Jossy Mehsen Mansur
(Aruba, June 7
) is a descendant from an originally Lebanese family, which settled on the island of Aruba
. He is the editor of the Papiamento
-language newspaper Diario
in Aruba. Jossy Mansur has written two dictionaries for the Papiamento
language and has written a history of Aruba among other numerous other books.
Powerful Aruban business family
The Mansur family made its fortune as cigarette manufacturers and in the import-export business. With a licence of Philip Morris
, they were the major suppliers of Marlboro
in the Caribbean basin for many years (the licence has been withdrawn). The Mansurs sponsored the best baseball team – Aruba's national sport – the Marlboro Red Tigers as well as the Aruban People's Party
(Arubaanse Volkspartij, AVP) of former Prime Minister Henny Eman
. They owned their own bank, the Interbank, and the biggest hotel and time-sharing complex, La Cabana, and the Royal Cabana casino. And they have a couple of import-export businesses in the Free Trade Zone
US President Bill Clinton in 1996 publicly identified Aruba "as a major drug-transit country" and noted that "a substantial portion of the free-zone's businesses in Aruba are owned and operated by members of the Mansur family, who have been indicted in the United States on charges of conspiracy to launder trafficking proceeds. In the late 1980s, an investigator for Senator John Kerry's committee investigating the Iran-Contra Affair, interviewing drug traffickers in a West Miami prison kept hearing about the Mansurs. "Who are the Mansurs?" he would ask. Answer: "The big family in Aruba we used for laundering money and moving cocaine."
Philip Morris International broke its contract with the Mansurs at the end of 1998 "for business reasons." A source close to the family said the two sides agreed to a $22 million settlement and that the Mansurs continue to work with Philip Morris' non-tobacco product lines.
Alleged involvement in cigarette smuggling and money laundering
The Mansur family was involved in cigarette smuggling from Aruba to Colombia. For over 50 years, Philip Morris
' main distributor in Latin America was the Mansur Free Zone Trading Company, NV. Cigarettes were shipped to Aruba or Panamanian free trade zones operated by the Mansurs and then into Colombia's special customs zone, Maicao
, just across the border from Venezuela. One of Philip Morris main distributors within Colombia was Samuel Santander Lopesierra
, at one time a senator in the Liberal Party. Dubbed "the Marlboro Man" by the Colombian media, in reference to his alleged cigarette smuggling activities, Lopesierra is named in a U.S. federal court affidavit filed in conjunction with the Mansur money-laundering indictment.
According to a report of the Venezuelan intelligence agency, the DISIP, "in Venezuela the Mansurs are implicated in money laundering with Lopesierra. Every month Lopesierra 're-invested' 20 million dollar 'with the help of a well-known entrepreneur called Mansur'." Lopesierra is named in a U.S. federal court affidavit filed in conjunction with the Mansur money-laundering indictment. In that affidavit, an FBI agent working undercover says he was told by Jaime Tovar, one of the original defendants in the Mansur indictment, that Lopesierra was part of a scheme to convert narco dollars into shipments of goods bound for Colombia. Lopesierra was arrested for drug trafficking in October 2002 and extradited to the US in August 2003. He was convicted for conspiring to unlawfully import cocaine into the United States. Lopesierra and his group were responsible for smuggling shipments of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into the United States, and for laundering the proceeds so they could be repatriated through Puerto Rico, New York, and Miami back to Colombia.
The Mansur family has gained international prominence for alleged money laundering. Two family members, the cousins Eric and Alex Mansur, have been indicted by the U.S. attorney in Puerto Rico. They reportedly funneled US$500,000 in campaign cash to Colombian President Ernesto Samper through the wife of a jailed Cali cartel boss during the 1994 election campaign. Mr. Samper denied it. The Mansurs subsequently were awarded a monopoly for Colombian gambling, which was canceled in 1997 by a government watchdog agency that smelled impropriety.
Sueing the Netherlands
In 1999 Jossy Mansur and his brother Luis Mansur sued the Netherlands
government before the United Nations Human Rights Committee
for disseminating what the Aruban government termed a top secret report
that claimed that the Mansurs were involved in organized crime.
The report by the Dutch Internal Security Service draws a picture of security in Aruba and mentions that foreign services fighting crime in the region are almost unanimous in their opinion that the predominant image of the Aruban business community is one of joint services towards (laundering specialists of) regional drug cartels.
The report mentions the Mansurs by name and portrays them as criminals who were associated with criminal organizations involved in drugs trafficking, gun trafficking and laundering money obtained from criminal activities. Despite the fact that the report was classified as top secret it was leaked to the press and its contents became public. The suit was dismissed on procedural grounds for failure to exhaust Mansur's civil remedies in the Netherlands courts.
Mansur is known for his weekly editorials which are often critical of the local government of Prime Minister Nelson Oduber
. The ongoing disagreement between Mansur and Oduber dates back many years. During the election campaign in 2001, Oduber's party even had stickers made stating "Don’t believe Diario.
Mansur has strongly advocated a point of view in the cases of Eduardo Mathew and Natalee Holloway. He appeared regularly on Fox News and Nancy Grace's CNN Headline News show commenting on the disappearance of Natalee Holloway on Aruba in 2005. Mansur formed his own "investigative team" and his newspaper repeatedly published new leads. According to some observers, Mansur latched onto the bandwagon as part of his own feud with the Aruban government.
- Mansur, Jossy M. (1991). Dictionary English-Papiamento Papiamento-English, Oranjestad (Aruba): Edicionnan Clasico Diario, 510 pages.
- Mansur, Jossy M. (?). Diccionario di 5 idioma, Oranjestad (Aruba): Edicionnan Clasico Diario, 934 pages
- Mansur, Jossy M. (1993). Historia di Aruba 1499-1824, Miami: Hallmark Press Inc.
- Mansur, Jossy M. (2001). Corazon de Amor, Caracas Venezuela: Diario, 2001. (English version first published as The Awakening Heart. Miami: Hallmark Press Inc, 1999 (Fictional Spanish telenovela style historical romance, interesting for further psychological insight into Mansur'. Also apparently published under the title Corazon maestro Cali, Colombia, 2000, ISBN 9583320242)
See also this Library Catalog list for further description of works
Mansur has been involved in several lawsuits related to advocacy of Papiamento politics and culture.
- L. E. y J. Mansur v. Netherlands, Comunicación No. 883/1999, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/67/D/883/1999 (1999) in Spanish
- Messrs. L. E. and J. Mansur (represented by Dr. Jan M. Sjöcrona and Mr. John H. van der Kuyp) v. the Netherlands, Communication No. 883/1999, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/67/D/883/1999 (9 November 1999) in English
- Lawsuit by Aruban Prime Minister Nelson O. Oduber vs. Jossy Mansur