LA UNION, El Salvador — A brand new business ferry line transferring via Central America started working Thursday, instantly connecting El Salvador and Costa Rica to the exclusion of Nicaragua and Honduras.
The Blue Wave Concord sailed out of La Union, El Salvador, headed for Caldera, Costa Rica, a visit that its backers say will save delivery time, keep away from border closures and eradicate delays at two further border crossings between the 2 international locations.
Officers launching the brand new service in El Salvador have been diplomatic, avoiding direct references to the more and more authoritarian authorities of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
Federico Anliker, president of El Salvador’s Government Port Fee, mentioned the brand new ferry will assist be certain that visitors retains flowing “when sure international locations shut their borders.”
In 2020, early within the coronavirus pandemic, Nicaragua closed its border with Costa Rica in protest of well being measures applied by Costa Rican authorities, particularly testing truck drivers for COVID-19.
In February, Nicaragua expelled greater than 200 prisoners that human rights teams and international governments had described as political, placing them on a aircraft to the USA. Tens of hundreds of Nicaraguans have fled to Costa Rica since Ortega’s authorities violently cracked down on nationwide protests in 2018, resulting in a number of rounds of sanctions from the U.S. authorities and the European Union.
Whereas some enterprise associations in El Salvador mentioned they have been optimistic concerning the ferry, transport corporations downplayed it, saying it might not be viable as a result of it might be costlier than transferring merchandise by land.
Ferry operators say it will likely be capable of transfer some 100 tractor trailers over the 430 miles (691 kilometers) by sea in lower than 24 hours.
“You keep away from the pink tape and ready hours on the border crossings, you scale back the dangers of theft, assaults, roadblocks and freeway issues,” mentioned Silvia Cuellar, president of COEXPORT, a personal affiliation of El Salvador exporters. “Above all it reduces the transit time, arriving to your vacation spot in much less time.”
Cuellar mentioned it was not meant to isolate Nicaragua. “Right here each modalities will coexist,” she mentioned.
Actually, the ferry will have the ability to carry little or no of the commerce that strikes via the area. Cristian Flores, El Salvador’s presidential commissioner for strategic initiatives, mentioned that the ferry would solely have the ability to transfer about 3% to five% of the present transport market.
Marvin Altamirano, president of the Affiliation of Nicaraguan Truck Drivers, informed native press this week that the brand new ferry service was worrisome and an irresponsible act by El Salvador and Costa Rica, however downplayed its influence. He didn’t instantly reply to an electronic mail request for remark.