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20 years

Nicaragua to Pope Francis: We welcome dialogue with Costa Rica

Government spokeswoman and First Lady, Rosario Murillo said that Nicaragua stands ready for dialogue. (Archive/AFP)

Government spokeswoman and First Lady, Rosario Murillo said that Nicaragua stands ready for dialogue. (Archive/AFP)

December 22nd, 2015 (ICR News) The government of Nicaragua said on Monday that it stands at “full readiness” for dialogue with Costa Rica as called for by Pope Francis on Sunday.


“We can tell the Holy Father, Pope Francis […] we are in full readiness for dialogue and to contribute to the respect for tranquility and peace between our two peoples,” government spokeswoman and First Lady, Rosario Murillo said through state media.


Murillo said that Nicaragua welcomed the Pope’s call for dialogue, and that Nicaragua has expressed its willingness to work together with Costa Rica since the December 16th ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague which ruled in favor of Costa Rica over a border spat that had continued between the countries for five years.


In its ruling, the ICJ ordered Nicaragua to pay damages to Costa Rica for environmental damage it caused in the wetlands at the mouth of the San Juan River.


The court, however left it to the Central American neighbors to agree between themselves the amount of such compensation.  If the countries are unable to do so within one year, the court said it would determine the sum owed in a separate proceeding.


In addition to the border dispute, tensions between the neighbors have been high after Nicaragua decided on November 15th to close its borders to Cuban migrants making their way to the United States, leaving thousands stranded in shelters in Costa Rica since.


On Friday, Nicaragua – a close ally of the Castro regime in Cuba – proposed that the United States should airlift the Cubans to US soil, where Cubans receive immediate permission to remain in that country under the US’s “wet foot, dry foot” policy, known as the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act, which many in Latin America are blaming for the current crisis.

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  • Ken Morris

    There you go. As usual, Nicaragua claims to be open to dialogue with Costa Rica, leaving it up to the Ticos to decide whether they are also open to dialogue. Alas, they usually aren’t. Heck, had Costa Rica just asked Nicaragua if it would accept the Cuban migrants before trying to foist them onto Nicaragua, that problem could have been averted too.

    Then again, after seeing that file photo of Murillo, you have to wonder if maybe Ticos have good reason to be hesitant to dialogue. Actually, the reality is even worse than the photo. The first thing Murillo does with visitors is assess their “aura.” Yeah, she believes that she has ESP and is in direct contact with the spirit world too. However, maybe Murillo won’t personally participate in the negotiations and the Ticos will get to dialogue with more sensible Nicas. The Ticos can always hope . . .

    (Tim: I have to ask if you chose that file photo in order to intentionally undercut the story. If so, it worked!)

    • // Timothy Williams

      Regarding the photo: I did not choose the photo to undercut the story, I swear. I had two choices, this photo which we have a license to from AFP from 2012, or one from Wikimedia Commons which actually makes her look far worse. Unlike some of our competitors, we don’t rip off photos, we only use what we have legally licensed (the photo included here was licensed under a news package for a story that it was part of back in 2012 when we subscribed to AFP) or that is legally in the public domain or Creative Commons. That said, I realize it wasn’t a “flattering” photo which is why I didn’t put it as the front photo for the story on our homepage.

      • Ken Morris

        OK, and actually the peace sign is consistent with the story. It’s just a wonder that she can lift her arm to make it with all that jewelry weighing it down.

        • Lorenzo Muller

          Ken. You have the right to like Ortega and pretend he is a good person. The ICJ determined that the president of the second poorest country in the Hemisphere used his army to invade an useless swamp. He did so to obtain more power within Nicaragua. In the meantime he peddled a project with no financial and technical backing to distract those who are too old or young to flee. On top of that he used the army to attack Cuban women and children. Is this how a country should be run?. Is this a model to follow?

          • Ken Morris

            And you have the right to confuse your conjectures with facts if you want to.

            Ortega did use his army to invade a useless swamp, but how do you know that he did this to grab more power in Nicaragua? This has been the Tico line from the start, but it is weak. Ortega was already plenty popular in Nicaragua, and let’s face it, even if he weren’t, he’s not above rigging elections. Common sense tells us that he invaded the useless swamp for other reasons.

            I’m not sure what you mean about peddling a project to distract the young and old from fleeing, but since Ortega’s reelection, emigration from Nicaragua has declined–most people would say because of the economic improvements Ortega has managed to achieve.

            The army that “attacked” the Cubans used tear gas after the Cubans stormed the border, and the Cubans were not innocent, rather they were illegal immigrants ignoring orders to halt. Meanwhile, how is it that Costa Rica is preventing the Cubans in Panama from entering? Do you mean to tell me that Costa Rica has no armed border guards?

