Are gay tourists boycotting Granada over Joluva?

The owners of Hotel Joluva and Club Alegria have been sentenced to five years in jail for sexual exploitation. Former clients claim the hoteliers were persecuted for being gay, and that Nicaragua tourism will pay the price. Authorities, however, claim the Belgian men were sexually exploiting minors and the evidence speaks for itself

This year’s arrest, trial and conviction of two Belgian men who own and operated Granada’s first gay hotel and condominium community has apparently prompted some members of the gay community to boycott Nicaragua tourism, according to industry sources.

Supporters of Francis Defrancq and Jan Van den broeck, the incarcerated co-owners of Granada’s erstwhile Hotel Joluva and the nearby condominium development known as Club Alegria (Club Happiness), insist the two men were unfairly targeted for being homosexual and successful. Nicaraguan authorities deny the allegations and say Defrancq and Van den broeck were busted for crimes that were proven beyond a reasonable doubt in court.

But many in the international gay community say they have plenty of reasonable doubts about the raid, arrest and judicial proceedings that followed. The perception of homophobia and xenophobia has led some to boycott Granada altogether, tourism sources say.   

 “Gay tourism in Granada is dead; before there were lots of gay couples here and now there are none to be seen,” says a foreigner whose Granada business catered to gay tourism, and who asked to remain unidentified for fear of reprisal. “The gay community is outraged by this. This is an international boycott and it’s because of this arrest, which makes no sense.”

Behind Bars: Francis Defrancq (left) and Jan Van den broeck insist nothing they did was illegal (courtesy photo)

The source says she thinks the damage to Nicaragua’s reputation has already been done and it will translate into fewer tourism and investment dollars for this colonial city. “It will take a long time for the gay community to trust Nicaragua again,” the source said. “People are very afraid.”

Another source, who also wished to remain unidentified, said his restaurant business has suffered since the raid on Hotel Joluva. He says he had some 30 gay clients who were regular visitors to Granada, but none have returned since March.

Defrancq and Van den broeck, who are serving five-year sentences for sexual commercial exploitation and child pornography, also support the idea of a tourism boycott. Van den broeck, who is blogging from jail by passing handwritten sheets of paper to friends who visit, says the case against them has “set back gay emancipation by at least 10 years in Nicaragua.”

“Nobody in his sane mind will start a gay-oriented business to support this community,” he blogged.

Their cries of injustice have found international echo. The blog Doin’ Costa Rica, which is aimed at gay travelers, recently posted an entry titled “Our Friends at Joluva are Guilty of Being Gay!”

Another article published in several LGBT newspapers in the U.S. and Europe reports that the Joluva raid prompted a gay exodus of Granada. “Many gay expats living in Nicaragua fled the country in a scene reminiscent of the gay witch-hunts in the United States during the 1950s,” reports author James Sears, a former professor at Penn State and Harvard University. “Institutionalized homophobia remains the norm” in Nicaragua, Sears claims.

The Nicaragua Dispatch’s March 12 article on Joluva also attracted a lot of international attention. It was the most-read article on the website for 2012, and continues to draw dozens of readers every day— nine months after its publication.

Jan and Francis speak

Defrancq and Van den broeck, both 51, maintain their innocence and hope the appellate judge will overturn their sentence for crimes they insist they didn’t commit. The only minors the two Belgians admit to having contact with were the underprivileged children they helped through their charitable endeavors, Van den broeck insists.

 The two men are being held in an overcrowded cell in the Procesamiento jail at the Granada Police Station, due to worse overcrowding in other Nicaraguan prisons. Ironically, Van den broeck says, they are in closer contact with minors now that they’re in jail.

 “If the police had any concerns with some of the people swimming naked in our private pool (people who were over 18), I would like to know why we were locked up in an overcrowded cell with a boy hardly 16 years old who showered several times a day, naked, in front of four of the five accused in this case!” Van den broeck wrote in a statement to The Nicaragua Dispatch. “He washed his clothes and underwear naked in front of us, and the police had put him in a cell with us! There were several boys of 13 and 14 years of age in other, huge cells. They were all naked together in the morning and evening, and these kids helped wash the bodies of the older men.”

Van den broeck, who managed Hotel Joluva, says he doesn’t think he and his partner were picked on solely because they are gay. But he thinks being gay made them appear like an easy target.

“This is because we have money; it doesn’t matter if you are homosexual, but of course it is easier if you are homosexual,” Van den broeck told The Nicaragua Dispatch during a recent interview in the prison yard during weekly visiting hours.

Van den broeck says he and Defrancq have never gotten in trouble before the raid on their hotel. And once they were in trouble, they didn’t know how the system worked. Van den broeck says a gay businessman who recently got into similar trouble in Managua bought his way out of problems, while another guy businessman on Ometepe Island got off because “he knew the right people.”

“I guess we didn’t know the right people, or whatever,” Van den broeck says.

While Van den broeck thinks money, not sexual preference, was the initial motive for the raid on his hotel, he says the case became increasingly homophobic as it evolved. In the trial, he says he and Defrancq were accused of turning straight boys into homosexuals, and a coffee table book on the history of homosexuality was presented as evidence of their alleged conversion attempts.

Van den broeck says the prosecutor also alleged that the fact their website gaynicaragua.net was hosted in Belgium was evidence that they were running some sort of international sex ring. He says officials’ attitude towards homosexuality suggested a real ignorance about the topic.

“These are things that were happening in Europe 60 years ago, and all I kept thinking was: They are very, very far behind here,” Van den broeck says.

He said when he and Defrancq eventually get out of jail, they will most likely leave Nicaragua, despite all the money and time they have invested here.

“I love it here so much, but Francis says its best to go to Costa Rica at least for a while,” Van den broeck says. “We have never had any trouble before with the law—not even a traffic ticket before this. So we have to go low profile.”

