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miércoles, 16 de diciembre de 2009

COMISIONADO RESIDENTE DA LA BIENVENIDA A MIEMBROS DEL GRUPO DE TRABAJO DE CASA BLANCA

Image and video hosting by TinyPic WASHINGTON, DC-El Comisionado Residente en Washington, Pedro Pierluisi, emitió las siguientes declaraciones en reacción a la designación de los miembros del Grupo de Trabajo sobre Puerto Rico de la Casa Blanca: “Luego de un primer año de administración en el que hemos recibido un apoyo incondicional de la Casa Blanca ante los serios retos económicos que enfrentamos, el establecimiento de este grupo de trabajo no puede ser más oportuno. Ahora continuaremos buscando mayores recursos y nuevas iniciativas federales para mejorar la calidad de vida en la Isla, contando con el apoyo de funcionarios específicamente designados para asistirnos en todas las agencias importantes del gobierno federal. El Grupo de Trabajo para Puerto Rico nombrado por el Presidente Obama tendrá todo mi respaldo y cooperación en el descargo de sus responsabilidades. Estoy seguro de que como co-presidenta del Grupo de Trabajo, la directora de la Oficina de Asuntos Intergubernamentales de la Casa Blanca, Cecilia Muñoz, continuará siendo una excelente propulsora de la agenda de progreso que todos queremos para Puerto Rico”. El Presidente Obama promulgó una orden ejecutiva el 30 de octubre, 2009 para que el Grupo de Trabajo conserve su misión original y emita consejos y recomendaciones al Presidente y el Congreso en torno a medidas de política pública para promover la generación de empleo, educación, cuidado de salud, energía limpia y desarrollo económico en la isla. Listado de miembros del Grupo de Trabajo Grupo de Trabajo- Copresidentes Casa Blanca, Cecilia Muñoz, directora de asuntos intergubernamentales de la Casa Blanca Departamento de Justicia, Tom Perrelli, fiscal general adjunto Miembros Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos, Paul Dioguardi, director de asuntos intergubernamentales Departamento de Transporte, Joanna Turner, subsecretaria adjunta de asuntos intergubernamentales Agencia de Protección Ambiental, Judith Enck, administradora de la región 2 Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano, Mercedes Márquez, secretaria adjunta de planificación comunitaria y desarrollo Departamento de Educación, Eric Waldo, asesor especial del secretario Departamento de Agricultura, Tammye Treviño, administradora del Servicio de Vivienda Rural Departamento del Interior, Anthony Babauta, secretario adjunto del Interior para asuntos insulares Departamento de Trabajo, Gabriella Lemus, asesora principal y directora de la Oficina de Participación Pública Departamento de Energía, Joe García, director de la Oficina de Impacto Económico Departamento de Defensa, Patrick O'Brien, director de la Oficina de Ajuste Económico Consejo de Asesores Económicos, Cecilia Rouse, miembro Departamento de Comercio, Rick Wade, subjefe de gabinete Departamento de Asuntos de Veteranos, Langley Koby, asesor especial del secretario Departamento del Tesoro, Matthew Kabaker, finanzas nacionales Departamento de Estado, Julissa Reynoso, subsecretaria adjunta de Asuntos del Hemisferio Occidental Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, Juliette Kayyem, secretaria adjunta de programas intergubernamentales

viernes, 11 de diciembre de 2009

PPD impugnaria plebiscito en los tribunales

Image and video hosting by TinyPic CyberNews PONCE– El presidente de la Comisión de Asuntos Federales del Partido Popular Democrático (PPD), José Alfredo Hernández Mayoral, recomendó al liderato de la colectividad discutir con claridad el tema del status ante la posible necesidad de enfrentarse a un proyecto local para celebrar un plebiscito tras la inacción del Congreso en atender la propuesta del comisionado residente, Pedro Pierluisi. Hernández Mayoral supuso que un plebiscito de origen estatal sobre el status de Puerto Rico sería impugnado ante los tribunales, pero señaló que para ello el PPD debe definir su posición. “Mientras más claramente esté discutido el tema del status y más claro esté definido el asunto, más fácil es hacerle frente a un proyecto, porque una de las alternativas aquí es una impugnación judicial que es mucho más fácil si la posición del partido está claramente establecida”, dijo en entrevista con una emisora radial del sur (WPAB). Asimismo, destacó que el proceso judicial sería más complicado si el liderato del Partido Nuevo Progresista adopta lo esbozado ante los delegados de los territorios en la Comisión de Recursos Naturales de la Cámara de Representantes, de que la propuesta de consulta de status está basada en la plataforma de gobierno del Partido Popular Democrático. “En ese contexto, al día de hoy, como el partido no ha adoptado por resolución ninguna aclaración, con eso es que uno se va a enfrentar si es que se lleva una impugnación judicial. Así es que la discusión todavía está a tiempo para fines de hacerle frente al proceso”, sostuvo. Entretanto, comentó que a principios de 2010 se comenzará a ver el proceso de legislación local, aunque anticipó que el proyecto presentado en la Isla no necesariamente será uno de consenso como ha sugerido el presidente del Senado, Thomas Rivera Schatz. “Aunque Rivera Schatz dijo que iba a escuchar a todos los sectores, no creo que eso se traduzca en que va a presentar una medida con la que estén conforme todos los sectores. Yo creo que él va a presentar el proyecto de Pierluisi un poquito más envenenado, no importa la fuerza de los argumentos de la oposición de que el proceso no es uno justo”, expuso. De otra parte, pareció descartar el que se incentive el retraimiento del electorado por considera que en el sistema americano no es una opción del todo exitosa. “El retraimiento funciona tal vez el culturas europeas o latinas. En la americana no funciona. Este es un pueblo acostumbrado a participaciones escazas en los procesos electorales y por lo tanto con el retraimiento te corres el riesgo de que lo que produce es una victoria masiva de la otra parte”, subrayó. Concluyó diciendo que la alternativa es mucho más complicada que una impugnación del proceso.

jueves, 10 de diciembre de 2009

Sindicato presiona para que no se apruebe el proyecto de status HR 2499

Image and video hosting by TinyPic R@S WASHINGTON – La probabilidad de que el proyecto H.R. 2499 sobre el status político de Puerto Rico sea llevado a votación este año en el pleno de la Cámara de Representantes de la Nacion, se esfuman. Y es que fuentes del Congreso sostienen que la presión del sindicato SEIU puede haber contribuido a frenar el avance del proyecto H.R. 2499. Esto pudiera responder al $masivo$ apoyo que este sindicato le dio al partido democrata en las pasadas elecciones, o podria estar vinculado directamente con los recientes señalamientos de intromision indebida del consulado venezolano en PR y la reunion que tuvo el Presidente de Venezuela Hugo Chavez en su embajada en New York con lideres de sindicatos y uniones puertorriqueñas en donde Chavez les dijo......

..... Los proximos 10 años seran decisivos, me siento optimista y les pido a ustedes que tambien lo esten, pero tenemos que luchar fuerte. Esa lucha incluye que Puerto Rico se convierta en una republica independiente. Quien dijo que la historia termino? La historia a comenzado. Algun dia Puerto Rico debe ser una republica. Hugo Chavez 23/septimbre/2009
Que otra razon podria motivar la accion de este sindicato? Por el momento solo ellos lo saben.

miércoles, 9 de diciembre de 2009

Principales partidos políticos apoyan celebración de consulta de status local

Image and video hosting by TinyPic AP SAN JUAN- Aunque con sus respectivas condiciones, líderes de los tres principales partidos políticos apoyaron el martes la celebración de una consulta de status local ante la posibilidad de que no prospere en el Congreso estadounidense el proyecto sobre el futuro político de la Isla presentado por el comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi. La principal inquietud expresada por líderes de los partidos Nuevo Progresista (PNP), Popular Democrático e Independentista Puertorriqueño (PIP) es que los esfuerzos que surjan para celebrar un referéndum a nivel local redunden en un proyecto de consenso que incluya cada una de las principales ideologías políticas. A esos efectos, el presidente del Senado, Thomas Rivera Schatz, aseguró que buscará agrupar a todo el liderato estadista, autonomista e independentista para defender la celebración de la consulta sobre el status. "Como estadista, voy a promover lo que es la razón de mi partido y desde la perspectiva legislativa instrumentaremos un mecanismo para viabilizar la expresión democrática de nuestro pueblo", dijo el líder senatorial en un comunicado. Indicó que procurará reunirse con el gobernador y presidente del PNP, Luis Fortuño, para desarrollar ``una estrategia inteligente y efectiva'' que agrupe a los líderes de las tres opciones de status. De igual forma, el dirigente popular, Héctor Ferrer, hizo un llamado a elaborar un proyecto de consenso. "Que nos sentemos el liderato del país con las tres fórmulas históricas en el país y podamos presentar un proyecto que sea cónsono con la exigencia de cada una de las partes, incluyendo al Estado Libre Asociado", propuso en entrevista radial (WSKN). A juicio de Ferrer, los estadistas tienen miedo de incluir al ELA en una consulta de status junto a las otras dos opciones. "En una votación estadidad, Estado Libre Asociado e independencia, el Estado Libre Asociado gana como quiera... y el problema que tienen los estadistas es que no se atreven a ir a un plebiscito 'estadidad sí o no'", manifestó. El PIP, por su parte, condicionó su apoyo al proceso a que sea una consulta que, a su juicio, adelante la ideología separatista. "El Partido Independentista Puertorriqueño utilizará el criterio que ha utilizado históricamente: si es un proceso que promueve la descolonización y sirve para adelantar la independencia, nosotros participaríamos en el mismo", indicó a Prensa Asociada el comisionado electoral Juan Dalmau. Aclaró, no obstante, que "como en estos momentos hay un planteamiento genérico y no se ha presentado algo concreto que podamos evaluar, no podemos adelantar criterio alguno". Dalmau recordó que desde que Pierluisi radicó un proyecto de status en el Congreso, el PIP advirtió que la medida, como estaba redactada, no iría a ninguna parte por la oposición que existe en Estados Unidos a hacer alguna oferta de estadidad a la Isla. El Comisionado Residente en Washington pronosticó que en el 2010 habrá una consulta en torno al futuro político de la Isla, con o sin el aval congresional. Para Pierluisi, si su legislación de status no se aprueba antes del receso de Navidad, seguirá vigente en 2010, pero si no prospera en un tiempo razonable, su medida puede ser el modelo de un referéndum local regulado por la Legislatura de Puerto Rico.

