Insulza will see the disputed land from both sides of river

José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, spent the weekend being very diplomatic.

Foreign minister René Castro briefs José Miguel Insulaza (far right) and his staff. Photo: Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto

He arrived in Costa Rica Friday and met with President Laura Chinchilla and others. Then he was off to Nicaragua where he toured by military aircraft the disputed area at the mouth of the Río San Juan.

Sunday he was back in Costa Rica meeting with René Castro, the Costa Rican foreign minister.

Insulza plans to take a look at the river mouth from the Costa Rican side today. He will fly. The secretary general’s visit comes after Costa Rica complained to the hemispheric body about the intrusion of Nicaraguan troops into its soil.

Meanwhile Google Maps has refused to take the blame for any geographical misunderstandings. The company said any inexactitudes in its maps would be the fault of third parties who provided the material and that despite its efforts to achieve accuracy no one should use Google Maps to decide military actions between nations.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his representative at the river mouth, Eden Pastora, have been citing Google Maps as a source for their claim against Costa Rican soil.

Daniel Helft, a Google Maps executive, said the firm was trying to correct the map as quickly as possible. His e-mail message was released by the foreign ministry.

Nevertheless, Nicaraguan officials are coming up with reasons why the disputed Isla Calero is Nicaraguan soil. In fact, they reject the term Isla Calero and cite the treaties that have defined the national border for more than 100 years.

Insulza and Ortega agreed at a brief airport meeting Sunday that more boundary markers should be put in.

However, some along the Costa Rican border have said that Nicaraguan soldiers uprooted boundary markers as they invaded the island.

Insulza said that Tuesday he would deliver his report to the organization’s Permanent Council so he should not be asked about his conclusions.

The Nicaraguan newspapers appear to be following the lead of the government.

La Prensa Sunday quotes Roberto Canjina, said to be a security expert, who claims that Costa Rica has expansionist tendencies.

The newspaper also published a lengthy article on José María Tijerino, Costa Rica’s security minister, and his childhood in Chinandega, Nicaragua. His father was Nicaraguan and his mother a Tica.

Another article repeats the government’s geographic claims without attribution.

Ms. Chinchilla said over the weekend that the country reserves the right to take the matter to the United Nations if there is no just settlement.

Pastora, the former guerrilla commander who had his civil war headquarters in nearby Barra del Colorado, was overhead on the marine radio admitting that the land involved was Costa Rican. He is in charge of a dredging operation there. But rather than a simply removal of sediment, the plan appears to be to punch a new mouth to the Caribbean through land Costa Rican claims.

The plan appears to be to create better access to the river to benefit tourism projects. The land involved has been basically unused by Costa Rica.

The owner is the Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones, and it is leased to a cattle rancher.

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