Presidential Candidates Talk Leatherbacks
On February 7th citizens of Costa Rica will elect a new president. This changing of the political guard will dictate the environmental path the country will take for the next 4 years. With Oscar Arias’ (outgoing president) bill 17.383 still on the table, one that would downgrade Leatherback National Park (Parque Nacional Las Baulas) and turn it into a wildlife refuge and develop privately owned lands therin, it’s evident the new government will inherit – in some form – the burning controversy and corruption surrounding this bill.
On January 12th presidencial candidates Otto Guevara, Laura Chinchilla, Ottón Solís, Rolando Araya, Luis Fishman, and Oscar López gathered for a question and answer session. During the event, they were confronted by the Leave the Leatherbacks in Peace campaign mascot “Baulita” and asked their positions on the bill. Below are the translated comments from the race’s top 3 candidates. Who would you vote for?
Otton Solís (third in the poles)
We are opposed to the new government sponsored bill that proposes to disintegrate Leatherback Marine Park. Rather, it should be expanded to protect this resource. In environmental matters, we don’t have this kind of ambiguity. We support the environment.
Laura Chinchilla (leader in the poles)
Regarding baulas, there is already a dialog that’s been started, and we have to confront it with maturity. The important thing is to effectively negotiate the leatherback’s protection along with the cost inherent to the State from the payment and compensation of certain expropriations.
(Outside after she was asked her position on bill 17.383)
I don’t know every detail; the important thing to note is that any initiative has to guarantee the leatherback’s protection and hopefully at the same time reduce the compensation that Costa Rica would have to pay for the expropriations.
Otto Guevara (second in the poles)
If you look at the law that originally established the park, that law states that Leatherback Marine National Park in a MARINE park. So, this illusion that the State Attorney proclaimed that the park’s limits included the land is a misinterpretation of the law. It’s also misconstrues the will and intent of the legislators that said that the park’s limits are only out to sea. The fact is the Costa Rican government does not have 500 million dollars to pay for the expropriations within the 75 meter buffer along the length of Playa Grande.