Summary of Tenacatita Violence

Tina’s earlier post made me realize that many mextrippers are still in the dark about the situation at Tenacatita. Here is a summary that we wrote last year.

Our camp. Tenacatita 2009.

by Churpa Rosa and Tina Rosa

Tenacatita is a small fishing community on the coast of Jalisco, Mexico.  Since the 1940s, access to Tenacatita beach has been controlled by the adjacent ejido, a land cooperative established by the Mexican government in accordance with the land reform laws that were the direct result of the revolution of 1910.

photo by Churpa Rosa

Fishing with Miguel

Many beaches on the coast of Jalisco are now occupied by private resorts or dominated by hotels that claim beachfront access for their patrons. But in the ejido’s hands, Tenacatita has always been open to the public. The beach is a favorite spot for families from nearby towns, who arrived in droves on Sundays and holidays. For fifty years the beach has drawn foreign tourists who are loyal to Tenacatita because it offers a taste of the real Mexico.

Here at last!

Tenacatita had several affordable hotels and trailer parks and about 40 palapa restaurants that served fish caught in the sparkling waters of Tenacatita Bay. The beach supported about 800 people, who worked for family-owned businesses such as restaurants, hotels, small stores, and tourist boats. Most of the restaurant owners and fishermen have lived and worked in the region for their entire lives.

In 1993, a development group called the Rodenas Corporation began making claims on the beach.  Rodenas enlisted the help of the state police, who burned the palapas and razed all buildings.  This was the first of four attempts to privatize the beach. When Rodenas attempted to occupy the beach with mobile homes inhabited by armed guards, local residents towed the trailers back to the highway with the guards inside.  They also got a stop order from the government, which put a halt to the police action.

In 2006, state police again attempted to seize the beach on behalf of the Rodenas corporation. In response, the citizens of the nearby village of Rebalsito came out in mass. Women and children formed a human barrier across the road, standing their ground against riot police armed with machine guns. The ejido again fought the case in the courts, and again the people of Tenacatita were able to return to the beach and rebuild their homes and businesses, at great cost.

But on August 4, 2010, a force of 200 state police, assisted by civilian employees of the Rodenas corporation, forcibly evicted the people of Tenacatita. Three local men were hospitalized as a result of police violence, and many more were wounded.  The police arrested 27 people—prisoners were beaten and brutalized. Furniture and other valuables were stolen and destroyed. The cops took money out of the hotel tills, drank up restaurant liquor and gorged themselves on shrimp and seafood, despoiling freezers full of food stored in preparation for holidays.

The Rodenas Corporation currently has control of the entire beach, an area many times the size of their forty-two hectar claim. The public road to the beach is blocked. Due to a court order, the armed guards at the gate must now let tourists enter, but there is no camping, no restaurants, and no amenities; tourists are watched by armed guards, and many local people have been refused entrance altogether. For recent news on the situation read Tina Rosa’s latest post.

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  1. […] is adjacent to El Tamarindo, an extremely exclusive luxury resort that shares the same bay with Tenacatita. Destruction at Tenacatita. Photo from […]

  2. […] of Tenacatita! Two years and nine months ago one of the most popular public beaches in Mexico was violently seized by a developer, the Rodenas group. Armed guards destroyed the beach’s thatched seafood […]