The fight to save Casco Viejo from the Cinta Costera III continued into December, with a few things becoming much more clear, though there is still a lot to be decided and a lot left to fight for.
Where We Are Today
What is clear, and what everyone who has pitched in on this fight should be proud of, is that the worst case scenario, a landfill around Casco Viejo, looks to have been averted. This was the government's first option and without the groups and individuals who came together at critical moments we are quite sure it would have become a reality. The final version is moving ahead quickly and it will be an elevated viaduct just off the coast. It is still about as mediocre as infrastructure gets, but much, much better than the alternative.
UNESCO's technical and advisory bodies issued their annual State of Conservation report taking the government and Odebrecht to task for pushing ahead without considering alternatives and indicating that a delisting at the June 2013 meeting of the World Heritage Committee is a real possibility. While we appreciate UNESCO finally acknowleding that the project is moving forward (six months after it began), we cannot help feeling somewhat betrayed by UNESCO's inability to use its strongest weapon--the voice of its Executive Director--to denouce the project. We wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, requesting that the Security Council itself take up the matter, as we believe that the right of peoples to protect their heritage when their governmetns fail to do so is a fundamental human right and therefore within the Security Council's purvue.
Where We Are Headed
Stopping the completion of the project now looks next to impossible, however, there is still a lot to fight for. Our two primary goals now are to keep the project from creeping back to a landfill (see the jaw dropping newly proposed "Presidential Island" below) and to begin to lay the legal foundation for the eventual removal of the viaduct at some point in the future. Removal is not something we expect to happen for many years, but history has shown that one generation's misconcieved highway is often removed by later generations so preparing the groundwork now is key. At a more philisophical level, we hope that by continuing to push we send a message to future governments that destroying cultural heritage has consequences.
Your donations have been key to keeping us in this struggle and averting the worst case scenario. Being able to have lawyers on call, send messags to the public and be ready with materials for peaceful protests at critical moments made the difference and we are grateful.
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