Reform, Resentment, and Revolution: The Administration of Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia and Its Causal Effects on the 1948 Civil War in Costa Rica

David Fotouhi


In 1948, revolution, armed conflict, and democratic turmoil enveloped one of the most historically stable and “exceptional” nations in the Western Hemisphere: Costa Rica. While the events which led directly to the annulment of the 1948 presidential election by Congress and the following armed conflicts have drawn much attention, this article argues that the change of direction and widespread reforms attempted during the administration of President Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia (1940-1944), along with his missteps, shortcomings, and the reactions which they garnered had more of a causal impact on the ensuing conflict than any other single actor or event. While Calderón would play a direct role in the events of 1948 and beyond, the author finds that his most influential actions came during his one term in office. By laying the groundwork to which nearly all future players reacted and (sometimes) rebelled against, the administration of Calderón significantly influenced the uncharacteristic events of the late 1940s and profoundly altered the course of this Central American nation.


Costa Rican civil war, causes of; Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia;

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