Costa Rica Rejects Drug Trafficking Allegations, Hopes for Resolution

November 15, 2010

On Sunday evening, Costa Rican Foreign Minister René Castro submitted an official protest to Harold Rivas, the Nicaraguan Ambassador to Costa Rica, in response to comments made by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in a televised address on Saturday. Ortega, who said that Nicaragua would not remove its troops from the Isla Calero, the disputed parcel of land between the two nations on the Río San Juan, also stated that “drug traffickers direct Costa Rican foreign policy.”  

Calling Ortega obstinate, Castro said he was discouraged by the Nicaraguan president’s most recent statements, given the two countries’ ongoing efforts at finding a peaceful resolution.

“Despite the decision by the Organization of American States (OAS) in favor of removing Nicaraguan troops from the area, Nicaragua refuses to comply,” Castro said. “Progress (toward a resolution) cannot be made in this conflict if Nicaragua continues to ignore the OAS recommendations and insult Costa Rica with false accusations,” he said.

On Friday, 22 of the 27 OAS nations approved a resolution urging Nicaragua to remove troops from the Isla Calero. Ortega responded on Saturday by claiming that Costa Rica, Guatemala, Colombia, Mexico and Panama — countries that approved the resolution — were motivated by drug trafficking.

Ortega also announced that Nicaragua will request the legal right to navigate the Río Colorado, which feeds from the Río San Juan in northeastern Costa Rica, and runs through the town of Barra del Colorado. 

“The Río Colorado is and always has been exclusively a Costa Rican river,” Castro said.

Given Nicaragua’s defiance to the OAS ruling, Castro said that Costa Rica would not yet bring the dispute before the United Nations, as was suggested by President Laura Chinchilla last week. Castro said that the next step in fostering negotiations would be a meeting of a binational commission on Nov. 27.

“We will have to decide who participates and who we will we bring in to oversee the commission,” Castro said. “At that time, we can only hope that the Nicaragua will be more willing to settle the issue in a diplomatic manner that satisfies both countries.” 

On Monday, Chinchilla met with several former Costa Rican Foreign Ministers as well as former Presidents Luis Alberto Monge and Abel Pacheco to discuss the ongoing conflict. Pacheco declined to comment on specific details of the dispute, but said he fully supported the efforts of Chinchilla and her ministers.

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