Of the approximately 1,000 families who live in the La Candela shantytown next to Juan Santamaría International Airport in Alajuela, west of San José, one third left their homes Wednesday when the National Police evicted them from the land owned by Banex bank.
As in previous weeks, contradictory information surrounded eviction. Though a statement from the Public Security Ministry stated that 1,000 families have been removed from the property, Rigoberto Rodríguez, the National Police Regional Director for Alajuela, told The Tico Times only 30% of that number, or approximately 300 families, were evicted Wednesday from the Los Pinos section of the property. The remaining 70% will be evicted within the next two weeks, he said.
Alejandro Chang, the head of the Public Security Ministry’s Evictions Department who last week said La Candela would be evicted using a new, gradual method employed earlier this year at other San José shantytowns evicted over a three-month period, expressed surprise when asked by The Tico Times about the 300-family eviction.
“You’re giving me the news,” he said. Rodríguez said the families evicted Wednesday who had qualified for aid from the Mixed Institute of Social Aid (IMAS) received their money Wednesday morning and left peacefully.
In clearing the property, police are executing an order from the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV). The justices ruled in favor of Banex in 2002, and rejected shantytown residents’ last appeal in August 2005 (TT, April 21, 28).