Articles I have read about the beach evictions ordered by the Costa Rican government through the Sala Cuarta fail to emphasize the glaring marginalization of a group of people, namely the poor. Wealthy foreigners affected by the rulings to vacate beach areas have access to pricey lawyers who can figure out loopholes and avoid eviction.
Formerly, In Costa Rica, the rights of squatters to the land they occupied were legally protected. What has changed? The current situation is reminiscent of the US government’s breaking of treaties and usurping land from the Native Americans.
I have known Olgita, formerly the owner of New Milenium Restaurant, and Harry, her partner for many years. They are among the kindest, most generous, caring people I have encountered, embodying something of a true old Costa Rican spirit of sharing and helping whomever they can. It is well known that Olgita’s family has been living in Playa Pelada for seventy years.
Because her parents failed to get the proper legal documentation of ownership, Olgita, and her family along with about three hundred other costal families in this area w ill be forced to leave their homes and land by August unless this unjust ruling for evacuation is overturned. Those families without the required documentation are being expelled with out any compensation or relocation. The human tragedy of people being forced out of their homes is a disgrace to the highly praised humanitarian government of Costa Rica and needs to be internationally exposed as such.
At a meeting at Olga’s in Playa Pelada, I was heartened by Wilmer Matarrita, a Costa Rican Lawyer of Fede Agua who is helping the community organize to stop the eviction. He has drafted a law ensuring the following,
1) People who have lived in the Costal areas in question for over five years have the right to stay in their homes and land.
2) They are not allowed to sell their land or homes, but their children and descendents have the right to stay there.
3) Residents given the right to stay are not permitted to sell their homes or land but only to continue living there. Only these people specifically, and no third parties have the right to live in these areas.
4) The residents are required to protect the natural environment and live sustainable in harmony with nature. No buildings higher than one story are allowed nor are large projects of any kind.
It would be a great loss to remove the few real local people we have from the coast. Rather, I would love to see them empowered to develop healthy sustainable means to live on the land and support themselves sharing the rich cultural heritage they embody for the benefit of us all.