Colombia’s Supreme Court said Tuesday that Colombia must respect the International Court of Justice’s ruling granting large areas of sea near the island of San Andres to Nicaragua.
“If one believes in law and civilized mechanism[s] to resolve…problems between people, then you should not only believe in it when you win but when you lose,” read a Tuesday press release from Nestor Raul Correa.
The International Court on Tuesday declared that Colombia would retain sovereignty over the Caribbean island of San Andres, but much of the sea surrounding it would go to Nicaragua.
The decision was 11 years in the making as Nicaragua has long disputed the maritime borders and laid claims to the islands which are only 150 miles off its eastern seaboard.
San Andres Governor Aury Guerrero and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos expressed dismay over the court’s ruling. Santos called the Hague’s decision “a serious error in judgement.” Guerrero claimed that the San Andres’ fishing industry could be decimated now that the island’s fishing territory is owned by Nicaragua. At the time of the International Court’s decision, only 4% of the San Andres economy was fueled by the fishing industry. The island’s principal source of income is tourism.
Correa’s official statement chose to focus on the victories Colombia received rather than lament the loss of fishing territory.
“The most important [thing] is that we maintain[ed] the islands of San Andres, Providencia and Santa Catalina, which is where people live, where Colombians live,” the Supreme Court Justice wrote.
“We are saddened…the whole country is united in the pain of a country that [feels] amputated. But tomorrow, at daybreak, we will see clearly [that] we can remove a piece of sea, but we can not remove the extraordinary dignity with which we have survived all shipwrecks,” Correa concluded.