July 11, 2007


A committee searching for a candidate to lead the Palm Beach County Convention and Visitors Bureau as it emerges from financial scandal (from one scandal to the next? Need someone good at trying to hide scandals? Sounds like they've got their man...) on Monday recommended a veteran tourism chief familiar with public relations challenges.

Two years ago, Aruba Hotel and Tourism Association president Jorge Pesquera faced international calls for a tourism boycott following the disappearance of American high school student Natalee Holloway. The case of the missing Alabama vacationer, 18, became a media sensation, and remains unsolved.

"He's been quite tested in the crisis mode," said attorney Jim Stuber, interim administrator of the bureau. "Everyone welcomes the idea that he has proven himself under difficult circumstances. He brought tourism officials and the government together and has experience with the press."

Pesquera was one of four finalists to replace longtime president and chief executive, Warren "Mac" McLaughlin, who resigned in November after employee Donna M. Duffer told police she stole $1.6 million over three years to cover gambling losses.

She has been charged with grand theft and money laundering and is awaiting trial.

Following a unanimous vote of the eight-person search committee, Pesquera's nomination to take over the nonprofit bureau will be presented to the full board of directors on Wednesday, Stuber said. Pesquera would then be invited back to Florida for an interview with the board.

"We believe we've found the right candidate at the right time for the right position," said Roy Assad, search committee chairman.

If hired, Pesquera would be paid about $198,000 a year, Stuber said, a substantial cut from his $250,000 salary.

In a resume submitted with his application for the post, an executive search firm said that Pesquera played "the key role" in working behind the scenes in Aruba "to minimize the impact of the Holloway story and effectively stopped calls for boycott [sic] by some U.S. elected officials."

Aruba, a Dutch possession in the southern Caribbean off the coast of Venezuela, attracts 1.3 million visitors a year. Palm Beach County counts some 4.4 million annual visitors, including 2.2 million hotel guests.

Pesquera is a 30-year veteran of the tourism industry who went to work in Aruba in 2004 after 10 years as head of the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau in San Juan. He holds a degree in hotel administration from Cornell University.

Since the scandal broke, Stuber said, the number of bureau board members has been cut from 35 to 17, and financial controls have been tightened.

"Now," said Stuber, who serves as outside counsel for the bureau, "we're hoping he can take the organization to the next level, rather than have to come in and clean it up. We think we've cleaned it up."


**Letter by Richard, Aruban Boycott Contributor

July 10, 2007

Mr. Jim Stuber, Interim Administrator
The Palm Beach County
Convention and Visitors Bureau
1555 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., Suite 800
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Dear Mr. Stuber:

Disbelief, dismay and disgust. Those were my reactions today on reading that your organization may hire a Mr. Jorge Pesquera of Aruba as its new tourism chief.

I know nothing of Mr. Pesquera or his qualifications. But the article in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel wrote of his “working … to minimize the impact” of the disappearance of Natalee Holloway on May 30, 2005. (Let us use language precisely; the Aruban government was engaged then, and is engaged now, in a cover-up of the crime to protect certain individuals. No sane person who has followed the case can fail to realize this.)

The Natalee Holloway disappearance was not only a “media sensation,” as the article somewhat condescendingly put it. Americans reacted with anger to the blatant lies and contradictions peddled by Aruba’s media whores and lying officials and gave admiration and support for the determination of Natalee’s family to persist in seeking the truth.

The true, and ugly, face of Aruba has emerged over the last two years. The crimes that have victimized many Americans are no longer ignored, except by tourist organizations that shy away from their moral duty of advising our citizens about safety abroad. Aruba has, by its own actions and evasions, spurred calls for a boycott that has slashed tourism. It continues to thwart justice, thinking that Americans will forget.

We will not.

The hiring of Mr. Pesquera to supervise tourism for your country will only implant there some of the moral stench that now engulfs Aruba. In this age of peril, many Americans believe that our government should be stepping up measures to defend us from predators abroad. I am reluctant to think that Palm Beach will not only ignore such crimes, but will choose to reward those who help governments protect predators against our own people.

