‘Privatized’ Dominican Republic beach sparks armed standoff
Santo Domingo.- The Santo Domingo State University (UASD) Environmental Commission on Tuesday urged the authorities to prosecute those who violate the law by illegally closing off the access road to Bayahibe’s (east) beach.
"Armed people at the service of the Central Romana (Corporation) clashed with local authorities and threatened the governor and police officers who tried to correct the crime committed on Christmas Day. This company, with an omnipotent attitude, disrespecting public institutions, and therefore, the Dominican State, burst into an access paid and built by the Tourism Ministry with funds from all citizens, taxpayers of this country to ‘halt the passage’ to the public beach at Bayahibe," it said.
In a statement, the Commission asked the Environment Office of the Prosecutor and the Justice Ministry to intervene in the conflict, noting that for more than 100 years Bayahibe has benefited from that beach, which sees more than 600,000 tourists annually headed to the National Park of the East -also a public area- and a natural heritage also “threatened by Central Romana’s privatization claims.”
“Armed and in an attack position, employees of Central Romana threatened and surprised the unarmed Bayahibe residents, and even the Altagracia Province Governor, who could personally observe such a brutal and unexpected action,” the Commission said.
Since Dominican Republic’s tourism boom surged in the late 1980s, an increasing number of hotels have sought to cordon off beach areas jeopardizing local residents, who in many cases are forced to pay for a “day pass” to access the beaches.