The government of Nicaragua on Saturday sent a group of 20 young environmentalists to the San Juan River, a natural border between the two countries, to “perform reforestation projects for 10 days.”
According to the ruling Sandinista party’s online newspaper, www.el19digital.com, the young environmentalists are members of the Guardabarranco Movement, and have the support of the government of President Daniel Ortega.
The International Court of Justice in The Hague last week called on both countries to refrain from sending civilians to a disputed area along the border near Isla Calero to avoid exacerbating conflict between the two nations.
In October 2010, Costa Rica denounced that members of the Nicaraguan Army led by ex-Contra leader Edén Pastora moved sediment from a dredging operation on the river onto Isla Calero, in the northeastern corner of Costa Rica, causing environmental damage.
The Costa Rican government in 2011 also protested an “invasion of territory” by Nicaraguan soldiers and a previous incursion by a Nicaraguan political youth group on Isla Calero.
Following the complaint, the world court barred Nicaraguan military personnel and civilians from entering the area, and only Costa Rican scientists tasked with conservation in the delicate wetlands are allowed to enter the conflict zone.
The dispute heightened recently when Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry denounced the Nicaraguan government for planning to explore oil blocs in disputed maritime territory that Ticos say belongs to them. Colombia also protested the move.
The Nicaraguan government announced last month they are aquiring six Russian gunboats with strong combat capabilities and will use them to patrol the waters inside their exclusive economic zone.