Soto Alfaro, Bernardo (1854–1931)

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Soto Alfaro, Bernardo (1854–1931)

Bernardo Soto Alfaro (b. 12 February 1854; d. 28 January 1931), president of Costa Rica (1885–1889). As first designate, Soto assumed the presidency in 1885 following the death of Próspero Fernández, and a year later he was elected to a full four-year term. Continuing the liberal policies of his two immediate predecessors, Fernández and Tomás Guardia, Soto emphasized educational and social reforms. His Fundamental Law of Public Instruction (1886) committed the nation to free, compulsory, and secular education. The education budget was tripled during his administration. Other notable achievements included the construction of the National Library and the Asilo Chapuí mental hospital. Soto demanded complete separation of church and state, which resulted in the closing of the Jesuit University of Santo Tomás.

See alsoCosta Rica; Guardia Gutiérrez, Tomás.


Dana G. Munro, The Five Republics of Central America (1918).

Chester Lloyd Jones, Costa Rica and Civilization in the Caribbean (1935; 2d ed., 1941).

John Hale Et Al., Costa Rica en el siglo XIX (1972).

Additional Bibliography

Díaz Arias, David. Construcción de un estado moderno: Política, estado e identidad nacional en Costa Rica, 1821–1914. San José: Editorial de la Universidad de Costa Rica, 2005.

Yashar, Deborah J. Demanding Democracy: Reform and Reaction in Costa Rica and Guatemala, 1870s–1950s. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997.

                              Thomas M. Leonard