Officials from various public agencies have evicted a group of squatters who occupied a private property for over a year and a half in Esterillos Oeste, a coastal area in the central Pacific canton of Parrita.
Parrita Mayor Freddy Garro Arias told The Tico Times that officers from the National Police and Judicial Police conducted the eviction of some 30 families Thursday. Officials from the Child Welfare Office, the National Animal Health Service and the municipality helped move the families.
Garro said the eviction request was received last year from the legal representatives in Costa Rica of David Aven, a U.S. citizen who acquired the property to develop a beach community project known as Las Olas.
The mayor said that after meeting with a group of the squatters he concluded that they are not residents of Parrita. “Most of them come from other areas like Jacó and Herradura, and there are also Colombian and Haitian migrants,” he said.
Municipal staff demolished a total of 17 shanties, some of which were empty. Garro said they know that some of the squatters don’t actually live on the site.
The Public Security Ministry’s press office confirmed that several of the shacks were empty and that none of them had drinking water or electricity.
“We’ve witnessed some of these people arriving in cars, some of them expensive cars, just to spend the weekend or clean their part of the land, so we concluded that not all of them are here because they need a place to live,” the mayor said.
Garro also said some of the squatters told municipal officials that more people were planning to occupy the property in coming weeks, but mostly looking to get possession rights in order to be able to sell the land later. “It’s a very attractive land located just two or three minutes from the beach,” he noted.
He added that National Police officers told them that some of the evicted people also had occupied a public property in Parrita last year. “We believe they moved here after they were evicted from Parrita in February 2015,” he said.
Garro said there was not any kind of construction activity taking place on the property at the time the squatters entered the lands.
He said the owner is currently amid an arbitration claim against Costa Rica after his project was shut down in 2011. “Allegedly the land, or part of it, is within a protected wetland,” he said.
The project, according to its website, would include a hotel, a beach club, a complex of villas, recreational areas and shops.