San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Proposed Law Would Benefit Isla Chira

Members of the Libertarian MovementParty have announced a proposed law theysay would better the living situation ofinhabitants of Isla Chira, located in the Gulfof Nicoya on the Pacific coast.The bill, called Law to AdvanceEconomic, Social and TourismDevelopment of Chira Island, aims toreform the Article 9 of Maritime ZoneLaw 6043.Under the proposed changes, island residentswould become owners of the landsthey live on, which in turn would helpmake bank credit and loans available tothem, which would help aid development.Isla Chira residents rely on fishing astheir main source of income, and becauseof both overfishing and contamination inthe Gulf of Nicoya, many of the residentslive in extreme poverty. Recently awomen’s group received a donation fromthe United Nations to diversify employmentoptions by building a cabin and restaurantto accommodate tourists. The effort hasbeen successful and those four women nolonger fish to earn a living (TT, June 18).Peter Guevara, Libertarian congressmanfrom Puntarenas, said, “This initiativewill assure (residents) a life of quality,allow them to work in other activities,one of which could be tourism in harmonywith nature, since Isla Chira has hadthe Declaration of Aptitude for Tourismsince 1970 and we’re trying to turn thisinto a reality.”Guevara proposed the initiative after visitingto the island and speaking with residents.“Their hands are tied by such a basic situation:They’re not owners of the land theylive on and because of it, they don’t havethe same rights as the rest of us,” he said.Like any other legislative project,though, this may take time. Guevaraexpressed hope though, saying the projecthas few complications and should be easyto pass through the Legislative Assembly.

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