Agricultura Mecanizada Chapernal, where the former minister´s uncle is listed as vice-president, has ties to a network of corporations where family members and business associates of both Dobles and his second cousin, President Oscar Arias, are listed as officers.
It is also one of seven corporations that formed the Sociedad de Usuarios de Agua Rio Aranjuez, a corporation whose name literally means the Rio Aranjuez Water Users Corporation. That corporation received a concession to use water from the Aranjuez River, which empties into protected mangrove swaps at the edge of the Gulf of Nicoya.
According to a report by a regional office of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET), inspectors who visited the Aranjuez River in April of 2008 found the river had been siphoned off into artificial canals leading to private farms. Below, the riverbed was “totally dry and rocky, without pools and without any sign of aquatic life,” the report said.
“The environmental damage caused by the (Rio Aranjuez Water Users Corporation)… is irreversible damage that deserves to be punished with the full weight of the law,” the report said. “The commission of this serious crime against this important ecosystem can be considered, environmentally, disastrous harm to all of the biodiversity in the area.”
This report is but the latest of several official investigations into the lack of water in the Aranjuez River and the water concession held by the corporation, including a visit by the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ) in 2007.
Erick and Carlos Morice, two brothers from the area, say they have been filing complaints with authorities since 2006, but believe that nothing has been done because of the corporations´ political ties.
In April of 2008, the Esparza-Orotina regional MINAET office filed the above-mentioned report with the Environmental Tribunal, but it is unclear if the court ever took action.
“The complaints make it to San José, and there absolutely nothing is done,” said Erick Morice.