Good Boundaries Make Good Neighbors

Strange Maps has a wonderful article on how a Nicaraguan postage stamp nearly caused a war with Honduras.  In 1937 Nicaragua issued a stamp that labeled a chunk of their Northern neighbor’s territory as being “in dispute”:

“The Honduran reaction was particularly violent, and unforgiving. When the first airmail letters from Nicaragua bearing the offending stamp reached the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, riots erupted. Honduran police had to make great efforts to prevent an angry mob from storming the Nicaraguan Embassy. As Honduras demanded Nicaragua retract the stamps, both countries started sending troops to the disputed border region. It took mediation by the US, Mexico and Costa Rica for the threat of war to recede. “

Having lived for awhile in Nicaragua, this story doesn’t surprise me in the least.  Many boundaries in Central and South America are poorly defined and still under dispute. Every time a logging permit is issued or oil field discovered, old wounds are re-opened.  The old proverb is right: “Good fences make good neighbors.”

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