San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Ramsar representatives, press to visit Isla Calero on Tuesday

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, known as Ramsar, will visit the Isla Calero on Tuesday to evaluate if Nicaraguan’s dredging of the Río San Juan caused environmental damage in the area. The representatives of Ramsar will be accompanied by members of the Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry (MINAET) and members of the press, which will be allowed access to the area for the first time since the conflict began in late October.

According to the Vice Minister of MINAET, Lorena Guevara, members of Ramsar and MINAET will tour the disputed parcel of land and inspect the perceived environmental damage. Guevara said the team will evaluate environmental damage done to four primary areas: the small canal dug on the Isla Calero, the northern banks of the Río San Juan, the trees near the Laguna de los Portillos and the places where sediment was deposited during the dredging of the river.

“This first visit, as approved by the International Court, will be to observe the area and define a plan of action for how the damage will be handled,” Guevara said Monday. “It will be the first time that we have the opportunity to see the damages and will give us a better idea of what we have to do to protect the site.”

On March 8, the International Court of Justice at The Hague, The Netherlands, ruled that only Costa Rican personnel accompanied by Ramsar were allowed access to the Isla Calero. In accordance to the world court ruling, the Costa Rican Foreign Ministry must alert the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry of their intentions to visit the area prior to arrival.

On Sunday, Nicaraguan officials claimed that they hadn’t received an official Ramsar report from a visit to the area conducted on March 12 and that they would file a formal complaint against Costa Rica for failing to comply with the court’s ruling.

“We have complied with all of the court’s rulings and will continue to do so,” Costa Rican Vice-Chancellor Carlos Roverssi said on Tuesday. “We have been precise in following the directions of the court and that cannot be disputed.”

For a photo report from the visit to the Isla Calero, see the April 8 print edition of The Tico Times

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