Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tenacatita lawsuits over illegal land seizures likely over for most plaintiffs

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - The stalag-like gates, barbed wire, surly unshaven guards with machine guns and the barking attack dogs will likely remain in place now, keeping the public (and legitimate landowners) from going back to the beautiful beaches here, once enjoyed by thousands.

Many of the people who sued the Rodenas Corporation (and its politically well-connected owner Jose Villalobos of Guadalajara) for its illegal - and violent - takeover of land August 4, 2010 learned this week their lawsuits have been heard and legal arguments turned down by the courts.

Three legal cases (of many filed) might be able to move forward.

In the surprise attack and armed takeover, nearly 800 Mexican citizens - and few gringos - were rousted from homes by 200 police and forced to leave at gunpoint.

Their possessions were seized, stores looted. A few household items were returned later.

A number of unarmed people were hurt in the assault, though none of the armed men who assaulted the property owners were arrested or convicted.

The bad news for the plaintiffs - whose property was taken - came after nearly two years of litigation. They learned that their amparo cases have been thrown out and attorneys say there really doesn't seem to be any further avenues for appeal. Many non-Mexicans had purchased properties along the ocean. A few had built houses and in one case a small RV park. One of those houses is being used as a headquarters for the guards.

In Mexico, guns, money and political influence seems to have overruled good public policy and potentially good relations with future investors.

Villalobos has indicated he wants to build a golf course and resort along the scenic beach, but investors apparently are shy about contributing to his dream. Perhaps it's having their cars searched on the way in to look at the property, lunging guard dogs or the guards themselves.

Below is a photo of the armed gunmen evicting some of residents of Tenacatita in 2010. Many of the evictees hold titles on their land, signed by the President of Mexico.

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