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Costa Rica went through growing pains ...

Travel, Vacation and Adventure Guide to Costa Rica

The experience of democracy is like the experience of life itself – always changing, infinite in its variety, sometimes turbulent, and all the more valuable for having been tested by adversity. ~ Jimmy Carter, 39th US President

Costa Rica went through growing pains typical of all nations after independence. For example, the efficacy of its free compulsory educational system, instituted in 1885, raised enough political consciousness among the common people to spark a rebellion against a corrupt government in 1919. Federico Tinoco, Costa Rica’s last dictator, was finally brought down – not by soldiers, but by teachers and students after their protest demonstration was fired on by his supporters.

In 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor, Costa Rica declared war on Germany and Japan, a largely symbolic gesture since they had no navy or troops of any quantity to send overseas. President Rafael Angel Calderón, a liberal who had previously instituted a social security system, labor code and other social guarantees, confiscated the property of German ancestry families in Costa Rica.

He cited the 1944 U-Boat torpedoing of a United Fruit merchant ship (the San Pablo) in Limón as his reason. It was a serious political blunder because many of these families had been living there for generations and were part of the financially powerful coffee elite. The action set the stage for a Civil War four years later, a war that would claim the life of one in every 300 Ticos.

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