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Coastal Territories Law Will Reward Illegal Activities at Ostional's Wildlife Refuge

By Carlos Salazar (elpais.cr)

Community leaders, environmentalists and tourism entrepreneurs have reported that the Coastal Territories Law suggests awarding properties to individuals, real estate companies and developers and political entrepreneurs who have committed irregular acts with properties within the Ostional Wildlife Refuge and the Maritime Terrestrial Zone (MTZ).

On Friday, March 2nd, during a visit by legislator Claudio Monge, of the Acción Ciudadana Party (PAC), representatives from various groups requested an in-depth evaluation of a number of irregularities contained within the Law.

Guiones Beach belong to the National Life Wild Refuge of Ostional. Photo by Rolf Sommer

In meetings held in Guiones, Nosara, Pelada, Ostional and Nicoya, tourism, civic, environmental and commercial leaders agreed that granting property titles or concessions to those who live illegally within National Wildlife Refuges, “would mean rewarding those who have violated the law”.

María José Figueres, forest engineer and coordinator of the Nosara Recycling Association, considers that granting permission to inhabit the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge (Refugio Nacional de Vida Silvestre Ostional), as well as other wildlife refuges in Costa Rica, “means opening the doors that will lead to the privatization of beaches that, at the end, will be in the hands of multinational tourism and real estate corporations; a tourism development similar to Jaco's, that is something that we simply do not want in Nosara". 

Other leaders regretted that Bill 18148 would allow individuals such as Mel Gibson (Playa Barrigona) and Susan Sarandon (Playa Guiones), to legally occupy areas within the Maritime Terrestrial Zone (MTZ) that they bought from real estate companies and that are located inside the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge. Another case is that of Paez, the owner of a private clinic, whose construction extends up to the area where the waves break on Playa Guiones.

In addition, they argue that politicians such as the Guevara Guth brothers, of the Movimiento Libertario Party, as well as a number of people who've purchased properties within the Ostional Refuge will benefit from this Law.

On the other hand, they point to businessman John Fraizser, supposedly of English origin, who built both a restaurant and a hotel within the MTZ and without any municipal permits.

All cases have been fully documented by authorities from the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones (MINAET) and by Nicoya's Municipalidad, who have refused to comply with the ordinance issued by the Sala Constitucional to evict those who illegally occupy these properties
Information found on several documents states that when the Refuge was created by Law in 1983, 20 families lived in the area; this number has increased to 400, including real estate multinational companies, political entrepreneurs, businessmen and others who now claim their alleged rights.

Tourism entrepreneurs affirm that MINAET's Regional Office “issued permits so that many people could occupy beachfront properties located within the Refuge of up to 2,000 square meters, including real estate businesses".

“Many who benefited are poor people, however, many businessmen have also acquired land and there are new constructions that have been built without municipal permits and without the authorization of Minaet's management. Everything has been done in plain sight of the authorities", they protested.

During the meeting held in Guiones, Gerardo Brenes, who works in tourism, asked legislator Claudio Monge to make sure that, once the Bill is reviewed by the Asamblea Legislativa, legislators listen to other groups who oppose Project 18148.

Brenes recalled that “the Ostional National Wildlife Refuge is state owned, meaning that it belongs exclusively to the State. It is not a mixed or privately-owned refuge. It is simply state-owned”, he insisted.

“This means that the sole owner is the Costa Rican government. Moreover, since its creation, its goal was the protection of wildlife, especially for sea turtles, which is why it has always been dedicated to protection and not for other uses”, Brenes explained.

Likewise, he argues that the Minaet has failed to fulfill its obligations “by granting use permits within the Ostional Refuge, thereby allowing residential and commercial development, which goes against the purpose for which it was created”.

During the meeting held with various groups, legislator Claudio Monge explained that he is against the “legalization of the irregularities that have taken place, and we must review the Bill that was approved in the Legislative Committee for Environmental Affairs (Comisión Legislativa de Asuntos del Ambiente)”.


More Regional News

Extra protection from the Tourist Police for Holy Week

On Wednesday, March 21st, the Tourist Police met with the community of Nosara to present their updates. Among the good news, the chief of Guanacaste, Luis Chavarria Castrillo, said that Nosara is a priority for them, and due to this, in the month of February they transfered a new patrol vehicle from the delegation of Flamingo to Guiones Beach for patrolling along with the two existing motorcycles.

Attorney Files Appeal Against Nicoya's Regulatory Plan

A negative impact upon the environment and nesting turtles, 20 and 36-meter constructions along the coastline, the destruction of forests and water reservoirs; this could all happen if Nicoya's Regulatory Plan is approved just as it was presented on February 25th, Nosara residents reported.

“Law of Costal Territories is Respect Toward Private Property,” Carlos Gongora (ML)

The next fraction leader of the Movimiento Libertario (Libertarian Movement) party, Carlos Gongora, highlighted the importance of the Community Costal Territories Law (Tecocos) project since it is part of the “fundamental ideological principle of the liberals and it is respect toward private property.”

