Think Tank (5/2023)
Ambassador Victor H Rojas Gonzalez
< Back
Costa Rica: Unarmed Democracy
18 Oct 2023

RSIS hosted a seminar titled “Costa Rica: Unarmed Democracy” on 18 October 2023. The seminar featured Amb Victor H Rojas Gonzalez, Ambassador of the Republic of Costa Rica in the Republic of Singapore; and was chaired by Dr Dipinder Singh Randhawa, Senior Fellow at RSIS. The event was attended by RSIS staff and students, as well as representatives from the embassies of Costa Rica’s Latin American neighbours.

Amb Rojas began his remarks by providing a background on Costa Rica’s geography and history. He then discussed Costa Rica’s economy and trade activities, highlighting that 90% of the country’s exports have been non-traditional goods such as medical devices, IT devices, and business services. Amb Rojas also emphasised his country’s strengths in the digital economy, with the digital technology workforce growing by 17% and Costa Rica becoming the top exporter of IT services in the region. Because of this, Costa Rica had been listed as number 1 in openness in digital trade among OECD members.

Amb Rojas continued his remarks by attributing Costa Rica’s economic transformation to the abolition of its army in 1948. He said that Costa Rica was able to fund free universal healthcare and higher education with money that would have otherwise been earmarked for the army. By funding these services, a skilled workforce emerged which then boosted Costa Rica’s economy.

In a Q&A session that followed, Amb Rojas was asked how Costa Rica was able to evade the political upheavals in Latin America during the 1970s and whether there are discussions to reinstate the army in light of current non-traditional security issues. Amb Rojas emphasised that Costa Rica did not enter into political crisis in the 1970s because it was able to build a strong middle class and manage social inequities. Finally, Amb Rojas closed the seminar by noting that the country’s challenges in drug trafficking and climate-induced migration are managed by the police force and that Costa Rica will continue to improve its police strategy so it will not have to resort to reinstating an army.

more info
Other Articles