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San José, Costa Rica, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 214
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                                      de la luz
Municipalidad de San José photo
Cheerleaders introduce the logo for the Festival de la Luz.
Countdown begins for this year's Festival de la Luz
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Comisión de Fiestas de San José began the countdown Thursday for the big Christmas parade, the Festival de la Luz. The event draws perhaps as many as a million spectators and participants to the downtown of the capital.

This year the parade will be Dec. 17. The event is featured on national television, too.

The gathering Thursday was to officially award the prizes for the 2015 parade. But there was the Banda Municipal de San José and male and female cheerleaders doing acrobatics in front of the La Solidad church.

The municipality is reinstating the carnival this year. It will be Dec. 27 starting at noon. That is a day after the Tope Nacional that brings 5,000 horses and riders to the capital streets.

Those who wish to participate in the carnival still have time to sign up through Nov. 4. There are prizes in several categories of 1 million colons.

All three parades will begin in the vicinity of

Parque la Sabana and head east up Paseo Colón and Avenida 2.

The carnival was suspended after 2005 when there were some court actions and also because some spectators complained that there were participants too scantly dressed. Desamparados began its carnival in 2006.

All three events are designed to lure spectators to Zapote for the Festejos de San José that begins there Christmas Day and runs through New Year’s.

The traditional kickoff to the Christmas season is the Entrada de Santos al San José, which takes place on the last Sunday of November.

This is the parade of some 300 oxcarts, their bueyes and their drivers. The oxcarts carry life-sized statutes of Christian saints, including, of course, Saint Joseph, San José.

The Asociación Boyera Nacional and the municipalidad are sponsors. The boyeros and their families spend the day before camped out in Parque la Sabana for something that resembles a ranching fiesta.

Ministerio de Seguridad Pública photo
Law officers gather in advance of removing squatters
Squatters cleared from site of controversial project
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Law officers evicted Thursday squatters who occupied land in Esterillos Oeste for months. The property is that of the Las Olas residential project that was operated by a U.S. citizen.

Jovan Damjanac, an employee of the development firm, said in a mid-afternoon email that all squatters had been evicted and that shacks they had built have been taken down.

The accumulation of squatters was a security concern for some neighbors.

Damjanac said that about 30 law enforcement officers showed up in the morning. They included Fuerza Pública officers, judicial agents, conservation agents and prosecutors, he said. There also were municipal police officers from Parrita.

He said he thought the police operation was done with a purpose.

“We believe country wanted to have this issue resolved before our Dec 5 hearing in Washington at World Bank,” he said. We are suing country for unlawful closure of the project with $90 million in damages sought.”

The developer is David Aven of New Castle, Pennsylvania. He and his investors have brought the country into international arbitration under the Central American Free Trade Treaty. The allegations

include official corruption, perjury, inaction by criminal investigators, misstatements and inequitable treatment in a criminal court case, according to news files.

Aven said in an arbitration filing that the government shut down the project in 2011 over claims that part of the property was a protected wetland. He also alleged he was solicited for a bribe and said he was shot at by a man on a motorcycle.

The record shows that his project, condos, a hotel and a beach club, was fully approved before the municipality issued the stop-work order five years ago.

There also was opposition by neighbors.

The case will be heard by a three-judge panel at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.

Squatters occupy land in hopes of eventually obtaining possession rights. In some cases, this can be a scam engineered by powerful local figures. The squatters may have homes elsewhere and after they win possession, the properties are transferred back to the originators of the scheme.

The legality stems from the belief that the poor should have access to land that rich owners may not be using. There is no movement in the legislature to change the laws that favor these types of land thefts, even though they jeopardize foreign investments.

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