In the meantime, Van den broeck says, the gay tourism boycott is fine by him.

“We tried to be very calm and nice, but they don’t want the easy way out,” he says.

‘Justice was done’

Nicaraguan authorities say the police raid and subsequent prosecution of the two Belgians was done by the book to protect Nicaraguan children from sexual predators. The case was not motivated by homophobia or xenophobia, assures Vanessa Cordero, the head prosecutor for the case.

It also wasn’t a property grab either, she says. Indeed, both Hotel Joluva and the property of Club Alegria have since been returned to the two Belgians.

 “The evidence speaks for itself,” Prosecutor Cordero told The Nicaragua Dispatch in a recent interview. “During the police raid, there were two minors under the age of 18 in Hotel Joluva, and there were others that we knew about from before the raid.”

Joluva, Nicaragua

Joluva offered spa services for $20-$30 (photo taken from Joluva.com)

In total, she says, police identified seven victims, all boys under the age of 18.

She says of the five foreign men who were collared during the raid, only the two owners were found guilty of a crime. “The judge did not find enough evidence against the two Canadians and the North American man, and they were released. That’s proof that this was not motivated by xenophobia, because if it were they all would have been found guilty,” Cordero says.

She adds, “This wasn’t because they are gay, it was because of their conduct—using minors for this type of activity. There were also adults involved in this, but they were allowed to go free because that’s not of interest to us. Our only interest were the boys we identified.”

She said the hotel’s owners were unmistakably promoting sex tourism. On their three Internet sites, which have all been taken offline, police found profiles of male prostitutes with their names, ages and descriptions of their sexual talents, Cordero says. There was also a physical catalogue—or “menu,” as Cordero calls it—containing pictures of more than a dozen young Granadinos.

“They all had similar physical characteristics—dark skinned, straight hair—this is what the foreigners liked,” Cordero said of the catalogue found at the hotel. None of the young men in the catalogue were identified as minors, Cordero says, but it was evidence of sexual exploitation, she insists.

Van den broeck says the catalogue was to identify staff and others who were allowed into the hotel, for security purposes.

Not so, says Cordero.

“They charged money for erotic massages, some of the masseuses were experts in oral sex, and then they had to pay the owners for use of the hotel,” the prosecutor says.

In the eyes of the beholder

Almost 10 months after the raid on Hotel Joluva and Club Alegria, public opinion remains passionately divided over what happened there and why it was closed.

Of the 76 comments on the first article published in The Nicaragua Dispatch last March, many adamantly defend the two Belgian proprietors and insist they maintained a strict door policy to prevent minors from entering the premises. Joluva and Club Alegria, defenders say, were fun and law-abiding establishments that weren’t any more prurient than any of the other hotel or tourism businesses that cater to a heterosexual crowd.

Others say it crossed the line. “Let’s get real, Joluva was a brothel,” posted a reader named Robert. “You know it and I know it. The courts knew it…This is sex tourism at its worst, which is why I stopped going. I went thinking it was a gay hotel and found a den.”

Some members of the local gay community said they were uncomfortable with explicit sexual nature of the business. One Costa Rican man who lives here told The Nicaragua Dispatch he entered the hotel out of curiosity and “was immediately offered a catalogue filled with pictures of skinny boys who were being offered for company.”

“I am not saint, but I have no appetite for that,” the source said on the condition his name was withheld. “It felt exploitative, so I left.”

That sentiment was also echoed by others. A U.S. traveler who posted a review on Trip Advisor back in 2009 wrote, “I entered their lobby and I was greeted by what looked like street boys. There was a very strange vibe of older gentleman and young guys hanging around the place. I am gay, but the group of street guys/boys hanging around was a little too much for me, too seedy. I moved on to the next place.”

But most of the people who visited Joluva liked what they saw. Indeed, the hotel got only negative rating on Trip Advisor, and 45 positive reviews.

For now, however, it appears like the good times are over. Even if the appellate judge eventually overturns the sentence and releases the two Belgians, it is—even by their own admission—unlikely that Hotel Joluva will ever be the same or that Club Alegria will again live up to its name.

  • Jorge Greco Rodriguez

    I would not like to see Granada become into a Castro street(San Francisco) or a gay South Beach… I don’t care if you are gay or straight, just have some respect, there is no need to label a Hotel “Gay Hotel” it should cater to everybody regardless of their sexuality

    • John

      It already a straight / corruprt hellhole.

      The world’s oldest profession nearly tripled in practitioners from 2000-2005, especially in Managua, Granada, Corinto, and border/trucking towns like Somotillo. Since then, flagrant prostitution at roadside has been curbed, forcing the trade underground again. Though illegal, puterías (whorehouses), thinly disguised as “beauty salons” or “massage parlors,” operate with virtual impunity, and every strip club in Managua has a bank of rooms behind the stage, some with an actual cashier stationed at the door.

      • Thomas Love

        You should be ashamed to put down Nicaragua. Bitter. The conviction was just and they now lost the appeal too. And I am Gay. There was no boycott and plenty of gay places are open, the ones that abide by the law and human decency. Not ones who pimp off boys.

  • Ali Beatriz

    I am not familiar with this case and as of right now, I would like to say I support gay rights however, have you ever seen Dateline NBC’s tv special of when foreigners go to less unfortunate countries and actually do open these ‘spas and hotels’ and DO take advantage of minors, prostitution – whether it be gay or straight. Every time I read Craigslist Nicaragua, I find foreigners searching for paid sex with minors – they have the balls to post an ad! and they all so happen to ask for privacy. Granada and San Juan del Sur, are our hotspots but we should prevent foreigners taking advantage. I hope the police really isn’t being sexist but if these men were actually promoting prostitution, kiddie porn and much more – well they deserve jail time.

