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These stories were published Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2004, in Vol. 4, No. 212
Jo Stuart
About us
Arrest warrants also name his dead wife
Green Fund's Jafek denies he lied or cheated
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Tom Jafek said that he faced intimidation, stalking and extortion from unhappy investors, but he has no money and denies he lied or cheated.

Jafek, operator of the Costa Rica Green Fund, was responding to a news article Monday that said he, his wife and son were the targets of international arrest warrants from Costa Rica charging fraud.

"I am responsible for whatever goes down," said Jafek in an e-mail message.  "Certainly my son and my deceased wife had nothing to do with what the complainants are involved with. I wish to hell they would quit picking on a dead person, Billie Jo."

The posting of the warrants on the INTERPOL Web site listed all three.

Jafek did not give particulars on the death of his wife, who died of an illness in early 2003, but he did say that those in his fund knowingly put money in a high-return/high-risk investment and now "they have selective hearing and selective reasoning."

"There was no fraud or lying or cheating on my part," Jafek said. "I invested the funds and after 9/11 and Villalobos and Roy Taylor and Savings Unlimited etc., the whole HYI [high-yield interest] thing came tumbling down like a house of cards. 

"Whether stupid, as a lot would like to say, or unfortunate, as of course I would like to believe, the money was invested and it is not available now, even though the possibility still exists that I can make it happen. I can make it happen if I am not in a jail in Costa Rica."

Jafek was writing from an undisclosed location, probably somewhere in Panamá. He used the same e-mail address that he has used for years. He was responding to a reporter who wanted to know if he was aware he was the object of an arrest warrant.

Jafek said his location is not a secret. "They already found me because I am not trying to hide, because I never did anything dishonest or knowingly illegal, it was easy for them," he said of informal groups of recovery agents commissioned by investors.

Jafek said that several months ago these 

Costa Rica Green logo

manhunters tried to get him to deposit $1.2 million into an Internet digital currency account, Evocash.

"I refused for two reasons," Jafek said:

"1. I don't have any money!

"2. I would never deal with slimeballs like this."

Jafek added, "My prayer is that I can keep the INTERPOL thing from hurting my efforts to get the job done. Then when I recover the funds, I can make everyone whole again."

"This is my moral obligation, but not necessarily my legal obligation.  Have one person show you a pledge that I made in writing or a contract in writing. It would be false, because I never pledged to anyone that I could guarantee any particular return or the return of principal for that matter."

Jafek did not want to discuss the amount of money individuals had put into his fund. However, he said in the past that Roy Taylor, operator of The Vault, owed him $800,000. Taylor disputed this in a conversation shortly before he killed himself while in police custody more than a year ago. 

Most of the funds from The Vault never have been found and the company is effectively defunct.

Others estimate that Jafek managed some $4 to $10 million for investors, a modest amount compared to the $1 billion Luis Enrique and Oswaldo Villalobos Camacho had on their books when they shut down Oct. 14, 2002. Jafek left the San José area in early 2003 for Panamá. 

Jafek said in the past he had a minimal amount of money with the Brothers Villalobos. He also said he managed to withdraw funds from Savings Unlimited before operator Luis Milanes left town in November 2002.

Jafek has been consistent in saying that he has been trying to salvage funds for his investors but he has not spelled out his investment plans.

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La Costanera, Quepos, Parrita, Manuel Antonio

Minister Pacheco jumps
ship at Obras Públicas

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ovidio Pacheco, minister of Obras Públicas y Transportes, resigned Monday just six weeks after taking the job. He said his health was failing, in part due to the impossibility of doing the job without adequate resources.

Pacheco denied that his departure had anything to do with a story in La Nación Monday that suggested a firm he operates in Turrialba is engaged in predatory financing.

Pacheco said he will return to private life and stay away from politics.

Before taking on the ministry that deals with roads, bridges, airports and docks, Pacheco was minister of Trabajo.

La Nación said that the firm Pacheco founded in 1977 loaned money to farmers at 60 percent a year interest. It recounted stories of some individuals in the area who had lost their homes and land because they were unable to pay the interest.

In taking his leave, Pacheco said he was not involved with the company Compañía Agropecuaria La Pradera S.A. However, he had told La Nación earlier that the company was owned by his family.

The resignation is another embarrassment to President Abel Pacheco. The transport minister is the 14th high official to leave the administration.

Nevertheless, President Pacheco was gracious and characterized Minister Pacheco as a hard worker. The president confirmed that Minister Pacheco talked to him about resigning 15 days earlier.

In an afternoon meeting with reporters, Pacheco basically said his job was impossible to do.

Indian encounter set
for this weekend here

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Representatives from the eight Indian peoples who live in Costa Rica will meet Thursday through Sunday in San José.

The encounter is primarily for members of the Indian groups to share experiences, but there also will be expositions and an Indian art market for the public.

