Carlos Arguello, Nicaragua’s legal representative before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, told the local daily La Prensa on Monday that “Costa Rica is launching a worldwide slander campaign against Nicaragua, aiming to prevent the construction of a transoceanic canal [in southern Nicaragua] and trying to force Nicaragua to ask permission to build it. “
Nicaragua’s Gran Canal project aims to connect the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean using part of the San Juan River, a natural border between the two countries.
Both governments maintain an ongoing border dispute over a prior occupation by Nicaraguan nationals of Isla Calero, a small territory bordering the two countries, and over navigation rights on the San Juan River.
Nicaragua’s response was a series of counter-claims to halt construction of a border road along the San Juan, on Costa Rica’s side, arguing that its construction caused environmental damage to the river.
Arguello said the canal, according to international treaties, can be built without the need to ask permission from Costa Rica.
“Throughout our history, whenever Nicaragua addresses the construction of a canal, Costa Rica causes problems because they prefer the canal to be built on Mars or Venus, … they prefer it built in Mexico or Argentina, but never in Nicaragua,” he added.