            You’re right about Venezuelan patronage, as well as about Assad and Iran (although you could have thrown in Putin and Cuba and others). It’s obvious that Ortega chooses his allies from among those on the outs with the US, but doesn’t he have the right to? Also, get back to me after you discover that China’s human rights and environmental records are spectacular enough to have justified Costa Rica allying with it. If I didn’t know better, I’d think that Chinese patronage had a bit to do with it.

            Ironically, Ortega was born in a gold mining town, where his father worked in the German-owned mine, so mining isn’t exactly a business he invented. Neither is the exploitation of workers news to him. What do you expect him to do in a country with an effective unemployment rate approaching 50% and starvation a real risk, close the mines and save the trees?

            To your question of whether Ortega’s management model is one to follow, I think you answered it yourself by comparing him to Lee Kwan Yew. It is not the management model I would recommend for most countries, but it is often the one that works the best for poor countries. Look at Singapore and ask yourself if that would have been possible without Lee Kwan Yew.

            And this is the core problem with the MRS. They are utterly unrealistic. Actually, they aren’t even the true Sandinistas, understood historically. The true Sandinista were the Ortega brothers together with a handful of others, almost all now dead. The MRS bunch affiliated a decade or more later, on the eve of the revolution, and although they now fancy themselves the true Sandinistas, that’s their opinion. Their real problem is that can’t even organize a viable party, much less win elections. I happen to agree with them ideologically far more than I agree with Ortega, but they are politically worthless. They are always willing to flap their jaws in criticism of Ortega, but are either too lazy, too incompetent, or too few to become politically viable.

            You say that I like Ortega and believe he’s a good person. You’re mistaken. Instead of liking him, I would say that I respect Ortega’s political skills–IMO he’s a master at a game in which most are amateurs–and I admire his ongoing commitment to Nicaragua’s poor, which I’m convinced is genuine. However, I don’t believe that people can be divided into the good vs. the bad, since everybody’s mixed, and Ortega is more mixed than most. While nobody would nominate him for sainthood, he has some noble qualities, while at the same time is a scoundrel in other ways.

            I hate to think that I feel contempt for Costa Rica, since in most ways I like it and am grateful that it has adopted me. Hey, it’s my country now too. However, I do loathe Tico xenophobia, mainly expressed against Nicas, and weary of Costa Rica’s regular resort to passive aggression. It’s not genuinely pacifist in the sense of a Gandhi or MLK, since it’s too timid to stand up to power. It’s usual schtick is to engineer situations in which it can play the victim and use that as an aggressive tactic–and this is what it constantly does with regard to Nicaragua. It gets old. I’m also annoyed that the Tico leadership continues to fall into this neurotic trap. Instead of even talking to Ortega, which it consistently refuses to do, the Tico leadership prefers to whine about what a bully he is and how Costa Rica is the victim. This is foreign policy run by cry babies, not adults–and not true pacifists.

          • Lorenzo Muller

            He is a ruthless dictator that has stiffled the democratic development of his country. By the way immigrants of all type deserve respect. Your fascist comment defending the brutal treatment of Cubans by Ortega’s henchmen shows a total of empathy for other people. Moreover your comment saying the the Ortega brothers were true Sandinistas is wrong. It was Carlos Fonseca the true leader. Seems like your knowledge of the revolution is cursory at best for a so called expert.

          • Ken Morris

            Tell me when Nicaragua was developing democratically so that I can be sure to be able to pinpoint the time when Ortega stifled that. Are you referring to Bolañas, when the country was really run by a pact between Ortega and Aleman, or to Aleman, when the country was stolen by him? Or might you be referring to Chamorro, whose son-in-law ran the country via bribes and kickbacks? Surely you don’t mean the era of the Somozas, although you might.

            I almost mentioned Fonseca, since IMO too he was probably the founder of the Sandinistas, but I didn’t want to get into the various people involved during the early days. There are different opinions about who the most important early Sandinistas were, and since almost all of them are dead, it’s a rather lost cause to bring up this discussion. However, it is worth noting that (1) Borge was a companion of Fonseca as far back as the 1950s, and Borge remained loyal throughout to the Ortega brothers, and (2) Fonseca was a visitor to the Ortega home in the early 1960s, and in high school then Daniel Ortega was already Sandinista. The MRS crowd came way later. Don’t presume to lecture me about a history that I know better than you.

            Hmmm, so it’s fascist for Nicaraguan border guards to use tear gas against illegals storming the border? You’re going to have to explain to me how Costa Rica would handle a similar border stampede if the Cubans wanting to enter from Panama stormed the border there. And while you’re at it, you might explain to me how Costa Rica is managing to round up and deport the 57 tardy arriving Cubans and deport them without threat of force. Ever noticed that Costa Rica has jails for illegal immigrants? It’s sweet to know that Costa Rica would never stoop to actually using force against illegals, since Costa Rica respects them, so I guess Costa Rica lures them into their cells with candy bars and the like. What a great non-fascist country!

