domingo, 7 de septiembre de 2014


The uniqueness of the Southern Caribbean region requires special law for the area in order to resolve a number of problems in a comprehensive and permanent way.
The communities of the southern Caribbean including Cahuita, Puerto Viejo, Manzanillo and Gandoca, were founded and have grown over more than 10 decades, with very little support from the central Costa Rican government, which left them very isolated. The people in these communities have long worked to create their own solutions to needs and problems.

They have developed a sustainable family-based economy that recognized from the beginning the importance of living in harmony with the environment. This vision based on a balanced relationship or coexistence with nature was a primary resource of all social, economic and human development.

The first immigrants to the area arrived from Jamaica and areas north and south along the Atlantic Coast.  They were fishermen who built their homes along the beach for convenience, but also because this was the only solid land in the area at the time, with the rest being swamps.   In the surrounding forests, they cultivated crops of food for their livelihood and to sell, as in the case of cacao production and coconut production.

From that time through today, the Caribbean coastal residents have lived in harmony with the original Bribri and Cabécar indigenous peoples of Talamanca, with whom they have shared many ways of working on the land and sea. 

Many of the younger generation now have features of both the Afro and indigenous populations together with the Chinese that also came as merchants and many other populations that migrated to the are four or five decades ago.

Paradoxically, this coastal zone, which is the heart of the Southern Caribbean region, is where today there are serious problems related to the Maritime Land Zone (ZMT) that declared the 200 meters from pleamar (high tide) State owned land in 1977, where the first 50 meters from pelamar are an inalienable (not transferable) property of the State and the next 150 could be given only in concession, as it is also State owned land.

When the law was first passed and until very recently, this provision was largely ignored in the isolated Caribbean. Provisions in the law were made so that people living in those areas could register as “pobladores” (settlers) y “ocupantes” (inhabitants)if they were there at leas a decade before the law was passed, but this was also ignored by a people who were used to living in isolation.

The most serious issue today is that the commercial zones of Puerto Viejo and Cahuita, and the emblematic first commerce in Manzanillo, Maxi´s Restaurant  are located in the first 50 meters of the beach, which means that every building would have to be demolished if the law is applied in stricto sensus, as has become the recommendation by the Contraloría de la República (Treashury Insepctor´s Office) since 2012. At the time, a two year moratorium against evictions in Martime Zone was passed by the Chincilla Administration in order to seek a definite solution that is yet to be found.
Notably, in the southern Caribbean, use of the 50 meters by existing facilities in no way precludes the right of access to the beaches, which was the reason for declaring this an inalienable zone to prevent privatization of the beaches.

Along with the danger of demolition, there is much interest in converting all 200 meters of the coastal zone into a massive tourist area, leading to a large tax increase that may be unaffordable for current residents.  The result could be that entire families are displaced and evicted from their homes, creating a serious social, political and economic problem for the state, which must ensure the social welfare of its citizens. 

This dark panorama has stimulated the organization of a social movement to defend the historic land rights of many inhabitants of the Southern Caribban in order to preserve the unique culture and sense of community that exists nowhere else in the country. 
Given the problems described above, participants in the community movement have emphasized the importance of engaging in a dialogue with members of the community and relevant authorities to establish a framewok that will shape the future of our communities with a socio-cultural-economic model that historrical and han been proven to work.
This development model that has been construed by the people themselves in the region is characterized largely by a family-based economy based on micro-tourism enterprises combined in many cases with sustainable agriculture and/or fishing or artesanry.  The model is designed to protect and balance the rights of the people and the environment, which in the past led to creation of a number of special environmental reserves that today requieres a policy where comanagment can lead to coexistance bewtween peoples and envirnonment.
All the above leads us to the conclusion that an integrated and comprehensive solution to the problems in the Southern Caribbean region should take the form of a Special Law that allows this area to continue to develop harmoniously with their history, their civil rights, and their unique characteristics and contributions that have enriched this region and all of Costa Rica. A law that validates legally what people have constructed historically.
The proposal of a Sepcial Law has been developed over time and is based on assessments made by the communities, organizations and groups that throughout recent history have been committed to the shared protection of marine and coastal land resources to seek a comprehensive and harmonious solution of the problems that concern and affect all.
The movement will soon present their proposal to the LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY of Costa Rica to request that they draft a SPECIAL LAW bill for the Southern Caribbean that reflects the characteristics outlined here.

