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These stories were pubished Friday, Jan. 10, 2003, in Vol. 3, No. 7
Jo Stuart
About us
Financial stress can be serious problem
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Investors in Costa Rica’s two famous, now-defunct high interest operations may be losing more than their money.

Physical, emotional, behavioral and relationship problems can all be generated by the stress of financial loss. In addition, some investors will experience a major loss of self esteem and others will require professional help.

Not only that, dental experts warn that stress from financial loss can cost you your teeth.

That seems to be a reasonable summary of information available on stress, depression and financial loss.

In the case of Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho's borrowing operation and Louis Milanes and his Savings Unlimited, the stress is accentuated by the uncertainty. Some experts say that the best solution to the road to recovery is to put the troubling situation behind them. Both former financiers are fugitives.

The emotional condition of investors has been brought home to A.M. Costa Rica readers by the increasingly shrilled letters being sent to the editor by persons who have lost considerable funds in one or both operations.

More letters

The impact of financial stress is a topic of academic study. The roots of such studies extend to the Great Depression of 1929 and also to the financial disasters that befell U.S. farm families in the 1980s. The impact of the Vietnam war, other lesser financial disasters, such as the decline of the U.S. auto industry, and the impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States contribute to the growing amount of literature.

Colleen D. Jolly of Iowa State University reports that stress from financial woes can cause headaches, appetite or weight changes, a feeling of being tired all the time, changes in sleep habits, muscle aches and a greater frequency of becoming sick with other ailments.

The emotional impact includes anger, sadness or crying spells, irritability or short temper, anxiety, discouragement, trouble relaxing, emptiness or loss of direction and the desire to look for magic solutions.

Even more ominous are her reports that such stress can cause an increase in the use of drugs or alcohol, low productivity, forgetfulness and trouble concentrating.

Relationship problems, she said in a report, include trouble with spouse or children, intolerance of others, fewer contacts with friends, nagging, a lower sex drive, loneliness and resentment. 

Professor Jolly said that blaming others, "the system," or "fate," are barriers to reducing the stress.

A Cornell University study found that financial strain can lead to full-blown depression. The depression reduced the 

ability of persons to function as parents, and so the problems are passed along to the next generation.

That researcher, Rachel Dunifon of the Department of Policy analysis and Management at the New York-based school, said that serious cases may require the help from a mental health professional.

"Seeking financial assistance to rebuild and repair damages adds to the already high levels of stress caused by the disaster or traumatic event, and the hassles of dealing with bureaucracy can add to the frustration," said a report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

What should someone do who has lost perhaps their life’s savings in the failed high-interest operations here?

Says the Mental Health Services Administration:

"Accept the reality of the loss.  Allow yourself and other family members to feel sadness and grief over what has happened.  Adjust to a new environment. 

"Acknowledge that the person or possessions lost are gone forever.  Put closure to the situation and move on. Do not continue to let the loss take its physical, emotional, or spiritual toll.  Have faith in better times to come."

Villalobos defaulted on his September interest payments and has been in hiding since he closed his office Oct. 14. His investors may have lost $1 billion and more than 600 have filed criminal complaints in Costa Rica.

Milanes and several associates left the country the weekend of Nov. 23. His operation has about $260 million of investors money on its books. He faces a fraud charge.

Although most regard Milanes as a crook, a strong minority of Villalobos investors expect him to return and pay back interest. They blame the Costa Rican government for his disappearance. Villalobos faces charges of fraud and money laundering.

Relevant Web sites include:

The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

The Journal of Periodontology

Starting the New Year: Hitting the ground running downhill
A promo on TV for the movie, Con Air, is offering a prize for the most scary flight story.  I am thinking of submitting mine. 

Mavis and I had just arrived at Bill’s house for a luncheon party. Blas, Mavis’ driver, helped her out of the car, which he had to park on a very steep gravel driveway. I knew he would come and help me, but I figured I could manage, even in sandals and with the six-pack of beer Mavis had in the back seat. So out I stepped. 

The weight of the six-pack, on the downside of the hill, was enough to throw me off balance. Not wanting to fall, I stepped in that direction hoping to right myself. Instead, I began to move downhill. Soon (going from zero to 15 mph in 10 seconds, I’m sure) I was racing down the hill having lost both the six-pack and my shoes. 

Time moved in slow motion and many thoughts crossed my mind: I wished someone were filming this, it had to be hilarious, me in my elegant silk chartreuse slacks, out of control barreling down the hill in my stocking feet. If this were a movie, I would wind up covered with fake blood, with a wound that would be healed by the next scene. 

