José María Alfaro Zamora

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José María Alfaro Zamora
José María Alfaro Zamora.JPG
Official portrait at the Legislative Assembly's Gallery of Former Presidents of Costa Rica
President of Costa Rica
In office
May 1, 1847 – May 8, 1847
Succeeded by José María Castro Madriz
Head of State of Costa Rica
In office
June 7, 1846 – May 1, 1847
Preceded by Francisco María Oreamuno Bonilla
Head of State of Costa Rica
In office
September 27, 1842 – November 29, 1844
Preceded by Antonio Pinto Soares
Succeeded by Francisco Oreamuno Bonilla
Personal details
Born (1799-03-20)March 20, 1799
Alajuela, Costa Rica
Died June 11, 1856(1856-06-11) (aged 57)
Alajuela, Costa Rica
Spouse(s) María Josefa Sandoval y Jiménez
Religion Roman Catholic

José María Alfaro Zamora (March 20, 1799 – June 12, 1856) was the Costa Rican Head of State between the periods of 1842 and 1844 as well as 1846 and 1847 and President of Costa Rica between May 1 and May 8, 1847.[1]

Early life and family[edit]

Alfaro was born in Alajuela, Costa Rica on March 20, 1799 to his parents Juan Antonio Alfaro y Arias and María Damiana Zamora y Flores. On May 19, 1825 he married María Josefa Sandoval y Jiménez. With her he fathered José Joaquín Alfaro Sandoval, a daughter who died early in her childhood, and Calixto Alfaro Sandoval.[2]

Alfaro was a farmer and a businessman. He owned lands devoted to coffee plantation and a sawmill in Itiquís near Alajuela. He also participated in a lumber company in Jinotepe, Nicaragua.

Public activities[edit]

He served as supply deputy for Alajuela (1825-1827), second mayor of Alajuela (1828), deputy for Alajuela (1829-1831), deputy for Heredia (1834-1836), political leader of the western department (1841) and magistrate of the Judicial Chamber (1841-1842).

On September 27, 1842, in a junta convocated by then Head of State Antonio Pinto Soares, José María Alfaro Zamora was designated Provisional Head of State. During his administration he built the road that connects San José to Puntarenas, founded Universidad de Santo Tomás, emitted the 1844 Constitution, and founded the newspaper "Mentor Costarricense". He lost the 1844 elections to Francisco María Oreamuno Bonilla. On November 29, 1844 he gave Oreamuno his office which was meant to last until 1848.

On June 7, 1846 after a coup d'état Alfaro was again declared Provisional Head of State. During this administration Puntarenas was declared a free port, the 1847 Constitution was emitted and a failed diplomatic mission with Nicaragua was launched in a second attempt to sign a border agreement with this country (a previous attempt by Braulio Carrillo in 1838 had also failed). Although he lost the 1847 elections to José María Castro Madriz he won the office of Vice President for the next term.[1]

In order to comply with the new Constitution, from May 1 to May 8, 1847 he used the title President of the State. On May 8, 1847 he was succeeded by Castro. In May 1847, he became Vice President of the State, but he had to quit months after. Accused of corruption, he was confined to Térraba and later moved to Panama.

Aftermath and death[edit]

He later returned to Costa Rica but refused to participate in politics. He died in Alajuela on June 11, 1856 due to cholera.


  1. ^ a b Obregón Quesada, Clotilde María (2002). Nuestros gobernantes: verdades del pasado para comprender el futuro [Our rulers: truths from the past to understand the future] (in Spanish) (2 ed.). San José, Costa Rica: Editorial Universidad de Costa Rica. pp. 59–63. ISBN 978-9977-67-701-9. 
  2. ^ Alfaro de Prado, Antonio (16 February 2009). "Alfaros de Costa Rica" [Alfaros of Costa Rica] (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 September 2010. 
Political offices
Preceded by
António Pinto Soares
Head of State of Costa Rica
Succeeded by
Francisco María Oreamuno Bonilla
Preceded by
José Rafael Gallegos
Head of State of Costa Rica
Succeeded by
José María Castro Madriz