Squatters successfully expropriate property from Dutch entrepreneurs

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.

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    • McDemon

      Lawless degenerates! Just another in a long string of stupid decisions which will ultimately drive foreign investment elsewhere. Kudos to your shortsightedness Costa Rica.

      • ben jones

        GO home McDemon back to USA

        • McDemon

          A) Big assumption that going home would be to the US. Wrong.
          B) You obviously have a difficult time hearing the ugly truth.
          C) I am getting the fuck out of this place as soon as I can regain possession of the properties my wonderful Costa Rican attorney stole from me. The day can’t come soon enough.

          You have a problem with facts? Not a god damn thing I can do to change that.

        • McDemon

          And another thing. By looking at your other comments postmen in you 3 hour old bullshit anglicized name profile, you are a xenophobic moron. If, as you appear to want, all the North Americans left along with their $$ what do think will happen to your precious Costa Rica? The majority of you can go back to ditch digging, picking vegetables or fishing for 500 colone a kilo fish because you sure as fuck can’t afford the 7500 a kilo being paid by foreigners today. You want your shithole all to yourself? Don’t go crying to the US for aid or protection when Ortega gets too big for his britches. Why don’t you go scam a gringo and leave these discussions to the grown ups?

          • Andrew

            Somebody please pass Ben a shovel….
            He just got “buried!”

            • canadamike

              LOL – I’m guessing we won’t be hearing from Ben on this one. He’s busy tending to the welts on his ass.

        • Frank Castle

          Now, Panama is enjoying this knowing stories like this drive more retirees their way, not to Costa Rica.

    • G Money

      Wow, that’s a scary thought that the government can just come along and take your land away and give it to a bunch of criminals. I’m as liberal as they come but if you legally own a private plot of land, it should belong to you.

      • The Oracle

        Money, when you don’t pay property taxes the County will do the same thing to you. No difference, bub.

        • G Money

          Hmm, it doesn’t say anything about the owner not paying the taxes.

          • The Oracle

            None the less, the inference is applicable.

            • G Money

              I’m sorry but I don’t see the inference. I’m sure if that was the issue, the Dutch guys would have just paid the taxes. Property taxes in CR are minimal.

            • The Oracle

              I lived in Barrio Escalante for dos y media anos.  Ricans no gusta gringos. Contempt of gringos are what they know only; the tico price vs. the gringo price.
              Walking the streets at night was problematic.  Being misdirected by a cop simply sucked.
              As victim of Enrique Villalobos, I was in the offices in the mall three days before V.E. closed. Lost $2.350M.  Am sliding slowly into Oblivion.  I will not escape Oblivion.  Life has been no more than a rear guard action.

              Same mindset as those who LIBERATED  the property in question, ‘-Gringo be damned.’
              Felice Navidad.

      • ben jones

        G Money your a joke go back to Canada and live with Harper. Canadian suck

        • G Money

          Wow, nice grammar.

        • Frank Castle

          I think you had too many Cuba Libres!

        • canadamike

          Wow – Ben is quite the mental giant. I don’t get it – it’s one thing to have poor people try to take something from you out of desperation – it’s another to see the government LET it happen – but it’s yet, quite another to see english speaking people sympathize with these theives. What am I missing here? They STOLE the land!

    • disgusted

      Let this be a warning to ALL ex pats who invest here. It will never be your land. I bet if ex president or diputado own this would never happened. One hacienda down so many more. This stinks!! My barnyard definition of communism, where the have not get what the haves have. Court system here is really screwed up but we already knew that Lady Laura .

      • disgusted

        After thought maybe the Dutch company needs to go to the Hague convention show how it works here. This piece of land the Nicaraguans are holding just give it to them . Same logic applies. This is wrong on so many levels.

    • Andrew

      Just another example of the inept Costa Rican government condoning theft. Business as usual….

    • NorthendFool

      Unbelievable. I thought we were beyond this squatters garbage. I suppose now this will all take off again. Investers will not come now. Another reason to never live in a socialist setting of cry babies. There is no hope for CR.

