Nicaragua Accuses Costa Rica Of Xenophobia against Migrants

GUATEMALA CITY – Nicaragua on Tuesday asked the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to accept an international lawsuit against Costa Rica for xenophobia and discrimination.

Juan Antonio Tijerino, who heads the Nicaraguan delegation before the rights commission, told journalists that the objective of the move is for the commission to handle the complaint “to be able to sue Costa Rica before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights,” the highest judicial body governing such matters within the framework of the Organization of American States.

The commission met this week in Guatemala.

As a representative example of the xenophobia and discrimination supposedly exercised by Costa Rica against Nicaraguan immigrants, the delegation from Managua presented the case of Natividad Canda, who died from injuries inflicted by two rottweiler guard dogs at a Costa Rican auto-body shop in November of last year (TT, Nov. 18, 2005).

Tijerino said that the victim was accused of entering the property to rob and “was attacked (by the dogs) in the presence of eight policemen, members of the fire department and the owner of the shop,” none of whom allegedly did anything to prevent the dogs from killing him.

Nicaragua also presented the case of Nicaraguan immigrant José Ariel Urbina, who was stabbed to death by a group of Costa Ricans outside a bar in Alajuela in December 2005.

The Costa Rican delegate, Gioconda Ubeda, denied her country is guilty of systematic xenophobia or discrimination against Nicaraguan immigrants and said the two cases are “isolated incidents.”

She asked the commission to reject Nicaragua’s complaints because Costa Rica has not exhausted its internal resources for resolving them.

“The Costa Rican state has not violated any international norms,” she said in a statement from the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry.

About half a million Nicaraguans live in Costa Rica.