On November 30th, at a hearing in the Legislative Assembly, the Minister of Justice and Peace, Cecilia Sanchez, indicated that the construction of a prison in Nicoya will be postponed while other projects are prioritized like the prisons in San Rafael de Alajuela, Pococi and Perez Zeledon.
Minister Sanchez had told The Voice of Guanacaste in an interview in September of 2015 that the productive prison unit will be built in Nicoya despite opposition from the community and the mayor.
“This is a matter of public interest and, facing this, the government has all of the power to act. What we do not want is to come in violently and impose ourselves. The government does not need the permission of the mayor. The government has the technical and legal authority to act, but it does not want this. We want dialogue and to count on the community of Nicoya,” Sanchez said.
Given the strong opposition to the project from the outset, the Ministry of Justice has decided to postpone it while holding dialogue, according to Gonzalo Elizondo, from the executing unit.
“The Nicoya project is on hold. We need to see how to involve the business sector and how the dialogue progresses. The executing unit will wait for the outcome of these dialogues to see if we can continue with Nicoya. For the moment, because we are in an uncomfortable and difficult situation, we decided to start with other projects,” Elizondo commented.
Elizondo stated that the project has not been ruled out but is moving forward in a different order. Likewise, he believes that this is the worst time to seek a dialogue with the Nicoyan community because it is in the process of the 2016 municipal elections, which could politicize the issue.
The new productive unit would be able to lock away 576 prisoners, who would be people with low criminal profiles who are conditioned to be placed in social inclusion programs, such as education and training in the work force. However, construction will no longer begin in early 2016 as planned.