The Costa Rica-Nicaragua Spat

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

The Republic of Costa Rica, one of the two stable countries in Central America, would normally be a peaceful, tranquil place. Internally it is—its economy is booming, it has a well developed tourist industry, and has cashed in on the promotion of its rich ecological environment. However, the country has a serious problem developing on its northern border. Neighboring Nicaragua is becoming unstable. Widespread protests all across Nicaragua are being met with military police and armed pro-Sandinista gangs murdering peaceful protesters. When the Costa Rican government tried to intervene to help stabilize the situation, the Nicaraguan government told Costa Rica to “mind its own business.” Clearly the Nicaraguan government, under the leftist president for life, Daniel Ortega, has no intention of leaving office until 2021 if even then. Calls from a growing number of Nicaraguans for him to step down have been met with extreme violence and bloodshed from the Nicaraguan government.

On top of this, a growing number of Nicaraguans are applying for political asylum in Costa Rica. They no longer feel safe in Nicaragua, and the growing Nicaraguan refugee crisis is having an impact on Costa Rica’s northern border. Until recently, Nicaragua had been as stable as Costa Rica. But there is one major difference. Costa Rica is a multi-party democracy where the people can vote for the party and candidate of their choice. Costa Rica has no military, but rather a para-military police and a constitution that provides its people with a wide range of rights. Nicaragua has been ruled by the left wing Sandinistas for decades—with Daniel Ortega having almost absolute power. In truth, Nicaragua does not have freedom of speech or freedom of peaceful assembly. Hence why Nicaraguans are being killed in greater numbers by their government for simply holding peaceful protests. Whatever economic stability Nicaragua may have had is now being eroded by the political instability the Nicaraguan government is fomenting. Because Nicaragua is basically a one-party state, corruption and lack of services is pushing Nicaraguans to the breaking point. None of this is any good for Costa Rica, which must bear the brunt of the instability happening in Nicaragua. Both Costa Rica and Nicaragua have had border disputes in the recent past, and the growing instability in Nicaragua plus its own people fleeing to Costa Rica could destabilize Costa Rica as well.

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