    • JayR

      1. Adult prostitution is not illegal in Nicaragua.
      2. Jan & Francis were not accused of kiddie porn. None of the photos were of children. All were 18 or over.
      3. The owners did much more than the owners of other hotels to make sure minors did not enter their hotel by checking everyone’s ID’s.
      There are undoubtedly many foreign and domestic pedophiles in Nicaragua, but Jan & Franics were not part of that.
      In reality, the only thing Jan & Franics were guilty of was alowing a 17 year old into the club and hotel that presented false ID. I’m told by people who met this 17 y.o. that he looked like he was in his mid-20′s and had everyone fooled. Jan and Franics in no way promoted men having sex with this guy who lied about his age, presented false ID, and passed as an adult. No hotel owner in the Western World would have been convicted of this.
      Another thing people should know is that several of the adult Nicaraguan guys who were known to go out with guests at Joluva were arrested by the police, beaten, starved, and tortured by the Granada Police until they provided false statements. I know this for a fact and have written statements for anyone who wants to prosecute the DA and Police Chief for their human rights crimes. When the “witnesses” were put on the stand, they all recanted their statements and quickly the DA dismissed them. I would suspect that DA Cordero knew these young men had been tortured and didn’t want the truth to come out. But the truth will come out soon.

      • Kelvin

        The trial report detailed 5 victims, boys aged 17 who had sex in exchange for money.

        • Mr Tibbs

          Yes, five listed victims who first were used there at 14 and 22 humanitarian groups demanding a guilty verdict…which they got against these two horrors. One of the most frequent johns was a 90 year old priest spending Catholic Church money on his little boys. Everything was set up to benefit the owners and johns and just about nothing for the workers except Aids.

  • http://thelandinghotel.com john tansey

    Jan and Fran are two of the finest men I know and what the Granada police did to them was corrupt and destroyed their lives—AND the lives of more than 40 people who worked for them. Anyone thinking about investing in Nicaragua should think very carefully about this case. Any investor who happens to be gay should look elsewhere. This is a sad day for Nicaragua and I hope that the outrageous tactics used by Cordero and her cronies are brought to light and she is punished for creating this injustice. Sra. prosecutor, what comes around goes around. However, I do have confidence that in the end, justice will prevail and these fine upstanding citizens will be free. But what a price they have paid! Yes, it is a sad day for Nicaragua and an ever sadder day for Granada. These are exactly the type of investors Nicaragua should be fighting to get—instead the government is allowing homophobic zealots to prosecute innocent men and destroy their reputations and the livelihoods of 40 families. I hope that someone who has influence wakes up and realizes the very serious ramifications of this terrible injustice.

  • Jose Ramos

    Guilty or not, this hotel and the owners have had a “reputation” for a long time. Not because they are gay but because of the alleged abuse of minors. We as neighbors see a lot and hear a lot.
    Just because a gay person is arrested does not mean that there is discrimination or that it is because of homophobia. Gay people break the law too.
    There are more boys that have not and will not report the abuse that has gone on because that is just as taboo. (and yes, I know of several personally) 5 years for the abuse is not enough in my opinion.

    • http://thelandinghotel.com john tansey

      What you are saying, Jose, could not be further from the truth. Jan and Fran did a GREAT DEAL to help the community in Granada by being excellent employers and running a fine hotel that catered to the gay community. They did often help street kids get something to eat and helped them with clothing and medicines when this was needed. The hotel is located close to the market and is therefore in a neighborhood that has many people who are less fortunate. However, anyone who says that they were abusing minors is spreading vicious, homophobic, mean spirited gossip. It is absolutely not true.

      • Jose Ramos

        Yes, John Tansey, I know where they are located and live in that neighborhood. This is NOT a fine hotel nor fine people and I know that most of us as neighbors are very happy that they’ve finally been arrested. We’ve been reporting things to the police for a long time and they have FINALLY acted. I know what the “street boys” and others have told me – what has happened to them there and lets just say they got more than “food, clothing and medicine”!
        This isn’t about homophobia and I find it irresponsible and disgusting that people cry “homophobia” any time that someone who happens to be gay gets into trouble with the law. Why can’t people just own up to their behaviors and accept the consequences – not because of their sexual orientation but because of the crimes they happened to commit??
        Yes, discrimination does happen but I do not believe that this is a case of discrimination. It’s a bit of justice finally for those I know that have been hurt by these 2.
        Of course their personal friends will cry “homophobia” rather than accept that justice is finally being done.

        john tansey said:
        “However, anyone who says that they were abusing minors is spreading vicious, homophobic, mean spirited gossip”

        • http://thelandinghotel.com john tansey

          Jose, one of two things is true—either you have a personal vendetta against Jan and Fran or you are connected to the Granada police and/or the prosecutor. Which is it? You do not know the facts of this case and I seriously doubt you are a neighbor.

          • Kelvin

            In Hamlet, Queen Gertrude says “the lady doth protest too much me thinks”

          • Jose Ramos

            I am not connected to the police in any way nor do I have a vendetta against them. You are a personal friend – I would expect nothing less than you to defend them. For you to say that my experiences or knowledge is anything less than real or truthful and accuse me of such things is ridiculous.
            I do live in the neighborhood. It’s just too bad that your friendship is clouding your judgement.

        • What its worth

          Would you and your neighbors be just as outraged if it were heterosexual men hiring young female prostitutes? See, cuz, that happens all the time there and I don’t see you playing vigilante in those cases…..

    • What its worth

      I always find it interesting that men will say that these young male prostitutes are being abused, when they choose to prostitute themselves – yet when young girls are forced into prostitution, or even choose it for the same desperate or not circumstances these boys do, none of you guys considerate it abuse. Seems to only be when it concerns males.

    • Mr Tibbs

      Yes, David Rodriguez who is now dead was a minor when he started as a prostitute at the Joluva and there were many others . They only started the over 18 rule after they had trouble from the police.

