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The Costa Rican held the first direct election in 1913. An
unequivocal winner failed to find and the National Assembly
appointed Alfredo González Flores as president. Dissatisfied
with the reforms proposed by González, General Federico
Tinoco conducted Granados one of the few coups that the
country has experienced. His government was never
recognized, and after threats of intervention by the United
States, Tinoco was forced to resign in 1919.
The subsequent governments were supported by the
plantation owners and financiers during the period between
1940 and 1948. The candidate of the National Unity Party,
Otilio Ulate's, 1948 election victory was not recognized by
Congress, leading to civil war. The conflict ended with the
appointment of a junta, led by José Figueres, who printed
elections among MPs who ratified the election of Ulate as
president. A year later a new very strong presidential
constitution was introduced, which included banned the
creation of a regular army.
The populist revolution led by Figueres was an
encouragement to the anti-colonialist movements throughout
Here begins the period of «Welfare State Capitalism».
José Figueres assumed power in 1954; he deepened his
populist line, adding a strong element of anti-communism. In
1958, Figueres was replaced by more conservative forces; a
development policy strategy was launched - following
pressure from the USA - to reduce imports.
From this point on, the traditional conflict between
conservatives and liberals was resolved by other conflicts
between Figueres' party, the National Freedom Party, the
PLN, and a diverse congregation of several smaller parties.
In 1966, José Joaquin Trejos from the opposition party won
the National Unity Party, the presidential election.
PLN, with Figueres at the forefront, managed to regain
power after the 1970 election; he retained it until 1974,
when the co-founder of PLN in 1950, Daniel Odúber Quirós,
took over the country's highest office.
Odúber went to great lengths to reestablish unity among
the members of the Central American Common Market, which had
been in crisis since the 1962 El Salvador-Honduras war.
repeated occasions threatened Costa Rica. The country
granted residence permits to thousands of political
The nationalization in 1975 of the multinational oil
companies responsible for the distribution of petroleum
products on the domestic market, together with the increase
in the price of the country's most important export article,
coffee, created an opportunity to improve the population's
Contrary to all predictions, the 1978 presidential
election became a triumph for the Conservative opposition,
revealing certain administrative and polemical aspects
perpetrated by Figueres and his government. At the same
election, the Left, united in the United Nations coalition,
could significantly strengthen its support among voters.
Nevertheless, the left remained isolated and without the
opportunity to develop a program of social change that
included both democracy and pluralism and which could
convince the vast majority of the population.
The subsequent government, led by Rodrigo Carazo Odio,
was characterized by its unpopular economic policy, which
had drawn inspiration from the IMF, and by a confrontational
course vis-à-vis trade unions and left-wing parties.
However, following threats of invasion by the dictator
Anastasio Somoza, the government - due to the people's
backing to the Nicaragua sand ministers - decided to provide
assistance to the opposition in Nicaragua.
The attitude towards the Salvadoran revolutionaries in
the late 1980's was quite different; in spite of the massive
human rights violations, the Salvadoran military junta
received political support from the San José government,
while in May 1981 Rodrigo Carazo severed diplomatic
relations with Cuba.
With support from the United States government, the
Democratic Central American Society was established in San
José in January 1982 - the purpose was to isolate Nicaragua.