Independence Of Costa Rica
In October 1821, word arrived from Guatemala that on September 15, Spain had granted independence to its American
colonies. It had taken the news one month to travel through the mountains and valleys to Costa Rica.
The first president of Free Costa Rica, Juan Mora Femandez, built roads, schools, and gave land grants to anyone who would plant coffee. This epoch was one of the most influential in the evolution of Costa Rican democracy, because small farmers were encouraged to grow coffee and sell the beans to wealthier farmers who would prepare the beans for export. Thus rich and poor each had an important place in the coffee growing process, and mutual respect was developed.
By the mid-1800's, coffee was Costa Rica's principal export, and coffee growers were a powerful and wealthy elite. They built a road to transport coffee from the Meseta Central to Costa Rica's port, Puntarenas. They exported first to Chile, then later to Germany and England. By mid- century, European money was entering the pockets of Costa Rican coffee growers, and Europeans were arriving en masse on this tropical frontier. Costa Rica was becoming cosmopolitan. A university had been founded in 1844 to disseminate European thinking. Costa Rican politicians sported European liberal ideologies.
By 1848 the coffee elite was influential enough to elect its own representative for President. Juan Rafael Mora was a self made man who had become one of the most powerful coffee growers in the country. He was charismatic, astute, and respected by the coffee elite and the campesinos alike. He became a veritable national hero by leading an "army" of Costa Ricans to defend his country when it was invaded by one of the most detested figures in Central American history, the North American William Walker.
keep readingThe Atlantic Railroad and United Fruit
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