  • Marvin

    Hope the learn but is not fair in nicaragua. Is very nasty from police. . Are. The most nasty people in the world. Nicaragua i love you but sistem is very nasty hope those guys get out of jail many kid screw around at age 16. Good look

  • Ken

    It probably was a double standard–odds are the same operation run for heterosexuals would still be openly doing business–but then this defense amounts to arguing that “two wrongs make a right.” I’m sorry that the enforcement was selective and prejudicial, but I’m not sorry about the enforcement.

  • B. Dax

    Most of those POS Granada’s homophobics are a bunch of repressed pedophiles . I got news for them, you are going to be exposed, one by one!!!!!!You know who you are and were gonna get you, you don’t fool anyone with you bullshit Catholic masks!!!

  • Clark

    I’m very glad to see that Granada has the integrity of family values and the protection of children. These monsters did not land where they are by accident.

    • Brian

      Too bad you don’t have the facts. You’ve got the wrong “monsters”. There are people who abuse childern and they should be stopped and punished but these fine men did nothing wrong.

    • JayR

      It was no accident…it was greed and lies by the Granada Police Chief and District Attorney. Things did not go well for these bigots though. The police chief got transferred and the DA didn’t get the properties she wanted to take. Soon Jan & Francis will be out on appeal and the D.A. will be thrown out of office by the business people of Granada who are suffering as a result of her illegal acts. It’s DA Cordero who belongs in jail, not Jan & Francis.

  • JayR

    District Attorney Cordero is obviously lying through her teeth. Previous reports state there were no minors found in the hotel or club during the raids. In investigations, you need to look at discrepancies in testimony. The D.A. just provided clear evidence of her guilt in this witch hunt. Impeach D.A. Cordero!

    • Jose Ramos

      JayR, what about the neighbors that have been reporting these two for a long time regarding their behaviors and the reports we have gotten from many young boys? Justice came too late for these boys and still no help will ever be given to them. The boys that were abused are the true victims and should be recognized as such.
      Sin Vergüenza

      • JayR

        That’s a lie. There were no minors allowed in Joluva or Club Alegria. The only minor that got in there was 17, looked 25, and presented false ID. Where were all these “boys” you are talking about at the trial? That’s simply a lie. There was no one under 18 allowed in. Don’t make up false accusations based on your prejudices.

        • Jose Ramos

          They will not testify or go because they are terrified. … and I don’t blame them. Besides, let’s be real. What justice would they get? There is no help for them. There is no justice for these boys.
          I have not made any false accusations and don’t tell me that I’m “prejudice” … that’s a huge jump just because I have a different view/perspective/truth? If anything maybe your friendship with them is prejudicing your views?

          • Daniel

            Jose, I am from the U.S. and have never been to Joluva, nor have I met anyone who has. I have been following this story because as a gay activist, I am dying to find out the truth. I’m trying to understand your posts and I have a question that I want a definitive answer to.

            Are you saying that you met and spoke with several males UNDER the age of 18, who had sexual interactions with clients or the owners of Joluva? If so, have you filed official reports with the police that can be looked up?

            It is not clear from your statements whether you are talking about minors or adult men providing sexual services. To me there are VERY different things.

            I am at this point looking for concrete evidence against these men because I want to know whether to support them or not. If they are being falsely accused, I will support them, but if they are guilty of child sex exploitation, then they shouldn’t get any support from the gay media. The problem is, the legal system seems so haphazard that there is little in the way of being able to confirm whether or not this is a false case inspired by homophobia or not.

            Can you please tell me how, as a gay activist from abroad who is sincerely interested in protecting the rights gays, I can find some kind of real evidence that they were exploiting minors?

            I get your point that they are too scared to come out publicly, but that’s simply not a reason to throw people in jail because you heard a rumor, right?

            There has to be proof. Can you imagine being put in jail for 5 years for a crime you didn’t do because someone lied about you? Can you be sure these boys you talked to were not telling you what you wanted to hear in order to get money, sympathy, etc? I just have so many questions.

            Please elaborate and be specific if you can and please let me know if there are any official statements from neighbors that can be looked up on public record so that they international gay media can use proof rather than “his word against his”. That’s just not enough to throw people in jail, is it?

  • Jeff

    Not only gay people should stay away from Nicaragua, but everybody! Alba countries should not be supported by our tourist nor by our investment $$$.
    Jan ran a brothel and you could not have a conversation with him without him turning the conversation immediately to sex! He was pushing his guys onto everybody. Is this a crime? I don’t think so and there was no minor testifying at their court proceedings.
    Why do people not realize that in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua there is no justice. So be smart and stay away until the political climate is changing.

  • Jo

    If is true they were taking advantage of kids, fine they can rot in jail.
    But if is homophobia, shame on Judicial System.
    Granada is a multicultural city, one of the jewels in Nicaragua, property prices are skyrocketing cuz expatriates can pay in dollars, but they are the only ones who care for restoring old houses.
    I do personally condemn sexual exploitation and if expatriates relocate in Nicaragua to take advantage they rot in prison.
    Being gay is not the same to be pedophile.

  • http://none Texas Toast

    The two owners are CONS, They are convicted criminals and I would not believe anything they say to get out of prison nor am I interested in their personal problems. Gay tourists are not boycotting Nicaragua because of these two birds

    • JayR

      Texas Toast, these two men are on “Cons” as you call them because of a corrupt police and judicial system. In Nicaragua you certainly don’t need to be guilty of a crime to convicted of a crime. Look at all the high profile cases that have come to light in the last few years. The fact is the police threatened, beat, tortured, and starved the young Nicaraguan men to extract statements from them against Jan & Franics. I know this because several of these guys have told me so in writing and in person. I’ve seen the scars on one of them left from the police torture. In any just system, this conviction would be overturned based on the illegal behavior of the police and D.A. Apparently, in Nicaragua the only thing that matters is a conviction, not how you extract the evidence to get the conviction. Torture has never been a particularly good method to get to the truth, only to have someone say what you want to hear to make the pain stop.

