San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala mediation unlikely; Chinchilla to amp up border security

Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom offered to serve as a mediator to help resolve the ongoing Costa Rica-Nicaragua conflict. However, any such meeting remains unlikely. Colom announced his intentions at the 36th Central American Integration System (SICA) Summit meeting in San Pedro, Belize last week. Mexican Ambassador Rubén Beltrán also offered to help in the mediation process.

According to an EFE report Tuesday, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega asked Colom to sit in as a mediator in a bilateral meeting. Though the notion of mediation seemed promising, Ortega asked that the talks be held “without conditions,” meaning that the Nicaraguan troops would not be removed from the Isla Calero prior to the meeting. Costa Rica has reiterated on several occasions that they are not willing to participate in bilateral talks with Nicaraguan troops present on the disputed parcel of land.

In a statement released by the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry, Guatemala and Mexico were thanked for their offers, the message concluded by reiterating that “the first priority is to resolve the situation of the occupation of the Nicaraguan armed forces (in the Isla Calero).”

In a breakfast meeting with the press on Friday, President Laura Chinchilla said that a meeting to mediate the conflict should be held under “conditions of equality” and that Nicaragua “should remove” troops prior to holding a bilateral meeting.

Chinchilla also said the government plans to establish a greater police presence in the border region to monitor the transportation of food and fuel. The Barra del Colorado region in the northeast corner of the country in the Limón province is a known gateway for drug and arms trafficking due to minimal security or law enforcement personnel and an egregious lack of government assistance. (TT Sept. 16, TT Oct. 15)

“We have decided to heavily improve security and control measures (in the region), such as electronic monitoring,” Chinchilla said. “We are looking to monitor all navigation, especially on the Río Colorado.”

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