Tuesday, December 6

What is happening in Puertito de Adeje, in ten steps

The Port of Adejea small coastal hamlet located in the south of Tenerife, famous for its blonde-sand beach and because it is one of the few places on the island where bathers can come across loggerhead sea turtles, has become in recent months the epicenter of the island’s environmental struggle. The beginning of the works last May of the luxury tourism macroproject Cradle of the Soul lit the fuse of the protests against this and other constructions considered by the island society as developmentalists, predators of the territory and belonging to an economic model based on mass tourism that generates precarious jobs and social inequality.

The Canarian Government orders the precautionary stoppage of the works of the Cuna del Alma project, in Puertito de Adeje

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The rejection of this “nonsense” or “barbarity”, as Podemos Canarias and Nueva Canarias have described it, which intends to urbanize more than 430,000 square meters next to two protected areas, has not been able to stop its progress. But the complaints filed by the environmental groups that lead the protests against the project have succeeded. The first stoppage order came in June for having destroyed an archaeological site; the second, this Thursday, due to “imminent environmental damage” as the presence of a protected plant that did not appear included in the environmental report presented by the promoters was confirmed.

This is the story of the environmental struggle against Cuna del Alma, summarized in ten points:

1. Laying the foundation stone

Last May, the start of work on Cuna del Alma was staged (because in reality the works had already begun months ago). The event was attended not only by the promoters (two Belgian investment families, Vandermarliere and Van Biervliet), but also by public representatives and businessmen: the mayor of Adeje (municipality in which the complex will be located), José Miguel Rodríguez Fraga; the vice president of the Cabildo de Tenerife, Berta Pérez; investors Sofie Vandermarliere, from the investment management holding company GT & Co, and David Van Biervliet, representing Fivanco; the real estate developer co-CEO Filip Hoste, and the technical director co-CEO Andrés Muñoz; and Remo Masala, creative director. In the publicity of the complex it is highlighted that 420 luxury villas will be built that are already for sale, hotels and other infrastructures, such as restaurants, swimming pools, a jetty and an orchard. All this with a marked character sustainableinsists the website of the project.

2.First mobilization. A few days after learning of the official start of the works, the groups Salvar La Tejita, ATAN, the Telesforo Bravo-Juan Coello Foundation and the Forum Against Incineration called a citizen assembly in Puertito de Adeje. At the meeting, held next to the small beach under the gaze of bathers, some points considered dark by the organizers of the meeting, such as the difficulty they were encountering when accessing public information regarding permits and other project documentation. In addition, the act was going to mean a sample “of the refusal of the Tenerife population to carry out this work with which they intend to continue depredating until the last centimeter of soil in the south.” The seed of the protests was already planted. The appointment was a success, since nearly half a thousand people attended, and this despite the remoteness of the place, more than 80 kilometers from the island’s metropolitan area. Shortly after, the Salvar el Puertito Platform was born.

3. First complaint. The same day as the citizen assembly, Sixto Domingo García, an archeology enthusiast who had attended the meeting, decided to walk the cliffs that surround the beach once the protest was over. Accompanied by his inseparable little goat, he entered the ravine and, without further ado, came across some stone carvings and what seemed to be the remains of an aboriginal site. The Tegüico Heritage Association, chaired by him, wrote a brief report on the finding, and with it he filed what would be the first complaint against the project before the Cabildo de Tenerife, which forced this institution to carry out several inspections in the area.

4. The first stoppage order arrives. Tegüico’s complaint made the Cabildo intervene and its Heritage technicians confirmed that archaeological remains had been destroyed. In an extensive report that they prepared and to which this newspaper had access, all the archaeological finds in the area were exposed and how the works had affected them. One of the sites, the most important because it was the remains of a cabin, had been partially destroyed in an “irreversible” way. The Cabildo then issued the order to stop the works in the area of ​​the site, an order that affects only 2% of the land of Cuna del Alma, while in the remaining 98% the work could continue. Considering a “serious” damage, the Cabildo sent its report to the General Directorate of Heritage of the Government of the Canary Islands so that it could take the appropriate measures.