  • Rob V

    I and my partner have visited Granada and Hotel Joluva 3 times over the past years. The owners were very strict about no minors being in the hotel. It all seems to me that the Police, Prosecutor and the justice system worked hard to convict two men who were honest and helpful to the community. I don’t have plans to ever visit Nicaragua again even though my partner loves Nicaragua. I will not support a country that convicts innocent people. I tell people about the beautiful country and the wonderful people of Granada and Nicaragua but also tell them that it is best to not go there because of the injustice that is being done to foreigners.
    There are many other countries in Central and South America to visit and Nicaragua at the moment is not one of them.

  • Heriberto

    Nicaragua Dispatch seems to be very closely and personally involved with the degenerates in Granada. Let it go, unless your interest is more than the information only.

  • Lawrence

    Of course, pedophiles and greedy businessmen will tell any bull to promote either their business or sex tourism locales. Homophobes will be against any homosexual place. Two sides of a rotten coin. The guys in jail are proven criminals so take your time like a man and stop whining, Stop trying to use the Gay Rights Movement to make money off of destructive sex tourism. The government busts straight pimps too, there is no anti gay discrimination here in this case. I live in Central America where I am posting this. I’m glad this place was closed.

  • Bob

    I have read the Joluva blog and it appears that they are trying to identify commenters, either from this site, or from their own, by obtaining their IP address. I’m not sure why they are doing this. But I would like to start off by saying that I am very, very fond of Jan and Francis. I see their supporters and detractors as both missing each others point. To begin, no one can say with absolutely certainty, unless your are there 24 hours a day, that no minor has been allowed in the hotel. Those of us who have actually seen it, and are eyewitnesses, can not be challenged by others who insist it didn’t occur. It may not have happened while you were there, and perhaps you spent a lot of time at Joluva, and you might have even seen Jan and Francis strictly enforce the policy, but it is undisputed that Jan and Francis are not on the property 100% of the time. Neither you, nor they, can really say what happens when they are not there. I further note that one of the entrances to the apartment is private, and a guest can easily have an underaged visitor without, Jan, Francis, or the staff, ever knowing about it. However, this is a question of fairness. The prosecutors comments were interesting in several respects. She noted that they were convicted of promoting the sex trade. Although prostitution may not be illegal, that is, having sex for money, perhaps it is illegal to promote the trade? I don’t know. She also noted the color of the skin of the massage therapists, which suggests that she believed that is relevant. She stated that that’s what the guests wanted, and I don’t know how she could make the determination of what guests want unless she spoke to the guests. I don’t believe she did. What her words show is that she viewed these white gringos as taking advantage of these darker skinned Nicas as somehow objectionable, and that their skin color had something to do with it. I think that she is misguided, but she probably used that theme of rich gringos expoliting poor dark skinned Nicas in order to prejudice them against Jan and Francis, but that’s just a speculation. I think the color of the skin of all the participants is irrelevant. Unfortunately, as owners of the hotel, Jan and Francis had an obligation to make sure nothing shady was going on. I have no doubt whatsoever that the neighbors complained to the police for years about what they saw–50-80 year old gringos entering the hotel with what looked to be 14 or 15 year old poor locals. Anyone who has been to Nicaragua will attest that the guys there often look much younger than they are. The neighbors weren’t checking cedulas of the visitors, and it’s not unreasonable for them to concluded something shady was going on. The question in my mind is whether Jan and Francis are being treated differently because of their sexual orientation. There is no doubt that they promoted sexual tourism. Have a candid discussion with any of their guests, as well as the guys who worked there, under the conditions of anonymity, and if they are honest, they will likely tell you that this did occur. But it seems to me that their treatment, and the blatent disregard for their property suggests that there were other motives and that greed and jealousy played far too big of a role. Finally, I note that there seems to be a recurring theme from their supporters focusing on the help that they gave to the locals. This is completely irrelevant to the question of whether they are guilty of the crimes as charged. It is not uncommon for people to help and exploit at the same time. We see this with football coaches, doctors, and other “pillars of the community” who do really great things, but also have not so great things in their closet. I’M NOT SAYING THAT THIS IS THE CASE FOR JAN AND FRANCES. I’m just saying that their good deeds have no bearing on whether they were guilty of the allegations. I really hope for the best for them, as I do believe they are nice people, and I hope that they leave Nicaragua. I don’t plan on going back any time soon.

    • I heart Dispatch

      Good comment. The promotion of sex tourism IS a crime in Nicaragua.

  • http://no Nestor

    Jerry Sandusky says he is innocent too and some people believe he is. In this case sex exploiters have lost their place. I am gay and have seen how some older closet cases make lying a habit since back in the day they felt they had to. It is a new day for us in the gay community and I do not approve of using Nicaragua —my country- as a toilet for sex tourists

  • Clara Fennell

    If these type of misbehaving tourists stay away, no one will cry. I cry for those being taken advantage of due to dire poverty. There is a strong Nicaraguan GLBT scene and it is an insult to think white men are all there is. Shame on these two, the government should turn their property into a home for homeless SIDA boys. And kick them out when they get released from prison. Of course, they could start this type of business in Europe, but I guess not paying rock bottom third world prices would not appeal to the clientele.

