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Nicaraguan Troops, Flag Reported in Tico Soil

November 2, 2010

Security Minister José María Tijerino announced Monday afternoon that members of the Nicaraguan army had been seen on Isla Calero, a piece of land on the Costa Rican side of the Río San Juan. Tijerino added that pictures and video reveal a Nicaraguan flag has been placed on the property. The flag is located on the same property, known as Finca Aragón, where trees were cut down and sediment was deposited by a Nicaraguan dredge that is deepening the Río San Juan (TT Oct. 22).

“A flyover this morning above Isla Calero revealed the presence of Nicaraguan troops in national territory, Costa Rican territory,” Tijerino said. “There is a Nicaraguan flag and tents belonging to the Nicaraguan army. … Because of this, the National Police will reinforce its presence in the zone to protect national territory.”

Tijerino would not specify the number of National Police that would be deployed to the area, but did confirm that they will be sent to the town of Barra del Colorado, in the northeast corner of Costa Rica.

In light of the findings, Foreign Minister René Castro has called for an urgent meeting of the Organization of American States (OAS) to diffuse the escalating tension between the two countries along the Río San Juan. According to Castro, he spoke with the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, on Monday afternoon to request the emergency meeting.

“The decision to involve the OAS is the appropriate action to take when it is considered that a country’s sovereignty has been compromised,” Castro said. “We hope that the involvement of the OAS will assure that no further damage is done to national territory and that the rights of both countries are respected along the border.”

According to Tijerino, Nicaragua has justified the incursion as an effort to reduce drug trafficking in the region.

Both Tijerino and Castro reiterated several times that they hope the situation can be resolved peacefully and without further conflict.

“Costa Rica, which doesn’t have an army, is looking for a solution to this conflict through diplomatic channels,” Tijerino said. “We are looking for a solution that, if possible, will not further aggravate the situation.”

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