What is Juan Santamaría Day?

April 10, 2018

Costa Rica, lacking an army since 1948, doesn’t have many war heroes. The most notable exception is Juan Santamaría, a poor drummer boy from Alajuela. Santamaría helped thwart a notorious U.S. figure’s march through Central America during the mid-19th century.

Celebrated every year on April 11, Juan Santamaría Day commemorates the Costa Rican victory in the Battle of Rivas in 1856 against the U.S. citizen William Walker and his mercenary army.

After overthrowing the government of Nicaragua, Walker set his sights on other Central American countries in hopes of developing a slave-trade empire. The Costa Rican government sent troops to Nicaragua to fight the growing threat.

It seemed unlikely that Costa Rica would win the battle until young Juan Santamaría set fire to a hostel where a number of Walker’s soldiers were staying. The fire led to a heavy loss in troops for Walker’s army, but also killed Santamaría. This act of heroism confirmed Costa Rica’s sovereignty and is celebrated every year with a parade and ceremony in Alajuela.

140410dancejuansantamaria

Originally published on April 10, 2014.

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Morning-after pill can now be sold without a prescription in Costa Rica
Costa Rica
39 views
Costa Rica
39 views

Morning-after pill can now be sold without a prescription in Costa Rica

Alejandro Zúñiga - May 18, 2019

Levonorgestrel, marketed commercially as "Plan B" and commonly known as the morning-after pill, can legally be sold without a prescription…

Pic of the Day: A busy day in San José
Pic of the Day
2 views
Pic of the Day
2 views

Pic of the Day: A busy day in San José

The Tico Times - May 18, 2019

Costa Rica wants to reorganize its chaotic transport system and start decarbonizing its economy with a modern electric train through…

MINAE raises alarm about drug trafficking in Costa Rica’s protected land
Costa Rica
64 views
Costa Rica
64 views

MINAE raises alarm about drug trafficking in Costa Rica’s protected land

Rita Valverde / Semanario Universidad - May 17, 2019

The Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) has requested assistance from the Public Security Ministry in the face of increased drug…

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!