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SAN JOSé, Costa Rica -- Agropecuaria Caletas S.A., has continued the destruction of wetlands within the Caletas Ario National Wildlife Refuge, created in 2006 to protect nesting olive ridley and leatherback sea turtles, disregarding the mandates of the Environmental Tribune of the Ministry of Environment.
Last April, responding to a lawsuit filed by Pretoma against Agropecuaria Caletas S.A. for draining the wetlands of the Caletas Ario Wildlife Refuge, the Environmental Tribune ordered the farming company to halt all of its activities in and around this sensitive wetland. Last June, the Environmental Tribune ordered the company to pay $21,200 for damages caused therein (Resolución N° 390-09-TAA). The resolution came after officials observed how the company is, by design, draining, burning and thereby sucking the biological diversity out of a 150 hectare wetland that boarders Playa Caletas on the southern Nicoya Peninsula.
Video taken by Pretoma this past weekend shows how the court order and subsequent fines have done nothing to stop the company's relentless efforts to drain and till under the wetland. "As a Costa Rican, it is quite upsetting to see Agropecuaria Caletas S.A.'s total disrespect of our Courts", said Randall Arauz, President of Pretoma. "The foreign owner of Agropecuaria Caletas S.A. has not only ignored the fine, but he is openly challenging the Environmental Tribune's authority, by continuing the destruction of the wetland without any apparent fear of legal reprisals".
In July of 2008, Pretoma filed a lawsuit against Agropecuaria Caletas S.A. and its president Silvester Feichtinger in Environmental Tribunal, because the company´s agricultural development efforts had increased with it zeroing in on butchering the wetland until it can be converted into a corn field.
In August 2008, the company responded by setting fires to better clear the area´s wetland. The flames quickly spread to within one meter of Pretoma's sea turtle conservation camp, putting at risk its 6 volunteers and sea turtle hatchery that protect 130 nests and estimated potential 10,000 turtle hatchlings.
The wetland is seasonal and maintains an aquatic habitat during Costa Rica's rainy season (May - November). Unfortunately, the draining activities performed by Agropecuaria Caletas S.A. have caused the wetland to dry up earlier in the season. According to the Environmental Ministry (MINAET) and the Tempisque Conservation Area (ACT), the wetland hosts unique biodiversity, considered to be a nucleus of enormous importance for the conservation and management of the area's natural resources.