Friday, January 17, 2014

Tenacatita Bay and community - what was then and what is now

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - I went back to Tenacatita about a week ago, my second visit since the land was stolen in August 2010 by Jose Villalobos and goons hired by his company, Rodenas.

Photos tell the story best of what was then, and what is now:
Tenacatita Beach before the illegal seizure

Tenacatita Bay beach, January 2014

There are no services there - not even a bathroom or fresh water. The guards, of course, have both, though they seemed unlikely to share.

Along the road leading into the beach, several rather nasty looking, heavily armed guards patrol the road, ensuring that no one wanders off to look at the properties on the Pacific Ocean beach. It's there most of the gringos owned property. Some built houses, all improved the land.

What few gringo houses remain (the ones Villalobos didn't bulldoze in a fit of pique) are vacant with nature slowly reclaiming them.

As part of the trip, I had a brief conversation with one of big chiefs of the ejido who said the major court case has been settled - in Villalobos favor, of course.

He will be keeping the 42 hectares he claimed all along, but the balance of the land he seized (maybe another 42 or more hectares) is likely to be returned to the people. The people, in this case, are members of the ejido. Exactly where gringos who lost their land fit in to this scenario is unclear at best. Perhaps they will have to buy it again.

So although the beach is reopened - and subject to close surveillance - the ownership of the land is still in question. There is no conversation at all about reopening any restaurants or restoring services on the public beach.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Two sets of guards at Tenacatita now - Villalobos' and state of Jalisco

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - There are two sets of guards now at Tenacatita Beach, those in the employe of wealthy Guadalajara developer Jose Villalobos who seized the beach and surrounding land by force in August 2010 - and those in the employe of the state of Jalisco.

Checkpoint Charlie being torn down
The Villalobos people are the same ones who kept the public out at gunpoint for nearly three years until the beach was reopened June 2. The guard shack - nicknamed Checkpoint Charlie by some gringos - was pulled down.

Until it was removed, anyone wanting to go to the beach had to stop, answer often-rudely asked questions and frequently had their cars searched by the guards. None of the Checkpoint Charlie guards spent much time at charm school, most visitors reported.

And if you were one of the people who owned land taken in the seizure, the guards would not let you in.

The Jalisco state police at Tenacatita are there now to help keep the peace. Tensions are still high as the eviction in August 2010 forcibly removed people from their homes and places of businesses. Most of the structures were destroyed by Villalobos' bulldozers and workers in the interim.

A number of court cases against Villalobos and his company (Rodenas) are still winding their way through the labrynith of the Mexico judicial system. There are claims against him for the illegal seizure as well as the damage and destruction.

But for now it appears no restaurants or other facilities will be allowed in the Federal Zone. The beach is open for day use only, no camping.

The beach road is closed to traffic.

The head of Villalobos guards, warning people off land Villalobos claims is his (Photo by John Jankovsky)

A Jalisco state police officer there to keep the peace (Photo by John Jankovsky)          

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Tenacatita Bay Beach gate is gone, but Rodenas guards remain

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - The Tenacatita Bay Beach - once the site of restaurants, shops and various commercial concessions is now open to the public after nearly three years of being closed off.

August 2010 eviction of Tenacatita residents
But the dispute over the properties seized in an armed takeover August 4, 2010 remains. In that morning surprise attack, nearly 800 Mexican citizens and handful of gringos were rousted from homes by police and forced to leave at gunpoint.

Visitors to the beach report that a contingent of heavily armed guards are patrolling the area behind the beach and other adjacent areas where wealthy developer Guadalajara Jose Villalobos claims ownership.

The tearing down of the guard shack and reopening of the public highway to the beach was a cause for great celebration June 2, drawing hundreds of people.


But as jubilant as the crowds were, it's only a first step towards regaining what was once one of the most popular tourist destinations along the Costalegre. The public access is limited to the Federal Zone beach area.

And for now there are no announced plans for rebuilding any restaurants or recreating any of the infrastructure that was destroyed by Villalobos.

Villalobos maintains that he is the legal owner of all the properties his security forced seized in 2010. Some of the property owners are still fighting in court to regain their lands.
Tenacatita Bay Beach in its glory days - before the August 2010 seizure

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Gates down, beach access reportedly restored at Tenacatita

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - The message board in La Manzanilla is reporting that the Checkpoint Charlie bottleneck that kept the public from the Tenacatita Beach has been removed.

Here is the link to the La Manzanilla Board: La Manz Board - Tenacatita Fence is Down

Reports say this gate and the thug guards have been removed
 The land was seized by the Rodenas Corporation (and its politically well-connected owner Jose Villalobos of Guadalajara) in a  violent takeover August 4, 2010.

In the surprise attack and armed takeover, nearly 800 Mexican citizens - and few gringos - were rousted from homes by 200 police and forced to leave at gunpoint.

Their possessions were seized, stores looted. A few household items were returned later.

A number of unarmed people were hurt in the assault, though none of the armed men who assaulted the property owners were arrested or convicted.

What the opening of the beach means for people whose property was seized has yet to be determined.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tenacatita Beach and the loss of a Mexican community

TENACATITA, Jalisco, Mexico - The very dateline on this story raises a question. Is there even a village called Tenacatita anymore?

The nearby village of Rebalsito survived the armed onslaught that swallowed Tenacatita Beach nearly three years ago. But what of the actual community, named for the bay and residing on the tiny slip of land now occupied by armed invaders hired by the Rodenas Corporation?

Welcome to the Tenacatita Beach "access"
Rereading posts of the Tenacatita Bay Bugle in the months leading up to the seizure by the forces paid by Jose Villalobos of Guadalajara, you can see there is optimism for a Tenacatita that would have most likely continued on its prosperous course.

The restaurants and commercial activity had never been as evident or growing as fast. There was lots of new paint, new buildings, small markets, new plantings of trees and lots and lots of tourists.

And then poof, thanks to greed, power and a lot of guns, Tenacatita (the village, the community) disappeared almost overnight.

There is continued talk that the Mexican judicial system will eventually oust Villalobos and the aggressive armed guards who keep Mexicans and gringos alike from having anything remotely resembling normal free access to the public beach and land that once held a community.


But in the meantime, the question remains: Is there still a Tenacatita community or did Villalobos manage to destroy it along with all the businesses and homes his bulldozers turned to rubble?

Happy times, before Tenacatita Beach was seized by a Guadalajara developer