Figueres, after becoming president, demolished a wall of the Bellavista barracks - then the Army headquarters - in a symbolic ceremony.
 - Ministry of Culture photos -

Published Monday, November 30, 2020

Costa Rica celebrates
Army Abolition Day

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff


On Dec. 1, the Costa Rican government will celebrate Army Abolition Day for the first time since it was officially declared a holiday in May.

The holiday recognizes Dec. 1, 1948, when the then president, Gen. José Figueres Ferrer, abolished the army.

Figueres served as President of Costa Rica on three occasions: from 1948 to 1949, 1953 to1958 and 1970 to 1974.

The dissolution happened on the tails of a civil war that Ferrer’s forces won. Until then, the Army had been a legal institution with economic resources and support from the national budget since the nation’s founding, according to the Ministry of Education.

Figueres, after becoming president, demolished a wall of the Bellavista barracks - then the Army headquarters - in a symbolic ceremony. Today it is part of the National Museum.

"On Dec. 1, 1948, I gave some blows on a wall of the Bellavista Barracks to symbolize the elimination of the remains of the military spirit of Costa Rica at another time," Figueres said, regarding the move in a public statement from the time.

In 1949, the elimination of the army was incorporated into the political constitution of the reformed Costa Rican Republic.

"This allowed us to use the budgets previously assigned to the army in the development of the public education system," said the ministry in its statement.

Current president Carlos Alvarado said in a statement that the nation was ahead of its time in dissolving its armed forces.

"Today more than ever, history agrees with this small country that visionary decided to invest in the well-being of the greatest number, in education and in the health of its people and not in arms," ​ Alvarado said.

Although the original date of the celebration is Tuesday, December 1, the holiday was moved to Monday as part of the government's strategy to promote "long weekends" and thereby reactivate tourism and commercial activity.

Due to the long weekend, the National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC) announced that all national parks and wild areas will continue to receive visitors Monday to increase tourism.

Improvements in the parks and the use of technology, such as buying tickets online or downloading the QR code for entry in advance, will allow easier access to the parks.

Online tickets can be purchased on the SINAC website, beginning Dec. 4. A tutorial on how to buy tickets can be found on the SINAC YouTube Channel.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, the national parks that register the most visits are Manuel Antonio, in Puntarenas Province, Irazú Volcano in Cartago Province, Póas Volcano in Alajuela Province, among others.

However, if you plan to drive to any tourist place taking advantage of the long weekend, take into account that the ban-on-driving rule will be in force, so those vehicles whose plates end in 1 or 2 will not be able to circulate.

On weekdays, the ban on driving rules continues from Monday through Friday, where driving is allowed from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. The vehicles banned are based on the last number of the vehicle plate number, as follows:
 • Monday: plates banned end in 1 or 2.
 • Tuesday: plates banned end in 3 or 4.
 • Wednesday: plates banned end in 5 or 6.
 • Thursday: plates banned end in 7 or 8.
 • Friday: plates banned end in 9 or 0.
On weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, regardless of the plate number, all vehicles will be able to travel from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. nationwide.
Readers can verify the car plate number restrictions by visiting the government website Covid-19/Alerta/Vehicular.
Concerning the penalties for breaking the ban-on-driving rule, the deputies in Congress approved a reduction of the fines to approximately $180.
The approved bill prohibits traffic officials from seizing vehicle plates or even vehicles, in addition to no longer reducing penalty points on the driving license of the driver.
Should authorities eliminate the ban-on-driving rule to attract more
tourists and increase commercial activities?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


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