Costa Rican president accuses Nicaraguan press of escalating conflict

Costa Rican President Miguel Angel Rodríguez has publicly accused Nicaraguan journalists of being responsible for the conflict between the two countries in connection with a territorial dispute over the San Juan river region.

"You Nicaraguan journalists are responsible for escalating the war between our countries with the scandalous news you publish," said a visibly irritated President Rodríguez, when questioned by a reporter from the Nicaraguan television station Canal 6.

Rolando Cruz Castillo, secretary general of the Nicaraguan National Union of Journalists (Sindicato Nacional de Periodistas de Nicaragua), informed the IFJ's human rights section for Latin America that he considered the president's Thursday 20 September 2001 comments to be a groundless attack against all Nicaraguan journalists. Cruz Castillo noted that "not only were journalists alienated by this confrontational remark, the situation is also worsened by the president commenting on the internal affairs of a neighbouring country, which he himself refers to as a sister country."

Cruz Castillo noted that the offensive statement against journalists is "part of politicians' custom to attack the media and blame them for the problems plaguing their governments." He also categorically rejected the Costa Rican president's accusation.