The abolition of the army in Costa Rica happened on December 1st, 1948. There are very few people in Costa Rica that remember how it was to have an army. However, the results of such a daring act remain to this day and future generations.
71 years have passed since the abolition of the army in Costa Rica, and there are few Costa Ricans that remember how it was to have an army. Hence, the majority of the population of Costa Rica has never seen a soldier, seen a tank or even thought about joining the military.
The abolition of the army brought to Costa Rica an amazing amount of positive things, starting with a different and fairer distribution of the national budget increasing areas like health, education or housing.
However, the fact is that the consequence of a daring and strong action in favor of peace has brought gifts that I am not sure anyone expected. Especially in the travel business.
But let’s start in the beginning and talk a bit about why and when the abolition of the army in Costa Rica happened.
The history of the abolition of the army in Costa Rica
The history of the abolition of the army in Costa Rica goes back to 1948 and a dispute that was originated with the suspension of the national elections for president. (The story, of course, is much longer and detailed).
A quick and quite violent war between two leaders and their armies started in March, and happened for only 44 days, resulting in more than 2000 casualties (In a country with less than a million inhabitants in the day).
The war faced the National Liberation Army (Ejército de Liberación Nacional in Spanish), headed by José Figueres Ferrer, and the government party, which joined organizations as dissimilar as the Popular Vanguard party -of Communist trend- and the army of Anastasio Somoza García, the infamous Nicaraguan dictator.
Figueres won the war on April 24th, 1948, and started a new government for a year with a board of his closest men to rule over the chaos immersed country.
However and through Decree N° 749 and on December 1st, the Founding Board of the Second Republic
“officially dissolved the National Army, because it considered sufficient for the security of our country, the existence of a good police force”.
In the well-known fierce speech that Figueres gave that day in the old army headquarters (Nowadays Costa Rica National Museum), he stated among other things that Costa Rica needed an army of teachers and not soldiers.
So, from the perspective of the travel industry, what are the fantastic results obtained by a generation that never knew the military?
Peace, a way to distribute wealth.
One of the most remarkable ideas of the abolition of the army in Costa Rica is that if the money goes to health, education or housing, the people of Costa Rica won’t have a reason to create political disruptions. And no army is, then, needed to guard the stability of the country.
The peace allowed not only a different distribution of the wealth but a trust in the government and the organizations around it. As we know in Costa Rica, that military repression is never going to happen here.
Trust and stability bring also a foreign investment.
2. Foreign Investment
Big hotel chains and travel companies are investing in Costa Rica allowing a fortunate chain of events.
Brands like Four Seasons Marriot, Westin, or Andaz are just some of the impressive investments that Costa Rica attracts because of its historical climate of stability.
Because of the investment of brands like these, airlines and huge travel companies bring forth thousands of people to enjoy the magnificent nature of Costa Rica.
You may like Tortuguero Hotels, all you need to know
3. Jobs, jobs, jobs
The foreign investment and political stability also allow thousands of jobs in all the different niches of work, from the independent driver with one microbus and the waiters and waitresses in the hotels to the Costa Rican professionals that are CEOs and CFOs of great companies.
And this, again, produces political stability.
4. National Parks and Nature Protection
Having political stability, jobs, and foreign investment allows the country to dedicate a great chunk of the national budget into conservation and we hold more than 30% of the territory in protected rainforests.
These rainforests are protected to keep the magnificent biodiversity that Costa Rica holds and preserve the production of oxygen and water.
These national parks keep small areas in their vast territories for travelers to visit. But, as the main objective is not the tourism but the protection, therefore you will find genuine and still wild landscapes with little human intervention.
You will also enjoy Selfies with wildlife discouraged in Costa Rica #stopanimalselfies.
5. High quality of services and attention to the traveler
Because of the access to education that not having an army allows Costa Ricans, you will find that there is a great amount of the population that speaks excellent English and other languages, and as there are so many educational resources, efficient and kind service skills are taught all over the country.
For instance, in Costa Rica, we don’t use the usual Spanish “De nada” (As a response to “Thank you”), we use “Con gusto”, with pleasure. For Costa Ricans, good service has to do, directly with happiness in clients.
It is simple. In Costa Rica political violence or a possibility of a dear one to go to any war, it’s simply unthinkable. Not saying that we would loathe it (Which we probably will) but we simply don’t think about that option.
“Blessed is the Costa Rican mother because when she gives birth she knows that her child will never be a soldier.”
Ryoichi Sasakawa, Japanese politician, businessman, and philanthropist.
It is not in our DNA, we were born without that option in our system of thought.
But then, again, this brings a fantastic gift. We are happy. In general, you will find that Costa Ricans, have faith in the future and don’t feel at political risk ever.
We feel we are safe, and so are our loved ones.
And well! We all know that happy people make the best hosts!
It’s been 71 years without an army. Living in an almost guaranteed peace for life is a rare gift and we are quite privileged for having this amazing gift.
It made Costa Rica what it is now, and provides a light of hope in a World that little by little is understanding that it is a great idea to live without war whatsoever.
If you want to get a vacation in a most diverse, gorgeous and peaceful place, let us know, we will create a magnificent set of experiences just for you!
Hernández, J. (2019). Costa Rica: 70 years without an army – LatinAmerican Post. Latinamericanpost.com. Retrieved 3 December 2019, from https://latinamericanpost.com/25424-costa-rica-70-years-without-an-army
(2019). Usatoday.com. Retrieved 3 December 2019, from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/01/05/costa-rica-celebrate-70-years-no-army/977107001/