Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Law is Blind - and Tasteless

An environmental menace? The San Isidro Restaurante,
in a 60-year-old building on Monserrate.
For almost four decades, the Restaurante San Isidro has served food and drinks on the summit of Monserrate, an area of asphalt where thousands of tourists wander around some days, eating, drinking and taking pictures. Before it, another restaurant functioned for two decades. The area, which used to be a quarry, is also the scene of a church and occasional fireworks displays, as well as a cable car station.

But the summit of Monserrate, one of Bogotá's most popular tourist destinations, is pristine forest, a court just ruled, and the San Isidro, as well as other restaurants and handicraft shops located there, will have to close.

The businesses' closing will throw hundreds of people out of work, and deprive visitors of a meal
Dining with a view.
(Photo from Trip Advisor)
with Bogotá's best view.

The San Isidro, which is fighting this absurd ruling, is ranked 11th among Bogotá restaurants on Trip Advisor and says it employs almost 50 people, who would lose their jobs if the ruling is carried out. More importantly, one  of Bogotá's most important icons will lose part of its attraction.

This French dish Chateaubriand Portobelo - whatever it is -
will disappear from Monserrate's summit
if the restaurants close.
This is all despite the fact that the San Isidro, at least, says it respects environmental regulations and disposes correctly of its wastewater.

Pristine natural territory? The summit of Monserrate, with the church. 
However, the law being blind, it has a remarkable ability to ignore the reality that, even tho these businesses are surrounded by forest, they are actually located on cement, in an area that has been cement for decades.

The Externado University cut down forest to
build these towers, which block residents' view
of the hills. That apparently does not count
as environmental damage.
Meanwhile, the city turns a blind eye while the powerful Universidad Externado has deforested a large area to build two huge towers which block the view of the hills from the La Candelaria neighborhood.

While they're worrying about Monserrate, the city might also consider reopening the hiking trail to the summit. The trail was closed for a long time for reconstruction, then reopened briefly, only to be closed again early this year because of supposed damage from forest fires. The trail provided exercise, good family recreation - and free access to the summit for many Bogotanos.

Prohibited! The popular hiking trail has been closed most of this year, and shows no sign of reopening.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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