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Ortega fucking up again

When the neighboring country acts like a precarista...
The Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, and his dredging master, Eden Pastora, must also have a major economic motive, perhaps for some kind of development near the mouth of the Río San Juan.

Nicaragua sets up army camp on disputed island
osta Rica's tradition of pacifism is being put to the test, perhaps on purpose, by the Nicaraguan government.

The stakes are high for Nicaragua and low for Costa Rica.
Costa Rica is facing a problem similar to that experienced by many landowners here. Someone has moved onto the property and will not leave.

When that happens to a Costa Rican or expat property owner, one option is always force. A goon squad can beat up land thieves and tear down their temporary structures.

Not having an army required Costa Rica to reject that course of action. Instead, the country has chosen to carry its complaint to the Organization of American States, much like the landowner who files a court case to get rid of the boundary intruder.

Such prolonged legal disputes usually work in favor of the property thief because it is easy to erect seeming legitimate reasons.

In Costa Rica land invaders frequently say the owner was not using the land, so they should be allowed to erect homes. On the Isla Calero, Nicaragua could say the same thing and coat their statements with legal claims.

When a squatter or precarista takes over land in Costa Rica, there usually is an economic motive far greater than a place to live. Seaside properties have skyrocketed in value and prompted waves of invasions.

Some expats have been fighting legally for years against invaders who hope to sell out for big bucks.

The Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, and his dredging master, Eden Pastora, must also have a major economic motive, perhaps for some kind of development near the mouth of the Río San Juan.

So the Nicaraguans, even with a blatantly false claim, have taken the land by force of arms and plan to prolong and complicate the legal processes.

Costa Rican foreign minster René Castro found out Wednesday that the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States was divided along ideological lines with leftist governments favoring Nicaragua. The Permanent Council might end up doing nothing when it reconvenes today or it might craft a compromise giving part of the land to Nicaragua. Castro asked that all Nicaraguan troops leave Costa Rican soil.

Castro also wants the hemispheric body to impanel
a commission to visit and study the geography and rival land claims.

Meanwhile, President Laura Chinchilla, criticized by some because she kept a low profile, went on television Wednesday night to call the Nicaraguan military intrusion a grave violation of sovereignty and said the claims by the Nicaraguans were only words without foundation. She said maps from both countries prove that the island is Costa Rican.

"We have a grand challenge to act against this aggression with prudence and good sense," said the president. "Our instruments are dialogue and international law with which we are acting."

The president also made reference to the hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans who are living legally and illegally in Costa Rica. She said she promised them respect.

Wednesday the Nicaraguan ambassador to the Organization of American States, Denis Moncada, rejected that body's power to adjudicate a territorial claim. Ortega said he wanted to take the matter to the World Court in the Hague where other San Juan river disputes have been settled. That is a long process. Meanwhile, he said Tuesday in Managua, the dredging operations on the river would continue.

The dredging is designed to open a new mouth of the river through Costa Rican land to create rapid access to the river, which is on the border between the two countries. The existing final 30 kilometers of the river meanders and doubles back on itself.

Nicaraguan legal experts were quoted in that country's press Wednesday saying that Costa Rica is using the territorial dispute as a way to stop the dredging of the river. Other Nicaraguan officials have claims that Costa Rica is conspiring with Colombia and others to assert invalid claims.

Castro presented his case Wednesday evening on "CNN en Español." The network said it tried to reach Moncada for his side of the story but could not.

Also Wednesday the Nicaraguan legislature called upon Ortega not to stop the dredging or withdraw its troops from the disputed land, according to Nicaraguan press reports. The legislature also voted to hold a future session near the disputed island.

The Organization of American States session is scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. **************************************************************************************

Costa Rica's tradition of pacifism is being put to the test, perhaps on purpose, by the Nicaraguan government.

The stakes are high for Nicaragua and low for Costa Rica.

The Nicaraguan government appears to have moved troops onto the Isla Calero, which Costa Rica says is national territory. The foreign minister, René Castro, said Monday that the country would carry its appeal to the Organization of American States.

Meanwhile air photos show a military camp on the island. This is the same place that figured in an intrusion by Nicaraguan soldiers three weeks ago.

Daniel Ortega, the Nicaraguan president, said over the weekend that the military operations along the Río San Juan were to suppress narcotics trafficking. However, José María Tijerino, the Costa Rican security minister, said that troops have set up tents and hoisted the Nicaraguan flag. There are an estimated 50 soldiers.

Costa Rican officials are sending an unspecified number of its own troops into the area. Technically the units are armed police. There was no explanation why Costa Rica did not occupy the island last week.

Nicaragua seeks to punch a channel through to the Caribbean to provide quicker access to the Río San Juan, which runs along the border of both countries. The land involved is owned by the Costa Rican government and not very valuable. So the project is worth much more to Nicaragua than stopping it is to Costa Rica. The goal is to boost tourism and boat traffic.

Tijerino, in a late afternoon press conference, cited the country's pacifist tradition, and said that diplomacy is the logical course.

Major Nicaraguan newspapers headlined the disclosure that its troops were reported to be in Costa Rica, but editors used wire service copy generated in San José.

The conflict between the two countries began whena Nicaraguan dredge on the river dumped sediment onto the south bank, which is Costa Rican land. At the time, there were reports that Nicaragua simply was deepening the river.

Then photos appeared of a swath of land cleared of trees, presumably by Nicaraguan workers. The swatch looked very much like the first efforts to cut a channel from the river to the Caribbean. The last 30 kilometers of the river winds and doubles back on itself. A direct channel to the river would cut out most of that meandering and perhaps provide access for bigger boats.

Costa Rican officials have been shy in outlining what really is going on along the river. They spoke of environmental damage instead of a possible river channel and concentrated on the sediment dumped on the south bank. Because the international border is the south bank, a new river channel would put what is now Costa Rican land into Nicaragua.

Oct. 8 a rancher complained that Nicaraguan troops entered the property he leases on Isla Calero, but that incident seldom came up in official conversations. The probability that a channel was about to be dredged was buried in the middle of a security ministry release Oct. 22. And even then the ministry said the new channel was headed for a lagoon and not the Caribbean.

President Laura Chinchilla has said very little about the situation. There have been no demonstrations at the Nicaraguan Embassy by Costa Ricans.

The two countries exchanged notes, but the reply from Nicaragua bordered on the confrontational. Costa Rica plans to send another note protesting recent developments.

Castro, the foreign minister, said he hoped that a meeting of the Organization of American States would take place this week. Nicaragua is sure to argue that the land involved always belonged to that country.

Heading up the river operations for Nicaragua is Eden Pastora, the former Sandinista guerrilla who broke with Ortega and formed the southern Contras during the country's civil war.

He is acquainted intimately with that area of the river because his headquarters were nearby.