SAN CARLOS, Nicaragua – Eighty-four lawmakers from Nicaragua’s normally divided and bickering National Assembly held a special session on the banks of the San Juan River on Wednesday afternoon to send a clear message across the border to Costa Rica: We are united as a country, and we’re moving forward on the river-dredging project.
The special congressional session, held inside a gym in the river port town of San Carlos, produced a unanimous six-point resolution to defend Nicaragua’s sovereign right to the Río San Juan and to pledge full support for President Daniel Ortega’s actions to defend and dredge the river.
The declaration also backed the Nicaraguan Army’s efforts to defend the river, and promised more funding next year to increase river patrols.
Gen. Julio César Aviles, the Army’s top brass, assured lawmakers that reports of Nicaraguan soldiers in Costa Rican territory are “totally false.” He vowed that the military would defend Nicaragua’s river against Costa Rica’s “expansionist pretensions.”
Gen. Aviles accused Costa Rica of “generating conflict and hostilities” at the border and trying to threaten Nicaragua as part of a “systematic campaign.”
“But these threats don’t intimidate us,” the general said.
Several lawmakers put the river conflict in a historical context, claiming it was part of a sustained campaign by Costa Rica to appropriate Nicaraguan territory, as they said Costa Rica did with the provinces of Guanacaste and Nicoya 186 years ago.
“We lost Guanacaste to the voraciousness of a neighbor that took advantage of Nicaraguan weaknesses,” said National Assembly President Rene Núñez.
That’s why Wednesday’s show of unity in San Carlos is being hailed by many Nicaraguan politicians as a “historic moment.”
Former Sandinista guerrilla leader Edén Pastora, who’s heading the river-dredging mission for Nicaragua, said Wednesday’s congressional session on the river delivers a “serious and profound message that all men and women in Nicaragua are united behind the president in defending our sovereignty and dignity.”
“I think Costa Rica (on Thursday) is going to have to think twice,” Pastora told The Nica Times. “Costa Rica is defeated.”
Read This Friday’s Tico Times for full story from San Carlos.