Thefts in Nosara and Garza Foiled

The police and OIJ are looking for suspects in two recent robberies, one in Nosara and one in Garza. On Saturday, March 17, during a Saint Patrick’s day party in Nosara, one party-goer decided to take a nap in her car. Around 11:30 p.m. she woke up to find a man inside her car, stealing her purse and wallet. She started screaming and honking the horn to scare him and he ran into the jungle with her belongings.

Second Field Fire in Two Days

It has been a busy weekend for the Nosara firefighters. This Sunday March 18 they responded to a field fire in Santa Marta. The fire was started when a small garbage fire caught wind and spread into a field and up a hill.

Esperanza Field Fire Burns Two Acres

A fire set to clear pasture space in Esperanza burnt out of control in the dry season weather. Nosara firefighters were called to the scene at 12pm on March 17, the fire, which had been burning for an hour, had spread through dry undergrowth.

Fire Consumed Large Part of Nosara’s Garbage Dump

A fire at the garbage dump in Nosara devastated a third of the land where the zone’s waste is deposited. According to the owner of the garbage dump, Arnulfo Espinoza, the fire “started by itself,” presumably by “a glass” that heated up a dry leaf.

Communities Voice Concerns about Proposed Regulatory Plan
Commission Will Hold Meeting to Review Observations on March 23rd

The regulatory plan commission received so much feedback about the proposed regulatory plan for the Canton of Nicoya, especially from the communities of Nosara and Samara, that they plan to hold a special meeting on Friday, March 23rd beginning at 9 a.m. in the Municipality to address concerns, according to Juan Carlos Oviedo Quesada, coordinator of the regulatory plan commission and Maritime Land Zone coordinator for the municipality.

OIJ Investigates Compay's Death

Nicoya's Organismo de Investigación Judicial (OIJ) is investigating the causes behind the death of 36-year old, Alexander Antonio Matarrita Castellón, known as ‘Compay’, who passed away on Thursday, March 8th at 11:00 a.m. at Hospital México, after being in a coma since February 21st.

Interview with Legislator Claudio Monge (PAC)
“The MOPT is not interested in budgeting money for Route 160, there are no mega tourism developments there"

Claudio Monge, legislator for the political party Partido Acción Ciudadan, toured several communities in the canton of Nicoya. VON took this opportunity to ask about the reasons why the project on Route 160 is not moving forward, and if the government really is interested in paving this road.

Lack of Water Affects Several Areas in Nosara Town

Since December 2011, 600 residents of Los Arenales and San Pedro are suffering due to lack of water. According to Christoph Hubmann, President of Nosara's rural ASADA, there is not enough water in the four tanks that supply the precious liquid to those neighborhoods. San Pedro is the area that has been most affected.

Nosara Red Cross
Emergency Doctors

Four Days with the Nosara Red Cross. If a medical emergency happens, Nosara can feel like an isolated place. The nearest hospital is 37 miles (60km) away in Nicoya, the two private health clinics are only open during the day and rarely deal with emergencies.

Sick of Dust
Lack of pavement on roads negatively affects health
• 186 from Nosara have respiratory problems per month

The excess of dust particles in the air has more than 6000 people in the Canton of Nicoya tired and sick during Guanacaste’s summer or dry season. 

Project to Asphalt Route 160 Not Progressing
• Asphalting the Roadway Promised Since 2007

The longing of the inhabitants of Samara and Nosara to see Route 160 paved remains an unfulfilled promise of the government. Marcos Avila, president of the Nosara Development Association, manifested that since 2010 the plans for the route have been known; however he feels that the process is proceeding very slowly.

OIJ Assigns More Investigators to Nicoya Coastal Towns
• New Mobile Forms Allow People to File Complaints Locally

Eight months after a tourist from Argentina was shot in Samara on June 16 in order to rob her of a laptop computer, her murder remains under investigation, but the event served as a catalyst for greater attention to security along the coast. 

34 Families in Cuesta Grande Without Water Since November
• Local ASADA’s Legal ID is Expired and it Can’t Operate

Since the month of November of 2011, 34 families from the communities of Cuesta Grande and Terciopelo have their faucets dry. This is due to not having a connection to AyA’s system, and the source from which they have been taking water has been going dry.

More Speed Bumps for Samara? 
CASATUR proposes six new speed bumps to increase safety for pedestrians

Though they may be a nuisance to drivers, these bumps in the road are a means of slowing down traffic and reducing potential danger to pedestrians and bicyclists. To that end, Samara’s Chamber of Tourism, CASATUR, has recommended to MOPT the installation of six more speed bumps in strategic locations...

Proposed Regulatory Plan for Canton of Nicoya Available for Your Inspection
• People Have Until March 9th to Voice Questionsand Concerns 

Time is ticking. Inhabitants of the Canton of Nicoya were given just 10 working days to review the proposed regulatory plan, ask any questions they may have and respond with observations or concerns after the plan was presented during a public audience at the Polideportivo arena in Nicoya on Saturday, February 25th.

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