If Tecocos is Not Approved, Communities Will Prevent Chinchilla’s Visit on July 25

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If the Coastal Communities Territories (Tecocos) Law Project isn’t approved in the second debate by the legislators of the Legislative Assembly, the coastal communities of the nation will hold an unprecedented march and even impede the arrival of President Laura Chinchilla to Guanacaste.

The protest would take place if the project doesn’t receive definite approval by the majority of the legislators before July 25.

With this conviction, the community of Samara was the site of the fifth annual congress of the nation’s coastal communities on Friday, June 14th and Saturday, the 15th.

The activity took place in the community hall of Samara, with more than 100 people in attendance, the majority of whom live in areas close to the beach like: Punta Barco, Golfito, the Osa Peninsula, the Nicoya Peninsula, the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya, Samara, Nosara, Ostional, the Papagayo Peninsula and Santa Elena in La Cruz.

For this congress, the presence of at least seven legislators from the Legislative Assembly was expected; however only Jose Maria Villalta of the Frente Amplio party showed up. None of the four legislators from Guanacaste attended.

The meeting started with some motivational words and gratitude expressed to those present for attending the congress, especially since some guests like the delegates from Punta Barco, a southern community near Panama, had to wake up very early and leave at 1 a.m. on Friday in order to attend the event. 

Wilmar Matarrita, coordinator of Tecocos, highlighted the progress achieved to date such as the approval of the project in the first debate on April 30. Currently it is being reviewed by the Constitutional Court at the request of 19 legislators.

Matarrita, in addition, highlighted the coordination that has existed between members of the movement to mobilize people and put into motion the execution of objectives.

During the two days of the meeting, the members of Tecocos made clear their stance toward the approval of the law project during the second debate, since they consider this “nonnegotiable” and say it has to be fully approved in the legislative session before July 25.

Marcos Jimenez, mayor of the municipality of Nicoya, who was present during the opening of the congress on Friday, reaffirmed his support of the Tecocos project and regarding the possible demonstration, he declared, “It is an alternative that the government should pay attention to,” and added, “One should support the communities and I am in favor of their development.”

For his part, Jose Maria Villalta classified the congress as successful and showed himself to be satisfied by the gathering of representatives of Tecocos from the entire country. However, in light of the absence of his fellow legislators, he mentioned that he didn’t know why they didn’t attend and said, “Not coming here today shows that they (the legislators) aren’t really interested in the project,” and he pointed out, “If they are invited to go to a luxury hotel, there they would attend.”

When consulted as to whether there is political will from the legislators to approve the project soon in second debate, Villalta explained, “I believe that the political will is built,” and added, “with work, effort but also with pressure, popular pressure,” so he does consider it necessary to continue with the mobilization work that has been done up until now.  

The congress allowed those present to get updated with the project, clarify doubts and offer suggestions.

Magdalena Vega, president of the Ostional Development Association, expressed, “I am satisfied with the attendance of those who came to the congress. The fight continues. We should keep working.”