Costa Rican foreign relations minister condemns presence of Nicaraguans in Isla Calero, Isla Portillos

May 16, 2012

Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Relations, Enrique Castillo, blasted Nicaragua in a letter delivered to the Nicaraguan Ambassador to Costa Rica today, for recently sending “a contingent of youth” to the disputed islands of Calero and Portillos in the San Juan river that forms the border between the two countries.

“My Government has continued documenting the way, despite past protests by Costa Rica, the government of Nicaragua continues increasing the presence of its citizens and officials in the zone where the International Court of Justice prohibited their presence,” read the note which, according to a statement posted on the Foreign Ministry’s website Wednesday morning, was delivered to Nicaraguan Ambassador Harold Rivas at 10:45 a.m. on Wednesday.

Costa Rica and Nicaragua have engaged in mutual antagonism here since October 2010, when Costa Rica complained about Nicaragua dredging the river. Costa Rica accused Nicaragua of dumping silt on Isla Calero and causing environmental damage. After that, both countries sent armed personnel to the region and began campaigns to drum up international support.  

In January 2011, Nicaraguan troops occupied areas of Isla Calero, which Costa Rica dubbed an “armed invasion.” In March, the International Court of Justice ordered both countries to remove armed personnel from the disputed regions.

 Castillo’s note accused the Nicaraguan government of encouraging young people to go to the prohibited areas as part of a “San Juan River Studies” class, which the Foreign Relations Minister said would only serve to “institutionalize the presence of the Nicaraguans in the area indicated by the (International) Court (of Justice)” and further alienate the two countries.

“All these actions constitute grave violations of the order issued (by the Court) on March 08, 2011. Consequently, the Government of the Republic of Costa Rica presents, again, its energetic protest and demands the government of Nicaragua comply fully with provisional measures dictated by International Court of Justice,” Castillo’s note read.

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