Ortega creates a distraction with comment about Guanacaste

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his loose lips are a public relations practitioner’s dream.

The high point of the Costa Rica response to Ortega’s unexpected comment last week is a march Thursday at the Tribunales de Justicia in Nicoya. President Laura Chinchilla will share the spotlight with Marco Antonio Jiménez, the local mayor.


Analysis of the news

Ortega was speaking at the anniversary of his country’s navy when he suggested that Nicaragua should reclaim Guanacaste.

Residents there voted to join with Costa Rica in 1824. This is the province with the great Pacific beaches.

The march will give political leaders a public platform to show their defense of the country without actually being in risk.

Ortega, on the other hand, is able to redirect Costa Rican concern to Guanacaste from the mouth of the Río San Juan in the east where he is trying to create a marina and hotel for tourist development.

Even lawmakers wanted to close down their activities to join the march. But that idea failed to win enough votes Tuesday. Some still will participate.

The Thursday event is called the Marcha Por la Patriaand is organized by the municipality. Schools may be let out for the 10 a.m. event, too.

Ortega also has to be thinking of the home crowd. He is clashing with the government of Colombia over maritime territory. Colombia owns San Andres and adjacent islands in the Caribbean. The country has repudiated a World Court ruling that gives some of the maritime territory to Nicaragua. The situation is more than lines on a map.  There may be petroleum under the sea floor.

In the Pacific, Ortega’s government is at odds with Costa Rica over the extent of each country’s territorial waters and sprawling zone of economic interest.

Costa Rica already is in the World Court with Nicaragua on the matter of the invasion of a small northeaster piece of Costa Rica at the mouth of the Río San Juan. That case is dragging on, although Ms. Chinchilla has not shown any reluctance to go to the United Nations and the court again over Ortega’s Guanacaste comment.

Nicaragua is purchasing some armed patrol boats from Russia and vows to protect its interests in the Caribbean. Armed confrontations with Colombia’s well-equipped navy is a real possibility, particularly if petroleum is discovered.

In the meantime, Costa Rica is the nearest neighbor to taunt without danger of armed response because the country has no military.

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