Calderón Fournier, Rafael Ángel (1949–)

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Calderón Fournier, Rafael Ángel (1949–)

Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier (b. 14 March 1949), president of Costa Rica (1990–1994) and founder of the Social Christian Party. Rafael Ángel Calderón Fournier has spent virtually his whole life involved in Costa Rican partisan politics. He served as a leading member of the national legislature while still a law student at the University of Costa Rica—he received his law degree in 1977—and he has been deeply involved in public life ever since.

He shared with his father, Rafael Ángel Calderón Guardia (1940–1944), the distinction of being the youngest president in Costa Rican history. They were both only forty years old when elected. (After that, thirty-nine-year-old José María Figueres Olsen was elected in 1994.) From birth, Calderón Fournier was destined to be in politics, his life intertwined with that of his famous father. He was born in Managua, Nicaragua, while his father was in exile after the defeat of the progovernment forces in the 1948 civil conflict and later was reunited with his exiled father in Mexico, where he spent much of his early youth. When the family returned to Costa Rica, his father's many followers passed their loyalty to his son and namesake.

Following a term in the national legislature (1974–1978), he led the Calderónists into the Unidad coalition that elected Rodrigo Carazo Odio president in 1978. He then served as foreign minister from 1978 to 1982 and as a member of the board of the social security system.

After running unsuccessful presidential campaigns in 1982 and 1986, Calderón Fournier was elected for a four-year term in 1990 on a platform that emphasized privatization of the economy while maintaining intact the extensive national social welfare program, much of which his father initiated during his presidency. After leaving office, Calderón Fournier faced serious legal problems. In 2004, the government convicted Calderón Fournier of corruption charges and placed him in jail and later under house arrest, while waiting for his trial.

See alsoCalderón Guardia, Rafael Ángel; Carazo Odio, Rodrigo; Corruption.


Rodrigo Carazo Odio, Acción para la historia (1982), covers his administration's foreign policy initiatives while Calderón served as foreign minister; see also Marc Edelman and Joanne Kenen, The Costa Rica Reader (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Rovira Mas, Jorge, ed. La democracia de Costa Rica ante el siglo XXI San José: Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 2001.

                                   John Patrick Bell

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Calderón Fournier, Rafael Ángel (1949–)

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