super Aqueduct, which is being investigated by federal officials.

The comptroller was summoned to testify before a grand jury, investigating the megaproject developed by the past administration.

Calderon, for her part, has described any statements regarding the issue as premature.

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