Residents of the Talamanca region of Limón province have gone to the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights to complain about what most Costa Ricans believe is a good thing.
They are unhappy that the government has turned about 88 percent of their area into reserves and protected areas, thereby limiting them to what they can do. The residents are demanding that the Costa Rican government respect their rights. The commission is part of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C.
Many of the residents of the area are native Costa Ricans, Afro-Caribeños and poor farmers. The group was organized by Dennis Clark, president of the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral de Manzanillo. Clark said that the government has limited growth and potential projects by freezing much of the land area.
He said the Costa Rican government has taken unilateral decisions without consulting the residents. Talamanca is in last place for development according to the Instituto Estadisticas y Censos de Costa Rica. There is extreme poverty.
The commission will hold a hearing on the situation within 30 days, Clark reported.
His organization notes that some of the property there is within the limits of the Parque Nacional de Cahuita although they have been owned by private parties long before the park was formed.
The group also is unhappy with the situation along the Caribbean coast where many residents do not have ownership of their properties. A law that would have allowed some residents to prove ownership was ruled unconstitutional.
The problem stems from the Ley de Zona Maritimo-Terrestre which says that nothing may be built in the first 50 meters from the high tide line. Many homes in Manzanillo and Cahuita are in this zone.
Many more are in the next 150 meters above high tide that is supposed to be available for construction only by municipal concession.
Without ownership, even though the homes may have been in the family for a 100 years, residents cannot obtain loans for new construction or improvements.