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Thousands of Nicaraguans Back Government in Border Spat with Costa Rica

November 16, 2010

MANAGUA – Thousands of Nicaraguans took to the streets of Managua on Tuesday to reaffirm their country’s sovereignty over the San Juan River and to support the government of Daniel Ortega in the ongoing border dispute with Costa Rica.

On foot, on motorcycles and in assorted other vehicles, the demonstrators traveled about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) to the foreign ministry, where they were received by Foreign Minister Samuel Santos and Environment and Natural Resources Minister Juana Argeñal.

Waving flags in the national colors of blue and white as they marched along, the demonstrators chanted slogans supporting the government’s stance on the San Juan River and against the alleged pretensions of Costa Rica regarding the waterway that forms the border between the two countries.

“The San Juan River is 100 percent Nica,” shouted the demonstrators.

“It’s clear that Nicaragua is the owner of the San Juan River, of its waters. There’s not the slightest doubt,” exclaimed Santos during a speech he gave upon receiving the demonstrators.

“It’s clear that Nicaragua has maintained a position of friendship and resolving the problem or the situation that exists through dialogue.”

The foreign minister said, however, that the dispute with Costa Rica “is not a two-day struggle, nor of today, it’s a struggle that has 200 years (of history).”

Costa Rica and Nicaragua have been at odds on the matter since Oct. 21, when San Jose complained that Managua was dumping into its territory sediment from the dredging operation Nicaragua is undertaking in the San Juan River, an accusation rejected by the Ortega government.

Later, San José denounced the alleged incursion of Nicaraguan troops into its territory, but Managua said that the soldiers were staying on its side of the border, maintaining Nicaragua’s sovereignty and fighting drug trafficking.

The Organization of American States last Friday approved a resolution in which it requested that the two countries begin a dialogue and ordered them to remove any armed personnel from the area in dispute.

The Nicaraguan government repeated that it will not remove its soldiers from the area and that it will “seriously” consider withdrawing from the OAS as a result of the resolution.

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