Interesting article on military abolition in Costa Rica (see below). While there is still a way to go in forming a country of peace, the article rightly points out that Costa Rica is moving towards creating a culture of peace. Perhaps the bigger piece that is missing is the idea of bibilical shalom, which takes us beyond a traditional understanding of peace. The idea of Shalom seems to capture the idea of a community that is similar to what we see in the early church. A community that wages peace through caring for one another. Perhaps this small section from my book, Community Children, would be helpful:

Acts 4:32-35 gives us several elements of what it means to live in the Community.

“All the believers were one in heart and mind.  No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.  With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.  There were no needy persons among them.  For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.”

As can be seen in this passage of Scripture, community life encompasses four crucial elements.  If we are to have true community, we must have:

  • Oneness in the Community
  • Generosity in the Community
  • Christ in the Community
  • Equality in the Community

Ultimately, if we are to see true peace reign in Costa Rica, we must be prepared to offer a culture of shalom to society and this can only occurr when we look to the Creator of the universe.


Costa Rica celebrates farewell to arms
By Alex Leff
Tico Times Staff |

Sixty years after abolishing its military, Costa Rica is promoting an ideology abroad that defense spending should instead fund social programs. B ut the country is not doing enough at home to keep the peace, according to Karen Olsen de Figueres, second wife of the man who famously disbanded Costa Rica’s armed forces in 1948, President José “Pepe” Figueres.

“I say with great sadness that we are not doing what we’ve been capable of doing,” the former first lady told The Tico Times.

“I think that while we have violence in our streets, while we have in-fighting amongst us, this is not maintaining a culture of peace,” said Olsen, 78, born in Westchester, New York to a Danish family.

Olsen spoke yesterday following an official gathering to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the abolition of the military in the garden of San José’s National Museum – which once served as military barracks known as the Cuartel Bellavista.

Attended by flag-waving schoolchildren, war veterans and politicians, yesterday’s event was a forum in which the nation’s leaders gave impassioned speeches praising the modernizing force of Figueres, who died in June 1990 after leading the country from 1948-1949, 1953-1958 and 1970-1974.

Known affectionately as don Pepe, Figueres rose to power after leading a victorious 44-day rebel uprising against President Teodoro Picado, only later to disband the military and oversee the drafting of a new c onstitution.

Francisco Antonio Pacheco, acting president while Oscar Arias is in Asia, underscored the importance of Costa Rica’s the international need to pass Figueres’ peace torch, citing contemporary campaigns such as the Costa Rica Consensus, which, he said, ” urges countries to spend on the people rather than the military.”

In his speech, Acting Foreign Minister Edgar Ugalde linked Figueres’ legacy to that of other leaders of the Americas.

“‘We are supporters,'” said Ugalde, quoting Figureres, “‘of the ideal of the New World of America … of Washington, Lincoln, Bolívar and Martí.'”

Several speakers also applauded President Arias’ efforts abroad to push for stricter norms in the weapons trade.

Still, other peace-lovers sat with little ease during the annual Dec. 1 commemoration. The nonprofit Center for Peace is protesting a government move to send Tico police to train at the U.S. military school, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, at Fort Benning, Georgia. The institute took the place of the controversial School of the Americas (SOA), whose student body has included the likes of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega.

“Here we are talking about peace and we’re sending (police officers) to Fort Benning. It’s shocking; it’s a disrespect for the people who have died” at the hands of SOA alumni, said San José-based Center for Peace’s director Isabel MacDonald.

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