Monday, 8 April 2013

Let’s Not Forget History

For it is likely to repeat itself – just not here? April 11th is the celebration of the Battle of Rivas (actually the second battle of Rivas on April 11 1856) that made Juan SantamarĂ­a one of a very few Costa Rican national heroes. Cuba has just one or two - like Jose Marti and Guevarra - why so few?

There is a statue of Juan SantamarĂ­a in the central park of Alajuela, his hometown. He was killed (though historical reports are conflicting) the last time anyone attempted to seriously invade Costa Rica. The expedition in 1856 was managed by a lunatic called William Walker with backing from some of his
southern US friends. Their (though funnily enough not Williams' original) goal was to set up a slaver confederation of Central American states as time was soon to run out on slavery in the US.

William Walker was merely a charismatic fool with grand ambitions and I am guessing a tiny dongle (make me President or Emperor of anything, pulease).   Walkers' army made up of disillusioned US gold prospectors from San Franciso steamers and the Nicaraguan army marched south and were defeated at La Casona.  You can visit a "replica" (the original was burned by poachers) at the Santa Rosa park in Guanacaste. The very same park used by Ollie North and his crew of retired CIA "farmers" to supply the "contras" fighting in Nicaragua in the 1980's. With the support of Cornelius Vanderbilt, President Mora's Costa Rican troops (numbers vary between 3,000 and 6,000) pursued Walker's troops to Rivas in southern Nicaragua and defeated them there.

Unfortunately unsanitary water (caused most likely by stashing dead bodies in wells, a known poor sanitary practice) caused the death of many of the Costa Rican soldiers and the subsequent cholera epidemic wiped out 1/10 of the population of the country when the remainder returned.

A hundred years later, in 1955, another failed (though not terribly serious) attempt to invade from Nicaragua was actually precipitated by Costa Rica and ended at the Santa Rosa park too. No other attempts will ever be made.

Because the time for such behaviour has now passed?

1 comment:

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