Día de la Independencia holiday is out of step with history

Those drums that have picked up tempo in recent days are school children practicing for the Día de la Independencia. That holiday is Sept. 15, a Thursday this year, but a lot of the action takes place the day before.

Newcomers might be surprised to know that a torch representing independence begins a trip by runner from the Colonial capital of Guatemala City to end up in Costa Rica’s own colonial capital, Cartago, the night of Sept. 14.

Thousands of school children participate in the relay, and for many this is something they remember their entire lives. The torch usually makes a stopover at Parque Central at 6 p.m. that night, and this is the time when many Costa Ricans go to the sidewalks to sing the national anthem. Secondary torches traverse the land.

The Archivo Nacional has pointed out that independence day here really is out of step with history because the notice that a regional council in Guatemala City had declared freedom from the Spanish crown did not arrive in Cartago until Oct. 13, 1821.

The archives said that many residents of Cartago were confused by the act of independence. Cartago leaders decided to set up a provisional government, but some objected and said that sovereignty resides in the citizenry, said the archives, adding that consequently six days later those attending an open meeting proclaimed Costa Rica’s independence.

This is the first page of Costa Rica's declaration.

This is the first page of Costa Rica’s declaration.

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