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Authorities Prepare to Shut Down Hotel

August 19, 2005

AUTHORITIES are making their final preparations to fulfill an eviction order for the controversial Hotel Las Palmas, inside the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge in the Caribbean province of Limón, according to La Amistad-Caribe Conservation Area Director Edwin Cyrus.Cyrus told the daily La Nación he preferred not to announce the date of the eviction. However, Public Security Minister Rogelio Ramos said that in the next few days, the Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE) will resolve what it will do with the hotel after the eviction, ordered because of alleged environmental damage caused by the hotel.The Inter-Institutional Eviction Commission of the Ministry of the Presidency recommended taking the necessary precautions to assist tourists staying at the hotel during the eviction.The commission resolved on July 6 that there are no objections to “continuing with the execution of the eviction order,” according to La Nación.Las Palmas has been the center of a 12-year controversy. Since 1992, environmental groups have accused ownerJan Kalina, from the Czech Republic, of draining marshlands, cutting down trees and building in the Maritime Zone (TT, March 12, 1993). In March 1993, the Ministry of Natural Resources (now MINAE) ordered the hotel’s demolition and a return of the property to its original state before construction began. However, for 12 years, the execution of the ministry’s order has been postponed by a series of court battles (TT, March 11).Jan Kalina, owner of Las Palmas, insists MINAE has no reason to close the hotel because he has recovered the marshlands and returned all affected areas to their original state.

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