Nicaragua invades Costa Rica
November 7, 2010 7:05 AM   Subscribe

At least they didn't rely on wikipedia.
posted by Sir Cholmondeley at 7:10 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

More from Google
posted by atomicmedia at 7:11 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

About Costa Rica, Nicaragua, their mutual border, and Google:
Given all this information, we can conclude that the narrative currently dominating the internet is wrong: Nicaragua did not mistakenly enter Costa Rican territory because it relied on Google Maps. Ortega’s justification for Nicaragua’s actions appeal to documents from the 19th century; Pastora’s mention of Google Maps is just a taunt.
posted by milkrate at 7:26 AM on November 7, 2010 [9 favorites]

Run-DMC version:

you got our border all google MAPPED!
but don't fuck with us, or you're gonna get SLAPPED!
that's our territory, you can BET!
no matter what they say on the IN-TER-NET!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:40 AM on November 7, 2010 [6 favorites]

Related: Why isn't my time zone highlighted on the world map?
In the original release of Windows 95, you could change your time zone by clicking on the map, and the time zone you selected would highlight. Similarly, you could change your Region Settings by clicking on the world map. This was one of those little touches that made Windows 95 that much more fun to use.

But we had to remove those features within months of release, even though we based both of the maps on the borders officially recognized by the United Nations.

In early 1995, a border war broke out between Peru and Ecuador and the Peruvian government complained to Microsoft that the border was incorrectly placed. Of course, if we complied and moved the border northward, we'd get an equally angry letter from the Ecuadorian government demanding that we move it back. So we removed the feature altogether.

The time zone map met a similar fate. The Indian government threatened to ban all Microsoft software from the country because we assigned a disputed region to Pakistan in the time zone map. (Any map that depicts an unfavorable border must bear a government stamp warning the end-user that the borders are incorrect. You can't stamp software.) We had to make a special version of Windows 95 for them.

Geopolitics is a very sensitive subject.
posted by robtoo at 7:41 AM on November 7, 2010 [6 favorites]

OK, now maybe I'll agree that Google has too much power.
posted by Xezlec at 7:42 AM on November 7, 2010


very, very carefully
posted by FfejL at 7:50 AM on November 7, 2010

Largely debunked by now - the area in question is a constant source of small scuffles given the winding path of the river, which at one point crosses into nicaragua and quickly back out. From the Costa-Rican viewpoint, it appears that nicaragua is attempting to change the course of the river somewhat in a petty land-grab (the border being somewhat legally defined by the river bank - although what happens if the river changes course is ambiguous from what I understand)

Everyone who lives around there knows where the border is.... there is really no excuse.
posted by TravellingDen at 7:53 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

...Google Maps was cited in an incident that saw the neighboring countries dispatch forces to their joint border.

I thought Costa Rica had no armed forces...
posted by nathancaswell at 8:21 AM on November 7, 2010

I wish it was that simple. Costa Rica and Nicaragua relationships are complicated, and these small conflicts highlight some of the worst political tactics from both governments. They also fuel xenophobia and discrimination against Nicaraguan immigrants in Costa Rica.

As a Costa Rican, I can't see this as a LOLGOOGLEFAIL. There are all kinds of crazy talk going around, from agressive acts against Nicaraguans, to calls for an armed response. That would involve requesting support from a third country, since we don't have armed forces. The Google maps comment is a tiny detail, and in context, really, it's not funny.
posted by papalotl at 8:38 AM on November 7, 2010 [3 favorites]

Google maps can be wrong?
I'd better start moving my stuff out of my neighbor's house before he gets back.
posted by orme at 8:41 AM on November 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wait, this isn't SLOnion?
posted by Beardman at 9:59 AM on November 7, 2010

Why does sound like an excuse, not a reason, and that this is all some play to sue Google for money?
posted by Old'n'Busted at 10:03 AM on November 7, 2010

Why does sound like an excuse, not a reason, and that this is all some play to sue Google for money?

At this rate, Google could add a "Get a free dollar!" button to their homepage and still maintain a profit.

Either way, this does sound kind of unbelievable. We've known governments to be shockingly inept, but this seems... almost cartoonishly inept. "IT SAYS ON THE GOOGLES, GET THE RIFLES SAM"
posted by Askiba at 10:08 AM on November 7, 2010

More like "Nicaragua invades Costa Rica using the pretext of a Google Maps error."
posted by christonabike at 10:21 AM on November 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Well, that puts Google's recent re-labelling of Wellesley St. in Toronto as Lourdes Lane into some perspective, I guess. At least they still know where Church and Wellesley is.
posted by maudlin at 10:25 AM on November 7, 2010

That's interesting and all, but... the president of Costa Rica is named Chinchilla?! Snort.
posted by missrachael at 10:27 AM on November 7, 2010

Chinchilla? Kinda hot!
posted by atomicmedia at 10:29 AM on November 7, 2010

Uh, yeah. I'm not sure I'd want to publicly admit being so incompetent as to rely on Google Maps for my navigation around sensitive areas. Even to throw what's obviously a red herring into the controversy.
posted by ctmf at 11:24 AM on November 7, 2010

First link: "Nicaraguan soldiers have crossed the waterway, pitched tents on a disputed island and raised their country's flag there.
... Costa Rica, which does not have an army, dispatched fresh security forces to the border to bolster 150 agents sent earlier to the region, the scene of increasingly heated cross-border tensions since October 18."