The annual encounter is under the auspices of the Ministerio de Cultura, Juventud y Deportes, and much of the activities will be at the ministry, the Centro Nacional de la Cultura, also known as the old liquor factory, just southeast of the office building of the Instituto Nacional de Seguros.

Nearly 64,000 persons who identify themselves as Indians live in Costa Rica, many in 24 designated territories. The ministry said they represented about 1.7 percent of the population in the 2000 census.

Some of the groups, like the Malekus have just 460 persons. The Bri-Bri with 9,645 persons in the Talamanca mountains is the largest.

Attempted hijacking
foiled by police

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man and his bodyguards came under fire in Barrio Tournón in north San José. Men in another car either were trying to steal the victims’ car or kidnap the occupant, identified only as an Oriental.

The would-be victims said a vehicle began to follow them and tried to get them out of the car near the La República newspaper building. A Fuerza Pública officer in a motorized unit heard shots and intervened.

Three suspects were taken into custody. Guns and masks were found in their car, police said.

Our readers reply

He says vaccines
are dangerous

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

All too often the medical mafia pharmo drug dealers have 100 percent control over the mainstream media distribution of their lies about vaccines, the nature of disease, and the true cures. I read on your pages recently a short story about flu season in Costa Rica and you quote one of these Medical Mafia Doctors who promote the lie for "those at risk of flu" to take two shots a year! 

A little research into the ingredients of these shots will show you that these flu shots are full of poison. One in particular is called Thimersol which is primarily mercury. Thimersol is used to keep the vaccines from contamination after production. But since these shots are nearly 50 percent Thimersol, how much Mercury are the recipients receiving each and every time they get a flu shot?

The number one reason people get and are sick is diet! Worldwide people eat too much processed foods which contain many poisons such as the excitotoxins MSG and Aspartame. Further most people drink very little water. If doctors were honest, they would tell all patients to change their diet, drink more water, and eat only fresh natural foods. The doctors should be leading the charge against the multi-national corporations who force pesticides and other poisons on us but they say nothing. Doctors who do speak out are ejected from the profession with criminal charges!

Let’s show how brave we are and stand up for our right to healthy food, clean water, unpolluted air, and medical truth!

Bob Jones 
Stabbing at Escazú mall

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A man stabbed a woman in the Centro Comercial Multiplaza in Escazú Sunday. The assailant, identified by the last name of Membreño, was quickly detained. The woman suffered three knife wounds to the stomach and was hospitalized.
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The fresh fruit brought ice cream maker here
By Clair-Marie Robertson 
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Crem Rica in Curridabat is not your usual ice-cream parlor. Eduardo and Esther Balarezo, originally from Peru, moved to Costa Rica 12  years ago. Their children were growing up, and they were looking for a new challenge. For the Balarezos Costa Rica offered an abundance of fresh fruits and natural products that they could incorporate into their unique and mouthwatering recipes. 

Making ice cream in the Central valley is no easy chore. La Pops outlets are everywhere, and Dos Pinos produces an above average product.

Crem Rica offers 24 flavors of premium American ice-cream which are rotated according to season. They include vanilla, pistachio, chocolate, fudge, English toffee, strawberry and Bordeaux cherry. The most unusual flavor on sale is lucuma, made from an exotic fruit that is only grown and harvested in Peru. 

If ice-cream isn’t your thing then cakes, gourmet coffees, crepes and pastries are also available.  For Mrs. Balarezo it is not just the fact that the store sells great ice-cream. "We pride ourselves on excellent customer service," she said.

"We have a select clientele that travel from miles around to eat our ice-cream, and we don’t even advertise. Its all by word of mouth," said Mrs. Balarezo. "This is why we are not competing with other companies. People know they can’t get the same quality product anywhere else." 

The formulas for the recipes for each ice cream flavor are secret. 

Mr. Balarezo graduated with a masters degree in food science from the University of California, Fresno. "When we started, we were very cautious

A.M. Costa Rica/Clair-Marie Robertson
Mili Aguinaga, a Crem Rica employee, serves up one of the special flavors.
about who was coming into Crem Rica, other companies knew that there was a new ice cream shop," said Mrs. Balarezo. 

Crem Rica has been running since 1992, and the company is doing so well that the owners are looking to expand. One of their next projects is to open up more of their ice cream parlors in the beach resorts of Costa Rica. ". . . So people can get a chance to taste good ice-cream." said Mrs. Balarezo. 

The Balarezo family never gets tired of ice-cream. "When we are invited to a friend’s house they get really disappointed if we don’t bring round ice cream for dessert."

A report from the scene
Haiti is a violent basket case filled with death
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Political violence, instability and natural disasters are taking their toll on the people of Haiti. In the past few weeks more than 50 people have died in political violence. Nearly 2,000 died and hundreds remain missing from floods caused by Tropical Storm Jeanne. 

