President seeks to suspend evictions in maritime zone

President Laura Chinchilla sent a proposal to the legislature Wednesday night to see a suspension of eviction orders for those that are living on land in the maritime zone.

According to a representative in Casa Presidencial, there are approximately 50,000 people who are affected by the threat of eviction. Most of the maritime zone inhabitants are in the southern Limón area, such as Manzanillo.

The proposal is No. 18.148, called the Ley de Territorio Costeros Communitarios, or “a law for the coastal communities territory. There is no date as to when the proposal will be looked at in the legislature since there will be a change in leadership May 1. The proposal could be voted on as soon as next week, but there is no definite date.

A representative from the Asamblea Legislativa said the proposal sits in fourth place on the agenda for
first debates. The spokesperson said the law was pushed as a priority but that there are other laws that must be voted on first. A revision of the traffic law is one of those that have priority.

There was no text provided for the measure, but a verbal summary said that the law would provide a year-long suspension of eviction orders or demolitions for properties and residents of the zone.

Casa Presidencial noted that many of these residents have lived in the zone for years but without a government concession to allow them to do so. The latest case is on the Caribbean coast where the Contraloría General de la República has ordered the local municipality to destroy eight structures in Cahuita and Puerto Viejo. Residents have protested.

According to the maritime zoning law established in 1977 there should be no construction within the 50 meters from mean high tide because that is considered public. From 500 meters to 200 meters only concessions, not ownership, is allowed.

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