Not long ago in 1948, Costa Rica found itself in hot waters after a deadly civil war broke out in the Central American nation.
The major cause of the civil hostilities started when Rafael Ángel Calderón decided to extend his stay in power after invalidating his opponent’s victory.
Expectedly, Costa Ricans didn’t take too kindly to such trumping of their democratic rights by the incumbent hencho and took to the streets to protest and air their grievances.
The protests will soon escalate out of hand, and turned into serious riots accross the country. From there, it turned into an all out war.
It was during this civil brouhaha that José Figueres Ferrer, an MIT-educated businessman decided to take the bull by the horn alongside some exiled Costa Rican guerillas. The major purpose of their coalition was to establish a true democracy in their fatherland.
When the dust finally settled, at least 2000 people were reported dead over 44 days of fighting. However, Ferrer had managed to ascend the throne by this time.
As soon as he assumed the top seat, Ferrer established a ruling council to execute his democratic reforms in the country. Within the eighteen (18) months he was in charge following the civil war, he –
• Abolished the army, keeping only a 7500 man police force.
•Expanded voting rights to women and minorities.
• Gave citizenship to descendants of slaves.
• Nationalized some banks.
• Outlawed the Communist parties, and
• Reformed the civil service, among other notable reforms.
At the expiration of the 18months period, Ferrer stepped down voluntarily without holding on to power
Well, central America is a tough arena. In 1954, Nicaragua wanted to invade the country but were dissuaded from doing so by USA. This was majorly because –
“It seems that the United States is not interested in honest government down here, as long as a government is not communist and pays lip service to democracy.”
Apparently, Ferrer already knew how precious democracy is to the USA having lived and done business there himself. So, he did well to drum his dislike for communism loudly, even outlawing it as stated above.
After 72+ years of prosperity, the country still has no army. Till date, they’re yet to assemble a standing military and retains the democracy José Figueres Ferrer helped them achieve during his reign.