Luis Alberto Monge

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Luis Alberto Monge
President of Costa Rica
In office
8 May 1982 – 8 May 1986
Vice President Alberto Fait Lizano, Armando Aráuz Aguilar
Preceded by Rodrigo Carazo Odio
Succeeded by Óscar Arias
Personal details
Born (1925-12-29) 29 December 1925 (age 89)
Palmares, Alajuela
Political party National Liberation Party

Luis Alberto Monge Álvarez (born 29 December 1925) was the President of Costa Rica from 1982 to 1986.

He was born in Palmares, Alajuela Province.

Before becoming President in 1982, he served as ambassador to Israel, was one of the founding members of the National Liberation Party (PLN) in 1951. He was also named a deputy in the Legislative Assembly, at age 24, making him one of the youngest to reach such rank.

Monge inherited an impoverished and distraught nation. The biggest issues his presidency dealt with were: the unmanageable economic crisis, the mounting foreign debt and the Sandinista-Contra crisis involving Nicaragua, the United States and Costa Rica's northern border region.

In dealing with the country's economic situation, he began austere programs on public spending, eliminated many government subsidies to various activities and promoted exports and receptive tourism. He eliminated export and production taxes. Monge also reformed monetary law, and forced all foreign currencies to go through the national bank system. A lot of his efforts paid off, reducing inflation and unemployment. During Monge's term, Costa Rica proclaims an alignment with all "western democracies" and begins to work closely to the governments of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, while its relationship with Nicaragua continued to deteriorate.

By then, the United States was involved in suppressing further socialist revolts in the region and saw Costa Rica as a stable ally in which to base their operations against Nicaragua's Sandinista government. The U.S. imposed a commercial embargo against Nicaragua, facilitating the deepening of the rift between Costa Rica and its northern neighbor. Unwillingly, Costa Rica became too involved in the United States' struggle to topple the Sandinistas and in an attempt to pull away, proclaimed Costa Rica as an active, neutral nation. With Costa Rica still in the midst of a terrible economic recession, Monge opted to exchange sovereignty for economic stability: he gave in to pressure from the United States and accepted American financial assistance in exchange for allowing the CIA to set up small "unofficial" strategic outposts along the northern border.

Shortly after becoming President, Monge traveled to Israel, where, without knowing about the United Nations Security Council Resolution 478, he raised the national flag on Costa Rica's embassy building. He defined his actions as "exercising sovereignty".

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Preceded by
Rodrigo Carazo Odio
President of Costa Rica
Succeeded by
Óscar Arias