“They will regain their property” reads PorEsto! article

They will regain their property” is the headline found in the PorEsto! in the September 9, 2016 edition. The original Spanish content is online HERE. What follows below is a translation of this article.


 

AKUMAL, TULUM, September 8, 2016—At a press conference organized by the managers of Centro Ecológico Akumal (CEA), the Asociación de Hoteles de Tulum (AHT) and representatives of Hotel Akumal Caribe, it was announced that legal action will be taken in adherence to the law regarding the access which was opened in Akumal, after the council of Tulum approved its opening and reversal of the means and bound document  this past August 29 which the pobladores say is a “window to sea,” although the legal entity that is part of a lodging center where the path was opened, declared it is  private property.

Therefore, Armando Couto Keever, legal representative for Laura Bush, who owns the hotel Akumal Caribe, said that the access that the pobladores were fighting for on paper is the part  that adjoins to the private property of the CEA which is in conflict, so it is part of the property belonging to the lodging center that has been invaded.

“We are asking the authorities to do their job and everything depends on how circumstances arise, but obviously it comes down to recovering property, because that opened access is part of Akumal Caribe,” he said.

He also mentioned that in the coming days they will proceed according to the law and will not allow people to access property that he alleged belongs to the hotel.

Asked whether private security personnel would be hired to prevent the passage of people, Couto Keever said that that it is not up to him, and the only intention “is that people do not pass if it is not a public access.”

In addition, with respect to the suspension granted by a judge, following an application  of appeal, submitted  after the events carried out by the pobladores this past August 31 with the presence of the police protection, and that the closing of this access would go against the process, the interviewee replied that they expect the lawyers to proceed according to the legal process they are carrying out.

Recalling that on the seventy-fourth session of the council of Tulum, held this past August 29, under General Business, the pobladores lobbied the council to approve the reopening of a public access to the bay, because in past years they have alleged that it is a window to the sea.

During that session, seven aldermen and one trustee voted to revoke the content of the “document” number  DC/DTC/201/2013 dated August 26 2013, effectively backdating the effects of the means and boundaries before that date, and proceeded to open this access.

As a result of that vote, the legal council of the hotel stated that the action by the city of Tulum to declare the revocation of this document, several irregular actions occurred: First, the statement to overturn the said “document” was made without substantiating any proceedings which meet essential formalities established by law.

As well, this agreement also resulted in the confiscation of private property, and depriving the right of private ownership of a particular part of the property and made use of it without having acquired it through expropriation proceedings or through other legal means of  acquisition.

In addition, the council of Tulum lacks the power to determine the revocation of that “document,” as in accordance with the Law of Land Registry of the State of Quintana Roo, the council of Tulum has the authority to resolve appeals of revocation proceedings brought against their own actions and decisions and generally not those that are brought  against acts and decisions made by other  municipal authorities.

Note that this clearly suggests that in the next few days this access to Akumal beach could close, for which the dispute whether it is public or private has gone on for various years, so with that, there could be another confrontation with acts of violence.

The Early Days of Akumal

Many people ask about Akumal’s early days as a tourism destination. It started out not as a tourism destination but as a coconut plantation on a coastline that was all but forgotten. The mode of transportation was on horseback to Tulum, a very small fishing and chicle camp. Supplies were taken over by boat from Cozumel to the one family that lived in Akumal taking care of the coconut plantation and in an emergency they would go on horseback all the way to Valladolid.

Pablo Bush Romero arrived in 1959 to explore a Spanish shipwreck and used it as the base camp for the expedition. Not long after that, he purchased the land, which he subdivided into sections.

Tourism in Akumal started later in the 60s and it was the first tourist destination on the coastline. Cancun did not exist until the 1970.

On the main bay, he founded Club de Yates Akumal Caribe A.C. as a non-profit, whose founding members stayed at one of the 8 bungalows facing the open ocean. These units were rented when the members did not use them to cover the costs of upkeep and improvements. There was also a restaurant called the Zazil. The destination was mostly for divers and adventurers.

The Cancha on Club De Yates property provided the housing for the staff and the maintenance area for the power plant because government power was not available yet.

Initially, the small number of staff needed was hired from Merida and surrounding towns, principally Kantunil and Sotuta and their families stayed in their hometowns. If a husband and wife were hired and they had children, they often left them with relatives in their towns.

The land behind the Club property was all government owned and years later when more development took place in Akumal, especially after 1985 when Aventuras Akumal was developed, the workers that were not provided with housing where they worked, moved in to this area, building homes out of thatch and wood with dirt floors. There were no septic tanks or proper sewage of any kind and no running water. They got their water from over the ground water lines that were run to them from the main water line. Some brought their families at that time. This area became known as “ The Jatos”.