Haitian police each day work their way through the slums of Bel Air, exchanging gunfire with the dreaded Chimieres, gangs of supporters of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide. The Chimieres, which in Creole roughly means ghosts, live up to their name. They disappear into a maze of alleys in one of Port-au-Prince's oldest neighborhoods that is a stronghold of support for the former president. 

Scores have died in violence in Haiti since Sept. 30, when Aristide supporters began violent demonstrations calling for his return. Aristide, who lives in exile in South Africa, says he was forced to leave Haiti earlier this year by the United States and France, a charge both countries strongly deny. 

Haiti's interim government blames Aristide for the violence. Justice Minister Bernard Gousse said what his government is facing is nothing less than terrorism: 

"We are facing, the society is facing, acts of terrorism and very barbaric acts, where you have people being beheaded, and people being burned. It did not happen once, but you can say there is a scheme of terrorism that is coming down in the city, and the government has to face that, along with the police force." 

A force of about 3,000 U.N. peacekeepers, headed by a Brazilian general, backs up the Haitian police. But U.N. officials say it is not their job, but the job of Haiti's police, to disarm the gangs. A promised international force of 8,000 troops has failed to materialize. U.N. officials say they hope to add several thousand more troops by the end of the year. 

U.N. officials also say they have other concerns in Haiti. 

In a rural town there are women scooping up cans of beans and carrying the food away in heavy sacks. They are waiting for relief food in the town of Passeraigne, about 20 kms. (12 miles) north of Gonaives, Haiti's third largest city. Gonaives was devastated by floods from Tropical Storm Jeanne one-month ago. U.N. officials have organized a massive effort to provide relief to the flood victims. 

Food deliveries in Gonaives were suspended after violence broke out, and now those who need food must find their way to Passeraigne to receive it. 

Many, like Mirais, say they barely survived the floods. Mirais says she and her family of six had to climb trees as the flood waters destroyed their home near Gonaives. She says she has lost everything, but unlike many of her neighbors, all the members of her family survived. 

Tropical Storm Jeanne did not hit Haiti directly, but because the country is deforested, the storm turned deadly. Trees and soil that could have absorbed the rain have been replaced by scrub and cactus around Gonaives. As a result, a cascade of water, mud and rocks swept through the city. 

Fernando Arroyo is overseeing relief efforts for the United Nations in Gonaives. He says the basic reason for the tragedy is extreme poverty: "The bottom line is deforestation, but that responds to a critical economic situation. When the people of Haiti do not have any other recourse, they will chop the trees and they will transform them into charcoal to sell the charcoal as the last resource. This is what has happened in Gonaives and in so many other areas of Haiti." 

Gonaives has begun a slow recovery, but relief supplies to the city have been slowed down because the main road to Gonaives is now blocked by a meter-deep lake caused by the storm. Political 

violence in Port-au-Prince has also prevented authorities from unloading ships carrying relief aid for the people of Gonaives. 

Arroyo says Haiti's government also needs to do more: "A number of streets in Gonaives are still clogged by mud. A number of drainage channels are still dirty, filled with mud and branches and objects. The humanitarian agencies are making an effort to remove the debris and unclog the streets, but we need bigger support from the government in terms of heavy equipment, which we know is available, to come here and integrate this common effort." 

Local officials at the Gonaives city hall are reluctant to discuss the issue of government inaction, saying the officials responsible for the cleanup are not in the city. Haiti's interim government has named a cabinet minister to oversee recovery efforts, but when Haiti's interim president and prime minister recently visited Gonaives they were greeted by angry residents who complained of government inaction. 

There is also anger in Port-au-Prince at the way Haiti's interim government has responded to the political violence. 

Backed by U.N. peacekeepers, Haitian police have stepped up police sweeps in pro-Aristide slum areas, and arrested several prominent Aristide supporters. 

Among them is Dr. Louis Gerald Gilles, a surgeon and Haitian senator, who is a member of Aristide's Lavalas Family political party. Gilles, who was recently released from jail, says the violence in the slums is being caused by extremists who have no connection with Aristide's political movement. 

Gilles says he opposes the violence of the pro-Aristide gangs, who, he says, believe they can force the return of the former president. He says he does not know who is backing them, and he rejects government charges that he and other Lavalas politicians offer encouragement to the gangs. 

Gilles and other Lavalas politicians say Haiti's government is using the violence to crack down on Lavalas, which is the largest single party in Haiti's suspended parliament. 

Members of Haiti's interim government reject the charges, saying there has been no crackdown on Lavalas political activities, but that Lavalas activists who support the gangs will be brought to justice. 

The growing violence is raising fears of involvement by another group of heavily armed Haitians — members of Haiti's disbanded army. Former army members led a rebellion earlier this year that helped to force Aristide out of office and the country. Now, they are threatening to move against the pro-Aristide gangs. 

