Jiménez Oreamuno, Ricardo (1859–1945)

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Jiménez Oreamuno, Ricardo (1859–1945)

Ricardo Jiménez Oreamuno (b. 6 February 1859; d. 4 January 1945), president of Costa Rica (1910–1914; 1924–1928; 1932–1936). Born in Cartago, Costa Rica, Ricardo Jiménez earned his law degree from the University of Santo Tomás in San José in 1884. The following year he was named president of the municipality of San José and sent on a diplomatic mission to Mexico, where he successfully gained Mexican support for Costa Rica's battle against Justo Rufino Barrios, the Guatemalan general who was attempting to create forcibly one Central American republic. Upon completion of his mission, Jiménez left for Washington, D.C., where in January 1886 he published his most notable essay, "Colegio de Cartago," in which he condemned Jesuit control of schools and argued for complete separation of church and state. The essay not only established Jiménez as one of the leading liberal theorists of the Costa Rican Generation of '89, but served as that group's credo.

In the years that followed, Jiménez held several government posts. In November 1886 he was appointed secretary of state in the Office of the Interior, Police, and Public Works. In September 1889 he assumed the post of secretary of state in the Office of Foreign Relations, only to quit after eight days on the job. In November he was named secretary of the interior, foreign relations, and finance, and the following year he was named president of the Supreme Court. In 1892 he resigned his post in objection to the dictatorship of José Joaquín Rodríguez. In 1906 he was elected to the Costa Rican Congress and made a name for himself as the country's chief critic of the United Fruit Company's preferred economic status.

Jiménez was elected and served his first term as president from 1910 to 1914. After a brief retreat from politics he was elected representative of the provinces of San José and Cartago in 1921. He went on to serve as president of Costa Rica twice more (1924–1928 and 1932–1936). Jiménez was a highly accomplished leader best known for his foreign relations successes in protecting the sovereignty and neutrality of Costa Rica amidst Central American political strife. In 1939, at the age of eighty, Jiménez ran for a fourth term of office; however, he withdrew from the race due to a shortage of campaign funds. He remained an active voice in politics during his latter years and was honored as Benemérito de la Patria by a unanimous vote of Congress in 1942.

See alsoCosta Rica; United Fruit Company.


Eugenio Rodríguez Vega, Los días de don Ricardo Jiménez (1971).

Joaquín Vargas Coto, Crónicas de la época y vida de don Ricardo (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Mahoney, James. The Legacies of Liberalism: Path Dependence and Political Regimes in Central America. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Rodríguez Vega, Eugenio. Ensayos olvidados sobre don Ricardo Jiménez. San José, Costa Rica: Universidad Autónoma de Centro América, 1994.

                                      Douglas R. Keberlein

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Jiménez Oreamuno, Ricardo (1859–1945)

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