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Thesestories were published Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2002, in Vol. 2, No. 215
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Hard questions send shivers through crowd
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

If an investor’s meeting Sunday was like a religious service, a meeting Tuesday was like a cold shower.

For the first time, a speaker raised the possibility that an estimated $1 billion in money loaned to Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho might not exist.

"What if the money is not there?" said moderator Charles Zeller. "I wish we didn’t have to think about that" he said to an increasingly restless crowd of about 300.

Zeller told the story of businessman Orlando Sotelo, who in 1986 committed suicide after he exhausted his funds paying investment clients a high interest. "A very honest person went into a business that snowballed," said Zeller of Sotelo.

Zeller said he was not maligning Villalobos, but he declared that there were similarities between Villalobos and Sotelo, at least to the extent that Sotelo was and Villalobos is considered an honest and ethical businessman. 

"You owe it to yourself to have just a little bit of doubt," he said. The crowd was uncomfortable. Many had attended a meeting at the Aurola Holiday Inn Sunday where Villalobos was lionized. The meeting Tuesday was at the Costa Rican Tennis Club in Sabana Sur.

After long discussions, a rapidly dwindling crowd seems to give its approval to Zeller’s request that Villalobos be given a deadline of Nov. 26 before they take legal action. "We owe it to Mr. Villalobos to give him some time, more if he pays interest," said Zeller.

But Zeller said that Villalobos, who is believed to be out of the country, has an obligation to make some kind of contact with his investors by Nov. 26.

The last contact with Villalobos was in e-mails with a member of the International Baptist Church and A.M. Costa Rica, both about Oct. 18.

Some in the crowd disputed Zeller’s assessment and said they continued to have faith in the man who paid 2.8 to 3 percent a month on money loaned to him personally. Villalobos, the target of a police raid July 4, closed his Mall San Pedro office Oct. 14.

Zeller also called upon Villalobos to return to Costa Rica and take steps to make his personal loan business an authorized Costa Rican bank. One of two investigations of Villalobos centers on his claim that the estimated 6,000-plus creditors who gave him loans of five, six and seven figures were just personal friends.

Costa Rican law allows loans among family members and close friends, but transactions made to the public must be made only by authorized institutions. But as Zeller said earlier "Anyone who pays me 3 percent a month is my friend."

A second probe centers on allegedly laundered drug money that passed through 

More letters on Villalobos
BELOW!

the Ofinter S.A. money exchange house. One office of the firm is adjacent to the Mall San Pedro office of Villalobos. His brother Osvaldo is reported to be the owner of that firm, although employees shared some facilities. Ofinter closed Oct. 14. too.

The Nov. 26 figure is when a current freeze on some 50 of Villalobos’ banking accounts  is due to expire. But Daniel González Saborío, a former prosecutor and panelist Tuesday, told the crowd that the freeze can go on for a very long time.

The freeze is what friends say is keeping Villalobos from making October interest payments. Zeller suggested that he simply bring cash in from outside the country where the bulk of his capital is hoped to be. The frozen accounts represent only a small amount of his holdings, Zeller said. An audience member quickly asked, "Where’s the rest?"

Zeller admitted that to open up as a legitimate bank Villalobos might have to plead guilty and perhaps pay a fine and back taxes that he was supposed to have withheld from creditors, and he suggested that those in the crowd might make some concessions. However, banks also have reserve and oversight requirements and strict rules that Villalobos avoided for years while running his expanding personal loan business.

Zeller and audience members dominated the discussion. In addition to González, two other panelists were Manuel Campos, a lawyer, and Mitch Bardack, a U.S. tax expert.

The lawyers are prepared for a small fee to help investors file paperwork with the public prosecutor. But as one audience member said, why do officials need paper work from investors when prosecutors already have a list or data base with names and investments. The list is presumed to have been seized in the July 4 raid prompted by drug and money laundering arrests in Canada.

The deadline set by Zeller is one where investors generally agree to allow to pass before they seek legal recourse.

But Zeller reflected the mood when he said: "We have to get a sign from this man."

"Isn’t it very sad that the man who holds your money . . .  you can’t talk to him?"

The meeting also brought out some personal tales of financial problems.

A Costa Rican man said he had invested funds from his entire small town.

A woman from the U.S. said she sold her house she owned for 30 years and just recently  gave the money to Villalobos.

One woman was in tears.

Others are known to lack money to pay basic expenses. 

