Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Requiescat in pace Luis Alberto Monge Álvarez, former president of Costa Rica and friend of free Cubans

Remembering a departed President who co- founded a just and enduring free order in Costa Rica

Luis Alberto Monge Álvarez (December 29, 1925 – November 29, 2016)

Friends of freedom lost a great ally on November 29, 2016 when Luis Alberto MongeÁlvarez passed away he was ninety years old.  At the age of 23, President Monge was the youngest member of the National Constituent Assembly of 1949. He was twice legislator for the PLN (1958-1962 and 1970-1974) and was president of the Legislative Assembly. He was President of Costa Rica for just four years between 1982 and 1986. The current President of Costa Rica declared three days of national mourning on his passing.

President Luis Alberto Monge (Center) surrounded by other former presidents
For Cubans he was a friend of freedom who assisted Cubans resisting tyranny first against Fulgencio Batista and later against Fidel Castro.  In 2004 he was a founding member of the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba. Four years later at a gathering of this committee in Costa Rica he spoke clearly in a manner that sadly to many heads of state fail to do today. The following is a cable made public by wikileaks describing this meeting:
Costa Rica continues to be one of the region's leading critics of the Castro government and a strong advocate for democratic change and human rights reforms in Cuba. For instance, on May 20, 2008, the Costa Rican Committee for Solidarity with Democracy in Cuba and the International Committee for Democracy in Cuba hosted a forum on Cuba. Participants included a former ex-president of Costa Rica, a current Costa Rican deputy, an ex-deputy, a Czech diplomat in Costa Rica, and a former Cuban political prisoner. The May 20, 2008 forum highlighted Costa Rica's commitment to freedom and democracy and its criticism of Cuba's abysmal record on human rights. Luis Alberto Monge Alvarez, President of Costa Rica from 1982 to 1986 and a member of President Arias' National Liberation Party (PLN), spoke of "communist occupation" in Cuba. He referred to the "communist dictatorship" of the Castro regime while expressing Costa Rica's solidarity with the Cuban people.
Incidentally Costa Rica has a 96.3% literacy rate, has an excellent universal healthcare system, and a thriving democracy that respects fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. This is no small part due to President Luis Alberto Monge's life time of work and leadership in Costa Rica. He was a politician who practiced what he preached with honesty and transparency and in the process became an elder statesman of Costa Rica.

President Luis Alberto Monge on the right protesting for the freedom of Lech Walesa

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