Talks break down over bridge blockade

Squatters evicted from property in Palmar Sur have rejected a government offer of relocation, Casa Presidencial said.

The evictees blocked the Interamericana Sur once again at a bridge over the RÌo TÈrreba at Palmar Sur. That lasted from Friday afternoon until early Saturday.

The government, meanwhile, said it would not negotiate under threats.

The government offered families that were removed under a court order two weeks ago homesites on six hectares, about 15 acres, owned by the Banco Hipotecario de la Vivienda. The homesites would be loaned, but the Instituto de Desarrollo Territorial would devise a plan for the relocated families to purchase the land, said Casa Presdiencial.

The property could accommodate about 60 of the evicted 300 families.

The representatives of evictees insisted in their negotiating session Friday in Heredia that the government purchase the property from which they were evicted and then return it to them, said Casa Presidencial. When government negotiators said that this is impossible, the representatives of the former squatters left and the bridge blockade was restored.

The families, many of them those of former banana workers, invaded the property in 2001, and their status has been the subject of along legal battle instigated by businessman Oscar EcheverrÌa Heigold, who eventually prevailed.

The families have erected tents on one lane of the two-lane bridge, and traffic has been reduced to just that one lane. However, at times, such as overnight Friday, the entire bridge was blocked.

The Ministerio de Comercio Exterior said that the blockade was affecting international commerce with Panam·.

Some 62 families are receiving financial aid from the government and five families accepted an offer by the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social to move to a rented home, said Casa Presidencial.

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