The worst may be yet to come, investors told
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

U.S. and some Canadian creditors of Luis Enrique Villalobos Camacho are facing a double whammy.

They fear that their money may be tied up for years or even lost, yet they face the prospect of tax officials in their home countries extraditing them home for prosecution and prison. Plus they would have to pay back taxes, interest and penalties even if the investment money is not available.

"Somewhere out there is your name and number," an accountant warned them at a 
meeting Tuesday. "There are issues out there, and you conceivably could go to jail."

The accountant, Mitch Bardack, was directing his comments to U.S. citizens and Canadians who are still residents of that country. These people must pay income tax on investment earnings, but many creditors of the Villalobos high-interest operation did not declare their income for years.

Now those accounts have fallen into the hands of foreign tax officials, many creditors fear. In addition, creditors may face Costa Rican tax issues, they heard.

Bardack urged new clients of Villalobos to consider filing amended tax returns if such persons had "forgotten" to declare their interest income. Amended returns can greatly reduce penalties.

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A.M. Costa Rica/Bryan Kay
This is the decaying building that the association hopes to demolish.
Quepos group struggling to build a library for town
By Bryan Kay
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Cultural Association of Quepos and Manuel Antonio is in the midst of a battle to provide the people of these towns and their immediate vicinity with a library of decent stature, according to Kris Krengel, association president.

The idea for the library is the brainchild of Ms. Krengel. She conceived the idea while reading an article about a similar library in Nosara last year. From there, said Ms. Krengel, she took the step of contacting the local municipality. In fact, she said, she simply showed up unannounced, without an appointment and without knowing to whom she should speak.

After a year, Ms. Krengel and the other association members still are embroiled in the politics that are slowing the opening of the library.

The library’s focus is Latin culture. So they see the book selection being 80 percent Spanish and 20 percent other languages, said Ms. Krengel, adding that the local cutlure is deteriorating due to tourism.

Right now, says Ms. Krengel, the sole focus of the Quepos community is tourism. She said she wants to introduce something different: the idea of reading and learning being a source of entertainment as opposed to a means to an end.

Ms. Krengel envisions a multi-purpose learning center, not solely a library. The philosophy behind Ms. Krengel’s idea is very clear. She said: "We really want to target kids, because you are starting with a new generation and from there it turns into an institution."

Other features of the center would include a computer room and classrooms for English classes for both children and adults, said Ms. Krengel.

The main stumbling block is infrastructural and is with the building that the association has outlined
as the probable venue for the library. First, it has been condemned. Second, there is some dispute as

 to who has the right to grant the building — or land — to the association. The problem is that the building belongs to the municipality, while the Minsterio de Salud owns the land, said Ms. Krengel. The previous tenant was the ministry.

Additionally, says Ms. Krengel, a group of locals want to develop the play park adjacent to the building the association wants to use. She said the association welcomes this project.

Another problem was the legality of the association, said Ms. Krengel. Only recently did the association become recognized as a legal charity. Now the association is in the process of trying to muster together ample funds to mobilize the project, but not before more protracted meetings and negotiations with the Quepos municipality. 

Already, says Ms. Krengel, the association has been caught up in copious amounts of red tape — from legal matters to business plans and proposals.

Oct. 22 Montessori School, located on the property of Hotel Mirador del Pacifico, offered a room to the association for the library. Ms. Krengel said the group plan to use this as a temporary location for the library until the problems with the building in Quepos are resolved. They hope to open "as soon as possible." The association has around 500 books so far, including ones in German and Swedish.

A meeting is scheduled this week with the municipality where the association will present the first draft of its contract for the library.

At the moment, the association has no funds in place. But now that monetary donations are legally possible, they are welcome, says Ms. Krengel. 

The association also encourages donations of books. But, Ms. Krengel said, "We prefer books in Spanish, particularly children’s books. And anything." Donations should be directed to: Apartado 109, Quepos. 

The association can also be contacted at: 777-2280, or by e-mail at: probibliotecaquepos@yahoo.com.

Haitians sprint from the boat to the streets

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MIAMI, Fla. — Several hundred illegal immigrants from Haiti are being detained outside Miami after making a dramatic dash from an overcrowded boat onto a busy highway late Tuesday. 

Federal and local officials scrambled to round up the Haitians and eventually loaded them on to buses for transport to a U.S. Immigration detention center. Several Haitians were treated for dehydration and one pregnant woman has been hospitalized.