This proposed appointment is a total disgrace and an insult to the American people, or at least those of us who believe in justice. I am certain that, whatever the problems your organization may face, the answers are not to be found on the corruption-plagued island of Aruba.

Were Natalee Holloway here to speak for herself, I am sure she would agree.

**Letter by Natalee's Freebirds

Mr Stuber:

We are shocked and appalled to learn of your proposed candidate to lead the Palm Beach tourism sector.

Certainly Jorge Pesquera served Aruba before and during their mishandling of the case of missing US citizen Natalee Holloway, but his actions were far from stellar.

He hand picked a Task Force who not only has been proven to have denigrated both the victim and her family, but also to have twisted the facts surrounding her disappearance.

Should such a person become a representative of your tourism industry, that stigma, along with the declining tourism numbers on Aruba, would be attached to the name of Palm Beach for years to come.

(tourism decline)

At the link enclosed, you will see the truth surrounding what Aruba has and has not done for this victim, and what this Task Force has and has not done for Aruba. We urge you to reconsider your candidate Jorge Pesquera - and to uphold the human rights of a United States citizen who lost her life on the island of Aruba - and the rights of her parents that have thus far been squashed by Aruba and its PR leaders.

Thank you for your consideration,

Natalee's Freebirds



Anonymous said...

Michelle has been political and ethical balanced and fair in boycotting Arubans and bring them to their knees. Florda Dog has been wrong in all his Anti-ArubanBoycott statements. Michelle is boycotting for Natalee only, not for Robin or Dave. The defiance of the Aruban criminals have been blunted and softened by their failing economy. Netherlands are giving up, and wonder why the Floridans want to come to their rescue. The darkness of Aruban is squashing and corrupting the Florida LE as we speaking.

Anonymous said...

How could Palm Beach even consider making such a huge mistake?

Sounds like someone failed to do their homework!

Great letters Richard and the Freebirds, keep the pressure up!

Anonymous said...

Many politicians who face the reelection in 2008 want to unload Aruba even after they accepted the donations from Aruba government. Aruba is an ugly liability and omen which smears their images. The implications are that US forces will no longer protect the American hotels in Aruba. Secondly the airlines are at their own risk to fly down to Aruba. The foreign aid to Aruba will be curtailed and the money saved will be used to support our troops.

Anonymous said...

The Dutch university law professor said the commutations of Joran's restraining orders by Dutch Judge Rik Smid was extremely abnormal under the Queen's law. His undoing and bad judgeship is undermining the foundation and fabric of the Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

Natalee is our morning star. She reminds us our America is beautiful and brave. Aruba is debase and hell. The cholers and sex predators are waiting at the Aruba airport to suck your blood and soul as soon as you get off the jet blue plane. I will not go there with my 10 foot pole. The Dutch high official had sold all our American tourists identity data to Chavez. How shall our government and president punish the Arubans and Dutch turncoats?

Anonymous said...

This committee was going to present Pesquera's nomination to the Board yesterday.

Does anyone know what happened?

Michelle Says So said...

I haven't heard anything yet, but I'm sure as soon as something comes out it will be announced. I know there will be a demand for a follow up to that original article.

Anonymous said...

It caught the eyes of the members of congrssional gaming commission. They wanted to probe gaming and casinos and tax evasions involved between West Palm Beach and Aruba government. The city government had dug a grave for themselves.

Anonymous said...

here's the web site for the bozo wanting to hire the Aruban b*stard. www.palmbeachfl.com/members/staff.aspx it contains everyone but Stuckys email. But it has all his underlings. Feel free to drop them an email. Voicing your concerns about this guy. Who helped coverup the Holloway case

Michelle Says So said...

How weird is that...I was just looking at that page an hour earlier.

Thanks for the info!!!


Anonymous said...

He was a tax lawyer and a consultary to the bookeeper of the establishment. There seemed to be a conflict of interest. He built quite a few Aruban tax shelter mutual funds offshore in Aruba. The investigators had his phony address and real PO Box Number and his cellphone number in the bookeeper's wallet.

Anonymous said...

What was the final verdict. Did the guy get the job?