Puerto Jimenez: a new canton in Costa Rica
Last March, the creation of the new canton of Puerto Jimenez, which was previously a district of the canton of Golfito, was approved in the first debate.
Where Is Puerto Jimenez Located?
To better understand the importance of this declaration, we must first know the geographic location of Puerto Jimenez. It is located on the Osa Peninsula, in the Southern Zone of Costa Rica, surrounded by the Corcovado National Park and the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the Golfo Dulce. The center of Golfito, where the Municipality and many of the essential services are located, is 116 kilometers by road and 18 kilometers by boat, on the other side of the Golfo Dulce. With this as the canton’s capital, the residents had no choice but to make the long journey to access certain offices, leaving them isolated. The municipal seat of the new canton will be located in the town of Puerto Jiménez, bringing the inhabitants closer to their government.
Moreover, the new canton has a population of approximately 11,905 people, according to the last census conducted three years ago by the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).
Most of the people residing in this area joined together due to the lack of municipal support. The needs of the community were not being met. Additionally, the resources generated there could not be reinvested for the benefit of the inhabitants. Teresa Gardela, president of the Chamber of Tourism, states how this became a motivating factor in requesting the declaration of canton status.
Although the new canton does not have 1% of the total population of the country, a requirement for the declaration of cantonate, the exception was made. Under Article 9 of Law No. 4366 on Administrative Territorial Division, this exception is allowed subject to studies conducted by the National Commission on Territorial Division. Puerto Jimenez met the requirements of being a remote and difficult to access community.
The inhabitants of Puerto Jimenez subsist mainly on tourism developed thanks to its natural wealth. Some of the main economic activities are ecotourism, agrotourism, adventure tourism, cattle ranching, agriculture, sport and artisanal fishing, and manufacturing industry. Although the activities are profitable, the inhabitants are aware of the need to invest in the future. Social development and diversification of the economy is the goal of the canton.
The declaration was approved in first debate by the Legislative Assembly on March 24. It counted with 40 votes in favor among the congressmembers present. Puerto Jimenez thus became the 84th canton of Costa Rica and the 13th of Puntarenas. The change to canton was celebrated by the residents of the area and those who promoted the project.
The municipality will take office until 2024, after the municipal elections. However, these two remaining years are not limited to waiting. Teresa Gardela tells how the Pro-Cantonate Commission is in charge of making preparations so that the incoming municipal councilors have all the necessary logistics and resources to start their work in the best possible way.
On This Basis
It is expected that the Puerto Jimenez Chamber of Tourism, the Pro-Cantonate Commission and the Development Association will continue to work together to maintain the organization of the community. That is to say, to structure themselves as best as possible so that the municipality has the best conditions. However, not only these entities were willing to participate in this process. The people did their part to ensure that the best option was to become an independent canton.
The constitution of a canton would mean an improvement. Its remoteness and isolation meant that the municipality was not able to adequately address the various needs and problems within its geographic boundaries. Important problems, such as access to and quality of public services, became prevalent. As a consequence, low human development indexes were being measured, as well as problems of unemployment, insecurity, and educational desertion.
– Puerto Jimenez is now the 84th canton of Costa Rica and the 13th of Puntarenas. It was declared a canton on March 24.
-The remoteness from the center of Golfito makes it difficult to receive support from the municipality and resources are not reinvested in the community.
-The inhabitants subsist mainly on tourism, which is developed thanks to its natural wealth.
-The municipality will come into effect until 2024.
Angie Loveday y Zelda Walters
in collaboration with Teresa Gardela, president of the Puerto Jimenez Chamber of Tourism
for Sensorial Sunsets
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