I was also desperately looking for the road to level off so I could slow down. It didn’t. Finally, no longer able to keep up with my legs, I took to the air for about two seconds and then I made a six point landing (hands, chest, toes and nose), and finally slid to a stop. They are right: taking off and landing are the most dangerous (and painful) parts of flying. Blas, who was running behind me trying to catch up, got to me and lifted me, bleeding real blood and hurting all over. 

Later he told me the first thing I said was, "The beer, the beer." The cans were strewn along the road spraying their liquid. With great presence of mind and concern, he got me into the house and carefully washed my hands and toes. Someone called Red Cross, and the ambulance arrived in just 10 minutes. It was decided that my left hand needed stitches and the rest of me more sanitizing, so off we went to the hospital. I was closer to CIMA, but with only Caja insurance I said I wanted to go to Calderón Guardia. 

Living in Costa Rica

. . .Where the living is good

By Jo Stuart

We sped along the autopista and bounced across town, where, thankfully, there was little traffic, it being New Years Day. When we arrived at Calderón Guardia they took me in by wheelchair. I knew there was no way I could walk. 

It felt like I had broken at least four ribs and my left wrist. When I asked the Red Cross attendants how much the ride was, they said, nothing. I shall certainly in the future give generously whenever I see a Red Cross person with their little white and red box. 

I hope some of my donations will go towards new shock absorbers for their ambulances. It was one o’clock and I was surprised to see so few people in the hallways. 

Six hours later, when I left, after several scrubbings, two x-rays (not a single broken bone), an electrocardiogram, three stitches, three shots and two prescriptions, the hospital waiting rooms resembled an airport when all planes have been cancelled. 

My heart went out to all of those with cuts and bruises worse than mine (I really felt their pain), who were still waiting, and to the overworked, yet still compassionate, hospital staff who had hours to go. 

After one night of going it on my own, I accepted Mavis’ offer to stay with her while I recuperated. On the second day she received a letter from a friend of hers who was getting along in years. She read some of it to me, and I will share it: 

"Now that I am older, my ears are better for listening and learning. I look after my health. I live one day at a time, and if something which needs doing is risky, I don’t do it." Ah, yes. Next time.

More Jo Stuart:

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Someone here actually fell for the Nigerian scam
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

By falling for an internet scam that began with a solicitous e-mail, a Costa Rican man lost $60,000.

A press release from the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto is warning other Costa Ricans not to fall into the same trap as the bamboozled man. Claude Charbonnel, the Costa Rican consul in South Africa, alerted his countrymen back home about the Nigerian fraud, which is well-known to Internet users.

The scam begins with an e-mail to a potential mark. The sender pretends to be someone of great prestige like a prince from Nigeria. The "prince" retells a horribly sad tail of woe like how his father was a king, but the family was dethroned and slaughtered during civil war.

The letter proceeds with lies about how he has a secret fortune that can only be recovered if he finds a person to open a bank account overseas to transfer the funds to. 

The solicitor appeals to a person by saying how after an intensive investigation to find an honest man who he can trust with his money he has chosen "you." 

The letter promises 20 to 30 percent of the millions of dollars if the person establishes an account the solicitors can access. According to the 

press release, the defrauders ask for up to $50,000 to be placed into the account so they can cover travel and legal costs.

The con is known as either "advance fraud payments" or "fraud 419," after the criminal code number it falls under in Nigeria.

The Costa Rican who believed the e-mail, or maybe thought it could help make him rich, deposited $60,000 into a Costa Rican bank under the name of a company registered in South Africa. The money was then transferred to Miami, Florida, and later to South Africa, according to the press release.

The name of the man who lost out to the scammers was not revealed, but in his case he only lost money. The press release said that in other cases outwitted investors have been kidnapped when they tried to recover their money by traveling to Nigeria. In which case the kidnappers hit their victim’s families up for more money. In other cases people have been killed trying to recover funds.

Four other potential investors from Costa Rica took the precaution of  questioning the South African consulate about the deal, and avoided losing money, according to the press release. 

The internet is awash with such scam letters. Sometimes even individuals in Costa Rica get four or five such letters a day. Much has been written about the scam.

Major study confirms that booze is great for heart
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A 12-year study has found that men who drink alcohol three or more days per week have a reduced risk of heart attack compared to men who drink less frequently.

The National Institutes of Health said that its study, published in the Thursday issue of "The New England Journal of Medicine," found that the frequency of drinking — not the amount or the type of alcohol — was the key factor in lowered heart disease risk. 

