Costa Rica celebrates 65th year without a military


December 2nd, 2013 ( Costa Rica celebrated its 65th year without a military yesterday, December 1st.


On December 1, 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica abolished the military of Costa Rica after victory in the civil war in that year. In a ceremony in the Cuartel Bellavista (now the National Museum), Figueres broke a wall with a mallet symbolizing the end of Costa Rica’s military spirit. In 1949, the abolition of the military was introduced in Article 12 of the Costa Rican Constitution.


In 1986, President Oscar Arias Sánchez declared December 1 as the Día de la Abolición del Ejército (Military Abolition Day) with Law #8115. Unlike its neighbours, Costa Rica has not endured a civil war since 1948.


Costa Rica’s position as a non-military actor has been cited as the reason for Costa Rica as being the headquarters for the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the United Nations’ University for Peace.

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    • roberto

      Always interesting to read about Costa Rica without a military but you rarely hear about the real political reason why the Constitutional Congress outlawed it in 1949, after the civil war in 1948 that resulted in over 2000 deaths.

    • Aitor Xaranga

      Yeah! One of the first and most successful cases of outsourcing in history! The military function was outsourced to the US, reason for which Tacho Somoza, despite many threats, naver pulled the trigger and invaded CR…
      The benefits? Hopefully diverted investment into education and social development.

      • edwardw69

        I’ve lived here for 27 years: the so-called free education is not free, nor is it quality education.
        Social development? Is that some kind of a joke?

      • mhogan

        Yeah! With a hope and a prayer

      • roberto

        The 44 members of the Congress in 1949 did not want to work with the 4 congressmen of Jose ‘Pepe’ Figueres and they did not want the possibility of a coup by his supporters in the military. So it abolished the army, outlawed the communist Vanguardia Popular party, and barrd former presidents from reelection for 8 yrs. after leaving office. Pepe’s Junta earlier quashed an attempted coup and an invasion from Nicaragua but in 1955 there was a similar attempt and Nicaraguan planes bombed San Jose, but they were repulsed by 6000 volunteers, including high school youths, with the aid of the OAS.

      • Pablo Bolaños-Villegas

        Aitor, with due respect, Somoza did invade in 1954, and there are no US troops in Costa Rica, the US helps patrol our territorial waters though, but that is done to intercept drug traffickers. As for the benefits, well, there is much to be done, yet for a country its size we have done decently. Where are you from?

    • mhogan

      May need to reinstate an army (if only to protect the ruling elite) if they persist in p**sing of their citizens with confiscatory taxes and personal freedoms.

    • roberto

      Dec. 3…The security
      ministry has
      graduated 27
      members of the
      Fronteras who
      completed a
      course taught
      by members of
      U.S. Customs
      and Border

      The course
      began in
      of dubious
      and border
      inspections. The U.S.
      agency has
      been involved
      in such
      courses since
      2010 under the

    • Treathyl FOX

      No military? OK. But they still got police. Right? It’s a valid question. Because I know police who are retired or ex-military. Not having a military is one thing. Not being able to call the cops is another!

      • Timothy Williams

        There are indeed police. Several agencies in fact. But there is no military.

        • Treathyl FOX

          I was wondering because my husband and late father are from The Bahamas. They didn’t have armed forces until 1980. Of course they didn’t become independent until 1973. I’m not against having a military. But let’s say your country got a tight budget. I say maintain a police force because if need be they can pull double duty and serve as a back up – be a soldier on an “as needed” or “as duty calls” basis. Know what I mean?

          • Timothy Williams

            Costa Rica could afford a military – its not an issue of not wanting to pay for one. It doesn’t want one (the country prides itself on being the ‘Switzerland’ of Central America).

            However, a militia recently emerged during recent border disputes with Nicaragua.


            • Treathyl FOX

              Oh I figured Costa Rica had made a
              conscience choice not to have a military. I was just thinking about
              other places where – if you want to eat and feed your family –
              then you better join the military. There are countries like that.
              All the emphasis is on keeping a military force, just in case, to
              protect the citizens who are starving to death and probably won’t be
              around for you to defend them if the country ever does get attacked.
              It’s a power thang!