Paul Watson’s column inaccurate, offensive

The following is a right of reply submission in response to the opinion column “Miedo y asco en San José,” written by Sea Shepherd’s Paul Watson.

With great concern we observe that The Tico Times published the information “Miedo y asco en San José (Fear and loathing in San José)” based on a post full of inaccurate and offensive information, speculation and baseless insinuation by conservationist Paul Watson. We’re also concerned that, as informative balance demands, MINAE (the Environment Ministry) has not been consulted on the matter. For these reasons, I would appreciate, in virtue of the right of reply, that you publish our clarification either as an entire piece or as the basis of a news story that provides balance and clarity in light of these falsities.

Regarding the opinion posted on Facebook by Paul Watson, the position of the Environment Ministry is the following:

–The investigation of the death of Jairo Mora Sandoval does not correspond to, nor is undertaken by, the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica, but rather the Judicial Investigation Police (OIJ), which is under the jurisdiction of the judicial branch. In Costa Rica, separation of powers exists, and anyone who affirms or insinuates that, “this government cannot solve the case,” does so because he or she fails to completely understand our system of powers, our country and our idiosyncrasies.

–The murder of Jairo Mora is something that we all regret and the prompt resolution of the case is something we all want to happen. The Environment Ministry (MINAE) respects judicial authorities and urges them to announce at any time the results of their investigation and arrest the murderers.

–In terms of its responsibilities, MINAE has taken various steps in coordination with environmental organizations involved and interested in the protection of sea turtles, as well as consulting Jairo Mora’s family. Principal among these actions, among others, include: the prompt creation of a protected area in Moín and the renaming of the Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge as the “Jairo Mora Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge” in honor of Jairo; the creation of a memorial fund with an initial investment of ₡20 million ($40,000) for environmental education and other activities that will be defined by, and in coordination with, NGOs; and the putting in place of a Plan to Protect Turtles in Costa Rica with the participation of MINAE-MSP-Coast Guard (MSP is the Spanish acronym for the Public Security Ministry) and NGOs that will begin very soon.

–On Facebook, people can emit criteria at their will, without proof and without basis. A member of the news media should corroborate and verify, before giving publicity to the affirmations of a person who is being processed by the judicial branch of Costa Rica and is wanted internationally by Interpol. The offenses, speculation and insinuation against the country that is made by a person who faces Costa Rican justice should be taken with reserve and in that context, and as such, we don’t consider it appropriate that any Costa Rican or news organization take seriously these claims, much less support the offensive assessments that seek to damage the image of Costa Rica (as regrettably occurred in some of the comments at the end of the message).

–The interview with Minister René Castro that Paul Watson mentions in his post never happened. So much so, that he indicates he interviewed the “then-Minister of Foreign Relations René Castro” in May of 2012, when Minister Castro left that post in August 2011 (nearly one year prior). This type of blatantly obvious incorrectness should be a sufficient indication for a news media member or any other person to doubt these assertions instead of giving them credit, much less reproducing them.

–Costa Rica, with all its deficiencies and problems (such as the recent assassination of Jairo), continues being a country that loves Nature and that struggles day to day to maintain its ecological principles, increase its forestry coverage, diminish its carbon emissions, strengthen its institutions and environmental laws, assume its goals with water and seas, guide its productive sector toward sustainability and achieve sustainable development. It’s not an easy task, and much less one that’s finished, but it is the path this country has chosen. The international community should recognize this effort by Costa Rica.

Many thanks for your attention,

Gabriela Hernández Herrera
Press adviser
Environment Ministry
MINAE- Costa Rica

Note from The Tico Times: The piece “Miedo y asco en San José” by Paul Watson is an opinion column. Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of The Tico Times. The only official opinions published by The Tico Times are contained in our weekly editorial.