San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Country Celebrates Abolition of Army

Just months after Costa Rica celebrated what would have been former President José “Pepe” Figueres’ 100th birthday (TT, Sept. 29), it’s set to pay homage to one of his greatest accomplishments: the abolition of the army.

To mark the 58th anniversary of this event, the Culture Ministry announced a series of events scheduled for today at the NationalMuseum in downtown San José.

From 8-10 a.m., students will participate in an activity called “Children Painting for Peace,” and the National Band will give a concert at 9 a.m.

From 10-11:30 a.m., a formal commemorative act will take place in the museum gardens as in previous years. The museum is housed in what was previously the Bellavista Fort, where Figueres symbolically bludgeoned a rampart to symbolize the abolition of the army on Dec. 1, 1948.

Vice-President Laura Chinchilla, Culture Minister María Elena Carballo, Education Vice-Minister Alejandrina Mata, Housing Minister Fernando Zumbado and Public Security Minister Fernando Berrocal will sign an agreement among their institutions to provide housing for members of the National Police.

Roberto Güell, 78, president of the National Ex-Combatants’ Association and veteran of Figueres’ National Liberation Army, is also on the guest list.

Chinchilla is expected to sign a presidential directive to expand the yearly celebrations of the abolition of the army by increasing efforts to educate young people about peace. To that end, Japanese Ambassador Yoshihiko Sumi will present a new book, “Educar para la paz,” (“Educating for Peace”), published by the Arias Foundation for Peace and Human Progress with funds from the Japanese government.

President Oscar Arias, who will not attend the ceremony because he is in Mexico on a state visit (see separate story), created the foundation with the money from his Nobel Peace Prize in 1987.

Figueres, who was President from 1948-1949, 1953-1958, and 1970-1974, took power at the end of the 1948 Civil War; he led the uprising after the Legislative Assembly annulled the results of that year’s presidential elections. As provisional President, he abolished both his Liberation Army and the government army. He died in 1980.


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