Iglesias Castro, Rafael (1861–1924)

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Iglesias Castro, Rafael (1861–1924)

Rafael Iglesias Castro (b. 18 April 1861; d. 11 April 1924), president of Costa Rica (1894–1898, 1898–1902). After graduating from the Colegio de Cartago, Iglesias studied law at the University of Santo Tomás but left before obtaining his law degree. His first significant political experience came in 1889 when he supported the presidential candidacy of José Joaquín Rodríguez. When Rodríguez assumed the presidency in 1890, he named Iglesias minister of war. In 1893 Iglesias became minister of finance and commerce, and also married the president's daughter. As a presidential candidate in 1894 he enjoyed the support of the incumbent administration and took power after the government had suppressed his political opposition. In 1897 Iglesias secured congressional passage of a constitutional amendment that permitted his reelection and subsequently won a second presidential term when his opponents withdrew from the electoral process. During his two terms Iglesias placed the nation on the gold standard; inaugurated the National Theater; promoted railroads, highways, and port facilities; and oversaw the construction of a number of schools and hospitals. An authoritarian figure who often abused the political rights of the opposition, Iglesias nonetheless allowed freedom of the press. He stepped down from power in 1902 and ran unsuccessfully for the presidency in 1910 and again in 1914.

See alsoCosta Rica, Constitutions; Theater.


Harold H. Bonilla, Nuestros presidentes (1942).

James L. Busey, "The Presidents of Costa Rica," in Americas 18 (1961): 55-70.

Theodore S. Creedman, Historical Dictionary of Costa Rica (1977).

                                   Richard V. Salisbury