The Cancha area on Club Property became the area for the few services that could be provided. A space was rented out for a small pharmacy, another space provided to the police for a small station, and some families still lived there that worked on the property. The hotels on the bay provided their own housing, but the few homes that did not have a caretaker casita, and eventually the condos that were built, had no where to house their employees, so they settled in the “Jatos”.

The government allowed these families to squat there and build there because there were no other options. The conditions were very poor and very unsanitary, as it is lowlands and any time it rained they had to put boards to walk over to get to their homes. Mosquitos were a real problem and for years the hotels lobbied with the government to get them decent housing.

Anyone legally employed in Mexico contributes to a government-housing fund and their employers contribute to this fund for them too. The government must provide access to government housing and those that have enough points can obtain their own homes. Government housing was not available until the Hotel Association of Akumal lobbied to get the town of Chemuyil opened up, and infrastructure in place, to make it available for anyone that qualified under the “Infonavit” housing system.

When Chemuyil was opened up, most of the people wanted to have decent homes and qualified to get a house, so they moved out of the “Jatos” area gladly and willingly.  It was a huge improvement over their living conditions in the Jatos.

The small number that was left either did not want to move to Chemuyil, and or they did not qualify because their employers did not put them into the system  (household workers and condo and villa employees) or they were self-employed.

That left the few that could not, or would not move as squatters on a piece of land that the government wanted to recuperate in order to sell it.  These people became angry and decided to occupy another piece of government land closer to the entrance of Akumal with the help of a social activist they brought in from Mexico City. This was a time of conflict for Akumal.

When Hurricane Roxanne hit in October of 1995, there were people living at the far corner of the entrance to Akumal by the highway, fighting for that property, but the government decided to give them land across the highway. Granting that land was the government’s quick fix, but was made without proper urban planning.  Because of this, the effects of raw sewage going into the ground are being felt in the bay of Akumal and along the entire area. The underground river systems lead to the ocean and along with it goes all the polluted waters of the pueblo and the residential areas that still do not have proper sewage treatment.

The government never seemed to have enough money to provide for the town of Akumal, and that’s where the local community and the businesses and hotels were, and are  able to help out the schools, community center and a library to name a few.  They help with sports fields and sponsoring the various sports teams.

The residents of the pueblo established supermarkets, shops, restaurants, rooms for rent, and even small hotels now either as part of their own homes or buying more lots. Some of the residents of Chemuyil bought land in Akumal Pueblo and now rent out the rooms or houses. Some that built houses live elsewhere, some as caretakers of private homes, and they rent their houses out in the pueblo. There has been prosperity.

In 1992, the original club members decided to turn the Club de Yates into an Ecological Association and use the Club building on the beach as the base of operations to run the programs. The rest of the land was set up with rental locations in order to fund the programs after covering costs of operation. This organization is audited yearly and cleared to operate as a non-profit with tax deduction status with very strict guidelines for fiscal compliance.

Akumal has had its fair share of turmoil. It started with the lack of housing, and the ensuing problems of an inadequate town, but today there are far more families that had their lives improved both in Chemuyil and in Akumal Pueblo than not. There have been plenty of jobs with all the hotels, villas, condos and homes that have been built in the area and the parallel service industries. New industries like the snorkel tour business, has created new conflicts and more challenges for Akumal. These challenges need to be resolved for the sake of the ecosystem and the future of Akumal Bay.

Hotel Association of Tulum expresses concerns about recent events in Akumal

Below is the English version of a press released issued by the Hotel Association of Tulum.
Spanish version here: Comunicado-Akumal-AHT-2016-09-03


 

PRESS RELEASE

To the municipal, state and federal authorities.

To the general public.

The Hotel Association of Tulum, wishes to express, by this means, that we are extremely concerned about the illegal and irresponsible resolutions taken by the Municipal Council of Tulum in the meeting held on August 29, 2016, fueling a climate of violence and aggression, causing legal uncertainty and violating fundamental rights, which affects tourism (the only economic activity in the region), and creating a climate of social unrest that discourages investment.

In the above-mentioned meeting, in a manner that is unfounded, illegal and without judicial authority, the Municipal Council of Tulum agreed to “open” an alleged public access to the beach in Akumal Bay, which included the authorization to use public force.

The actual access, to which the resolution of the council refers to is located on private property with an entitlement since 1962, which, according to the fundamental rights contained in our Constitution of the Republic, can not be affected without first complying with a set of formal and legal requirements that are clearly stated in the legal framework that governs every Mexican, especially the authorities, and in this case have not been met in any way.

In order to affect a private property in this regard, a duly justified legal decision issued by a competent authority is required. For example, an irrevocable judgment of a legal petition by judicial authority.

