(QCOSTARICA) The Nicaraguan government ordered the closure of traffic through the Peñas Blancas border post, in protest at the measures taken by Costa Rica in the transfer of goods, within the framework of controls against the new coronavirus.
The Nicaraguan measure was confirmed by the Costa Rican Minister of Finance, Rodrigo Chaves, after communicating with Customs authorities of that border post, in the northern zone.
The decision of the government of Daniel Ortega was also known at the urgent meeting of the Council of Ministers of Central American Integration (Comieco), which took place this Monday morning (May 18) to analyze the crisis at border posts, as Chaves confirmed.
In a written message, the Treasury chief said that the Nicaraguan customs administrator at said border point communicated to his counterpart at the Costa Rican customs office “that they will not let anything pass through that post towards Nicaragua or Costa Rica.”
The closure carried out by the Nicaraguan government originated amid protests by Central American drivers, which began on Sunday, May 17, against new measures adopted by Costa Rica for the entry of truckers into the country, which has been applied starting today.
Through a decree signed the previous Friday, Costa Rica established tuckers not enter Costa Rica, rather their loads would be dropped at a defined secure area, it would be then hitched by a trucker in Costa Rica, for delivery to the final destination.
This would eliminate the truckers from the northern country entering Costa Rica, reducing the risk of contagion.
The same is true of exports. The truck reaches the primary area, where it will be unhooked; a new tractor with its driver will take it to take it into Nicaragua.
Last Friday, Costa Rica allowed truckers with no intent of permanence in Costa Rica, to travel to the southern border (Panama) by convoy under a police escort and vice versa.
The measure was to reduce the covid-19 testing (and waiting of results) of truckers intending to enter Costa Rica, creating a tremendous backlog on the Nicaragua side.
The Nicaraguan truckers’ association estimated the line of trucks on Sunday was as much as 20 kilometers. Marvin Altamirano, president of the trucker’s association, asserted to La Prensa, on Sunday, May 17, that the government of his country should also close the border to Costa Rican merchandise, alluding to the consequences of the decisions made by Costa Rica.
Truckers from the region applied what is called a “technical closure” at the border crossings of Peñas Blancas, with Nicaragua, and Paso Canoas, with Panama, in protest at Costa Rica’s measures to control the new coronavirus.
Mario Montero, executive vice president of the Costa Rican Chamber of the Food Industry (Cacia), and Francisco Quirós, executive director of the National Chamber of Freight Forwarders (Canatrac), pointed out that a “technical closure” is equal to a total blockade in the practice.
“If you see, read and analyze the decrees, Costa Rica did not close the border to cargo, but in practice what it did was a technical closure, a measure that should have been the last option after analyzing protocols to manage health risk,” Montero explained.
Quirós explained that in terms of the measures of the truckers, they also call it a technical closure because the drivers are refusing to comply with the measures when they reach the two border crossings, thereby slowing down the transit of goods.
“It is not a question of placing units on the roads to avoid the passage, it is a question of not applying the imposed measures, which stops border traffic,” Quirós explained.
At the time of this report, there is a lot of confusion as whether the border is closed to all movements or just the truckers; are non-carriers of goods be allowed to leave Nicaragua or enter.
President Daniel Ortega is expected to speak to the nation this Monday afternoon.