Arias Urges Costa Rica to Take Google Maps Border Dispute to UN

Former Costa Rican President and Nobel laureate Oscar Arias said his country should take a border dispute with Nicaragua that was triggered by a Google Maps error to the U.N. Security Council to seek a resolution, according to a letter in the Managua-based La Prensa.

The daily published Arias’ letter today after Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega refused to withdraw 50 troops from disputed territory along a border river in defiance of last week’s resolution by the Organization of American States.

The dispute was set off by Ortega’s dredging of the San Juan River to make way for an inter-oceanic canal he says could one day compete with Panama’s.

Eden Pastora, director of the dredging project, told the San Jose-based newspaper Nacion he used Google Maps as a guide when leading troops onto a small island claimed by Costa Rica. Google said in a Nov. 8 blogpost it used flawed data from the U.S. State Department that led to the error.

Ortega said Nov. 13 he will keep troops on the island to monitor drug smuggling in the region and accused Costa Rica and other countries of letting traffickers influence their foreign policy.

Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla is a former vice president and protege of Arias, who won the Nobel peace prize for brokering an end to Central American wars in 1987.

To contact the reporter on this story: Blake Schmidt in Granada, Nicaragua at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at

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