The end for Cho Vito

Update 16 November 2012: The remaining residents of Cho Vito knew this was coming yesterday or today, and had set up their last stand, on hunger strike, but the “firme” judgement of the Courts is unstoppable, as were the 30 or so Guardia Civil and National Police officers who descended on the little settlement at first light this morning. In their wake came the bulldozer.

Update 3 December 2010: Despite the deadline set for the remaining residents in Cho Vito to vacate their properties, the beginning of December saw them still in place, and a new deadline of 30 April set for the demolition. In an attempt to find some, indeed any, solution to the problem, the Canarian Government’s environment minister, Domingo Berriel, met the national Government’s environment minister, Rosa Aguilar, yesterday in Madrid, and agreed that that the director general de Costas himself, Pedro Antonio Ríos, will come to Tenerife in the near future to seek a “reasonable and decent” solution to the eviction of the nine families who are still in Cho Vito.  PV

Sr Berriel reported that Sra Aguilar was “very receptive and sensitive” to the problem of these nine families who have nowhere else to live, and stressed that there must be a “social solution” to the problem before continuing with any demolitions. He called on the residents themselves to collaborate in finding such a resolution. The bottom line, however, is that the demolitions will go ahead, and the set date is 30 April 2011.

Update 22 October: It really looks like it’s going to happen this time, since the residents have been told by Costas to go to Las Caletillas at 11am on the 11th of November to receive their compensation for the compulsory purchases. They must then ensure that properties are empty and unoccupied by the stated date of demolition. This is all also formally published in the BOP (Boletín Oficial de la Provincia). PV

Update 5 October: The remaining Cho Vito residents have received new letters from Costas informing them that the demolitions of their houses will resume on 1 December. The residents are hoping against hope for a new postponement, but fear the worst. PV

Update 12 Sept: The remaining residents of Cho Vito have abandoned their 11-day hunger strike after the agreement reached in Madrid to extend the demolition order to 30 November. Although the extension is officially to allow time for arbitration to resolve the social problem of housing those affected, the residents say that they have gained 70 days to seek new means of saving their homes. They confirmed that they would resume their hunger strike if negotiations fail to stave off the demolitions. RTVC

Update 11 Sept: The Environment Ministry and the Canarian administrations have agreed to extend the demolition order for the remaining Cho Vito residents from 20 September to 30 November to allow time for arbitration to resolve the social problem of housing those affected.

The decision comes after a meeting between the General Council for Coastal Sustainability, the Canarian Government’s Environmental Dept, the president of the Tenerife Cabildo Ricardo Melchior, amongst others. Not included, however, were the residents of Cho Vito themselves, who are still on hunger strike, and who are unlikely to welcome what is no more than a delay to the demolition of their homes. C24H

Update 8 Sept: Two of the hunger strikers fighting to save their Cho Vito homes were taken to hospital last night. Elba González and Montserrat Mejías were transferred by ambulance after fainting. It was the second time for Sra Mejías, who needed hospital treatment for cramps and low blood pressure on 3 September. The hunger strikers are now into the second week of their protest in Plaza de la Candelaria in Santa Cruz.

They intend to hold a press conference later today about the forthcoming “Mixed Commission” to be held in Madrid about the proposed demolitions. The Candelaria mayor, Gumersindo García, has said he will only attend if they call off the hunger strike, though PP senator and Cabildo member Antonio Alarcó has criticized the mayor, saying it will not help the residents if he does not attend the Commission. He too, however, called on the hunger strikers not to damage their health by continuing to protest in this way. DA

Original post 4 Sept: A couple of years ago, 23 properties were demolished in Cho Vito by order of Costas, and now the remaining residents have been on hunger strike for the past three days to try to avoid the demolition of their own houses, announced for 20 September. These properties were saved from the 2008 demolition because they were the “sole dwellings” of the residents concerned. The residents, who have taken up position in Plaza de Candelaria in Santa Cruz, have said they will only abandon their hunger strike if they get a letter signed by the four competent authorities guaranteeing their houses are safe from demolition.

A spokesman for the residents denounced the “grave irregularities of the whole demolition process from the outset”, and said that they considered the application of the Ley de Costas to be “arbitrary, retroactive, unjust, unbalanced, and capricious”. “We are human beings, not terrorists”, said Sr González, “and have the right to a dignified home and to be supported by the authorities”. They have, however, no confidence in these authorities, and recognize that their decision to go on hunger strike is going to be very hard.

So hard, in fact, that around 9pm last evening, one of the hunger strikers, Montserrat Mejías, was taken to hospital after suffering cramps and low blood pressure after three days without food. For the moment, her five fellow hunger strikers are continuing with their protest. Meanwhile, the ruling Socialist party in Candelaria Ayuntamiento has rejected a proposal by Nationalists and Conservatives to provide legal assistance to the families who are fighting the demolition of the nine remaining homes in Cho Vito. C24H, LO

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