Full public access to Tenacatita Bay is still being restricted even though the federal concession for the beach zone was returned into the hands of the La Huerta municipality last week.
State and auxiliary police officers – at least ten of them, plus four dogs, according to one report – guard the fenced-off 42-hectare plot of disputed land bordering the attractive beach that Guadalajara businessman Jorge Villalobos wants to transform into a luxury tourist complex.
Even though the bitter two-decade land dispute between the local farm cooperative (ejido) Jose Maria Andres Villalobos is still dragging on through the Mexican court system, residents of nearby El Rebalsito – many evicted from their beachside homes and businesses in a violent early morning police operation in August 2010 – say there is now no legal impediment for the access gate to the beach not to come down.While the auxiliary police officers are allowing some tourists access to the Tenacatita beach between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. each day, visitors are carefully screened, observed and told not to take photographs, except looking out to sea. They may not bring in alcoholic beverages or stray away from the beach area.
By law, beaches and a small strip of adjoining land, are federal property and have free public access.
But Villalobos claims he has every right to decide who can use the road to the beach as it passes through his land. However, according to longtime environmental reporter Agustin del Castillo, writing this week in Spanish-language daily Milenio, the federal Ley General de Bienes Nacionales rules to the contrary and states that access roads must be open to the public at all times.
Locals have told Spanish-language media representatives that they expect the police officers to leave the zone no later than April 30. If that does not happen, some expect protests to take place. This could see additional state police officers drafted in to ensure there is no repeat of the violent scenes that accompanied the 2010 eviction.
Representatives of La Huerta city hall have yet to announce how they intend to move the situation forward now the beach concession is back in their hands. The mayor has stated that it is up to the Environment Ministry (Semarnat) rather than his administration to enforce laws regarding the federal concession.