The study, which included more than 38,000 male health professionals ages 40 to 75, found that men who consumed alcohol three or four days a week — when compared with men who drank less than once a week — had approximately two-thirds, or 68 percent, the risk of heart attack. Men who consumed alcohol five to seven days per week had a slightly lesser risk -- 63 percent.

Study data suggested no additional cardiac benefit of drinking more than two drinks a day. The report cautions that heavy drinking has well documented adverse health effects.

Go to third newspage HERE!   Go home HERE!
A.M. Costa Rica/Saray Ramírez Vindas
This Fernández work shows his emphasis on women which characterizes his last few years.

Painter Rafa Fernández
wins Magón Prize

By Saray Ramírez Vindas
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Guido Sáenz, the minister of Cultura, Juventude y Deportes, Thursday named Rafa Fernández as the 2002 winner of the Magón Prize.

This is the premier culture award in Costa Rica. The recipient is a painter who works primarily in oils.
Guido Sáenz
With Sáenz was Amalia Chavarri, vice minister, Alexandra Simone, general manager of Cultura, and others, including jury members and previous award winners at the Magón Hall in the Centro Nacional de Cultura.

Sáenz, himself a former winner, stressed the importance of the award for the national culture and outlined the importance of the 

work of Fernández. He also lamented the fact that Fernández could not be there due to health problems.

Fernández, born in 1935, has been affected twice in the last year with cerebral problems.

The minister also asked the media to give more spaces to culture themes to involve the present and future generations.

Sáenz expressed disappointment with Ástrid Fischel, the minister of Educación Pública, because he said she has put art in the last place in the school curriculum. He said he would meet with her to encourage and promote the arts in the Costa Rican education system.

Sáenz said that Fernández deserved the prize, according to the jury, because he is considered one of the greatest representation of artistic creation in the Costa Rican plastic technique. During the last four decades he has created new thematics and techniques. 

During the last years he has been concerned with  the eternal female, according to his admirers. He has created dream worlds and depicted poetic personalities as well as historical figures, they say.

He has held expositions all over Latin America, México, the United States, Spain and Europe.

The prize was created in 1961, originally as a literary award. When the ministry was created in 1970, it took over the supervision of the award and the scope was expanded to make it a national culture award. Some 41 persons have been honored with the award, including painters, writers, anthropologists and musicians.

Mexican minister resigns
under dark cloud

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MEXICO CITY, Mexico — President Vicente Fox says he has received the resignation of his controversial foreign minister, Jorge Castaneda. But, he says, he has not yet decided whether to accept it. There is already speculation as to who might replace Castaneda. 

Ending days of speculation and rumors in the press, Fox has announced that Castaneda has submitted his letter of resignation. He says he will consider Castaneda's resignation request, and make a decision by Monday, as to whether to accept it. 

Fox says that, if he does accept the resignation, he will name a new foreign minister by Monday, and also name a replacement for any other cabinet position that may be left vacant as a result.

This furthered speculation that Ernesto Derbez, economy minister, may be in line for the job. Newspapers here have also speculated that, if Derbez takes the foreign minister position, the current governor of the northern state of Nuevo Leon, Fernando Canales, would be named to the economy post. Canales is a member of Fox's National Action Party.

Over the past two years, Castaneda had become the most controversial cabinet member in the Fox government, largely because of a style that critics called "arrogant." The former leftist political operative and columnist angered many of his former associates on the left by pushing a foreign policy agenda that favored better relations with the United States and a cooling of relations with communist Cuba.

In March of last year, Cuban President Fidel Castro left a summit in Monterrey, early, because, he said, Castaneda had convinced Fox to ask Castro to leave before President George Bush arrived. A few weeks later, the Cuban leader blamed Castaneda for Mexico's vote against Cuba at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva.

Political observers say Castaneda was successful in his attempt to create a bigger role for the country on the world stage. He helped forge stronger ties with Europe, as well as the United States, and he helped gain a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

Perhaps, Castaneda's biggest frustration was his failure to gain an immigration accord with the United States. Progress toward an accord seemed assured, after a state visit to Washington by Fox in September, 2001. But only a few days after that visit, terrorists attacked New York and Washington, and U.S. policy on the border became centered on security.

In a speech earlier this week, Castaneda said he still believes an immigration accord would be in the best interests of both nations, and that this should remain a top priority for the country.

