Public Security Agency invades private property

The following article titled, “SP invade propiedad privada” appeared in PorEsto! on March 17, 2017. The following is a translation of the article with additional images.

The original article can be found at: http://www.poresto.net/ver_nota.php?zona=qroo&idSeccion=6&idTitulo=546737

 

Violating the rule of law, the Municipal President, Romalda Dzul Caamal, orders the police to invade private property in the bay of Akumal, by placing a module of the Police agency. The lawyers are preparing to submit the corresponding formal complaint. The fact that a municipal authority in the course of his functions and attributions enters a property without authorization or attempts to dispossess a private individual involves serious crimes for the public servant, in this case the person in charge of Public Security: accused the defending legal party. Javier de Anda Morales, lawyer and legal adviser of Club Akumal Caribe, explained that without prior notice, without authorization, without notice, the Public Security staff headed by General Director Gabriel González Ornelas arrived in an inappropriate manner.

“They are overlooking a lot of information about the scope of their functions and attributions that causes such action, because if the place where they placed the module was a public access, they would already have had it under their control, without the need for an agreement from Town Council, he said. So it is that a tow truck transported the module of information and surveillance, and was set down inside the property, which belongs to the Club Akumal Caribe, trying to dispossess a private individual, which implies a violation of fundamental rights and human rights. “Obviously such an action constitutes an act of dispossession, on the part of the municipal authority headed by Romalda Dzul and against private property and a hotel, the relevant thing is that the module is placed just at the entrance of the hotel and the first view of the hotel is the Public Safety module, “he said.

The mobile police module enters Akumal and is parked on private property without notification or permission.

The lawyer recalled that a complaint was filed in the past on September 5, 2016, since on that occasion individuals with a tractor, entered the property and destroyed several palapas, claiming an alleged public access to the beach, although it has been stated that in that part there is no public access.

“However, such an act was done after an agreement of the Town Council, agreement that is in the courts, being totally illegal and that it is a confiscatory act, because without having any legal basis or proof, they go and say that it is a public access, being that in the PDU, it is not marked a public access, not even close to the property of Club Akumal Caribe, “he said.

He further explained that the Public Ministry has issued an “Immediate Response” order to the Public Security Agency, who instead of complying with the order, which was never called for by the complaining party anyway, now have placed a module saying that it is to somehow to protect the security of the people, in which it is not agreed since it implies the violation of the rights of the one that has possession, and implies the dispossession of a property. “As is now the case of the Club Akumal Caribe, unfortunately it is considered a political issue rather than a legal one and precisely, instead of bearing the political obligations, which would in any case be respecting property rights, they are protecting a series of individuals, violating property rights of a hotel that generates many jobs, “said the lawyer. At the same ceremony Armando Couto Chevert, representative of Akumal Caribe, recalled that on August 31, 2016 they were stripped of part of the property, where individuals destroyed part of the facilities to make an access to the beach, after stating that it is an access, but by no means has it ever been public.  At this point, individuals are still there day and night standing guard, intimidating the hotel staff.

After this action of last Thursday of the invasion by a module of Public Safety, the director was asked to remove the unit to another location, who only said that they would verify, and it is currently the front view of the hotel property.

The aggrieved party shall submit the corresponding complaint, putting the facts before the knowledge of the authority, who must determine whether or not it is, nevertheless, consider that any irruption to a private property without authorization, as in the above cited, constitutes a crime.

Suspension continues amidst pressure from tour operators… but for how long?

Akumal is at a very important and critical crossroads at this moment and the community as a whole has a unique opportunity to play an important role in helping to shape it’s future.

LaIMG_2266st month PROFEPA took action and temporarily suspended the snorkel with tour activities for groups—an action that deserves commendation as the bay cannot sustain the current levels of commercial activity.

However, the government is now being pressured by the local cooperatives and guides to reinstate their commercial permits. While the language of the official statement published by PROFEPA on February 15 is vague concerning permits and how qualifications for them will be determined, they do maintain their commitment to carrying out the effective monitoring and enforcement by qualified inspectors supported by federal authorities. The decisions of the authorities must be based on research, facts, scientific data and precedent with a focus on a sustainable future for Akumal Bay in the forefront.

If, however, the government surrenders to the pressure from the commercial groups and reissues permits without defined limitations and consequences, a comprehensive management plan or controlled entry/exit point to monitor the number of guests, Akumal (its ecosystems, safety and security) will be put at risk again.

Knowing that in order to create sustainable solutions that balance the economic needs of the local community with environmental impacts, guides and cooperatives should and will be part of that picture. But should that picture and future include no properly managed oversight of the people entering, tour groups, or policies? No consequences for violations and infractions? Should the welcoming image to Akumal remain as we have seen and not be improved and maintained?

