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Costa Rica celebrates 72 years without an army

November 29, 2020

Costa Rica on Monday is celebrating the 72nd anniversary of the abolition of its army.

While the official holiday is on December 1, it’s being observed Monday in order to create a long weekend. For the first time, Army Abolition Day is also feriado (a day off) for most Costa Ricans.

Former President José Figueres Ferrer abolished the armed forces in Costa Rica on Dec. 1, 1948 following the end of the civil war that brought him to power. The decision was ratified in Costa Rica’s new constitution, adopted in 1949.

President Carlos Alvarado has called Costa Rica’s demilitarization “one of the most politically relevant decisions of our nearly 200 years of republican existence, and an essential part of our national identity.”

By not funding a military, Costa Rica invested more heavily in education, healthcare and infrastructure.

“Our grandparents were the first generation in the world to know what it was like to live in a country without an army,” President Alvarado said last year.

“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.”

As part of the abolition, President Figueres transferred control of the military barracks to the University of Costa Rica. Today, the building houses the National Museum.

Celebrations commemorating Army Abolition Day are typically before the museum in the Plaza de la Democracia.

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