Wednesday, April 08, 2009

In Bocas del Toro - Mistaken land identity hell

Mistaken land identity hell
A couple has bought their land with title, but they still do not have any protection when somebody apparently has the wrong land title

Panama Star PANAMA. Lands disputes between foreigners and Panamanians are becoming quite common, mainly because properties, especially in beauty spots in the provinces of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, have increased their value dramatically.
This time a powerful Panamanian family, the Eleta are trying to take part of the land belonging to an English - New Zealand couple.
In letters sent to the Panama Star by Dr Ricardo Rangel and Linda and David Gillingham, they complained that on three occasions the Circuit Judge of Bocas del Toro, Manuel Garcia has tried to enter their farm, located in Isla Colon, with the purpose of measuring their plot and separating the Eleta’s from theirs, although according to the public records it is nowhere near it.
The story began 10 years ago when the Gillinghams bought their land, which was properly titled at the Public Registry. They built a house, a botanical garden and a nursery.
Everything was fine until January 2009, when the Circuit Judge demanded access to their property, to measure and separate a plot from it, although he did not have a warrant.
The letter said that according to the file, Compañia Faustina S.A., which belongs to the Grupo Eleta, represented by the firm Morgan y Morgan, requested an order of separation of the land of the plot 3499, of which incidentally Eleta does not have possession.
Faustina’s the land registration title indicates that the plot was separated from land belonging to Minerva Blacaneaux Quintero and her farm surrounds it.
Blancaneaux’s lawyers asked the judge to stop the process on the grounds that it is impossible to establish boundaries if Faustina did own the land, but he refused to throw out the case.
Surveyors from Faustina and Blancaneaux determined that the land that Faustina wanted to separate was inside the Gillingham’s property, exactly where their house, botanical garden and nursery is and miles away from where the Blancaneaux land is located.
The Gillinghams said that Judge Garcia is planning to enter their property again on March 27, accompanied by the Blancaneaux and Faustina representative, although they have clearly demonstrated that they have possession of the land.
The couple feel that they have been harassed and have invited neighbors, public in general and the media to go to their botanical garden on March 27 at 9:00 to witness the proceedings.

The Eleta Group is formed by the powerful Eleta family with commercial interests in media, insurance, animal feed, racehorse breeding, and environmental protection to mention a few.
The group has property all over the country, but especially in the provinces of Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro.
The Eletas are part owners of the television radio network Medcom as well as Cable Onda.
For many decades the powerful Eleta family has exercised a great deal of influence in the country, developing prosperous companies and opening the first television station of the country.
The family is part of the wealthy Panamanian aristocracy and their members are involved in the arts and charitable organizations, but they keep their affairs out of the public eye and prefer to remain anonymous most of the time while directing their empire.

The Gillinghams bought their land ten years ago, properly registered, but still that did not protect them against another company’s claim.
The boundaries of Faustina S.A. appear to be wrong, but nobody seems to have noticed that.
On the March 27 the matter will be solved one way or another

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