This anti-constitutional resolution of the Municipal Council, which provoked the informal business groups of “tourist service providers” to endorse the  concept, was fueled by commercial and economic interests, under the guise of a community movement, who, on this past August 31, forced open the so-called “public access” without legal authority or official representation, using the the agreement by the council as the argument, which, besides being a violation of several rights and forming various crimes, could have easily ended in violence as has happened previously.

The owners of the properties that can be affected by the aforementioned resolution of the council have already begun the defense of their legitimate rights and interests in the corresponding legal entities, but as hoteliers and tourism service providers assembled in the Hotel Association of Tulum, we make an urgent appeal to the authorities of the three levels of government to intervene immediately in order to guarantee and protect the fundamental rights and restore peace, social tranquility, and harmonious coexistence in the region, by reestablishing a genuine state of law.

PRESIDENT OF THE HOTEL ASSOCIATION OF TULUM
Adolfo Contreras Grosskelwing

 

An Appeal for Constitutional Order

Below is a statement published in the PorEsto! on Sept 3, 2016 by Club Akumal Caribe/ Hotel Akumal Caribe in regards to the recent events on their property.


 

APPEAL TO ESTABLISH THE CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER IN QUINTANA ROO

Tulum, September 2, 2016

OPEN LETTER TO THE INHABITANTS OF QUINTANA ROO

As Mexicans, we’ve been informed of the status of the 2016 public administration, whom the country has relied on to invest in our resources and create jobs in an honest and transparent manner, always believing the rule of law shelters us.

With the constitution of the Republic and the State of Quintana Roo in our hands, we express our great concern over the events that are emerging at this moment in time in the town of Akumal, Quintana Roo, Municipality of Tulum, in regards to the irresponsible act carried out by the municipal council to push through the proposal by “TODOS JUNTOS POR AKUMAL, A.C.” to give access to the beach area of the town of Akumal with the support of public security at its disposal, going through our private property.  Thus, without a court order and in a meta-constitutional manner, the rule of law has been violated; this not only damages the tourism image of the Mexican Caribbean, but also discourages investment, by allowing people to take matters in their own hands, destroying private property that has been legally established since before 1962.

We must all abide by the rule of law and the authorities must ensure respect for private property and guarantee security for all citizens.

This is not a struggle of the poor against the rich. It is not a social struggle, nor is it a struggle of human rights.  It is a defense of private property and the legal and legitimate right to purchase the land dating back to the 1960s, when there were no communities and no original inhabitants. So we have not deprived people of access to a public beach or a window to the sea. The Urban Development Plan (UDP) which was promulgated by the Municipal Government of Tulum does not show a path or an area of free public access on our private property; however, it clearly marks other windows to the sea in Akumal. These windows to the sea have been established by the government. Not us.

For decades we have and continue to maintain an open access to the general public, we, along with the adjoining property, have never denied public access, yet both owners have seen the need to implement rules of use, due to harassment, threats, theft and damage to our property by businessmen disguised as cooperatives who use our facilities for commercial purposes without any financial contribution. We have invested millions of pesos in building infrastructure and maintaining it, such as lifeguard service, trash removal and bathroom facilities.  Yet, it is the cooperatives who take huge profits, without the tax burden, while the City of Tulum gives permits erroneously, allowing the selling of tours throughout public streets and the harassment of tourists, including in some cases at the entrance to Akumal Bay, where they’ve lied, saying they are there to protect the ecology. And even sometimes using the name of CEA to say that they care for the environment.

It is not fair nor just that the municipal authorities authorized such outrageous acts and destruction and violent stripping of private property. And what’s more, they send Tulum municipal police divisions to safeguard the cooperatives to take over private land.

We are legally established entrepreneurs who comply with all standards of the three levels of government, but suffer harassment, defamation and threats from the cooperatives who profit through the use of private property and the over-exploitation of natural resources.

The country should not accept that their government ignore the rights of society; a society that is dedicated to building a prosperous country by creating opportunities for all, supporting egalitarian certainty in investment, caring for the environment and above all, who carry out social development actions that the state itself sets aside.

Today, more than 80% of Mexicans do not believe in our authorities; we are ranked in the last places of the 2016 global peace index and the economic conditions of the country are not the best. We need to think long term to what will be best for all Mexicans.

We urge that the rule of law be enforced by the government authorities elected this past June 5, to bring order and peace in the state and in particular to the municipality of Tulum—land of all, yet abused by a few with the power of public office.

CLUB AKUMAL CARIBE, S.A. DE C.V. /  HOTEL AKUMAL CARIBE

Armando Couto Keever, Legal Representative


 

The original statement published in the PorEsto can be found in Spanish here: PorEsto-Urge Establecer el Orden Constitucional

Wheelchair access to Akumal Bay

 

This access is open daily from 7am to 7pm for strollers and wheelchairs/scooters, yet  is available 24 hours a day, if needed, with security guards. Non-slip strips have been applied to the ramp.

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