            Good for Costa Rica for helping to ban cluster bombs (actually, I mean this) but it is a bit like hunters and gatherers armed only with spears banning guns. It’s not as if Costa Rica is out there using any bombs, so it’s pretty easy for it to call for a ban on certain kinds of bombs.

            As for calling Ortega illiterate, there you go again creating a caricature of a Nica that allows you to wrongly feel superior. No question about it, Ortega is lower-middle class from a poor country. But guess what? He’s not ashamed of that, and refuses to try to status climb. Sure, he pisses off wannabe elites for his refusal to play their status game–the first Bush called him “an animal at a garden party”–but that’s their problem, not his. Actually, he not only graduated from a private Catholic high school in Nicaragua (the cops fixing to arrest him for revolutionary activies waited for him to finish taking his graduation exams) but also attended UCA, although while there during the 1960s was mainly involved in political organizing. Oh, and he read Proust and such while in prison, and his poetry reveals an acquaintance with the classics. Go ahead, call him a dummy if it makes you feel superior, but you’d be wrong on both counts.

            No one knows for sure, but IMO Ortega probably did rape his stepdaughter (BTW, starting in Sabanilla). It’s also pretty clear that Rosario, her mother, engineered the situation in her quest for power, and specifically took advantage of the psychological problems he developed during his 7 years in prison, but what the heck, he probably did it, and is responsible for that. If you want to assume that he never did anything good because he did that, be my guest. I would just suggest that you have a limited grasp of human nature.

            Since you use the pronoun “we,” I assume you are Tico, but if I were you I wouldn’t flatter yourself over a pragmatic pacifist foreign policy. There’s not much pragmatic pacifist about refusing to talk to the leadership of the country next door, despite repeated invitations, and instead gallivanting around the globe badmouthing it. Yeah, oddly Chinchilla had enough time to not only travel Europe running down Nicaragua but also publishing an op-ed piece in the Miami Herald bashing Ortega, but never found the time to talk to him. And for his part, while Gonzalez’s heart swelled with humanitarian compassion for the illegal Cubans, it never dawned on him to actually call his counterpart in Nicaragua to ask if Nicaragua would break its own laws too and accept the Cubans. This isn’t pragmatism, it’s either stupidity or arrogance–and after the hateful way Gonzalez spun this, it looks like more arrogance than stupidity.

            Point is: How would you know that it’s impossible to get along with Ortega if you refuse to even talk to him?

            Face it, Costa Rica has a serious attitude problem, especially when it comes to Nicaragua, and the sooner it realizes this and corrects it, the better off everyone will be.

          • Lorenzo Muller

            Costa Rica has no jail terms for illegal immigrants they are fined and returned home. Moreover have you ever seen the police beating immigrants?. And yes, Chamorro and Bolaños may have been flawed administrations but were democratic. It is racist and patronizing to believe that the Nicaraguans are incapable of developing a fair and democratic society.

          • Ken Morris

            I would be surprised to learn that Nicaragua or any other country has jail terms for illegal immigrants either. The usual practice is to hold them in a detention facility until the state gets around to deporting them.

            You are implying that Nicaraguan soldiers beat some of the Cubans who stormed their border, which is at minimum an exaggeration. They rather used tear gas to turn back a large crowd of them. I don’t know how Costa Rica’s police would respond if its border was stormed, since so far the threat of force has been sufficient to ensure compliance. However, I would imagine that protocol in Costa Rica, as in Nicaragua, calls for border security to use its force in measured increments in situations where illegal immigrants refuse to comply.

            Chamorro’s election was democratic in myth only. The Bush administration not only spent more per vote on her campaign than Bush spent on his own 1988 campaign, but it also suspiciously invaded Panama with overwhelming force less than two months before Nicaragua’s election. Many in Nicaragua read this as a threat from the US of what would happen to them if they didn’t vote for Chamorro. She then proceeded to govern by simply assuming that she had to pay off legislators, and did just that. There’s also persuasive evidence that her administration got the money it used to bribe legislators from the military, which was then making a small fortune by running drugs.

            As for Bolaños, I agree that his administration was more or less democratic, and that he himself was probably the most decent president Nicaragua has had in as long as I am acquainted with the country’s political history. However, by the time he was elected, it was too late. The pact between Ortega and Aleman already enabled them to jointly control the courts as well as the legislature and the elections tribunal, which pretty much deprived Bolaños of power.