      • canadamike

        that’s a typical, conservative, knee jerk response on 1,000 different levels. there’s 700,000 other properties in CR that have no such issues. but you read 1 article and proclaim “there’s no hope for CR”. a word of advice, don’t ever read articles, ever… and you just might find a place in this world that lives up to your lofty standards of perfection. BTW – I heard there was a smash n’ grab in Miami last night… America is DOOMED!

    • Bruce Hummel

      Headline should read squatters successfully steal land with the help of the government. Shoot to kill was the best idea. Fu–king thief’s.

      • canadamike

        I’m not the gun-toting type… but after many attempts to remove them civilly, what other choice is there?

    • Wolfgang Schoenerklee

      Not a stitch of sanity in this decision and nowhere near what a civilized society with adequate laws and government would do.

      • McDemon

        Not only is there no sanity, it is pure insanity!! How the f*ck do they expect their people to learn not to lie and steal and cheat when they are not only rarely punished for it, they are rewarded when they do it. Not that the lawyers and politicians set any kind of example, they are all crooks and liars too. Having lived all over the world, these are the f*cking dumbest, greediest, most self centered,selfish people I have ever met.

    • expatin paradise

      While I recognize (but don’t approve of) the squatter’s law, I have serious problems with the fact that the owners’ rights were not protected by the lease. How else is an absent owner to know that his investment is safe? News of this will definitely curtail foreign investment in real estate. There are already many such “horror studies” in the US, but this one is insane.

      The time has come for Costa Rica to grow up and get rid of these casual rights – no more squatting, no more “free union” or common-law marriages. These undocumented “rights” are too often used in litigation against expats by Ticos intent on cheating them out of property.

      An afterthought: the landowners should sue the leaseholder for not safeguarding the property.

      • ben jones

        Do you have a name? Stay out of our business

        • expatin paradise

          Another bully heard from. This is supposed to be a forum for expression of viewpoints. Instead, some people here seem intent on making it a bully pulpit. I don’t give my name because asshats like you can’t be trusted not to resort to some form of vigilante justice.

          • Frank Castle

            Why do you think I’m the Punisher, which of course, I’m not. You just keep on giving your opinion and I will read and ponder. Muchas gracias y Pura Vida!

            • expatin paradise

              Actually, I don’t know where Ben is coming from or gets off, why he thinks that this matter is any more his business than anyone else’s. This is very much my business as a landowner whose property is in the charge of someone else. Also, I have experienced claims of live-in girlfriends and would like to be able to live with someone without her making claims that we were married.

              Common law and squatting or adverse possession are part of the legal histories of most modern countries. For the most part, these loose bases for claims have been abandoned in favor of more formal contractual agreements that are transparent and on the record. Costa Rica could be a retirement destination for more expats if it weren’t for the laws and poor record-keeping here. I realize that many Ticos would prefer to see the expat community leave, but the fact is that we generate much of the revenue used to operate the government here.

              Thanks for pondering!

            • Andrew

              In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Ben is one dumb ass Tico. (Brushes imaginary dirt from his left shoulder with his right hand….)

            • Frank Castle

              No problem. I’m sure Panama is taking notes and trying to prevent these kind of situation since they welcome American retirees.

        • Marie

          ben jones Not a Tico or Spanish name. Where is your Father from?

          We all have a right to an opinion and it is inappropriate for someone with a English name to throw stones.

          Me thinks you complain too loud! Maybe you are a campesino!

    • P mattingly

      Sounds like a story out of Zimbabwe
      Encourages foreigners to invest in CR doesn’t it. But it is socialism in all its glory.

      • ben jones

        We are going to have fairness for the poor stupied

        • Fernando Gerdano

          Mae..habla en español idiota tico

      • G Money

        This is NOT socialism. They don’t steal land in Canada, France, Sweden, Norway, etc. This is something completely different.

    • Fernando Gerdano

      Why is this even in the news. This is a national pastime here in CR, always was and always will be. What’s yours is mine what’s mine is mine…Pura vida.

    • sloth1

      Is this the end game .. Does the Dutch Company have any other options in this situation? Or are they giving up ?

