Why Did Costa Rica Really Abolish Its Military?

By Cristina Eguizábal

Politics, not pacifism, led the country to eliminate its armed forces in a decision that still resonates today.

This article is adapted from AQ’s special report on Lula and Latin America SAN JOSÉ, Costa Rica — As in the rest of the Americas, Costa Rica’s armed forces played an important role in building its state infrastructure and creating a sense of nationhood. From defeating an 1857 pirate invasion led by William Walker, to what would be the country’s last military coup in 1917, the military were front and center in the country’s political life. So that made it all the more momentous when on December 1, 1948, the then-leader of the governing junta, José Figueres Ferrer, issued a...

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