San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Presidents Celebrate Hague Ruling as Unifying Decision

OCOTAL – President Daniel Ortega and Honduran counterpart Manuel Zelaya celebrated this week’s border-dispute ruling in The Hague as a decision that will help unify their two countries.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled Sept. 8 in favor of Honduras, giving it sovereignty over four islands in the Caribbean Sea over which it had disputed with Nicaragua before the world court. But the court rejected Tegucigalpa’s claim that the border between the two countries should run along the 15th parallel north latitude.

In so doing, the court established a new frontier following a line roughly bisecting the competing claims of Honduras and Nicaragua and respecting the waters around the islands under Honduran sovereignty. In the process, the sovereignty over rich fishing grounds and offshore oil and gas concessions was finally definitively established.

Ortega and Zelaya met in the northern town of Ocotal Monday and agreed to uphold the court ruling.

“Our adversaries were wrong – the ruling by The Hague has united Central America,” Zelaya said.

Ortega agreed and said that this was “the first time” that the two countries had

received a ruling of this kind “without confrontation.”

An emotional Ortega welcomed Zelaya in his speech and repeated his desire that there be no borders between countries.

The Presidents first met in private at the Pro Human Rights Institute in Ocotal and thereafter went to the local Catholic church, where parish priest Emilio Alvarez greeted the two leaders and congratulated them for the example of regional integration.

Zelaya said that Central America must one day be a single strong nation upon which neither “ideologies nor religions” must be imposed, and he advocated for a region abounding in justice and peace.

“There’s no reason at all for borders to exist in the world,” Ortega added. “The best thing would be a single planet as God ordains working together for development and to end hunger and poverty.”

The new maritime border between the countries begins three nautical miles off the coast at the mouth of the CocoRiver.

Establishing the border was difficult since the mouth of that river constantly shifts.

The court in The Hague said that Managua and Tegucigalpa must now negotiate how to divide those three miles between a marker set up on land at the mouth of the CocoRiver according to the 1962 Mixed Commission and the now-established maritime boundary.


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