Car bomb kills four;
official blames leftists

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

BOGOTA, Colombia — Officials here say four people have been killed in a car bombing in the eastern state of Arauca. 

Authorities say the bomb exploded Thursday on a rural road near the city of Fortul, about 350 kilometers (217 miles) northeast of here. At least six people were wounded. 

International news sources quote the state governor as blaming the attack on leftist rebels. 

It also quotes a police commander as saying the bomb exploded before reaching its intended target of an urban area or government building. 

The incident Thursday comes one day after a car bomb exploded outside a military base in Arauquita, also in Arauca state. One person was killed in that attack.

Search for plane in Peru
grounded by weather

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LIMA, Peru — Authorities say severe weather has forced them to suspend an aerial search for a passenger plane that disappeared over the Amazon jungle here. It is feared to have crashed. 

But, investigators are conducting a land search in an area known as Lonya Chico in hopes of finding the TANS Peru airliner. 

Officials say 46 people were on board the Fokker-28 when it lost radio contact with air traffic controllers Thursday, minutes before it was due to land at an airport in the city of Chachapoyas. The plane was traveling from the coastal city of Chiclayo at the time.

TANS airline spokesman Jorge Belevan says the passengers included eight children, one of them an infant, along with a Belgian couple. 

The spokesman also noted initially that flying conditions were good but told reporters the weather in the jungle could change abruptly. Belevan says airline officials are hoping the plane made an emergency landing. 

Last year, TANS Peru launched a weekly flight to Chachapoyas. Tourists traveling to Kuelap, a mountainous attraction predating the Spanish conquest of the Americas, often visit the area.

Reich avoids vote
with Bush’s new title

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President George W. Bush has named Otto Reich as a special envoy in Latin America, and intends to nominate a more palatable diplomat, Roger Noriega, to fill Reich’s former position as an assistant secretary. That position requires Senate approval, which may have proved tough for the controversial Reich to win. 

Bush announced Reich’s appointment Thursday, saying in a statement that Reich has a distinguished record of service to the United States. His current appointment does not require Senate approval.

Democrats had blocked Reich's nomination as assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs in 2001 because of concerns about his involvement in Nicaraguan policy during the Reagan Administration in the 1980s.

In January 2002, Bush named Reich to the post while Congress was in recess, a temporary move that did not require Senate approval. 

The White House said Thursday it will nominate Roger Noriega to fill the now vacant post of assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs.

Noriega is currently the permanent representative of the United States of America to the Organization of American States, a post he has held since August of 2001.

Country Day won’t
face Saturday classes

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Teachers and students in Costa Rican private schools, like many foreigners here, do not need to worry about the plan to mandate Saturday classes put forth by the Pacheco administration.

The crafty plan to minimize the cost of the school year without diminishing the Sala IV- enforced 200-day school year will not apply to private schools like Country Day School in Escazú, according to Ana Villalobos, the secretary to the headmaster. 

She noted that the school was on the U.S. calendar for education.

Under the Saturday plan that still has to gain acceptance from the teachers union, the school year would start March 3 and run until the last Saturday in November. The government saves the salaries it would have paid teachers for the period Feb. 3, the usual starting date, and March 3.

Ástrid Fischel, the minister of Educación Pública, will be meeting with union representatives Monday. However, President Abel Pacheco seemed to be backing away from the plan in interviews Thursday.

Oil industry woes to 
continue in Venezuela

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

CARACAS, Venezuela —Thousands of bank workers here are expected to stay off the job for a second day Friday to support a long-running general strike paralyzing the vital oil industry. 

Bank employees joined the walkout for two days Thursday as part of the larger opposition effort to press leftist President Hugo Chavez to resign and call early elections. The president refuses to step down. 

When the two-day bank shutdown was announced earlier this week, people rushed to buy U.S. dollars, fearing a banking crisis. The run on the banks sent the national currency, the bolivar, to a record low against the dollar. 

The banking shutdown comes in the sixth week of the general strike that began Dec. 2. Although the strike has idled schools and businesses, its impact has been felt most in the key oil sector. 

The country traditionally has been the world's fifth-largest oil exporter, but the walkout has forced the government to import fuel for domestic use. The labor action, coupled with fears of a U.S. war with Iraq, has pushed oil prices to nearly two-year highs in recent weeks. 

Additionally, protest marches in support of or against the government are an almost daily occurrence as political tensions rise in the oil-rich nation. 

The Organization of American States has been mediating between the Chavez government and opposition in hopes of negotiating a solution to the crisis.

