During a quick 14-hour visit to San José, José Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), met with Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla and Foreign Minister René Castro to discuss the ongoing border dispute between Costa Rica and Nicaragua along the Río San Juan. At the conclusion of the two meetings on Saturday morning, Insulza said that the goal of the OAS is to resolve the matter, which centers on the occupation of Isla Calero by the Nicaraguan military, as quickly and peacefully as possible. The island is located at the mouth of the Río San Juán, which forms the eastern portion of the border between the two countries.
“I have been given a very clear picture of the position of Costa Rica regarding the problem that exists with Nicaragua, including its point of view about the disputed land, the situation on the banks of the Río San Juan and its demand that Nicaragua remove its forces from the area,” Insulza said. “My obligation is to assure that this situation is resolved in a peaceful manner.”
Chinchilla said that during the meetings Insulza and the members of the OAS mission were presented with evidence of Nicaragua’s “flagrant violation” of Costa Rican sovereignty, including a detailed map of the area in question. She also mentioned several times that Costa Rica hoped for a prompt, peaceful and fair resolution to the conflict.
“We are particularly pleased with the progress made in the meeting today and feel this is the first step to a peaceful end to this situation,” Chinchilla said. “This is a national priority and we hope to have it resolved as soon as possible.”
On Saturday afternoon, Insulza is scheduled to meet with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Insulza said he would return to Costa Rica after meeting with Ortega if that would help resolve the conflict, and may visit the area in question, including Isla Calero. A previously scheduled meeting of the Binational Commission of the two countries is set for Nov. 27, which could also serve as a forum for resolving the dispute.
On Thursday, around 15 Nicaraguan soldiers were seen at a makeshift base on Isla Calero, which is on the south side of the Río San Juan. Edén Pastora, the Nicaraguan revolutionary war hero who is responsible for the dredging of the river, claims that the 1858 Cañas-Jeréz Treaty indicates that the Isla Calero is in Nicaraguan territory.