Some things for everyone to consider:

  • Do you wish to see the local cooperatives set up shop again and continue sales efforts along the entrance to Akumal?
  • Do you think that the snorkel sales shacks constructed along the roadway give a welcoming impression to Akumal?
  • Do you think that the tourists enjoy being stopped by the vendors when driving into the community or walking in from the highway?
  • Is it acceptable for the authorities to allow the tour guides and cooperatives to use these haphazardly  installed snorkel sales shacks as their legal place of business?
  • Do you think that the authorities should continue to look the other way as the cooperatives and informal groups use the private property of other businesses and properties as well as the federal zone to promote and conduct sales and use it as a set up area for their tours?
  • Do you think that the authorities should legitimize and recognize all the new and “splinter” cooperatives that have popped up and are merely opportunists cashing in on the easy snorkel tour dollars? (The numbers are rising. At last count there are 59 groups, while only 20 had legal permits up to December 31 of this year).

Important Points that Need to Happen

  • the authorities must consider waiting to issue the permits until after the management and capacity limits are set so that permit holders have clear rules, laws and not just recommendations.
  • the authorities must finally realize the best option is to work with the property holder that can offer the infrastructure that is needed to allow commercial activity to happen and in a sustainable manner.
  • the authorities must limit the operating permits to those that have the proper installations or access to them. Those permitted and their guides must carry licences, be insured and have proper training including basic water safety, first aid and CPR. Operating permits should first be considered for qualified, legally established cooperatives and their guides that are from Akumal first and foremost.
  • the authorities must recognize that self-regulation by aggressive, sales-motivated guides or other representatives from cooperative groups has not worked—guides cannot be conducting business while monitoring the numbers of entries of their colleagues and friends. Alternative solutions must be found to monitor, educate and control the number of groups entering on a daily basis.

As these next developments move forward, there is a lot at stake for the stability of the entire Akumal community and with that comes some degree of concern for its security as well.

Many of the local tour operators have visited the offices of the Congress of the State of Quintana Roo and the President of the Municipality of Tulum to have their concerns heard and appeal the PROFEPA decision. They maintain that many families have now been financially affected due to this action and they are now victims of desperate economic hardship.

The redistribution of operating permits will soon be a reality that will hopefully coincide with a properly managed and enforced bay management plan. Meanwhile it has been documented that the business of snorkel tours at locations such as Yal Ku Lagoon and Half Moon Bay, have dramatically increased since the very day that the government suspension was enacted.

This very well may be one of the most critical times where the collective voices, ideas and opinions from all residents, long time visitors and guests must be heard by the various authorities. If you are in support and agreement with any of what you have read here or want to express and share your views with the various authorities and be a part of shaping the future of Akumal, please use the links below for communication. Let your voice be heard by letting the authorities know how you feel as well as how sustainable long-term solutions are essential.

Contacts

Secretaría de Tourismo (SECTUR), Enrique de la Madrid Cordero
(National Secretary of Tourim)

Gobernador Constitucional del Estado de Quintana Roo, C.P. Carlos Joaquín González
(Governor of Quintana Roo)
despachodelejecutivo@qroo.gob.mx
carlos.joaquin@carlosjoaquin.com
molivares@qroo.gob.mx,

Secretario de Gobierno, Mtro. Francisco Xavier López Mena
(Secretary General of the Government)
secretaria.gobierno@qroo.gob.mx

Secretaría de Finanzas y Planeación de Q. Roo, C.P. Juan Vergara Fernández
(Ministry of Finance and Planning of Quintana Roo)
secretario@sefiplan.qroo.gob.mx

Secretaria Estatal de Turismo, Lic. Marisol Vanegas Pérez
(Ministry of State Tourism)
marisol.vanegas@qroo.gob.mx
marisol.vanegas@carlosjoaquin.com

Secretario de Seguridad Publica, Lic. Rodolfo Del Ángel Campos
(Ministry of Public Security)
mercurio@sspqroo.gob.mx
secretariosp@sspqroo.gob.mx

Fiscal General del Estado de Q. Roo, Mtro. Miguel Angel Pech Cen
(Attorney General of the State of Quintana Roo)
despacho.fiscal@fiscalia.qroo.gob.mx

PROFEPA
El Procurador Federal de Protección al Ambiente, Guillermo Haro Bélchez

(Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection)
SEMARNAT 
Secretario de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Rafael Pacchiano
(Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources)
CONANP
Comisionado Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas, Lic. Alejandro del Mazo
(National Commission for Natural Protected Areas)

 

Akumal Bay, land without law

The following article, Bahía de Akumal, tierra sin ley, was published in PorEsto! on March 8, 2017. Translation has been provided below.

