TECOCOS Law Project Could Die in a Month

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The Coastal Community Territories law project, known as TECOCOS, has only one month of life remaining in the legislative waters. On June 6th, the four-year time limit established by legislative regulation to try to get it approved will expire.

TECOCOS was created to benefit more than 50,000 families in communities that have traditionally inhabited the maritime zone of the country’s coasts and islands.

Most of these families have orders to move out of their homes. In 2010, the former president, Laura Chinchilla, signed a moratorium on the ordered evictions, postponing families being expelled throughout the coastal area of the country.

However, the moratorium on evictions expired on September 30, 2014, and for families to not be evicted, the legislators must approve an extension of the moratorium.

Motion Did Not Succeed

In light of the short time remaining for the bill and the expiration of the moratorium, on Thursday, April 23rd, legislators from the Broad Front party (FA- Frente Amplio) arranged to submit a motion to extend the deadline for 4 more years and give new life to the project and prevent evictions of families.

While all of this was happening in the legislative plenary, dozens of people who live in the coastal areas of Guanacaste and Puntarenas put pressure on the legislators from the press bars within the Legislative Assembly and from the street in front of the building.

However, the motion did not meet with a very favorable environment since it needed 38 votes to pass, and at the time of the vote, only 39 legislators were in the plenary, of whom 37 voted for and two against.

Later, the vote was submitted to review and only 26 legislators supported the motion. In the second vote, the legislators of the National Liberation Party (PLN- Partido Liberacion Nacional), who had voted in favor the first time, decided to vote against it.

Now, if legislators want to save the project, they have to strive to do so during the month of May.

PLN: “Vote Was Not Consensual”

Juan Marin, Guanacaste legislator from PLN, lamented the lack of dialogue by the FA fraction and expressed the opinion that the project has failed to advance due to their intolerance.

“The project is not dead yet, but there has been an irresponsible attitude here and little negotiation from the FA and if things are not going well, it is because of their intolerance. I pointed out to Suray Carrillo (FA) that these subjects have to be negotiated beforehand… I would never have voted on the motion on Thursday, (April 23rd), because it was not consensual and we did not have the necessary votes,” Marin said.

Marin said that, apart from the motion to extend the TECOCOS project, it is necessary to vote for a moratorium to prevent demolitions in coastal areas and border communities, since the period they had to make adjustments to comply with current legislation expired in October of 2014.

For her part, Legislator Suray Carrillo, although she did acknowledging the need for negotiation, ruled out voting first for a moratorium, as proposed by Marin and the Liberationist fraction.

“We have to to talk and negotiate to not be too tight of a quorum. We should make sure that the majority of legislators are there for the vote. What is happening is that they want to vote for the moratorium first and we will not allow that. If they don’t vote for TECOCOS and the moratorium together, we won’t accept it, because we don’t want them to fool us,” Carrillo said.

For his part, Nicoyan lawyer Wilmar Matarrita, the principal promoter of TECOCOS and husband of Legislator Carrillo, showed concern for the future that the law project could have.

“I don’t think it’s even necessary to have to extend the deadline. The legislators should vote on this project now. If we have a text that has been worked on by all of the political parties and we have achieved a consensus at the negotiating table with the institutions and the government present, we don’t understand why this text hasn’t been voted on, unless it was a farce and we wasted time in vain,” Matarrita said.

Matarrita said they are going to try to submit another motion to extend the time period, and if it doesn’t succeed, the coastal communities will be preparing to protest in upcoming days in order to demand that the legislators vote on TECOCOS as soon as possible.

This bill is waiting to be endorsed by Congress, published in the daily newspaper La Gaceta and sent to the Constitutional Court for consultation for its final approval.