British official announces
immigration clampdown

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

LONDON, England — The British government says Jamaican nationals will now need a visa to enter the United Kingdom.

David Blunkett, home secretary, says the new measure, which takes effect Thursday, is aimed at preventing delays of more than two hours for what he calls "genuine visitors" from Jamaica.

He says the number of Jamaicans being refused entry has increased. Jamaicans accounted for 20 percent of travelers refused entry to Britain in the weeks before the Dec. 25 Christmas holiday. 

The British official did not indicate why the travelers were turned away. Blunkett says he is also concerned about what he calls the "unacceptably high" number of Jamaicans who come to Britain as visitors and then stay.

British officials also say the new visa requirement is part of efforts to crack down on drug smuggling.
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Our reward offer is still $500

Louis Milanes

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

This newspaper seeks the prompt return of two men who ran high-interest investment operations that have gone out of business.

Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho, 62, was associated with Ofinter S.A., a money exchange house, and with his own private investment business that had about $1 billion in other people’s money on the books. 

Villalobos closed his business Oct. 14 and vanished.

Louis Milanes operated Savings Unlimited and several casinos in San José. He left the country with other members of his firm the weekend of Nov. 23. He may have as much as $260 million in his possession. Both operations catered to North Americans.

Villalobos had about 6,300 customers. Milanes had about 2,400.

Villalobos and Milanes are the subjects of international arrest warrants.  Associates of both men have been jailed.

A.M. Costa Rica has posted a $500 reward for information leading to the detention of either man with the hopes that others will make similar pledges. The newspaper believes that investors only will see some of their money when the two men are in custody.

Milanes has few supporters in San José. On the other hand, as the letters frequently on this page show, Villalobos still has supporters who believe that he will reappear and settle his debts. They believe he is in hiding because of a predatory Costa Rican government.

Letters on the Villalobos situation
Silent majority
deplores whiners

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

We have followed this story from Dallas and have just arrived in Costa Rica for a visit. We and many others read you daily. You've been deluged by a write-in campaign, but be CERTAIN the silent majority of readers are with you 100%. Absolutely. The loud, the raucous, the profane, the drum-beaters are often heard, but are in the tiny minority of your readers.

I have spoken to several who, like me, will continue to actively support your advertisers. We're now picking our hotels from your classifieds, and a rental car from your advertisers — and we're trying to see see how else we can support your advertisers. 

The loud and raucous, the ranters and ravers, scream and shout. The silent majority stands with you — and spends..

The Bible-quoters and profane are out in force, frothing at the mouth, seeking to blame someone — ANYONE — for their own greed and foolishness. 

Many seem to be competing with each other to be the biggest brown-nosers, perhaps in hopes of currying favor and maybe, possibly, being given favored treatment in getting some of their money back. It's really pathetic to see the govelling letter writers compete to outdo one another in brown-nosing.

Speaking for the silent majority (my first letter), stand firm and strong. We are with you all the way. Now, to the classifieds for the hotels, the car and any other advertisers we can find to support on our visit.

Sam Boyd 
Dallas, Texas


 Law applies to good, bad

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Re: The Brothers and Cubans are now crooks 

A.M. Costa Rica has proven that its readership is diverse. Letters prove it, by not intelligent lawyers, weirdos who probably do not know the difference from left to right and up or down, obscene ladies de nochce, good citizens, plus by many victims who are sincerely pulling all of the hope strings. 

Not common criminals? Not large enough reward? Convicted quilty before a trial? A newspaper has no business placing a reward? 'If I am jailed or persecuted I cannot return any money'? 

Readers, smell the coffee and wake up! The best of the best and all of you educated greedy investors may have been fooled by Enron, WorldCom, Martha what's her face, but then did any of you smart guys and dolls really know Enrique and Luis...? The answer is no! The government of Costa Rica is a victim, too, as are all of us.

All of the investors assumed a risk, even though the good track record is more than 25 years and 10 years respectfully. I allege, the U.S. government, at least indirectly could be the culprit, not the government of Canada nor pura vida Costa Rica. 

The intelligence community (probably CIA and IRS) permitted you'all a very long free ride, but then for political and save-our-ass reasons for 2003, decided to pull the plug, in the name of the newly legislated anti-terrorism and revised beefed up money laundering Homeland Security/Defense laws. 

It's engraved in stone, now in Washington, D.C. and at Langley, Virginia, that offshore investors can no longer have any more rights than Osama bin Laden's gang, to hide large sums of dinero and to reap the benefit of 3-4% monthly compounded earnings or to avoiding taxes in the U.S., in Costa Rica, or in fact in any country globally. 

