History of Costa Rica (Period Pre-nineteenth century)

History of Costa Rica (Period Pre-nineteenth century)

The inhabitants of what is now Costa Rica were in the intermediate area located between the Mesoamerican and South American cultural regions. Some historians have included the area now comprised in the south and the Atlantic under the South American influence due to the presence of groups that speak languages derivates of the Chibchas.

Usually, human settlements in this territory were rare and did not have the magnificent buildings and infrastructures like the towns of Mexico and Peru, but to serve as a cultural bridge between the South and the North of the continent, the development of the goldsmith and polychrome clay craft had great development and wonderful results. The indigenous population declined rapidly after the conquest, mainly by the killings of the Spanish and diseases brought from Europe.
The shortage of manpower, the limited mineral resources, the remoteness of the Captaincy General of Guatemala and the rugged terrain that makes up most of the Central Valley (the most fertile area of the country) came together for the Spanish colonization were very slow and face serious financial constraints in order to be conducted. Costa Rica was then the poor southern province of New Spain. The provincial capital was located in Carthage.

Many scholars, including Carlos Roberto Brenes and Gagini Mesén, argue that part of the national character was formed during the colonial era, where the material deprivation was common to all and in the absence of slave labor, from the provincial governor to the most humble farmers had to ensure everyone for their support and for their families, thus creating a more egalitarian society and less governed by caste. Costa Rica independence from the Spanish Empire was enacted in 1821 by the five Central American states. After a time of uncertainty over how to proceed, the leaders of the conservative of Guatemala liked the idea of annexing the Mexican Empire of Agustin de Iturbide but the Central American liberals objected to this approach. An armada of Mexico under the command of General Vincent Filisola held in Guatemala City. This union was as brief as the Empire itself.

Having Costa Rica gained their independence together with its sister nations, and after the failed experiment of the Mexican Empire, Costa Rica becomes part of the Federal Republic of Central America (United Provinces of Central America) along with Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This historical Federal union of countries was dissolved by the year 1842.

The greatest threat to political stability and cultural development of the country was experienced during the ascent to power in neighboring Nicaragua of the U.S. mercenary William Walker, who served in the military army of the Confederation in the USA, acting as a mercenary. General Walker was summoned along with 500 of his men by the government of Nicaragua, a country which was engaged in civil war for years, so the Conservative government “requested” the services of Walker and his men to tilt the military balance of power in favor of the government.

Having won the war in Nicaragua, Walker took control of the government in that country and after that put his eyes towards the neighboring nation of Costa Rica, in order to establish policies of slavery similar to those used in the southern United States of America. Two of his first steps were the introduction of slavery and English as the official language of Nicaragua.

The threat was dissipated thanks to the leadership of President Juan Rafael Mora Porras, who delegated to General José María Cañas Escamilla forming a national army in Costa Rica. The country fought bravely against the troops of General Walker in Santa Rosa (Costa Rica) and Rivas in Nicaragua (among other battles), defeating the army of the general Walker on April 11, 1856, and restoring stability to the area.

On February 27, 1856, the congress empowers Mora to declare war. That same day brought the army to 9,000 men. The call to arms was completed on March 1 and 10 days later, Nicaragua declared war on Costa Rica. It is often said that the Costa Rican army was composed of poorly armed peasants barefoot and who almost did not know anything about war. However, numerous documents attest that with the arrival of Juan Rafael Mora to the presidency in 1849, began the professionalization of the armed forces of Costa Rica. In 1854 in England was purchased several guns and the first shipment of 500 rifles Minnie considered the best of times arrive at the country. Besides that, the Costa Rican militaries had Europeans instructors who had, during the 1850s, helped to improve the training and discipline of the national forces.

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