Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tenacatita update: Limited beach access now, but no bathrooms

   The following email was received by people on the Tenacatita Bay email list of Dobie Dolphin.
    The news is that basically 8 years into this struggle, the struggle goes on.

Hi Friends,

     Haven’t sent a beach update in a long time; maybe you’re wondering what’s going on. After more than 8 years, we’re still fighting for the beach and the surrounding properties that were taken illegally. Sometimes it’s 2 steps forward and 1 step back.   
The beach scene - before the takeover
     Last year the lawyer who’s been helping us for the last few years, was able to secure a permit so people could legally be on the beach renting umbrellas (for shade) with tables and chairs, and also selling food, beach toys, coconuts, etc. Food can’t be cooked there, but thanks to cell phones, people can sit in the shade, order their food from one of several restaurants on the road to the beach and have it delivered to their table. Other vendors walk around selling fruit (hollowed out pineapples with lots of cut up fruit inside), flan (Mexican custard), drinks, etc.
     It’s been a blessing for the town as most of the money made by the people working on the beach stays in town. Plus, the more amenities and services locals can provide, the more visitors come. Many spend a few days, eat in town, buy supplies at the grocery stores and generally help the town economy. It certainly isn’t the same as when there were 20 restaurants and stores on the beach, but it’s better than it’s been for the last 8 years.
     The big problem is there are no bathrooms. The county was supposed to build them last year, but they didn’t start until the spring, and squandered much of the money through inefficiency and poor administration. Elections were held in July and a new party won control of the county. Unfortunately the old administration left the county in debt, so at the moment there are no funds available.
     Last year we rented porta-potties, but they were very expensive and had to be emptied daily. The nearest place is in Manzanillo which is a couple of hours away. We had to cover them with palm fronds, but even so, sitting in the sun all day with not much ventilation, they started to smell. Not pleasant.
     We can’t legally build any permanent buildings but we can make some portable ones that will be on a trailer with a tank underneath. The tank will be emptied in a designated site not too far away. We’d like to have 2 sets, to place in different parts of the beach – each would have 2 women’s bathrooms and one for men. 
     There have been many expenses dealing with the ongoing lawsuits. The people renting the umbrellas and selling food on the beach have had major expenses getting their permits as a surveyor had to come to measure and provide exact coordinates for each permit.  It won’t cost so much when it comes time to renew (the permits are good for 3 months).
     Tourist season is about to begin, and without bathrooms on the beach, many of the tour buses and families won’t come. We’re estimating that each set will cost about $3,500 (for the bathrooms, the trailer and the holding tank). The Tena Fund has generously offered to donate $2,500 which I was told is the balance of the money in the fund.
     Last year a new group was started here in town called La Junta Vecinal (The Neighborhood Council). It’s composed of people who lost their businesses on the beach, members of the fishing cooperative and anyone who lives in El Rebalsito (the town closest to the beach, where I live) or who owns land here. There are over 140 members. I’m the treasurer and I’ve offered to help fundraise (along with others).
     So, anyone who would like to contribute towards having bathrooms on Tenacatita beach – all donations are accepted! Donations can be made via Pay Pal, to Dobie Dolphin, or checks may be sent to:
Savings Bank of Mendocino, P.O. Box 687, Mendocino, Ca. 95460
Checks can be made out to Dobie Dolphin. On the back of the check write For Deposit Only, acct# 3274 
     Please let me know if you send a check so I can keep track of who sent what as the bank statement just shows deposits, but doesn’t say who they’re from. 
     All contributions will be acknowledged and an accounting will be provided of how the money is spent.
     I realize there are many needs and more so now with the fires in California. Anything that can be spared will be greatly appreciated.
     Peace, health and happiness to all.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Tenacatita Bay land-ownership court fight grinds on and on

  TENACATITA BEACH, Jalisco, Mexico - The long-running legal saga over control of the Tenacatita Bay beach and property seized in August 2010 by wealthy Guadalajara developer Jose Villalobos continues.
     And despite occasional (erroneous) reports that things have returned to a version of normal, the New Year's report from Dobie Dolphin (printed below) suggests that things are, in fact, virtually the same as they have been since an army of armed goons working for Villalobos seized the land, forcibly evicted residents and then bulldozed most of the buildings.
     The land that was stolen from Mexicans and non-Mexicans is still controlled by Villalobos-owned  Rodenas Corporation. And even where landowners have won in court, they still are being blocked from taking possession of their property.
     Some beach access is now allowed. But even that access can be iffy.
     Here is a report from Dobie (who lives nearby), plus two recent photos...


New Year's Day 2016 Tenacatita
Hi to all,
     As we start the new year, the various Tenacatita lawsuits still haven’t been resolved. Although several people have won their lots back, they still haven’t been able to take possession of them. The state prosecutor gave an order to the guards on the beach to allow the rightful owners to fence their lots and use their land. A couple of weeks ago, several land owners went, along with a lawyer, engineer with GPS measuring equipment to mark the boundaries, fence posts, barbed wire, workers to set the posts and fence their properties, and about 10 pounds of papers relating to their case.

     When we got there (I try to go along when possible), the guys started digging holes for the fence posts and within 15 minutes, the private security guards came up (we were at the top of a hill with a fantastic view of the ocean and the bay) and said they had an order and people had to stop working and leave. Since the lawyer had the paper signed by the state prosecutor he said they could legally be there, and the guards left.