    • Bob Smith

      “it is an insult to think white men are all there is”–this seems to be a common theme throughout latin America. I see HIDEOUS white guys with gorgeous latinos, and I’m not talking about the prostitutes. Many non-whites, including Asians, think that being with a white person is a step up. It’s not always about money because some of the latinos come from fairly well off families. It’s about status. But I digress. jejeje

  • Pete

    the lowest filth. look at these freaks

    • JayR

      That’s really uncalled for. They are really very funny, sweet, trusting people. Jan is one of the funniest guys I’ve ever met and Francis one of the most intelligent. If it helps your sense of asthetics, Jan is much thinner now after spending 6 months in a Nica jail.

  • JayR

    I have just returned from 5 days staying in Granada and 2 days in Managua. Many gay tourists are indeed boycotting Nicaragua because of what happened with Jan & Francis. That’s certainly not to say there aren’t many gay tourists still visiting Granada and the rest of Nicaragua. I’ve personally been asked by many about the situation there and they are choosing to boycott Nicaragua. There are a lot of polital and human rights reasons to boycott Nicaragua and there are a lot of recreational and humanitarian reasons to visit Nicaragua. Although I support the spirit behind boycotting tourism to Granada, I personally chose to visit Nicaragua last week. Many of the gay men who are boycotting Nicaragua are in shock at what happened with Jan & Francis and just don’t see it worth the risk to visit there. Personally, I had no problems with the police at all while there. I had close contact with many of the people envolved in Club Alegria and Joluva. I visited Jan and Francis in jail and they seem to be in exellent spirits considering the situation they are in. To my knowledge, I was not followed or even passively harrased by anyone. I met up with a lot of my Facebook friends from Granada, men and women ages 19 to 50′s. I was told that if older men walk in the streets with much younger men who could look under age, that the police could question them.
    I stayed at a beautiful gay owned hotel that caters primarily to straight guests. The American owner and his Nicaraguan partner told me that they have many young gay couples in their 20′s and 30′s visit them and they have not experienced any police harrasment, possibly because their clientele in primarily straight and they do not offer any kind of massage services. Many hotels do offer massage services, so in that respect Joluva certainly wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary. What I certainly do have to say is that there are a lot of people in Granada who condemn and convict people based on appearances rather than facts, like in many places in the world. And there is most certainly a double standard between a gay owned hotel that caters to gay clients as opposed to other hotels. I had a very pleasant and interesting visit to Granada. I took a tour of the Isletas and had spa treatments at Hotel Spa Granada and Pure.
    I spent two nights at a straight family owned 26 room hotel near downtown Managua. I rented their largest and most expensive hotel room. I checked in with 3 Nicaraguan friends from Granada and met up with several friends in Managua at the hotel ages 19-38. At no time did anyone in the reception ask to see the ID of anyone other than my passport. I was hanging out by the pool with three of these guys and no one questioned us or even gave a look, other than some of the young American college students who were staying at the hotel. We went out to a gay club Friday night. Other than the warnings that Managua is a dangerous city, I never felt in harms way or harrased in any way for being gay. Nicaragua is a beautiful country and the vast majority of the people are very nice people.

  • Jurado

    HI Tim Rogers,
    I believe that in this website you like to give yourself permission to be the only one to post name of others, so how is that any different from the current goverment in Nicaragua where they would no like any opposition at all or Somosa who use to fund his own opposition. I think that most of these systems have to reflect of the words of ( whom I am not going to name because you might take down this posting ) : among countries, just like among individuals ; peace equals respect for each others right.

    Having said the above I think Nicaragua has an unfair justice system but so does Canada & US ( North America ) and I as a Nicaraguan have experience this, so where is the gay community of me or the international community for me, it seems that this league only exists for some individuals only.

  • Jurado

    IP Addresses !! what is that going to solve ? that sort of force is just going to infuriate people out there.

  • Jurado

    Hey Bod, and you are going to denied that discrimination exist? it’s right in your back yard, open your eyes men, it’s been around since the time of slavers.. I think that, what’s happening is that these jurors are just trying to turn the tables.. and they are targeting certain people..

    My solution to this is that the Americans should plant their bases once in for all in Nicaragua and teach them how to play the ball better.

  • David

    This always was all about the money. The just about only draw of the overpriced non air conditioned condos they were selling out in nowhere down a mud road was easy access to teen prostitutes who were brought up by guess who?. I was present when Francis announced ¨Ï hate Queens¨ They can rot in prison. I guess they were not so smart businessmen after all as they made a mess of many lives, including their own

    • Thomas Love

      True. But this gossipy ex nude model (please!) Jan and his dour partner in crime Fran (who is with a big queen but hates them) are the smartest people “JayR” knows! I can not disagree! They are so smart that they just pent over a year in a hellhole prison and have now lost the appeal recently and have been booted out of the whole country.
      I remember being at the Joluva ( no I am not a sex tourist) and ordering a meal from outside. Ricardo ( who started working there as a prostitute when he was a boy) was sitting at the big table waiting for a hook up,in which the owners got a cut. It didn’t dawn on me how hungry he was till I offered him part of my meal. He wolfed it down. He told me he has a baby to support.
      Bravo to Ms. Cordero and I totally agree with her prosecution comments in the article. Like many people, I have nothing against adult consenting sex for money or without. But this had many other factors involved and it is forthe best this place was closed.

  • Jurado

    Hey David,

    And you are telling me that Habram Lincoln freed the slaves because he felt compassion for them? wake up men… like you said it’s always about the money .. the reason he freed them in case you don’t know is because the US needed to progress in technology and by basing the progress of the economy on slavery was going to keep them behind in the progressive world.. so the slaves needed to be free..

  • Nefuraito

    We dont need more gays here, then we dont care about your boycot. Please stay in your capitalistic and decandents countries.

    • Bob

      Nicaragua isn’t decadent? The amount of drinking that i see among nicaraguans, the number of very young oregnant teens and young mothers I see, and the amount of prostitutes along the carretera to masaya (and they are not there for the tourists) leads me to believe there is more decadence in Nicaragua than you are willing to admit. You are just as closed minded as those who blindly defend Jan and Frances without looking closely at what they have done. Jose Ramos hit it on the nail. This outcome can be attributed to the neighbors’ numerous complaints, and they were warned many times. But they didn’t listen. They could have imposed a 21 or 25 year old age limit. But they didn’t.

