Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Nicaragua officials close border with Costa Rica for cargo trucks starting May 18. Disruptions also ongoing in Panama-Costa Rica border.

The locations affected by this alert are:

  • Costa Rica
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama

This alert began 19 May 2020 16:25 GMT and is scheduled to expire 22 May 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Event: Cargo Border Closure
  • Location(s): Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Significant transport and business disruptions

Authorities in Nicaragua ordered the closure of its border with Costa Rica for cargo transport May 18, affecting commerce between the two countries. The decision comes after Costa Rican officials had limited access for cargo trucks through its borders with Panama and Nicaragua, due to concerns over the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Besides cargo, passenger traffic between the countries has been suspended for weeks due to COVID-19-related measures.

As of May 19, cargo trucks are not being allowed to cross the Nicaragua-Costa Rica border in Penas Blancas, and dozens of trucks are stuck on both sides of the border. The Panama-Costa Rica border in Paso Canoas has not been closed by authorities; however, Panamanian truck drivers have built roadblocks and effectively closed the border crossing to protest Costa Rica's measures.

Significant transport and business disruptions are likely in the coming days. If the situation continues for several days, it may lead to shortages in some products in the three countries. Heightened security is likely near the border areas. Protests and clashes between security personnel and truck drivers are possible.

Background and Analysis
Costa Rican officials issued orders on May 16 to only allow truck drivers to enter from Nicaragua or Panama if they were to continue their travel through another country; those truck drivers would be escorted by police officials while in Costa Rica until they reached the other country's border. For cargo destined for Costa Rica, authorities ordered drivers to stop their trucks at the border and pass the containers to other trucks and drivers already within the country. The decision was criticized by both Nicaragua's and Panama's authorities, who demanded the measures to be repealed.

Avoid the border areas. Confirm the situation on the border crossings before conducting business. Plan for supply-chain delays.

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