The abolition of the Costa Rican army refers to the suppression of all the armed forces of Costa Rica, carried out on December 1, 1948, after the 1948 Civil War in Costa Rica ended.
Since the abolition of the army, the country has only resorted to military forces on two occasions: in 1955 to prevent an invasion from Nicaragua by expatriates and with the support of the Somoza government, and in 1965 when it sent 21 police officers as part of the Inter-American Force of Peace of the Organization of American States during the US occupation of the Dominican Republic.
Symbolic act on December 1st, 1948
It was not just chance nor did it respond to a fleeing moment of glee.
It was the most vivid expression of national sentiment, it was the deep desire of our people to sign a pact of faith with the belief in dialogue, compression and negotiation, instead of imposition and military force.
Recognizing the emotional and symbolic act of the then president of the founding board of the second republic, Don José Figueres Ferrer, when he abolished the national army in our country is to recognize project 21.137, which means our democratic system.
This absolutely conscious and decisive act was one of those events that became part of the transcendent history of the country.
Also in that act at the Bella Vista barracks where the President himself would give the keys of the Barracks to create a higher educational institution, the recently founded University of Costa Rica, currently the National Museum.
The National Constituent Assembly of 1949
The Constituent Assembly raised the wise decision of December 1st to constitutional rank, thus sealing the civil will of a people, after a series of events that brought mourning and pain to many Costa Rican families.
And so that we would always keep this heroic act in mind, the government of Oscar Arias Sánchez decrees on December 24, 1986, “Day of the Abolition of the Army”, symbolizing the wise decision to resolve all our disputes, by means of the law and not by weapons and violence.
Benefits from the absence of an army
Following the abolition of the army, Costa Rica has gained international recognition for being the first country in the world to make the decision to abolish its army.
It favors institutional and political stability, without the dangers of military intervention or coups d’état.
It allows giving greater economic resources to education, health and other social programs.
It contributes to creating a civil and pacifist mentality in the population, which must be transmitted to all aspects of daily life, in families and communities.
The country, not having armed forces, led the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the University for Peace of the United Nations to establish their headquarters in Costa Rica.
Finally, we are free from the chains of military oppression, Costa Ricans are very proud to be an educated people, who understand that weapons do not harmonize with our pacifist nature, that singular ideal of Costa Rican women and men of putting education ahead of all.