I would like to thank all of the professors who were involved in the preparation of this study; especially Dr. Maria Brisk, without whose assistance I would ever have reached this goal. Also Dr. James Flood for his support, and Dr. William Nolan for his advice on the statistical part. My most sincere thanks to Dr. William Smith who encouraged me to continue my studies.

    I am also thankful to my wife, Ixa, and my daughters, Yiara and Ixita; and my brothers, Javier and Melvin, for their support, patience and understanding.

    Many thanks to Winifred Harraway, who helped me through the process of typing day by day.

    Last, but not least, I would like to thank God for giving me the wisdom and patience to put this dissertation together.  

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