It was a Friday, March 12th, but in 1948, when the forces opposed to the Calderonist government at that time managed to take San Isidro del General and thus start the last civil war in Costa Rica. Just a week earlier, Congress had annulled that year’s elections, which was the trigger for a conflict forming over a decade.
On February 8th, the voting had taken place and although it was indicated that Otilio Ulate had beaten Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia by 10,000 votes, a fire in the “Colegio de Señoritas”, where the electoral material was kept, prompted the legislative decision.
Thus, a bloody secuence of 44 days began where the number of victims is still unknown. The calculations of the conflicting sides add to almost 2,000 deaths and injuries.
A war between the mountain and the Embassy of Mexico
Most of the fighting in the 1948 Civil War occurred in rural areas such as Los Santos, Pérez Zeledón, and the West. The original actions in Pérez Zeledón were joined by the taking of Tarrazú and Dota on March 15th, and later, that of Limón, achieved on April 11th with the help of the Caribbean Legion.
It was not until later in the weeks that the fighting approached the capital. On April 12th, the National Liberation Army managed to take Cartago, which was one of the most important coup sites.
Pact of Ochomongo
On April 17th, the Pact of Ochomogo is given, where the Government and its communist allies agree to surrender. This was materialized through the pact of the Mexican Embassy, where Teodoro Picado resigned as President and began to dismantle his government.
From that moment and until May 8th, the Government remained in the hands of Santos León, while what was later called the “Founding Board of the Second Republic” was being organized.
18 months before order was restored
Although he was finally recognized as President-elect, it took Otilio Ulate a year and a half to take office. A new pact between him and José Figueres Ferrer guaranteed time for a Constituent Assembly to be convened.
In the meantime, the Governing Board took measures such as bank nationalization or the creation of the ICE. In addition, it had to face a new Calderón invasion from Nicaragua and an internal coup attempt that led to the Abolition of the Army. Ulate finally took office on November 8th, 1949 and four years later handed him over to Figueres, now elected on the democratic path.