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close this bookThe Nutrition and Health Transition of Democratic Costa Rica (International Nutrition Foundation for Developing Countries - INFDC, 1995, 228 pages)
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View the documentContributors to this volume
View the documentIntroduction
close this folder1. Health policies and strategies
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View the documentA brief description of Costa Rica
View the documentPublic health development
View the documentThe decade of the 1970s
View the documentThe decade of the 1980s
View the documentFinal reflections
View the documentReferences
close this folder2. Development of the social security institute
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View the documentBackground
View the documentSocial security in Costa Rica
View the documentThe extension of direct insurance
View the documentExtension of insurance to the family
View the documentThe financial crisis
View the documentThe constitutional amendment
View the documentToward universalization
View the documentDevelopment of human resources
View the documentThe integration
View the documentThe new health care models
View the documentFinal comments
close this folder3. Development and characteristics of health and nutrition services for urban and rural communities of Costa Rica
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View the documentIntroduction
View the documentBackground information on community outreach programs
View the documentMethodological characteristics of the Costa Rican health programs
View the documentNutrition programs
View the documentImpact of the programs on the health of children living in rural areas
View the documentConclusions
View the documentReferences
View the documentBibliography
close this folder4. Evolution of an epidemiological profile
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentStages of a process
View the documentThe first four decades of the century
View the documentThe period between 1940 and 1970
View the documentThe decade of the 1970s
View the documentThe decade of the 1980s
View the documentThe last decade of the century
View the documentFinal comments
View the documentReferences
close this folder5. Socioeconomic factors for the understanding of health policy during the 1970s
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentRecognition of social demands and the regulation of the conflict during the 1930s and 1940s
View the documentThe social government in the new development strategy of Costa Rica during the 1950s and 1960s
View the documentThe consolidated social government
View the documentFinal reflections
View the documentAcknowledgement
View the documentReferences
close this folder6. Problems and challenges of the health sector during the 1980s
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentSome problems of the health sector in the 1980s
View the documentBalance of the 1980s and perspectives for the 1990s in the health sector
View the documentReferences
View the documentAppendix 1 - Glossary
close this folderAppendix 2 - Supplementary reading list
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View the documentEnglish-language supplementary reading list
View the documentSpanish-language supplementary reading list
View the documentSupplementary reading list - INCAP publications
close this folderAppendix 3 - Health conditions in Costa Rica 1994
View the documentGeneral information
View the documentSpecific health problems

Recognition of social demands and the regulation of the conflict during the 1930s and 1940s

During the 1930s and 1940s in Costa Rica there were several phenomena that provided the basis for the subsequent development in the country. This section analyzes these series of events. During the 1930s and 1940s, organizations and social efforts played an important role in Costa Rica. As a result, the government recognized popular demands and took actions to avoid an escalation of hostilities that would jeopardize the existence of the regime.

Since the end of the last century organizations for social improvement had existed in Costa Rica. These became stronger during the 1930s as a result of the 1929 financial crisis that negatively affected the popular sectors. Faced with increasing popular demands, the government responded by mediating and regulating the relationship among different sectors to avoid worsening the existing social conflict. The result was a style of government that recognized popular demands and satisfied some of these demands to ensure its viability.

During this decade the Institute for the Protection of Coffee was established to regulate the relationship between small owners and exporting beneficiaries. Other organizations created in this period were Rural Credit Unions to provide credit for small and medium producers and the Labor and Employer Council, which sets minimum wages and salary commissions in different counties of the country. The Law of Associations was approved in 1939, "a decision that allowed the legalization and creation of many associations in the cities of Heredia, Alajuela and San José" (Valverde et. al., 1989, p. 73). Other government actions included the creation of several regulations dealing with working conditions, open registration for labor organizations, and the implementation of public projects whose objective was to create jobs, since unemployment was one of the worst consequences of the crisis.

During the 1940s, Rafael Angel Calderón Guardia, who was President of Costa Rica from 1940 to 1944, proposed the search for cooperation among different social sectors and became known as the "social reformer" when he stated:

"...only through balanced cooperation of all social forces, within a regime of law that emphatically rejects improper abuses of power, will it be possible to achieve the conciliation of interests that is necessary for all members of the community to feel solidarity towards the supreme task of ever increasing the spiritual and material level of Costa Rica." (Rojas, 1980, p. 44)

This interest in social reform was presented as an alternative to communism, since at that time the Communist Party had acquired substantial strength in the country. However, a series of circumstances that led to the loss of support from different social sectors forced the government to establish an alliance with the Communist Party, which supported the measures that had already been taken in favor of the labor sector and influenced subsequent social measures. This alliance included the Catholic Church within the framework of alliances against Nazism during the Second World War. The first measures included the Costa Rican Social Security Institute (CCSS), which offered protection during illness, maternity, disability, aging, and death. They also included the Social Guarantees in the Constitution that addressed the right to strike, the eight-hour working day, minimum wages, and freedom to unionize and reach collective agreements. The second set of measures (i.e., those taken in agreement with the Communist Party) included the approval of the Labor Code that regulates the Social Guarantees.

Other important measures taken during this period were the Centers for rural assistance and public health, the opening of the University of Costa Rica and the Music Conservatory, and other social projects (Rojas, 1980, p. 78; Salazar, 1982, pp. 84-92). In the field of mediation of social conflicts, the relationship between tobacco and sugar cane producers and industry was regulated (Rojas, 1980, p. 50). As can be seen, these two decades were the antecedent of what would become an advanced social policy during the decades that followed.

First, the social actions taken during these two decades were an important precedent for the further development of later social policies. This is not to suggest that were no large social needs that were not being met, resulting in important social differences, but that it was important to pay attention to social demands that if unmet would lead to an escalation of social conflict.

Second, they created the basis for a government style that took into account some demands of the people it served, recognizing their organizations in order to maintain social harmony and avoid conflicts and discontent.

Third, the government showed interest in the regulation of social conflict, avoiding repressive means (although repression was sometimes used, as shown during the Banana Strike in 1934 and the expatriation of government opponents during the 1940s). This allowed the abolition of the Army by the end of the decade. It was the abolition of the Army in 1949 that released decisive resources for social actions.

In conclusion, during the 1930s and 1940s, Costa Rica underwent a process that led to the acknowledgment of autonomous popular organizations as well as their demands. Also, the government intervened to regulate social conflict, following a government style that took social measures to avoid the escalation of social conflicts.