Objective of the Special Law:

To legally validate the model of life and coexistence that the Caribe Sur communities have constructed historically

In order to have time free from pressue of demolition, the 202 people from all four communitirs who first sigend ther petition called on the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, himself the grandson of a Jamaican imigrant, to support this initiative and proceed to extend Law No. 9073, which in 2012 established a two year moratorium on the eviction and demolition of properties.

                                     Objective of the Extension of the Moratorium:

To provide time and space free of pressures of eviction to develop a comprehensive Special Law
Last august 30th the Foro Caribe Sur, a community initiative born in April 2013 to struggle for the inseparable link between full historial land rights, culture and the envoronment, invited the President opf Costa Rica to Puerto Viejo to receive the petition from the firs signatories. 90% of them are families of founders of the Caribe Sur.

President Solis and a part of his cabinet members and also most congressmen and women from the Province of Limón (where the Caribe Sur is from) listened to the people´s proposal and made a commitment to support and work on both. He stated that the Cariber Sur people has a rights to their own form of development and that the tourism models of the Pacific Coast of Ganancaste should not be applied in Limón.

Costa Rica´s Southern Caribbean at the 17th Annual Eastern Caribbean Islands Cultures Conference (‘Islands in Between’)

The relationship between the struggle for full land rights of the Southern Caribbean peoples and its relationship to the further development of the multiethnic and pluricultural autochtonous livelihood of peoples in Cahuita, Manzanillo, Gandoca and Puerto Viejo will be jointly presented by Glenda Halgarson (Puerto Viejo), María Suárez Toro (Manzanillo) and Anabelle Contreras (University of Heredia) at the 17th Annual Eastern Caribbean Islands Cultures (‘Islands in Between’) Conference will address the Languages, Literatures, and Cultures of the Eastern Caribbean. 

The conference will take place on November 6-8, 2014 at Universidad de Costa Rica, Sede Regional del Caribe, Port Limón City.

Language, Literature, Culture, History, and Education in Limón; Eastern Caribbean Drama, Poetry, Fiction, Cinema, Essays, Biographies, etc.; Language and Culture, Identity, and/or Gender in the Eastern Caribbean; Creole Linguistics and the Creolization of Languages and Cultures in the Eastern Caribbean; Art, Music, Dance, Cuisine, and Popular Culture of the Eastern Caribbean; Eastern Caribbean Carnival, Religions, Other Performance Traditions; The Environment, Tourism, and Development in the Eastern Caribbean; and Culture and Politics, Society, History, Law, and Economics in the Eastern Caribbean.

The paper by the three Costa Rican scholars will address the uniqueness of the Southern Caribbean region, and lays out arguments for why we need a special law for the area to resolve a number of problems in a comprehensive and permanent way.  The paper  empahisizes the hollistic approach between land rights, culture and envoronmental protection that is being proposed by the For Caribe Sur in an area in Costa Rica where the historical model, characerized by a afro based multiethnic social fabric that developed an authochtonous model includes, for example, a family-based economy based on micro-tourism enterprises combined in many case with sustainable agriculture and/or fishing or artesanry.  The model is designed to protect and balance the rights of the people and the environment, which in the past led to creation of a number of special environmental reserves in need of protection from “greenwashing policies” y corporate enterpreneurs that want to “develop” it according  to global market trends.
For more information about the Conference:
Information regarding the conference will be available on the Islands-In-Between web page:

Próximo miércoles: pez león en el Foro Caribe Sur

En apoyo al próximo Torneo de pesca del pez León de la Asociación de pescadores artesanales del Caribe sur el 27 de septiembre, 2014 en Manzanillo…

En la sesión ordinaria del Foro Caribe Sur el miércoles 10 de septiembre a las 7:00 pm en casa de Doña Elena Spencer, habrá una degustación del sabroso pez león…
El ceviche será elaborado por la propia Miss Elena Spencer, nuestra gastrónoma.
 Los pescados han sido agarrados por Héctor Mac Donald en las nasas de un proyecto especial de la misma Asociación…
Dice el afiche que el mejor pez león se come con patacón, pero en el Foro lo haremos en ceviche porque también es sabroso…

Para más información sobre el Torneo, ir al Facebook de la Asociación de Pescadores Artesanales del Caribe Sur.