UPDATED: Since our announcement of the mass eviction of property owners in Tulum, Mexico, on Friday, new information regarding the evictions, hotels affected, and legal responses have surfaced, including a peaceful march of more than 2,000 participants in the streets of Tulum on Sunday.
There’s real estate trouble in paradise, it seems. On Friday, more than a dozen resort and vacation properties were seized in Tulum, Mexico, during a government dispute.
The series of evictions of 16 hotels, restaurants, shops, and private residences along the beach has cropped up several accusations of unfair dispossession on the part of the Mexican government. But that hasn’t stopped the seizure from continuing to effect thousands of hoteliers, workers, vacationers, and property owners from feeling the pressure of losing access to the white sand beaches, Mayan ruins, and blue waters of Tulum.
According to reports from Riviera Maya News, at the time the eviction took place, hotels in the affected area (a 1.2-mile stretch of beach in the region of Punta Piedra in the town of Tulum) had an estimated 60 percent occupancy rate. Three hundred tourists were evacuated from the area, including guests of Coqui Coqui*, the region’s most popular and swanky hotel and spa. Instagram posts of the hotel show it currently in a state of disarray.
Actuaries from the Civil Court of Playa del Carmen, along with municipal police and private security guards, executed the eviction order. Police and guards reportedly used pepper spray on those who resisted the eviction. Additionally, a physical fight was reported to have broken out between a family member of landowners and authorities.
Moving trucks were reportedly seen leaving the area filled with furniture, mattresses, blankets, carpets, paintings, and lamps from the rooms of hotels. Additionally, tables, chairs, tablecloths, dishes, and decor were taken from the restaurants and left along the roadside.
"It's essentially a war for the land," Sophia Perlstein of Tulum's KM33 boutique, says in a report from Town and Country.
According to the government and reports from Mexico News Daily, the evictions are a result of property owners alleged “breach of an oral lease contract between business owners and the municipality,” and a failure to pay rent. However, land owners and business operators don’t agree, and state that the evictions are due to the government’s strong interest in profiting from the Tulum tourism sector.
Owners of the land have asked for President Enrique Peña Nieto to intervene and stop what they also call a dispossession, but there has not been a response to date. Additionally, many land and property owners peacefully left their property with their belongings, choosing to take action in court.
But until an agreement can be reached between the government, developers, and entrepreneurs, the idyllic vacation spot is currently a ghost town on the beach. In efforts to bring attention to negotiations, nearly 2,000 residents marched in Tulum Sunday in a call for peace.
The list of those affected by the eviction include: Cabañas Balam, Utopia Yoga Retreats, Adama Boutique, Iguana Blue Hotel, Maya Luum Coffee Shop, KM 33 Boutique, Hotel Parayso, Coqui Coqui Boutique Hotel, Casas Privadas Cocodrilo, La Tente Rose, Hotel Azucar, Casa Gemenis, Samasati, Naay Beach Club, Uno Astrolodge, Villa Las Estrellas, Playa Morena del Mar, and at least two private properties and a vacant lot.
*In initial reports, a misprint stated incorrectly that 300 tourists were vacated from Coqui Coqui.