5. Negative reports. The Cuna del Alma project had been in the making for several years. The report prepared by the Cabildo after Tegüico’s complaint, which we will call Report A, highlighted that the Historical Heritage Administrative Service recorded two documents relating to possible remains in that area. These papers were part of the processing of the respective Environmental Impact Reports of the project in 2014 and 2017, and both had a negative result. In the first case, because “the mandatory archaeological survey has not been carried out” and there had not been “a duly authorized archaeologist to carry it out”. In addition, “the existence of architectural or ethnographic elements (…) that could be susceptible to protection” had not been assessed either. It was then urged (in 2014) to incorporate a heritage assessment duly carried out by archaeologists. Three years later, in 2017, Cuna del Alma tried again to obtain a favorable result for the Environmental Impact Report. Report A relates that in that document the company included a written response to what was stated in 2014 in which it stated that the recommended archaeological prospecting had already been carried out and that it had been done “with qualified personnel”. In that supposed prospecting, the text said, “no evidence of lithic, ceramic or malacological material, nor archaeological deposits or paintings was found.” But the report was negative again, for two reasons. The first, because it considered false that this prospecting had been carried out, much less by qualified personnel. And secondly, because if the prospecting had been carried out, a request for permission to carry it out had to be recorded, which did not exist, according to Report A.

6. Camping. While the technicians of the Cabildo passed their conclusions to the Government of the Canary Islands, a group of people opposed to the project and complainants of the possible irregularities and damage caused by the works chained themselves to one of the mechanical shovels. In the place they installed tents and the so-called Acampada contra Cuna del Alma began, which tries to ensure compliance with the law regarding the protection of possible archaeological remains and the protected fauna and flora that inhabit the area.

7. Property sanction. The General Directorate of Heritage of the Government of the Canary Islands received and analyzed Report A. To verify the above, it carried out its own inspections of the construction site and verified that a site had been destroyed in a “very serious” manner. For this reason, it opened a sanctioning file against the company, Segunda Casas Adeje SL, with a fine of 600,000 euros. The company appealed the file. If it is finally sanctioned, it will also have to repair the damage caused by the works carried out on archaeological sites. That is, defray the cost of the actions that must be carried out.

8. Complaint for assault. After several months with the bulldozer inoperative, workers from the company that carried out the works and security personnel (as indicated by the company) went at dawn on September 26 to the protest camp against Cuna del Alma. By force, they released the shovel and allegedly attacked the environmentalists concentrated there, according to what they reported in different videos shared on social networks. After this incident, the campers went to the company’s offices located in the works themselves. There was an altercation in which some of the young people entered the offices and, as could be seen in a video published by the activists themselves, the director of the project, Andrés Muñoz, grabbed and threw one of the young women to the ground. . This ended in a complaint against him for assault. Meanwhile, another young man was detained by the Civil Guard, although he was released hours later.

9. Mass demonstrations. Since the magnitude of the project came to light, two demonstrations have been held in the island’s capital. Both have had the support of numerous social, neighborhood and environmental groups, as well as parties such as Sí Podemos and Nueva Canarias. Thousands of people walked the streets of Santa Cruz de Tenerife in June and also in October to ask for the works to be stopped and for a less destructive development model to be adopted. “The Canary Islands are not for sale, they love and defend themselves” was one of the mottos chanted by the attendees. In addition, signatures have also been collected and an act has been held this week called Culture against Cement, in which more than 200 personalities from the world of culture have positioned themselves against Cuna del Alma.

10.Second stay order. One of the repeated complaints from those camped on the construction sites insisted that protected plant species were being destroyed, even “kicked”. Said species, up to seven, did not appear, in addition, collected in the environmental report of the project. Again it was a complaint, this time filed by the Salvar La Tejita Platform, which led the Ministry of Ecological Transition to carry out an intervention. This same Thursday, the Government of the Canary Islands issued the second precautionary stoppage order for the project due to the ”imminent threat of environmental damage” posed by the work on protected wild flora. Specifically, the existence of a population of sad viborina (sad echium), a species of flora that has the category of special protection within the Canarian Catalog of Protected Species.

In less than a year, this is the balance of the Cuna del Alma project in one of the last places without massification in the south of Tenerife: two stoppage orders, a proposal for a sanction for a very serious infraction, two negative reports and a complaint for aggression.


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