San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicaragua proposes skipping Costa Rica's turn at SICA's helm

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaraguan Vice Foreign Minister Manuel Coronel Kautz said the rotating leadership of the Central American Integration System (SICA) should be passed to Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom instead of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who´s scheduled to take over in July.

Arias is the only Central American president to skip all SICA meetings held over the past six months, three of which have been in Managua. Now Nicaragua thinks SICA should skip him.

“We can´t afford to put Central American integration at risk,” Coronel told The Nica Times Monday, referring to his concern that the regional integration process would be weakened under a president who has been reluctant to integrate.

Costa Rica has been the least receptive Central American country to regional integration, refusing to join the Central American Court of Justice, the Central American Parliament or the CA-4 immigration initiative.

Arias expressed his disdain for SICA last week by saying the Central American presidential summits are a waste of time and never address important issues.

“My experience is that these meetings are not good; the agendas are not made to address the principal problems facing Central American countries,” Arias said in statements published in the Costa Rican daily La Prensa Libre.

Arias´ comments could also have been interpreted as an insult to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who for the past six months has set the SICA agenda as its president pro tempore.

Though Coronel´s statements do not yet represent Nicaragua´s official position, the vice minister said steps are being taken to formalize the proposal in the coming weeks.

Coronel added that by giving the rotating presidency to Guatemala instead of Costa Rica, SICA would help give institutional backing to Colom´s embattled government, embroiled in a murder scandal (NT, May 22).

“There is a lot in play right now,” Coronel said.

See the May 29 print or PDF edition of The Nica Times, a publication distributed with The Tico Times, for more on this story.

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