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A History of Invasions: Costa Rica and Nicaragua

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Invasions Costa Rica and NicaraguaThe Minister of the Exterior has presented a formal diplomatic complaint against its counterpart in Managua regarding an alleged invasion by Nicaraguan soldiers this past Monday. According to the Europa Press news bureau, the diplomatic dispatch explained that members of Nicaragua’s security forces were conducting a patrol and advanced about a kilometer into Tico territory, voicing taunts directed at Fuerza Pública members who are permanently detached to the Punta Castilla delimitation zone in the northern border.

The Nicaraguan government has yet to respond to the cable. Should the invasion allegations become substantiated, the incident would mark the second time in the 21st century that Costa Rica has suffered an armed invasion from its neighbor to the north, the same number of Nicaraguan invasions which took place in the previous century. Here’s a brief historical recap of the invasions:

The Sapoá Revolution, 1919

Hacienda Santa Rosa in Guanacaste has a rich history dating back to 1663. When crazy American filibuster William Walker conquered Nicaragua in the mid-1850s, he staged a failed incursion through Santa Rosa. In 1919, a group of armed men arrived in Santa Rosa from Nicaragua to take advantage of rising negative sentiment against President Federico Tinoco, a military dictator who was later forced to resign and live in self-exile in Paris. That invasion was thwarted by Tinoco’s troops. Hacienda Santa Rosa is now an important historical museum.

The Defiant Invasion of 1955

Less than a decade after Costa Rica’s Civil War and the permanent abolishment of its army, President José Figueres Ferrer called upon the Organization of States to intervene in a brewing perilous situation in Nicaragua. Hacienda Santa Rosa was once again the stage of hostilities. Anti-Figueres activists living in self-exile in Nicaragua defied OAS warnings and plotted to take advantage of Costa Rica’s new unarmed democracy. That invasion began before dawn, but it was short-lived thanks to the quick reaction of the Guardia Civil, the predecessor to today’s Fuerza Pública.

The Google Maps Invasion of Isla Calero, 2010

One of the most bizarre military invasions in modern history was blamed on Google Maps. It was spearheaded by controversial Nicaraguan revolutionary Edén Pastora, who somehow got a job as supervisor of a dredging operation in the San Juan River. The invasion was initially characterized as accidental after Pastora confessed to La Nación that he was leading a Nicaraguan infantry squad using Google Maps.

It turned out that Google Maps was wrong, and Google promptly acknowledged and corrected its mistake. That invasion prompted an interesting debate among online cartographers who determined that the Nicaraguan army would have been better off using Bing Maps, but definitely not Nokia Maps. Pastora’s blunder lead to concerns about how a nation’s security forces could depend on Google Maps to conduct military operations.

President Laura Chinchilla was not amused by the Google Maps invasion, which is one of the many reasons why the border dispute is currently on the docket of the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

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