At the end of last year a religious congregation of women contacted us; they had suffered an invasion of a property purchased by them years ago in which they planned to establish a home for women suffering violence. This congregation has more than 10 houses of this kind throughout the country; in Quintana Roo there is already one of these houses in the city of Cancun. Unfortunately Playa del Carmen had to wait to have its own shelter, since shortly after buying the property and before they could use it for these purposes, squatters entered the place.
This congregation is conformed by religious catholic women who decided to give their lives not only to God, but also to their mission of providing shelter and protection to other women who are victims of domestic violence and ignorance. Like many organizations, this one lives on donations from people who sympathize with their cause, and unfortunately as in many cases, these donations are not always enough and there are times where livelihoods becomes a daily problem. Given these circumstances, seeking help to resolve their squatter problem became complicated and was not a priority.
Since our firm doesn’t do criminal law, at first we were reluctant to take it and thought about the possibility of referring them to someone else, unfortunately the culture of pro bono work is unknown in the area and we couldn’t find anyone willing to take this case at no cost. Given the great work that these women do, we were morally forced, to offer everything that was in our hands and resources to help them to solve their problem, so we immediately started the legal procedure by submitting the corresponding complaint before the District Attorney, and now these kind women were our clients.
Although we knew that justice would be eventually in our side, we were also aware that it would be a slow and costly procedure, so regardless of the legal actions, we decided to negotiate. We began to have some communication with the squatters and as the days passed, we established some sort of a good relationship with them. In the end, the negotiation was our best weapon, though they had committed a crime and although we had submitted our compliant, we decided to focus on finding an amicable and peaceful solution, by offering legal certainty to all the parties involved.
In January we finally reached an agreement, which on one side recognized their needs, by allowing them to live for three months more in the property, while at the end of that period, they should peacefully vacate it. The squatters honored their word and left by their own feet, most important of all, they understood that what they did was against the law, but you can always rectify and everybody is happy. Playa del Carmen soon will have a new support center for women and Calderón & Associates is proud to have contributed to make this happen for the sake of a better future for our beautiful community.
Gustavo Calderón, is a Lawyer and University Professor in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, with more than 10 years of experience in Corporate Law and Real Estate Law. Mr. Calderón focuses his practice towards serving the expatriate population of the Riviera Maya.