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Sila M. Calderon.
Biographie of Sila M. Calderon

Firts woman governor of Puerto Rico

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January 3, 2001

Sila CalderónSAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (EFE) - In the presence of several dignitaries and Latin American presidents, Sila M. Calderon was sworn in as the first woman governor of Puerto Rico by Supreme Court head Jose Andreu Garcia at an inauguration ceremony in San Juan.

Hours earlier, newly elected senators and deputies of the legislature were sworn in to their posts, which begin Jan. 8.

Attending Calderon's formal inaugural event were the presidents of Haiti, Rene Preval, Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, Panama, Mireya Moscoso, the Dominican Republic, Hipolito Mejias and others.

Also in attendance were: Nicaraguan Vice President Leoporto Navarro, Argentine Ambassador Guillermo Gonzalez and the Vatican representative based in the Dominican Republic. Calderon, head of the anti-statehood Popular Democratic Party (PPD), extended her hand to the other nations in the hemisphere.

"Here the Hispanic and Caribbean races unite... we live, think and pray the same way," she said.

In her inaugural speech, the governor praised Puerto Rico's relations with the United States, noting that Puerto Ricans value their U.S. citizenship, but added: "we are, above all, Puerto Ricans."

Puerto Rico was established as a commonwealth in 1952, and as such, has the right to form its own government cabinet and constitution, although it still answers to the U.S. Congress and Constitution.

Regarding the ongoing issue of Puerto Rican statehood, Calderon said that "the initiatives have to come from us."

"We have to search for a consensus regarding procedural aspects, and I am confident that we will achieve a consensus as we did with Vieques," Calderon said.

Regarding the U.S. Navy's training maneuvers on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, Calderon said that "60 years of bombing" is not fair.

Calderon said she hopes that before President Bill Clinton leaves office on Jan. 20, he respond to a request from political, civic and religious leaders throughout Puerto Rico to suspend all military training exercises on Vieques.

In 1985, Calderon was named coordinator of the Governor's Governmental Programs; in May 1986, she was designated chief of staff under former Gov. Rafael Hernandez Colon; in 1988, she became secretary of state.

After five years of public service, she returned to the private sector in 1990. Here she was a member of the board of directors for both BanPonce and Banco Popular, as well as Pueblo Internacional supermarkets.

Until January 1995, Calderon directed the Cantera Peninsula project, a joint project involving community effort with both the private and public sector aid for social rehabilitation and economic development of one of the poorest areas of the capital.

In November 1996, Calderon was elected mayor of San Juan.