Skip to Content

Icacos Dock Dispute Rekindles

By: David Real | Real Acapulco News - 11 December, 2010

(Acapulco, NA 11 December) Local citizens, businesses and beach concessionaires are up in arms again over the threat of putting a private yacht marina at Icacos on the East side of Acapulco’s bay. A citizen’s group called FOMI (Front in Opposition to the Icacos Pier) has announced round-the-clock vigils and picketing at the point where the pier is to be located. This is in Costa Azul at the Plaza Polonia, where the street that runs from the Costera at Papa Bill’s and Starbucks ends at the beach. FOMI plans to operate “aquatic picketing” as well, meaning that all beach visitors will be informed of the dispute.

Jar Estates, a private company that constructs and operates docks and piers, has applied again to construct a private yacht pier at Icacos Beach. In February of 2008 the company obtained local approvals to build a pier into Acapulco’s bay at Icacos Beach, about 200 meters to the west of the Naval Base. Construction was commenced with the arrival of a floating platform and tug that would drive the piles for the pier. Virtually everyone opposed the project, from tourists, to locals, environmentalists, and beachside businesses. Jar Estates, which had also built an extension to the Yacht Club Marina on the west side of the bay, was well-connected with Acapulco’s governing elites, so that local approvals came swiftly. The snag was that the bay, like all of Mexico’s beaches, belongs to the Mexican people, according to the Constitution. Thus, it cannot be privatized. The federal government exercises control over the coastline, through various departments, including the navy. Private concessions on federal land are permissible, if they are in the public interest.

It turned out that Jar Estates and their allies within the local government overlooked the requisite environmental approvals prior to commencement of work. When local citizens loudly denounced the project, the construction was halted for lack of an environmental impact statement and other clearances. The platform and a few solitary pipes sticking out of the water remained at the work site for almost a year before being taken away.

The need for a pier at Icacos is related to the large number of wealthy people who have condominiums on the east side of the bay. They are frustrated because there are just no good places to moor a yacht nearby. Currently yacht owners must use the facility in Puerto Marqués or at the Acapulco Yacht Club, and then travel overland to their residences. Jar Estates wants to build and operate a pier at Icacos to meet this pressing need for yacht mooring, obviously in hopes of reaping the economic rewards that come from saving the wealthy from inconvenience.

The detractors of the project are afraid that the yacht traffic will prove dangerous to the swimmers along the beach at Icacos. They also allege that the pollution caused by motorized pleasure vessels (exhaust, petroleum slicks and garbage) will chase the day tourists away from the beaches out front. Opponents argue that the many people who come to the beach just for the beautiful view of the bay and the sunset will be required to find some other spot. If the swimmers and other beach visitors leave, then the restaurants, bars and other concessions along that portion of Icacos beach will perish. Hotel guests will diminish for those hotels affected by the presence of the pier.

Thus the battle lines are drawn: Jar Estates, representing the interest of certain elites, and FOMI, representing the environment, the beach vacationer and the small beach-based business. FOMI won round one, but the match continues. In Mexico, as elsewhere, the rich and politically influential seldom lose a struggle with the little guys. In the words of Rubén Vázquez Fragoso, president of “Green Guerrero,” an environmental group, “the situation in our country has two faces; on one side, in Cancún President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa called on participating countries to take action; while inside Mexico things are done to hurt nature … The government never takes the civil society into account when we could be working together … When a mercenary government acts this way it will face opposition from the citizens. We cannot just stand there with our arms crossed.”

The construction company has made criminal complaints against seven members of FOMI, which the organization regards as expected, heavy-handed measures. “The only wrong we have committed is to defend a public resource, our bay,” Mr. Vásquez said. A public demonstration is planned on the Costera for December 15 if the government fails to take action to stop the construction again.

Real Acapulco Newsletter