Costa Rica has declared December 1 as a national holiday in commemoration of Army Abolition Day.
On that date in 1948, then-President José Figueres Ferrer abolished the armed forces following the end of the civil war that brought him to power.
Tuesday, President Carlos Alvarado signed the law that establishes the new holiday. The ceremony was held at the National Museum.
Appropriately, that building was once the Bellavista Fortress, where military recruits trained and weapons were stored. Upon abolishing the army, President Figueres offered the fortress to the University of Costa Rica, and by 1950 it had become the permanent venue for the National Museum.
“The resources that the government of the republic would have historically had to invest in a defense system based on weapons were wisely diverted to direct expenses for the well-being of Costa Ricans,” Alvarado said of the abolition of the military institution.
The new holiday was approved last December by the Legislative Assembly as an amendment to the Labor Code and supplants October 12 (Cultures Day) as a non-paid legal holiday beginning this year.
At the ceremony, Alvarado and Foreign Minister Rodolfo Solano called on the world to cut military spending and increase investment in the fight against climate change.
Costa Rica last December celebrated the 71st anniversary of the abolition of its army.
“Our grandparents were the first generation in the world to know what it was like to live in a country without an army,” Alvarado said at the time.
“We carry a responsibility that calls us to build a better Costa Rica, for that fourth generation, for our daughters and sons — the great grandchildren of the abolition.”