Coastal Clash Unmasks Dominican Republic’s Obsolete Beach Law


A several years-long conflict in the resort region of the East has again cast the spotlight on the law on coasts, which clashes with the notion of the free use of beaches as a public space, and the need to develop the tourism industry.

Outlet reports litigation dating more than five years in the area of Bavaro, where the Tourism and Environment Ministries say the conflict pitting the company Alana Investment against the La Altagracia Province Craft Vendors Association (Asavepa) must continue in the courts. The vendors say they’ve managed the market in an area at Arena Gorda beach near the town of Bavaro for more than two decades, right across from the land where Alana intends to build a US$200 million project.

Alana aims to enforce a ruling to evict Asavepa, based on Article 15 of the Constitution, which reads that “national beaches and coasts in the public domain and are freely access, always observing respect for the right to private property.” The case is expected to reach the Constitutional Court, after the Supreme Court rule for Asavepa’s 280 vendors in November last year. “Why do we have to move, if the 60 meters of beach are public?” Asavepa said, quoted by

But that’s precisely the Environment and Natural Resources Law 64-00’s contradiction, since Article 147 states that although public property encompasses the 60 meter-swath from high tide along the coast, as the result of the government push for tourism development, investors are routinely allowed to violate it.

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