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Suñol and Murillo shaped C.R. journalism

January 21, 2011

He was one of Costa Rica’s most influential and important journalists. But Julio Suñol’s career included more than crafting some of the country’s most prominent publications. Suñol, who died Sunday at the age of 77, was an educator, an elected official, a professor and novelist. But mostly he was a journalist.

In 1969, Suñol founded the Colegio de Periodistas (Costa Rican Journalists Association) and became the trade group’s first president.

He was the director of El Diario de Costa Rica, La Hora, El Día and La República. In addition, he was in charge of production at La Nación and La Prensa Costa Rica. He also ran his own radio program, La Palabra de Costa Rica.

Suñol enjoyed the trust of many presidents during his time working as a journalist, including José “Don Pepe” Figueres, Mario Echandi, Rafael Angel Calderón and Abel Pacheco, according to the daily La Nación. He even garnered friendships with a future president of Nicaragua and of Venezuela. He was also noted for having visited China during a time when almost all foreign journalists were banned from the communist country.

But Suñol’s career was not limited to journalism. In the early 1960s, he also entered the realm of politics and found brief success as the only member elected by the Popular Democrat Party to the Legislative Assembly in 1962. He joined the assembly as a representative from San José. On Tuesday, the assembly held a moment of silence.

Decades after his stint as a legislative representative, his political career included time as an ambassador to the Organization of American States, Mexico, Venezuela, and concurrently Surinam, Santa Lucía and Peru.

Suñol also taught at the University of Costa Rica and the Autonomous University of Central America. He authored more than a dozen novels over the years.

Suñol was born March 5, 1932 in Puntarenas.

Wilmer Murillo

Wilmer Murillo, a legendary Costa Rican economist nicknamed the “Monster of the Economy,” died Jan. 14 of heart failure. He was 62.

wilmer murillo

Matrix Monster: Journalist Wilmer Murillo understood economics so well, that government economists turned to him for advice. He died Friday at the age of 62. Courtesy of La República.

Murillo worked for Costa Rica’s business newspaper La República as columnist and economics editor for 34 years. Along the way, he collaborated with some of the most influential people in the country. Journalists say he could look at a spreadsheet of complex economic data and within minutes extrapolate multiple news stories. He was a monster with numbers.

According to La República, he accompanied other prominent Costa Rican economists to Tokyo, Japan, Washington D.C., Taipei, Taiwan, London, Berlin, Germany and New York. When Murillo talked, people listened.

Pedro Oller, a La República columnist since 2001, dedicated his Monday column to Murillo.

Wrote Oller: “I preserve the silence in order to write the essential and to feel the profound hurt brought on by the loss of Wilmer Murillo. Honest. Direct. Journalist. Costa Rican. We lost a voice but we will not lose our direction.”

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