Squatters turned out to be fakes

Dear A.M. Costa Rica:

In reference to your article of May 14, 2015, I have never found the U.S. Embassy willing to interfere with the sovereign courts of the government of Costa Rica on behalf of U.S. citizens.

I think that this type of pressure should be exerted at a much higher level, especially when it comes to treaties being proposed between the two nations (CAFTA).

A few years ago I worked on an investigation of the precaristas (squatters) who had been occupying large swaths of citrus farms in Los Chiles for over five years (a section called Medio Queso), claiming they were poor Nicaraguan peasants who had no land of their own.

Upon further investigation, I learned that most of the squatters were Ticos who would actually go home for lunch and then return to the illegally occupied land. It got so ridiculous that after a few years the rural police  put a small police station right on the occupied land.

The citrus farms were owned by Canadians, and since they had a commercial treaty with Costa Rica, they were able to file a case in front of the World Bank Court in Washington, D.C.   Ultimately, it turned out that the leader of the precaristas was formerly a student at the University of Costa Rica and then currently employed at the Ministry of Education as some type of roving educational consultant.

After five years of this nonsense, an aggressive judge showed up at the encampment at 4 in the morning with a couple of police detention buses and an army of police and they started interviewing and classifying each squatter.  When one woman with a child was confronted, she didn’t have anybody to call to take care of the child as she was being arrested, and the judge threatened to call PANI, telling the lady, “you shouldn’t endanger your child by squatting illegally.”

When this chisma spread, the whole organization dissolved like smoke.    I Later I interviewed this judge who was reassigned to Cartago, and he said that it was an incompetent district attorney who never properly filed charges to remove the squatters.  The government claimed they did not have adequate police in the border region.

I interviewed the former chief of police for the entire northern frontier and he said they had 850 police ready with high speed watercraft and, if necessary, helicopters to remove these squatters.  I guess the point of this story is that even investors at the highest levels get burned along with the rest.

Seth Derish
Costa Rica Investigations, S.A.
Costa Rica and Chico, California
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