The multi-million-dollar price tag on the damages to the wetlands near the Caribbean border of both countries comes after the International Court of Justice ruled in December 2015 that Nicaragua violated Costa Rica’s sovereignty when it dredged an artificial canal through Isla Calero, also known as Isla Portillos or Harbour Head Island.
The case dates back to September 2013, when Costa Rican authorities discovered that Nicaragua had been dredging canals through Isla Portillos to connect the San Juan River with the Caribbean Sea despite that fact that the International Court of Justice had declared the territory “disputed."
The mitigation work that started this week in Isla Portillos, or Isla Calero, comes just three weeks before oral arguments are set to begin in the territorial dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica before the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
President Luis Guillermo Solís responded to media reports that Nicaragua would add 13 more dredging ships to the two already in the river, which is Nicaraguan territory. The president alleged that the additional dredging would risk affecting the water levels in the river and could damage the Isla Calero wetlands.
The U.N. General Assembly on Thursday adopted a non-binding resolution backed by the United States and European Union declaring Crimea's breakaway referendum illegitimate and refusing to recognize Russia's annexation of the peninsula. Costa Rica and Nicaragua, however, embroiled in their own border disputes, found themselves on opposite sides of the resolution.
Environment Vice Minister Ana Lorena Guevara reiterated on Thursday that Nicaragua's dredging of two artificial canals in Costa Rica's northeastern region had caused considerable environmental damage to protected wetlands.
The government of Costa Rica announced Tuesday that it would file a new complaint against Nicaragua at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, this time for alleged seizure of maritime territory offered by Managua to international oil companies.