Juan Santamaria is one of the leading National heroes of Costa Rica who is remembered for his bravery and heroism in resisting a marauding U.S. citizen from Central American soil. Juan Santamaria Day, is celebrated every year on 11th April to commemorate his death and is declared a national holiday in Costa Rica.
The U.S. soldier William Walker overthrew the Nicaraguan government and endeavored to conquer the other nations in Central America, including Costa Rica. It was at that time the Costa Rican president Juan Rafael Mora Porras urged the general citizens to take up arms and rally north to Nicaragua to fight against the foreign invader. Among the volunteers to join the army was young a drummer boy, Juan Santamaria, from Alajuela. It was in that horrifying battle, Juan Santamaria displayed his courage in a successful fight against William Walker and his troop. However the fight cost him his life and today he is remembered for his bravery with much admiration and honor.
A statue in honor of Juan Santamaria has been erected in the central square of Alajuela, his birth place along with a small museum in the same city. Also an international airport in Costa Rica has been named after him.
Jose Figueres Ferrer (Don Pepe)
Another National hero of Costa Rica is Jose Figueres Ferrer also known as Don Pepe who was not only active in forming the new Constitution, but also mobilized the Revolution of 1948. He started the National Liberation Party (PLN) and was president of Costa Rica between the years 1948 and 1949, 1953 and 1958 and 1970 and 1974.
Don Pepe first came to the notice of the public in 1942 with the enactment of the Alien Property Act by Rafael Calderon. It was during that time Don Pepe bought space on a radio station and condemned Calderon, claiming that the Alien Act as illegal. He further demanded resignation of Calderon on the air.
After winning the revolution of 1948, Don Pepe became a member of the Founding Junta of the Second Republic. He was also involved in writing the Constitution of 1949 and remained active in politics until his death in the year 1990.
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