The government’s long-awaited plans to dredge the San Juan River along the Costa Rican border could start in July, according to President Daniel Ortega.
In a speech July 3, Ortega said the government’s dredge has already been built by a Russian engineer and tested in the river port of El Rama, on the Caribbean coast.
Next week the dredge will be transported to the Río San Juan to start cleaning that river, which now diverts into Costa Rica for the last 34 kilometers due to sedimentation buildup on the Nicaraguan side.
Sandinista revolutionary hero Edén Pastora, who is heading the project despite having no experience in dredging, said Nicaragua needs to recover the last stretch of the river to recover its ownership claim to the waters. “Whoever controls the door to the house is the owner of the house,” Pastora told The Nica Times in 2008, referring to the fact that the mouth of the river is now in Costa Rican territory.
Ortega has likened the project to recovering Nicaraguan’s sovereignty.
Ownership and navigation rights to the river have long been a contentious issue between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. The issue went all the way to The Hague, which ruled the river belongs to Nicaragua but Costa Rica has navigation rights.
“The resolutions of the International Court of Justice, which has ruled in our favor, is not enough,” Ortega said. “The important thing is for the river to have water again and to transport Nicaraguans and our Central American brother s and everyone else in the world who wants to visit our San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua.”
Ortega added that Nicaraguans can’t be “egotistical” in wanting the river all to themselves, but must share it with Costa Rica and the rest of the world.
Ortega also mentioned that the government plans to build an airport and homes in San Juan de Nicaragua, formerly known as Greytown.