The original article can be found here:
http://www.poresto.net/ver_nota.php?zona=qroo&idSeccion=6&idTitulo=544698

* * *

AKUMAL, TULUM: March 8, 2017—Employers and providers of accredited nautical services, established in Akumal Bay, blame the three levels of government for not proceeding in the areas that they are responsible for, one year after the natural refuge of turtles was decreed, consequently from the entrance to the coastal area shows the disorder, after the proliferation of street vendors and “pirates” who offer services for swimming with turtles.

David Ortiz Salinas, Vice President of the Hotel Association of Tulum (AHT) in his speech at the press conference held in a well-known hotel in the Riviera Maya, recalled that last Tuesday, March 7, marked one year since the decree of the refuge area of turtles.

After the order to suspend swimming with turtles by PROFEPA, it makes it clear that there are no permits of any kind, for anyone, for such practice.

Therefore, he called on the relevant authorities to intervene, because the bay and marine species   are in danger, and it has reached a saturation point.

“There is a lack of coordination among all levels of government, among the same environmental authorities who have not been able to put order, lack of rule of law, lack of consequences for those who transgress the rights of others, those are the requests: that the authority in the field implement and enforce laws for all,” said Héctor Lizárraga, director of the CEA, who recalled in the same issue when they started with studies of marine species and reefs, have since witnessed the significant deterioration of species , so it is that in 2008, through a scientific study that was addressed to SEMARNAT, that eight years later they have considered it appropriate, and why the authority decreed the area of refuge.

But nowadays they have somehow seen a lack of action and absence of environmental authorities, which have in some way also led to the activities that should be sustainable in the area of refuge, comprising an area of 6 kilometers of coast and one kilometer offshore.

Although the intention is to protect species of turtles, sea grass, coral and mangrove in total the biodiversity of Akumal they are also highlighted in other places which has let to development without order and to the gradual deterioration which makes it all that more important that the federal authorities have taken a step to monitor compliance with the restriction on non-extractive activity with turtles.

Also that they maintain their position of not issuing permits until they can count on sufficient elements embodied in the protection program.

Arturo Orosco, a representative of the Akumal Dive Center, said that Akumal is living through an environmental, social and tourist services disorder that has generated enormous wealth for the people of Akumal.

He places the responsibility for creating this chaos, a disorder in the tourist services to the pueblo of Akumal; not to forget that the problem that Akumal is living through is purely commercial, commercial activities have not been regularized by the corresponding authorities, giving rise to people who have arrived as opportunists.

Adolfo Contreras, president of the Hotel Association of Tulum (AHT) and Edgar López, representative of “Piratas de Akumal”, a cooperative established for 10 years, was present at the press conference.

Swim with turtles tours still quietly going on despite suspension

March 10, 2017
It has been almost three weeks since PROFEPA suspended the swimming with turtles activities for commercial operators in Akumal Bay. From the suspension, it seems many operators/snorkel guides have begun to diversify their businesses. Instead of heading to Akumal Bay, they now make their way further down the road to Yalku Lagoon. Some tours are also being diverted to Half Moon Bay—an area with abundant reef located in shallow waters; an area that is not suitable for beginner snorkelers who will struggle with their equipment and buoyancy to the detriment of the fragile corals below with a kick, swipe or touch.

 

Then there is the type of business diversity that use covert operations to push the legal boundaries. Yet, if you watch closely, it isn’t all that covert.

 

Just the other day, reports an eye witness, we watched a guide talk to a group of 5 visitors. He walked the group back to the main road and they all reappeared several minutes later on the beach with snorkel and masks in hand. They gathered around the palm trees and listened to the guide who then motioned to the water and pointed somewhere along the horizon as he gave instructions. Immediately after, the guide ran into the water, dove under and swam out to the buoys where he waited for the group to join.

 

It was perfectly disguised as a group of friends going snorkeling together without a guide from the beach, shares the eye witness. But it was so obvious what was going on. As soon as the people got into the water, the guide met them and helped with their equipment, then started to lead them on a snorkeling tour of the bay.

 

The guide not only broke the suspension order by providing service, but clearly shows no environmental concern to the reasons indicated by PROFEPA for the closure for groups in the first place–the protection of the turtles, seagrass, corals. To make matters worse, the guide and the five individuals went into the water on a Red Flag day–a day where waves, current, and visibility are far from ideal–and the same day that the Harbour Captain suspended all nautical activities.

