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Another meeting, yet no news on investigation into turtle conservationist Jairo Mora’s murder

April 30, 2014

A second Environment Ministry (MINAE) meeting to discuss the slaying of turtle conservationist Jairo Mora Sandoval was held Tuesday, more than a month after Mora was killed. Public Security Vice Minister Celso Gamboa was present. Environment Minister René Castro was there. Vice Minister of Waters and Oceans José Lino Chavez showed up. The press and the environmentalists and the man who supervised Mora were all there. It was the perfect place to announce something. But no announcement came. And no new information about possible arrests was shared.

So what can be said about a case that hasn’t seemed seemed to move forward, despite a $60,000 reward offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the perpetrators? For one, the May 30 murder, in which 26-year-old Mora was abducted by five masked men, tortured and left to die on Moín Beach on the Caribbean coast, where he patrolled for turtle nests, continues to draw international attention. While MINAE has begun developing an action plan to deal with the backlash of the murder, environmental groups have continued to push the Costa Rican government to solve the case.

Mora’s murder was one of the foremost topics last week at the Inter-American Convention on the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles (IAC) held in Ecuador. Lamentations about his death filled two written declarations and one speech that took place on the convention floor. “The objectives of the IAC cannot be fulfilled if biologists, wildlife managers, volunteers and eco-tourists are unable to safely and consistently monitor the region’s most important sea turtle nesting grounds,” read one declaration from the convention’s Mexican delegation. “As sea turtles are a shared resource, criminal activity that prevents [on-site] protection efforts from taking place in one country presents an urgent concern to all range states.”

To fight this criminal activity, Castro assured environmentalists attending Tuesday’s meeting that MINAE is moving forward with plans to make Moín Beach a protected area. But due to development plans in the area and the number of families that currently reside at the beach, the minister said that it will not become a national park. “We are currently trying to determine the most appropriate way to manage the area,” Castro said. “A national park is too closed off for this particular beach.”

The minister also announced that a committee is being created to begin planning a monument in Mora’s name.

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