Mexico has enforced a new law that allows government officials to slap fines up to 1 million pesos (US$48,000) on property owners who restrict or block access to the country’s beaches.
The new legislation makes it clear that there are no private beaches in the country, and blocking access to these stretches of sand is a punishable crime.
The news comes eight months after hundreds of people protested outside a beach club in Playa Del Carmen for denying access to a beach nearby.
Coastal property owners, particularly hotels and resorts, often block access to the beaches, as they want to reserve the place for their guests.
Along the country’s picturesque Caribbean coastline, hotels have taken over long stretches of sand to set up tables for their customers, according to local media reports.
“The issue has also gained prominence during the pandemic,” says a report from AP. “Public beaches were officially closed along much of Mexico’s Caribbean coast as a health measure, but tourists — often foreigners — could still enjoy the sands through resorts or hotels that have direct beach access.”
Another Mexican law requires the government to demolish buildings blocking access to public beaches. Last year, a hotel building was demolished in Cancun for blocking access, according to Mexico News Daily.
“Mexican beaches are constitutionally and legally public, so there must be access roads so that any national or foreign visitor who wishes to enjoy them can do so,” reported the paper, quoting Senator Mónica Fernández.