Insulza to make report this afternoon on river

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States hears from its secretary general this afternoon on the border conflict between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but neither the council nor José Miguel Insulza, the secretary general, are likely to condemn Managua for invasion of the Isla Calero.

Insulza has made it clear during his three days of visits that his goal and the goal of the hemispheric organization is to promote dialogue rather than settle boundary disputes.

Costa Rica said it will not negotiate with Nicaragua until that country’s troops leave Tico soil, and that is about the only issue to discuss.

Insulza flew over the disputed island Monday. Unlike security ministry flights in prior weeks, Nicaragua soldiers were not in evidence.

He flew along the Nicaraguan side Sunday.

Nicaraguan newspapers generally see the conflict as a dispute about dredging the Río San Juan. Eden Pastora, the man in charge of the dredging operation, irked Costa Rican officials because the river sediment was dumped on Tico land. However, the real issue is will Nicaragua be able to dredge a new mouth for the river through what most certainly is Costa Rican land. The new river mouth is a high priority for tourism and development in Nicaragua. Costa Rican officials generally have ignored the section of the country along the river.

Nicaragua’s intentions were clear from the beginning of the dispute because trees had been cut in anticipation of dredging operations making a new channel. A new mouth would bypass the meandering first 30 kilometers of the river and allow rapid entry of boats from the Caribbean.

Nicaraguan officials know they are working on Costa Rican land. Pastora was overheard admitting that two weeks ago on a marine band discussion with the dredging barge crew. Reports from Managua say that Pastora went on the national radio station Monday to tell the country that two more dredging barges are under construction for use on the river.

Costa Rica’s case was bolstered even more Monday when René Castro, the foreign minister, pointed out that a map Nicaragua used in a 2007 World Court case clearly shows that the Isla Calero is Costa Rican.

Nicaragua has made a number of claims, including one that used a Google map as evidence. Google quickly issued a caution and is in the process of correcting the map error.

Castro will be in Washington this afternoon to hear Insulza’s report. A Costa Rican newspaper disclosed last week that Venezuela is bankrolling the dredging, so some members of the Permanent Council will support Nicaragua regardless of Insulza’s report.

Castro has said the country may take the dispute to the United Nations if a satisfactory resolution cannot be found at the Organization of American States. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said his country will take the case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague, Netherlands.

As if to underscore Costa Rica’s commitment to remaining without an army, Centro Cultural e Histórico José Figueres Ferrer announced Monday that it is accepting essays and videos from high schoolers on the topic of “Costa Rica, un país sin Ejército.” Awards will be made Dec. 4, the 62nd anniversary of the army’s abolishment. Deadline for works is Nov. 30. This is the 12th year the museum has run the contest.

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