December 12th, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) A group of hundreds of campesino squatters have finally managed to expropriate a 425 hectare property from a group of Dutch entrepreneurs after fighting to take control of the property for more than two years.
The fight began on April 8th, 2011, when 316 landless families entered the farm in Medio Queso de Los Chiles in Costa Rica’s Northern Zone, which was owned by a group of Dutch entrepreneurs but was under lease to a Costa Rican.
The families erected makeshift structures and dwellings and claimed the land as their own, claiming the owners were not producing on the land. That claim was denied by the Costa Rican who was leasing the land from the Dutch, however, who said he had made $2 million in improvements to the farm during his leasehold.
Conflict has ensued ever since. Over the next two years, the families would be evicted multiple times by police. Several attempts to remove the families turned violent. The campesinos claimed that in addition to destroying their houses on several occasions, hired guards and police officers killed animals and burnt belongings.
The families would return after each eviction, sometimes within hours, and rebuild.
The situation made national headlines last year when an audio recording of a police officer instructing privately hired guards to “shoot to kill” emerged.
Two years of perseverance by the squatters, however, seems to have paid off, as the Rural Development Institute (INDER) issued resolution 032-2013 this week, which orders the land to be expropriated and given to the campesinos.
Over the years, the campesinos have drawn support from many Costa Ricans, including on social networks.
Local daily, Diaro Extra, seemed to welcome the decision by INDER to expropriate the property.
“This agreement is a triumph for rural families of that community,” the newspaper said in an article published today.
“The successful expropriation sets a precedent for struggling campesinos in the country, it shows that INDER is legally qualified to expropriate and distribute land to campesinos who need it,” the newspaper continued.