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Costa Rica and Nicaragua Back In Court Over Dispute Of Borders

Costa Rica’s Caribbean coastline

Q COSTA RICA – Costa Rica and Nicaragua are back in court again in their ever continuing dispute over borders.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled in 2015 over a dispute between the two countries regarding the small border territory known as the Isla Calero (Harbor Head in Nicaragua), recognizing that it belongs to Costa Rica.

Now both return to the ICJ  in hearings in a maritime and land boundary dispute, to try to define maritime boundaries in both the Pacific and the Caribbean.

Costa Rica denounced on Monday the “unrealistic” and “fairy tale” claims of Nicaragua.

Nicaragua starts presenting its case on Thursday.

Although all arguments will have been filed by the 13th of this month, a decision is not expected until the end of this year (2018) or the beginning of the next (2019).

The two countries began negotiations in 1976 to try to reach an agreement on the course of the San Juan River, the Costa Rican ambassador to the Netherlands, Sergio Ugalde, told the court on Monday.

“For 40 years Costa Rica has managed to negotiate its maritime borders with all its neighbors except Nicaragua,” he lamented.

And it is for that reason, not being possible to establish maritime borders with Nicaragua, Costa Rica decided to bring the case before the United Nations tribunal so that it could be defined “in accordance with international law,” the ambassador added.

According to the Costa Rican ambassador, Nicaragua “relies heavily on few realistic or exaggerated claims”, resulting in an “extreme reshaping of the real geography” in disputed areas, including the Costa Rican peninsula of Santa Elena.

“Nicaragua’s speech has fundamentally changed,” said Sergio Ugalde, asserting that Nicaragua is now trying to base its claims on a 1977 treaty that was not ratified by both countries.

“It is clear that Nicaragua is betting all its chips on the fairy tale of the 1977 agreement,” he said and reaffirmed that Costa Rica has already made it clear that it will never ratify that text.