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20 years

Nicaragua accuses Costa Rica of “orchestrating campaign” against the country

September 19th, 2013 (AFP & Nicaragua on Wednesday denied it had violated precautionary measures issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in a disputed border zone with Costa Rica and accused Costa Rica of plotting with Colombia and Panama to create an “orchestrated campaign” against the country.


“Nicaragua has met and will continue to fully comply with the provisional measures ordered by the ICJ on March 8th, 2011,” said Nicaraguan Foreign Minster Samuel Santos, in a letter to his Costa Rican counterpart, Enrique Castillo


“I can not help but notice that this new verbal escalation seems meant to insert [Costa Rica] in the campaign orchestrated by other countries in the region against Nicaragua,” Santos said, referring to territorial disputes between Colombia and Panama against Nicaragua.


The dispute revolves around 3 km2 island – which Nicaragua calls “Harbour Head” and Costa Rica calls Isla Portillo – located near the Rio San Juan east of the common border, which both countries have claimed as their own before the ICJ since 2010.


On Tuesday, Costa Rica accused Nicaragua of having dredged two new canals in the area with the intention of connecting the Rio San Juan to the Caribbean, in clear violation of measures issued by the ICJ.  Nicaragua denies the claim.


“The government of Nicaragua has not authorized any work to be carried out in the disputed area nor has sent personnel to the area,” and any geographical change on the island may have been caused by heavy rains, Santos said.


“Remember that Harbour Head is a swampy area interconnected with a series of historical channels, [and] as we are in times of heavy rains (…) it is not surprising that the appearance of some channels may have changed in recent months,” Santos added.


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  • Ken Morris

    It is puzzling that for all the monitoring of the area that CR has been doing, it all the sudden “discovered” that Nicaragua dug two new channels. How did Nicaragua manage to do this while CR was watching? Maybe it did, I dunno, but I’m suspicious of CR’s recent claim. The one thing that’s certain is that CR has been orchestrating global PR campaign against Nicaragua since this altercation began. Although neither Chinchilla nor her ministers can be bothered to visit Managua to talk to their government counterparts there, they can crisscross Europe and North America badmouthing Nicaragua.

    • Frank Castle

      It’s really interested how this started only when Ortega and his bully boys got back in power. Before that, for many years, there was peace between the two countries at least since 1990.

      Ken, the first time I came to Costa Rica in 1989, the only thing bad I heard about Nicaragua was from the refugees who had fled the Atlantic Mosquito Coast because of the Sandinistas. Other than that, not too much. Remember, Costa Rica has no military but Nicaragua is purchasing gunboats and seems to be acting more and more bellicose. To even bring up Guanacaste as a part of Costa Rica that was “stolen” from Nicaragua is outrageous. That was settled in 1824 so if that is how it’s played, when is Spain going to sue all of Latin America that it possessed (New Spain) up until the early 1800′s because it was an” illegal revolt” on Spanish territory?

      Costa Rica isn’t perfect but they aren’t the ones who put troops into questionable territory. Give it a rest!

      • Ken Morris

        Costa Rica’s story (and the story of the Rio San Juan disputes) is that these surface every few years, and they do predate Ortega’s reelection to the presidency.

        I don’t believe that even Ticos old enough remember 1990s as their golden age with Nicaragua. Most Ticos old enough remember the 1960s and into the 1970s, when Nicaragua was economically vibrant and the relations between the two countries were good. Certainly the period during which Nicaragua was an economic basket case is no golden age and should not be held up as the ideal. It’s not even good for Costa Rica to continue this way.

        Many in Nicaragua and elsewhere argue that Costa Rica’s lack of a military is just a PR ploy. Costa Rica has a military, even one trained in the notorious School of the Americas, only calls it police. Granted, Costa Rica is pretty committed to not being bellicose, but it’s got armed something or another at the border and it’s not the Nicaraguan military that’s digging channels, if channels have been dug.

        The Guanacaste issue is mostly a red herring, in part because Nicaragua doesn’t even want it. Ortega just raised it as another attempt to get Costa Rica to the negotiating table, where Costa Rica persistently refuses to come.

        But it’s not as silly as you imply. Nicaragua’s argument would be that the 1824 vote was held when Nicaragua was in a civil war, and this timing of the vote was aggressively unfair. No states joined the US during its Civil War, and plenty of counties seceded from the states then. Is a civil war a fair time to hold a vote?

        Moreover, if the real residents of Guanacaste could vote today, it’s not clear that they would vote to ally with Costa Rica. They might choose Nicaragua. Some sizable minority of them are Nicas, and the Ticos aren’t thrilled with rule by San José.

        But as said, Guanacaste is a red herring. What I’m afraid is really going on is that some segment of Costa Rica wants Nicaragua to remain poor. René Castro, the last foreign minister (and a guy that keeps being minister or something despite little apparent competence) admitted to having a Nica maid. It’s hard not to wonder if some in Costa Rica aren’t benefiting from Nicaragua’s poverty and don’t want to rock that self-interested boat.

        Sadly, this segment of Costa Rica has tunnel vision. In the long run, Ticos are better off when Nicaragua is better off, but narrow self-interest is prompting Costa Rica’s leadership to adopt an oppositional stance.

        I’ll give it a rest when someone in Costa Rica grows up and has the guts to talk with Ortega. Chinchilla can publish op-eds in the Miami Herald blasting Nicaragua and march all she wants, but when will she or her replacement dial the phone and say, “Hey Danny, we have some problems to work out. How about discussing them over lunch?” He’s been begging to talk to her, yet she refuses.

        Remember passive aggression. Costa Rica is a master at this. It looks to me like Costa Rica is pretty darn aggressive here, but cloaks this in the garb of the victim.

        • Guest

          I agree, we should all be friends, for example Obama should also talk to the top brass of Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah and with the leaders of Iran, and add Vladimir Putin to his list of friends in Facebook. And do away with armies, Greenpeace can take care of American borders.

  • NorthendFool

    Dear CR, when Ortega invades please dont ask us for help. Im tired of the way you have treated me for the last 7 years. Im very upset with the socialist attitude i received in Limon recently. Im not happy with the accusations that sound like Fidel is having you say. Save yourself if you can. Maybe have China save you.

    • Frank Castle

      Just arm the able bodied U.S. military retirees in Costa Rica and the Nicaraguans will find out that they screwed up if the Sandinistas invade. You would be surprised how many there are and I’m sure their Panamanian friends would help also.

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