            It would be patronizing (though I doubt racist) to suggest that as people Nicas are incapable of developing a fair and democratic society, but this isn’t my view. My view is that they are deprived of the necessary political institutions required to have a fair and democratic society. Every branch of government is after all democratically suspect, to say the least. The Church is sometimes controlled by powerbrokers, including Ortega. Business isn’t free from corruption, and even the neighborhoods are now organized into government spy committees. None of this is the fault of the vast majority of Nicas, but is rather the fault of a long history of oppression by outsiders, and it is in part perpetuated by poverty. The poor aren’t in much of a position to object.

            But instead of battling the monster of Nicaragua’s deformed political institutions, most people prefer to lop its head off. That head now is Ortega, so he is the target for the head chopping. However, every time the monster’s head is cut off, it just grows another head. (A saying in Nicaragua is “same shit, different flies.”)

            Needed are people, surely in the opposition today (albeit on the left as well as the right) who are willing to focus on slaying the monster rather than merely cutting its newest head off. However, this is arduous, boring work. Although some Nicas are doing just this work today, too many are taken in by excitement of lopping the monster’s head off.

          • Andrew

            I don’t get it. Why don’t you move to Nicaragua? I hear San Juan Del Sur is really nice.

          • Ken Morris

            Andrew: I don’t blame you for only skimming the above discussion, since it is long, but if you read it you would see that it’s mostly a critical discussion of Nicaragua’s recent political history. The only criticism I made of Costa Rica is that it refuses to talk with Ortega, but instead badmouths him. I extrapolated from this a more general passive aggressive approach to foreign policy on the part of Costa Rica when it comes to Nicaragua, which I think is true. Yet, because I am critical of Costa Rica in this matter, you don’t “get” why I don’t move to Nicaragua.

            I could turn the same question back on you. Here is one of your published opinions about Costa Rica: “Tico behavior in general used to really piss me off. Now | just laugh
            and every day when I wake up I thank God I’m not a Tico……”

            Now there, sir, is some genuine contempt for Costa Rica, even contempt that I take offense at. This is far more extreme than my specific criticisms of Costa Rica’s dealings with Nicaragua, and If I hated Ticos enough to write what you did, I would leave. However, I don’t share your condescending attitude toward Costa Rica, or your corresponding attitude of superiority, and in fact am repulsed by it. My criticisms are targeted at what I believe are real faults, not generalized Tico-bashing.

            And here’s something you really may not “get”: I consider posts like mine above to be my civic duty. Neither you nor Lorenzo (though I doubt that’s his real name) nor anyone else has to agree with me, and its fine with me if you don’t. However, no one else is raising the points I have, and by raising them I believe that I am contributing to the public discussion.

            A main difference between us may be our different conceptions of civic obligations. I am a permanent legal resident of Costa Rica, a status that required a good deal of time and money for me to acquire, and that signals my commitment to Costa Rica. You are a self-confessed illegal alien, freeloading in the country for a decade now, a status I consider utterly irresponsible. I wearied quickly of Gringo Gulch, both because of the arrogance of my countrymen and because I found it painful to witness their exploitation of the prostitutes (many of whom are Nicas forced into prostitution by poverty and the lack of a “green card”). You confess to a 15-year habit of still hanging out there, as well as to a “girlfriend” you support. Oh, you’re also a self-confessed druggie, which I am not.

            Truthfully, my main complaint about Costa Rica–and the one that would motivate me to move–is not the Ticos but the gringos. All aren’t bad, and even the mostly bad ones often have good qualities, but attitudes and lifestyles like yours frankly disgust me.

            And the depths of our radically different orientations is illustrated by your recommendation of San Juan del Sur. You may like that gringo-infested beach town, but no way could I bring myself to live there (or Granada), since I couldn’t stand to be around that many gringos. If I ever did move to Nicaragua–and I have considered it–it would be to a place far removed from where the hordes of my irresponsible partying countrymen flock.

            But sorry for you, I have no plans to move anytime soon. You see, I made a commitment to Costa Rica, it to me, and I even respect Ticos. These are things about which you appear to feel diferently.

  • costarick

    It doesn’t sound very conciliatory when Nicaragua is proposing a Visa requirement and payment by Costa Ricans traveling to Nicaragua, along with additional taxes being implemented on various Costa Rican products imported by Nicaragua. This, apparently, is being done to pick-the-pockets of the Costa Ricans of the monies necessary for Nicaragua to pay Costa Rica compensation, as ordered by the World Court in the Hague for the Isla Calero Invasion matter.

    • dark451

      Costa Rica already does that to Nicaragua. Why is this an issue?
      Apparently, a 90 day costa rican visa costs 32$ for Nicaraguans. A 90 day Nicaraguan visa costs around 8-10$ for costa ricans.
      And you’re complaining????

      • Lorenzo Muller

        The visa would be charged to Nicas living in Costa Rica, since they are the only ones who travel North.

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