Country marks end of the military but not elimination of bloodshed

Costa Ricans will celebrate the 66th anniversary today of the elimination of the military by the revolutionary junta that helped power after the 1948 civil war. That act is most attributed to Jose Figueres Ferrer, who was president of the junta.

President Luis Guillermo Solís and other politicians will mark the event with a 10 a.m. ceremony in the Plaza de la Democracia. That is appropriate because the plaza is due west of what is today the Museo Nacional. The building used to be the local military headquarters, and it still bears the bullet holes from the civil war. A statue of Figueres has just been returned to the plaza.

In the 66 years since the abolition of the military, Costa Rican officials have tried hard to reduce the impact of violence in society.

As an example, police officers were trading dolls and other non-military toys in Barrio Puente Casa in Ciudad Quesada last week. The slogan was that firearms are not toys.

The local Liga Internacional de Mujeres Pro Paz y Libertad in Costa Rica has the same idea and set out the usual Christmas message discouraging the giving of warlike toys as presents. Doing so gives the impression that violence is normal, said the organization.

The central government also tries to discourage the use of firearms and has not recognized the legal opinion that self protection is a human right. However, the dream frequently collides with reality.

A bodyguard of a lottery vendor became a local hero last week when he shot it out with two robbers in the center of the city. The two robbers died.

And there was more gunplay over the weekend.

Shortly after midnight Saturday a 38-year-old man died while walking to his home in  La Verbena en la Aurora de Alajuelita.

He was the apparent victim of a street robbery.

Saturday night in Moravia a 26-year-old man died about 9:30 p.m. when he was shot while riding a motorcycle. The assailant was on another motorcycle, said the Judicial Investigating Organization.

In Paso Canoas also Saturday night a man who arrived on a motorcycle gunned down a 53-year-old man who was at a business there.

In Guácimo, also Saturday night, a 43-year-old man suffered a bullet wound as he left his home to enter his car. The assailant was riding double on a motorcycle.

A boy in Ciudad Quesada holds a plastic gun that he is surrendering for a less warlike toy, while a police officer displays  homemade single-shot shotgun  confiscated in Tibás from a man who already has a robbery conviction.

A boy in Ciudad Quesada holds a plastic gun that he is surrendering for a less warlike toy, while a police officer displays homemade single-shot shotgun confiscated in Tibás from a man who already has a robbery conviction.

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