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Calderon Seeks Stronger Ties With US… Barea Right At Home For Huskies…Rivera Gonzalez: Go After Those Who Finance Drugs…USS Killen Report To Be Ready By Summer…Governor Holds SIP Responsible For Maribel Rodriguez Case

Governor Will Seek To Strengthen Ties With The US

December 24, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

Gov. Sila Calderon emphasized that her main objective for the coming new year will be to strengthen the political ties between PR and the US.

And, in an attempt to achieve this goal, she is willing to accept the "possibilities and limitations" which define the relationship while simultaneously seeking Puerto Rico's active participation in international affairs, Calderon stated in a press conference at La Fortaleza.

"My first responsibility as Governor of the Commonwealth is to guarantee that our relationship with the Congress and the Executive Branch of the United States is strengthened and that we concentrate on this task as much as possible... (because) it is for Puerto Rico's own good," she said.

"All negotiations which I, as Governor, or the Secretary of State can undertake to benefit Puerto Rico socially and economically, within the scope of our relationship as a Commonwealth and with all the possibilities and limitations that this relationship may have, will also take place," added the Governor.

The Calderon Administration's public policy regarding foreign relations has been aimed at "internationalizing" this US territory by means of its integration in international organizations and events. But Puerto Rico’s international and business relations, under US control since 1898, are subjected to the parameters of the North American federal government.

The ambitions of the present government suffered a severe setback at the 12th Ibero American Summit, held last November in the Dominican Republic, where the Governor was only able to participate as an observer.

Prior to the meeting of the heads of state, their foreign ministers agreed that Puerto Rico should not be considered a traditionally Ibero American state, although it can establish cooperative relations with the regional countries.

On that occasion, the Dominican foreign minister, Hugo Tolentino Dipp, explained that "even its status as a special guest shall depend on the countries hosting" the next summits.

On the other hand, Calderón defended the relationship between Puerto Rico and the United States and affirmed that, thanks to the "society" which exists between them, the solution to the departure of the US Navy from Vieques was attained.

The Chief Executive was confident that the military would leave the small Puerto Rican island, used as a polygon site since the '40s, even as the United States is embarking upon the possibility of war with Iraq.

"I’m convinced that this (the withdrawal of the Navy from Vieques) will come about. It is a compromise and a resolution made by the President of the United States, and there is no reason why I should doubt that this will take place," the Governor pointed out.

Barea Right At Home For Huskies

December 24, 2002
Copyright © 2002 BOSTON GLOBE. All rights reserved.

Jose Juan Barea scored 18 points, and Aaron Davis's 3-pointer with 1:51 left completed Northeastern's comeback as the Huskies defeated James Madison, 69-66, [Sunday] for fifth place in the San Juan Shootout in Caguas, Puerto Rico.

Davis's shot from the left wing made it 68-66 in favor of the Huskies (5-5), who had trailed by 13 points with 11:32 left. James Madison (4-5) had two turnovers and two missed shots after that.

Barea, a freshman from Puerto Rico, led Northeastern in scoring for the third straight game. Sylbrin Robinson had 16 points and 10 rebounds, his second straight double double.

Northeastern got within 1 (66-65) when Robinson passed to Cornellius Wright, streaked down the lane, and got the ball back for a layup. He was fouled and made the free throw. David Fanning then lost the ball out of bounds, and Davis hit the go-ahead 3-pointer.

New Police Chief Says Anti-Drug Fight Must Go After Those Who Finance Trafficking

December 23, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) - Anti-drug efforts in Puerto Rico should focus more on those who finance trafficking and less on addicts and street-corner dealers, the island's newly appointed police chief said.

Police Superintendent Victor Rivera Gonzalez said Monday that for years authorities have aimed anti-drug operations at arresting addicts and street vendors instead of going after those who finance smuggling.

"We are more than anything getting to those who consume or those who sell to buy and consume," Rivera told the Puerto Rican radio station WUNO. "Instead of attacking just consumption, we have to attack financing."

Gov. Sila Calderon named Rivera to the post of police superintendent last week to take the place of Miguel Pereira, who assumed Rivera's old job of corrections and rehabilitation secretary.

While Rivera didn't go into details about how police will go after suspected drug traffickers, he said there are people throughout the island who police suspect have become millionaires by dealing in drugs.

There have been 756 slayings reported this year in the U.S. Caribbean territory of 3.9 million people, and police say much of the violence stems from drugs.

Rivera said drug addiction is a problem best addressed with treatment. He said drug addicts need "attention, guidance and rehabilitation."

Report On USS Killen To Be Ready By Summer

December 22, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) - Local Justice Department officials said they hope the report on the possible environmental damages of the sunken military vessel USS Killen in Vieques will be ready by summer.

According to published reports, Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez said the agency hired expert James Barton to perform the $150,000 investigation.

Barton is a former U.S. Navy official who founded a company to remove unexploded amunitions, Rodriguez said.

The USS Killen sank in 1958 during military practices in Vieques.

A local legislative study has already concluded that the vessel's presence could pose an environmental threat, as it contains dozens of barrels onboard.

Governor Holds SIP Responsible For Maribel Rodriguez Case

December 21, 2002
Copyright © 2002 ASSOCIATED PRESS. All rights reserved.

SAN JUAN (AP) — Gov. Sila Calderon on Friday held Special Independent Prosecutor (SIP) Ruben Guzman responsible for the errors in procedures in the filing of charges against former Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Maribel Rodriguez, which ended with the dismissal of the charges.

Calderon exempted Justice Secretary Anabelle Rodriguez of possible negligence in the referral to the SIP.

San Juan Superior Court Judge Heriberto Sepulveda on Wednesday dismissed the charges against Rodriguez because the process lacked the sworn declarations required by the SIP law.

"I do not believe that there was a mistake by Justice Department officials. The responsibility was in the hands of the SIP, and it is the SIP who takes the case to the court," said Calderon, insisting on her belief that the Justice Department could not do anything in the case.

The governor indicated that the Justice department cannot file cases against public officials because the responsibility–according to the law–is delegated on the SIP to prevent political conflicts in the judicial processes.

Calderon seemed to suggest that the lack of jurisdiction from the Justice Department to file some cases is what moved the Justice secretary to propose amendments to the SIP law or its repeal.

The governor, however, declined to comment about the possible changes to the SIP law.

"We have to give this some thought," Calderon said.

"I do not think it would be correct to give my opinion without having evaluated the matter," the governor said.

The Justice secretary has been criticized not only for the dismissal of Rodriguez’s case, but for her decision of sending back to the State Elections Commission (SEC) the referral made by SEC President Aurelio Gracia regarding the investigation of the financial reports of 16 legislators.

Calderon said, however, that she has the utmost respect for Rodriguez’s work.

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