Las Olas developer decries lack of police and judicial action on squatters

The manager of the stalled Las Olas development in Esterillos Oeste said that neither the local government nor the police have taken action to eject squatters from the property.

He blamed the government for creating the situation in the first place and said that the lack of official action creates a security problem that already has led to break-ins and rapes in the area.

The manager, David Richard Aven, said this in a letter to Luis Martinez, a San José-based prosecutor.

“I want to inform you about crimes being committed in Costa Rica,” Aven said.  “First, there is an invasion of criminal trespassers in the community of Esterillos Oeste and on our Las Olas property, and the trespassers are cutting down many small trees in order to clear the land for their use.  The criminal trespassers are a large mob who are carrying machetes and guns, and robberies and assaults have been reported against the people in the community.”

He said that the illegal trespassing and tree cutting is a natural result of the government shutting down the project in 2011. He said the project has received abusive treatment.

Las Olas has been involved in lengthy legal action over alleged environmental damage.

Aven also said that as he was writing the letter Monday he learned that two homes were burglarized Sunday night and two girls, one a U.S. citizen, were raped. He said this pointed out the need for urgent action.

A copy also was sent to President Luis Guillermo Solís and other officials, as well as to A.M. Costa Rica.

This newspaper reported on the land invasion last week. Aven said that his lawyer had been in contact with the local municipality seeking action against the land invaders for seven weeks.

“This is a seriously grave situation for the people of Esterillos Oeste and it’s urgent that immediate action is taken before someone gets seriously injured or killed by this criminal mob that has invaded the community,” he said.

Aven has been the driving force behind the project, but there are other investors in the United States. He is from New Castle, Pennsylvania.

Although Aven calls the land invaders a criminal mob, in other cases, the squatters have turned out to be residents of the nearby communities who pretend to be homeless. Usually they are well disciplined and under the leadership of local strongmen.

Other expats have commented in emails that some of the squatters have expensive automobiles.  The location is near Parrita on the Central Pacific coast.

The idea is that if the squatters can stay long enough on the land they will gain possession rights that can be sold or used to blackmail the legitimate owner.

Although the central government has spoken often about fighting organized crime, the officials there never have recognized land invaders as that type of activity.

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