Sunday 2 October 2022

Standing Against Demolition

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01 October 2022 - At The Banks - BCCR

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QCOSTARICA – Despite all the buildings around it demolished for being “dilapidated and unsafe”, one tiny store still stands at the corner of a 1,000 square metre empty lot.

This is the story of Carlos Aguilera, whose sign his little shop “never give up” reinforces his philosophy, as the only tenant who has avoided demolition of his two square metres shop that earns him a living.

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The demolition around him was due to an order by the Ministry of Health. The institution did an inspection of the more than 100 years old wood structures. “They were dilapidated and unsafe”, says the director of the South Central region, Guillermo Flores Galindo.

The eviction order was effective on December 24 (2014).  The buildings went down. Claudia Carro,  representingn Carro S.A., the company that owns the land, said some of the tenants received assistance from the Instituto Mixto de Ayuda Social (IMAS), the organization that provides rental subsidies to needy people, and operates the duty free shops at the international airports.

But the Panama Shoe shack continues to stand.

Don Carlos says he is doing everything to keep alive the legacy of his father, who opened the business five decades back, and his grandfather, who thaught him the shoemaker trade.

With the advice of counsel, Don Carlos filed an injunction for protection of possession before the Juzgado Segundo Civil de Mayor Cuantía de San José,  and an appeal to the Constitutional Court against the Ministry of Health order.

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Galindo said that while the legal process continues, Health will not take any action, so for now Don Carlos can continue to operate his business.

However, to ensure that his business continues to stand while he continues via the legal system, Don Carlos has had to stand guard at his shoe store, day and night, to prevent theft or demolition of the premises.

The shoemaker, true to his philosophy, said he won’t back down, and will continue to make shoes and boots until justice is delivered.

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For now, Zapateria Panama, overshadowed by Costa Rica’s tallest buildings, is an image of the old refusing extinction in the urban jungle.

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