Earlier, pandemonium erupted when an estimated 200 Haitians jumped from a 60-foot boat and swam to shore along a causeway between here and Key Biscayne, Fla. Stunned motorists found themselves under siege as scores of new arrivals attempted to pile into their vehicles and flee the scene.

Luis Diaz, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman, said the immediate concern was for the well being of the Haitians.

"The boat beached itself and hundreds of people jumped over the side," he explained. "Many made it ashore and were detained. Others were plucked from the water by Coast Guard rescue units."

The police force closed the causeway for several hours while U.S. Border Patrol and Immigration agents rounded up as many of the Haitians as possible. Police officials say it is possible that some of the Haitians escaped, possibly with the assistance of motorists.

Boats overcrowded with Haitians periodically arrive here. Those who land on U.S. soil are entitled to an immigration hearing, but the vast majority of Haitian rafters are regarded as economic - not political - refugees, and eventually repatriated. 

Tuesday's incident did not go unnoticed by the large Haitian-American community here, which mounted an informal demonstration later in the day.

One protester said Haitians who flee their country should be welcomed, not shunned, by the United States.

"They come to work; they want to work and make a better life," said the protester. "We are going to be here [protesting] all night until we get justice. We need justice."

Tens of thousands of Haitians took to the seas in hopes of reaching the United States in the mid-1990s. U.S. officials say they hope to avoid a repeat of the chaotic mass exodus, adding that those who wish to come to the United States should do so legally, and apply from their country of origin.

Brazil’s president-elect plans to feed the country

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — Brazilian President-elect Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says priorities for his government include combating hunger, honoring agreements with international lending institutions, and maintaining fiscal stability. Da Silva laid out his plans for governing Brazil one day after winning a resounding election victory.

Da Silva, making his first formal address to the nation as president-elect, laid out the main outlines and goals of his government, which will take office on Jan. 1. 

"My first year," he said, "will be devoted to combating hunger," adding he will create a secretariat for Social Emergency to deal with the problem. The president-elect said if by the end of his four-year term all Brazilians are eating three meals a day he will have achieved his life-long mission.

An estimated 53 million people, about 30 percent of the population, lives below the poverty line in Brazil, the world's ninth largest economy. 

In his speech, da Silva, a leftist former union leader popularly known as Lula, also sought to reassure the international financial community nervous about his leftist politics. 

The value of Brazil's currency has dropped by 40 percent this year due to market fears that a Brazil under a Lula da Silva government would be unable to continue payments on its $260 billion debt.

But da Silva pledged to honor Brazil's commitments, keep inflation down, and maintain fiscal stability. He also pledged to move forward on trade negotiations to establish the U.S.-backed hemisphere-wide free trade zone. But he added such negotiations would be conducted in a spirit of sovereignty.

During the presidential campaign, da Silva had questioned the proposed free-trade zone, known as the Free Trade Area of the Americas, saying it would be meaningless unless the United States drops trade barriers on goods Brazil traditionally exports. 

Da Silva, founder of the leftist Workers' Party, moved toward the political center during the campaign, dropping the fiery socialist rhetoric of his past three tries for the presidency. His moderation and charisma helped him win 61 percent of the vote in Sunday's runoff election.

As Brazil's first leftist president in almost 40 years, da Silva interpreted his election as a desire for change by the Brazilian electorate.

"Our victory means the choice for an alternative project," he said. "The majority of Brazilians voted for a different economic and social model capable of generating growth, jobs, and the distribution of income."

Da Silva will succeed Fernando Henrique Cardoso, two-term president, whose center-right government enacted free-market reforms that brought down inflation, promoted economic growth, and provided monetary stability.

But in the past few years, growth slowed and the currency was devalued factors that led to Sunday's defeat of the government's presidential candidate, Jose Serra.

Da Silva has received telephone calls of congratulation from numerous world and hemispheric leaders, including British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, and Cuban leader Fidel Castro. President Bush called the Brazilian president-elect to say he looks forward to working with him.

The front page of newspapers headlined the triumph of the former union leader. "President Lula", declared the O Globo newspaper while the Folha de Sao Paulo's headline read, "Lula President, Metalworker is the first leftist leader to be elected in the country".

Pres and veep accused of dealing in funny money

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaragua's electoral prosecutor has accused President Enrique Bolanos and Vice President Jose Rizo of violating the country's campaign finance laws.

Prosecutor Blanca Salgado made the accusation Tuesday in a complaint filed with Nicaragua's Supreme Court. 

