Central America 16/01/11
All eyes are on the Hague, where Nicaragua and Costa Rica are fighting it out before the International Court of Justice.
The drawn-out territorial dispute between the two neighbours is finally being heard by a 16 man jury in the Netherlands.
Costa Rica opened proceedings on the morning of 11 January 2011 with an attack on Nicaragua’s ‘illegitimate’ occupation of Isla Calero. Nicaragua then gave its defence in the afternoon, arguing that the dispute was the result of poorly defined national borders.
Both sides appeared confident of victory after the first two days of hearings. Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla proclaimed that ‘the more the world knows about this situation, the more the world will favour Costa Rica’.
But officials in Nicaragua were equally bullish. ‘The arguments presented by Nicaragua were overwhelming and well presented and made Costa Rica’s foreign minister doubt his own belligerent position’, insisted Nicaraguan conservationist and presidential advisor Jaime Incer.
Nicaragua must respond to eight questions posed by the court by 18 January 2011, after which a judicial decision is expected to be made.
With the case ongoing, Costa Rica has tightened security along the border. Furthermore, in a radio interview in Holland, Tico Foreign Minister René Castro admitted that the traditionally pacifist country is considering introducing a military in light of the border dispute and the growing threat posed by violent drug gangs in Central America.
Elsewhere, Honduras’ Congress has approved measures allowing referendums on presidential re-election and term limits. Ironically, former President Manuel Zelaya’s efforts to hold referendums on the very same issues led Congress to back a coup d’état against him in 2009.
‘I reiterate my commitment to the Honduran people: that my term is from 27 January 2010 to 27 January 2014’, affirmed current President Porfirio Lobo in a bid to reassure both Congress and the electorate of his intentions.
Finally, security forces in Panama have destroyed an encampment of the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – FARC) recently discovered in the mountains of the Darién Gap near the Colombian border.