Waiting for a Law for Costa Rica's Coastal Communities

Ernest Cañada

With increased large-scale investments in tourism and real estate, coastal communities in Costa Rica have found themselves under growing pressure to give up their land and resources. The tourism lobby found ways to displace local communities by sponsoring land use planning. As Ernest Cañada of Alba Sud reports, the participation required from the poor villagers represented a major challenge for them – developing proposals, taking part in meetings, etc. – and their contributions were not necessarily taken up. Eventually, under the banner of participation, local people were used to legitimize the interests of the investors. In 2008, some coastal communities started to organise themselves. One of their most important initiatives was a draft for a law for the communities in coastal areas (Ley de Territorios Costeros Comunitarios – Ley TECOCOS). The purpose of this law is to protect the coastal communities and their rights to continue living in their territories. In 2011, the draft was submitted to the legislative assembly. It found the approval of an environmental commission, but has not been debated or passed yet. As the law collides with business interests, it will be very difficult to get it passed at all, or to get it passed in its intended form. For the coastal communities in Costa Rica, the "Ley TECOCOS" would be an important step, and it would also be of relevance for communities in other parts of the world who are also threatened by displacement.

Further information: The documentary "Nuestras Costas" (by Alba Sud, 2012, in Spanish, 30 minutes) deals with the proposed law and the most important activities: www.albasud.org/video/es/21/nuestras-costas

Coastal Conflicts in Costa Rica and the Territorios Costeros Comunitarios Law Project (TECOCOS). By Kevin Haddock, Paris, 2012. www.tourism-watch.de/en/content/coastal-conflicts-costa-rica-and-territ…

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