domingo, 6 de diciembre de 2009

Luis Fortuño apoya teoria de Pedro Rossello

Image and video hosting by TinyPic CyberNews SAN JUAN – El gobernador Luis Fortuño pareció acoger el sábado, la teoría planteada inicialmente por el ex gobernador Pedro Rosselló, quien insistentemente ha defendido la idea de que el tema del status es un asunto de violación de derechos civiles. “Esto es un asunto de derechos civiles, que quede bien claro. Esto es un asunto que tiene que ver con cuatro millones de ciudadanos americanos que no gozamos de los mismos derechos que gozan los demás conciudadanos. Resolveríamos el asunto con meramente tomar un avión y mudarnos a Orlando, como lo han hecho tantos de nuestros compañeros y compañeras aquí en la Isla”, manifestó el Primer Ejecutivo. Según el también presidente del Partido Nuevo Progresista (PNP), siempre ha habido excusas para no atender el asunto del status, no obstante, Fortuño sostuvo que el Proyecto de Status HR 2499, presentado por el comisionado residente en Washington, Pedro Pierluisi, sería aprobado por el Congreso, si fuese bajado a votación en este momento. “El proyecto, de ir hoy (a votación) al hemiciclo de la Cámara, ganaría con una votación abrumadora. El liderato político en el Congreso –tanto Demócrata como Republicano- reconocen que es inmoral en el siglo XXI, mantener a cuatro millones de ciudadanos americanos en una condición territorial como en la que vivimos en Puerto Rico, donde nosotros no podemos gozar plenamente de los mismos derechos que gozaríamos con meramente tomar un avión e ir a Orlando”, sostuvo el Gobernador. El Primer Ejecutivo reiteró que es parte del compromiso programático del Partido Nuevo Progresista lograr que el Congreso estadounidense avale un proceso de consulta en el que los puertorriqueños decidan sobre su futuro político. Por su parte, Pierluisi reconoció que las probabilidades de que el proyecto sea considerado durante esta sesión legislativa son pobres, esto debido a que el tiempo restante para la consideración de proyectos es de apenas dos semanas. “Es cuestión de ver si hay espacio en el calendario. Ahora mismo hay como siete medidas de asignaciones pendientes que si se consolidan, entonces habría espacio y se podría bajar… Estoy en eso, esperando en turno, pero el panorama está bien”, dijo Pierluisi. El Comisionado Residente, hizo coro a lo manifestado por Fortuño al manifestar que el proyecto cuenta con los votos para su aprobación, en caso de ser presentada en el pleno de la Cámara Congresional Federal. Las expresiones de ambos líderes estadistas fueron hechas al finalizar la reunión mensual del Directorio del PNP, celebrada en la sede central de la colectividad.

jueves, 26 de noviembre de 2009

The Governor of Puerto Rico ... for President?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic NewsWeek Andrew Romano There are four kinds of candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Politicians like Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, and Tim Pawlenty belong in the sure-thing category; we know they'll be running because, well, they already are. Next come the wild cards: the headliners who haven't decided on anything yet ... except to keep their options open. Think Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich. Finally there are the long shots. Until now, I would've stocked the long-shot pool with gents like Bobby Jindal, John Thune, and Haley Barbour—prominent Republicans who occasionally inspire 2012 speculation but stand little chance of actually getting (or, for that matter, trying to get) the nod next time around. But late last week, Republican antitax activist Grover Norquist—a guy who, love him or hate him, is still pretty plugged into GOP power sources in Washington—stopped by the NEWSWEEK offices and dropped a name I'd never even heard before, let alone heard in the context of 2012: Luis Fortuño. I can imagine your reaction: "Um, who's that?" Or as Fortuño might put it, "Este, quién es ese?" Allow me, then, to introduce you. Fortuño is the governor of Puerto Rico, which, as you may have learned in fifth-grade social-studies class, is a United States commonwealth located to the east of the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Sea. Yes, Fortuño is a U.S. citizen. And, yes, he is a true-blue, Reagan- and National Review-loving member of the GOP—despite the liberal leanings of his native island, where "Republican" typically means pro-statehood rather than conservative. So while Fortuño can't vote in a U.S. presidential election, he can, in fact, run as a Republican in one. "He could pop up on the national level like that," said Norquist, snapping his fingers. "I’m very impressed with both his presentation and what he’s accomplished so far." Why is Norquist so fond of this unfamiliar face? For starters, Fortuño has proven to be a rather bold fiscal leader since assuming office last January. After discovering that Puerto Rico's deficit was four times greater than what he'd previously been told—at more than $3.2 billion, it's the highest per capita in the nation—he outlined a plan in March to cut spending by $2 billion per year and slash government payrolls by tens of thousands of workers. (In Puerto Rico, the government employs 30 percent of the workforce; another 30 percent rely on government contracts.) The idea was to chart a new economic future for the cash-strapped commonwealth by focusing on private-sector job creation—and so far, the plan is on track. Despite labor protests, Fortuño has trimmed approximately 20,000 government positions and, with the help of $6.5 billion in combined federal and local stimulus funds, has managed to create 17,000 new jobs in return (which, according to a recent analysis by The Christian Science Monitor, puts Puerto Rico third in the country behind Washington and Montana in terms of jobs created by the federal stimulus bill). Puerto Rico's unemployment rate—nearly 17 percent—is still staggeringly high. But Fortuño is effectively using Obama's bigger-government policies to move the commonwealth toward less bureaucracy, less spending, and more privatization. This is catnip for fiscal conservatives like Norquist. Blessed with a Republican legislature, Fortuño stands a good chance of passing other conservative reforms as well—reforms that could "all of sudden" gain him a national Republican audience, according to Norquist. These might include a school-choice bill ("a third of the population goes to private schools already") and a push to lower the top tax rate from 33 percent to 20 percent ("everybody who used to retire to Miami would retire to Puerto Rico"). Given that Fortuño is young (49), telegenic, well-educated (Georgetown; UVA Law), fluently bilingual, and a proven winner on Democratic turf—he was elected last November by the largest margin in 44 years and is the first Republican governor of Puerto Rico since 1969—it's not hard to see why Norquist is crushing on him. But ultimately, the most important thing about Fortuño may be that Norquist & Co. are mentioning his name at all—at least for now. Do I think a Puerto Rican will win the 2012 Republican nomination? Not really. And neither, I'm guessing, does Norquist. A party whose base is animated in part by its opposition to illegal immigration is probably not going to "import" someone, as it were, for the biggest job in the land. But in the age of Obama, the GOP is suffering from a serious dearth of credible minority leaders—people who can speak with authority to an increasingly multiethnic electorate. And the shortfall is especially glaring in regard to Latinos, who are the country's fastest-growing minority group (they represented 7.4 percent of the electorate in 2008, up from 6 percent in 2004 and 5.4 percent in 2000) but are trending heavily Democratic, despite their religious, family-first leanings (George W. Bush took 44 percent of the Latino vote in 2004 versus only 31 percent for John McCain in 2008). This is where Fortuño comes in. For Republicans, using Fortuño to fuel the eternal flame of 2012 speculation serves to make the GOP seem, at least, like a more welcoming place for Latinos—however whimsical his chances of reaching the White House currently are. "Our party needs growth among minorities," said one Republican Governors Association official earlier this year. "Then along comes a young, well-spoken Puerto Rican governor, and we've got a person who can help our party articulate why Hispanics and Latinos should fit into the GOP." Which is why, regardless of electoral reality, you can expect to keep hearing Fortuño's name from folks like Norquist—for the next three years and beyond. And who knows? One day, he may actually be a sure thing.

lunes, 23 de noviembre de 2009

Resolución para investigar actividades ministerio extranjero de Venezuela

Image and video hosting by TinyPic CyberNews San Juan - Como parte de su reunión anual llevada a cabo este pasado fin de semana el Comité Hispánico Nacional de Legisladores Estatales (NHCSL) aprobó una resolución donde piden al Congreso de Estados Unidos que soliciten al Departamento de Estado investigar las actividades del Ministerio Extranjero de Venezuela. La resolución detalla la evidencia documentada de la implicación del régimen de Hugo Chávez en la ayuda de las organizaciones terroristas tales como la FARC en Colombia y sus lazos con regímenes anti americanos tales como Irán. La resolución fue introducida por un grupo de dos partidos políticos. Estos fueron el portavoz de La Mayoría del Senado de Puerto Rico Roberto Arango, el representante por Georgia Pedro Marín y el representante del Estado de la Florida Juan Zapata. “Hugo Chávez cada vez más ha ignorado los derechos fundamentales de sus ciudadanos, que son la base de una democracia y se conceden bajo la Constitución de Venezuela la libertad de prensa y el derecho a la propiedad privada junto a otros derechos se están erosionando”, dijo el representante por Georgia. “Dentro de los Estados Unidos, Hugo Chávez está intentando influenciar los activistas políticos para llevar su agua. En Puerto Rico hay evidencia que apunta a que Chávez ha estado proporcionando financiamiento y otra ayuda a grupos anti-americanos que presentan una minoría minúscula en nuestra isla”, dijo por su parte el senador Arango De hecho, Arango agregó que el Departamento de Estado de Estados Unidos necesita tomar una postura más dinámica en la supervisión y la investigación de las acciones del Ministerio Extranjero Venezolano no solo en el exterior. “Hugo Chávez ha asumido el papel de Fidel Castro en promover actividades para minar elecciones y la democracia en América Latina y el Caribe. El régimen es una amenaza clara para nuestro país”, dijo de su lado el representante por el Estado de la Florida, Juan Zapata.

martes, 17 de noviembre de 2009

Advertencia de Fortuño a Chávez

Image and video hosting by TinyPic R@S El gobernador Luis Fortuño advirtió hoy al presidente de Venezuela Hugo Chávez que no permitirá que intervenga en los asuntos de Puerto Rico. El Primer Mandatario reaccionó ante la noticia y subrayó que es el pueblo puertorriqueño el que escoge su liderato y su status político. “Me preocupa que siga saliendo la información de posibilidad de intervención de afuera en asuntos que nos corresponde a nosotros decidir. Nosotros decidimos nuestro estatus, nosotros escogemos quiénes son nuestros gobernantes. No le corresponde a nadie fuera de Puerto Rico escoger por nosotros. Y no lo vamos a permitir”, dijo. El líder venezolano supuestamente ha indicado que tiene aliados para que Puerto Rico deje de ser colonia y se ha asegurado que existe evidencia de que el gobierno venezolano dirigido por Hugo Chávez, a través de su consulado en la Isla, ha estado aportando económicamente a figuras como el fenecido líder de Los Macheteros Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, al ambientalista Alberto de Jesús, conocido como Tito Kayak y al Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano (MINH).

