Nicaragua retaliates against Honduras over maritime treaty
The agreement grants each of those nations rights to Atlantic waters claimed
Nicaraguan President Arnoldo Aleman also warned that Central American
integration, a process under way for more than two years, had been
jeopardized by the Honduran parliament's decision to formalize Colombia's
territorial rights along Central America's continental shelf in the Caribbean.
"Nicaragua does not recognize this treaty," Aleman told a news conference
in Managua hours after the Honduran Congress began ratifying the treaty in
a special overnight legislative session.
Honduran legislators from five political parties voted 128-0 in favor of
treaty. In a speech prior to the vote, Honduran Foreign Minister Roberto
Flores Bermudez told the legislators, "Honduras is not trying to hurt
Nicaragua or any other country, but it won't permit that they harm its
historically sacred sovereign rights."
Honduras and Colombia originally signed the Caribbean Sea Maritime
Limits Treaty in 1986. In ratifying the accord early Wednesday, Honduras
formally recognized 15 degrees north latitude as its frontier with Colombia, a
demarcation that grants Colombia and Honduras thousands of square
kilometers of Atlantic waters claimed by Nicaragua in a historical territorial
Honduran officials described the treaty as an effort to safeguard their
and Colombia's legitimate rights.
Honduran president: 'Not seeking confrontation'
"We are not seeking confrontation or hostilities; we are simply exercising
sovereign right to define our borders," Rafael Pineda, president of the
Honduran Congress, told Reuters.
But Aleman said Honduras had submitted to "expansionist policies" in
granting territorial rights to a country outside the region, undermining Central
American efforts to form a political and economic union in the face of
Aleman called on the Nicaraguan National Assembly to pass a "sovereignty
tax" that would impose special import tariffs on Honduran products.
Honduran exports would lose trade benefits extended to Central American
producers, he said.
Nicaragua also will seek to reroute its exports through the Pacific port
Corinto and to reestablish ferry service to El Salvador so that current trade
routes through Honduras can be avoided, Aleman said.
No military action planned
Nicaragua issued a formal protest against the treaty and will pursue legal
action to invalidate it, Aleman said.
No military action was planned, although "everything has been
contemplated," Aleman said. "We have very capable armed forces, and a
very capable police force, and everyone is at their posts."
Despite Nicaragua's protests, Colombia's foreign minister said the treaty
would now be brought before his country's legislature for ratification.
Foreign Minister Guillermo Fernandez said territorial disputes with
Nicaragua were put to rest under a 1928 treaty. While Nicaragua's
Sandinista government of 1979-1990 declared that treaty invalid, reviving
the dispute between the two countries, Colombia has maintained the treaty
cannot be broken unilaterally.
"Colombia has nothing to discuss with its sister republic of Nicaragua,"
Fernandez told a local radio station. "The government of Colombia
celebrates the fact that the Honduran legislature has unanimously ratified this
treaty, which establishes maritime limits according to international law."