Protesters decry high court’s sluggish pace on shark fin case

February 12, 2010

In hopes of reminding Costa Rica´s Supreme Court justices that they have a 3-year-old lawsuit to resolve, dozens of students and members of the non-governmental Marine Turtle Restoration Program (PRETOMA) gave the magistrates cake on Wednesday – a blue cake, in the shape of a shark.

“We put it upstairs for them so when they go to have their afternoon coffee break, they will remember that they need to uphold the law,” said Randall Arauz, president of PRETOMA, as workers at the San José courthouse weaved in and out of the building through a sea of balloons and banners carried by protesters shouting through megaphones.

Three years ago, PRETOMA filed suit against the Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT), the Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE), the Costa Rican Fisheries Institute (INCOPESCA) and the Customs Department for violating a Supreme Court ruling that mandates that foreign boats must enter Costa Rica via public ports.

By allowing boats to enter private docks, PRETOMA claims that these agencies have permitted hundreds of tons of illegal shark fins to enter the country.

“We are supposed to be a country that believes in conservation, but this isn´t conservation. This is a crime,” said María Salazar, a 22-year-old University of Costa Rica student, just before joining chants of “Los muelles privados, los queremos cerrados” (private ports, we want them closed).

Andy Bystrom, a spokesman for PRETOMA, hopes Wednesday´s gathering will expedite the process.

“This was a big issue three years ago, but it´s ducked under the radar,” he said. “Hopefully this will help get things moving.”

More than 2,000 cases are pending a Supreme Court ruling, according to Sonia Villegas, a court communications officer. This case is on the court´s agenda, she said, but “it´s impossible to know” what date the justices will resolve this particular case.

Alex Leff contributed to this report.

You may be interested

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby
sports
50 views
sports
50 views

Adaptive surfing, part II: The story of Dean Bushby

Ellen Zoe Golden - May 22, 2018

A three-part look at adaptive surfing in Costa Rica. Read Part I here to learn how a Central Pacific coach is…

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network
Human rights
68 views
Human rights
68 views

Costa Rica launches Pride Connection network

Elizabeth Lang - May 22, 2018

As Costa Rica continues to grapple with the disagreements about marriage equality and gender identity that dominated the second round…

Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week
The Alvarado Administration
134 views
The Alvarado Administration
134 views

Costa Rica at a glance: top news from the past week

The Tico Times - May 21, 2018

Newly inaugurated Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado is closing in on two weeks on the job. Here are some of…