Costa Rican officials are expressing their outrage because Nicaragua seems to have dug two channels from the Río San Juan to the Caribbean.
The action is an affront to the International Court of Justice, which decreed that there would be no activity in the area while it considered a complaint lodged by Costa Rica over an October 2010 incursion.
Nicaragua is trying to bypass the silted mouth of the Río San Juan to turn the area into a tourist attraction. Already there is a modern airstrip nearby.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega knows that Costa Rica will not take any armed action because of its pacifist philosophies. In addition, there is an election coming in Nicaragua.
Costa Rica has filed complaints with the U.N. court in The Hague as well as with the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, which provides environmental protection. The area is far from just being a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Tarpon fishermen said that the big fish breed in the lagoons that will be destroyed by the new channels.
Last July the international court issued another preliminary ruling on the case and said that groups of Nicaraguans in the disputed area can aggravate the situation.
In fact, the court has little power except through persuasion. When Colombia did not like the ruling it made involving some maritime borders with Nicaragua, the country said it would pull out of the court.
Ortega has been throwing up smoke screens to distract Costa Rican officials. First he said he wanted to reclaim Guanacaste, land his country lost in 1824. Then he said he would challenge some other maritime borders. Meanwhile, work appears to have been going on in the Isla Portillos.
The Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Culto said that the work was photographed Sept. 5 from the air. There is a bend in the river where it runs parallel to the Caribbean coastline, and it is there where the channels have been constructed. One is said to be a significant size.
Such work usually gets the help of the river which has been known to blow out new channels overnight.
Castillo visited the legislature Tuesday to explain what was going on. He expressed some frustration with the delays by the international court.