Óscar Arias: Wikis


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Óscar Rafael de Jesús Arias Sánchez

Assumed office 
8 May 2006
Preceded by Abel Pacheco
In office
8 May 1986 – 8 May 1990
Preceded by Luis Alberto Monge
Succeeded by Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier

Born 13 September 1940 (1940-09-13) (age 69)
Political party National Liberation Party

Óscar Rafael de Jesús Arias Sánchez (born 13 September 1940) is a Costa Rican politician who has been President of Costa Rica since 2006. He previously served as President from 1986 to 1990 and received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his efforts to end civil wars then raging in several other Central American countries.

He is also a recipient happy hour of the Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism and a trustee of the Economists for Peace and Security. In 2003, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the International Criminal Court's Trust Fund for Victims.[1]

He is a member of Collegium International, an organization of leaders with political, scientific, and ethical expertise whose goal is to provide new approaches in overcoming the obstacles in the way of a peaceful, socially just and economically sustainable world.


Early life

Raised by an upper class family in the province of Heredia, Óscar Arias concluded his secondary schooling at the Saint Francis College in the capital city of San José. He then went to the United States and enrolled in Boston University with the intention of studying medicine, but he soon returned to his home country and completed degrees in law and economics at the University of Costa Rica. In 1967, Arias traveled to the United Kingdom and enrolled in the London School of Economics. He received a doctorate degree in political science from the University of Essex in 1974. Arias has received over fifty honorary degrees, including doctorates from Harvard University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, Oberlin College, Wake Forest University, Ithaca College and Washington University in St. Louis.

First presidency

Óscar Arias Sánchez in the 1980s

Arias joined the National Liberation Party (PLN), Costa Rica's main social democratic party. In 1986 he ran successfully for president on that party's ticket. Arias's presidency saw the transformation of Costa Rica's economy from one based on the traditional cash crops (coffee and bananas) to one more focused on non-traditional agriculture (e.g., of exotic flowers and fruits) and tourism. Some within the PLN criticized his administration for abandoning the party's social democrat teachings and promoting a neoliberal economic model. He is now often regarded as a neoliberal although he is a member of a nominally social-democrat party.[2]

Arias received the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize with the help of John Biehl, his peer in England, and Rodrigo Madrigal Nieto for his work towards the signing of the Esquipulas II Accords. This was a plan intended to promote democracy and peace on the Central American isthmus during a time of great turmoil: leftist guerrillas were fighting against the governments in El Salvador and Guatemala, which were backed by the United States under the auspices of the Cold War; the Contras, supported by the United States , were fighting an insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua; Honduras, only recently wresting political power from its military, was caught in the middle as a base for U.S. military forces; and on Costa Rica's other border, Panama faced the oppression of Manuel Noriega's military dictatorship. With the support of Arias, the various armed conflicts ended within the decade (Guatemala's civil war finally ended in 1996).

Arias then called for a higher level of integration in the Central America region and promoted the creation of the Central American Parliament (Parlamento Centroamericano). During his current administration, Arias has declared that Costa Rica will not enter the Central American Parliament. Arias also modified the country's educational system. The most notable action in this respect was the reintroduction of standardized academic tests at the end of primary and secondary school.

Second presidency

Óscar Arias in 2006

The Costa Rican constitution had been amended in 1969 to include a clause which forbade former presidents seeking re-election. Arias challenged this at the Sala IV, the Constitutional Court, which initially rejected his application in September 2000. In 2003, a group of Arias supporters presented an unconstitutionality challenge against the 1969 constitutional amendment forbidding re-election, and this time the ruling in April 2003 struck down the prohibition against non-consecutive re-election [3] Arias announced in 2004 that he intended to run again for president in the February 2006 general elections. Though for years private polling companies and several news media published polls predicting Arias would win by a wide margin, the election was initially deemed too close to call. A month later, on 7 March, after a manual recount, the official results showed Arias beat center-left contender Ottón Solís by 18,169 votes (1.2% of valid votes cast). He took the oath of office at noon on 8 May 2006 at the National Stadium. In his speech on 15 September 2008, he admitted that he was tired because of the criticism of his opponents.

On 1 June 2007, he switched Costa Rica's diplomatic recognition from Taiwan (ROC) to China (PRC), making Costa Rica the 167th nation in the world to do so. Subsequently, under diplomatic and financial pressure from China (PRC), he induced a fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the Dalai Lama, to postpone indefinitely a proposed and much anticipated visit during Beijing´s suppression of controversial riots in Tibet.

At the 5th Summit of the Americas in Trinidad & Tobago, on 18 April 2009, Arias gave a speech on the topic "We've been doing something wrong". Directed at fellow Latin American leaders, he decried Latin America's lack of development compared to other parts of the world, calling for pragmatism, and more resources directed at education rather than militaries. [1]


Mediator in 2009 Honduran Constitutional Crisis

In 2009, the Supreme Court of Honduras issued an arrest warrant on Manuel Zelaya because of violations of the constitution and laws.[4][5][6 ] Two days later, the National Congress of Honduras (in which Zelaya's own party held 62 out of 128 seats, more than any other party), also voted to dismiss Zelaya.[7][8][9][10] Zelaya was sent to Costa Rica. The Honduran constitution mandated that the head of Congress, Roberto Micheletti, who was next in the Presidential line of succession, becomes the provisional head of state since Vice President Elvin Ernesto Santos had resigned in December 2008 to run for President.[9] Micheletti’s term will end 27 January 2010[11].

