San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Binational Commission Meets

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno and his Nicaraguan counterpart, Norman Caldera, last Friday agreed to cooperate on immigration, regional integration and cultural exchange, among other things, during a meeting in San José of a bilateral commission that had not met in almost 10 years.

The renewal of the Binational Commission’s work comes after several years of rocky relations between Costa Rica and Nicaragua in which the treatment of Nicaraguan immigrants in Costa Rica and a dispute over the navigation rights to the San Juan River that partially divides the two nations have served as irritants to relations between the countries.

Nicaragua filed a complaint before the Inter-American Human Rights Commission over the deaths of two Nicaraguans in Costa Rica, one mauled by Rottweilers and another killed in a bar fight (TT,Aug. 11). The Human Rights Commission advised the two countries to discuss the issue bilaterally, but held a second hearing over the issue last week.

“The fact that we now have a permanent mechanism that gives continuity, stability and foresight to the dialogue on an enormous number of themes, all important for the population of both countries, indicates that there is a spirit (of cooperation), independent of the differences that we may have,” Stagno said.

“These meetings… will make us progress at the bilateral level and permit a fluid communication,” Caldera said.

The two delegations agreed to continue easing restrictions on transportation and commerce across the country’s common border and agreed to help Nicaraguan immigrants travel to Nicaragua to vote in next month’s elections.

Officials also agreed to improve the exchange of information on the policing of the trafficking of arms, munitions, drugs and money laundering across the country’s common border.

A sub-commission on border affairs will organize a work program to restore and reposition markers along the country’s border in accord with the Jérez-Cañas Treaty of 1856. Costa Rica took the issue of navigation rights to the San Juan River to the International Court of Justice in the Hague after Nicaragua refused to allow Costa Rican police to patrol carrying firearms. The ministers made no mention of the Hague case in their joint press conference Oct. 20.

Both delegations talked about cooperation in health matters and agreed to back binational initiatives with emphasis on border communities with the purpose of improving the health of residents of both countries.

The two delegations agreed to keep the Peñas Blancas border station open until midnight during holidays to allow for more fluid movement of Nicaraguan immigrants across the border, improve Customs procedures and analyze placing a Customs post at Las Tablillas.

The delegations also agreed on the need to reactivate the Binational technical group of the Costa Rica-Nicaragua Border Development Program.

Agreement was also reached on the sale and purchase of electrical energy along the border.

Finally, the delegations of both countries agreed to seek cooperation in education to take advantage of the strengths of both countries in this area.


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