José Figueres Ferrer

José Figueres Ferrer (1906 - 1990) served as President of Costa Rica for a total of 12 years. He served three different, non-consecutive terms.

José Figueres Ferrer was born in 1906. There is not much information regarding his early life.

A new epoch came into being in Costa Rica during 1940. It was then that Dr. Rafael Angel Calderen Guardin was elected the new president. He began to make sweeping changes, which appeared to be an attempt to move the country into a more stabilized one. Some of his policies included land reform, progressive taxation and guaranteed minimum wage. The country looked as if it was headed in the right direction.

The sanctuary, which Costa Rica had become, would take turn for the worse. Calderen's United Social Christian Party refused to leave office, or leave behind power. They had lost the 1948 election. A civil war ensued. The Calderen's were opposed by Jose (Don Pepe) Figueres Ferrer. Prior to the revolt, "Don Pepe" had been exiled to Mexico in 1942. He returned to fight a political battle, with the aid of both the Guatemalan and Cuban governments. He won the war, which lasted 40 days, and cost 2,000 lives.

Figueres Ferrer had been named the head of the Founding Junta of the Second Republic of Costa Rica. He made it his mission to reform Costa Rica. He included the positive aspects of Calderen's campaign and added some additional ones which were an attempt to make Costa Rica a more positive and progressive country. Figueres Ferrer gave women the right to vote, abolished all branches and divisions of the Costa Rican armed forces, nationalized banks, etc. One of the more controversial rulings he made was the ban on all actions of the Communist party.

Figueres Ferrer led a national revolt in 1948. The revolt was an act of solidarity to ensure that the newly elected president Otilio Ulate could effectively take over the governmental control. Ulate placed Figueres Ferrer in the rank of provisional president. It was during this legislation period that Costa Rica developed some of it's most useful and socially conscious reforms. Figueres Ferrer was elected to the office presidency in fair and open elections in 1948. He served a total of 12 years. His terms were divided amongst 3 stints in office: 1948-1949, 1953-1958, and 1970-1974.

Figueres Ferrer died in 1990 knowing that to many Costa Ricans, he was a hero. He has been credited with bringing democracy to his country. His son, Jose Figueres Olsen currently serves as President of Costa Rica.


Further Reading on José Figueres Ferrer

Information regarding José Figueres Ferrer can be obtained from The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia. Additional information on both José Figueres Ferrer and Costa Rica can be found at and at