Tuesday, 24 May 2011

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (NCM) – The arrival of former Colombian president Alvaro Uribe- expected in June- points to the furtherance of the counter offensive by the government, which nevertheless is faced with new compromising issues, such as the hiding of more than a billion dollars of real estate from the public university and the alleged training of an irregular anti riot force.


His presence to stimulate foreign investments is of particular importance since even though the government has been able to neutralize important sectors of the social struggle, such as the public sector workers unions, still faces strong opposition to strategic projects, university students refuse to surrender, and above all the financial magnates have not arrived to save the country from economic collapse.


The international agenda of the former Colombian leader has been pretty full since his participation in a meeting with father and son former U.S. presidents Bush in the Dominican Republic, in which the former president of the Spanish government, Jose Maria Aznar was also present. In the busy months since Uribe has done just about everything.


In the United States he participated in a forum in Harvard University in a conference about investments in Utah, as well as flying to Honduras for a conference on investments and development. He also visited Mexico, where he took part in UnoAmerica, a conference of rightwing organizations and even showcase himself next to a police model barely dressed at the inauguration of an expo of the security industry.


In recent days it was made public the renewal of negotiations in order to build the longest underwater cable in the world, which will make possible to bring to the north Caribbean electrical energy produced by Public Enterprises of Medellin, as a step in the electrical interconnection with the United States, a project initiated by Uribe. This project is tied to with the construction of a gas pipeline in Puerto Rico that will serve to import fuel from Gas Natural Fenosa, an enterprise that was well developed in Colombia under his administration.


But internal complications add up against the government and counterweights backing such as Uribe's.


One of them is the surfacing of an official document, dated September of 2005- obtained by NCM News- that lists real estate properties of the University of Puerto Rico dispersed throughout thirty municipalities around the country with a market value back then that surpasses one billion dollars, even though in the same are listed important properties not valuated such as 63 per cent of the land belonging to the Rio Piedras Campus. The document was prepared back then and seems meant to be used in order to argue and convince professors and students that the UPR did not have many real estate resources to face its economic difficulties.


From the document comes the fact that the UPR when established in Rio Piedras counted on only a 70 acre farm and grew into a 16 million square meter system in its various localities. But it is a document with very obvious contradictions, numbers that don't add up and apparent omissions of important pieces, which coincide with the Government’s refusal to turn over copies of the inventory of properties of the UPR to a coalition of university groups, that consequently are putting the final touches to legal resources to be presented to the courts.


One of the main oddities of the document is that in spite of the fact that the UPR has been accumulating real estate from all who pass on without inheritors since 1923, the document only lists a dozen properties. Also, it does not include properties already found by investigators, amongst them a building in a centric district, registered to a corporation that in reality is a subsidiary of the UPR .


After having reviewed the document in possession of NCM News, the attorney representing students, professors and other employees, Luis Antonio Pabon Rojas stated that it does not seem satisfactory or credible. He explained that the excluded properties, the lengthy period of time during which no real estate was registered as well as the minimal about inheritances make the lawsuit even more urgent.


The situation becomes more complicated by the one hundred million dollar credit line obtained using the real estate as collateral, given the fact that almost all of the properties that appear in the document are destined for academic purposes, and under the law cannot be sold or mortgaged.


Meanwhile, distant by many kilometers, the Boricua Popular Army- Macheteros claim to have identified a farm, at the heights of the Central Mountain Range, where presumably a private police forces training to repress the popular movements that oppose the gas pipeline that would cross through the mountain region. The report submitted to the press, pinpoints the location and mentions names of government operatives allegedly involved. The report has not been corroborated, but testimony has been obtained about a farm at the same coordinates which was sold under pressure by an indebted landowner and which is now being secured by guards who impede its access.


These developments occur when already the first civil disobedience camp against the gas pipeline has been inaugurated in southern locality of Penuelas, and the small, however influential Partido Independentista Puertorriqueno has begun training its municipal assemblypersons for this struggle. At the same time, the Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano held a forum called a people's tribunal to receive complaints of civil rights violations in which international human rights defenders of international human rights such as Ajamu Baraka from the United States participated as judges.


The outgoing special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigations Luis Fraticelli rounded out the complex picture saying that he is more astonished now than at the beginning of his tenure because this year Puerto Rico became "number one" as far as corruption on the FBI's list.


Things being what they are on June 2nd the Industrialists Association will meet to, in the framework of its convention, listen to the words of ex president Uribe.


Author: Jesús Dávila

Fuente: NCM-CHI-SJ-NY-22-05-11-12


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