Carrillo Colina, Braulio (1800–1845)

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Carrillo Colina, Braulio (1800–1845)

Braulio Carrillo Colina (b. 20 March 1800; d. 15 May 1845), president and later dictator of Costa Rica (1835–1837; 1838–1842). Carrillo was an opponent of the Central American Federation as led by Francisco Morazán, in whose execution he was implicated. However, he followed essentially radical liberal policies in internal economic affairs. He was most strongly identified with the supremacy of coffee-growing interests and of the new national capital of San José. After studying law in León, Nicaragua, he returned to serve as deputy from his native city of Cartago (1827–1829), San José's principal rival as capital. He was chosen as a compromise chief of state in 1835 and then deposed his successor, Manuel Aguilar, to become virtual dictator in 1838. He was overthrown by Morazán's expeditionary force in 1842. Later, after engineering Morazán's capture and execution, he was forced into exile in El Salvador and assassinated near San Miguel.

During his first term Carrillo forcefully resolved the question of the site of the new capital by ending the system of "ambulatory," or rotating, capitals in favor of San José. When challenged in revolt (Guerra de la Liga) in 1835, he defeated the anti-San José forces despite his forces being outnumbered nearly three to one. This was followed by an abortive invasion of exiles (led by Manuel Quijano) from Nicaragua to Guanacaste, in June 1836, with even less success.

During his dictatorship Carrillo abrogated the 1825 Constitution and replaced it with the Ley de Bases y Garantías in 1841, which named him ruler for life. Although that provision was short-lived, the larger document proved more significant, greatly influencing the Constitution of 1871 in further strengthening the central government and liquidating the power of local municipal authorities. He also convened a Constituent Assembly in 1838 which declared Costa Rica's independence from the collapsing Central American Federation. Severely tested by Morazán's occupation, this policy was reaffirmed in 1848.

Carrillo's policies were consistently in favor of coffee exports and the city of San José, despite his origins in the rival city of Cartago. He ordered municipalities to provide coffee seedlings to all who would plant them, as well as terms for purchase or rental of public lands for coffee cultivation. He also abolished the collection of the tithe on coffee production after 1835, a policy of great importance in both stimulating production and undermining the power of the church thereafter.

See alsoCoffee Industry; Costa Rica; Morazán, Francisco.


Basic material on Carrillo can be found in Carlos Monge Alfaro, Historia de Costa Rica, 16th ed. (1980), pp. 193-199, 223-227. The most detailed examination of his policies is found in Rodolfo Cerdas Cruz, Formación del estado de Costa Rica, 2d ed. (1978). A more recent study with some new information is Clotilde Obregón, Carrillo: Una época y un hombre, 1835–1842 (1989). See also Victor Hugo Acuño Ortega and Ivan Molina Jiménez, El desarrollo económico y social de Costa Rica: De la colonia a la crisis de 1930 (1986); Jorge Sáenz Carbonell, El despertar constitucional de Costa Rica (1985); José Luis Vega Carballo, Orden y progeso: La formación del estado nacional en Costa Rica (1981); and Alberto Sáenz Maroto, Braulio Carrillo, reformador agrícola de Costa Rica (1987).

Additional Bibliography

Villalobos Rodríguez, José Hilario, and Luz Alba Chacón de Umaña. Braulio Carrillo. San José: Impr. Nacional, 1998.

                                             Lowell Gudmundson

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Carrillo Colina, Braulio (1800–1845)

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