Environment Ministry Closes Caribbean Hotel

September 30, 2005

PUTTING an end to a 12-year controversy, authorities took possession Tuesday of Hotel Las Palmas, inside the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge in the Caribbean province of Limón, according to a statement from the Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE). Approximately 50 MINAE officials, backed up by 25 police officers, first evicted the Las Palmas guests, followed by seven employees and finally hotel owner Jan Kalina and his wife, the daily La Nación reported.According to police reports and MINAE, authorities informed Kalina of the eviction Monday morning, giving him 24 hours to organize his own departure and that of his guests and employees. However, Kalina said he was unaware of this information and unsuccessfully tried to stop the eviction, according to La Nación.Environment Minister Carlos Manuel Rodríguez has yet to decide on the future of the establishment, accused by the Judicial Branch of violating Costa Rica’s environmental legislation.On July 6, the Inter-Institutional Eviction Commission of the Ministry of the Presidency resolved there were no objections to executing the eviction order for the hotel (TT, Aug. 19).Since 1992, environmental groups have accused Kalina, from the Czech Republic, of cutting down trees, draining marshlands and building in the public Maritime Zone (TT, March 12,1993).In 1993, the Ministry of Natural Resources (now MINAE), ordered the hotel’s demolition and a return of the grounds to their original, pre-construction state. However, the ministry’s orders were delayed for 12 years by a series of court battles (TT, March 11).

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