     But a few minutes later, the state police came and said the same thing. When the lawyer asked who told them that the owners had to leave, they said it was the state prosecutor – the same one who signed the order telling the police not to stop the owners from taking possession of their property.
A few people had their cell phones out and were recording the conversation. The state police got aggressive, grabbed the cell phones and erased what had been recorded. The lawyer was able to get the cell phones back and he noticed that one was still recording, so he asked the policeman his name, who told him that the land owners would have to leave, etc. So in the end, everything was videoed and recorded and we all left without incident.

     The lawyer then filed several more lawsuits, against the private security police, the state police, the state prosecutor and the father of the governor of the state of Jalisco who’s a judge. The governor keeps saying he supports the people who won their land back, but it's only in words, not deeds.

So in a sense, nothing has really changed. 

     People continue to enjoy the beach and many came and camped over the holidays. Although no one can sell anything on the beach, the police didn’t stop locals from renting umbrellas, tables and chairs to the beach goers. Restaurants were able to leave menus, and people could call on their cell phones and have food delivered to the beach. At least it brought some income to the locals.

     Every year we hope that this will be the year the conflict is resolved. Hard to believe it’s gone on this long. 

     There has been more media coverage - to read newspaper articles and watch 2 short videos (all in Spanish), you can go to:

Wishing everyone a healthy, peaceful year,

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tenacatita Bay and community - what was then and what is now

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - I went back to Tenacatita about a week ago, my second visit since the land was stolen in August 2010 by Jose Villalobos and goons hired by his company, Rodenas.

Photos tell the story best of what was then, and what is now:
Tenacatita Beach before the illegal seizure

Tenacatita Bay beach, January 2014

There are no services there - not even a bathroom or fresh water. The guards, of course, have both, though they seemed unlikely to share.

Along the road leading into the beach, several rather nasty looking, heavily armed guards patrol the road, ensuring that no one wanders off to look at the properties on the Pacific Ocean beach. It's there most of the gringos owned property. Some built houses, all improved the land.

What few gringo houses remain (the ones Villalobos didn't bulldoze in a fit of pique) are vacant with nature slowly reclaiming them.

As part of the trip, I had a brief conversation with one of big chiefs of the ejido who said the major court case has been settled - in Villalobos favor, of course.

He will be keeping the 42 hectares he claimed all along, but the balance of the land he seized (maybe another 42 or more hectares) is likely to be returned to the people. The people, in this case, are members of the ejido. Exactly where gringos who lost their land fit in to this scenario is unclear at best. Perhaps they will have to buy it again.

So although the beach is reopened - and subject to close surveillance - the ownership of the land is still in question. There is no conversation at all about reopening any restaurants or restoring services on the public beach.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Two sets of guards at Tenacatita now - Villalobos' and state of Jalisco

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - There are two sets of guards now at Tenacatita Beach, those in the employe of wealthy Guadalajara developer Jose Villalobos who seized the beach and surrounding land by force in August 2010 - and those in the employe of the state of Jalisco.

Checkpoint Charlie being torn down
The Villalobos people are the same ones who kept the public out at gunpoint for nearly three years until the beach was reopened June 2. The guard shack - nicknamed Checkpoint Charlie by some gringos - was pulled down.

Until it was removed, anyone wanting to go to the beach had to stop, answer often-rudely asked questions and frequently had their cars searched by the guards. None of the Checkpoint Charlie guards spent much time at charm school, most visitors reported.

And if you were one of the people who owned land taken in the seizure, the guards would not let you in.

The Jalisco state police at Tenacatita are there now to help keep the peace. Tensions are still high as the eviction in August 2010 forcibly removed people from their homes and places of businesses. Most of the structures were destroyed by Villalobos' bulldozers and workers in the interim.

A number of court cases against Villalobos and his company (Rodenas) are still winding their way through the labrynith of the Mexico judicial system. There are claims against him for the illegal seizure as well as the damage and destruction.

But for now it appears no restaurants or other facilities will be allowed in the Federal Zone. The beach is open for day use only, no camping.

The beach road is closed to traffic.

The head of Villalobos guards, warning people off land Villalobos claims is his (Photo by John Jankovsky)

A Jalisco state police officer there to keep the peace (Photo by John Jankovsky)          

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tenacatita Bay Beach gate is gone, but Rodenas guards remain

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - The Tenacatita Bay Beach - once the site of restaurants, shops and various commercial concessions is now open to the public after nearly three years of being closed off.

August 2010 eviction of Tenacatita residents
But the dispute over the properties seized in an armed takeover August 4, 2010 remains. In that morning surprise attack, nearly 800 Mexican citizens and handful of gringos were rousted from homes by police and forced to leave at gunpoint.

Visitors to the beach report that a contingent of heavily armed guards are patrolling the area behind the beach and other adjacent areas where wealthy developer Guadalajara Jose Villalobos claims ownership.

The tearing down of the guard shack and reopening of the public highway to the beach was a cause for great celebration June 2, drawing hundreds of people.


But as jubilant as the crowds were, it's only a first step towards regaining what was once one of the most popular tourist destinations along the Costalegre. The public access is limited to the Federal Zone beach area.

And for now there are no announced plans for rebuilding any restaurants or recreating any of the infrastructure that was destroyed by Villalobos.

Villalobos maintains that he is the legal owner of all the properties his security forced seized in 2010. Some of the property owners are still fighting in court to regain their lands.
Tenacatita Bay Beach in its glory days - before the August 2010 seizure