San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Flamingo Community Battles to Reopen Marina

DESPITE previous assurances fromgovernment officials, boats have beenblocked from entering the FlamingoMarina in Guanacaste to pick up passengers,effectively putting a halt to boating relatedtourist activity in the area andthreatening thousands of jobs.“It was a lie. We left peacefully, andthen they rejected the negotiations,” saidFelipe Fernández, who moored two sportfishingboats at the marina until it wasclosed this month.Boat and business owners are nowenlisting whomever they can – from theLegislative Assembly to environmentalorganizations – in their battle to keep themarina open while a private operator isselected for the concession.THE marina was closed June 11 followingan order by the Environmental Tribunal,part of the Environment Ministry. The day ofthe closure, the tribunal’s president said hewas open to an agreement that would allowboats to pick up passengers from the marina’sdock (TT, June 18).But after all the boats voluntarily leftthe marina, proposals for such an arrangementwere rejected. The tribunal said itdoes not have the authority to allow accessto the dock, according to Costa RicanCoast Guard Director Claudio Pacheco.The Coast Guard is monitoring themarina to make sure it is not used. Tribunalrepresentatives could not be reached forcomment this week.WITH the closure of the marina, 2,075total jobs could be lost in the Flamingoarea, according to a study by the CostaRican Tourism Institute (ICT) and theInter-Institutional Commission for Marinasand Tourism Docks (CIMAT).Of these, 377 jobs are directly related totourism and 1,698 are complementary activitiesrelated to maintenance and commerce.“Each worker without a job represents afamily, children who must eat,” said SimiónTenorio, who owns a small restaurant in thearea.MARINA users have filed a petitionwith the Goicoechea Administrative AppealsCourt, which resolves disputes between privateparties and government administrators,in hopes of seeing the marina reopened.The Costa Rican Federation for theConservation of the Environment (FECON)also has filed an injunction with theConstitutional Chamber of the SupremeCourt (Sala IV) on behalf of the community.“If there is no contamination in themarina, there is no reason for the closure,”FECON vice-president Gadi Amit said.THE Municipality of Santa Cruz is inthe process of selecting a new concessionairefor the marina to replace the operatorthat was evicted in August 2003. This willhappen in three months, according toMayor Pastor Gómez said.One possible operator is a group ofmarina users – the Tourism Mariners’Association. The Tropical Sciences Center(TSC) is supporting them in their bid.“The thing is, when tourism is managedby the local communities, it is always betterfrom an environmental perspective, as wellas from a socio-economic perspective,” saidTSC representative Vicente Watson.Four other groups are interested in theconcession: Commercial Tradewinds, DesarrollosNau-Tico, Empresas MarítimasMesse S.A., and Servicios Marítimos de FlamingoS.A. Two once-interested companieshave already walked away from the process:Palmar Nabuco, S.A., which is involved inthe Los Sueños Marina in Herra-dura, northof Jacó, and Inmobiliaria Aralgua S.S.

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