San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ortega Rattles Saber Over Colombian Border

President Daniel Ortega again elevated the rhetorical war with Colombia this week by accusing the South American country of violating International Law, attempting to expand its maritime borders into Nicaraguan waters, and for being a militarily occupied colony of the United States.

Ortega also reiterated that Nicaragua will defend its sovereignty and protect its fishermen on the high seas. He called on other Central American nations to unite with Nicaragua against what he called Colombia’s expansionist ambitions.

“In this battle we Central Americans need to unite against the expansionist attitude, not of the Colombian people, but of the Colombian oligarchy, which is subject to the interests of the big transnationals and the interests of the empire,”Ortega said during a Feb. 8 speech. “Colombia is a country that is occupied militarily by the United States.”

On Dec. 13, the International Court at The Hague ruled that Colombia had sovereignty over three tiny Caribbean islands – San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, as established under a 1928 treaty between the two countries – but said that the treaty did not establish ownership over a smaller archipelago nor did it set the two country’s maritime border at the 82nd Meridian, which Colombia had argued. The disputed archipelago and the maritime border will be established in a forthcoming ruling. Both Nicaraguan and Colombian representatives were called before the

International Court

on Monday to set a timeframe for the legal case.

Nicaragua’s foreign minister, Samuel Santos, traveled to New York this week to present a petition before the United Nations to denounce Colombia and reaffirm Nicaragua’s right to defend its sovereignty.

Nicaragua’s greatest concern is not the Caribbean islands – the three of which total less than 40 square kilometers, or smaller than Ometepe Island – rather the disputed maritime territory, which is 100 square kilometers and worth an estimated $300 million in fishing resources.

Nicaragua also argues that Colombia’s control over the waters cuts off traditional channels of cultural communication between Jamaica and Bluefields.

Colombia has responded to Ortega’s criticisms by denying that it is an aggressor nation and expressed concerns over the Nicaraguan president’s comments.

Ortega’s latest comments come less than a month after he and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez started talking about creating a united “Army of ALBA” to defend member countries from any possible aggression from the United States or Colombia (NT, Feb. 8).


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