Viva, Costa Rica

With all the tyranny and turmoil in Central America it is good to see once more the persistent workings of democracy in Costa Rica. When the winner of this week's presidential election, Luis Alberto Monge, takes office the small nation will celebrate its ninth consecutive peaceful transfer of authority.

Costa Rica has plenty of economic problems, but the president-elect is determined to demonstrate that the democratic system can solve them. He benefits from not having a coup-minded military looking over his shoulder. The army was abolished under the constitution of 1949, when President Figueres said democracy could be better preserved by civic virtue and a small police force.

What is sometimes forgotten by countries that do need armies is that the survival of democracy requires civic virtue whatever the number of bombs and tanks. If there were no Costa Rica to remind us, the world would have to invent one.

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