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Demilitarization and Independence in Latin America: Lessons from Costa Rica and Beyond

Webinar co-organized by CEDLA and the Embassy of Costa Rica in the Netherlands

Keynote speaker: Luis Guillermo Solís, former President of Costa Rica and Interim director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center, FIU


Discussants: Prof. dr. Kees Koonings and Prof. dr. Dirk Kruijt, Utrecht University

Chair: Prof. dr. Barbara Hogenboom, CEDLA — University of Amsterdam

This lecture took place on 24th of September 2021 as part of the CEDLA Lecture Series.


Costa Rica is one of the most stable democracies of the Western Hemisphere. Located in a region prone to political unrest, where military rule has been a historical constant, Costa Rica has been able to avert the maladies of authoritarianism and human rights violations due to a series of decisions made after reaching independence precisely 200 years ago, in 1821. Two are generally considered central to the country’s progress: an early adherence to public education, and the establishment of a universal, solidarity-driven, social security system. There is however a third, unique and unusual decision that laid the foundation of Costa Rica’s internal stability and international peace: the abolition of the armed forces as a permanent institution in 1948, at the end of the country’s last civil war. During this seminar, Luis Guillermo Solís, former president of Costa Rica (2014-2018), will discuss the short and long-term implications of this extraordinary measure. Professors Kees Koonings and Dirk Kruijt, specialists on the role of the military in a number of Latin American societies, will reflect on experiences and current challenges in other parts of the region. In a roundtable discussion they will discuss the wider effects and possibilities for demilitarization that the Costa Rican example sets for the region at large.



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