René Castro carries case of Río San Juan to Spain

René Castro, the foreign minister, is in Spain today seeking Spanish support as Costa Rica continues to seek relief from the Nicaraguan invasion at the Isla Calero.

Castro has been to England, Germany and Norway with the same message.

He went to Europe primarily to participate in the case before the International Court of Justice where Costa Rica seeks a restraining order against the Nicaraguan regime and the work on the island and in the Río San Juan, which runs across the country’s northern border.

Costa Rica was seeking quick action from the international court, which is an agency of the United Nations. Now some are not sure. Nicaragua appears to have presented a case much stronger than expected.

The latest round came last week when the Nicaraguan judicial delegation was asked to provide written answers to questions from the court magistrates. Then Costa Rica had a chance to comment in writing on the Nicaraguan responses.

Meanwhile, dredging and digging activities continue on the Isla Calero. Nicaragua is seeking to install a direct mouth of the river to the Caribbean to circumvent the existing meandering river course. That will open the river to tourism and for development in the adjacent area.

Those who live in the northern area fear that a mouth of the Río San Juan sufficient to shipping will divert water from the Río Colorado, which is totally in Costa Rican territory. Costa Ricans also complained in the Hague-based court that Nicaragua had done major environmental damage.

The Nicaraguan invasion has given Costa Rican officials an incentive to beef up the security of the border. Nicaragua claimed that the island and nearby parts of Costa Rica were being used by international drug smugglers. There is some truth to this claim. The Costa Rican Defensoría de los Habitantes traveled to the area and reported on difficulties that police have in patrolling the zone.

Costa Rican officials have authorized the construction of some roads along the San Juan to help patrol the area. The river is totally Nicaraguan, and armed Costa Rican police are prohibited from traveling by boat, which so far is the preferred method of transport in the area.

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