Skip to comments.Ortega's Land Grab--Nicaragua has invaded Costa Rican territory. How will the U.S. respond?
Posted on 11/18/2010 7:55:01 AM PST by Ooh-Ah
With the world distracted by currency fights, European debt problems, and other economic challenges, Nicaragua has quietly invaded and occupied the sovereign territory of Costa Rica. It is an act of naked aggression that deserves to be condemned and resisted by governments everywhere, yet most Americans have probably read little or nothing about it.
Heres a brief synopsis of what happened. At the direction of their government, Nicaraguans were dredging the San Juan River, which forms a section of their southern border with Costa Rica. They were doing so in a manner that was damaging many Costa Rican properties, which understandably prompted San José to complain. Then, Nicaraguan military troops entered and occupied a large river island (Calero Island) that has traditionally been considered part of Costa Rican territory. Indeed, they even raised a Nicaraguan flag there. The soldiers are refusing to leave Calero Island, and Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega is insistingagainst all evidencethat the island belongs to Managua.
Initially, Managua alleged that an error made by Google maps was the reason Nicaraguan soldiers entered another sovereign nation. And while Google soon admitted an error in its map and corrected the mistake, Nicaragua, nevertheless, still claims the land as its own and hasnt removed its troops from Costa Rica.
Costa Rica, mind you, does not have an army, but it has dispatched a small police detachment to the region and urged the Organization of American States (OAS) to act. After traveling to the San Juan River, OAS leader José Miguel Insulza recommended that all military or security personnel be removed from the disputed area so that proper diplomatic negotiations could proceed. On November 13, the OAS Permanent Council approved a resolution endorsing his recommendations, with 22 countries voting in favor of it. Nicaragua and Venezuela both opposed the resolution, while Ecuador, Dominica, and Guyana abstained from the vote. (Ecuador and Dominica are members of the Caracas-led Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, and Guyana relies on Venezuelan oil.) In response, Ortega has threatened to remove his country from the OAS. (At the same time, he continues to oppose the readmittance of democratic Honduras, which was expelled following the legal, constitutional ouster of President Manuel Zelaya in 2009.)
Why would Ortega deliberately trigger such a conflict? Simple: to increase his domestic support ahead of next years presidential election, and to advance his radical project of turning Nicaragua into a mini-Venezuela.
Nicaraguan politicians of all ideological bents have a long history of rattling sabers toward Costa Rica. The right-wing Somoza dictatorship engaged in such behavior, as did the leftist Sandinista regime (led by Ortega) during the 1980s and the nominally conservative Alemán government during the 1990s. Ramping up tensions with their southern neighbor is an easy way for Nicaraguan leaders to inflame nationalist sentiment and rally public support for the incumbent administration.
Ortega has angered and frightened many Nicaraguans with his efforts to rig municipal elections and erode constitutional checks and balances. Headlines in Nicaraguas opposition dailies read like cries of distress: Sandinista Dictatorship Established in Supreme Court, Dictatorship Thanks to Weakened Opposition, Dictatorship, Step by Step, Managua-based journalist Tim Rogers wrote recently. Now the Sandinistas are using the San Juan River spat to distract attention from their autocratic abuses and boost their popularity.
The attempted land grab confirms, yet again, that Ortega (and his party) never really changed. Though he won election fairly as the Sandinista candidate in 2006, hes still the same corrupt, authoritarian thug who ruled Nicaragua with an iron fist during the 1980s, a time when he was receiving significant aid from the Soviet Union. Back then, Ortega looked to Moscow for both economic assistance and ideological guidance. Today, he looks to Caracas. Indeed, with each passing month, Nicaragua becomes more and more like Venezuela.
Chávez has a well-documented record of extra-territorial aggression; for example, his regime has cooperated with terrorist groups like the Colombian FARC and meddled in foreign elections (in Argentina, El Salvador, Peru, and elsewhere). Ortega has spent the past four years mimicking his Venezuelan patron. The land grab suggests that hes getting bolder in the run-up to the 2011 election.
