Nicaragua’s former guerrilla leader Edén Pastora, known during that country’s civil war as “Comandante Cero” and responsible for the recent construction of a canal in a disputed border area, on Wednesday accused Costa Rican officials of bribing Interpol in exchange for a red alert being issued against him on Tuesday.
In a telephone interview with Costa Rica’s Radio ADN, Pastora said he “does not understand why Interpol would become involved” in an international border dispute between the two countries.
“It is only possible that an organization that pursues gangsters, murderers, rapists and swindlers … [would issue] this alert because likely one of them received bribes from Costa Rican officials,” Pastora said.
Pastora did not mention specific names, but he did say the bribe “probably came from a former judge from Pococí [in Limón], who now is public security vice minister,” referring to Public Security Vice Minister Celso Gamboa.
Gamboa told the daily La Nación that Pastora’s accusations were “completely out of line.” Gamboa said that in 2010, he was responsible for issuing an arrest warrant in Costa Rica for Pastora, who dredged the San Juan River and likely was involved in the occupation by Nicaraguan troops of land that Costa Rica claims as its own.
After that local warrant was issued, and officials determined that Pastora was not in Costa Rica, they sent the red alert request to Interpol, Gamboa said.
Interpol on Tuesday posted photos of Pastora on its website and requested he be arrested on charges of “usurpation of public property and violation of the country’s forestry law.“
Pastora remained defiant. “I’ve never done any harm to Costa Rica – the only one causing damage is Doña Laura, with a road that is destroying mountains, trees and nature,” Pastora told ADN, referring to Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla and a road half-built with emergency funds parallel to the San Juan River.
Pastora, 76, is responsible for the construction of two artificial canals in Costa Rica on the northeastern Caribbean coast. Those canals, the occupation of a protected wetland by Nicaraguan troops, and Pastora’s dredging of the San Juan River, which forms a natural border between the two countries, sparked a bitter dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica that has lasted three years. That row ended up in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.
Court justices so far have issued several minor rulings in favor of Costa Rica. A final ruling on the dispute is forthcoming.