It is 85 kilometers -or 52 nautical miles- but it is a department of La Plata. Martín García Island, a natural paradise surrounded by water and inhabited by 123 families, became the focus of controversy and strong neighborhood tension last week. It was after three islanders denounced the Provincial Directorate of the Islands for evicting them and went to fight the courts.
These are three figures that have inhabited the natural reserve and historical heritage for between 32 and 40 30 years. Fernando Sánchez, owner of the legendary “Rocío” bakery, which provides wood-fired oven bread to the islanders; Rosana Paoletta, Sánchez’s wife and former director of the island’s school, Primary No. 39; and the former head of the Department, Alcídes Galarza, also retired from his role.
The three islanders received a letter from the provincial authorities informing them that, having expired their agreements for the use and exploitation of the homes and businesses they occupied, they will not be renovated, so they must vacate the buildings.
Even the owners of the bakery affirm that in the last few days they cut off the electricity and prevent them from shipping the flour and moving the firewood to start the business. “We don’t know why they took this step after we built our life on the island, me as the head of the school and my husband in the bakery. My children went to school on the island ”, laments in dialogue with EL DÍA Rosana Paoletta.
Paoletta and Sánchez show the letter documents sent by the government of the Province, which states that the agreements for the use of the home and the operation of the bakery being “widely expired, the Provincial Directorate of Islands has no interest or intention to renew or extend the same”.
“It’s a disgrace,” says Paoletta, who retired from her position at the school a month before receiving the letter. “The agreement is expired because in 2019, when he assumed this management, they told us to wait, they wanted to regularize administration issues, but we never stopped paying and we have all the proof to prove it.”
As a natural reserve, all the properties on Martín García Island belong to the Province. The 123 families that live in the place use the properties mediating a use and exploitation agreement with the Province, in exchange for a fee or consideration.
In addition to Sánchez’s bakery, which bears his daughter’s name, “Rocío,” there are six other businesses on the island that until now have not acknowledged receipt of a similar situation. “That is why we do not understand why they never called us for a dialogue, we presented 15 witnesses from our life and work there,” said the teacher, who confirmed the presentation of a request for a precautionary measure after their services were cut off.
In charge of this presentation are the La Plata lawyers José Luis Améndola and Mariel Mazzocchini, who told this medium that “they do not owe any canon. If this were the case, the document letter would say so, which does not state why the agreement is not renewed so that they can continue working. They have been there for a lifetime, they have roots ”.
THE EXPLANATION OF THE PROVINCE
In dialogue with EL DIA, the provincial director of the Islands, Eugenio Liggesmeyer, categorically denied that his area seeks to “evict” anyone. “These people are homeowners off the island, we are not leaving them homeless,” he said. And he explained that the measure is due to the beginning of “a stage of normalization of certain issues that came irregular from previous administrations.”
Regarding the case of the “Rocío” bakery, the official affirmed that the business has expired since 2006 and has not paid since then ”. And that since the beginning of this management, in 2019, we have opened stages of dialogue but there were only evasions and negatives ”.
The provincial argument was flatly denied by Mazzocchini, who affirmed that in his judicial presentation he attached “all the payment vouchers until 2019” and that he asked the court for an order not to innovate, before a measure that he described as ´military manu´ for part of the Executive, “by cutting off electricity to these people and not allowing them to work without the underlying issue being resolved.”
On the other hand, but in the same sense, this legal dispute that is taking place in the Civil and Commercial Court No. 4 of La Plata, is accompanied by the one presented by the former head of the Department of the Island Alcides Galarza, retired from his position in 2016.
At the age of 73, Galarza affirms that he has been living in La la Martín García for 50 years and six months. “I never imagined that I was going to be expelled from the island,” he said in dialogue with this newspaper. “I am retired, I understand that they may want the house, but, in that case, I could go to my son’s house, who also lives here. But in a meeting they told me no, that I have to leave the island, where my life is ”.
When consulted in this regard, the provincial director of the Islands affirmed that Galarza, in addition to having his agreement expired and the State requiring his home because he is not fulfilling functions, has “criminal complaints for mistreatment and harassment of the residents of the place, who have afraid”.