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Panama’s President Strong-Arms Locals over Veraguas Land Dispute

Article Summary:

President Ricardo Martinelli made a surprise visit on Easter to Bahía Honda y El Pixvae, south of Veraguas, where residents are upset over a “special land concession” to prominent American businessman Jean Pigozzi. Pigozzi claims to be the owner of a large expanse of coastline, between the communities of El Cativón and El Pajarón, which is inhabited by 70 families who reject this claim. During his visit, Martinelli made it clear to the locals that those who mess with Pigozzi will go to jail, leaving the community with a new sense of distress.

Photo Credit: Prensa

Original Article Text From Prensa via Google Translate :

A Coast in Conflict

These days, people in the usually quiet community of Deep Bay and the Pixvae, south of Veraguas, ranging from shock to shock.

After the surprise visit made by President Ricardo Martinelli, on Easter, to warn them not to stand in the businessman Jean Pigozzi plans in the area, yesterday came to Bahia Honda officials of the National Authority of Land Management ( Anati).

Their mission was placed in a conspicuous place at the Bahia Honda Corregiduría the edict that gives the community an opportunity to object, should be entitled to, an application for a “special concession” to do Pigozzi about 141.5 hectares in Canales de Tierra Island, where he has built a marine laboratory and a spectacular home.

Pigozzi’s request is based on Article 26 of Law 2 of 2006 which regulates concessions for investment in tourism and the sale of island territory.

That article states: persons domiciled in the area have maintained a continuous and uninterrupted possession of state land in the island territory for a period not less than two years prior to the enactment of this Act, such land use for housing or farming in his seat will be awarded the grant of this land for 90 years, but for it to be subjected to appropriate security or public event for any such concession, being exempt from paying the fee for “.

And last Thursday, an unusual display of police patrolled the coastal area in front of Bahia Honda and the Pixvae. After the tour ocean, police were left to guard the Channel Island Earth, Simca Pigozzi has been renamed in memory of the automobile company that took your family.

How did Jean Pigozzi to Channel Island Land and how he could make use of it as if it were your property?

In a report published in the financial supplement Martes Financiero published in June 2011, tells of the story.

The Castillo family, represented by Angelica, 94, claims that are the original inhabitants of the island and, consequently, their owners.

Said to have lived 56 of his 93 years there, where he saw his four children grow.

The Castle assure him Pigozzi leased the island for $ 70 000 in 1999.

However, in 2005 the Castillo brothers tried to know the status of the lease, finding out they had actually signed a contract of sale. No longer owned the island.

The legal dispute reached the Supreme Court, where on 22 March, the Castillo family lost the ability to reverse what happened. An appeal filed by them was not admitted.

Now, Pigozzi moves forward with its intention to formalize, with the support of the Anati, its control of the island.

The peaceful community of El Pixvae-composed of about 800 people, was dedicated in the past mainly to fishing.

However, environmental regulations that protect the island of Coiba forced them to seek new ways of living. Now engaged in growing rice, maize, cassava and plantains.

The lack of choice caused many to work with Pigozzi in building houses, cleaning and monitoring of the properties the entrepreneur.

Precisely for this reason, many prefer not to talk about what happened at Easter, when they were visited by the president.

Margarita Mojica, a resident of El Pixvae, told La Prensa that “not convenient” what happened “out in the news, because they will lose the opportunity” that the President meets with the promises he made during his visit.

“He [Martinelli] almost did not threaten us, he said … Mr. Pigozzi promised good antenna for your community, “said Mojica.

However, this view is not shared by other residents of The Pixvae and Bahia Honda, however, preferred to remain anonymous for fear of reprisals.

They believe that the community must unite to fight the land they inherited from their grandparents and, say, “they want to take with bullying tactics.”

According to the locals told, Pigozzi claims to be the owner of a large expanse of coastline, between the communities of El Cativón and The Pajarón-what they reject. Therefore, 70 families are at war.

“Pigozzi bought from Cativón to Pajarón, but now as people know they can have the 5 acres free of want, the more he is on shore of beach and costs about $ 10,000,” said a local who works with Pigozzi.

The truth is that things in the community are divided. While some say they will not let them take off their land “who have looked for years,” others say they do not want to get into trouble and lose what little they have achieved.

“As to those Pixvae it was clear what the President said, that messes with Pigozzi goes to jail, so they do not want to talk,” said Ubaldino Castillo, a resident near the Pixvae.

Another who dared to speak was Modesto Gonzalez, who works for the employer as a “caretaker beach.” “I do not take it as a threat to us but as a warning,” he said in reference to the words of the president.

Gonzalez was not in the community when it was President, but says they told him what happened. And despite repeated the story that President Martinelli said “that he who touches a piece of wire of Mr. Pigozzi goes directly to La Joya”, does not take it as a threat.

In this regard, the president wrote a message on his Twitter account that announces upcoming news on the subject, related to the adversarial criminal justice system (see box).

Veraguas is just one of the two provinces where the new accusatory system is in place.

Let’s wait and see if the Easter threats reach the courts.

Link to Original Article:

From Prensa

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