Investigacion Federal en torno a ex consul venezolano en Puerto Rico

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Miami Herald JUAN O. TAMAYO Generalmente, los cónsules son diplomáticos de bajo rango que se ocupan de temas como las solicitudes de visas. Pero bajo el presidente Hugo Chávez, dos cónsules venezolanos en Estados Unidos han sido excepcionalmente visibles. Uno de ellos llamó la atención del Buró Federal de Investigaciones (FBI) por sus estrechos vínculos con los militantes puertorriqueños proindependentistas. Y otro suscitó preocupación por sus relaciones con una página en la internet que ha publicado varios ataques antisemitas. Chávez ha sido desde hace tiempo un exuberante promotor del Socialismo del Siglo XXI, atacando regularmente al "imperio''' de Estados Unidos y sus "lacayos'', como Colombia e Israel. Y su gobierno ha gastado decenas de millones de dólares vendiendo esa visión en el exterior. Pero, en ocasiones, sus enviados parecen olvidar su carácter de diplomáticos. O algo peor. El mes pasado, Costa Rica criticó públicamente al embajador de Venezuela Nelson Pineda por organizar un seminario dedicado a "debatir'' el controversial acuerdo que le permite al personal militar norteamericano usar algunas bases militares colombianas. "Le expresamos nuestro descontento y le pedimos que respetara plenamente [. . .] que no hubiera intervención en los asuntos internos de Costa Rica'', dijo el ministro de Relaciones Exteriores, Bruno Stagno, en una conferencia de prensa. Mucho más problemático ha sido el caso de Vinicio Romero, que fue cónsul de Venezuela en Puerto Rico de octubre del 2000 a marzo del 2006. Romero, un firme partidario de Chávez, escribió varios libros sobre el héroe de Chávez, Simón Bolívar, que lideró la guerra de independencia de Venezuela. Agentes del FBI en Puerto Rico empezaron a investigar a Romero en el 2004 o el 2005 entre reportes confidenciales de que se estaba reuniendo con radicales proindependentistas, dijo un ex funcionario del gobierno de Bush que pidió no ser identificado. El senador puertorriqueño Roberto Arango le dijo a El Nuevo Herald que "le habían dicho, no oficialmente'' que la investigación del FBI "prosigue'' y que implica alegaciones de que el consulado está utilizando valijas diplomáticas para dar dinero a los radicales proindependentistas. Los independentistas son una pequeña minoría en la isla que han recurrido a ataques terroristas en el pasado, incluyendo la colocación de bombas en objetivos civiles y un ataque en 1954 en el Congreso que dejó heridos a cinco legisladores. La oficina del FBI en San Juan dijo no tener comentarios. La embajada venezolana en Washington, que supervisa los ocho consulados venezolanos en Estados Unidos, que van de San Francisco a Boston, no respondieron a un mensaje electrónico de El Nuevo Herald pidiendo comentarios. Irónicamente, las actividades de Romero empezaron a hacerse públicas después de su muerte, de causa natural, en el 2006, mientras era embajador en Trinidad y Tobago. Un mes después, el semanario proindependentista Claridad elogió "su solidaridad con la independencia de Puerto Rico'' y atribuyó a su esposa haber dicho que él "lamentaba no haber visto la independencia de Puerto Rico''. Arango, miembro del Partido Nuevo Progresista, dijo que esa nota lo había llevado a estudiar las actividades de Romero. Un año después le envió --e hizo pública-- una carta a la Secretaria de Estado, Condoleezza Rice, exhortándola a "determinar si el consulado [venezolano] se estaba usando para financiar actividades de organizaciones políticas en Puerto Rico''. Unos 14 meses después de la carta, grupos judioamericanos empezaron a quejarse de que el cónsul venezolano en San Francisco, Martín Sánchez, era cofundador y propietario de Aporrea.org, una página web pro Chávez que había publicado varios columnas con títulos como Judíos, conspiradores y asesinos, y ¡Ataquen la sinagoga! Michael Salberg, director de Asuntos Internacionales de la Liga Anti Difamación (ADL), dijo que se habían quejado al Departamento de Estado y que habían recibido una respuesta por escrito en abril del secretario de Estado Adjunto para las Américas, Thomas Shanon. "Shannon escribió que el vínculo era muy preocupante y que trabajaría en el Departamento y otras entidades para examinar los hechos y estudiar las opciones'', dijo Salberg. Declinó ofrecer una copia de la carta. Aunque Chávez ha sido muy crítico de Israel y de su trato a los palestinos en los territorios ocupados, su gobierno ha insistido en que hace una clara distinción entre los comentarios contra Israel y el antisemitismo. Sánchez le dijo a El Nuevo Herald que se separó de Aporrea cuando entró en el cuerpo diplomático en el 2005, pero que siguió como dueño hasta principios de este año porque había olvidado cambiar el registro. Observó que el 6 de febrero del 2009 había colocado un artículo en Aporrea diciendo que aunque "ya no estaba activo'' en la dirección se había sentido forzado a responder a una virulenta nota antisemita publicada el 22 de enero. Escribió que el personal de Aporrea se había equivocado al publicar la nota, escrita por Emilio Silva, profesor universitario venezolano, y observó que la había retirado rápidamente porque contenía materiales "injustamente discriminatorios contra un grupo religioso''.' Desafiar públicamente a los judíos en las calles, como pedía Silva, eran "medidas fascistas'', escribió Sánchez. Y calificar de mito el Holocausto era "una barbaridad condenable''. "Que exista una industria cinematográfica que explote esas actividades con objetivos comerciales y políticos no cambia las acciones de Hitler'', añadió Sánchez. Sánchez repitió la nota de Silva al final de su artículo "para que los usuarios [de la página web] pudieran tener una plena versión de la misma''.

domingo, 15 de noviembre de 2009

Intromisiones de Hugo Chavez!?

Image and video hosting by TinyPic 23/sept/09 Global Research by James Suggett During a meeting with U.S. labor union leaders in New York on Wednesday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez invited the unionists to participate in the fair trade integration bloc known as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), and he invited U.S. President Barack Obama to hold a "peace dialogue." "Groups of unions, groups of workers from the United States, could incorporate themselves into the ALBA, because the ALBA has a council of social movements in addition to its council of presidents," said Chavez in response to a participant who asked how U.S. and Latin American social movements could work together more. The first such opportunity for U.S. labor leaders to participate could be in the ALBA meeting scheduled to take place on October 16-17th in Cochabamba, Bolivia, said the president. "The ALBA, the Bolivarian Alliance, is much more than an alliance of governments," the president explained. "We must fill it with people, from below, from the roots... because you are the ones who construct these alternatives." The ALBA was created in 2004 by Venezuela and Cuba to provide an organization for cooperation-based trade between countries as an alternative to the U.S.-dominated free trade agreements, and to promote regional integration on the basis of solidarity. The bloc now has nine members in South and Central America and the Caribbean. Chavez, who was wearing a red and white striped tie and blue suit, told the U.S. unionists that Venezuela is not an enemy of the U.S., as the media portray it to be. "One thing is the empire and another is the people of the U.S.," he said. "We are enemies of imperialism, of hunger, of misery, of exploitation," said the leader of Venezuela's drive toward "21st Century Socialism." Turning his comments to the U.S. government, Chavez said he hopes to have a positive relationship with the Obama administration, but that President Obama will have to assure that the actions his administration takes are in line with his call for "a new era of engagement" during a speech before the 64th U.N. General Assembly in New York this week. "Sometimes one gets the sensation that there are two Obamas. One, who gave the speech, is good. The other makes decisions that are contradictory to his speech," said Chavez. As an example, Chavez cited a recently signed deal to expand the presence of the U.S. military on seven Colombian bases. "If you promote peace, then why the seven military bases in Colombia?" he asked. "Obama, Obama, wake up! Open your eyes!" Chavez exclaimed. "Don't send any more soldiers or war planes to Colombia, that is throwing gasoline on the fire, and that affects us all in South America... Let's talk about peace, let's set up a peace dialogue," he suggested. "The world has begun to change, and the United States is part of the world, it cannot remain behind," Chavez said, emphasizing that he is optimistic that the 21st Century will bring substantial improvements and that "the process of building unity cannot be detained." "In the first ten years of the 21st Century, we have been able to advance on what could not be achieved in the two hundred previous years," he said, mentioning as examples the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), the Bank of the South, and the Latin American television news station Telesur, in addition to the ALBA. "The next ten years will be decisive," he said. "I feel optimistic, and I ask all of you to feel optimistic, but to struggle hard." This struggle includes that of Puerto Rico to become an independent republic, said the Venezuelan leader, after recognizing that September 23rd is the anniversary of the day when Puerto Rican leaders declared the island independent from Spain in 1868. "Who said history has ended? History has re-begun," Chavez said. "Someday, Puerto Rico should be a republic." His comments were followed by strong applause. Wednesday's event took place in the office of Venezuela's ambassadorship to the United Nations. The participants included labor leaders from the national and multi-national electricity, food, commercial, automobile, public, and university sectors, as well as organizers of African-American and Puerto Rican worker unions. Chavez also came to New York to address the 64th United Nations General Assembly meeting on Thursday.

viernes, 23 de octubre de 2009

Union leaders and their acolytes want a showdown

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Caribbean Business CARLOS ROMERO BARCELÓ

The union leaders who now claim they want to discuss alternatives to the layoff of 17,000 government employees don’t really want to discuss anything. What they want is to make the governor back down. Why? Because then they would be the ones who would govern Puerto Rico, not the governor, the legislators and the other elected officials.

They won’t accept anything less than the governor’s surrender to their demands that Law 7 be revoked and all laid-off workers reinstated. The union leaders aren’t really motivated by concern for the government employees who have been laid off; they are motivated by the loss of union dues, by their political beliefs, by their envy of those who are wealthier than they are and, above all, by their struggle for political power to do as they please. If they get their way to have the governor and his administration back down, repeal Law 7 and negotiate some kind of “solution,” they would achieve a bloodless coup d’etat. If Gov. Fortuño were to surrender to their demands, our democratic form of government would be practically destroyed.

