Government claims land marketed by U.S. owner

A strange property dispute is developing in northeast Costa Rica.

Government agencies claim that a U.S. citizen is trying to sell lots on land that belongs to the coastal development organization.

But a person who identified himself as Charles Scott Chinchilla said on the property Web site that he has sales documents going back 33 years.

“Please note that that the Costa Rican government has been circulating information that the sale of this property is illegal because they claim the land belongs to the Costa Rican government because it has been declared a wild national heritage area,” he said.  “If this is the case, then the government of Costa Rica has expropriated my property without due regard or due process of their own laws without notification or compensation of any kind whatsoever.”

The claim of government ownership is by the Junta de Administración Portuaria y de Desarrollo Económico de la Vertiente Atlántica. This is the same entity that runs the ports in the Limón area.

This agency’s claim made its way to the presidential Web site Monday. The claim has been repeated by the Dirección Regional del Área de Conservación Tortuguero.

Scott said on his Web site that “. . . the Costa Rican government has mounted a defamation effort not seen anywhere against my character by portraying me as a fraud and potential thief.”

Some Spanish-language news outlets picked up the government claim apparently without checking further.

Scott identifies himself as Costa Rican-born with more than 35 years working for the U.S. Federal government mostly as an aeronautics engineer with the U.S. Navy.  He notes that his eldest son is a captain in the U.S. Marines and the youngest is an Olympic freestyle wrestler.

The conservation area says it has set up an informational meeting Thursday in the facilities of the Asociación de Promotores Turísticos del Área de Conservación Tortuguero to discuss the land issue.

Tortuguero is best known as a Caribbean nesting spot for turtles which attracts thousands of tourists.

If the government’s ownership claim is incorrect, this would not be the first time. Pacific coast landowners have battled for years efforts by the central government to expand the boundaries of national parks without concern for the rights of occupants.

The rights of occupants in the southern Caribbean coast also have been overlooked in many cases because the families who have been there for generations do not have paperwork proving their ownership.

Ironically, Scott points out on his Web site and also his Facebook pages that he spends time reforesting and planting trees in danger of extinction.

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