Costa Rica

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Post-World War II


  • The CIA and the American right-wing had much anxiety towards the president of Costa Rica, José Figueres who was considered to be a moderate socialist, and on a few occasions tried to kill him or encourage his overthrow.
  • Although he had closely worked with the CIA, Figueres was also opposed to and encouraged rebellions against many Latin American dictators, many oh whom were "members in good standing of the United States' anti-Communist, 'Free-World' club" like Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua.
  • The Costa Rican government also gave refuge to many political dissidents, both communist and non-communist, which irked U.S. officials.
  • One of the tactics of the CIA was to place a letter, which was purportedly from a Costa Rican communist, in a leading communist newspaper stating that Figueres was in contradiction with the Communist Party's position on the Hungarian revolution in 1956. This alarmed unknowing officials of the U.S. Embassy of what Figueres may be capable of.(4)


  • Having been elected president for the third time in May 1970, Figueres began to upset U.S. officials, in particular the American Right. He did so by continuing to engage in diplomatic relations he had established with the Soviet Union and other Eastern European countries; the opponents of the U.S. in the Cold War.
  • Figueres stated, "This diplomatic recognition in no way shakes our loyalty to the United States or to the democratic cause. People everywhere are tired of the cold war. Russian controls half of Europe, and we want to make the Russians drink coffee [Costa Rica's principal export] instead of tea."
  • The Soviet Union had purchased 10 million dollars worth of coffee within two years.
  • Earl "Ted" Williamson, was officially the First Secretary of the U.S. Embassy in the capital caicity of San Jose. However, in reality, the CIA Chief of Station had declared that the Figueres government would not stay in power for long.
  • It is worth noting that the CIA attempts to overthrow Figueres were never successful and never obtained a significant backing of the people; also notable is that in 1949 Figueres abolished the military so that there were not military dissidents that the U.S. could mobilize.(5)


  • An economic crisis that had began earlier in the decade continued into the late '80's; Costa Rican standards of living declined and the citizens approval of their government stayed low.
  • The U.S. was lending their support financially in return for Costa Rican cooperation in harassing Nicaraguan contras, which was a top American priority in combating their fear of the spread of communism.
  • This U.S. support helped ease some of the Costa Rican economic troubles.(6)
  • U.S. financial aid to Costa Rica was greatly decreased when  president Oscar Arias Sánchez created the Central American Peace Accord of 1987, which won him the Nobel Prize for Peace. ("Arias Sánchez")(7)
  • This peace accord called for a major cutback in cooperation with the U.S. sponsored contras, which angered the Reagan administration and was the cause of their harsh retaliation.(8)

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