The court documents allege Bolanos' campaign last year was financed with money from the state. The president insists he is free of any guilt, saying his campaign was financed with bank loans.

The court papers also name several other members of Bolanos' Constitutionalist Liberal Party, including Arnoldo Aleman, former Nicaraguan president. 

Last month, Aleman was ousted as speaker of the National Assembly amid allegations he stole nearly $100 million from state coffers. 

The former president denies wrongdoing during his five-year term that ended in January. Aleman accuses Bolanos, his handpicked successor, of a witch-hunt.

Cuba, Vietnam exchange gifts and gratitude

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire service

HAVANA, Cuba — Fidel Castro, Cuban president, has met with Phan Van Khai, Vietnamese prime minister here for talks aimed at strengthening bilateral ties. 

Castro formally greeted the prime minister at the Palace of the Revolution Tuesday. The talks were held as representatives from both countries signed an agreement for Vietnam to export 150,000 tons of rice to Cuba next year. 

The Southeast Asian nation also donated 500 personal computers and 100 printers to Cuba. The move was a gesture of gratitude for Cuba's support of North Vietnam during its war with the United States in the 1960s and 1970s.

Study shows what if there were no Amazon

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

DURHAM, North Carolina — New mathematical simulations of climate behavior indicate that deforestation in the Amazon River basin could cause a reduction of rainfall in the Midwestern United States, Central America and other parts of the world.

A press release Thursday says Duke University researchers  in a study supported by grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration  simulated climate using a set of mathematical equations that describe behavior of the Earth's atmosphere.

Each simulation uses a variety of data such as heat release, humidity, precipitation, and sea surface temperatures that would exist under different scenarios. 

While it has been estimated that 15 percent of the Amazon rain forest has already been cut and turned into pasture, the researchers looked at what might happen if the entire Amazon region were converted to pasture land.

The study found a reduction in rainfall over the Amazon that correlated with climate changes, primarily reduced precipitation, in other parts of the world. 

The simulation showed, for example, a noticeable reduction of precipitation, 10 to 15 percent, in the Midwestern United States during the summer, when precipitation is most needed for agriculture. Central America and the Gulf of Mexico also had reduced rainfall in the simulation, as did an area over the western Pacific Ocean and a region over the Indian Ocean.

"What this suggests is that if you mess up the planet at one point, the impact could have far-reaching effects," said Roni Avissar, chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Duke. "You have to be careful not to look at only one area."

The research team is now looking at similar effects of deforestation in other parts of the globe, and the development of a more refined mathematical model that may be able to predict the results of partial deforestation.

Internet provider
doubles its capacity

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Radiográfico Costarricense S.A., says it has doubled its traffic capacity now that the fiber optic marine cable Arcos 1 went into operation for the company Thursday.

The company also is using the underwater Maya 1 cable. Both enter the country near Limón and connect various cities in the United States and then to the worldwide Web. Before the cables were put in, the company used satellite hookups.

The company also said that it has boosted by 30 percent the speed of its e-mail services via telephone hookups of which it has 60,000 accounts.

Teacher becomes
mugging victim

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Muggers robbed a teacher for the North American Cultural Center Saturday near his home in Carmen de Guadalupe. His companion suffered a minor stab wound.

The 27-year-old North Carolina man said he and his friend were held-up at knifepoint by four assailants while they were trying to hail a cab on a busy street at around 9:30 p.m.

The man said his friend was stabbed in the back during the incident, but did not need medical attention. 

The victim did not want to be named because he said he lives in the area where he was robbed and has seen the muggers since the incident. He said he fears they will target him again.

He said he was robbed of the contents of his pockets and a few thousand colons. The incident was not reported to the police, he said.

Two found dead
in double murder

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Neighbors discovered the bodies of a man and a woman in their Cartago home late Tuesday morning around 11 a.m. Due to decomposition of the bodies, police suspect the pair was murdered sometime over the weekend.

The victims were attacked with what appeared to be a knife, but no weapon was found. The man was stabbed nine times, the women three. Absent was any sign that robbery was a motive, said officials of the Judicial Investigating Organization.

Crafts on display
at cultural center

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Crafts from Seattle, Wash., will go on display at the Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano in San Pedro through November. The exposition, Excelencia Artensanal, kicks off with an inaugural party Monday night at 7 o’clock.

The work of 24 artists, some 50 pieces, will be displayed in the Sophia Wanamaker Gallery. Also part of the show is a textile workshop, open to the public.

