Rodrigo Carazo Odio
|Rodrigo Carazo Odio|
|President of Costa Rica|
8 May 1978 – 8 May 1982
|Preceded by||Daniel Oduber Quirós|
|Succeeded by||Luis Alberto Monge Álvarez|
27 December 1926|
Cartago, Costa Rica
|Died||9 December 2009
San José, Costa Rica
|Political party||Partido Unidad|
During and immediately following his term, Carazo played a central role in the founding of the University for Peace, a United Nations-affiliated educational institution which offers graduate programs in peace and development studies. His government also concentrated on and promoted the country's petro-chemical industry and even began exploration and digging near the Talamanca Mountain Ridge in search for petroleum. In the energy sector, his government inaugurated the hydroelectric plant in Lake Arenal. The Carazo government also regulated the excavation of gold in the southern region of the country.
On the international front, Carazo had to deal mainly with the radical changes the neighboring country of Nicaragua was going through. Nicaragua had been under the control of the Somoza dictatorship for decades and Costa Rica had always opposed his rule. As the Sandinista movement rose in the 1970s, Nicaragua was faced with civil unrest and small armed clashes. Costa Rica's government supported any power that went against Somoza, thus they gave their backing to the Sandinista insurgents. Many of the battles that took place in the Nicaraguan region bordering Costa Rica spilled onto Costa Rican soil. Carazo's government warned Somoza to stay on his side of the border several times. The government also began plans on creating a defense force to fight off any Somoza attempt to attack to invade Costa Rican territory. The attacks finally ended in 1979 once the Sandinistas took control of the country and Somoza was exiled. The government received a strong backlash from the public and the opposing political leaders claiming that Carazo had failed to protect Costa Rica's sovereignty. Further, Carazo's government allowed three U.S. helicopters to touch down on national soil to facilitate Somoza's escape from Nicaragua, sending the President's critics on a political bashing rampage, calling the matter a disrespect to national sovereignty. Later, in 1982, the Central American Democratic Community was formed in San José with U.S. backing. Its aim was to isolate Nicaragua from the rest of Central America as long as they had a Communist regime in power. Another big move was in 1981, when Carazo's government broke off all diplomatic ties with Castro's Cuba.
Carazo's government was plagued by economic instability and social unrest. During his presidency, there was a world economic recession. Oil prices were at historic highs and the value of Costa Rica's main crop, coffee, was falling. Against the advice of his Minister of Finance, Hernán Sáenz Jiménez, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Carazo instructed the Central Bank of Costa Rica to borrow heavily in order to maintain the value of the colón, the local currency, hoping that an economic recovery was close at hand. This policy eventually became unsustainable, leading to a catastrophic sudden devaluation in September 1980. The heavy load of debt that the central bank acquired has contributed to the high rates of inflation that Costa Rica has endured ever since.
After stepping down as president in 1982, Carazo became a well-known critic of the IMF and other global financial institutions. In his last years he campaigned vigorously against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Carazo played a leadership role in initiatives to improve relations between the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea and the West. He made several visits to Pyongyang in the early 1990s. His efforts contributed to the opening of unofficial channels of communication between the United States and North Korea.
Carazo was the founding Chairman of United World College Costa Rica. (http://www.uwc.org/includes/documents/cm_docs/2010/u/united_world_0110.pdf)
Daniel Oduber Quirós
|President of Costa Rica
Luis Alberto Monge Álvarez