Public Force of Costa Rica

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Public Force of Costa Rica
Fuerza Pública de Costa Rica
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionCosta Rica
General nature
Specialist jurisdictions
  • National border patrol, security, and integrity.
  • Paramilitary law enforcement, counter insurgency, and riot control.
Operational structure
Parent agencyMinistry of Public Security
Child agency
  • 1 December (military abolition day)

The Public Force of Costa Rica (Spanish: Fuerza Pública de Costa Rica) is the Costa Rican national law enforcement force, which performs policing and border patrol functions.[1]


Cuartel Bellavista, today Museo Nacional de Costa Rica.

On 1 December 1948, President José Figueres Ferrer of Costa Rica abolished the military of Costa Rica after achieving victory in the Costa Rican Civil War that year.[2][3] In a ceremony in the Cuartel Bellavista, in the capital San José, Figueres broke a wall with a mallet symbolizing an end to Costa Rica's military services.[4]

In 1949, the abolition of the military was introduced in Article 12 of the Constitution of Costa Rica.[5] The budget previously dedicated to the military is now dedicated to security, education and culture. Costa Rica maintains Police Guard forces.

The museum Museo Nacional de Costa Rica was placed in the Cuartel Bellavista as a symbol of commitment to culture. In 1986, President Oscar Arias Sánchez declared December 1 as the Día de la Abolición del Ejército (Military abolition day) with Law #8115. Unlike its neighbors, Costa Rica has not endured a civil war since 1948. Costa Rica maintains small forces capable of law enforcement, but has no permanent standing army.

Public Force of the Ministry of Public Security (1996)[edit]

In 1996, the Ministry of Public Security established the Fuerza Pública or Public Force, a gendarmerie which reorganised and eliminated the Civil Guard, Rural Assistance Guard, and Frontier Guards as separate entities. They are now under the Ministry and operate on a geographic command basis performing ground security, law enforcement, counter-narcotics, border patrol, and tourism security functions. The Costa Rica Coast Guard also operates directly under the Ministry.[6]

Outside the Fuerza Pública, there is a small Special Forces Unit, the Unidad Especial de Intervencion (UEI) or Special Intervention Unit, an elite commando force which trains with special forces from around the world, but is not part of the main police forces. Instead it is part of the Intelligence and Security Directorate (DIS) which reports directly to the Minister of the Presidency. About 70 members strong, it is organized along military lines, although officially a civilian police unit.

The motto of the Public Force is "God, Fatherland, and Honour." Commissioner of Police Juan José Andrade Morales serves as its current Commissioner General.


  • Comisario de Policía/ Director general de la Fuerza Pública
  • Comisionado de Policía
  • Comandante de Policía
  • Capitán de Policía
  • Intendente
  • Sub Intendente
  • Sargento de Policía
  • Inspector
  • Agente 2
  • Agente 1


The Public Force has restricted warfare capabilities.


Submachine guns


Assault rifles

Machine guns

Sniper rifles

  • United States M24 7.62×51 mm
  • United States M21 7.62×51 mm

Grenade launchers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Costa Rica 1949 (rev. 2011)". Constitute. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  2. ^ El Espíritu del 48. "Abolición del Ejército". Retrieved 2008-03-09. (Spanish)
  3. ^ Booth, John A. (2021-02-23). "Costa Rica: Demilitarization and Democratization". Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics. doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.013.1888. ISBN 9780190228637. Retrieved 2021-02-27.
  4. ^ "Historia militar de Costa Rica revive con los 100 años del Cuartel Bellavista". La Nación, Grupo Nación (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  5. ^ "Air Advisors conduct first-ever BPC mission in Costa Rica". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  6. ^ "Servicio Nacional de Guardacostas". Ministerio de Seguridad Pública Costa Rica (in Spanish). Retrieved 25 May 2020.

External links[edit]