    • ben jones

      Where taking back our Country from the USA and other citizens that stole it. Screw you USA citizens go home your condo’s and beach property are going to the poor soon. yes Costa Rica is owned by Costa Rica not rich USA

      • Frank Castle

        Most Americans who migrate south, to retire, have modest incomes and aren’t rich. There are many Tico’s who are wealthier than many of these retiree’s. Ben, you seem to hate Gringos or something by the tenor of your post. I’m sorry you feel that way. Oh, by the way, I have heard Spain would like Costa Rica back since it was stolen from them back about 200 years ago! See, how dumb, that sounds. Pura Vida, amigo!

      • Andrew

        Precisely the thinking the keeps costa rica a third world country. Kudos Ben, or should I say “pura fuckin’ via!”
        Dumb ass….I think you meant: “we’re”
        And when you take over the condos and beach properties, you’ll throw your garbage everywhere and piss on each other’s properties and turn places like Playa Flamingo into Playa Leon 13.
        I’ll say it again: Dumb Ass…..

    • Derryl Hermanutz

      One of the first thing I discovered in 1989 when I was first looking into buying land here is that Costa Rica’s constitution recognizes squatter’s rights on otherwise unused agricultural land. An absentee owner can try to circumvent the law by hiring guards or managers, but the law on agricultural land is use it or risk losing it to squatters. If the Dutch absentee owners didn’t know the law, then they didn’t do their due diligence. Costa Rica has laws, and rhe squatter’s law has been in effect for a very long time. If investors don’t like the laws, they can become citizens and vote for laws they like better. In the meantime, you live under the laws of the country you are in. If the laws don’t suit you, you are free to try to find a country whose laws suit you better.

    • Pat

      Troubling indeed. Yes, if the land had belonged to an influential Tico with connections to the government, of course the squatters would have been kicked off. In fact, we would have never even heard about it. Shame but what can one expect? Same thing would have happened in most places in the world. Unfortunately, land owners can certainly expect more of the same and this is why- Costa Rica is already becoming overpopulated in many parts of the country. There is so little land to work with, it only takes a small increase in population to put even more pressure on resources. Those squatting families were desperate and that’s why they risked their lives to take that land. Even though it sucks, I can’t blame them and anyone else with a family in the same situation would do the same.

      Support quality education, programs to help sustainable small business, and other means of improving quality of life and stabilizing the population on a long term basis to try and prevent this from happening-
      -The country will continue to destabilize as more people are born into desperate conditions and demand basic resources.
      -As poverty increases, politicians with anti-business views will be elected as many of the uneducated and people who feel disenfranchised search for answers but that will of course only make things worse.
      -Resources will be used up and even before than time, we can say goodbye to a stable, beautiful Costa Rica.

      There are signs that those changes are already beginning to happen and sadly, things are likely to get worse. Because this is a small place, those changes might come quicker than you think.

      Ben Jones- please put emotions aside and use logic if you truly want to make Costa Rica a better place to live. If it makes you feel better to vent, OK but Gringos didn’t steal that land. Whether you like it or not, they bought it. The problems in Costa Rica are much less associated with North Americans and Europeans than internal factors (and yes I have Tico relatives).

    • Hammertime_in_AB

      Nice place to visit;
      yup that’s about it.

      Pondered buying land there a few times, this is why not.

      • G Money

        Haha, weird seeing you here.

    • Andrew

      Funny thing: This Tica telling all the foreigners to go home calls himself, of all things, Ben Jones? Try John Smith next time if you want to sound more Anglo. Dumb ass…. Maybe a little latent gringo wannabe?

    • McDemon

      Just one more thought on the subject; part of the courts reasoning was that the thieves in question were “landless” and this somehow justified their theft of rightfully obtained and owned property from another person. By this logic, I should be perfectly justified in stealing a car if I were to find myself “carless” and happened upon a parked car, which by definition, is not being used by the owner and can be put to better use me. I see no real difference in these scenarios. Costa rica needs to get their sorry asses out of the 19th century agrarian mentality if they ever expect to be a player on the international scene. These laws are no longer useful unless you are a lazy fuck who would rather steal the product of someone else’s labor than break a sweat at an honest days work and obtain it rightfully.