National Assembly Discussing Public Access to Beaches

Wednesday, August 01 2012 @ 03:25 PM UTC

Contributed by: Don Winner

The Commission on Public Infrastructure of the National Assembly has the discussion of Bill No. 379 on their agenda, which includes the right and the need of people to enjoy and use public beaches, not only on the mainland but also on the islands of Panama. National Assembly Deputy from the Panameñista political party Alcibíades Vásquez Velásquez made ​​it clear they have been working on this initiative for two years, and among the agreements - they intend to establish the conditions required for easements and public access roads to the beaches, which is being challenged by the country's hotel industry. Vasquez said for the moment the Bill "has been left in the committee until the completion of all consultations have occurred will all sectors concerned, but the issue has never been managed in a manner without consultation." (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: The representatives from the hotel industry are bitching, because the draft version of the Bill apparently makes them responsible for lighting and maintaining the public easements. There's sort of a dilemma here. Let's say I'm a hotel owner and my property is right up against the beach, and there's an easement running right through the middle of my property. By law, any citizen from the public should be able to wander right through there in order to access the beach. In Panama, no one can "own" the beach, anywhere. Supposedly. But in reality what happens is the hotel owners block or otherwise obscure the easements and access roads. They will plant bushes, place large rocks in front of them, or take other actions to make it hard or impossible for the public to first find and then use the easements. Apparently the National Assembly is going to include language in this law forcing the hotel owners to make sure the easements are not blocked, that they are actually open to the public, and can be used. Want a practical demonstration of the problem? Try to take your family to Kobbe beach for a nice day of sun and fun, without being a guest at the hotel...

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