“Los Ticos (Costa Ricans) and “Los Nicas” (Nicaraguans) are currently not the best of buddies. Their dispute over their shared border has been going on for a while. Read more about it here. Costa Rica, a country with no standing army, is putting its faith in the Internation Court of Justice. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega seems to have more bellicose tendencies. This article by Josue Bravo is from the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa. The original in Spanish can be read here.
The president of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, will continue to limit bilateral relations with Nicaragua and will be wary of expressions of friendship originating in Nicaragua until the International Court of Justice in the Hague rules on the claims of both countries. He intends to respect the court’s verdict.
In a forum with students of the National University in the city of Heredia, these were the words of the president in response to a question as to why he did not seek to improve trade and develop the shared border area while waiting for the court to pass judgement on three claims involving land and sea border conflicts.
Solís supports improving cooperation between the two countries in border development but he does not want to confuse the good will to carry out a bilateral agenda with any intention to negotiate about the territory (Harbour Head) which, in his opinion, was invaded by Nicaragua and which he as president has a duty to preserve.
In a National University auditorium Solís stated that “we were invaded by Nicaragua. It threatens Costa Rica’s sovereignty at sea where the border is not defined. We have three contentious claims in the international court which I believe is the best option as it is there where problems should be resolved and not in battles on the border”.
He added that ” not speaking with president (Daniel) Ortega is not a desire to snub him. Rather it’s that I don’t want our good will to cooperate on cross border issues and to develop an intelligent bilateral agenda to be confused in any way with the fact that we will not negotiate with Nicaragua about national territory invaded by Nicaragua which is still being threatened in statements by their president.
Relations with Nicaragua is a topic that Solís has recently taken up in his discourse, 4 months after assuming the presidency.
Already foreign minister, Manuel Gonzalez has stated that he considers the Nicaraguan acquisition of Russian arms, the border disputes, Ortega’s aspirations to navigate the Costa Rican Colorado River to reclaim Guanacaste province, the construction of an airport near the border and the eventual construction of an interoceanic canal as threats to Costa Rica.
Solís told the students that the apparent distance with Nicaragua on his part “is not aggression, it’s not bad faith, it’s not a misunderstanding. I want to respect the decision that the International Court of Justice takes and for that reason there must be limits to expressions of friendship”.
Prior to listing the actions taken by Nicaragua on the border such as cleaning the San Juan River, Solís said that “it’s all well and good for close neighbours to be friends but care must also be taken. Once the court hands down its ruling we can shake hands and move forward”.
Foreign Minister Gonzalez has expressed Costa Rican concerns to other Central American nations and the country will continue to investigate the alleged threats.