Arias began serving as mediator between Manuel Zelaya and Roberto Micheletti in the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis. Representatives of the two Hondurans met with Arias on various occasions but so far have failed to reach any kind of agreement. As described above (with factual citations), Arias himself was initially prohibited by Costa Rica's constitutional court from another term, due to constitutional term limits, but this was reversed using legal means, with the consent of the Costa Rican Sala IV court, unlike in Honduras. New elections in Honduras are planned for 29 November 2009. Micheletti's government stated on 2 July 2009 that it is willing to hold this year's presidential election early. Costa Rican President, Oscar Arias, presented a seven point agreement, which calls for the return of Zelaya as President - a condition deemed unacceptable to the interim government.[12] Zelaya's representatives accepted the Arias proposal "in principle" but Micheletti's representatives balked at the key point of Zelaya returning to power in Honduras.[12]


In August 2007, Arias was affected by tendinitis, and in April 2008 he canceled some activities because of muscular pain in his lumbar region. Subsequently, due to increasing difficulty in speaking over the course of several weeks, Arias went to the Philadelphia Ears, Nose and Throat Associates medical center in the United States on 20 May 2008, where it was determined that he had a nonmalignant cyst on his vocal cords. As a result, it was announced on 21 May that doctors advised him not to speak for one month, saying that if this did not help, surgery would be considered.[13] On 11 August 2009 Arias was diagnosed with H1N1 Influenza[14], but he overcame his disease.[15].

See also


  1. ^ Amnesty International, 12 September 2003, Amnesty International welcomes the election of a Board of Directors. Retrieved on 1 August 2007.
  2. ^ "He is often identified as a'neoliberal' and accused of being in the service of the big capitalists of the country and the transnationals, in spite of his being a member of the National Liberation Party, which defines itself as socialdemocratic." "First Micheletti-Zelaya meeting since the events of 28 June will be in Costa Rica" El Heraldo (Honduras), 6 July 2009. Original in Spanish, translated by Wikipedia.
  3. ^ "Reeleccion seduce a los presidentes de America", El Nuevo Diario, Managua, 18 July 2007, retrieved July 2009; "Reelecion presidencial: Arias sin prohobicion para postularse", La Nacion, Costa Rica, 5 April 2003, retrieved July 2009.
  4. ^ On 12 November 2008, the Supreme Court of Justice determined that the modifications to articles 239 and 240 promulgated by Congress in 1998 and 2002 were unconstitutional and returned these two articles to their state in the 1982 constitution. Vigentes artículos pétreos. Accessed 5 August 2009. Archived 5 August 2009.
  5. ^ "Articulo 239: El ciudadano que haya desempeñado la titularidad del Poder Ejecutivo no podrá ser Presidente o Designado. El que quebrante esta disposición o proponga su reforma, así como aquellos que lo apoyen directa o indirectamente, cesarán de inmediato en el desempeño de sus respectivos cargos, y quedarán inhabilitados por diez años para el ejercicio de toda función pública." ("Article 239: No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or a designated person. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform, as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years.") - "República de Honduras / Republic of Honduras, Constitución de 1982 (Political Constitution of 1982)". Political Database of the Americas. Georgetown University. http://pdba.georgetown.edu/Constitutions/Honduras/hond82.html.  
  6. ^ "HONDURAS Congress Communiqué explaining why ex President Zelaya was removed.". http://canadafreepress.com/index.php/article/12639. Retrieved 9 July 2009.  
  7. ^ "Micheletti podría asumir en Honduras" (in Spanish). 28 June 2009. http://www.laprensagrafica.com/el-salvador/lodeldia/42701-micheletti-podria-asumir-en-honduras.html.  
  8. ^ "Micheletti sería el nuevo presidente de Honduras" (in Spanish). Diario digital de noticias de El Salvador. 28 June 2009. http://www.lapagina.com.sv/internacionales/11730/2009/06/28/Micheletti-seria-el-nuevo-presidente-de-Honduras.  
  9. ^ a b "Leaders from Obama to Chavez blast Honduras coup". Yahoo! News. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090629/ap_on_re_la_am_ca/lt_honduras_coup. "Article Expired"  
  10. ^ "Honduran Congress names provisional president". CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/06/28/honduras.president.arrested/index.html.  
  11. ^ "Honduran president overthrown, new leader voted in". Sydney Morning Herald. 29 June 2009. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/congress-names-new-interim-honduran-president-20090629-d1fb.html.  
  12. ^ a b "Honduras negotiations snag over unity government". CTV (Canada). 28 July 2009. http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090728/honduras_leader_090728/20090728?hub=World&s_name=5.  
  13. ^ "Doctors tell Costa Rican leader to rest voice", Associated Press, 22 May 2008
  14. ^ "Presidente Arias contrajo virus", ANSA (Italy)
  15. ^ "Presidente de Costa Rica contrae gripe AH1N1, EFE (Spain)

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Luis Alberto Monge
President of Costa Rica
1986  – 1990
Succeeded by
Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier
Preceded by
Abel Pacheco
President of Costa Rica
2006  – present

Simple English

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