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Border dispute with Nicaragua has Costa Rica rethinking its lack of army

The International Court of Justice is expected to rule any day on a Costa Rica-Nicaragua border dispute. The case has caused the 'Switzerland of Central America' to reexamine its commitment to disarmament.

This Jan. 13 photo shows an aerial view of the estuary of the Rio San Juan in the border between Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

German Miranda/picture alliance/Newscom

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An ongoing border dispute between Nicaragua and Costa Rica has pushed the “Switzerland of Central America” to the brink of a national identity crisis.

Sixty-two years after Costa Rica made the historic decision to abolish its Army and entrust its sovereignty and national defense to the untested guardianship of international law, Central America’s standard bearer of peace and democracy is facing what it considers its greatest challenge to neutrality: an alleged border invasion by Nicaraguan troops.

“For our country, the armed invasion is a challenge to our way of life and the defense of our national sovereignty, which is based exclusively in multilateralism,” Costa Rican Foreign Minister René Castro told the Monitor in an e-mail.

“Costa Rica is a civilized and peaceful country,” he adds. “But sometimes, those ideals are challenged by reality and our principles are put to test.”

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