The country is beginning to awake to plans by Nicaragua to build a hydroelectric project on the Río San Juan. The Spanish-language daily La Nación editorialized Tuesday that Costa Rica must make sure it defends the rights of its citizens.
A political quirk sets the border between the two countries at the south bank of the river instead of in the middle, as usually is the case. Consequently, Nicaragua owns the river, but Costa Rica has gone to the World Court in the Hague several times to defend its right of passage and navigation, which is contained in various treaties.
The $600 million hydro project is close to Lake Nicaragua, and environmentalists fear that the dam associated with the project will reduce the amount of water coming east down the San Juan.
Others have expressed concern for the many fish that travel
the river, including tarpon, snook and bull sharks.
Costa Rica has the right to be informed about this project, including the impact of flora and fauna, said La Nación. It noted that a recent court case in the Hague reaffirmed Nicaragua’s right to build in the river, but it should do so without impeding the flow of water, the newspaper said.
Others are not so sedate, Freddy Pacheco, a professor at Universidad Nacional, called the proposal, the Proyecto Hidroeléctrico Brito, a flagrant violation of international treaties and lack of respect to natural resources.
Meanwhile, a Nicaragua effort to dredge the mouth of the Río San Juan where it enters the Caribbean also is drawing notice from Costa Rica.
Fishermen in Barra del Colorado in northeast Costa Rica are concerned about the effect on the Río Colorado, which really is an alternate mouth of the river but completely within Costa Rica. The area is known for its tarpon fishing.