San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Op-Ed

Costa Rica celebrates 66th anniversary of the abolition of its army

Costa Rica abolished its army 66 years ago. During national celebrations children and young people as the main protagonists carry the Costa Rican flag and proudly parade in their school uniforms. The image of a military parade with thousands of soldiers displaying their weapons and equipment is unknown to us.

Along with the principles of freedom and democracy, the force of reason has prevailed throughout Costa Rican history. The abolition of the military is one of those exceptional steps that led Costa Rica to become a fairer, more educated society able to meet the most pressing needs of its population, focusing on human development rather than strengthening its military capabilities.

Costa Ricans have reaped the benefits of a decision which marked its development as a nation. The resources that would otherwise have gone to the maintenance and purchase of military weapons are directed to causes that seek greater prosperity for the people.

During his visit to Costa Rica in late July, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated that “for decades, Costa Rica has been a worldwide example in rejecting unnecessary military expenditures. Instead, the country bravely invested in health and universal education. The result has been less inequality and greater social peace. ”

That fundamental decision, made on Dec. 1, 1948 and enshrined in the 1949 Constitution, currently in force, has forged generations of Costa Ricans who have never seen a war tank or a war plane on their territory. Costa Ricans will always aspire to carry schoolbooks rather than a rifle.

Through the unilateral renunciation of the use of force as a means of settling disputes, Costa Rica has privileged international law to safeguard its national interests, sovereignty and the rule of law.

This was reaffirmed by the President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solís, during the last General Assembly of the United Nations, when he stated that, “Costa Rica firmly believes and practices all aspects of international law; … this is the only way we know. Our only weapon has been and will always be international law.”

Costa Rican Foreign Minister Manuel González speaks at the Casa Amarilla in San José, on Aug. 4, 2014.

Alberto Font/The Tico Times

The abolition of the army in Costa Rica is part of a deep culture rooted in the best traditions of a peaceful and unarmed country, which dates back to 1877, when it abolished the death penalty and continued to push for new developments to ensure the peaceful coexistence among nations. This is reflected in the proposal for the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that Costa Rica, with a group of like-minded nations, has put forward. This is an international legal instrument that requires states to comply with strict regulations to ensure that arms transfers do not lead to the violation of human rights. The Treaty has been ratified by 50 nations and will enter into force in December. Undoubtedly, this represents a major contribution to humanity.

With a stroke of a hammer over a section of a former military facility, former President José Figueres Ferrer proclaimed the abolition of the army and announced that the building would be converted into a cultural center. This building currently houses the National Museum.

“We are staunch supporters of the ideal of a new world in America. In the land of Washington, Lincoln, Bolívar and Martí, today we say: Oh America, other peoples who are your children too, would offer you their greatness. Little Costa Rica wishes to offer you now and ever its heart, its love of civility, democracy, and institutional life,” President Figueres said.

Costa Rica shares with the world her determination to abolish the armed forces and does so with the conviction of contributing to universal peace and security, principles that govern our foreign policy.

Manuel A. González Sanz is Minister of Foreign Affairs of Costa Rica.

See also: Costa Rica not alone as it waits for a new US ambassador

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Roy Henderson

From an appearance standpoint, the ‘Policia’ in general would do well to drop the paramilitary attire and attitude, i.e., blousing of trousers over paratrooper boots. The distinction between ‘civil’ authority and ‘military’ authority becomes clouded to those vested with civil authority…the intrigue becomes too great for command, as opposed to command-and-control over the civil police. The quest for greater control is Napoleonic…never sanctioned or authorized, but creeping into a society by booted usurpers.

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DocRobert2014

Okay, enough with all of this nonsense! Costa Rica has never done what she promised with the money saved by not having a military agenda. Where is the money going to pay for roads, for education, etc. (for the benefit of the people). Poverty continues to increase. The bridges are decaying and becoming more dangerous, the roads are falling apart, the sidewalks are dangerous to walk on because they are in such poor condition, the crime rate is rising because of the lack of enforcement of the laws.

While idealistically, this was a good decision of course, corruption has replaced the military expenditures. Three presidents later, accused of corruption, numerous politicians involved in major scandals due to corruption, mis expenditure of government funds in ICE, the CAJA, and other government institutions. It is like stealing candy from a little girl and giving to your evil cousin. And then we brag about abolishing the Army.

Who would Costa Rica turn to if Nicaragua decided to enter the northern part of the country and try to claim back the territory taken from them? Their Police Force? While all of the rhetoric sounds really great, what is behind the rhetoric is not so great. Promises unfulfilled, suffering, a broken health care system, 1/3 or more of the children who enter school drop out before completion of their primary education. kids on motor cycles with guns taking pregnant women’s cell phones, child trafficking and prostitution, increasing divorce rate, jealous men killing their wives and girlfriends.

These are the real issues to address with that money, through education and awareness. It is one thing to brag about the great things of a country; quite another to hide all the deep dark issues of this society because we are tolerating corruption with those dollars saved from not having a military. It is time for us to stand together and not permit this bigotry from continuing.

We brag about human rights while not complying with international court orders to comply, we brag about how great we are while we commit adultery, theft, paying off our police forces, taking from the people what is rightfully theirs, and we call ourselves proud Ticos for the crimes against humanity we are involved with while saving money by doing away with the military…think about that!

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Michael Leaverton

PEOPLE IN THE USA YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHATS GOING IN YOUR COUNTRY YOUR BLIND LOOK AT THE STATS THE PEOPLE THAT WERE KILLED IN THE IRAQ WAR FOR WHAT AND THESE POOR SOLDERS COME BACK TO A COUNTREY THAT WERE THERE DIEING TO GET HELP IN THE VA. WALL STREET WITH THERE GREED COME ONE. THERE IS NO PERFECT COUNTRY BUT 600.000 IRAQES DIED FOR WHAT ARE THIS BETTER. YOU HAVE CHILD PROS IN EVERY MAJOR CITY IN THE USA . ONE IN SIX AMERICANS GO HUNGRY. THE MURDER RATE IN CHICAGO PHIL NEW ORLEANS IS ON PAR WITH NARCO MEXICO. SO WAKE UP SMELL THE DOG SH T THAT IS GOING ON IN ARE GOOD O USA.

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Mark Kahle

While I thoroughly applaud the lack of a military force in Costa Rica and truly wish it were true of every country I must also say that Costa Ricans no longer know, realize or have the capacity to understand the price paid for their liberty in todays’ world.

While International law may be “our only weapon” the populace needs to understand that this is possible only because other nations have agreed to come to the “physical” defense of this beautiful nation if ever needed.

Without these guarantees by our allies Costa Rica would and could not exist for long as it is.

Proof ? Read the Rio Treaty …… If Armed Forces themselves are what is objected to why has Costa Rica not denounced membership in this treaty that was signed prior to its’ new enlightenment and constitution ?

As long as CR has the guarantee that others will (literally) bleed for them they can continue on the ideological path. This needs to also be taught right along with said ideology or the ideology is in and of itself …false.

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