How the Amazon Golf Club Was Stolen
Mike Collis the editor of the Iquitos Times had the dream. He exploded out of his chair while watching CNN, “We can build the first golf course ever in the Peruvian Amazon.”
Leo Jones shouted from the bar, “You are mad, Mick.” Mike is also the owner of Mad Mick’s Trading Post and Bunkhouse.
Fate cursed me for being there at that moment in time, January 24th, 2004. For reasons that I forget now, I volunteered to be the first share holder.
I remember Mike said, “I didn’t know you liked golf.”
“I don’t like golf and I don’t like people who play golf,” I joked, and we laughed as I gave him my investment money to buy the first share of the Amazon Golf Club. Nothing has happened since that day to change my opinion of golf or golfers.
Marmelita was furious with me when I proudly told her of my brilliant investment. “Now Sugrita, this share could be worth a lot of money some day.” She is a smart young woman, and I wish with all my heart that I had taken her advice and demanded my money back. I always knew it would be a risky investment, and I knew there was a good chance I would lose my money, but I never dreamed that some varmints would steal it.
Ryan Richards offered to rent us 10 hectares of land where he squatted, on the outskirts of the city. It was 99 % jungle. We arrived at a mutually agreeable price, but Ryan did not have title to the land, so there could be no long term lease agreement. We proceeded in good faith, but I always questioned why Ryan did not take steps to get a clear title of the land.
This story is not about the building of the golf course, although that is an interesting subject. No one had ever built a golf course in the Amazon jungle, and the difficulty that presented can hardly be underestimated. If that is not bad enough, none of us had ever built a golf course anywhere and our ignorance could hardly be overestimated. A lot of the early work was trial and error, with emphasis on the error. Some implied that they could have done better with less. That is fine, maybe they could have, but they did not. The nine hole course, with a difficult par 5, and a couple of par 4s is turning out to be better than I imagined, but that is not this story.
This story is about how the Amazon Golf Club, Mad Mick’s dream, was stolen. Of the original 62 founding investors, only 7 are now considered to be members. All of the rest of us have been disenfranchised. I accept some responsibility. I was preoccupied building my boats, and then building my new business, while the weasels watched the hen house.
I do not believe my friend Mike Collis will be mad at me for stating the obvious. Mike’s strength is the “bright idea” followed by promoting that idea. Managing the details should best be left to the managers. Unfortunately the managers were busy on other projects of their own and Mike was in a hurry. It would take a long time to build a golf course. Grass only grows fast when you do not want it to.
We should have hired a lawyer, but we didn’t. The Amazon Golf Club was set up as a non-profit organization, but the shares were sold as an investment that could be resold for a profit. That was the detail. If we had hired a lawyer, he could have advised us to change the constitution of the club from a non-profit to a for-profit club. It would have cost less than $100 and all 62 founding members could be happy.
First the club was hijacked from the investors. A resolution was passed that only members who play golf that live in Iquitos could be on the board of directors. There were 8 members that fit that requirement and 7 board member positions to fill. Castro could not have better job security. The other 55 investors were told not to worry, the hen house is secure.
Shortly after commandeering the club, a secret meeting was called for board members only. No letters of notification were necessary for the other members, because at this point it was declared there were only seven members, the board of directors. Signatures were forged, documents falsified, officials bribed, lies told, the club was dissolved. Gerald Mayeaux was named the liquidator of the clubs assets. The club was declared to have no assets. The coup d’état was complete.
Or is it? Are we going to let the weasels get away with stealing our Amazon Golf Club? Hell no we are not! We already tried persuasion. We already tried diplomacy. You can not reason with a weasel. Who knows what a weasel thinks?
Several of us have hired two lawyers who agree, everything that has been done by the weasels is illegal. We will pursue the varmints in the legal system of Peru to the Supreme Court if necessary. If any of you reading this, particularly the other 50 investors from 14 countries, would like to help, we can use all the help we can get.
Anyone who would like to tell their version of this story can do so by clicking the comment link below.