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Flamingo Marina Boaters Face Eviction

June 11, 2004

BOATERS in the Flamingo Marina, inthe northwestern province of Guanacaste,were rocked again this week by an order tocease using the marina, this time comingfrom the Coast Guard and SecurityMinistry.The Pacific coast marina has been thecenter of controversy for more than twoyears.A Coast Guard cutter arrived Mondayand handed out a flyer warning boat ownersand captains they must remove theirboats from the area or risk being evictedtoday.However, the Tourism Mariners’Association, as they have in the past, thisweek filed an injunction with theConstitutional Chamber of the SupremeCourt (Sala IV) in an attempt to stop theeviction.“This is the high season, a lot of peoplealready have reservations on these boatsthis week,” said Junior Bustos, president ofthe association.For this reason, most of the approximately70 boats moored in the marina arenot prepared to follow the eviction order,Bustos said.FLAMINGO Marina users have beenin these waters before.This marks the third time efforts havebeen made to close the marina sinceOctober 2003, when the EnvironmentalTribunal, an administrative court, orderedthe closure of the marina.The tribunal, part of the Environmentand Energy Ministry (MINAE), requestedthe closure on the precautionary principlethe marina’s operation could beharming the environment (TT, Dec. 12,2003).The marina’s private operator wasevicted in August 2003 after a year and ahalf of lawsuits and accusations of environmentaldamage (TT, Aug. 12, 2003).The Municipality of Santa Cruz then tookover the operation and the tribunal orderedit to come up with an environmental planand impact study to allow the marina’scontinued operation. When this was notdone, the closure was ordered.HOWEVER, the marina’s operationhas continued.In March, the tribunal again orderedthe municipality to close the marina (TT,March 26). It criticized Santa Cruz mayorPastor Gómez for allowing the marina toremain open and said under no circumstanceswould boats be permitted at thesite.Gómez, who last December said theorder from the Tribunal was clear and themarina doesn’t exist (Dec. 12, 2003), saidTuesday the Coast Guard and SecurityMinistry had been discussing the tribunal’sorder and finally acted onMonday.THE municipality began a concessionprocess last September to select a newmarina operator.After the Oct. 30, 2003 deadline, themunicipality announced it had receivedproposals from five companies (TT, Nov.14, 2003). Gómez said yesterday thatseven companies were interested in theconcession.An operator will not be selected until aprocess by the municipality and the Inter-Institutional Commission for Marinas andTourism Docks (CIMAT) to create a masterplan for the marina is completed,Gómez said.However, Hubert Gysemans, presidentof the Guanacaste Tourism Chamber,argues that the longer the municipality runsthe marina, the worse things will get.“THEY don’t know how to run a marina,”he said.Gysemans said he has proposed severaltimes that a temporary commission run themarina until an operator can be found. Thecommission would be made up of representativesfrom the Environmental Tribunal,the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) themunicipality, CIMAT, the tourism chamberand boat owners and operators.“You cannot just close this marina;they are out of their bloody minds,” hesaid.

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