Included in the display are traditional techniques, like basket weaving, jewelry fabricating, and papermaking with original and creative treatment. The baskets incorporate non-traditional materials, like wire and organic elements, such as seeds, bark and paper.

The Centro Cultural Costarricense-Norteamericano in Los Yoses is located 200 meters north of Auto Mercado.

U.S. diplomat optimistic on Brazil and new regime

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S.-Brazilian bilateral relationship is "probably" better than it has been in several decades, says James Carragher, director of the State Department's Office of Brazil and Southern Cone Affairs.

Speaking Tuesday at a forum on U.S.-Brazil relations, Carragher said the United States considers Brazil a regional partner that the Bush administration "will continue to consult with on hemispheric challenges."

Carragher said the United States and Brazil, both in geographic size and in population, are two of the largest and therefore most important democracies in the hemisphere. Because of that, "it is important and natural ... that we have broad consultations across the board," said Carragher, in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Carragher, a 27-year career diplomat who assumed his present position six weeks ago, said that there are "tactical differences" between the two countries on various issues.

"There will always be tactical differences," he said. But "what we share and what we continue to share for the next four years, and I believe for the foreseeable future, is a dedication to preserving and extending democratic governance in the hemisphere."

Referring to the election of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (known as Lula) as Brazil's new president, Carragher said the United States expects "change" in Brazil's domestic and foreign policy, as would be expected in any change of administrations in countries around the world. 

Above all, said Carragher, Lula is not a "Castro or Chavez" autocratic leader, but rather a "democrat with a small d. That is never a phrase that could be applied to Castro," he said.

Carragher indicated the United States and Brazil will be working "as hard as we possibly can on a number of fronts to improve what I think is an excellent bilateral relationship."

The Bush administration, he said, recognizes the importance of Brazil to the hemisphere, while Lula and his political party recognize the U.S. role and interest in the Western Hemisphere.

Dissident prisoner on hunger strike in Cuba

Special to A.M. Costa Rica

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States has called for the release from imprisonment of Cuban dissident Leonardo Bruzon Avila, who staged a hunger strike in a Cuban jail and is now reportedly in serious medical condition.

A State Department official said Bruzon's health had worsened due to the hunger strike he began in August after he was jailed for trying to organize a rally to honor four Cuban-American pilots shot down over international waters by Cuban jet fighters in 1996.

"We call on the Cuban government to provide Mr. Bruzon with the best medical care available and to release him from imprisonment," said the Department official. He added that the United States calls on the world community "to demand the release of Bruzon and the hundreds of other prisoners incarcerated for simply demanding freedom and justice" in Cuba.

Before his imprisonment, Bruzon led one of the small dissident groups opposed to the government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The Castro regime had Bruzon imprisoned for trying to organize the rally for the downed pilots, who were killed in the attack.

The head of a Cuban exile group in Miami, Fla. Ninoska Perez Castellon, wrote in the Monday edition of The Miami Herald that Bruzon was sent to the Quivican maximum-security prison in Cuba even though he was never placed on trial. Perez said Bruzon began his hunger strike to protest abuses against his fellow political prisoners.

After the attacks in 1996, an independent investigation by the International Civil Aviation Organization concluded that by shooting down the two unarmed civilian planes, Cuba violated "elementary considerations of humanity."
 
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52-11/25/02

Villalobos Letters
Why let Villalobos run 25 years?

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

My answer to Jack Evans: Yes and no. Why did they let him run for 25 years! Why not request a change in his way of doing business rather than to freeze all the accounts thus depriving thousands of people of their monthly income from one day to the next. 

This will hurt Costa Rica as much as the investors and all the others who lived directly or indirectly from these payments.

I feed a family of 4 adults and 3 children. I cannot pay my upcoming rent. I have to let my housekeeper go, who in turn feeds a family of 6, and probably will have to cancel her housing arrangements. My mechanic will keep my 15-year-old Chevy Nova, because I cannot pay the latest bill preparing the car for inspection. 

My 2 daughters living in the USA will no longer be able to attend college or come to visit me. I was starting to build a home out of town but have had to fire the construction crew. It goes on and on. That only covers the impact in this country. 

The investors from North America, many of which are supporting other families here, will no longer be able to come here and spend much of their accumulated interest on hotels, restaurants, car rentals and other recreations.

