Local February 12, 2013 | 8:22 am

Authorities behind theft of exotic Dominican beach: Environmentalists

Santo Domingo.- One of the country’s most active environmental groups on Tuesday denounced unfettered efforts by authorities as well as individuals to “consummate” the theft of Bahia de las Aguilas, the country’s most exotic beach, in Dominican Republic’s Jaragua National Park (southwest).

Grupo Jaragua president Yolanda Leon noted that the attempts to steal areas of Jaragua National Park date to the 1990s. “This arrangement includes fraudulently titled tracts form Juancho to Pedernales, its madness, these squatters are told that investors are coming, the locals believe it.”

Leon identified a surveyor named Orlando Gomez among the ringleaders of the alleged theft, planned, in her words, even by local officials. He has visited fishermen to tell them to take over their lands. Some city councils are behind the titling for the many lands. Most of the titles are being transacted with a simple sales contract, they don’t even bother to go Cadaster, they believe in good faith.”

Grupo Jaragua executive director Ivonne Arias revealed that the area coveted by the thieves includes lands whose category was changed from National Park to Recreational Area, as part of the strategy to usurp them. “What’s strange to us is the fact that even the Recreational category is subject to official protection.”

Survey markers

Interviewed by Huchi Lora and Amelia Deschamps on Telesistema, Leon said Gomez places his survey markers in many parts of the region with his phone number. She said local authorities have also placed the signs to promote the sales. “We have some authorities that instead of an organized development, promote squatting.”

She said Grupo Jaragua uncovered an effort to take over the lands and proceeded to file a complaint.

"They did that so president Danilo Medina would see them," she said and that in addition to Bahia de las Aguilas, the push seeks to take over other beaches such as Playa Blanca and Playa Larga, near Oviedo and the village of Troudie. “Some of our friends at Troudie have told us that a throng of around 100 people invaded the area near Laguna de Oviedo and started cutting swaths and torched entire areas.”

Supreme Court hearing

“Will this theft of public property finally be consummated?” Huchi Lora asked the environmentalists, who responded by reminding him that a hearing in the Supreme Court on February 18, could be a turning point.

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