Nicaragua must pay Costa Rica for environmental costs — United Nations court

A refugee and migrant centre in Costa Rica near the Nicaraguan border. iPOLITICS  Janice Dickson

A refugee and migrant centre in Costa Rica near the Nicaraguan border. iPOLITICS Janice Dickson

The dispute over the border line between the two Central American nations has been running since an 1858 treaty that attempted to map out their territory after their independence from Spain and Mexico.

ICJ judges said on Friday that the clearing of hundreds of trees and nearly two square miles of vegetation "significantly impacted the site".

Nicaragua's Sandinista government has hailed the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the maritime delimitation between Nicaragua and Costa Rica in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean as 'favorable, ' after the Hague ordered Nicaragua to pay US$378,890 to Costa Rica as environmental reparations for damage caused by Nicaraguan soldiers between 2010 and 2013.

The judge ordered Managua to pay the compensation before April 2 for the damage to the land, known in Costa Rica as Isla Portillos and in Nicaragua as Harbour Head.

Nicaragua removed close to 300 trees and cleared 6.19 hectares of vegetation, resulting in Costa Rica's claim that, due to the change in ecological character, it has "lost its ability to mitigate natural hazards or that such services have been impaired".

Adrian Pignataro, a political scientist at the University of Costa Rica, said the country has seen a marked erosion in party loyalty and this election has exposed a social divide between secular and religious values.

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Costa Rica now wanted to normalise relations with its northern neighbour, Ugalde told AFP.

Costa Ricans voted Sunday in a presidential race shaken by an global court ruling saying the country should let same-sex couples get married.

Nicaraguan ambassador Carlos Arguello also said his country was pleased with the outcome, calling it "a fair assessment".

"From the outset, President (Daniel) Ortega had stated that Nicaragua was willing to compensate for what was fair and reasonable, but Costa Rica's proposal, Costa Rica's request, was quite exaggerated", Arguello said.

The two countries first held negotiations in 1976 to try to reach an agreement on their border which broadly follows the San Juan river, but talks dragged on.

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