Monday, 1 December 2008

The visionary Don Pepe

I read an interesting article in the French daily newspaper "Libération" this morning. Costa Rica: Pays sans Kaki. 60 years ago, on December 1st 1948, José Figueres Ferrer also known as "Don Pepe" changed the fate of Costa Rica. After winning a short civil war, Don Pepe nationalized all the banks of the country - but more importantly he abolished the Costa Rican army. Instead of buying arms, Costa Rica hired teachers and doctors. Money saved on military expenses went straight into improving the country's education and health system.

And while the neighbours experienced conflicts and wars, Costa Rica soon became the most stable and most democratic country of Central America. It's certainly not a coincidence that Costa Rica today ranks 48th on the world development index, while Nicaragua and Guatemala lag far behind on rank 110 and 118.


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