San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Colombia Celebrates Birthday On Disputed Caribbean Island

BOGOTA – Colombian President Alvaro Uribe traveled to the Caribbean island of San Andrés this week to celebrate the 197th anniversary of Colombian independence on territory that is the subject of an international legal dispute with Nicaragua.

“It is very moving to celebrate this 20th of July with my fellow citizens on San Andrés,” Uribe said on the biggest island of Colombia’s overseas province.

All of the Colombian officials rejected the idea that the ceremonies in San Andrés were a demonstration of sovereignty over the archipelago, which is at the core of a territorial suit brought by Nicaragua in 2001 before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Nicaragua claims as its own about 50,000 square kilometers in the Caribbean, territory over which Colombia exercises a historical sovereignty that both agreed to in the Esguerra-Barcenas Treaty of 1928.

But Managua says the pact is invalid because it was signed when Nicaragua was under U.S. military occupation.

Though it claims the international court has no jurisdiction, Colombia has been preparing a legal defense against the Nicaraguan claims.


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