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Viewing cable 05SANJOSE2249, COSTA RICA'S POSITION PAPER ON THE BORDER DISPUTE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
05SANJOSE2249 2005-09-28 10:10 2011-03-08 16:04 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy San Jose
Appears in these articles:
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-07/Investigacion/NotasDestacadas/Investigacion2704388.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-07/Investigacion/NotaPrincipal/Investigacion2704402.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-07/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2704436.aspx
http://www.nacion.com/2011-03-07/Investigacion/NotasSecundarias/Investigacion2705536.aspx
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 SAN JOSE 002249 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/27/2015 
TAGS: PBTS PREL PINR ETRD CS NU
SUBJECT: COSTA RICA'S POSITION PAPER ON THE BORDER DISPUTE 
 
REF: A. SAN JOSE 02131 
 
     B. SAN JOSE 01746 
 
Classified By: Charge Russell L. Frisbie for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
 1. (C) While Costa Rican Foreign Minister Roberto Tovar and 
Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Norman Caldera met in San Jose 
September 27 to discuss the San Juan River border dispute, 
the Costa Rican MFA sent the following position paper to the 
U.S. and British (as current EU president) embassies.  The 
paper is not for release to the GON or to the public. 
 
Begin Text: 
 
Outline 
 
1.  Article 6 of the 1858 Treaty of Limits between Costa Rica 
and Nicaragua establishes that Nicaragua has the sovereignty 
and ownership of the San Juan River, but Costa Rica has on 
its waters the perpetual right of free navigation for 
purposes of commerce. 
 
2.  In this regard, Costa Rica acknowledges that: 
 
a.  The San Juan River belongs to Nicaragua. 
b.  Nicaragua possesses the sovereignty on the River. 
 
3.  However, Costa Rica has rights on that River, which 
Nicaragua does not recognize.  Some of those Costa Rican 
rights are: 
 
a.  the obligation (for Nicaragua) to allow Costa Rican boats 
and their passengers to navigate freely and without 
impediment on the San Juan River for commercial purposes, 
including the transportation of passengers and tourism; 
 
b.  the obligation (for Nicaragua) not to impose any charges 
or fees on Costa Rican boats and their passengers for 
navigating on the River; 
 
c.  the obligation (for Nicaragua) to allow Costa Rica the 
right to navigate the San Juan River in official boats for 
supply purposes, exchange of personnel of the border posts 
along the right bank of the San Juan River, with their 
official equipment, including the necessary arms and 
ammunitions, and for the purposes of protection, as 
established in the pertinent instruments. 
 
4.  In light of the evident differences in the positions 
sustained by both countries, which have not been able to be 
resolved by diplomatic means, or through the peaceful dispute 
settlement mechanisms, the most adequate alternative among 
peace loving and respectful nations is to submit the issue 
before the International Court of Justice.  In this regard, 
the Government of Nicaragua itself has expressed that "...the 
recourse of the peaceful mechanisms to resolve disputes 
between states is neither a hostile nor an unfriendly act. 
On the contrary, the recourse to the International Court of 
Justice is totally in accordance with the will of nations to 
live in peace, security and harmony". 
 
5.  Costa Rica is forced to present the application to the 
International Court of Justice before the 23rd of October, 
due to the fact that Nicaragua has presented a reservation to 
the Court's Jurisdiction which excludes the main legal 
instruments upon which Costa Rica bases its case. 
 
6.  To implement a "tax" to the Costa Rican exports to 
Nicaragua, as has been announced by Nicaraguan legislators, 
is not a valid reaction to the peaceful resolution of 
differences and does not conform to today's international 
realities.  The consequences of such action could be: 
 
a.  The stagnation of the Association Agreement between 
Central America and the European Union. 
b.  The stagnation of the Central American Customs 
Integration. 
c.  May jeopardize the CAFTA, which does not allow this type 
of measure. 
d.  Might put in danger the survival of medium and small 
Costa Rican and Nicaraguan businesses, including the loss of 
jobs. 
 
7.  There is no possibility to extend the Alajuela 2002 
agreement.  The international advisors have indicated that we 
could jeopardize our rights, since for 3 more years Costa 
Rica would not be able to exercise them. 
 
8.  Costa Rica is willing to take the case to arbitration, if 
Nicaragua accepts it. 
 
End text 
 
2. (C) MFA adviser Sergio Ugalde stressed to acting DCM that 
there is no possibility of extending the three-year truce 
(point 7 in the position paper) because the legal and 
political risks are unacceptable.  He said that the legal 
risk is that Costa Rica would be accepting through 
acquiescence that it has no right of free navigation on the 
San Juan.  The political risk, he said, is that Tovar would 
be driven out of office.  He noted that 11 members of the 
Legislative Assembly wrote Tovar a letter on September 22 
urging a tough GOCR stance on the San Juan, and that former 
foreign minister Rodrigo Madrigal Nieto lambasted Tovar in a 
September 24 op-ed piece for signing the three-year truce in 
the first place. 
3. (C) Ugalde said the MFA rejects the notion that Costa 
Rica's going to the ICJ will cause the Bolanos government to 
fall, noting that the GOCR has been Bolanos's biggest 
supporter.  Ugalde claimed that the GON's strategy is to 
"play the crisis card" to get what they want, but no one has 
demonstrated how or whether a case before the ICJ, where 
Nicaragua has already filed a motion, will affect the balance 
of political forces in Nicaragua. 
FRISBIE