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Costa Rica’s foreign minister says Nicaragua still an ‘enemy’

September 20, 2011

Six months since the International Court of Justice ruled that Nicaragua must remove its troops from the disputed land on the south side of the Río San Juan, known as the Isla Calero, Costa Rica’s new foreign minister said President Daniel Ortega’s government remains an “enemy” of Costa Rica.

“I think that we have to consider Nicaragua as an enemy while they continue to usurp (territory),” said Costa Rican Foreign Minister Enrique Castillo, in an interview with the daily La Nación.

Castillo served previously as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. and argued the case against Nicaragua at the OAS in November (TT, Nov. 9, 2010).  He assumed the role of foreign minister when René Castro stepped down to become the minister of energy, environment and telecommunications.

“There is a vengeful motivation that is based in the xenophobia that the government of Ortega feeds the Nicaragua people and is practiced by the Nicaraguan government,” Castillo said. “It is a xenophobic government against Costa Rica.”

Castillo added that he felt Nicaragua intentionally sparked the dispute over the Isla Calero. Only days after Nicaragua began dredging the eastern segment of Río San Juan, it was reported that the boat deposited sediment onto the south side of the river and that Nicaraguan soldiers cut down trees in Costa Rican territory (TT, Oct. 22, 2010).

“I think Nicaragua planned this in bad faith (and) with much anticipation,” Castillo said. “The execution occurred when it was thought to be a favorable moment during the transition period from one government to another. It was going to happen sooner or later.”

In December 2010, President Laura Chinchilla also said she considered Nicaragua to be an enemy (TT, Dec. 6, 2010).

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