 

However, PROFEPA seems to be onto these underground, covert operatives conducting tours in plain day under their noses.

 

On Wednesday, a guide who was hawking tours and seen with two female tourists, was questioned by PROFEPA regarding his activities.

 

Apparently nothing came of the matter as he explained that the women he approached were “friends” and that he wasn’t selling or conducting tours.

 

Tourists who cover up for their guides , during a government decreed suspension or hire a guide in this clandestine manner are going against a government order.

From Akumal to the Public Opinion

The following is the translation of what was published in Novedades and PorEsto! on March, 7, 2017.

FROM AKUMAL TO THE PUBLIC OPINION

The beautiful bays of Akumal on the Quintana Roo coast are historically the first tourist destination on the coastal strip of the Yucatan Peninsula, discovered in 1958 by Pablo Bush Romero, founder of CEDAM (Club of Exploration and Water Sports of Mexico)– an exclusive diving club that made Akumal its base of operations at that time, with the main focus of searching for underwater treasures.

With great vision, Pablo Bush invested in thousands of hectares in the area, to somehow position Akumal among the preferences of North American travelers, in the face of the disappearance of Cuba as a tourist destination for that market. What used to be a huge coconut plantation would become an attractive tourist destination with indescribable natural beauties that at that time was only accessible by sea.

Over time, the effort and vision of Don Pablo Bush attracted other investors and enthusiastic entrepreneurs who were gradually developing what is now Akumal generating jobs and development opportunities for inhabitants of the entire peninsula, while captivating curious explorers, expert divers and tourists of all kinds.

Today, almost six decades later, Akumal is a victim of opportunism and corruption.

Original investors, entrepreneurs, hoteliers who took a chance with their investments/capital and those who believed in the development of Akumal also founded the Akumal pueblo to give housing to workers who came from other parts of the peninsula and with vision also created CEA (Centro Ecológico Akumal) in order to propose strategies for the orderly development of the area, and to promote the sustainability and preservation of the marine species that inhabit the bays of Akumal.

With excessive ambition, opportunists not originating from Akumal, pseudo tourist guides, and sadly also some of those settlers whom Akumal has given them welcome, employment and housing, have gradually invaded the main bay of Akumal, attempting against peace and tranquility that have characterized this beautiful destination for years, with the argument that “beaches are public”,  in order to do business, harass tourists and visitors and indiscriminately exploit the practice of swimming with turtles.

Without investing a single penny, some of these abusive invaders argue their right to exploit the beaches of Akumal by pushing tourists to buy their “services” with the false argument that the law assists them and that it is necessary and obligatory to hire them to enjoy the wonderful experience of swimming with turtles.

To achieve their purposes and create an easy way of life without investment, they have invaded properties, destroyed and modified access and shamelessly deceived authorities, bathers and public opinion.

It is false, that the property owners of in Akumal deny public access to the beaches.  There are formally documented accesses in the Urban Development Plan of the Zone distributed along all the bays of Akumal.

It is false that the interests of these invaders are of recreation and rest.
It has been demonstrated through visible street vending practices that go as far as harassing tourists that their only interests are commercial.

It is false that the CEA (Centro Ecológico de Akumal) deny them public access to the beaches.
CEA is a unique model in Quintana Roo for sustainable research and development that promotes access to beaches through ecological practices that privilege environmental protection and in that sense has established mechanisms for the population to make use of beaches without deterioration of natural resources through regular visitor numbers; with the development of ecological toilets, an information center with accessible literature for all; protection programs for turtles and other species, and in general with the support and investment of the owners, set up a Research Center with the sole purpose of preserving Akumal for future generations.

With commercial and indiscriminate exploitation efforts the Akumal invaders have attacked CEA, its founders and sponsors to divert the attention of authorities and deceiving the public.

Business owners and investors of Akumal and the heirs of its original founders are in favor of sustainable development and believe that tourism represents opportunities for everyone. However, we strongly oppose that under the populist arguments of free access to beaches, sustainability, the environment, and, in particular, our property rights cannot be undermined.

We cannot allow the abuse, the invasion, the exploitation, much less the lies to continue.

We trust fully in our authorities, we believe in the rule of law and we make public our protest of nonconformity before the threats and the constant wave of misinformation and misrepresentation of the real facts in Akumal.

The legal and historic facts are behind us.

POR EL BIEN DE AKUMAL. FOR THE GOOD OF AKUMAL

Sincerely,

Asociación de Hoteles de Tulum

Centro Ecológico de Akumal

Propietarios e Inversionistas de Akumal