Monge Álvarez, Luis Alberto (1926–)

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Monge Álvarez, Luis Alberto (1926–)

Luis Alberto Monge Álvarez (b. 1926), president of Costa Rica (1982–1986). Of humble origin and little formal education beyond the secondary level, Monge Álvarez, at age twenty-three, served in the constitutent assembly that drafted the Constitution of 1949. Two years later he was a founding member of the National Liberation Party (PLN), Costa Rica's dominant political party. He became secretary-general of the Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers (ORIT) in 1952.

During the 1960s, Monge Álvarez almost gave up politics. In 1959 he and PLN leader José Figueres Ferrer established the Inter-American Institute of Political Education, a collaborative effort of Latin American social-democratic parties. Monge Álvarez was dismayed by the disclosure that the institute was secretly funded by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. His disillusionment grew during the presidency of Francisco José Orlich Bolmarcich (1962–1966) because he believed that Orlich Bolmarcich was abandoning PLN goals. Figueres Ferrer managed to pull Monge Álvarez out of the doldrums and in 1966 encouraged him to become PLN secretary-general, a post he held for twelve years.

Monge Álvarez used his position to build a solid base within the PLN. During Figueres Ferrer's presidency (1970–1974), he gained additional stature as president of the Legislative Assembly. In 1978, challenging the party's old guard, he ran for president, but lost. Four years later, he won by the highest percentage in Costa Rican presidential elections.

Monge Álvarez's policies as president surprised those who knew his politics and his attitude toward U.S. intervention. He assumed office amid an economic crisis. Working with the International Monetary Fund, Monge Álvarez instituted a stabilization program that brought inflation under control and restored economic growth. But he did it by raising rates charged by government-owned utilities, cutting social programs, trimming the public sector, and reducing the huge bureaucracy. He did it also by cooperating with U.S. efforts against the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

See alsoCosta Rica, National Liberation Party .


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

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

Frank Mc Neil, War and Peace in Central America (1988).

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

Additional Bibliography

Eguizábal, Cristina. Entre la alianza y la crísis: Administración Monge Alvarez: Reconstrucción del proceso de toma de decisiones en política exterior: Mayo 1982–noviembre 1983. San José: Instituto de Investigaciones Sociales, Universidad de Costa Rica, 1990.

Hernández, Gerardo. Partidos políticos en Costa Rica: Trayectoria, situación y perspectivas para el cambio. San José: CEDAL, 2005.

Mongüe Aguero, Jorge and Juan Manuel Villasuso E. Procesos de cambio en Costa Rica: Reflexiones al inicio de siglo XXI. San José: Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, 2003.

Mora A., Jorge A. Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez: Su pensamiento político. Costa Rica: Universidad Interamericana de Costa Rica, 2001.

                               Charles D. Ameringer

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Monge Álvarez, Luis Alberto (1926–)

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