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What A Relief: Puerto Rican Senator Gives Urine Sample Publicly

March 18, 1995

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ The reasons behind Puerto Rico’s bizarre politics may not hold water. But the politicians themselves do, the public learned indisputably Friday.

Journalists crowded into a Capitol bathroom while Sen. Freddie Valentin, responding to drug allegations, tried to urinate into a cup.

``I have just transmitted, for the first time ever, a senator taking a pee before the media,″ Noti-Uno radio reporter Sonia Salgado said before signing off.

Valentin initially demanded that House President Zaida Hernandez, who on Wednesday linked him to illegal drugs, witness the delivery of a urine sample. Hernandez refused, so Valentin invited journalists to be witnesses.

Several accepted.

``I’m here in the bathroom of the Senate,″ Saldago said, reporting live. ``It’s kind of crowded in here. Valentin is going into the stall.″

Televisions across the island showed a camera in the men’s-room stall, watching from above and behind Valentin.

Capitol onlookers cheered and whistled as the 43-year-old senator tried unsuccessfully to produce a urine sample. A self-conscious Valentin had to down several cups of water before successfully producing a sample.

The Senate voted to conduct voluntary drug tests Wednesday after the ruling New Progressive Party revealed the names of two of its legislators and three from the opposition allegedly linked to drug trafficking.

Nearly all 29 senators provided samples Friday, though some refused.

``We’re doing this for the honor of the Senate and the Legislature, although it’s a personal indignity,″ said Sen. Oreste Ramos.

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