      Each time i think of going back to nicaragua, i read the updates to this page, and i make plans to travel elsewhere.

      • JayR

        It seems kind of random to impose a 21 or 25 year old age limit when the age of consent is 18. The 21 or 25 rule only makes sense in retrospect after everything that has happened. I don’t think hotels should be in the business of creating and enforcing those kind of rules. They should have been enforcing the 18 year old age of consent for their own good, and on my several visits to Joluva it appeared to me that they were vigorously enforcing the rule. But as you point out in your previous post, I was not there 24 hours a day 365 days a year, so didn’t see everything that may have happened at some point or another. I did expect for Jan & Francis to have screened all the Nica guys that were at Joluva and Alegria to make sure they really were 18 or over. So, I assumed everyone I saw there was 18 or over.
        A comment from your previous post was that Jan & Francis were guilty of promoting sex tourism. That is illegal. What others are confused about is that promoting gay tourism illegal too. That is not illegal. The judge at the trial pointed that out to the prosecution. The distinction between the two is very important.
        I will return to Nicaragua again in a few months. Nothing that happened on my last trip in January this year makes me think that it’s unsafe to return. Perhaps the most dangerous thing about being a gay man and visiting Nicaragua was going to Joluva and Alegria when they were under surveilance in January of last year. Of course, I didn’t know they were under surveilance or that two months later they would be raided and everyone detained and/or arrested.

        • Jeff

          The age , 18 or 21, is not that important. What Jan did was promoting sex tourism! His computer was full of naked guys of questionable age and all he did all day long was stare at those images. It was not possible to have a conversation with him without him turning everything to sex, sex, sex.
          He was also not shy to push “his” guys onto everybody, for a fee naturally.
          We all know Joluva was a brothel unless you have an explanation why all these young guys had sex with old, fat and ugly gringoes. Jan got what he deserved I just feel kind of sorry for Francis. On the other hand, he could have put a stop to it all, but I guess the money was to good!!!!

          • JayR

            I can’t imagine the money was very good. My understanding is that they were getting 50% of the legitimate massages which were $20 I believe, so $10. There were only 4 rooms and a small apartment, so maybe 5 guests on average. If they were making $10 a pop for “other services” then that would only be about $50 a day, assuming that all rooms had guests and were on averaging using the service once a day. Maybe more, maybe less, not good money though from my point of view. I never saw more than 5 or 6 foreigners out at the pool either on Sundays and most were guests at the hotel. The rooms were only $35 a day, so assuming they had 100% occupancy, that’s $175 a day before expenses, times 30 days is $5250 a month at best before expenses to run a hotel, pay elecity, wages, food, laundry, etc, etc. So, then add another $1500 max a month in revenue from “other services” and you are talking a total of $6750 maximum potential before expenses. I would think at least half of that went out in expenses, leaving them with maybe 3.5K return on investment.And I don’t think the occupancy rate was 100% all they time, although it usually was when I was there and I was turned away a couple of times because they were all full up. I’m thinking it wasn’t good money and it certainly wouldn’t be worth a 5 year prison sentence to Europeans who were use to a much higher standard of living in Europe.

        • Bob Smith

          It’s not random. In the United States, you must be 21 to drink. Some liquor stores have signs up that say “If you are under 40, you must show ID.” That is their way of saying, I don’t care how old you look, I want to make sure that I don’t get in trouble with the authorities. Some of those guys, even the ones in the video on you tube, look like they are underage. When these guys go in and out of Joluva, all hours of the day, and into the night, what do you EXPECT the neighbors to think? I can’t brush the neighbors off as being jealous busy bodies. They were genuinely concerned with the exploitation of these young poor Nicaraguans. I don’t want to hear that crap about they were consenting adults. Many of these guys had no desire to have sex with these tourists, but they felt it was the only way for them to make some money to buy simple necessities that most of us take for granted. So yeah, the neighbors complaints went unanswered for many years, and finally, the authorities did something about it. To say the least, even if they win on appeal, Jan and Francis, and other business owners, might think twice about being a meeting place for the sexual exploitation of barely legal impoverished teens.

          • eduardo r

            As an observer who has never visited Joluva, or Nicaragua for that matter, but was very aware of Granada and Joluva as the only Gay hotel there; I believe the owners were innocent to a great degree, though they will likely get hung on the 17 looked 25 years old individual. I do hope their appeal is successful and they can begin new lives.
            All that said, I believe these guys made a huge miscalculation in selecting Nicaragua to locate, and even more so to have chosen Granada. Homosexual relations were illegal until 2008, and Granada is historically a very, if not the most conservative community in Nicaragua.
            And lastly, in any society, but especially latin ones, you never want to be the nail that sticks up higher than the others, for it makes you a easy target.

          • JayR

            But in Nicaragua you must only be 18 to engage in consentual sexual relations, homosexual or otherwise. So, 21, 25, or 40 is a random age. 17 days, 364 days = illegal, day they turn 18 = legal. That’s the law, and the law is all about the details. Maybe all Nicaraguans entering the hotel should have been carded, no matter what the age, but that’s looking at things with 20/20 hindsight And again, it’s not the guys on the video, or the guys entering and exiting Joluva over a period of years that caused this. It was a series of events a few weeks before the raids that remind me of the McCarthy era in the US. Acussations were made that led to others making acusations to try to clear themselves. Then it was found out that a guest had slipped a 17 y.o. who looked 25 in the hotel. There was a Judas among Jan and Francis closest friends who gave the police and DA what they needed to proceed. I believe that what they were convicted for was a mistake on their part, not an intent to pander a minor.