The will of the people, manifested in the general elections one year ago, would be overturned by self-appointed “leaders” of the community if Gov. Fortuño were to cave in to their demands. The union leaders and Methodist Bishop Vera lie to the people beginning with the name they have adopted for themselves. Todo Puerto Rico por Puerto Rico doesn’t represent all of Puerto Rico; that is a lie. The group doesn’t even represent a majority of Puerto Rico. They don’t even represent 10% of Puerto Rico. At the most, after days of massive media support for their so-called “national” strike, they were barely able to gather 15,000-20,000 supporters at their rally at the Plaza Las Américas and Hiram Bithorn intersection.

No one has authorized them, except the union leaders of the government workers’ unions in those agencies where workers were laid off. The rest of the union leaders, who don’t represent laid-off workers, have no standing to meet and negotiate on behalf of the dismissed workers. The religious leaders, such as Methodist Bishop Vera, have no authority nor have they been appointed to represent any laid-off workers nor to negotiate on their behalf. Their motivation is purely economic, political, or both. They are all antistatehood, anti-New Progressive Party and, regardless of what they say, are seeking ways to weaken and destabilize Fortuño’s administration and our democratic form of government.

It isn’t the governor’s job to meet with self-appointed leaders who haven’t shown any concern or sorrow over the dismissal of approximately 100,000 workers in private companies throughout the year. Catholic Archbishop González, who now pleads for all laid-off government workers, showed no mercy, sorrow or concern with all the teachers and employees the Catholic Church dismissed from all schools he closed during the year. He showed no mercy, sorrow or concern for the students on whom he closed the school doors and left it to their parents to look for another school. How hypocritical can you be!

If the governor meets with them, the union leaders will “demand” the governor do what they want. If the governor doesn’t agree, which he shouldn’t, the leaders will then use the extraordinary media event to criticize and perhaps even insult the governor, which seems to be on the way to becoming a favorite political strategy sponsored by the Popular [Democratic] Party leadership and the anti-American, antistatehood “union leaders.”

Even if the government’s $3 billion deficit could be paid up or covered this year, the government would still have to substantially reduce its payroll because otherwise the government would again be spending more than it could collect in revenue.

We must provide the investment climate that can attract and stimulate investment in Puerto Rico so many, many more than 20,000 new jobs can be available for the people.

The government’s priorities in services to the people are: public safety, education, health services, energy and water.

The direct jobs that government offers are those necessary to provide first-class government services. Many of the other services, which our government now provides, can be offered and carried out more efficiently and more economically by private enterprise. Whenever private enterprise can provide a public service more efficiently and at a lower cost to the public, we should allow private enterprise to do it. They, in turn, will provide the jobs.

It is precisely because it is becoming more obvious and therefore more acceptable that services provided today by government, very inefficiently and very expensively, can be provided at lower cost and more efficiently by private enterprise that we must reduce the size of government. To do so, the number of government employees must be reduced. We can’t keep burdening the middle class and workers with higher costs of government services and higher taxes when we know a way to lower costs and, as a result of reduced government expenditures, can lower taxes to the middle class and the workers.

The leaders of government-workers’ unions live off the union dues paid monthly by unionized government workers. Obviously, the more workers in the unions the more quotas the leaders receive. If three-quarters of the laid-off workers are union members, that means the unions will lose approximately 15,000 quotas, which will represent a loss of no less than about $1.5 million to the union.

No, Gov. Fortuño must definitely not meet with the leaders of Todo Puerto Rico con Puerto Rico, who have clearly demonstrated they want to destabilize our democratic form of government and smear Fortuño and gain control of the decision-making process. The spokespeople for the so-called “national” strike have shown an unwillingness to accept the economic fact that the government’s payroll is too high and very costly. They are unwilling to accept the fact that the excessive number of government employees has made government too bloated, too inefficient and too costly.

Unless they acknowledge that the government payroll must be significantly reduced now, there is no purpose for any such meeting. They know it, but they want to drag Fortuño into a meeting with them so they can then take advantage of the media to keep trying to build up support for their intended “peaceful revolution” and their planned class confrontation of the poor vs. the wealthy.

The reason the leaders of the “national strike” want a meeting with Fortuño is because they want to blame him personally for the dismissal of the government employees and claim he is a “fascist.” However, it is the union leaders who refused to consider alternatives offered and who have made up their minds to demand the repeal of Law 7, re-employment of all laid-off employees and not to give an inch. Meeting with the governor gives them credibility and legitimacy, for which purpose the governor won’t allow them to use him.

They want to escalate the confrontation. They particularly want to provoke violence and blame it on Fortuño. They are doing this with the help and support of the leadership of the Popular [Democratic] Party and most of the media. The Popular [Democratic] Party’s fingerprints are all over this scheme. This is their MO (modus operandi). Smear the leader of the opposition. They did it with García Méndez, with Luis Ferré, with me, with Rosselló and, now, they are doing it with Fortuño.

But this time, they are going too far.

viernes, 9 de octubre de 2009

Comisión de Recursos Naturales de la Cámara de Representantes Federal recomienda consulta sobre estatus

Image and video hosting by TinyPic AP

El gobernador Luis Fortuño celebró el jueves la publicación del informe final de la Comisión de Recursos Naturales de la Cámara de Representantes estadounidense, que recomienda la aprobación del proyecto HR 2499, promovido por el comisionado residente Pedro Pierluisi en el foro federal.

El 22 de julio, el Comité había aprobado verbalmente el proyecto, conocido como la Ley de Democracia para Puerto Rico sobre estatus, siendo el segundo de su tipo que el panel aprueba en menos de dos años. El ratificado en octubre de 2007 se archivó.

“El líder de la mayoría de la Cámara, Steny Hoyer, lo anticipó y tiene razón: se va a hacer historia para Puerto Rico este año en la Cámara de Representantes”, exclamó Fortuño, quien no reveló el contenido del informe que se divulgará el viernes.

El mandatario destacó que más de 180 congresistas, tanto demócratas como republicanos, coauspiciaron la legislación que encamina un proceso de consulta sobre el futuro del estatus de la Isla.

Fortuño felicitó a Pierluisi por su “magnífica labor” para “garantizarle a todos los puertorriqueños el derecho a elegir finalmente su futuro politico”.

Por su parte, el Comisionado Residente celebró el gesto de la comisión congresional.

“El reconocimiento de la comisión... de que Puerto Rico necesita ser consultado por el Congreso es sumamente importante, y es precisamente lo que 182 congresistas ya han entendido al respaldar este proyecto. Este respaldo tan significativo derrota cualquier argumento en contra de que el proyecto llegue al pleno”, afirmó.

El proyecto autoriza un proceso “justo, imparcial y democrático” para que el pueblo puertorriqueño escoja primero entre su actual estatus político de Estado Libre Asociado u otro diferente, considerado como “opción no territorial”.

Si el actual estatus recibe mayoría de votos, se autorizará la realización de plebiscitos sobre la misma opción cada ocho años.

Si se decide por la otra alternativa, habrá un segundo plebiscito para escoger entre los estatus de independencia, libre asociación o estadidad.

El proyecto no ha sido respaldado por independentistas ni estadolibristas y solamente es apoyado por los anexionistas.

Mientras persistan las divisiones, el Congreso difícilmente continuaría adelante con ésta o cualquier otra iniciativa sobre estatus, una posición que ha mantenido históricamente.

En julio, el comité votó en contra de una enmienda propuesta por el republicano Paul Broun, de Georgia, que pedía que si Puerto Rico se convertía en estado, el inglés sería el “idioma oficial” y que todas las transacciones y operaciones del gobierno se realizarían en inglés, desplazando al español, lengua predominante de los puertorriqueños.

Según Fortuño, el proyecto no excluye ni favorece ninguna opción de estatus.

“Deja en manos del pueblo decidir si quieren mantener el estatus actual de la Isla o no para finalmente decidir sobre el destino político final de Puerto Rico, entre opciones no territoriales”, sostuvo.

“Los líderes de ambos partidos a nivel nacional entienden que ya es ahora para que el Congreso descargue su responsabilidad de facilitar un justo proceso de autodeterminación, por el cual llevamos esperando 111 años”, dijo el Gobernador en un comunicado.

Anteriormente, la Cámara estadounidense aprobó el proyecto Young, pero el esfuerzo se frustró en el Senado, que no le dio paso.

Durante una rueda de prensa el jueves, antes que el informe fuera sometido, a Fortuño se le cuestionó si encauzaría una consulta sobre el estatus localmente, y el mandatario contestó: “Nuestro deseo es que sea por medio de legislación federal, y eso (el informe) sería un paso extraordinario en la dirección correcta para que haya una consulta al pueblo, que es nuestra preferencia y lo que le presentamos al pueblo en el programa de gobierno”.

