SAN JOSE – Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla criticized Nicaragua’s response to her citizens’ complaints about the dredging works being carried out in the San Juan River, which marks the border between the two countries, and said that the neighboring country “forgot where its border is.”
“Our Nicaraguan neighbors have forgotten where their border is, who their neighbor is and where the San Juan is located,” Chinchilla told the local daily La Nacion.
The president was answering reporters’ questions about Nicaraguan reports that “troops of the armed forces” of Costa Rica have made incursions into their territory.
“Costa Rica has not had an army for more than 60 years, so to say there are armed forces here seems like a joke,” Chinchilla told the daily during her tour of the northern part of the country.
Nonetheless, the president said that the current differences with Nicaragua should be resolved through diplomatic channels.
For that reason, high Foreign Ministry officials met Friday with experts in geodesics, geography and cartography to determine precisely whether the dredging works in the San Juan River have infringed on Costa Rican territory.
After the meeting, the government reaffirmed its position that Nicaragua dumped sediment on its territory and that the dredging, led by ex-Sandinista commander Eden Pastora, is an attempt to change the course of the river and as a consequence move the border.
Costa Rica also said that Nicaraguan activities on its territory have caused environmental damage to at least 2,500 square meters (3,000 square yards) of border wetlands.
More than a week ago Costa Rica, a country that abolished its army in 1948, sent to the area in question a “peace mission” made up of a contingent of 70 heavily armed policemen, though up to now no incident has been reported.
“Anything that alters the border will always concern the government. That is why we maintain police in the area, to guarantee respect for national sovereignty,” the president said.
Costa Rica maintains ongoing investigations by the Attorney General’s Office into the environmental damage caused in the border area by the supposed incursion of Nicaraguan military into its territory.