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Wed Jan 10, 2018, 02:31 AM

Why getting rid of Costa Rica's army 70 years ago has been such a success

Amanda Trejos, Special to USA TODAY
Published 6:05 a.m. ET Jan. 5, 2018 | Updated 10:28 a.m. ET Jan. 5, 2018

Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are plagued by chronic poverty and violence that have sent a flood of refugees fleeing to the United States. Panama has gained the unwanted title as a world capital for money laundering and corruption. And all of them, plus Nicaragua, face recurrent political upheaval.

Yet amid this chaos, one Central American neighbor remains an island of political stability, economic prosperity and contentment: Costa Rica.

The country's secret is something that virtually no other country in the world can claim — no standing army. It has used the savings from defense spending to improve education, health care and a durable social safety net.

In 2018, Costa Rica will mark its 70th anniversary since it abolished its military, and that seems to suit the population. It ranked first in Latin America and 12th in world in happiness, according to the 2017 World Happiness Index. The Happy Planet Index ranked it No. 1 in the world.

Tourists visit the butterfly exhibit at the National Biodiversity Park, near Heredia, Costa Rica.
(Photo: Kent Gilbert, AP)


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Reply Why getting rid of Costa Rica's army 70 years ago has been such a success (Original post)
Judi Lynn Jan 2018 OP
GatoGordo Jan 2018 #1
EX500rider Jan 2018 #2
GatoGordo Jan 2018 #3

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Jan 10, 2018, 11:50 AM

1. It does have a small military unit (UEI)


Costa Rica’s Special Intervention Unit (UEI) is about 70-100 commandos. Small, but very professional, very military.

Recently, there has been talk of expanding the capabilities, as there has been a lot of border issues with Nicaraguan "military adventurism".

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Response to GatoGordo (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 10, 2018, 04:32 PM

2. Yeah the Tico's are not very fond of the Nicaraguans...

....they call them "Nica's" with some disdain... they had some some border disputes/minor clashes early on and the Costa Rican's have not forgotten. While I was growing up there in the '70's they seemed to have zero issues with the Panamanians but really seemed to not like Nicaraguans.

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Response to EX500rider (Reply #2)

Thu Jan 11, 2018, 11:48 AM

3. We've had some bad recent experiences in Nicaragua


There is a cancer infecting the current political regime, and it has spread down to the local level. Seems they can't get along with ANY of their neighbors, and everyone is their enemy. They hate Ticos especially, perhaps because CR is doing so well economically and politically.

We visit Central America every winter (medical mission work) and Nicaragua isn't a very safe place these days. We literally had to flee across the border into Honduras in the middle of the night when the local alcalde (mayor) stole our building materials (for building a clinic) and held them for ransom. When we refused to pay his bribe to return our material, word got out that we were going to be arrested and charged with some made up crime the next day. The locals got wind of this and got us to the border with what we could carry. When they found us gone, they accused us of robbing the local government offices AND accused our group of trying to kidnap Nicaraguan babies to sell them in the US. Pure class, that bunch. We won't be going back any time soon.

Costa Rica, is WONDERFUL. Pura Vida! I love the Ticos.

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