The Obama administration must take a firm stand against Nicaraguas belligerence. The occupation of Calero Island represents, quite simply, a cross-border invasion. (Costa Rican president Laura Chinchilla is not exaggerating when she uses that word.) If the U.S. and its democratic partners in Latin America dont firmly and effectively pressure Nicaragua to leave the island and quit its warmongering, other pro-Chávez governments may feel emboldened to pursue similar adventurism. While the stakes in the San Juan River dispute may appear small, theyre actually quite large. Ortega is testing the willpower of his democratic neighbors. Their response will have serious consequences for the entire region.
Jaime Daremblum, who served as Costa Ricas ambassador to the United States from 1998 to 2004, is director of the Center for Latin American Studies at the Hudson Institute.
Unless I miss my guess, there is a substantial American expat community in Costa Rica.
Gee, I don't know...
We will do nothing. The State Department is completely absorbed in undermining Israel. And Obama is too brilliant and sophisticated to take note of something like this or do anything about it. Whatever ever his friend Daniel the Commie wants is just fine with him. Go ahead. Take the rest of Costa Rica. We don’t mind.
“Costa Rica, mind you, does not have an army”
Then they must feel there is nothing to protect.
That’s true. A lot of Americans retired to Costa Rica. It’s also a great place for fishing, so many Americans have vacation homes there. Costa Rica is in general a friendly, pleasant place.
The neocons at the Weekly Standard are always looking for new excuses to send our young men and women to die in the trenches.
This is just a friendly border dispute. Not like what’s-his-name taking over Czechoslovakia, right?
(Snicker) The "Google Maps War". That's got to be a first! Since when does anyone look to the internet and assume accuracy?
Perhaps. But if we aren’t going to act to prevent Iran from getting nukes, we sure won’t act against Nicaragua. On the other hand, Obama may be looking to kick over a ‘Tomato Can’. If that’s the case I would point to the quagmire that Clinton narrowly avoided in his air war against Serbia over Kosovo. THAT was a circus.
The Obama Administration is not going to do anything to Brother Ortega.
Once a very European place, CR is becoming very much less so due to faster breeding among the "Natives," and an influx of bad-boy illegals from Nicaragua, who have boosted the crime rate way up.
The San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua are a natural canal route and long before the Panama Canal, were a popular shortcut to the Pacific thanks to Vanbderbilt's steamers on the river, a short mule ride to the lake, another short train ride and thence to the sea.
CHICOM are behind this, with Chavez, Fidel and Raoul backing up the creepy commie, Ortega. Trouble.
I talked with a sister-in-law (BIG lib) about their vacation to Costa Rica. She loved the place because it was “so progressive”. They have no military, the government owns most of the property, and they have extensive social programs.
... and they get easily taken over by a neighboring beligerant socialist country.
Costa Rica doesn't particularly adore the USA, either. They're committed to non-violence, abolished their military, became the headquarters for the UN's University of Peace, joined the International Criminal Court with no exemption for US soldiers, broke diplomatic ties with Taiwan, and have adopted all the Euro-lefty 'Green' initiatives like being 'carbon-neutral', and generally pretending to act like a Hispanic version of Tolkien's elves.
I'm not in favor of sending US Marines down there to bonk Nicaragua over the head for the umpteenth time to save some tiny little sandbar of a river island on behalf of Latin America's jackass version of San Francisco where the United State's left wing dickwads like to go on 'Eco-Vacations'. Costa Rica should try to cash in their chips of all that United Nations goodwill they think they've bought by acting like a Eurozone fairy and call the UN Blue Helmets to drive the Sandanistas out. Maybe some Belgian-led Congolese soldiers will show up to rescue them.
No Nicaraguan ever called me Gringo! No war for sandbars!
Your girlfriend’s going to Costa Rica ping, my little banana.
Yeah, that's Costa Rica. You look at who goes down there on vacation and it's all post-middle age American women who adopt lefty causes and wear big sun hats, visiting the magical 'dolphin experiences' and cuddling baby tree sloths, accompanied by their 'life partner' bearded male friends who wear high tech sandals with woven bracelets carrying colorful Guatemalan packpacks who talk about ecology and the biosphere, and whatever the hell else between bong loads. Basically the last white people still supporting Obama.
Gosh, sorry that your magical eco-sphere and it's tourist-based economy is being threatened by belligerent little brown people with Chinese-made AKMs. Better call someone who cares.
That’s what I’ve heard - very pleasant and friendly.