Nicaragua – Stamps and Land Disputes


Jan 29, 2015 Europe/London

Latin America has been troubled with conflicts and wars through centuries, but there’s one conflict that happened in 1937 that left a scar on the region. And the reasons for this conflict are the usual suspects - land, pride and postage stamps.

The competing parties are Nicaragua and Honduras, the subject is ‘territory’, the trigger - postage stamps. While other countries are drawn into war because of aggression or dropped bombs, the case of these two Central American countries started with a postage stamp. It all started with a Nicaraguan postage stamp released in August, 1937 showing a country map with its northern zone bordering Honduras, and this area was marked 'territorio en litigio' or territory under dispute. The problem was that Honduras has long recognized that this area is no longer disputed, and was already settled by the King Alfonso XIII of Spain, and this was already awarded to Honduras in 1906. When this set of stamps were air mailed to recipients in Honduras, national pride was scarred and riots became the norm in the capital of Tegucigalpa.

The media also jumped into the fray, with different media outfits calling for military action against the insult made against Honduras. Diplomats took action and asked for international mediation, and all this in the name of just one threat - ill-designed postage stamps. On September 3, the authorities stepped in and protected the Nicaraguan Legation, and the rest of the Honduras society asked for the withdrawal of the said postage stamps. The stage for war was set, but was thankfully averted through a mediation that was arranged by Costa Rica, the United States and Mexico. The temper subsided, but Nicaragua remained steadfast up until this time, and a modern Nicaraguan map still displays the area.