Environment: Resistance strengthened in Playuela (Puerto Rico)

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[Many thanks to Teo Freytes for bringing this item to our attention.] Hermes Ayala (El calce) reports on renewed efforts to save a beautiful beach (Playuela) and an environmentally fragile coastal area in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. For years, developers have pushed to build the Christopher Columbus Landing Resort, a sprawling 140-acre complex that would occupy most of Playuela’s coastline. The project would feature a 300-room hotel, casino, apartments, and villas. [See National Geographic, 26 February 2017, for related article and video.]

According to Ayala, on the morning of Thursday, June 8, the Caribbean Management Group (CMG) decided to resume operations in the Playuela Valley Sector, insisting on setting the groundwork for the construction of the controversial mega hotel project Christopher Columbus Landing. Although construction has been stopped twice, the developer insists on continuing to work although the company has not complied with the required permits. Although CMG declared las December that they did not have the funds to complete the project, they are still “building roads that seem to lead nowhere,” according to co-director of the Playuela Rescue Camp [Campamento Rescate Playuela] Gina Zapata.

The Playuela Rescue Camp and its followers present strong evidence of the ecological damage that can be caused the construction on the coastal valley of Playuela. They also declare that it is essential to protect over 300 species of flora and fauna that inhabit the grounds of CMG. A dozen of them are endemic to Puerto Rico, 6 are in danger of extinction, and over 15 are reefs that are currently protected by federal laws.

The group of environmentalists has raised an alert to its followers in social networks calling to mobilize in the area, and inviting them to demonstrate peacefully against this environmental crime.

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“Instead of helping and promoting a better future for the country, they have come to destroy it. The battle has not stopped. The struggle continues. We are here day after day defending this valley. We need a lot of people, we need to fight against this great monster who was just asleep. Now, more than ever, we need people, more people to come and join us,” said Pocho Levalle, co-director of the Playuela Rescue Camp.

The resistance camp has been active for seven months, conserving the natural resources of the coastal area of Playuela, one of the few virgin spaces that remain on the Island.

Through coastal cleanings, community activities, and educational workshops, the Playuela Rescue Camp has shared a message of conservation to hundreds of people who visit the area monthly.

[Photo above from http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/wilderness-pressure-point-el-mix–wishing-well-among-the-waves-threatened-by-construction-of-mega-hotel-puerto_143441/]

For original post (in Spanish), see http://elcalce.com/pr/contexto/se-refuerza-la-resistencia-en-playuela/

Also see http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/02/playuela-puerto-rico-hotel-plan-environment/ and http://www.surfline.com/surf-news/wilderness-pressure-point-el-mix–wishing-well-among-the-waves-threatened-by-construction-of-mega-hotel-puerto_143441/

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