---------------------------------------------------------------------- http://pierluisi.house.gov/PDF/news_es/10-08-09-HR%202499%20Committee%20Report.pdf “NO HAY QUIEN NOS PARE” WASHINGTON, DC- La Comisión de Recursos Naturales de la Cámara de Representantes presentó hoy su informe sobre el HR 2499 (Puerto Rico Democracy Act), reconociendo la necesidad de que los puertorriqueños expresen su opinión sobre el estatus de la Isla, en una consulta autorizada por el Congreso de Estados Unidos. El proyecto fue presentado por el Comisionado Residente en mayo con un respaldo de 88 congresistas pero salió hoy de comisión con el importante apoyo de 182 congresistas- 124 demócratas y 58 republicanos. “El reconocimiento de la Comisión de Recursos de que Puerto Rico necesita ser consultado por el Congreso de Estados Unidos es sumamente importante y es precisamente lo que 182 congresistas ya han entendido al respaldar este proyecto. Este respaldo tan significativo derrota cualquier argumento en contra de que el proyecto llegue el pleno. Lo he dicho antes y lo repito hoy con más fuerza: no hay quien nos pare”, sostuvo Pierluisi. “El HR 2499 es uno de los 10 proyectos congresionales con mayor apoyo bipartita en el Congreso 111. Los 182 congresistas que al momento respaldan el proyecto representan el 74.69% de la población puertorriqueña en los Estados Unidos”, detalló Pierluisi. La medida es respaldada por 10 presidentes de comités congresionales, 52 presidentes de subcomités, el líder de la mayoría Steny Hoyer, y el líder de la Conferencia Republicana Mike Pence. “Debido a que los residentes de Puerto Rico no tienen nada que se asemeje a una representación justa y equitativa ante el gobierno que redacta e implementa las leyes nacionales, éstos no gozan de una democracia plena a nivel del gobierno nacional”, lee el informe radicado en el día de hoy, al cual el público en general podrá tener acceso durante el día de mañana. De acuerdo al informe, Puerto Rico ha estado bajo la bandera de Estados Unidos por los pasados 111 años y sus residentes disfrutan de la ciudadanía americana desde hace 90 años. “Aun así, en todo ese tiempo, el pueblo de Puerto Rico no ha expresado su opinión- mediante un voto autorizado por el gobierno de los Estados Unidos- a la pregunta de si desean continuar con el estatus actual o si, en la alternativa, preferirían convertirse en un estado o en una nación soberana, ya sea totalmente independiente o en asociación con Estados Unidos”, lee el informe. Detalla además los intentos locales por resolver el asunto del estatus en la Isla y sostiene que “resultaron en referéndums mal informados y no concluyentes en julio de 1967, noviembre del 1993 y diciembre de 1998”. “La falta de un claro entendimiento en Puerto Rico en cuanto a las opciones viables,- no territoriales de estatus-, es la razón primordial para esta legislación. Una ley federal aclararía las opciones viables de estatus y por ende aseguraría un proceso de autodeterminación bien informado y productivo”, estableció la comisión. El proceso consta de dos partes. En una primera consulta los votantes contestarán si quieren mantener la presente condición política de estatus o si quieren un estatus diferente. Si la mayoría de los votantes ejerce su voto a favor de un cambio de estatus, el Gobierno de Puerto Rico estará autorizado a realizar una segunda consulta con tres opciones: independencia, estadidad y soberanía en asociación con los Estados Unidos. “Ahora estamos listos para llevar el asunto al pleno de la Cámara. El Congreso de los Estados Unidos siempre ha sido un modelo para la democracia, pues los asuntos se debaten y se resuelven a base del sentir de la mayoría de sus miembros. Estoy seguro de que se acerca el momento de que todos mis compañeros de la Cámara de Representantes federal tengan la oportunidad de expresarse en cuanto a los méritos del HR 2499, y cuando lo hagan brillará nuevamente la democracia americana”, sostuvo Pierluisi.

martes, 22 de septiembre de 2009

Puerto Rico and other territories left out of healthcare reform

Image and video hosting by TinyPic The Hill Alexander Bolton Healthcare is becoming an increasingly contentious issue between Democratic leaders and Hispanic lawmakers who feel that many Hispanics are being left out of the reform efforts. The latest disagreement splits powerful committee chairmen and Hispanic lawmakers over the issue of whether healthcare reforms apply to the 4 million American citizens in Puerto Rico, which is predominantly Hispanic. A new bill unveiled by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) raises questions about whether Puerto Ricans will be able to participate in a health insurance clearinghouse intended to reduce costs for Americans living in the 50 states. Complicating the issue for Baucus and Democratic leaders are the promises President Barack Obama made to Puerto Ricans during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary. While campaigning on the island for Democratic delegates, Obama promised that Puerto Ricans would receive equal healthcare assistance. Obama lost Puerto Rico’s primary to Hillary Rodham Clinton, but advocates of Puerto Rico say he still has to make good on his promises, which he reiterated in a Jan. 2 letter to Governor-elect Luis Fortuño. “During my campaign, we pledged to seek equal coverage of Puerto Rico in federal healthcare assistance programs,” Obama wrote earlier this year. “Although it may take some time to implement all of these proposals, Puerto Rico deserves no less.” Americans living on Puerto Rico do not pay federal income tax, so some conservative-leaning members of Congress argue that they do not deserve full healthcare benefits. But proponents of equality for Puerto Ricans, such as Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Reps. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), argue that many Puerto Ricans have fought and died for the United States in wartime and are just as American as anyone else. "Excluding the residents of Puerto Rico from a health care bill -- or any bill -- that is intended to protect our families is an outrage and demonstrates the kind of hypocrisy that makes people resent Washington," Gutierrez told The Hill. "We owe more to our country and more to the Latino population, which is increasingly being pushed out of health care reform. When we effectively bar any population from buying private insurance from the exchange, we relegate them to emergency room care at the highest cost to taxpayers. The dispute also affects the other U.S. territories: Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Virgin Islands, which have a total population of half a million. Residents of those territories likewise will not receive the same healthcare reform benefits as Americans living in the continental United States, Alaska and Hawaii. Under Baucus’s plan, which the Senate Finance Committee will begin marking up on Tuesday, residents of Puerto Rico and these other territories would face higher barriers to enrolling in Medicare Part B, which covers non-hospital medical services. The legislation would also provide lower Medicaid reimbursements to Puerto Rico and the territories. Baucus’s bill would increase Medicaid payments to Puerto Rico by 30 percent a year from 2011 to 2019 over the next nine years, but advocates say that provides little consolation because the federal Medicaid match is so low right now. One expert said the total increase would amount to only $1 billion. “Sen. Baucus is working to balance all of the concerns that need to be addressed in health reform, while at the same time crafting a bill under $900 billion,” said a Finance Committee aide. “He included an increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) and an increase in the existing spending caps for all territories, including Puerto Rico. And he’s pledged to work to improve the bill throughout the legislative process.” Legislation reported by the House Energy and Commerce Committee does not guarantee that Puerto Ricans and residents of other territories will be able to participate in the healthcare exchange, which is supposed to lower costs by giving participants a choice of many competing plans. “That’s not equality,” said Serrano, who was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the mainland as a young child. “The president and the Democratic leadership should stop saying that we’re giving healthcare to all Americans.” The disparity led to a tense exchange between Serrano and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). Serrano approached Waxman recently to ask if Puerto Rico would be treated the same as the rest of the country in the healthcare reform package. Waxman said, “No, we don’t have the money.” “I told him that was the wrong answer,” Serrano recalled. It is estimated to cost about $10 billion to include Puerto Rico and the territories in the exchange. Serrano says that when House Democrats took up healthcare reform, they decided they would write a bill that met their expectations of fair reform and then weigh its cost — not pick and choose provisions that could fit under an arbitrary price tag. Serrano and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus wrote a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) at the end of July pressing the issue. “Regardless of how difficult or tempting it may be to cut the territories out of this health reform, it simply cannot happen,” they wrote. “It is our moral obligation to provide residents of the U.S. territories with the same opportunities as everyone else.” Gutierrez, Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.) and Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D) of Puerto Rico also signed the letter. Pierluisi said in an interview that he and his staff have had several conversations with the House Democratic leadership and Waxman to improve treatment for Puerto Rico. As a result of that campaign, he said, he is confident that the House bill will include Puerto Rico and the territories in the exchange. Advocates are more worried about the Senate Finance Committee bill. They are counting on Menendez and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to lean on Baucus, who has very few constituents of Puerto Rican heritage in his state. Menendez, Schumer and Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D), who represents New Mexico, a state that is 42 percent Hispanic, will offer an amendment to the Finance bill allowing Puerto Rico and the territories to participate in the health insurance exchange, according to Pierluisi. Menendez and Schumer will also offer an amendment to make it easier for Puerto Ricans to enroll in Medicare Part B, Pierluisi said. Elderly residents of the island are not automatically enrolled in Part B, unlike those living in the 50 states. The amendment would also increase federal Medicaid payments to Puerto Rico. Menendez has also brought up the sensitive issue of providing healthcare assistance to illegal immigrants. Menendez has said he is concerned that Baucus’s bill would not allow illegal workers to buy health insurance through an exchange, depriving them of the cost savings of increased market competition. Menendez has also criticized the way Baucus would treat families of mixed immigration status. A family with a member or members who are not legal residents would receive lower federal subsidies than all-legal families. Menendez is a member of the Finance Committee, and his vote could decide whether the bill passes because Sen. Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.), the second-ranking Democrat, has already vowed to vote no. The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of Hispanic groups including the National Puerto Rican Coalition and the Hispanic Federation, have called for equal treatment of Puerto Rico in the healthcare reform package. Those groups have met with White House officials and members of Congress to press their arguments. “What’s happening is that because Puerto Ricans are not getting funding and quality healthcare, they are moving to states such as Florida and Connecticut and burdening those systems,” said Rafael Fantauzzi, president of the National Puerto Rican Coalition.

