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Solís alarmed by additional dredging in San Juan River on Costa Rica – Nicaragua border

August 22, 2014

President Luis Guillermo Solís responded to media reports that Nicaragua would add 13 more dredging ships to the two already in the border river. The president alleged that the additional dredging would risk affecting the water levels in the river and could damage the Isla Calero wetlands.

He ordered his foreign minister to alert the International Court of Justice at The Hague about Nicaragua’s expanding dredging operations in the San Juan River in the latest spat over the disputed wetland.

“It seems to me that they are putting Costa Rican territory at risk and it should be denounced as something of great seriousness for our national interests,” Solís said during an activity in Alajuela on Friday.

“I understand Nicaragua’s sovereignty over the waters of the San Juan River allows it to conduct activities in this river, which is Nicaraguan territory. However, in this case, the dredging activity could have a powerful impact on Costa Rican territory,” Solís said.

Recommended: A timeline of the dispute

The president said that his government was collecting relevant information to present to the court. He added that Costa Rican authorities would not enter the wetlands without the permission of the Court, which has barred both sides from entering the area.

Foreign Minister Manuel González told the daily La Nación that he was concerned about the news of the Nicaraguan government’s plan to add the additional boats to the operation. González said that the decision would be a slap in the face of international law.

“The dredging has already done a lot of damage, I don’t know what another 14 more would do,” he told the newspaper.

The two countries have been embroiled in a protracted dispute over the protected wetlands in the ICJ. Costa Rica alleges that Nicaragua violated its national sovereignty when it cut artificial canals between the river and the Caribbean Sea in 2010. In November 2013, the ICJ ordered Nicaragua to withdraw entirely from the disputed border territory of Isla Calero.

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