Posts tagged: ortega

No-Army celebration marred by border conflict

In San Carlos, a Nicaraguan town along the San Juan River; Photo by David W. Smith

Yesterday, as Costa Ricans celebrated the 62nd year of being a country without an army, President Laura Chinchilla announced plans to send more police to a disputed stretch of the Costa Rica – Nicaragua border.

Six weeks ago, Nicaraguan troops occupied an island in the delta of the San Juan and Colorado Rivers that most believe to be Costa Rican territory. Chinchilla has brought the conflict to at least two international bodies—the Organization of American States (OAS) and the International Court in the Hague—but the troops are still there.

And now, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is trying to push a series of measures through that country’s legislature that seek to expand military powers in times of “national emergencies” and to reserve 15 kilometers around the border zone for “special treatment.” Critics of Ortega say the measures could mean private property in the border zone might be appropriated and that they seem to signal that the country is preparing for war.

Costa Rican President Chinchilla said yesterday that “the absence of an army should not jeopardize the civil protection of Costa Rica’s territory and that “a disarmed country should not be synonymous with a country that’s geographically helpless.”