jueves, 10 de septiembre de 2009

Más no es mejor que igual

Image and video hosting by TinyPic El Vocero Ricardo Rosselló El título de esta columna es un argumento filosófico que parece ser un juego de palabras. Crecemos con la idea y la percepción de que lograr “más” debe, por lógica, ser mejor que lograr algo “igual”. Pero, ése no es siempre el caso. Entonces, cabe preguntarnos, ¿cuándo es que “más” no es mejor que “igual”? Yo argumento que, dentro de la situación colonial existente en Puerto Rico, el pedir “más” se nos ha virado en contra para darnos menos. Por décadas, llevamos enviando comisionados, emisarios, expertos y ciudadanos a Washington pidiendo que nos den “más”: más dinero, más foro, más participación. “Más” permite a los promotores de la colonia mantener la ilusión de progreso y, por ende, proyectar que la gente está contenta porque tiene un poco más de lo que tenía antes. Sin embargo, la realidad es que mientras sigamos pidiendo más, nunca llegaremos a ser iguales. En su génesis, el ELA fue diseñado como una etapa transitoria; fue una mutación del estado para que Puerto Rico se equilibrase económicamente, y luego decidiera entre la anexión o la independencia. El ELA fue, y sigue siendo, una mera colonia, sólo con algunos privilegios “más”. Luego de varias décadas, su diseño caducó. La percepción de “más” regresó a su origen insuficiente y antidemocrático. El ELA, que para los años 50 parecía la solución a largo plazo, y que se convirtió en el pilar filosófico del partido más grande en Puerto Rico, no es nada más que un limbo político, donde a los puertorriqueños se les prohíbe gozar de los plenos derechos de su democracia. ¿Cómo ha permanecido este esquema por tanto tiempo? La estrategia incremental del colonialista es, en tiempo oportuno, decir que está consiguiendo “más”. Los agentes de la colonia se han dado cuenta de que pueden extender su existencia con pequeños incrementos en algunas áreas. ¿Por qué escribo hoy sobre esto? Porque un ejemplo de “más” se nos aproxima con los fondos federales que serán asignados a Puerto Rico para la reforma de salud a nivel nacional. Hay varias voces ya reclamando victoria porque a Puerto Rico se le dará 500 millones de dólares. Ciertamente es una cifra que puede ayudar muchísimo, no hay duda de eso. Pero, ¿acaso el recibir “más” no nos estará empañando la visión de lo que realmente debería ser asignado a la Isla? El Senador Baucus ideó una propuesta donde se le otorgaba igualdad en el derecho a la salud a los territorios de Estados Unidos. Igualdad. ¿Cuánto nos tocaría en un escenario donde Puerto Rico sea considerado como igual?: 1,700 millones de dólares. Mil setecientos millones contra 500 millones; la comparación es muy sencilla. El costo de oportunidad por escoger “más” en lugar de buscar ser “igual” - solamente en este renglón - es de 1,200 millones de dólares que no le llegarán a los puertorriqueños. Y a esto podemos añadir el costo de oportunidad en otros menesteres como la Educación, la Seguridad Pública, el desarrollo de la infraestructura, etc., etc. Estamos hablando de miles de millones que la Isla deja de recibir por pedir “más”, en lugar de lograr la igualdad en derechos que en realidad nos corresponde por nuestra condición de ciudadanos. ¿Por qué no se habla mucho de esto? Entiendo que es porque los entes colonialistas y del status quo enfocan toda su energía en proyectar el “más” para opacar lo que verdaderamente significa ser “igual.” “Igual” no les conviene, porque les atrofia su esquema. Lo peor que les puede ocurrir a los promotores de la colonia es un colectivo abrir de ojos del pueblo de Puerto Rico. Se espantan ante la posibilidad de que finalmente nuestro pueblo se dé cuenta de la limitada realidad que vive, aún cuando está recibiendo “más”. Temen que los puertorriqueños entendamos que darnos una primaria presidencial (más) no es suficiente; y que obtener el voto presidencial (igual) nos colocaría a la par - de tú a tú - con nuestros ciudadanos americanos. Que sepamos que tener un solo representante que solamente tiene voz sin voto (más) no es suficiente. Que queramos tener derecho a votar por todos los representantes y senadores federales que permite la Constitución a todos los ciudadanos (igual). Que sepamos que si 500 millones de dólares son buenos en el vacío (más), en realidad no comparan en el contexto de poder recibir un trato ‘igual’ de más de 3 veces esa cifra. Creo que ya es hora que dejemos de recibir menos por pedir “más” y exijamos la igualdad que realmente merecemos. Vamos a ponerle fin a la colonia. El poder está en nuestras manos.

Puerto Rico Public-Private Partnerships Authority will present 25+ new projects—worth $5 billion and create a potential 120,000 jobs

