Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his government will pay Costa Rica compensation over environmental damage associated with Nicaragua’s illegal dredging of the Isla Calero wetlands in 2010.
The amount to be paid, however, is less clear: Ortega said his government considers the $6.7 million requested by Costa Rica to be “exaggerated.”
The president spoke at an official ceremony Monday night during which he received the credentials of various diplomats, including those of the new Costa Rican ambassador to Managua, Eduardo Trejos.
“Of course we will pay, but we first need to clarify the figure they are requesting. Of course, Nicaragua is going to abide by the Court’s ruling,” Ortega told those in attendance at the ceremony, Nicaraguan daily La Prensa reported.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in favor of Costa Rica on Dec. 16, 2015 in case that began when the two countries brought mutual accusations before the Hague-based court.
ICJ justices acknowledged Costa Rica’s sovereignty over a small wetland territory known as Isla Calero. They determined that Nicaraguan soldiers violated Costa Rica’s sovereignty when they dredged an artificial canal through the wetland.
The court also ordered Nicaragua to compensate Costa Rica for damage caused to its territory along the border area. Costa Rica’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Sergio Ugalde, presented the $6 million compensation request to his Nicaraguan counterpart Carlos Arguello in June.
President Luis Guillermo Solís said last week that he hopes Nicaragua complies with the ICJ orders by Dec. 16, the end of the one-year deadline set by the court.
“It’s not something that I made up. It’s a court order,” he said, adding that if Nicaragua fails to pay for the damage, Costa Rica will take the case back to the ICJ.
During his comments on Monday, Ortega also said that he is “infinitely willing” to reestablish fraternal relations with the Costa Rican government. He said there is no reason for current distant relations between the governments and between the two nations.
“I want to visit President Solís and personally express everything I just said, and also invite him to come to Nicaragua,” Ortega said, adding that he hopes the two governments can normalize relations.
“Because we have to admit it, we haven’t succeeded in doing so,” he said.
Below is a timeline of events in the Costa Rica–Nicaragua border dispute: