Fernández Oreamuno, Próspero (1834–1885)

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Fernández Oreamuno, Próspero (1834–1885)

Próspero Fernández Oreamuno (b. 18 July 1834; d. 12 March 1885), president of Costa Rica (1882–1885). Born in San José, Fernández studied there and in Guatemala. His presidency marked a watershed in Costa Rican history, ending the political domination by the "coffee barons" and ushering in fifty years of steady progress toward democracy. Following Costa Rica's first brush with dictatorship under Tomás Guardia Gutiérrez (1870–1882), a new generation of Costa Ricans, constituting a fiercely democratic emerging middle class, undertook to extend the suffrage and eliminate the influence of the Catholic Church.

Identifying with this rising group, Fernández sponsored educational reform and tough anticlerical laws. He enacted the Liberal Laws of 1884, which established free, compulsory education, expelled the Jesuits, made marriage a civil contract, legalized divorce, and secularized cemeteries. Fernández died during a military campaign against the Guatemalan caudillo Justo Rufino Barrios, but he had set the course for the so-called generation of 1889 that dominated Costa Rican affairs until the mid-1930s. The Legislative Assembly awarded him the Benemérito de la Patria in 1883.

See alsoCoffee Industry; Jesuits; Liberalism.


Carlos Monge Alfaro, Historia de Costa Rica (1948).

Samuel Stone, La dinastía de los conquistadores (1975).

Charles D. Ameringer, Democracy in Costa Rica (1982).

                               Charles D. Ameringer

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Fernández Oreamuno, Próspero (1834–1885)

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Fernández Oreamuno, Próspero (1834–1885)