San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Chinchilla inaugurates contentious road next to Nicaragua border

President Laura Chinchilla traveled to the Río San Juan, which forms the border with Nicaragua, Friday to inaugurate the contentious road her government constructed parallel to the river.

Chinchilla, who traveled with a cohort of ministers and members of the press, declared construction of the 160-kilometer road a national emergency last year, drawing criticism from environmentalists on both sides of the river. The new route – Route 1856 Juan Rafael Mora Porras – is named after the three-time Costa Rican president whose army stopped William Walker’s North American invasion of Central America in 1856 by capturing the Río San Juan.

“How beautiful would it be if we reach an agreement and make this a region of progress and prosperity as much on the north side of the Río San Juan as on the south side of the Río San Juan,” Chinchilla said at the inauguration of a new school built at the road’s starting point near Isla Calero – the island in the Río San Juan that Nicaragua sent troops to occupy in January 2011.

The president inaugurated two other schools along the road that will stretch from Isla Calero to the border town of Los Chiles when completed. The former schools were cramped and dilapidated buildings. Officials estimate completion will take approximately three months. Despite environmental concerns, the president said the route will bring development to the area and help some 2,500 families.

See Friday’s upcoming edition of The Tico Times for the full story.

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