The construction of the Siam Park water park in San Bartolomé de Tirajana is facing a new crossroads, writes Gaumet Florido in Spanish language daily Canarias7. Jaime Rodríguez Cíe, legal representative for Loro Parque, has issued a stark warning. “If Marco Aurelio Pérez becomes mayor again, we will abandon Siam Park, the project will decline.”
Cíe contacted the newspaper following statements made by the leader of the PP-AV, in the southern municipality, in an interview about his return to local politics. After four years in the capital, leading the PP in opposition, at the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, the former mayor of San Bartolomé de Tirajana (SBT) is running for local office once again.
“If Marco Aurelio Pérez’s team wins, we won’t move the project forward; we don’t trust him; he deceived us for 4 years,” warns the lawyer, speaking on behalf of the Kiessling family, owners of Loro Parque. They accuse Pérez of doing everything in his power to prevent Siam Park from becoming a reality during his time as the mayor.
In this sense, Marco Aurelio Pérez’s statements in the interview, about a new Plan for Modernisation, Improvement, and Competitiveness (PMM) for El Veril not being the appropriate instrument to provide coverage, whose drafting has already been commissioned by the Government of the Canary Islands, only confirmed Loro Parque’s suspicions about the former mayor’s intentions. “He’s back to his strategy of false truths, deceiving public opinion,” complains Rodríguez Cíe.
The Supreme Court rejected the plan that facilitated Siam Park
Siam Park came to a standstill just as the SBT Town Hall, was about to grant it a license during this mandate, now coming to an end. This was after a Supreme Court (TS) ruling in June 2022 confirmed the nullity of the PMM that had already been dictated by the Superior Court of Justice of the Canary Islands (TSJC) in December 2020.
The III Chamber of the TS rejected the appeal filed by the Gran Canaria Island Water Council, the Cabildo, and the Government of the Canary Islands against the TSJC ruling, detecting a form defect in the file. In the procedure for granting the concession for the water park, no explicit record had been included in a report on the existence of sufficient water resources.
Given this scenario, and by agreement of all the involved administrations, the best solution to rescue and relaunch Siam Park was to draft a new PMM, but the former mayor already warned in this newspaper that he does not share that approach. “Once again, he hints at his opposition to the project, because he never goes straight, but rather gets tangled up with half-truths or lies,” claims Jaime Rodríguez Cíe.
“Pérez is lying again”
Rodríguez Cíe claims that Marco Aurelio Pérez “is lying again” insisting that “He’s leaving us with the mark of what his actions have been: not moving Siam Park forward; he has defended other external interests.”
In fact lawyer recalled that in 2019, the TSJC (Canary Islands High Court) recognised Loro Parque’s thesis that the Town Council, during Marco Aurelio Pérez’s time, subjected them to an “administrative tangle to delay the license” and abused the correction procedures. Therefore, the promoter attributes an express attempt to stop the water park to the former mayor, warning “We already know him, we will not continue with him.”
If that is what happens, it will be difficult to try to fit Siam Park into some other municipality. Mogán has already been studied, in its day, but it was deemed not viable. However, it is clear that this does not mean that Loro Parque is giving up on Gran Canaria, where their Poema del Mar aquarium is already open in the capital. “We don’t give Marco Aurelio that much importance; besides, companies endure over time, politicians don’t,” said Loro Parque’s legal advisor.
€15 million in expenses alone, and €22 million annually that the administration does not collect
Loro Parque’s legal representative says he regrets the ordeal that the project has gone through despite the advantages claimed for so prestigious a project. He points out that despite the company’s commitment to Siam Park, it has accumulated 7 years of delays and €15 million in expenses, in addition to having lost €8 million in incentives from the Canary Islands Investment Reserve (RIC).
But he warns that not only has Loro Parque lost, but also the public administrations themselves, which have not been able to collect the €22 million annually that would have been due over the course of these 7 years years, and the island’s economy too has lost, which could have benefited from an investment of more than €120 million that would have generated more than 600 jobs.
Looking back, he emphasises that it was the island’s ex-president, José Miguel Bravo de Laguna, during his time at the head of the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, who proposed to the property developers the possibility of investing on the island after various studies found that the South had a real deficit of first-rate leisure offerings.
From there, the project has gone through multiple hurdles that have delayed it, some caused on purpose, he points out, such as those of Marco Aurelio Pérez, and others by omission, such as the one attributed to the current president of the Cabildo, Antonio Morales. “He did not assume the political challenge of leadership from the administrative point of view.”
Among the key reasons that, in Rodríguez Cíe’s opinion, explain what happened, is the fact that Marco Aurelio Pérez went from non-enthusiastic support for the project, to using it as a political tool against Antonio Morales. “He caught us in the middle.” And, given what has been seen, the company believes that the former mayor is still on the same page. “We do not want to interfere in politics or in the electoral debate, we just want to make our position clear based on our experience; we already know him.”