On December 1st, the 71st anniversary of the abolition of the army is celebrated with pride in Costa Rica, a date that is commemorated every year since the Constitution of 1949, on which the existence of the Armed Forces was permanently prohibited. It is important to know that since the abolition, the national military headquarters located in downtown San José became the National Museum of Costa Rica.
In Costa Rica, there are only exists police officers who ensure the protection of citizens with a pacifist vocation. And since December 24th, 1986, by presidential decree, it is declared that December 1 of each year is commemorated “Army Abolition Day”.
For Costa Ricans not having an army strengthens the democratic and peaceful principles of the nation and at the same time advances one of the great global challenges such as the fight against climate change.
For the president of the Costa Rican nation, Carlos Alvarado, the abolition of the army represents “the declaration of peace to the world, with which Costa Rica decided to disarm unilaterally, to rely on the force of speech and dialogue; decided to trust democracy and bet on multilateralism. “
“Because we silence our weapons today, our voice is heard with special attention in international forums, and because we have no military spending, Costa Ricans can always talk about democracy, wherever we are, with pride and satisfaction,” said President Alvarado.
Costa Rica is currently home to the University for Peace and the UN and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
How do you live in a country without an army?
For 71 years, Costa Rica has not invested in tanks, weapons or military personnel, who has managed to re-direct that capital to other areas of importance to the country such as education, infrastructure, health, and the environment, thus being considered one of the top countries with the best human development.
Last year (2018), researchers at the Development Observatory of the University of Costa Rica were given the task of analyzing for the first time the consequences generated by this historical event in the country. One of the results highlighted in the study is that: “Latin American countries have had 97 coups, 21 episodes of political violence, more than 120 episodes of civil violence, while Costa Rica hasn’t had a single coup attempt since 1955”.
Another important fact was the increase in the country’s GDP according to the investigation “The abolition of the army implied an increase in the growth rate of the country’s GDP per capita. It was an annual increase of several percentage points. That is, before 1950, we were growing around 1.30% of GDP per capita per year, and after that, until have been growing around 2.45%”. The researchers concluded that: “Our work gives evidence that committing to peace and democracy bears fruit in the long term”.
What do Costa Ricans think about not having an army?
Here, we will mention some Costa Rican opinions regarding the abolition of the army in this country:
“I feel very proud that my country has decided to eliminate the army”, said Amanda Hernández, a young Costa Rican.
“If you ask a Costa Rican, rather the difficult thing is to imagine how you can live with an army, a great contrast to all other Latin American countries is that there are no military parades here. It is not the military that represents civic values, it is the students who take to the streets to celebrate our patriotic values”, says Luis Ramírez, a college student.
“It is not a paradise because in every country there are problems, there are assaults and so on … but I feel that we can live very tranquil, walking without seeing soldiers with weapons”, said Christopher Aguilar, a young man from Limón, from the Costa Rican Caribbean.
Costa Rica is a small country that has shown that not having an armed force is not synonymous with public disorder or anarchy. Thus confirming that in a country without an army, citizens can live in peace and develop without conflicts, maintaining socio-political stability that respects democracy, rights, and human development.