Main content

Abolishing the army

How Costa Rica's president, Jose Figueres, took the audacious step of dissolving the Armed Forces after a brief civil war in 1948.

After a brief civil war in March-April 1948, the new president of Costa Rica, Jose Figueres, took the audacious step of dissolving the Armed Forces. Since then Costa Rica has been the only Latin American nation without a standing army. Mike Lanchin has been hearing from 94-year-old Enrique Obregon, who served in the military before its dissolution.

Photo: Costa Rican soldiers in San Jose after the end of the civil war, April 1948 (Credit:Getty Images)

Available now

9 minutes

Broadcasts

The World War Two collection

The World War Two collection

Looking back at almost six years of global conflict, from Hiroshima to the Holocaust

The Witness History podcast

The Witness History podcast

Every programme, to download and keep

The Russian Revolution

The Russian Revolution

From the Bolshevik takeover of 1917 to the break-up of the Soviet Union

When animals made history

When animals made history

Events from history when animals took centre stage

Great moments in Olympic history

Great moments in Olympic history

Stories of endurance, world records and remarkable athletes

African history collection

African history collection

The communities, politics, leaders and events that have shaped Africa

Podcast