San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

In His Own Words (Oscar Arias)

Though Arias is a fan of quoting the world’s great statesmen, he has made some of his own powerful statements:

“The world will listen not because we can make cannons thunder or drive tanks or fly fighter planes. They will listen because we refuse to stop dreaming of peace, because we have not turned our backs on our ideals.”


(TT, Dec. 18, 1987)

“We stood up as a force for morality, and we are part of the new history. At a time when world history is changing, we are partly responsible for the new political and economic direction of America, and even beyond.”

–During his final address to the nation as President, commending the country for setting the world on the right path

(TT, May 4, 1990).

“If I were Mr. Reagan, I would give that money to Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica for economic aid, and not military aid to the Contras.”

–To U.S. TV news commentator John McLaughlin, regarding $100 million in aid the United States was considering for the Nicaraguan rebels

(TT, Feb. 21, 1986).

“My country is not party to the problems in Central America, but events in Central America are certainly part of our problems.”

–During talks with U.S. President Ronald Reagan

(TT, Dec. 5, 1986).

“Today more than ever before, we have a great responsibility to know how to settle differences. So that from Nov. 7 on, our Central American brothers can bury their rifles and share the peace that we live in Costa Rica.”

–To a crowd in Costa Rica after learning he won the Nobel Peace Prize

(TT, Oct. 16, 1987).

“In the United States, the export of weapons receives state subsidies that are surpassed only by those given to agriculture. More than three-fourths of the arms exported to the developing countries come from the United States. Frequently, U.S. political and business circles argue that arms exports are an important sources of domestic jobs; however, the true justification for this market of death is the earning of profits.”

–In an open letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton asking his help in combating arms trafficking, particularly considering Central America’s dramatic, post-civil wars reduction of troops and arsenals

(TT, May 9, 1997).

“Every road I see in ruins, every school I visit where there are no desks…every child I see selling cell phone covers at a stop light, every marginalized community that asks me for nothing more that education to overcome the infernal cycle of misery…convinces me that we, the most privileged of this society, have an urgent responsibility.”

–During last year’s campaign to the Costa Rican-American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) about the need to raise taxes

(TT, Nov. 1, 2005).


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