Sixty-two years after Costa Rica made the historic decision to abolish its army and entrust its sovereignty and national defense to the untested guardianship of international law, Central America’s standard bearer of peace and democracy is facing what it considers its greatest challenge to neutrality: an alleged border invasion by Nicaraguan troops.
Costa Rica claims Nicaragua crossed into its territory last year while dredging the San Juan River, a Nicaraguan waterway that parallels their shared border. Nicaragua says Costa Rica is “inventing a border conflict” to disguise its own expansionist pretensions. The dispute is currently before the International Court of Justice at The Hague. It’s anticipated the court will provide an institutional solution to the border conflict this month.
The conflict has provoked a debate in Costa Rica as to whether the country considers itself “neutral” or “pacifist.” When faced with threats of invasion from Nicaragua in the past (1948 and 1955) Costa Rica successfully defended itself with a combination of volunteer militias and diplomatic offensives. But in response to the current conflict, Costa Rica has relied mostly on its diplomatic and legal efforts.
How does the border dispute involve Google Maps? (Los Angeles Times)
Border dispute with Nicaragua has Costa Rica rethinking its lack of army (The Christian Science Monitor)