Yesterday, Costa Rica’s Federal Register (el Diario Oficial La Gaceta,
#194) published a decree signed by President Oscar
Arias which authorizes the Environmental Ministry (MINAE) to begin the
administrative proceedings to expropriate the properties within Las
Baulas National Marine Park in Guanacaste.
This park includes the two most important nesting beaches for the
leatherback turtle in the eastern Pacific, Playa Grande and Playa
Langosta, and its protection is crucial to ensuring the survival of
this Critically Endangered species.
Las Baulas National Marine Park was created by Presidential Decree in
1991 before being signed into law in 1995, and includes a strip of land
125 meters inland of the high tide line that is required to be
protected from development. Despite of investors’ claims, the
Procuraduría General de la República (C444-2005) has affirmed since
2005 that the land in question is a part of the National Park and the
government should proceed with expropriation.
Up until now, the process of expropriation had been riled in
controversy and had stagnated with only 0.22% of properties previously
purchased by the Government.
On September 14, the Costa Rican Sea Turtle Network published a
full-page ad calling upon President Arias to resume the expropriations
and seeking support from the general public for this cause. In the last
8 months, more than 7,500 Costa Ricans, 1,500 foreigners, and 200
scientific experts have petitioned President Arias to proceed with the
Although MINAE eventually approved the 32 expropriation decrees,
President Arias returned them without signature, and without further
explanation, on September 21, 2007.
On September 26, a group of more than 100 people, led by a dancing
individual dressed in a leatherback coastume, marched in protest from
MINAE headquarters to the Casa Presidencial, urging the president to
sign the decrees.
Hours later, President Arias signed the 32 decrees ordering the
expropriation of properties within Las Baulas National Marine Park.
For now, the leatherback can nest peacefully given that Costa Rica will
ensure the ecological integrity of this critically important nesting
For more information: visit www.redtortugasmarinascr.org