Border Disputes, Political Tensions Threaten Needed Cooperation in Central America

Border Disputes, Political Tensions Threaten Needed Cooperation in Central America
A Honduran soldier patrols El Conejo Island by boat in the Gulf of Fonseca, 150 km south of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Oct. 16, 2006 (AP photo by Edgard Garrido).

In the first week of September, the Honduran military raised the Honduran flag over the disputed Conejo Island, quickly raising the ire of El Salvador’s government. The incident as well as other recent border disputes highlighted tensions within the region at a time when cooperation and collaboration are more important than ever.

The timing of the flap was illustrative on a symbolic level as well: On Sept. 15, five Central American states—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua—will jointly celebrate 193 years of independence. Once united in a short-lived federation, the domestic and international politics of these five countries remain deeply intertwined. Since independence, the region has suffered from its share of domestic turmoil and foreign intervention, at times both uniting and dividing countries in the isthmus.

Conejo Island was first occupied by the Honduran military during the 1969 Soccer War with El Salvador and has been contested since that time. Although three countries—El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua—share maritime boundaries in the waters surrounding the island, Honduras continues to insist that Conejo, located in the Gulf of Fonseca, is Honduran territory. A similar flag-raising incident just last year led to talks among the three countries, which ultimately declared the area a “zone of peace and harmony.” Despite this, Honduras established a heliport on the island this past March.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.