Every April 11th, Costa Rica celebrates Juan Santamaría day. On that date in 1855, young Juan helped defend Costa Rica’s northern border against the forces led by the American mercenary William Walker, whose goal was to annex Central America for the ignoble purpose of the slave trade. The image of the humble young campesino, torch in hand, giving his life to ensure that Costa Rica was not tarnished by any kind of occupying force is in the heart and mind of every kid who grows up here; so great is the remembrance of his deed that the country’s largest airport is named for him, and a large statue of him greets every arriving visitor.
Flash forward 156 years to a little piece of land called Isla Calero. Part of Costa Rica, the isla has been technically occupied by Nicaragua for the past few months, while they allegedly work to improve the navegability of the San Juan River, which flows between Costa Rica and Nicaragua, but is considered part of Nicaragua.