Envío Digital
Central American University - UCA  
  Number 337 | Agosto 2009




Envío team

Alter disputes that have dragged on for 11 years, the 15 justices of the International Court of Justice at the Hague handed down a definitive ruling on July 12 on the litigation between Costa Rica and Nicaragua regarding the Río San Juan, which serves as the border between the two on the Caribbean side of their respective territories. Costa Rica has been claiming the right to navigate the river with armed authorities. In essence the Court reiterated Nicaragua’s “sovereignty and supreme dominion” in the river and denied Costa Rica the right to armed navigation. But it did grant Costa Rica free, total and gratuitous navigation on its waters, both to provide services to its river-bank communities and for “commercial purposes” and extended the ruling to the transport of passengers and tourists, although the boats used must always carry the Nicaraguan flag. Nicaragua maintains the right to exercise control over the entry into and exit from the river, to establish schedules and to demand that the Costa Ricans present documents. Economically speaking, Costa Rica, which unlike Nicaragua has invested a lot in developing its border region, got good returns out of the ruling.

The government of Nicaragua announced that it will dredge the river to prevent the last 32 kilometers from veering toward Costa Rica, although Nicaragua has been planning to do this for many years. After the Court’s decision, Edén Pastora, who is currently in charge of the dredging project, announced that it would be ready in less than two months.

On July 8, the Nicaraguan government awarded 85-year-old former Foreign Minister Emilio Álvarez Montalván the highest order for distinguished personalities. In his thank you speech, Álvarez Montalván, who is also a physician and a political pundit, surprised the audience, not to mention government officials, with this analysis of Nicaragua: “What explains our backwardness and the huge inequality in Nicaraguan living standards? Seeking an answer, I reread Nicaragua’s history, and there I found it. We have had ten civil wars, three dictatorships, a long period of anarchy and even foreign occupation. We have squandered 63.l% of our republican life fighting over the presidential chair with bullets and blood. That has been the path taken by Conservatives, Liberals and Sandinistas, leaving fratricidal wars, rancor, interminable expulsions and huge territorial losses…. I am concerned about the behavior of the branches of state. The authoritarian and centralist mien of the head of the executive branch, with confrontational oratory that labels the independent media’s right to dissent a crime and accuses NGOs carrying out their social work of conspiring against the public order, maintains a close association with utopian and dangerous projects of foreign inspiration that could drag us into military conflicts…. On the other side, the opposition remains divided, hurling insults and weakening its role as watchdog, moderator and comptroller of the state branches …. What is going on in essence? Very simply we lack trustworthy and effective institutions and our political class, with some exceptions, lacks a democratic culture, a national vision and a spirit of disinterested public service….”

When dozens of very poor men and women who had been converted into “prayers against hate” abandoned the nine Managuan traffic circles where they had spent eight months waving flags, praying and singing in a degrading campaign organized by the presidential communication secretary, First Lady Rosario Murillo, nearly two months ago, the enormous stylized and illuminated Christmas trees, also found at four other points of the capital, remained lit up every night. Starting in January, the star atop these conical wire structures was replaced with a blue cube bearing an enormous number 30, for the 30th anniversary of the 1979 revolution. According to research by the leftwing newspaper El Nuevo Diario, the electricity expenses for these decorations had already exceeded $28,000 as the anniversary celebration approached, not including maintenance, the materials used, construction costs and payment of the guards who protect them day and night.

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