San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Controversial Letter Urges Removal of Nicaraguan Troops

Foreign Minister René Castro confirmed Tuesday that he received a letter from the brother of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Humberto, encouraging Nicaraguan troops to evacuate the Isla Calero, the disputed parcel of land between the two nations. Humberto, a former Nicaraguan military commander, addressed the letter to Castro, the Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Samuel Santos, his brother and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla. Later in the day, …..letter was deemed as “false” by the Nicaraguan Presidency.

The letter stated that the removal of Nicaraguan troops from the area would aid diplomatic relations between the two countries and prompt a peaceful resolution to the squabble. It called on Costa Rica to avoid deploying police to the disputed territory once Nicaraguan troops leave.

Castro, who met with Humberto Ortega on Oct. 13 to discuss the dredging of the river, said the tone of the letter matched the rhetoric of the meeting a month ago.

“It is encouraging to see that there is some understanding on the Nicaraguan side about our concerns,” said Castro. “I don’t know how much communication the Ortega brothers have had, but the letter was very similar to the conversation we had in October about maintaining peaceful relations between the two countries.”

Though the letter offered a glimmer of hope in the stalemate tensions that exist between the nations, the statement by the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry sought to quickly nullify Humberto’s comments.

“Relations between the nations remain very cold,” Castro, Costa Rica’s foreign minister, said.

He also said that on Friday, a group from the Organization of American States (OAS) will visit the Isla Calero and Río San Juan to observe if Nicaraguan troops have exited the area. Last Friday, 22 of 27 OAS nations voted to urge Nicaraguan troops to leave the disputed region.

Both countries are scheduled for a bilateral meeting on Nov. 27 in Guanacaste, a province in northwestern Costa Rica that used to belong to Nicaragua. At this time, there is no confirmation that the meeting will take place.  

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