  • Jeff

    First the “appeal” was supposed to be in December, than January. Now we have February and nothing is happening. I guess the two will stay locked up for 5 years.

  • Bob

    Eduardo, you believe the owners were innocent of what? Promoting sexual tourism? They clearly did that.

  • http://- Johan Deneyer

    Me and my girlfriend stayed at Hotel Joluva on 2 occasions: once in 2007 and once in 2011. On no occasion whatsoever did Jan or Francis appear to promote sex with minors.
    What we witnessed was a strict door policy whenever they were present.
    We also noticed a lot of involvement with the local community: helping out streetkids: giving them food, shoes, school material, clothes, medicine,…
    We were so touched we donated some of our clothes, and back home helped to organise a Christmas meal for the needy.

    What we also saw at Christmas time, was Granada police hassling streetkids: locking them up for no other reason than they were not a nice view for tourists during christmas period…..only to be released a few days after new year….

  • FT7

    Daniel May 17, 2013 : If you are really from an international organization, and really want to investigate, you don’t start by asking questions to an almost anonymous post on a gossip blog. Why don’t you get to the jail and talk face to face with the parties involved. You may have never been in Nicaragua living there and really know the idiosyncrasy of the semi-poor, money hungry people who are trying to make a quick Cordoba out of anybody; just as the government does with foreign aid. I guarantee that if your children were orphans you may consider having uncle Jan and Francis taking care of them.

  • LutzKaminski

    No one is is boycotting Nicaragua and a healthy Gay scene exists. Case closed. No one cares about the silly personal problems of theses liars and jailbirds or about pedophiles having a meeting place

    • JayR

      I agree with you that most of the LGBT community is not boycotting Nicaragua and a healthy gay scene exits. That’s certainly the case for Managua. I think that many of the older gay men who visited Granada and stayed at Joluva or visited Club Alegria are afraid to go back. Some of them have literally been run out of the country.
      I disagree that Joluva or Club Alegria was a meeting place for pedophiles. There may have been a very small percentage of unidentified pedophiles visiting Granada, but the vast majority of people were not pedophiles and had no knowledge of anything like that going on. The fast majority of guests had no knowleged that there were any under age adolescents at Joluva/Alegria and were depending on Jan & Francis to make sure that didn’t happen by carding everone who entered these establishments. The definition of pedofilia is the sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children. The only allegation at trial against Joluva that was really substantiated was that a couple of 16 or 17 year olds who looked older managed to make their way in with guests to Club Alegria and/or Joluva, and that a guest may have had sex with them. Based on that Jan & Francis were convicted of all the charges of sexual tourism, if I’m not mistaken. I have not seen the transcripts of the trial, but I have spoken to people who atended the trial and who have seen transcripts. Some these people aren’t really very supportive of Jan & Francis because they think they weren’t following the unwritten rules, not that they were actually guilty of crimes.

  • https://www.facebook.com/DaKittyPlace Tom DaKitty

    It’s time to stand strong and show our pride, despite what’s in the media, as they are only there to take us down! It’s time we all join forces to show Granada the true colors of pride, and that we are not all perverts as the media is painting!!! Let’s show Nicaragua that Granada is still gay and proud!!! Join us for Miss Gay Granada 2014 and support this and many other gay events and let’s work together on gay movement here in Granada, as well as within Nicaragua, as the rest of the world is doing!! Gay does not mean you are a pedophile!!! How many expats on the Calzada street, do you think has slept with underage girls?? Do they publish that in the media??? Happens every day, more than once!! Let’s stand up for our gay rights and show to them Granada is still opened for the gays. We invite one and all!!!

    https://www.facebook.com/events/512758298794315/

  • Jeff

    Anybody knows what happened to the appeal?

  • LaTeDa

    The January 2013 date was bull. Like the story that Nicaragua will suffer a tourist boycott.

    That shady real estate deal/ effort to get gays to buy overpriced homes in a rural undeveloped area is history, thank goodness.

  • Mike

    They told me that a number of people bought homes from them at Club Alegria. What happened to that money?

    • Jeff

      As far as I heard they only sold three places and the money I guess is gone with the wind.

    • JayR

      They bought other properties. Probably mostly gone now to pay for legal fees.

  • Rodolfo Ramirez

    Certainly glad that I no longer live in Nicaragua. I love my Nicaragua but I will no be spending or investing my money in a place where gay people are still finger pointed just for being who they are.

  • JayR

    Jan and Francis were released from prison on Monday and are now in Costa Rica. See their friends of joluva blog.

    • Mr Tibbs

      They lost the appeal and we’re kicked out to Europe

  • Mr Tibbs

    Yes they lost again and we’re kicked back to Antwerp. There is nothing left for these convicted pedophile pimps but to foam at the mouth in English on there stupid blog against people who can’ answer or read it: various Nicaraguans, even their own former boy toys such as Bosco and Norlan. Against their own workers Marvin and Isaac. But never any blame at all for themselves, the ruined lives, the diseases,the bilking of other Gays. Pathetic. I guess that is how it ends folks!

  • Mr Tibbs

    Yes they lost again and we’re kicked back to Antwerp. There is nothing left for these convicted pedophile pimps but to foam at the mouth in English on there stupid blog against people who can’ answer or read it: various Nicaraguans, even their own former boy toys such as Bosco and Norlan. Against their own workers Marvin and Isaac. But never any blame at all for themselves, the ruined lives, the diseases,the bilking of other Gays. Pathetic. I guess that is how it ends folks! !

  • Thomas Love

    Their appeal was rejected. The conviction was ruled as just. They were booted out of the country. I read their sad blog for the first and last time to find them hurling venom at the very workers they used. Only one quick mention that the appeal was denied and it is buried. When people are
    losers, it is always someone else’s fault.