A group of villagers from Engabao, a town in the Playas district, faces a complaint about the destruction of private property by representatives of the Vimare company, in a new chapter of the old land conflict involving actors from both sides.
The prosecutor of the case would have asked the judge to formulate charges and that would be resolved in a hearing on May 22.
Xavier Valverde, legal representative of the comuneros, believes that the issuance of arrest warrants is likely. And this, after the precautionary measures requested by the company of businessman Álvaro Noboa were also granted. “Today Vimare cannot be evicted from the territory of the Engabao commune,” he explains.
Engabao and Vimare have litigated for 20 years for the ownership of land in the tourist port of Engabao.
And in the face of complaints about alleged lack of due process for alleged irregular actions by judges and other authorities, the National Anticorruption Commission held a working group in Engabao on Tuesday, January 19. There, villagers and their lawyer alleged cases of violation of rights.
The villagers defend the communal property of ancestral lands and directors of Vimare indicate that they have legitimate titles for the purchase of two haciendas, Merceditas 1 and 2. In the latter, their spokesmen have indicated that these properties would have 174.8 and 228 hectares.
The dispute has led to violent episodes. On March 4, 2015, reacting to what they called an invasion, villagers burned seven houses of cane, knocked down part of a block fence and expelled private guards and day laborers. Weeks later, one of several arrest warrants was executed, a native was arrested and spent months in prison.
Carlos Mora, provincial delegate of the Commission, says that the analyzed cases determined strong evidence. “The way judges and prosecutors act has apparently been very biased to say it in a good way,” he says, adding that the agency will monitor the judicial processes in which the community is immersed.
In institutional pronouncement, the entity cites: “This town of peaceful and working inhabitants, for several years has suffered a real nightmare” and alludes that using economic power and political and social influences is intended the dispossession of land.
In November 2016, Engabao obtained an administrative ruling from the Ministry of Agriculture that established ownership of the disputed lands.
Then, says Valverde, the Criminal Chamber of the Provincial Court of Guayas ordered the ruling of the Playas Property Registrar to cancel the property titles of the Vimare company and then the Constitutional Court denied that company an extraordinary protective action.
Today, upon granting precautionary measures, the cancellation of titles was revoked. “It is unheard of that a judge of first level by means of an autonomous prudential measure suspends the effects of a constitutional sentence that is executed”, rejects Valverde.
The affected ones presented / displayed a complaint before the Council of the Judicature demanding the dismissal of the judge, and appealed the resolution. The hearing of this instance will be on Wednesday, April 3, in Playas.
This newspaper searched for the version of a Vimare manager. In the company they provided an electronic address to which an interview request was sent. Until Wednesday there was no response.
In his Facebook account, Alvaro Noboa, in a video, reported last January that criminals, corrupt and drug traffickers would be using villagers to evict legal owners from his lands. He said he was going to fight them within the framework of the law. “It is not land in conflict, for this land we have paid taxes for 40 years,” he said. He added that there were still “authorities who have been silenced.”
The businessman Álvaro Noboa, in publications on social networks, has indicated that in the Engabao area, which is in conflict, they have raised cattle. He has also indicated that he intends to develop tourism and industrial projects. (I)