Tito Kayak Raises Flag over Legislation on Public Beach Permits
SAN JUAN – Environmentalist activist Alberto de Jesús Mercado, better known as “Tito Kayak,” climbed a pole in front of the Puerto Rico Capitol to hoist a flag in protest of the privatization of beaches.
“Beaches belong to the people,” the flag he was trying to put up reads.
The protest came about following reports that the Senate was about to approve House legislation that would allow the Department of Natural and Environmental Resource (DNER) to issue permits allowing the privatization of beaches.
Fire Department officials left after trying to aid De Jesús Mercado, who yelled he was stuck while climbing the pole, but declined help.
He was protesting House Bill 2853, which was introduced by Reps. Ángel Matos and Antonio Soto, and approved on June 13 by the lower chamber. It would allow the DNER secretary to grant franchises and permits of up to 30 years for hotels and others to privatize beaches. The Puerto Rico Constitution states that beaches are public. Saturday was the last day to pass the bill, but the legislation has to yet obtain Senate approval.