(posted Sept. 12)- Seeking strength in numbers, Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica are ganging up to accuse Nicaragua of “expansionism” and insisting they will defend their national territory against perceived encroachment by the Sandinista government. Panama’s Ricardo “el loco” Martinelli is the latest neighboring president to accuse Nicaragua of trying to appropriate his country’s maritime territory. Martinelli announced that his government will support Colombia in denouncing Nicaragua internationally before the UN. “We are going to fight as a country individually or together (with Colombia) because we cannot allow this by Nicaragua, which is far away from here, but wants to take Panama’s territorial waters,” Martinelli said Wednesday night.
Complicating matters further, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced today that his government, in addition to filing a letter of complaint before the UN, has also filed a legal challenge before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleging that the Pact of Bogota—a 1948 treaty that gives jurisdiction to the world court—violates Colombia’s constitution. The rub, Santos says, is that the Pact of Bogota obligates countries to “automatically” adjust their borders based on ICJ rulings, while Colombia’s constitution states that only the Colombian Congress has the authority to alter the country’s borders. Therefore, Santos concludes, last year’s ICJ ruling, which ceded 90,000 KM2 of Caribbean maritime territory to Nicaragua, is “inapplicable.”
Costa Rica, too, has repeatedly accused Nicaragua of expansionism. Tica President Laura Chinchilla has been merrily tweeting Panama’s and Colombia’s similar complaints against Nicaragua this week. The three countries now form a formidable southern bloc against Nicaragua.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega rejects the accusations of expansionism and has called for peace and dialogue. “If we opt to use force, we will be returning to the time of cavemen,” Ortega said Tuesday night. Ortega said it is “ridiculous” to accuse Nicaragua of being expansionist, because other countries have “stolen territory from us.” Ortega then when on to reiterate—for the third or fourth time in recent months—that Nicaragua unfairly lost its former territories of Guanacaste and Nicoya to Costa Rica 189 years ago (when Ortega was a little boy).
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