Núñez Vargas, Benjamin (1915–1994)

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Núñez Vargas, Benjamin (1915–1994)

Benjamin Núñez Vargas (b. 1915; d. 19 September 1994), Catholic priest, sociologist, labor organizer, cabinet minister, diplomat, educator.

Father Benjamin Núñez Vargas entered public life as a protégé of Archbishop Víctor M. Sanabria Martínez, who had both encouraged and facilitated his sociological studies in the United States, first at Niagara University and then at the Catholic University in Washington, D.C. At Sanabria's request Núñez returned to Costa Rica to form the labor union federation Rerum Novarum, named for Pope Leo XIII's encyclical that dealt with social problems, an activity that placed him in direct competition with the existing communist-oriented unions.

Núñez's social concern and activism propelled him into political action. His early commitment to the National Liberation Movement and the 1948 revolution catapulted him into political leadership, where he remained for over thirty years. He served as labor minister in the revolutionary junta (1948–1949). He took part in the formation of the National Liberation Party (PLN), which quickly became the dominant force in Costa Rican politics. He served in many party and national capacities, including ambassador to Israel and to the United Nations, as well as representative to UNESCO.

His special concern for the development of new leaders inspired a career in education that included a distinguished position as a professor at the University of Costa Rica, appointment as the first rector of the National University, and his establishment of a political training institute in San Isidro de Coronado for rising Latin American democratic leaders. Throughout his career he has been a confidant of all PLN presidents from José Figueres Ferrer through Oscar Arias Sánchez.

See alsoCosta Rica, National Liberation Party .


John Patrick Bell, Crisis in Costa Rica (1971).

James Backer, La iglesia y el síndicalismo en Costa Rica (1975).

Charles D. Ameringer, Don Pepe (1978).

Additional Bibliography

Berle, Adolph. "Navigating the Rapids, 1918–1971." American Historical Review (April 1974), Vol. 79, No. 2 pp. 603-604.

Bulmer-Thomas, Victor. The Political Economy of Latin America since 1920. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Núñez Vargas, Benjamin. "Del Volcán Irazú al Monte Sión." Heredia, EUNA (1992).

Núñez Vargas, Benjamin. "Epicentro del Alma Humana y Corazón del Pueblo judío." KADIMA Instituto Cultural Costarricense-Israelé (1980).

Núñez Vargas, Benjamin. "Vida de Sacerdote." Heredia, EUNA, (1992).

Núñez Vargas, Benjamin and Villegas Hoffmaister, Guillermo. El Espíritu del 48. Costa Rica: Editorial Costa Rica, 1987.

                            John Patrick Bell