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Nicaragua’s Ortega insists in 'reclaiming' Guanacaste in court

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – President Daniel Ortega on Monday warned Costa Rica for a second time that Nicaragua may ask the International Court of Justice to “restore” Guanacaste, a province he said “Nicaragua lost to Costa Rica’s expansionist politics back in 1824.”

Ortega was referring to the northwestern province which is about 20 percent of neighboring Costa Rica’s territory and a popular tourism hub.

“Costa Rica did not win that territory in an international court, but rather by force, with arms,” Ortega said at a military ceremony. “Nicaragua has been ousted from its territory by expansionist policies of nations such as Costa Rica,” he added.

He also said he would like the opportunity to discuss the return of the “occupied” province, an idea that has been rejected by Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla.

On Tuesday Costa Rica’s Foreign Vice Minister Gioconda Úbeda told media at Casa Presidencial that if Ortega’s proposal to discuss ongoing border disputes is sincere, he should formally present it through appropriate diplomatic channels because, so far, they have only heard about them through the media.

“We’re willing to discuss about current disputes filed before the ICJ [world court], … we’re willing to discuss about Isla Calero [a small territory next to the bordering Río San Juan] as long as Nicaragua acknowledges that it is Costa Rican territory and as long as they comply with all rulings set by the ICJ,” she stated.

On Aug. 13, also at a military event, Ortega gave a speech saying “given the fact that this issue [of Guanacaste] has not been debated in the [world] court, we could consider taking the case to the ‘ICJ’ [the court] and it could permit Nicaragua to recover that territory.”

Regarding Ortega’s statements on Monday, Úbeda said Costa Rica has nothing to discuss on that matter “as it was solved over a century and a half ago, in the border treaty. … We will not discuss it, but if he [Ortega] decides to take it to the ICJ jurisdiction, as he’s getting used to, he will have to comply with international law procedures. That’s the way an unarmed nation like Costa Rica solve disputes,” she added, ruling out sending a written protest to Managua, as Costa Rica did following the first time he mentioned the issue.

After Ortega’s first threat, Chinchilla led a march to protest Ortega’s comments on Guanacaste. The president of the Legislative Assembly, Fernando Mendoza, a lawmaker for the ruling National Liberation Party from Guanacaste, addressed the crowd that day, saying Guanacaste residents would defend their sovereignty “with kicks and punches.”

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