Costa Rica Recent History

In 1953 Josè Figueres was elected by a large majority over the opponents. He carried out a leftist policy, controlled strikes, maintained union freedoms. He did not participate in the X Pan-American Conference in 1954 as it was held in Caracas, Venezuela, a country under military dictatorship. It introduced important social reforms and promoted economic recovery.
Despite his popularity, Figueres in the 1958 elections saw himself outclassed by the conservative Mario Echandi who stood out for having proposed the disarmament of all Latin America, and for having given ample development to the free initiative.

Meanwhile, relations with Nicaragua had worsened due to political refugees who were sheltering in Costa Rica, so it was unable to participate in the Central American Common Market in January 1959. However, its economic policy was opposed by all those who did not look favorably the development of the private initiative with less and less intervention by the state.

According to Abbreviationfinder, there was also a significant setback due to the drop in the prices of coffee and bananas on international markets.

So when the new elections of 1962 took place, the Figueres party obtained the election of its candidate F. Orlando, who immediately resumed the program of social reforms already started by Figueres himself.

Although he did his best to improve the situation, his efforts were thwarted by the Irazù volcano which in 1963, 1964 and 1965, with its tremendous eruptions, caused enormous damage both to agriculture and to livestock breeding. However, from 1962 to 1968 the Istituto de Tierras y Colonizacion (ITCO) completed the expropriation program of uncultivated land benefiting a considerable number of families.

Costa Rica Recent History

After a difficult and tarnished presidency of the conservative JJTrejos (February 1966), he returned to the presidency of Figueres in 1970.
However, he did not repeat the brilliant previous conduct and he made news of his return to diplomatic relations with the USSR, even if his foreign policy tended it was closer to the United States.
Accused of being a pro-Communist, he was able to prove to the country that his aims were for commercial purposes only, opening new outlets for the export of domestic products.

In February 1974 D. Oduber became president of the Figueres party; 18-year-olds participated in the elections for the first time. In April of the same year, the students staged a violent demonstration against the United States which had obtained the concession for the exploitation of bauxite from the government.

In 1978, the elections brought the conservative R.Carazo Odio to power, and Parliament was also a conservative majority. There was a worsening in the economic situation, there were many union unrest and relations with Nicaragua were tense again
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In 1982 the National Liberation Party returned to the limelight with its candidate LA Monge Alvarez. It was a dark period for the economy and for the conflicts that occurred with neighboring states.

In 1986, again with the victory of the PLN candidate, O. Arias Sanchez, a phase of relaxation began. In August 1987 there were the agreements of Esquipulas (Guatemala) between the 5 Presidents of: Guatemala., Honduras, Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, supported by Arias Sanchez who, for this, had the Nobel Peace Prize.

In 1990 the new elected president, V. Chamorro, marked the end of the conflict with Nicaragua and relations between the two states normalized.

On the contrary, on the economic level, problems arose due to the external debt and the unrest followed, while representatives of the PLN found themselves involved in corruption cases and in drug trafficking. All this strongly alienated the sympathies of the voters towards that party so much so that the 1990 elections were won by the conservative RA Calderon Fournier who based his policy on austerity and on strengthening relations with the United States of America.

With these measures Calderon Fournier managed to carry out a privatization program and reduce inflation. To achieve this, however, he had to make significant cuts in public spending, health and public education, thereby worsening the welfare state. So in February 1994, with the new elections, he had to hand JM Figueres Olsen, leader of the National Liberation Party and son of the former president.

Contrary to the claims made during his election campaign, not only did he complete the privatization plan but he also proposed a severe revision of the pension system, which benefited him from very strong union protests which were expressed through strikes and demonstrations.

These protests prompted the president to partially revise his plans and make some reshuffles in the government.
The general elections of February 1998, despite the almost equality of the programs enunciated by the two major contending parties, awarded the conservatives of the Christian Social Unity Party, whose leader, MA Rodriguez Echeverrìa, was elected President of the Republic and took office in the May 1998.

A free trade zone was immediately established with Mexico while together with Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and the Dominican Republic, the “Managua Declaration” was signed, the main purpose of which was to found common political institutions to all of them.