Christopher Columbus Landing Resort in Playuela, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's biodiversity and the small amount of unspoiled undeveloped land need to be protected. Locals, professors, and surfers alike oppose to mega tourism facilities


Description
The project consists of a 50 million dollar hotel complex beachfront that is stated to be take over 121acres of land out of the 150 acres land that playuela consists of. The hotel consists of 300 hotel rooms, a 17,000 square-foot casino, a 160 condo-hotel, 240 apartments, and affect nearly 4000 feet of beaches that include “punta borinquen”, Wishing Well, Wilderness, “El Mix”, and Pressure Point. The Conflict arises from the fact that Puerto Rico now has small amount of unspoiled undeveloped land which needs to be protected and leave it accessible to anyone and everyone. And secondly and of equal importance is the biodiversity that inhabits the are from endangered coral reef to turtles that nest there to to Puerto Rico’s own endemic boa snake. The establishment of the Christopher Columbus Landing Resort would dramatically alter the ecological balance and appreciation promoted by the surfing community. “This [project] will demoralize its surroundings and the community of Playuela not only spiritually, but even psychologically... it will lose its beauty and splendor just to be replaced by a concrete structure for the rich,” expressed a surfing neighbor, who didn't want his name disclosed, of the Playuela community. The community of La Playuela also contains two sites of archeological importance identified by the State Department of Puerto Rico and the Culture Institute of Puerto Rico. In 1979, the archaeologist Luis Ortiz Sepulveda described a “small cave on a rocky area with rock art,” and he suggested a more profound investigation. “To date, it is the only known example of petroglyphs in the town of Aguadilla. The second one is an area next to the petroglyphs containing small ceramic pieces and coral bits in the last recorded inventory done of the area. In a recent survey conducted by Asociación Estudiantil de Ciencias Marinas (AECIMA) at UPRM, they found that in the area of Peña Blanca and El Mix, there is a rich marine environment that houses three endangered coral species including the Elkhorn coral and multiple reef building corals”. “Along with the corals some animal species such as the nurse shark, hawksbill turtle, rays, and sea urchins. According to neighbors in the area, another endangered species, manatees, have been sighted in the area. The project was halted in 1999 due to environmental and ecological reasons”. All that seems to have been forgotten given that it is restarted and has faced opposition from locals, professors, and surfers alike. 
Basic Data
NameChristopher Columbus Landing Resort in Playuela, Puerto Rico
CountryPuerto Rico
ProvinceBo Borinquen
SiteAguadilla, Puerto Rico Bo. Borinquen
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Tourism Recreation
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Deforestation
Water access rights and entitlements
Urban development conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific CommoditiesBiological resources
Ecosystem Services
Tourism services
Cement
Water
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsWith an initial inversion starting at 39 million usd of a total of 50 million usd to be payed for the course of 20 years, CMG inc plans to create a hotel that consists of 300 rooms, villas, casino, and a pier.
Project Area (in hectares)48.9
Level of Investment (in USD)50,000,000 USD
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected PopulationLocal Communities, Surfers, Regular Beach goers, local wildlife
Start Date01/01/1999
Company Names or State EnterprisesCARIBBEAN MANAGEMENT GROUP, INC (CMG) from Puerto Rico - Construction company hired for the development of the hotel Christopher Columbus Landing
Relevant government actorsLocal Municipality

state Agencies: DRNA, Junta de Calidad Ambiental
International and Financial InstitutionsStone Creek Partners (SCP) from United States of America - Proyect Investors
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersVive Borikén (http://www.viveboriken.org/)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Social movements
Women
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationAppeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Development of a network/collective action
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Public campaigns
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Blockades
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Strikes
Development of alternative proposals
Official complaint letters and petitions
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Otherdecline in the local economy due to loss of recreational areas
Outcome
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseLand demarcation
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
more privatization of land in a small archipelago
Development of AlternativesThey have numbered and located abandoned hotel projects that never got passed the “under construction phase” and activist are creating awareness that the project should be moved to the already occupied land by the abandoned and failed hotel and inn projects. Not only move but to cancel it in its entirety due to visible failures of past hotels in aguadilla.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project is still ongoing and the mayor of the town is believe to have ties and is working with the construction group and the owner of the proyect to build the hotel which is why is going to take some more fighting and protest to make them cancel it entirely
Sources and Materials
Legislations

REGLAMENTO CONJUNTO PARA LA EVALUACIÓN Y
EXPEDICIÓN DE PERMISOS RELACIONADOS AL
DESARROLLO Y USO DE TERRENOS
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REGLAMENTO PARA GOBERNAR LAS CONDICIONES PARA LA CONCESION DE EXENCIONES Y OTROS INCENTIVOS CONTRIBUTIVOS A TENOR CON LAS DISPOSICIONES DE LA LEY DE DESARROLLO TURISTICO DE PUERTO RICO DE 2010, LEY NUM. 74 DE 10 JULIO DE 2010.”
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Links

Protestan en contra de proyecto turístico en Aguadilla (Protest against the tourism project in Aguadilla)
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Movimiento Playuela
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Trinchera de arte contra desarrollo en Playuela
[click to view]

Christopher Columbus Landing Resort, A Threat to Our Identity.
Describes the hotel and mentions affected wildlife
[click to view]

Playuela, protestas y permisos. A column on the legal permits to develop the land
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Comunidad surfer de Puerto Rico en lucha por salvar las olas de Aguadilla. A site dedicating the surfing communities that explains the importance of preserving the natural resource that is playuela
[click to view]

Vecinos de Playuela demandan a los desarrolladores. Legal action being taken by the local communities against the construction company
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Stop the colombus landing resort. Includes the petition link from change.org
[click to view]

Media Links

Interview with Ricardo Gerene
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Trucks arriving with shipment with refill for the road entrance to the hotel. Protesters halt the march of the trucks
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No cause for the people detained by police during the protest
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Other Documents

Playuela se defiende A tarp with a message part of the resistance camp
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Trucks and protesters Trucks used to flatten the land and dump cement for the entrance road
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Endorsements Endorsements that are being use for the construction of the hotel
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Police Blockade police gaurd the entrance so the trucks can pass and protesters don't interfere
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Puerto Rico's flag A passive march with the flag of puerto rico
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Playuela and areial view of the land
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorCristian J. Vélez Morales, [email protected], University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez
Last update02/07/2017
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