Was it necessary to enforce the law in this manner? I suggested a long time ago that Mr. Villalobos make us all stockholders of his organization. I hope that he will recover his funds and proceed to do this, I would be proud to be part of his enterprise, even if the interest is not quite what it used to be.

One thing is certain, the government needs to step in fast and unfreeze the accounts so that funds can flow again, before irreparable damage is done to the individuals concerned and the whole economy of Costa Rica.

I suspected all along that the Banking Regulating Commission was involved. The banks must have died of envy at the Villalobos operation, a model of efficiency compared to the cumbersome ways most banks are working in this country. 

The only positive aspect of the situation is that bankers in general, although not showing much love or respect for their customers, at least respect the capital deposited with them, and will, I hope, see to it that our investments are returned to us, if Mr. Villalobos is prevented from doing so himself.  


John Manners


Vultures seek their prey

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

Boy, it didn’t take long for the Vultures to start a deal to prey on those who have been preyed upon before. . . . .

They want you to give them $1,250 (what a joke) for helping you lose more money (ha, ha, ha!). The funny thing is, people will give them this money . . . .

So for all those people who lost money to the Villalobos Brothers, I will only charge you nice folks $200 to use my shoulder to cry on . . . Beware of the Vultures they can smell blood from miles away.  


 Johnny O' Hara
Puriscal

 

 

Investor says he got
his interest payments

Dear A.M. Costa Rica: 

I would like to make two points regarding the Villalobos story. First of all, some investors, including me, did receive our full interest payments for both September and October 2002. At this point in time, Luis Villalobos is current on all his debts to me and I would be foolish to make any trouble for him by filing a lawsuit. 

My opinion is that Luis Villalobos is a person who takes his responsibilities very seriously and would not "screw" anyone out of money that was rightly due to him. If he needs time to sort out his affairs, I say give it to him. Legal action usually leaves both parties with a bad result: the party suing as well as the person being sued. 

Secondly, based on all the information that’s come out to date, I think the alleged link between Villalobos and Canadian drug money was only an excuse for the authorities to raid Villalobos (i.e. not the real reason). A man who controls hundreds of millions of dollars in private funds, and answers to no one but himself, and his God, makes the folks in government mighty nervous. 

Governments want to know how much you’ve got and where your money is. Why? So that they can tax you, or so that they can get their hands on your funds, if and when they need to. The Costa Rican government wants Villalobos under their thumb, so they can monitor what he is doing and tax the investors. If they can’t control him, they probably will try to put him out of business (and freezing his bank accounts is good way to do it).

If I were in Villalobos’ position now, I would make my peace with the Costa Rican government, or else move the whole operation to another country and then keep it very, very quiet.

Brett Lauter
Santa Ana


Legal action will harm investors, Villalobos

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

I am one of the Costa Rican investors with "The Brothers", and I am one of those who live (lived) on the interest that I received from Don Luis. You can imagine how terrible my situation is right now, but I really believe in my heart that those who are going to take legal action against him or his business are not being conscious of the harm they will be doing to all of us, not just to don Luis. 

We all invested with him in a matter of trust, and so far he has done NOTHING to make me change my belief in him.  If we fill the court with more papers, the only thing we will do is further delay and interfere in Don Luis' actions to pay us back. Please at least give him until Nov. 26th before taking action against him!!  Many of you that I have heard in the recent meetings in the Holiday Inn and at the Tennis Club want him to appear personally or at least to send someone who represents him. 

Please, everybody, with all the threats he has been receiving, I would NOT show up either if I were in his position. Pertaining to sending someone in his name I must ask, "To say what?" He can't answer questions right now. He is involved in a legal process. Please understand that all his focus is probably on how he will be able to pay back our money, and to defend himself. 

For once put yourselves in HIS position. STOP blaming others for what was our responsibility. We all knew the risks involved. Please think for a moment what can happen if he DID do these illegal things. We would dig his hole deeper and deeper. More legal action clearly won't help us to get our money back. Even if he could pay our interest today, be sure many persons would be asking to have their initial investment returned. That can put him in a terrible cash flow position and then we'll all be crying in the street!! 

I am as desperate as any of you, but acting irrational and blaming others for what was our decision to invest is not going to get our money back. Don't panic when listening to these lawyers. Remember that what they really want is to make money for themselves. I wonder how many of them are invested, and who are just trying to get their own money back using ours, or those just taking advantage of the situation! USE YOUR HEADS!

Beverly Padilla Cordero
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