Costa Rica closes consulate in Nicaragua, citing ‘xenophobia’

The Costa Rican government announced on Sunday it temporarily closed its consulate in Managua to protest “xenophobia” by Nicaraguan residents after attempts to relocate to a new location in the south of the capital were blocked by locals.

“We had decided to move the consulate to a location that offered better conditions for Nicaraguans, but neighborhood residents were opposed to the relocation of our offices and they blocked the roads,” Costa Rican Foreign Minister Castillo told the online daily crhoy.com on Sunday.

The consulate was scheduled to open at a new location on Monday, but Castillo said “xenophobia against Ticos,” which he said was “fostered by the government of Nicaragua,” prevented that from happening.

The new consulate offices were to be located in the Las Colinas neighborhood of Managua, but residents blocked Costa Rican officials from entering the site. Other consulate offices in the provinces of Chinandega and Rivas will remain open.

Thousands of migrant Nicaraguan workers rely on Costa Rican consulate services to obtain temporary work visas to enter the neighboring country to the south.

Relations between Costa Rica and Nicaragua – often rocky to begin with – hit a low point last week when Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega threatened to appeal to a world court to reclaim the northwestern Costa Rican province of Guanacaste.

Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla responded by issuing a formal protest letter to the Nicaraguan government and threatening to appeal to the United Nations Security Council.