On Friday, June 13, the Mayor’s Office of the Municipality of Nicoya ordered the demolition of a family home located in the maritime land zone and next to a mangrove.
According to Mayor Marcos Jimenez, the construction of the home where Arnoldo Duarte and his family lived was done illegally. In addition, it was located within the first 50 meters of the maritime zone.
Maritime Land Zone Law 6043 establishes the 200 meters from the high-tide mark as public land; construction within the first 50 meters is prohibited. The next 150 meters can be conceded by the municipality for a defined amount of time.
Although a governmental moratorium on evicting families living within the maritime zone is in effect, Jimenez said that environmental damage was involved.
“The legal moratorium that allows or buffers the impact of residents, such as the case in Garza, is clear regarding environmental damage, and environmental damage was being generated because they were polluting. Those who don’t comply with the law, well, unfortunately for them, the weight of the law has to be applied, and that is what the municipal government did,” explained the mayor.
According to Duarte, who had lived at the location for more than five years with his wife and three children, the family never received notification. In addition, he claimed that there was a clerical error, as the mayoral office’s notification appears in the name of Orlando Vazquez.
For her part, Susana Peña, the municipality’s lawyer, assured that the notifications were directed to and received by Claudia Balbacea, Duarte’s wife. The first letter concerning eviction was mailed on April 3 and the second on June 3.
“They were never mistreated and everything was always done according to what is established by the law. They were given more than the established time periods,” specified Peña.
On Saturday, June 14, Citizen Action Party (PAC – Partido Acción Ciudadana) Congressman Marco Vinicio Rendondo visited the area, accompanied by municipal council members Ana Lizeth Espinoza from the National Liberation Party (PLN – Partido Liberacion Nacional) and Carlos Medina from PAC.
“We are going to launch an investigation process and try to coordinate with the Ombudsman (Defensoria de los Habitantes). I hope that we will be able to determine some responsibility that will allow us to guarantee the rights of those who are living here,” assured the congressman during his visit.
The Voice of Guanacaste has attempted to communicate with Redondo by phone on various occasions to find out whether the investigation has begun. However, it has been impossible to speak with him.
According to Espinoza, she and council members Medina and Juan Luis Aguirre (Libertarian Movement party) will meet with Congressman Redondo on July 5 to draft a document. She mentioned that they are evaluating the possibility of accompanying the affected family to present an appeal against the municipality.
“The [actions of the] municipality may be in accordance with law, because we know (the affected family) is close to the mangrove and the law allows the municipality to take this kind of action. However, a fundamental right was violated – the right of housing – so they should have looked for an alternative that doesn’t breach that right,” explained Espinoza.