Friday, September 25, 2020

Tito Kayak Raises Flag over Legislation on Public Beach Permits

By on June 25, 2016

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.

Environmental activist Alberto de Jesus, center, better known as "Tito Kayak", is taken into police custody in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2007, after turning himself in. De Jesus, who eluded police on Tuesday night when he descended from a crane after a weeklong protest, appeared unannounced at a news conference in which activists denounced that the luxury villa project is endangering the environment and blocking access to a historic fort in need of renovation. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

Alberto de Jesús, center, is taken into police custody in San Juan, Nov. 14, 2007, after turning himself in. De Jesús, who eluded police when he descended from a crane after a weeklong protest, appeared unannounced at a news conference in which activists denounced that a luxury project is endangering the environment and blocking access to a historic fort in need of renovation. (AP Photo/Andres Leighton)

“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.

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