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Caribbean Business JOSÉ L. CARMONA *Gearing up to roll out PPPs The recently created Public-Private Partnerships Authority (PPPA), the government entity responsible for implementing public policy regarding public-private partnerships (PPPs), will hold its first Puerto Rico PPP Projects Conference Oct. 15-16 to showcase investment opportunities to potential investors for specific local projects. International companies and investors with experience and interest in establishing PPPs are expected to attend the conference at the Puerto Rico Convention Center to learn about the island, the main government-proposed PPP projects and the new law guiding the establishment of PPPs in Puerto Rico. The PPPA currently has some 32 projects submitted by government entities (agencies and public corporations). These don’t constitute the official PPP project inventory but have the potential to become PPPs provided they pass the PPPA’s evaluation process. The goal of the PPPA, a Government Development Bank (GDB) entity, is to move at least 25 of the top-priority projects, with an estimated investment of at least $5 billion and the potential to create 120,000 jobs (over a period of several years), to the request for qualifications (RFQ) and request for proposals (RFP) phases by year-end. Priority projects submitted by government entities to the PPPA include: landfills; reservoirs; powerplants that use alternative or renewable sources of energy; transportation systems; health, security, education, correctional and rehabilitation facilities; low-income housing projects; facilities for sports, recreation, tourism and cultural activities; ground and wireless communication systems; and high-technology information and mechanical systems. *PPP legislation is key Just three months ago, Gov. Luis Fortuño signed into law Act 29 of June 8, 2009, more commonly known as the PPP Act. The law is the cornerstone of the Fortuño administration’s efforts to spearhead much-needed infrastructure and public works projects that the central government, its agencies and public corporations simply can’t afford to undertake alone. “There are a lot of public-works projects that we want to do, but there’s a reality about the government’s availability of funds. We all know the fiscal situation the island is going through, and this law allows us to do some of these projects in partnership with the private sector, which will bring capital and expertise to the table. This law is not only important as a financing mechanism, but also as an element of economic development and job creation to reactivate the island’s economy,” GDB Executive Vice President Fernando Batlle told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. “I firmly believe PPPs are going to be a very useful tool for everyone.” Batlle downplayed criticism the law is too restrictive or elaborate to the point it could hinder the establishment of PPPs, indicating so far feedback from investors and financial institutions has been extremely positive. “Our PPP law is the most far-reaching legislation in the nation right now. When I say far-reaching, we must bear in mind the public interest must be protected. In that sense, this law has all the necessary elements to protect the public interest, which gives investors what other jurisdictions can’t provide—security and transparency in the process,” Batlle said. “That’s something we didn’t have before to foster PPPs. The law is very clear on what can and can’t be done, what resources are required from the investor and the time these transactions can cover. People who look at the process could say it has a lot of steps, but at least there’s a clear process that establishes the steps to take,” he said. Batlle left the door open to making improvements to the law during the implementation process. “There’s room for improvement. During the implementation process, we will pay attention to what the private sector is looking for to do good for both the private and the public sectors. Again, safeguarding the public interest is paramount, and that’s how we will do things to make them functional,” Batlle said. *The role of the PPP Authority Among other things, the law established the PPPA as the sole government entity authorized and responsible for implementing the public policy on PPPs and for determining the functions, services or facilities for which such partnerships are to be established. The PPPA is a public corporation attached to the GDB. The duties and powers of the PPPA are to be discharged by a board of directors constituted by five members and chaired by GDB President Carlos García. Gov. Luis Fortuño announced the selection of the new board members last week and they were slated to hold their first meeting last Wednesday. The governor accepted the nominations of attorney Luis Berríos Amadeo and Dr. Hernán Padilla to represent the public interest, which were made by Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz and House Speaker Jenniffer González, respectively. The other PPPA Board members are García, Treasury Secretary Juan Carlos Puig and Planning Board President Héctor Morales Vargas. *PPPA to pick up speed David Álvarez, PPPA executive director, senior adviser & assistant to García, is the point man for the Fortuño administration’s efforts on the PPP front. “This first board meeting is pivotal because all directors will be briefed on the progress and guidelines moving forward in terms of the projects we want to present to prepare for our first Puerto Rico PPP Projects Conference next month,” Álvarez said. “Things will pick up speed pretty quickly.” The PPPA has already conducted an initial evaluation of the submitted projects to be presented at the conference. “The purpose of this conference is to showcase the opportunities available in Puerto Rico for local and nonlocal investors, bank executives, consultants and others. The goal is to make this event open to the local public as well as people from the U.S. mainland interested in PPPs. The idea isn’t to make the event a conference strictly on what we would like to do, but rather showcase all these projects, show what we visualize happening and have attendees understand the ramifications and magnitude of these projects,” Álvarez said. Álvarez noted the submitted projects cover the island’s main basic infrastructure needs in areas such as energy, transportation, health, water, communications, security and education. “I believe there are interesting infrastructure projects in all areas,” Álvarez said. The PPPA Board will conduct further analysis on each of the projects to determine whether it is advisable to carry them out in terms of serving the public interest, their financial viability and ultimately whether to establish a PPP. The list of submitted projects is available on the PPPA’s website at www.p3gov.pr. *Layers of protection To further ensure transparency throughout the PPP evaluation process, the PPPA will create a partnership committee for each PPP project that will be responsible for selecting proponents and negotiating contracts. “What this means is that each PPP opportunity, each PPP project will have its own partnership committee with a dedicated group of people structuring the PPP contract. In a sense, it is much more reliable because this group will be working with the PPP project from start to finish,” Álvarez explained. “It isn’t the same when a particular government agency has to do everything on its own because the dedication wouldn’t be there.” Each partnership committee will have five members: the GDB president or a delegate; an official from the partnering government entity with direct authority in the project; a member of the board of directors of the partnering government entity or, in the case of government entities with no board of directors, the head of the partnering government entity; and two officials from any government entity chosen by the PPPA Board for their knowledge and experience in the type of project under consideration. Under the new PPP law, the Legislature will also convene a Joint Committee on Public-Private Partnerships. It will be composed of four senators and four representatives, with one minority lawmaker from each chamber. The joint panel will have jurisdiction to examine, investigate, evaluate and study all matters related to PPPs. *RFQS and RFPs by year-end As for a timetable for these projects becoming full-fledged PPPs, Álvarez said the PPPA and the GDB were aiming to have the first RFQs and RFPs before the end of this year. “Our interest and aim is to speed up the projects and move them to the construction phase as soon as possible. However, first, we need to run the structure and test it in all its capacities to see how efficient it can be in accelerating infrastructure investment,” Álvarez said. When PPP projects enter the construction phase will depend on each project, Batlle said. There are projects that due to their complexity and size will take more time to get started, perhaps eight months or more (such as the PR22 extension), while others (such as a desalinization plant) could take less time getting off the ground, he said. People often tend to focus PPPs on large, complex projects, but there are many opportunities for smaller PPP projects as well, Batlle said, adding the varying sizes of the submitted PPP projects make them even more appealing to investors. Taxpayers could see the first PPP projects come online by late 2010 or early 2011. Batlle highlighted the fact that both the PPP law and the PPPA are fundamentally geared toward speeding up projects and ensuring infrastructure investment can begin. “There are steps we need to take, but the main objective is execution. We are ready to execute, we are ready to go,” Batlle said. “Of course, we would like to see things move faster, but I believe we are moving at a very good pace.” *P.R.’s standing in the PPP world Asked how the island compares with other jurisdictions that rely on PPPs such as France, Brazil, Canada, Australia, England, the U.S. mainland and Chile, Batlle stated emphatically: “Very favorably.” “Because our framework, the law, is very clear and specific and removes much of the uncertainty that sometimes occurs in the process, and that’s very important. It clearly establishes the process in terms of how you negotiate and the steps to follow,” Batlle said. “That’s something that doesn’t exist in many jurisdictions.” Also, the island is a legal and politically stable jurisdiction with a stable currency (dollar), which provides investors with a level of certainty not seen in many international jurisdictions, he said. “At a time when there’s so much uncertainty in the world, I think PPP investors will see Puerto Rico in a good light,” Batlle said. Héctor del Río, president of the local chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), agreed, adding government credibility is vital to attracting high-caliber PPP investors to the island. “When you are going to invest $500 million or $1 billion in a project, you want to make sure the investment is safe and you expect a process where the project will have continuity no matter who is in charge of government. Also, it’s very important to have a process where all your questions are answered,” Del Río said. “Fortunately, Puerto Rico enjoys advantages not found in other Latin American countries, because investors will be investing in a U.S. territory with U.S. dollars. The same stability and continuity we enjoy every election has to be projected to PPP investors,” he said. As a small Caribbean island of 3,400 square miles, Del Río said Puerto Rico enjoys unique market opportunities not found anywhere else, which could be very attractive for PPP investors. He cited the fact that few islands have four international airports within its boundaries: San Juan, Aguadilla, Ponce and Ceiba, which also holds the potential as a major seaport. The island also boasts already developed seaports in San Juan and Guayanilla and the Port of the Americas transshipment hub in Ponce, which has been in the making for years and is nearing completion. These, too, could be turned into PPPs, he said. In fact, negotiations are already underway between the GDB and a South Korean conglomerate to complete and manage the Port of the Americas. “If the government isn’t financially capable of developing these airports and seaports as needed, then it should seek investors willing to do it, because the end benefit will always be for Puerto Rico,” Del Río said. Del Río said the government should push transportation PPPs first. He cited proposed light-rail projects to Old San Juan, Carolina and Caguas, and the expansion of the island’s toll-roads, including the extension of PR22 between Hatillo and Mayagüez, the second phase of PR66 between Canóvanas and Fajardo and converting PR30 into a toll-road between Caguas and Humacao. That could also open the door for the establishment of concessions (convenience stores, retail shops and gas stations) throughout the island’s expressway system, creating jobs and economic activity in the process, he said. “Even the Urban Train is a candidate for a PPP, as the Highway Authority is running a $110 million deficit each year. If you can find someone who can run it for half that, it could be viewed a success,” Del Río said. Del Río said the fact contractors in a partnership established under the PPP law will be subject to a fixed 10% income-tax rate over net income during the life of the contract is an added benefit to investors who want to do business here. *Misconceptions and models Álvarez noted misconceptions and ignorance of PPPs among island sectors that were often aired during the period prior to the passage of the PPP law. “That’s nobody’s fault, as Puerto Rico isn’t a jurisdiction with vast and solid experience with PPPs. This isn’t Canada, for example, which is very mature with PPPs,” Álvarez said. The biggest misconception about PPPs, according to Batlle, is that they are the same as privatization. “That’s a very unfounded stigma, because the concept of privatization is very far from a PPP. Basically, a PPP is how you pair up the best of the private sector with the financial limitations of the public sector and make it work to benefit both parties,” Batlle said. In a nutshell, a PPP is a contractual agreement between a government agency and a private sector or nongovernmental entity. It allows for greater participation of the private sector in the development and financing of infrastructure and provision of services; improves the fiscal condition of public corporations and the general fund; encourages innovation; and maximizes government assets. A PPP accelerates the design and build phases of a project, while the public entity keeps ownership of the asset. Contracts are usually long-term (50-99 years) to assure investors will receive a return on their investment. “Without exception, all the jurisdictions that use the PPP model experience faster construction of infrastructure projects at a lower cost. One of the beauties of PPPs is that several contract modalities can be used,” Álvarez said. The three basic types of PPP contracts are: design / build, design / build / maintain and design / build / maintain / operate. There are two methods of private-sector compensation: through user fees (such as tolls) and availability of payments (government makes periodic payments to the private-sector entity). “Another myth is that PPPs have no cost for the government, and that isn’t true. There’s an investment the government has to do to make PPPs viable for the investor, such as expropriations,” Del Río said. “To be a major player in the PPP leagues, the government entity must invest $10 million to $15 million in feasibility studies and statistics. For PPPs to work, we also need an agile planning and permits system so investors don’t get disappointed during the process,” he said. The local AGC president suggested the government should find a way to fund on its own those submitted projects that don’t make it as a PPP, as it shouldn’t place all its infrastructure projects into the PPP basket. Public-private partnerships gain ground around the globe As governments around the world face shrinking budgets, more are looking to PPPs to fund infrastructure development Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) have long enjoyed significant popularity around the world, especially in Europe, Asia and Latin America. According to media reports, more than 1,000 such partnerships were signed in the European Union alone between 1990 and 2005 for a combined investment of more than $285 billion. While PPPs aren’t new to the U.S. and Puerto Rico, there has been heightened interest in their use for transportation and other infrastructure projects as federal, state and local governments face increasing budget limitations to fund vital capital works. In February, for example, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a law allowing the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and regional transportation authorities (RTAs) to enter into an unlimited number of PPPs for the construction, operation and maintenance of the state’s transportation infrastructure. In April, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority signed a PPP for a predevelopment study for that state’s first toll bridge. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure” gives the overall condition of the nation’s infrastructure a "D" grade and calls for an investment of $1.6 trillion in infrastructure over the next five years. PPPs have emerged as one tool that may help states and other public entities address a portion of their infrastructure deficits. California became the first state to pass legislation allowing the creation of PPPs to build toll roads. In the 20 years since, more than 20 states have followed California’s example in passing transportation PPP laws, with Texas, Virginia and Florida joining the Golden State in the forefront of PPP-based infrastructure development. Several states have PPP toll projects currently in operation, such as the Chicago Skyway in Illinois and the Northwest Parkway in Colorado. Others have projects in the development stage, such as the I495 / Capital Beltway High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes project in northern Virginia and the addition of 10.5 miles of variable toll express lanes to I595 in Broward County, Fla. Some states are negotiating projects, including a $2.7 billion project for the reconstruction of the I635 / LBJ Freeway and the $1.6 billion North Tarrant Express project, both in Texas. In the highway arena, increased tolling to expand capacity is spurring additional interest in PPPs in the U.S. According to the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO), between 2000 and 2006, 30% to 40% of the approximately 150 miles of new expressways built nationally each year were financed through tolls. By 2030, the percentage of new arterial roads in metropolitan areas financed through tolling may increase to nearly 50%. *Tapping private-sector expertise As federal, state and local governments struggle more economically, they are finding ways to involve the private sector to fund the money needed for infrastructure projects and PPPs are one such way. According to some economists, PPPs are also a way for people who use a certain highway, bridge or other PPP facility to pay for it through the use of tolls, instead of all taxpayers in a state paying for something they may never or very seldom use. “The private sector is usually more efficient and can get an asset built on a quality and performance level that is good for taxpayer dollars. So, with PPPs, it’s basically how you take advantage of the private-sector expertise and use it to get a public asset funded over a period of time through lease payments,” Doug Pruitt, national president of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. On a professional level, Pruitt’s general contracting company, Tempe, Ariz.-based Sundt Cos., has been involved in several PPPs, including a 600-unit family-housing complex for the military and a building facility for the Arizona Fish & Game Department. In the case of the building facility, Pruitt’s firm joined the developer to build the project, which was then leased to Arizona Fish & Game. “By using the facility, they get to stretch the payments over 20 to 30 years and ultimately will own the facility at the end of the lease versus having to pay upfront for the construction,” Pruitt explained. “It’s a way for them to use the funds for other things and ultimately own the facility anyway.” The national AGC president is convinced Puerto Rico and the rest of the world will see more PPPs as the public sector simply doesn’t have the money it used to and is now obligated to a host of other priorities, making it impossible to keep up with needed infrastructure. “PPPs aren’t just about highways anymore. We are talking about public buildings and support facilities in all sorts of ways that the government can tap into innovation that exists in the private sector. It’s a much better and more innovative way of procuring construction than 30 years ago,” Pruitt said. *Chile’s 20-year record of success with PPPs Just as with Puerto Rico, Chile tapped into PPPs amid a serious economic crisis during the 1980s as the South American country was looking to open its economy. “The circumstances at the time demanded Chile become an exporter. That required investment, and the only way was to open its economy to the markets,” Javier Hurtado, president of the Construction Chamber of Chile, the country’s leading construction industry trade organization, told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. “The first thing that resulted from that was the creation of the private pension funds, followed by the complete privatization of Chile’s electrical and water systems and most of its seaports.” These events required legislation for the creation of PPPs by the late ’80s and early 1990s. According to Hurtado, the Chilean legislation, just as the recently enacted one in Puerto Rico, was extremely important as it established the legal framework and bylaws for participants in PPP investments. “From that point on, Chile engaged in numerous PPP projects, to the point that today, infrastructure investment in Chile through PPPs surpasses $11 billion. Highways were first, followed by penal institutions and, more recently, hospitals,” Hurtado said. Recent surveys among users of PPP projects in Chile rated the services provided very favorably, Hurtado said. “The main message here is that management and maintenance contracts for these facilities are long term, which in a way guarantees these PPP projects are financially viable as facilities have to be updated and kept in good condition during the life of the contract,” noted Hurtado, who was one of the keynote speakers during the annual local AGC convention last weekend..