Accordingly, the law in the U.S. and in C.R. is clear. What's on the books for bad guys also applies for good guys. The question is what next high-yielding investment group will be the soon target of Uncle Sam, viz diplomatic and political pressure to the government of Costa Rica. 

Investment companies and investors, govern and protect yourselves Accordingly. Interpol, the FBI, OIJ and DIS are all involved in this thing now!

David Andrew Thomasun
Los Sueños, Costa Rica

Wants good/bad news

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am a Villobos investor, I live now in Colorado, I heard you spent some time here, What I want to say is if you want me to view your paper as unbias, you can not offer a reward. That means to me and a lot of other people that you think he is guilty. Now I do not know what EV is truly guilty of. I just think that from my dealings in CR nothing is by the book, Nobody stays in business in the the center of the capital in the busiest mall in the city for 25 years without the governments approval. Remove the reward and focus on the facts. Dig up more real facts good or bad, and publish them. Then my respect for you will grow. 

Rik Squadrito
Prosecution is unwarranted

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

It is an unfortunate commentary on the Costa Rican Judicial system, if it can be called such, that two injured robbery victims are fearful of pressing charges because of their observation that perpetrators of violent crimes rarely if ever are prosecuted to the full extent of the law and indeed are not prosecuted at all. 

The victims of crimes often fear retribution if they press charges, and, thus, crime continues on without intervention by the "law enforcement" authorities. Unless and until the Costa Rican government faces up to the fact that unless and until it vigorously prosecutes crime and vigorously patrols areas which are hotbeds of criminal activity, the tourism industry will gradually die and foreign investment will dry up — for what foreign company will be able to encourage its employees to move to a crime ridden country. 

Costa Rica, is at the moment living on its past reputation as a peaceful , friendly, crime-free nation. But those days are long since past. It is interesting to note that the Costa Rican authorities are vigorously hunting down several businessmen and have incarcerated at least one without preparing any charges. And at the same time street criminals are permitted to roam free. 

Would not the government do better to deal with the Villalobos person through his attorneys and to have the attorneys inquire that which the government seeks to know and then if the answers are not satisfactory to then pursue the matter further? 

It seems that the prosecution (or is it perseccution) of the Villalobos family is unwarranted at this time unless and until there is concrete proof of wrongdoing. Those who loaned or invested money with these individuals certainly want justice done. 

They did receive their interest payments punctually and never had reason to believe that they were dealing with other than an honorable man and until funds were made unavailable by the government "freeze," they would still have received payments. There are those who criticize the investors-lenders because they were able to accumulate enough money to invest-loan. 

Do we criticize those who loan-invest money with banks or other corporations because they invest-loan? No, we do not, so why chastize those who dealt with Villalobos? It seems that a more pragmatic way of handling the situation is to abide [with] the fundamental premise that one is innocent until proven guilty and to let Villalobs carry on his affairs unless and until there is concrete proof of crime. 

It should be pointed out that until the government "froze" accounts and interrupted a business which had been carried out for amost two decades. No investor-lender ever accused Villalobos of criminal activity. Indeed, payments were made punctually— so who are the "vicitims" of any alleged "crime"? 

It appears that those who invested-loaned money in good faith are the vicitms, just as those who invested in Enron and WorldCom in good faith are the vicitms. If certain people were laundering money through any business — whether through Banco Nacional or any other national bank or through Villalobos — then prosecute those individuals. Do not make good faith lenders-investors suffer. Please print this letter and comments are invited.

signed only as "Donelly"

Gives journalism lesson

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I don't know you or have a need to know you, but responsible reporting should be "the facts and only the facts" with no shading of personal opinion. It is the editorial page that is reserved for venting of the editor's personal opinions. That separates fact from opinion. That is why responsible reporting is referred to as "the fourth estate" after executive, legistative and judicial branches of government in the U.S.A. I realize that you are not in the U.S.A, but you are in the country that since 1948 has represented the best of good of freely elected government outside the U.S.A. 

To place an ad in your paper which some may take as seriously placed by a source no related to your paper is beyong any range of responsibility or good reporting. This is the first lesson course 101. Hopefully, you will come to understand the difference between the reporting pages, the editorial page and more important advertising. Inserting an advertisement to reflect your opinion or the opinion of a group of your friends is totally unacceptable. If you refuse to note the difference, your paper will suffer the consequences of becoming another minor footnote in the newspaper business.

Monty Montague



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