Let me explain.
Like most people who frequented the Aldea de los Pescadores, I rather enjoyed and appreciated its existence and its many contributions to the social and cultural life in the community. At the same time I was painfully aware of its noticeable security problems, the environmental pollution caused by kitchens and toilets, and of the obvious consecuences of a highly attractive but monolithic tourism offer. I was not, nor am I now opposed to the fabulous culinary offerings and the enchanting nature of diverse environments that such a concept can offer. I'm neither opposed to sustainable economic development or to meritorious benefits to workers, investors and entrepreneurs.
The list of assets and benefits of the former Aldea, what's about to happen is truly a crude provocation created by those least in the position of being provocateurs: the central government and the local government. As far as I know, the Ministry of Tourism lacks the presidential decree necessary for the building of structures such as the one that appears to be under construction at the former site (though the Minister of Tourism is eagerly pursuing it). The local government has not intervened, so far, to prevent the obviously illegal reconstruction at a place where it shouldn't be.
As expected, the level of misinformation and the lack of transparency creates confusion and blindness in everyone. What's being done, who is doing it, how, for how much, directed by whom? We don't know. As rumored, are they going to give each of the previous owners 10 million pesos? We don't know. Are the previous owners receiving the new locations for free? We don't know. What are the legal, social and economic basis for doing one thing or the other? We don't know. In the presence of clearly stated, legal statutes governing the building of such structures so close to the water and in the midst of fragile ecosystems, why do it at all and why do it this way? Is it true that powerful people, well-connected to the government, are among the beneficiaries? We do not know....and so forth!
Is it possible that the “Monte Carlo of the Caribbean" will be built on similar foundations, using similar methods, without regards to the laws, environmental regulations, without the proper decrees and always looking after the benefits of the few over the benefits of the majority?
I, among many others who love the concept of the Aldea, feel that it doesn't have to be built at its former site. We can built something similar and even better, but elsewhere. In a previous article I suggested the area further ahead towards Playa Las Ballenas as a possible location and, in a recent contribution, architect Marcelo Albuquerque has suggested the area around the current police station.
On the other hand, the town of Las Terrenas as a legal, civic, political and autonomous entity should intervene through its City Council (I do not think that the Mayor has the least interest in going against the wishes of the Minister of Tourism). If the City Council does nothing, then no one could prevent the Ministry of Tourism and other entities, governmental or private, to commit similar violations of the law and the Constitution. What is happening now is more of the ongoing demonstration of how the city has lost its autonomy and sovereignty in the years since Mr. José Alexis Martinez has been Mayor. Inaction on the part of the City Council will provoke additional dents to city processes and procedures.
I'm fully in support of a reconstruction of the Fishermen's Village but better, which means that no environmental laws would be violated, that we would broaden and enrich the economic potential of the resulting model and that the sovereignty of the city would be respected.
What to do now? Stop the construction! At a town hall meeting in City Hall inform what the plans are. Consult with broad sections of the community, making sure you make it possible for diverse views to be heard. Ensure that the intentions and the actions comply with current laws and the Constitution. Acting unfairly to the economic community at large will create disastrous results because whatever it's done cannot be just for the benefit of the lucky few. Hopefully, the potential beneficiaries themselves can see and understand these factors and will push for legal actions that favor the common good. If not, they'd be contributing to the planting of a pernicious, harmful, painful and fruitless weed, to the detriment of all of us.
Consciousness, gentlemen, conciencia!