San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinchilla asks Costa Ricans to dress in white on Tuesday

President Laura Chinchilla has encouraged the citizens of Costa Rica to wear white Tuesday when the International Court of Justice announces its ruling on the case against Nicaragua’s alleged “invasion” of national territory.

The call to unify the nation in wardrobe is the latest antic used by Chinchilla to promote peace as the clock ticks down towards a decision at the world court in The Hague, The Netherlands. Chinchilla’s message was presented to the public via a short video clip posted on the website of the Costa Rican Presidency.

“As we wait for the announcement of the protective measures that Costa Rica has asked for in the case of the invasion of Nicaragua,” Chinchilla said, addressing the nation and social networks. “I ask you, respectively, to dress in white, to reaffirm our conviction to peace and tolerance that has always characterized us as a nation.” 

Over the weekend, Chinchilla took her peace parade to the capital’s largest Catholic church, where she presented her “Homily for Peace” at the Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown San José. During her speech, Chinchilla, who was flanked by Costa Rican Arch-Bishop Hugo Barrantes, asked the members of the congregation to be respectful and united despite the court’s pending decision, and to remain confident that the ruling will favor of Costa Rica.

“Costa Rica will receive this first resolution with great maturity, prudence and sensitivity,” she said before the church in an all-white wardrobe. “The government of the republic is going welcome the decision of The Hague with this attitude, and we demand the same attitude on the part of the Nicaraguan authorities.”

The message of Chinchilla’s peace homily spread throughout the nation and was presented by other Catholic priests on Sunday. During the 12 p.m. Sunday mass at the Parish Church of San Pedro, near the campus of the University of Costa Rica, Father Francisco Esquivel Marín commented on the conflict as he stood at the church’s central pulpit flanked by a flag of Costa Rica to his right and a Nicaraguan flag to his left.

“Today we pray for the decision at the International Court of Justice at The Hague,” he said during the first few minutes of the mass. “We pray that the decision announced on Tuesday will restore tranquility and peace between the citizens of the brother nations of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.”

During the mass, Esquivel referenced the case at the world court on three occasions.

In response to the peace campaign throughout Costa Rica over the weekend, Jaime Morales, the vice president of Nicaragua joked  Monday to a Nicaraguan television station that Costa Rica was preparing for the decision by the world court “as if it were ‘Star Wars.’” He also said that the decision to wear all white was “like it was the First Communion.”

Morales also predicted that the world court would rule in favor of Nicaragua.

The notion that Costa Rica is overreacting to the decision of the world court seems to be the collective mindset in Nicaragua, where over the weekend citizens of some of the nation’s larger cities expressed little concern about the case.

“Most people here don’t think too much about it all,” said Liliana Vega, a restaurant employee in Granada, Nicaragua. “We’ve seen it on the news but it doesn’t really affect how we live. If the court says leave, we leave. If they don’t, we finish working on the river. I don’t think it is as big as a deal in Nicaragua as in Costa Rica.”

The decision by the international court is expected to be announced around 8 a.m. Costa Rican time (3 p.m. in The Netherlands).

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