Country not defenseless, Ms. Chinchilla tells gathering

President Laura Chinchilla strikes a strong pose as she says that Costa Rica is not defenseless. Photo: Casa Presidencial

President Laura Chinchilla Miranda said Wednesday that just because Costa Rica does not have an army does not mean the country is defenseless.

She also called Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his advisers cowards when she said that only cowards are valiant with the defenseless.

The Nicaraguan press picked up that comment immediately. The newspapers in Managua also played up the fact that Ms. Chinchilla said she was boosting the police presence along the northern border. She also encouraged Costa Ricans to join the reserves of the Fuerza Pública.

She also promised that the country would not allow any more violations of its territory. Ortega has said Nicaraguans should have free passage on the Río Colorado, which is near Isla Calero where his troops have invaded. The Río Colorado is well within Costa Rican territory.

Ms. Chinchilla is bringing her message to Argentina today for a meeting of Latin American heads of state in Mar del Plata. René Castro, the Costa Rican foreign minister met with diplomats from the United States, Russia and China
Tuesday. He is working hard to dispute the characterization by Managua that the issue in northern Costa Rica is a border dispute. He and Ms. Chinchilla call the action an invasion.

Castro also has a date with the Organization of American States next week where he will seek sanctions against Nicaragua.

Ms. Chinchilla’s talk Wednesday was at the 62nd anniversary of the abolition of the Costa Rican army in the Museo Nacional in San José.

“A disarmed country is not synonymous with a country territorially defenseless,” she said, adding that her administration is seeking without rest resources to finance a civilian and professional police force, well equipped and trained. Her legislative aides have submitted a corporate tax bill proposal to the legislature to raise these funds.

She said she has asked the security minister to beef up troop strength along the Río San Juan, which marks the border.

In the audience were men and women who had fought with José Figueres Ferrer in the Costa Rican civil war. It was Figueres who abolished the army in his role as president of the subsequent junta.

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