Guardia, Tomás

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Tomás Guardia (tōmäs´ gwär´dēä), 1832–82, president of Costa Rica. An army general, he led a revolt that eventually placed him in control and enabled him to rule the country from 1870 to 1882 with only brief interruptions. Under a repressive military dictatorship he exiled the leading families and halted the destructive Liberal-Conservative rivalry that had torn Costa Rica for nearly 50 years. Guardia undertook the building of a costly ocean-to-ocean railroad, financed and directed by the United Fruit magnate Minor Cooper Keith. Although basically a military strong man, Guardia is generally credited with having laid the groundwork of Costa Rican political stability.