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The controversial statement of the President of Costa Rica on the development of the Gandoca Manzanillo refuge:

President Rodrigo Chaves addressed the environmental complaint about illegal logging in the Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge. “We have to keep an eye on this because it is very controversial. There are those who think they will file an injunction or invoke unconstitutionality for anything that resembles development in that area. We are not going to destroy the national treasure on the southern coast of Limón province, but we are not going to leave it to the wildlife either,” he said.

The President stated that he is seeking a balance so that people can also benefit from natural resources and promote development. “That is where the wisdom of government lies; it’s the right balance. There are extremists who say we should build huge five-star hotels, and that won’t happen. But there are also others who say we should leave it to the monkeys, and no sir, that’s not the case,” Chaves said.

The problem

A group of neighbors of the Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge had previously denounced the destruction and pollution of the protected area, especially a series of illegal constructions on Punta Uva beach, which is part of the nature reserve. According to local residents, the events apparently took place in the days leading up to Christmas.

Witnesses confirm that trees have been felled on the paradise beach, a wetland has been drained and cement pillars have been placed as authorities are less vigilant during holidays.

Apparently the Ministry of Environment and Energy (MINAE) responded to the complaints, but no further action was taken. MINAE concluded that the activity corresponded to a change in the sewage system and omitted the obvious changes in the wetland area.

Environment and Energy Minister Franz Tattenbach stated that the land is for agricultural use, without forest, and is outside the Gandoca Manzanillo National Wildlife Refuge.

However, Tattenbach did not mention that the land is part of an area of ​​188 hectares of forestland, which was previously unsatisfied. The Constitutional Court ordered the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) to redemarcate it as part of the refuge.