Region, Nicoya

Muni Accuses Scientist Marino Protti for Decrease in Samara Tourism

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Predictions and information provided about earthquakes in the Nicoya Peninsula by scientist Marino Protti Quesada have caused so much controversy that the Municipality of Nicoya agreed in the regular session on February 7 to give a vote of censure for alleged mistakes and inaccuracies.

The agreement was the result of a motion by Domingo Arias Bonilla during the session with the City Council. According to Arias, who is an entrepreneur with cabins in Samara, Protti’s continuous predictions about possible earthquakes in the peninsula, especially in Samara, have led tourists to leave the area.

“Marino Protti did not predict the earthquake in Cinchona, in Alajuela. Nor the one in Limón, or any other. But this man, for 25 years, has been talking about the Nicoya earthquake because it is convenient for him to take advantage of it,” he said.

On September 5, 2012, Nicoya experienced a 7.6 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Samara. Protti had warned in 2009 that in the Nicoya Peninsula there was potential for a major earthquake and predicted a magnitude of up to 7.9.

Arias said Protti has been keen to keep talking and predicting earthquakes in Samara and that several people have canceled reservations, but he failed to state the exact number of cancellations since September 5.

“The earthquake already happened, and this gentleman keeps talking about what will follow, that it continues releasing energy. People have canceled a bunch of reservations with me. Marino Protti leads a very pretty, ostentatious life because he traveled abroad at Samara’s expense, so he has to keep talking about it, because it produces great dividends for him.”

For his part, Marino Protti explained that he is aware of the municipal agreement where he was given a period of 45 days to respond before the Nicoyan municipal council; nonetheless he said that he feels calm and not only will he not present himself at the hearing but he will also continue working normally.

He also said, “I would worry if the International Union of Geophysics called attention to my work, but they (the municipal council) have no scientific or objective criteria on this issue.” He added, “They have all the freedom to express their opinions; moreover, I have received many calls of support from people and friends to continue with the research.”

Meanwhile, Sandra Leon, Rector of the National University (UNA), supported the work of Protti and the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI) and indicated in the municipal council meeting on February 18th that the work done by the OVSICORI would never aim to harm a community; that would go against the mission of the university.

Rodolfo Orozco, council member of the National Liberation Party, said that the municipal council wants to reach an agreement with OVSICORI to hold a detailed discussion of the earthquake and what has really happened in the Canton of Nicoya.

“We are not against the work done by Mr. Protti and OVSICORI, because we do not have a scientific knowledge of the matter. What we are against is that whenever the time comes for Holy Week, he forecasts an earthquake, and because of that, the coastal area suffers,” said Orozco.

Tourism Chamber Weighs In

Marcos Carmona, president of the Chamber of Tourism of Samara (CASATUR), applauded the vote of censure of the Municipality against Protti and stated that “this guy has definitely been sabotaging us since many years ago. I totally agree that these annoying comments have affected us.”

On the other hand, Marcos Johanning, Secretary of the Nosara Tourism Chamber, said the vote of censure “is a joke” and said “I don’t care about the politicians.”