Nicaragua says planned inter-oceanic canal won’t be built on the San Juan

May 15, 2013

The Costa Rican Foreign Ministry on Monday night received a letter from the Nicaraguan government saying that “due to technical reasons,” the administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega would not be using the San Juan River to build a transoceanic canal.

Instead, Nicaragua hopes to build a massive canal on Nicaraguan land to facilitate trade and circumvent the Panama Canal. The San Juan River forms a natural border between the two countries, and although it technically belongs to Nicaragua, use of the river must be negotiated between the two countries. 

Following a weekly Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, Costa Rican Foreign Vice Minister Carlos Roverssi said that, “Nicaragua finally understood that they cannot move forward on this project without the approval of Costa Rica.”

Roverssi also said the Costa Rican government “was informed” that a number of possible investors for the project told Nicaraguan officials they would not invest in the canal project without Costa Rica’s approval.

Despite Nicaragua’s notification, Roverssi said officials would remain vigilant due to an ongoing border dispute between the two countries that is still pending at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands.

“The canal will be built entirely within Nicaraguan territory, making the possible environmental impact a completely Nicaraguan sovereignty issue that no longer is of interest of Costa Rica,” said the vice minister.

On Monday, Carlos Arguello, Nicaragua’s legal representative before the International Court of Justice, told the local daily La Prensa that “Costa Rica is launching a worldwide slander campaign against Nicaragua, aiming to prevent the construction of the canal and trying to force Nicaragua to ask permission to build it. “

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