chapter  5
32 Pages

Costa Rica

WithSheldon B. Liss

Costa Rica's people, or Ticos, give the impression that they prefer moderate to radical solutions and are basically conformists. Despite, or perhaps because of, a primarily literate work force, a relatively large intelligentsia, political cohesion, and liberal democracy, Costa Rica has not produced a plethora of radical thought. Three classes existed in Costa Rica by the nineteenth century: the coffee-growing elites, made up of a tiny group of families who controlled politics; the small coffee growers, who depended on the elites to sell their coffee; and the peons, who depended on both of the other groups. Liberal president Ricardo Jimenez believed it possible to combat communism with ideas, not violence, a philosophy that enabled the Costa Rican Communist party to avoid the degree of bloodshed experienced by Communist parties elsewhere in Central America. Between 1917 and 1960 Costa Rican socialist Vicente Saenz wrote twenty-four major books and became an intellectual force in Central America and Mexico.