San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Gov’t Continues Saber Rattling Over Hotel Barceló

Members of the National Assembly’s Tourism Commission are asking the Attorney General to meet with representatives of the Spanish hotel chain Barceló to find a solution to its financial dispute with the government before the issue becomes an arbitration case, according to Liberal party commission member Pedro Joaquín Chamorro.

Though Barceló says it doesn’t owe the state any more than the $3 million it claims to have paid in 1993 for the hotel, Attorney General Hernán Estrada says that amount was the premium and the rest was to be paid with 10 annual payments between 1996 and 2006.

“To have handed over – you can’t call it a sale because the price hasn’t been settled – such a precious good valued at $3 million, which was constructed during the revolution with the goal of giving our people free and cheap beach access for those that wanted to inhabit those rooms, is unheard of,” Estrada said in a statement on the government-run Web site

He called the hotel “historical patrimony” and said it’s “curious and sad” that one of the world’s largest hotel chains hasn’t paid what it owes. President Daniel Ortega said in a statement last week the government is studying the possibility of returning the hotel to the state’s hands if Barceló doesn’t pay up.

Representatives of Barceló, who appeared in the National Assembly’s Tourism Commission June 11, maintain they don’t owe the state any money according to their contract. According to Chamorro, the Tourism Commission plans to send a letter to Estrada requesting that the Attorney General sit down to talk with Barceló.

Spain’s newly arrived ambassador, Antonio Perez, told reporters last week that the tax dispute is a “misunderstanding” that shouldn’t harm healthy relations between Nicaragua and Spain. Estrada responded by saying Perez should not opine on the matter until he has officially presented his credentials as ambassador to President Ortega


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