Colombia’s President has described Nicaragua’s most recent legal action over disputed terrirtorial waters in the Caribbean as “unfounded, unfriendly, and reckless.”
President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday that his government would not accept the expansionist ambitions of Nicaragua. He was speaking aboard a warship patrolling the 82nd Meridian, which marked the maritime border between the two countries up until the November ruling by the International Cout of Justice (ICJ) that awarded Nicaragua 30,000 square miles of potentially oil-rich Colombian waters.
Santos was responding to the latest legal action by Nicaragua’s President, Daniel Ortega, who on Monday asked the (ICJ) to rule on the exact boundary separating the two countries’ territorial waters.
“This new claim is inappropriate, unfounded, unfriendly, reckless, and without a single chance of success,” said Santos, at the head of a line of important officials, including the Defense Minister, Juan Carlos Pinzon, the Justice Minister, Alfonso Gomez Mendez, and the President of the Supreme Court, Ruth M. Diaz.
Nicaragua wants to extend its territorial waters to the edge of the continental shelf, just 100 miles from Colombia’s Caribbean city of Cartagena. Santos said that he would not hesitate to use force to keep Nicaragua out.
“The [Continental] shelf is not negotiable, under any circumstance, and we will vehemently and forcefully defend it,” the President said from the deck of ARC Admiral Padilla, adding that Colombia “will defend [its] sovereignty over [its] territoy and [its] waters.”
He also reiterated his claim that the ICJ’s November ruling was “inapplicable” because Colombian borders could only be modified through a bilateral treaty, rejecting the notion that a country has to “automatically change its borders, its frontiers, after a ruling by the ICJ.”
The President is in San Andres in order to outline to the population his “comprehensive strategy” to defend the sovereignty of the archipegalo.
He also anounced that a scientific expedition would soon go to the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve – which includes the corals, mangroves and seagrass beds surrounding the islands – in order to confirm the natural richness of the area and so more easily defend its economic exploitation from Nicaragua. The expedition will use a robot that can dive down 1000ft.
The San Andres archipelago lies 480 miles from the Colombian coast and 143 miles from Nicaragua.
President Santos has had some success in garnering support from other Caribbean countries, with Panama’s President Ricardo Martinelli also accusing Nicaragua of encroaching on Panama’s territorial waters.
Martinelli said he would sign a letter with Colombia, Costa Rica and Jamaica denouncing Nicaragua’s expansionist ambitions to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.