At his heavily fortified house outside Port-au-Prince, ex-Haitian army major Remissainthe Ravix says he is waiting for the government to call for assistance. 

He says he knows where the Chimieres are, and he is ready to take them on. He says Haiti's government should fulfill its responsibility to end the violence, and he is willing to do his part to bring that about. 

While some members of Haiti's interim government have said they would welcome support from anyone to end the violence, others like Justice Minister Bernard Gousse warn of a catastrophe, if ex-Haitian army officers get involved. 

Gousse says more police recruiting is under way, and international support is in place to reinforce Haiti's police. He says he is confident Haiti's police will eventually be able to assert their authority. 

Most Haitians battered by violence and Mother Nature in recent weeks hope he is right. They fear violence could spiral out of control if the police are unable eventually to disarm the forces that threaten Haiti's stability from all sides. 

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Our annual
A.M. Costa Rica is happy to present this short story as No. 1 in our Halloween literary contest. Halloween is not celebrated much here, except in some downtown Gringo bars. But this story should give you second thoughts about staying too late!


By Barbara Halen

"You go to San José alone? Not tonight, Señor!" exclaimed my plump little Tica neighbor. "Bad things happen. Is night of the Brujas!"

"Witches don’t scare me," I said. I’d had a little disagreement with my current lady love and was heading for my favorite bars to drown my sorrows.

"There are thieves," she cried. "Ladrones!"

She was right. At night in San José there are plenty of muggers, pickpockets, and even chapulines, the street kids who often carry knives or guns. But I’m big, over six feet, and I can handle myself. I even follow a regular exercise routine. I lift five-pound hand weights every morning while I have my coffee and pastry.

I thanked her for the advice, caught a cab into the center, and started at my favorite watering hole. It was crowded and smoky and after a couple beers, I moved on. By the time I hit the third bar, I was feeling pretty mellow. I had a couple more, paid my tab, and started walking.

The night was overcast and gloomy, my footsteps echoed in the empty side street, and twice I slowed my pace when I thought I heard a strange hollow footfall behind me. All of a sudden a woman spoke and I came to a complete stop.

"Are you alone, Señor?" Her voice was low and husky and she was beautiful. Long silky black hair, enormous dark eyes, a wide sexy smile with perfect white teeth, and an incredible body.

"Yes," I answered. "I’m alone."

"May I join you?"

I looked around for an accomplice. Someone who would mug me while I was distracted by her beauty. There was no one in sight.

She smiled again. God was she gorgeous!

Was she one of San José’s legal ladies of the night? I’d seen some that were really attractive, but this woman — she was stunning enough to be a movie star or a model. And if she wasn’t a working woman, why wasn’t she with some young stud? Maybe she’d had a fight with her boyfriend and was also looking for a little consolation. I may be getting on in years but women do still find me attractive. I straightened my shoulders, pulled in my paunch.

"I would enjoy your company," I said. "My next stop is a bar a couple blocks from here. Can I buy you a drink?"

"Thank you, Señor. I would like that."

With her hand slipped through my arm, we resumed walking and when we reached the next intersection, the clouds parted and the bright light of the full moon flooded the street. Just as we stepped off the curb, a slight figure darted from the shadows.

Dinero! Money!" the boy hissed, jamming 

something into my ribs. It was either a pipe or the barrel of a gun.

When I hesitated he rammed it harder and moved in front of me to block my passage. And saw my companion clearly for the first time.

"Aeiii!" he screamed. "La Segua!"

I jumped back in shock. "La what? What the hell . . . ." And then I turned.

She still had those big dark eyes, that silky black hair, the incredible body. But now she had the head of a horse.

"Aeiii!" I screamed.

She gave a snort, opened her ample mouth with its two rows of giant yellow teeth, and her breath hit me like a hot wave of rotting fish. The stench almost knocked me over, I grabbed the boy’s arm for support, and when he turned and started to run, he pulled me along behind. And then we ran as fast as we could. Both of us.

Three blocks later we slowed down, and when I saw the light from a taxi, I raised my hand. I kept just enough of my cash to pay the fare and pressed the rest into his palm.

"Thank you," I said as I hopped into the cab. I made it home safely and never told my well-meaning but snoopy neighbor about my adventure. That frantic gallop through the center is my little secret.

I no longer go into San José at night. If I’m feeling down, I call a friend and we drink our brews together. At home.

If you are still foolhardy enough to frequent the capital’s bars, just remember my story. They warn you about muggers and pickpockets but there are worse things that lurk in those lonely deserted streets. Worse things in very pretty packages. And there may not always be a chapulin nearby to rescue you.

Copyrighted 2004 Barbara Halen and A.M. Costa Rica

Jo Stuart
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