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Nicaragua-Costa Rica Tensions Flare Up Over Water Rights

The Nicaraguan government announced yesterday that they will begin construction at the end of September to reroute the San Juan River, which runs along the country’s border with Costa Rica. Eden Pastora, the head of the committee for development of the San Juan River, said that the $1 million project is intended to “recover the 1,700 cubic meters per second of water that was lost after Costa Rica rerouted it toward its Colorado River between 1945 and 1950.” Costa Rica responded, issuing a statement on Tuesday that said a ruling by an international court "forcefully denies Nicaragua's pretension that it has the right to dredge the San Juan River.”

Disputes over the river date back nearly 200 years. For both countries the river is seen as offering the promise for another canal route across Central America. But last month, the United Nations’ International Court of Justice unanimously reaffirmed Nicaragua’s sovereignty over the river and upheld the ban that does not allow Costa Rican police and military forces to use the river. Nicaragua’s exclusive sovereignty over the San Juan River was established in 1858 with the Cañas-Jerez treaty.

Any opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect those of Americas Quarterly or its publishers.
Tags: Costa Rica, Nicaragua, San Juan River, Cañas-Jerez treaty

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