Costa Rica, Nicaragua at odds over border dispute
Costa Rica and Nicaragua are at odds over a border dispute, with a 48-hour ultimatum issued by Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla on the issue set to expire Thursday, dpa reported.
The Nicaraguan government sent troops to the border last week. The river San Juan, which marks the common border, is acknowledged by both sides to belong to Nicaragua. However, Nicaraguan troops stationed themselves on Calero Island, which Costa Rica claims as its own, and planted their flag there.
Chinchilla has insisted that this is an unacceptable occupation of Costa Rican land, and has demanded that Nicaragua withdraw its troops.
The Organization of American States (OAS) is to meet Thursday to discuss the issue. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza visited both countries from Friday to Monday and also flew over the area in dispute, to brace his mediation efforts.
Costa Rica is one of only a few countries around the world that have no Armed Forces.
From Isla Calero, a wild area of some 150 square kilometres, Nicaraguan forces are dredging the river bed, in order to allow cruise liners through in the future. Beyond territorial issues, Costa Rica denounces that these actions are harmful to the environment.
In an interview Wednesday with CNN en Espanol, Chinchilla declared her willingness to discuss border complaints with Nicaragua, but demanded as a prerequisite that Managua withdraw its forces from the are in dispute "as a sign of good will." Otherwise, she stressed, no talks would be possible.
However, no end appeared to be in sight. The Nicaraguan National Assembly was to meet later Wednesday in the southern province of San Carlos, adjacent to the area in dispute, with a view to granting additional funds for military border surveillance in the region.