González Flores, Alfredo (1877–1962)

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González Flores, Alfredo (1877–1962)

Alfredo González Flores (b. 15 June 1877; d. 28 December 1962), president of Costa Rica (1914–1917). Born in Heredia, González Flores received a law degree in 1902. The Costa Rican Congress chose him to be president of the Republic in 1914. Ironically, Costa Ricans were supposed to elect their president directly for the first time that year, but none of the three candidates received a majority, sending the matter to Congress, which selected González Flores, who had not even been on the original ballot.

González Flores became president at a time when Costa Rica's population was growing dramatically and the price for its principal export, coffee, was falling precipitously. Costa Rica was beginning to experience the effects of monoculture, wherin its "golden bean" was leaving a bitter taste. González Flores courageously proposed an income tax to try to alleviate the suffering of the poor, but he was too weak politically for such bold action.

The outbreak of World War I compounded his difficulties. With exports curtailed and imported goods scarce, Costa Rica experienced inflation and declining revenues. Though González Flores attempted progressive economic measures by imposing exchange regulations, levying export taxes, and cutting salaries of public employees, he had little support. The minister of defense, General Federico Tinoco Granados took advantage of the president's unpopularity to stage a coup on 27 January 1917, which established the second dictatorship in Costa Rican history.

González Flores persuaded President Woodrow Wilson not to recognize the Tinoco dictatorship. In recent years biographers have viewed him more favorably as a precursor of Costa Rican reform movements. He gave a lifetime of service to his native city, Heredia, and Costa Rica awarded him the Benemérito de la Patria in 1954.

See alsoCoffee Industry; Costa Rica.


Eduardo Oconitrillo García, Alfredo González Flores (1980).

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

Harold D. Nelson, ed., Costa Rica: A Country Study, 2d ed. (1983).

Marc Edelman and Joanne Kenen, eds., The Costa Rica Reader (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Lehoucq, Fabrice Edouard, and Iván Molina Jiménez. Stuffing the Ballot Box: Fraud, Electoral Reform, and Democratization in Costa Rica. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Salazar Mora, Jorge Mario. Crisis liberal y estado reformista: Análisis político-electoral (1914–1949). San José, Costa Rica: Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 1995.

                                    Charles D. Ameringer

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González Flores, Alfredo (1877–1962)

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González Flores, Alfredo (1877–1962)