lunes, 7 de septiembre de 2009

P.R. public employment higher than States

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Caribbean Business JOHN MARINO Puerto Rico’s government employs far more workers than most states and appears to have the highest per capita level of public employment in the U.S., according to federal and local labor and population statistics. The central government employed 235,300 workers in July 2009, the most recent statistics released by the Labor Department. When the island’s 61,700 municipal workers are factored in, the total increases to 297,000. Only the three most populous states employ more workers at the state level than Puerto Rico: California with 334,432 employees, Texas with 259,578 and New York with 236,719. On a per capita basis, Puerto Rico employs 5.95 workers per 100 residents in the central government and 7.51 workers per 100 residents in the central and municipal governments combined, based on the most recent U.S. Census Bureau population statistics, which pegged the island population at 3.954 million in 2008. New York State employs 1.21 state workers for every 100 residents, a ratio that increases to 4.24 workers per 100 residents when county, township and municipal workers are also counted. California, meanwhile, employs 0.9 workers per 100 residents at the state level, while the ratio in Texas is 1.06 per 100 residents. Florida employs 0.93 workers per 100 residents at the state level and 2.4 workers when all local government workers are included. In Washington state, 1.53 workers are employed by the state for every 100 residents, a figure that goes up to 2.68 workers when county, municipal and township employees are factored in. In New Jersey, there are 1.65 state workers employed for every 100 residents, a figure that goes up to 2.35 per 100 when other public employment is factored in. The two states with the closest populations to Puerto Rico are Kentucky, which employs 1.60 state workers for every 100 residents (2.62 workers when all local government is included), and Oregon, which employs 1.38 state workers for 100 residents (2.39 per 100 residents when all public workers are counted). Only sparsely populated and geographically giant Alaska has per capital public employment ratios that approach Puerto Rico. With a population of 686,293, there are 3.44 state employees for every 100 residents and 6.8 state, county and municipal employees for every 100 residents. In May, dismissal notices were sent out to some 7,816 Puerto Rico government workers in the first round of what could approach 30,000 layoffs by the end of the calendar year. Gov. Luis Fortuño reiterated last month that $2 billion must be cut from annual government spending. Administration officials say a restructuring of government to bring spending in line with revenue is needed to avoid a downgrade of the Commonwealth’s bond rating to junk, or noninvestment-grade. Last week, the Center for the New Economy warned government layoffs would deal the biggest blow to the island’s middle class which, in turn, would have negative economic consequences. The Planning Board said the economy shrank by 5.5% last year, and the unemployment rate hit 16.5% in July, according to the Labor Department..

martes, 1 de septiembre de 2009

El PPD perpetua el inmovilismo

Image and video hosting by TinyPic El Vocero Maricarmen Rivera Sánchez La Junta de Gobierno del Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) se reunirá hoy martes para discutir una nueva propuesta de status que define el Estado Libre Asociado (ELA) como una opción “de centro”. El representante Jorge Colberg Toro presentará el manual que preparó y que detalla la nueva filosofía del PPD sobre el status en 45 páginas. El documento debe ser aprobado por la Junta antes de encaminarse como la nueva filosofía de la colectividad. “El Partido Popular va a fortalecer el centro”, dijo Colberg Toro. “Las propuestas de los soberanistas tienen cabida, pero no es fuera de la Constitución de Estados Unidos ni subordinados a la Constitución de Estados Unidos”. Para los populares, el tema del status ha provocado serias grietas desde que perdieron las elecciones en noviembre. Las facciones más evidentes son las de los más conservadores, que buscan perpetuar una anexión con Estados Unidos y el grupo de los más liberales, que insisten en buscar una soberanía, pero que tampoco quieren despegarse del norte. Ambos grupos mencionan la definición de 1998 a la hora de hablar del ELA. El documento que recibirá la Junta mañana argumenta que la soberanía “no es la independencia ni la separación porque ese concepto no está relacionado a ninguna fórmula de status en particular, sino más bien a un ejercicio del poder de decidir irrespectivo de las fórmulas de status”. La propuesta que recibirán los miembros de la Junta es que se persiga un status en el que Puerto Rico pueda negociar con Estados Unidos asuntos como las leyes federales que aplicarán aquí. Estas nuevas delimitaciones, dijo Colberg Toro, son las que estarían contenidas en el denominado ‘Pacto Bilateral’. Incluyen eliminar la Ley de Cabotaje. Buscarían cambiar dos artículos de la Ley de Relaciones Federales: el que obliga a Puerto Rico a cumplir con las leyes federales y otro para permitir que el Gobierno federal traspase a la Isla las propiedades que tiene aquí, pero sólo las que no usa. La jurisdicción del Tribunal federal en la Isla se limitaría a los aspectos que se delimiten en el nuevo “pacto”, según explicó el representante. El nuevo “pacto” de los populares mantendría intactas la ciudadanía estadounidense, la moneda y la participación de los puertorriqueños en el Ejército. “El objetivo del plan se resume en desarrollo económico con crecimiento autonómico”, reza el documento que recibirá la Junta. “El nuevo discurso del Partido Popular está orientado no en las vivencias del pasado, o en las interpretaciones de la historia, sino más bien en la planificación del futuro”. Gran parte del documento está dirigido a hablar de los “peligros” de la estadidad y a detallar los beneficios que obtiene Estados Unidos de su relación con Puerto Rico. Entre los peligros de la estadidad menciona el pago de contribuciones federales..

jueves, 27 de agosto de 2009

The lies and distortion of the truth and the deterioration of law and order

Image and video hosting by TinyPic CARIBBEAN BUSINESS CARLOS ROMERO BARCELÓ Hitler’s rise to power was achieved, among other things, by his exploitation of the Germans’ fears and of the humiliation they suffered as a result of the terms they had to accept when they lost World War I. He promised to avenge Germany’s humiliation and that he would lead Germany to recover all the territory that had been taken from them. While promising the rise of a new Germany, he would rave in his fanatical diatribe against the Jews in Germany, blaming them for all the economic woes. While he spoke publicly of his desire to strengthen bonds of friendship with all of Europe, he plotted the takeover of Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. His Nazi party platform and his ultra-nationalistic speeches gained him enough support to elect sufficient Nazi Party members to the Reichstag, which gave him enough power to get himself appointed chancellor in 1933. Soon thereafter, members of the Nazi party set fire to the Reichstag building and Hermann Goering, second in command in the Nazi Party, publicly accused the communists of setting fires to the Reichstag as part of a revolutionary plot. Hitler made use of the alleged communist revolutionary plot to convince Von Hindenburg, Germany’s president, to issue a decree that put an end to civil liberties in Germany. Mass arrests of people “suspected of plotting against Germany” were carried out. Soon thereafter, Hitler proposed an Enabling Act, which empowered him as chancellor, with all the Reichstag’s legislative powers. In other words, the Reichstag gave Hitler dictatorial powers through a legislative act. As he always did, he once again lied to the German people telling them he would use those powers “only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures.” However, he never explained to the people what he meant by “vitally necessary measures.” In other words, Hitler had achieved what he set out to achieve: absolute power. Through lies, words of appeasement and cunning, Hitler managed to swallow up Austria and Czechoslovakia without having war. It wasn’t until he invaded Poland, after having signed an agreement with Britain’s prime minister, which was proudly referred to by Chamberlain as a guarantee of “peace in our time,” that England and France declared war. Hitler’s continuous rise to power and his expansion of German territory were always achieved by use of lies and distortion of facts. He firmly believed the bigger and more outrageous the lie, the easier it was to make people believe it. While he expanded his German empire, he continued his fanatical diatribe against all Jews. Then he took away their rights and privileges as German citizens, next their property, then their freedom and finally their lives. While persecuting, torturing and “exterminating” the Jews, he denied any such persecution, abuse, torture and extermination was happening. Most of the outside world either believed the Nazi propaganda or wanted to believe it. It wasn’t until the death camps were found at the end of the war that the horrible truth was accepted and believed by most of the world. You may ask: Why does Romero Barceló write about Hitler and the Holocaust? What do Hitler and the Holocaust have to do with Puerto Rico’s problems today? My answer to that question is that Hitler was able to become a dictator in a democracy, swallow up countries without war and exterminate millions of humans for years before the world realized what a monster he was. The reason he was able to do what he did was because he lied and people wanted to believe him. In Puerto Rico, we have seen an unprecedented deterioration of people’s respect for the law, the rights and privileges of others and a lack of appreciation for what they receive. The most troublesome thing in our society is the deterioration of the respect for law and order. The deterioration was accelerated during the administration of Sila Calderón and, even more, during the disastrous four years of Acevedo Vilá. When Sila Calderón decided to challenge the agreement that President Clinton and former Gov. Pedro Rosselló signed, regarding the end of the Navy bombing and target practice in Vieques and the clean up and return of land to Puerto Rico, she declared support for “civil disobedience” but, in fact, supported violent destruction of property and violence against those who didn’t agree with the government. In the presence of the police, including the superintendent of Police, a Navy vehicle and a guardhouse were pounced upon and severely damaged. The police did nothing. When I went to campaign against the meaningless and distorted referendum on the Vieques issue, I was threatened, the protesters threw stones, sticks and other projectiles at us, but the police did nothing to stop or prevent the unlawful attacks. Obviously, the message that Sila Calderón and her administration sent to the people was that violent acts against citizens and their property would be allowed as long as the criminal aggressors supported the governor. In other words, the governor, who took an oath to enforce the laws and protect the constitutional rights of the people, failed to abide by her oath. Why then, should citizens respect the law and the law enforcers if the governor doesn’t? To make matters worse, the majority of the press distorted the facts when they reported the news and made comments favorable to the criminal aggressors. Another glaring example of the government’s failure to enforce the law and protect public property was the failure of the police and the Justice Department to take action against the vandals and rioters in the Capitol building during Acevedo Vilá’s administration, where furniture and other property were damaged and legislators were physically threatened. There was a full-fledged riot in the Capitol building and the police had photos and also knew who some of the vandals and rioters were. However, not a single case was brought against any of the perpetrators. What kind of a message does this government behavior send to the people? Obviously, people are being told they can violate the law openly and nothing will happen to them. The latest occurrence where the majority of the press is defending the perpetrators of unlawful acts and finding fault with the government officials who are trying to enforce the law, is the Villas del Sol illegal trespass. The unlawful squatters in Villa del Sol have illegally set up houses on floodable land, which they don’t own. In addition, many of the land invaders, if not a majority, are illegally in Puerto Rico. In other words, they are illegal immigrants who are in Puerto Rico in violation of the law and have illegally appropriated land and set up homes on floodable land. They are stealing water and electricity, which increases the cost of supplying both to the subscribers who pay for it. The media should be explaining to the public why these people can’t be allowed to stay where they are and why they must leave or be evicted. However, most of the press are trying to portray the invaders as victims. They aren’t investigating who made the illegal electric power and water connections. They were probably made by Prepa [Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority] and Prasa [Puerto Rico Aqueduct & Sewer Authority] employees in violation of the law. Most of the press is failing to report all the opportunities these invaders have been offered but refuse to accept. If violators of the law and other criminal offenders are protected and stimulated to violate the law, we are going to keep seeing an increase in crime and a growing lack of respect for the rights of others. Unless the media stops supporting and excusing criminals and those who disregard the law, our quality of life and the number of good citizens will continue to be reduced..