Thursday, 31 March 2011

Costa Rica deploys border police force

New Costa Rican border police force Source: Tico Times

Army-less Costa Rica has garnered substantial international sympathy throughout the course of its dispute with Nicaragua. But it looks like the Central American country isn't willing to play the victim much longer, as it has activated its first border police unit as of Wednesday 30 March.

Costa Rica's President Laura Chinchilla and Public Security Minister José María Tijerino attended a ceremony inaugurating the new police unit in the rural community of Los Chiles in Costa Rica's Northern Zone, just a few kilometres from the Nicaragua border.

Chinchilla said that the 153 men will be tasked with ensuring "Costa Rica's flag will never be lowered by foreign troops", a reference to the dispute over Isla Calero where the Nicaraguans allegedly raised their flag.

Tijerino said at the ceremony that the border police would be there to fight the “trafficking of drugs, people, currency and weapons, as well as providing for the protection of national sovereignty.”

“Costa Rica doesn't need an army. Costa Rica has not denounced its pacifist approach. Costa Rica doesn't envy its neighbors. And Costa Rica is satisfied with protecting its borders, having a police force that identifies with its people and is willing to guarantee the peace and tranquility of its residents,” Tijerino said.

The unit will be present at both the Nicaragua and Panama borders. A second police unit is also being trained and will be deployed in coming months.

Costa Rica and Nicaragua have been in dispute since October 2010, when Costa Rica accused Nicaragua of occupying its territory and working to divert the San Juan River in order to increase their territory.

The dispute is currently at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. A preliminary ruling on 8th March saw both sides ordered to keep troops and police away from the disputed area.

Sources: Tico Times, Inside Costa Rica

For more information, please see the Menas Borders website, here.

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