They don't have an army, so they send a bunch of mall cops to the region. Nicaragua should just send in 100 soldiers and annex the whole country. If the world complains they can just blame it on Facebook.
posted by dgaicun at 11:42 AM on November 7, 2010

@atomicmedia --

From Wiki: "Laura Chinchilla Miranda (born 28 March 1959;Spanish pronunciation: [ˈlawɾa tʃinˈtʃiʎa miˈɾanda]) is a Costa Rican politician ...."

Kinda makes one wonder how mathematicians and Greeks invaded our English pronunciation guide.
posted by PlanoTX at 2:12 PM on November 7, 2010

What's up with Costa Rica these days?
posted by Marygwen at 2:45 PM on November 7, 2010

Since they have no army, who would be likely to step in to defend Costa Rica if the need arose? I know little about their relationships with other countries.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:50 PM on November 7, 2010

Yeah, the first article mentioned that CR rushed "security forces" to the area. That sounds like an ominous euphemism, though it probably refers to Costa Rican police. The Ogle Earth entry seems to have the definite statement for now, unless anyone would like to rebut it.
posted by Apocryphon at 4:53 PM on November 7, 2010

Previously, sorta. (This isn't the first time one country has accidentally invaded another. But it's probably the first time anyone's blamed Google.)
posted by zarq at 5:36 PM on November 7, 2010

The article comes complete with a map of New Jersey.
posted by captainsohler at 8:19 PM on November 7, 2010

English language news site A. M. Costa Rica has been following this story for several weeks (the actual story, nothing about Google). Lots of background information, analysis, and some pictures.

Some excerpts for those too lazy to click:
The unique aspects of the river are feeding fears in northern Costa Rica that what is happening at the river mouth is much more then a dredging operation. Some fear that Nicaragua is trying to change the course of the river to gain more territory, perhaps with a negative impact on the Río Colorado, which really is a southern mouth of the river system totally in Costa Rica. That area and the community of Barra de Colorado is known for its tarpon fishing.

The land where Nicaraguan troops are reported to be is an island on the south side of the river. At that point the river makes a sharp bend to the north. There is concern that the dredging is a cover for punching through the land there for direct access to the Caribbean. That would have a significant impact on the river flow and the flow of the nearby Río Colorado.

Tijerino did not explain why his security ministry helicopter did not land at that point to gain first-hand information on what was talking place. Clearly Costa Rican officials are trying to avoid a confrontation with Nicaraguan troops.

The country has been protesting Nicaragua's plan for more than a year. Officials insist that Nicaragua has the right to make improvements on the river only if they do not affect Costa Rica.

Eden Pastora [head of the dredging project] told a Managua television show in August that the central government wanted to remove barriers to navigation at the mouth of the river. Dredging is planned at other points on the river, too.

He said that the job involved dredging the first 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) from the Caribbean upriver. He told the show that the river channel had vanished and that the river water was being diverted into the Rio Colorado.

The Río San Juan was once considered a competitor of Panamá as a transcontinental canal. The river has been navigable from the Caribbean some 180 kilometers (112 miles) to Lake Nicaragua. A small canal from the northwest side of the lake could easily reach the Pacific. There is a fort on the river at the aptly named El Castillo that was designed to protect the country from invading ships.

Costa Rica has sent several other notes to Managua expressing concern. There was no explanation why officials did not have representatives at the river mouth to keep watch over the dredging operations.

The Costa Rican land along the river has few roads and the main method for travel is on the river. Some have said that the country has not acted strongly so that passage rights of Costa Ricans would not be restricted as revenge.
2010-10-22 River dredging creates unwanted dispute with Nicaragua
2010-10-22 Costa Rica mobilizes troops along Nicaraguan line
2010-10-22 River situation defused as Nicaragua moves pipe
2010-10-25 Dredging was designed to create a new river mouth
2010-10-28 Nicaraguan diplomat casts blame on Costa Rica
2010-11-02 Nicaragua sets up army camp on disputed island
2010-11-03 Costa Rica prepares to present its case today
2010-11-04 When the neighboring country acts like a precarista
posted by ryanrs at 1:23 AM on November 8, 2010

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