Environmental Damage in Culebra, Puerto Rico

Every time I return to Puerto Rico, I am stunned by the speed at which the island is suffering environmental destruction. Slowly, more and more voices are being raised to denounce this rampant devastation. Here are translated excerpts from Sara M. Justicia Doll’s article “Siguen los daños ambientales en playa Flamenco, Culebra.”

Environmental organization Coralations reported last weekend that the area between the beach and the Flamenco Lagoon in Culebra has been deforested and roads have been built without permits or public notice. Mary Ann Lucking, spokesperson for Coralations states that “A month ago we voted a complaint to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA, in Spanish) in Culebra, and yet we have not received a response. In the work taking place in that area there have been no tests for erosion and sedimentation, and coastal deforestation has occurred in this area of high ecological value.”

[. . .] Over the past months, Primera Hora [newspaper] has reported serious environmental impact to Flamenco Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, according to various magazines and international competitions. Inevitably, these damages will affect one of the most important tourist attractions of Puerto Rico at the international level.

[. . .] In the summer this year, several citizens complained to Primera Hora about how the turquoise waters of Flamenco Beach were brown and muddied by erosion after a period of rain. Residents of the island noted that the mud came from construction projects at one end of the beach by developer Víctor González. When the newspaper contacted the developer, he attributed it to runoff from heavy rains, saying that it “has happened before” and that “he could not control the rain.” When questioned about what he was developing on that land, he responded, “What I am doing is planting trees. Besides, the Federal Court already ruled that I can continue and not be bothered. This is persecution against me. People who speak [about what I am doing] are not complaining about how they fill the beach with trash and come in here to shit on my property. They come in and there is shit [everywhere], and they are not protest about that.”

Carlos Géigel, lawyer for the conservation authority—Autoridad de Conservacion y Desarrollo de Culebra (Acdec)—underlined that González presented a case in Federal Court against Acdec and opponents to his development project bordering Flamenco. Géigel declared that in 2009, González sued the group “for alleged damage we have caused, and we countersued for the social and environmental damage that has been effected against Culebra.” At the moment, González’s development plan in the area adjacent to Flamenco remains “a mystery.”

The lawyer argues that the sedimentation observed in July on the famous beach “occurred because of the massive deforestation created by González, without permission. He has opened roads without any authorization. He does what pleases [but] we will win in court.”  The trial has been scheduled for January 2012.

[Many thanks to Caroline “Beelady” Ferrandino for bringing this item to our attention.]

For full article (in Spanish), see http://www.primerahora.com/siguenlosdanosambientalesenplayaflamencoculebra-588839.html

Photo from http://www.best-beaches.com/caribbean/puerto-rico/puerto-rico-beaches/flamenco-culebra

2 thoughts on “Environmental Damage in Culebra, Puerto Rico

  1. The undeveloped lands of the island of Culebra must be declare as a natural reserve before it is too late. The Flamenco beach will suffer the same privatization fate as the majority of the beaches in Puerto Rico. Has Coralations promote the idea of a natural reserve for Culebra? A reserve is the only way to stop the environmental crimes and get rid of people like the developer Víctor González that only thinks on his pocket and not in the community of Culebra.

  2. What Mr. Gonzales is doing now pales in comparison to his early antics..He is now proposing to place a windmill farm above Flamenco beach. This will destroy the peace and quiet one can find there now. It will also visually contaminate the pristine vista that is Flamenco. I believe Mr. Gonzales has a plan to make Culebra uninhabitable for the people who live here. A major percentage of the tourists who come here, come to visit Flamenco beach, if that beach is no longer a reason to come here, the folks who make their living from tourism will suffer..They will have to move and find other means in which to make a living.

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