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Viewing cable 06SANJOSE1665, COSTA RICAN AND NICARAGUAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06SANJOSE1665 2006-08-03 14:02 2011-03-08 16:04 UNCLASSIFIED 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
VZCZCXYZ0047
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHSJ #1665 2151454
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 031454Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY SAN JOSE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5696
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
UNCLAS SAN JOSE 001665 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR WHA/CEN FOR JASON MACK 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PBTS PREL NU CS
SUBJECT: COSTA RICAN AND NICARAGUAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET, 
AVOID CONTENTIOUS ISSUES 
 
REF: A. SAN JOSE 1529 
 
     B. 05 SAN JOSE 1746 
 
1.  Summary:  The Foreign Ministers of Costa Rica and 
Nicaragua met in San Jose to discuss bilateral issues on July 
26, 2006.  They agreed to renew a Binational Commission that 
has not met for nine years.  They avoided discussion of the 
two most contentious issues between the two countries, Costa 
Rican navigation rights on the San Juan River and the alleged 
mistreatment of Nicaraguan immigrants in Costa Rica.  These 
two issues have been brought before international tribunals, 
but remain unresolved. End Summary. 
 
2.  Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno and his 
Nicaraguan counterpart, Norman Caldera, had a three-hour 
meeting in San Jose to discuss bilateral issues.  Caldera was 
supportive of the Arias Administration's recent efforts to 
delay implementation of a tough immigration law passed by the 
previous legislature and scheduled to take effect in August 
2006 (reftel A).  The bill's strong immigration enforcement 
mandates are widely unpopular in Nicaragua.  The Foreign 
Ministers agreed to renew the Binational Commission meetings 
between their two countries that have not occurred since 
1997.  According to Costa Rican media reports, the Ministers 
avoided two of the most contentious issues that complicate 
the relationship between their countries - Costa Rican 
navigational rights on the San Juan River and Nicaraguan 
complaints that their citizens face mistreatment and 
discrimination in Costa Rica.  These two issues have recently 
pitted the countries against each other in international 
tribunals. 
 
3.  Costa Rican navigational rights on the San Juan River, 
which forms 80 miles of the eastern Costa Rican/Nicaraguan 
border, have long been a point of dispute between the two 
countries (reftel B).  While there is no question that 
sovereignty over the river and both banks belong to 
Nicaragua, Costa Rica claims that a 1888 arbitration ruling 
gives it the right of free passage.  The point of friction 
relates to whether Costa Rican police have the right to 
travel from one post to another on the river while armed. 
Nicaragua's view is that the movement of armed Costa Rican 
security officials on the river directly impinges on its 
sovereignty.  Several years of wrangling over the issue led 
Costa Rica to present its case before the International Court 
of Justice in the Hague in September, 2005.  Costa Rica wants 
to have the case decided by third-party arbitration.  The 
dispute pits Nicaraguan nationalism against Costa Rica's 
desire to police its northern border, a human, drug, and 
arms-smuggling zone.  The case is still under review by the 
Hague. 
 
4.  On July 18, 2006 Nicaragua denounced Costa Rica at the 
Interamerican Commission of Human Rights in Guatemala. 
Claiming that its citizens living in Costa Rica face 
xenophobia, discrimination, and prejudice, Nicaragua wants 
the Commission to accept the petition for a full hearing at 
the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose. 
Nicaragua used two recent and widely-publicized events to 
bolster its claim.  In the first incident, a Nicaraguan who 
tried to unlawfully enter a house was mauled to death by two 
guard dogs while seven Costa Rican public security officers 
who witnessed the attack failed to intervene for over an 
hour.  In the second incident, five Nicaraguans exiting a bar 
near San Jose were attacked, with one dying from stab wounds. 
 Both cases are still under investigation by Costa Rican 
justice officials.  Costa Rican representatives from the 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs characterized the denunciation as 
"bad faith" on the part of Nicaragua, pointing out that the 
denunciation was filed before the Costa Rican judicial system 
has reviewed the investigation results. 
 
5.  COMMENT:  Relations between the two nations are generally 
good, especially at the upper levels of government.  Although 
the respective governments apparently prefer to use 
international tribunals, rather than direct negotiation, to 
settle their differences, the reintroduction of the 
Binational Commission is a good sign that may lead to 
opportunities for the governments to settle differences in a 
more direct manner in the future. END COMMENT 
LANGDALE