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Costa Rica Exceptionalism in Central America. Colonial Antecedents Colonization begins in 1560 but is slow –Few minerals –Distance from Guatemalan and.

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Presentation on theme: "Costa Rica Exceptionalism in Central America. Colonial Antecedents Colonization begins in 1560 but is slow –Few minerals –Distance from Guatemalan and."— Presentation transcript:

1 Costa Rica Exceptionalism in Central America

2 Colonial Antecedents Colonization begins in 1560 but is slow –Few minerals –Distance from Guatemalan and Mexican centers of power Indigenous die out, flee, or are assimilated –Still some remain in southern CR –Bruncas and others Socioeconomic differentiation exists –It is just less severe Major differences –Never developed hacienda system –Small holder farming persists and keeps peasants relatively free –Distance from seats of power  experience in self government –Learned civil approach to conflicts

3 19 th Century: the first coffee republic 1823: Liberal/Conservative conflict not so strong in CR—quick liberal victory Until 1905: instability in leadership –¼ serve 1 year –1/6 toppled by coup –1/3 of period under military rule 1870: Colonial Tomas Guardia –Modernization, constitutional reform, education –(UFCO period starts) –Conservatives disappear


5 20 th Century Ethnic diversity: Laborers to work on railroads Economic diversification  Labor organization and strikes –1923 election contested by an alliance of political party, unions, and progressive Catholics –1934: CR communist party wins major strike against UFCO  powerful labor confederation Middle class also expands rapidly during 1930’s 1940’s: the most critical decade in CR history

6 1940’s Rafael Angel Calderon Guardia –Social security reforms –Popular alliance with Comm. Party, unions and church Labor code, right to strike VP survives him –Elites are alienated 1948: Calderon goes for a second round –Set up election board and gives control to the opposition Ulate wins fraudulently Calderonistas refuse to certify Civil war: short but bloody –Jose Figueres (National Liberation Party) rebels

7 Figueres and the NLP Junta rules for 18 months Repressed labor Key social democratic reforms –Abolition of the armed forces –Independent electoral agency Supreme Electoral Tribunal –Constitution Popular sovereignty Equality of citizens before the law Limited government –Relinquished power back to Ulate in 1949 NLP eventually wins in 1953

8 Costa Rican Democracy Political rights and guarantees –Freedom of written and spoken expression, movement, religion, association and petitition of government –Freedom from self-incrimination, cruel or unusual punishment –Right to due process, privacy and free access to information from gov Social rights –Government protection for families, mothers and children –Equal rights between marriage partners Economic rights –Right to organize, collective bargaining, strike –Equal pay for equal work –Minimum wage, overtime, etc. –Public health care

9 Political Economy: 1949-1980 Development model transforms CA –Nationalized banking and insurance –import substitution model –Regional integration under the CA Common Market  Foreign investment  expands infrastructure GDP: 5X between 1950-1975 (per capita doubles) 1973: global economy spurs downturn –1973 oil prices  trade deficit and depression –Inflation –Gov continues spending, borrows money from abroad By 1980: debt rises from 11.5% GDP in 1970 to 147% in 1982

10 1980’s: SAPs and stabilization CR trades support for US in Nicaragua for economic stabilization –  $1.14 billion between 1982-1988 (10 x previous period) –Temporary respite –Brought turbulence into N. CR Second phase: starting in 1985: SAPs –Neoliberal reforms engineered by ILI’s SAP I (1985): reduces government size and spending SAP II (1989): tax reform, elimination of subsidies, promotion of NTEX, tariff reduction, privatization –> reduced debt service and budget deficits SAP III (mid 1990’s): deeper cuts, further privatization  provokes major protests in the streets –Teachers, port workers,

11 Impacts of Neoliberal Reforms New niches in global economy NTEX, telecommunications, ecotourism Income disparities appear to grow –Social malaise: drugs and violence increase Implications for democracy: –Stronger and healthier state –Stimulation of greater civil society –SAPS are imposed by outsiders:economic decisions are in the hands of foreign private investors and intergovernmental lenders –Greater legislation by decree and bureaucratic rule making (not by representation in the LA)

12 Non Traditional Exports Butterfly producers Anthurium producers

13 Anthurium production





18 Tilapia farming

19 Butterflies





24 Citizen action against Harken Co. oil drilling in Talamanca

25 Anti-dam protests by Brunca Indians



28 CA Regionalism Kingdom of Guatemala United Provinces of Central America –1823-1838 Early 20 th C –CA Court and other initiatives –Broken apart by US invasion of Nicaragua 1923: attempts to revive failed to revive spirit of 1907 Central American Common Market: 1960

29 Recent regionalizing initiatives: European Union model –Obstacles to Integration variation in development Hesitance of CR and Panama to join poorer neighbors The other four are working alone on some things –standardizing registration procedures for foods and medicines. Bilateral and other agreements Proliferation of bodies Absence of some necessary institituions Ebbing and flowing enthusiasm

30 CAFTA Negotiations started Jan. 2003, expected to end before US elections CA countries have been gradually liberalizing although not without some struggle US interest is more geopolitical than economic Dovetails with Plan Puebla-Panama

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