San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicaragua demands navigation rights on Costa Rican river

The Nicaraguan government has petitioned the International Court of Justice in The Hague to grant the country navigation rights on Río Colorado, located entirely within Costa Rican territory.

The request was presented by Nicaragua as part of its defense in a trial at the world court over an ongoing conflict with Costa Rica over Isla Calero, a small territory bordering the two countries.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega claims the right to navigate the river by arguing that 90 percent of the river’s water comes from sources in Nicaragua, the daily La Nación reported.

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo told the daily that the petition is an example “of the expansionist intentions of the government of Daniel Ortega, … part of a hostile and aggressive policy against its southern neighbor.”

“The Río Colorado is located 100 percent within Costa Rican territory. The river is completely inside the border, [and] we must not allow navigation of Nicaraguan officials or citizens, unless they have a visa,” Castillo said.

The court will study Nicaragua’s request and issue one of three possible rulings: The court could fully reject it, admit it and start a new case, or include the complaint as part of the Isla Calero case, which “could delay by several years a resolution of the lawsuit filed by Costa Rica in December 2010,” Castillo said.

The Colorado River crosses an important protected area in the Wildlife Refuge of Barra del Colorado. It is used for transportation and sportfishing, and could become an important tourist destination.

Contact L. Arias at

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