In a speech Santos said that his government would “not rule out any action” to defend Colombia’s rights, especially those of the inhabitants on the island of San Andres and surrounding archipelago, on this matter.
Despite the ruling by the International Court of Justice on Monday determining that the islands will remain Colombia’s sovereignty, much of the sea surrounding the area now belongs to Nicaragua – which could potentially have damming consequences on the local fishing industry.
Santos was quick to lament the court’s decision which would “seriously and adversely affect” Colombia, while also revealing his determination to “finding solutions” for those affected by the ruling.
“Inexplicably, after recognizing the sovereignty of Colombia over the Archipelago, and arguing that this, as a unit, generates the rights of a continental shelf and an exclusive economic zone, the Court adjusted the delimitation line, leaving the keys in Serrana, Serranilla, Bajo Nuevo Quitasueño and separate from the rest of the archipelago.” he said.
“This is inconsistent with what the Court itself had recognized, and is not compatible with the geographical concept of what is an archipelago.
“All these are omissions, errors, excesses, inconsistencies, we cannot accept them,” he said.
Santos continued, “The Court, in its ruling, draws a line beginning on the west of the archipelago, between our islands and the coast of Nicaragua. Whilst this is positive for Colombia, the Court, to draw the maritime boundary, made mistakes I should emphasize serious and adversely affect us.”
Following the ruling San Andres Governor Aury Guerrero told press that “it was foreseeable that the islands’ fishermen would be stripped of opportunities.” The governor said that most of the fish the Colombians depend on are now in Nicaraguan waters.
It is a concern held by Santos, who was quick to reassure residents of the island that the Colombian government was doing all it can to find a solution.
“Today I want to tell Sanandresanos we are committed to finding practical mechanisms and strategies and results… in particular for those who at any time are unaware of their rights.”