COSTA RICA NEWS – By: Henry Morales Navarro, Voice of Guanacaste – “I can’t find any logic for what they accuse me of. It is a set up to get me out of the position,” said Carlos Villalobos, referring to his dismissal as president of the Nosara Red Cross Committee.
Having worked for the organization for the past 18 years, Villalobos was dismissed from his position on May 17, being questioned for committing some irregularities. He is accused of using the Red Cross name to organize a rodeo in La Esperanza de Garza without authorization from the institution. The event was held December 12-15, 2013.
According to Antonio Mendoza, who was president of the Esperanza Integral Development Association (ADIE – Asociacion de Desarrollo Integral de la Esperanza) at the time of the rodeo, the rights to hold the event were sold by the association to Carlos Villalobos.
“Villalobos told us that he was interested in holding a rodeo for the benefit of the Red Cross Committee, so we obtained permits from the municipality and sold him the rights [to hold the event] for ¢700,000 ($1,400), and they took charge of organizing the activity. The problem is that they did not give us [financial] reports, nor did they pay the agreed amount,” said Mendoza.
But to the current president of ADIE, Isidro Lopez, it is still not clear how much money was raised during the activity, as it was the responsibility of ADIE’s board of directors to give reports. However, Mendoza contradicts Lopez’s version of the story, claiming that the event wasn’t organized by ADIE.
Carlos Villalobos said that the event lost more than ¢2 million ($4,000), a debt that ADIE’s new board should pay.
The person who made the complaint about what happened, Antonio Mendoza, indicated that ADIE’s board met with the National Red Cross Committee in February to tell them about the case. At that point, it was decided to suspend the case for three months.
For his part, Carlos Villalobos told The Voice of Guanacaste that the complaint is political persecution against him.
“Up until now I don’t know for sure whatI am accusedof. The activity involved an agreement made with ADIE; since the Regional Red Cross Committee did not approve us holding the event in the Red Cross’s name, it was agreed that the event would be done in ADIE’s name and that proceeds would be for the Nosara Red Cross Committee, but at the end they exited the picture,” explained Villalobos.
Lopez, who was ADIE’s fiscal (auditor) at the moment and is the current president, said that the accusations made against Villalobos are false. “The agreement was that ADIE would organize the event and from the proceeds, ¢700,000 ($1,400) would go to ADIE and the rest would benefit the Nosara Red Cross to build a garage for Red Cross units. Now they’re saying that they sold the rights. That is false,” said Lopez.
Villalobos explained that, at the beginning of May, he was notified of the reasons why he was being relieved from the position. He attempted to make an appeal to the Regional Red Cross Committee by mail, though it was not accepted. He was then told that the period for appeals had passed, and therefore he was dismissed. In addition, he affirmed that he will bring legal action against the Regional Committee for libel and slander.
The Voice of Guanacaste tried to contact the Red Cross for their version of events; however, representatives said that they would not speak about this case.
Article by Voice of Guanacaste, reposted with permission