A multidimensional view of power in San José, Costa Rica


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A multidimensional view of power in San José, Costa Rica
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vii, 254 leaves. : illus. ; 28 cm.
Pyle, Ransford Comstock, 1936-
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Upper class -- Costa Rica -- San José   ( lcsh )
Power (Social sciences)   ( lcsh )
Social conditions -- San José (Costa Rica)   ( lcsh )
Anthropology thesis Ph. D   ( lcsh )
Dissertations, Academic -- Anthropology -- UF   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis -- University of Florida.
Bibliography: leaves 247-254.
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Ransford Comstock Pyle




I wish to express my gratitude to the members of my Doctoral

Committee, William E. Carter (Chairman), Solon Kimball, Martha Hardman-

de-Bautista, G. Alexander Moore, and Walter Weyrauch for their help

in the preparation of this work as well as their influence during

my graduate training. Many Costa Ricans were helpful during the field

research in many ways. Among those who were particularly helpful were

Virginia Ramfrez de Barquero, Dr. Romano Soto Delcore, Maria Eugenia

Bozzoli de Wille and my student assistant, Carlos Vargas Dengo. This

acknowledgment should not be construed to mean that the above-mentioned

persons concurred in the conclusions drawn here, since in some cases the

opposite would be true. Special thanks must go to Dr. Samuel Stone,

who read an early draft of the dissertation and who provided a useful

critique of many aspects of the work.

Finally, my wife, Carola, deserves special thanks for the many

sacrifices' made during a long period of graduate training.





ABSTRACT . . . vii

INTRODUCTION . . .. .. 1







CORRELATES ..... ............. ......... 133










CHIEFS OF STATE ........................ 244


















* 41h

. 59

. 63

. 71

. 82

* 89

. 92


Figure 1: Schematic Diagrams of Population and Social Class 52

Figure 2: Centrality and Relative Power Positions

of Costa Rican Cities . . 53

Figure 3: Important Political Families . 96

Figure 4: Historical Growth of San Jose (schematic) 159

Figure 5: Contemporary San Jose (schematic) . 160

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Ransford Comstock Pyle

June, 1974

Chairman: William E. Carter
Major Department: Anthropology

San Jose is the capital of Costa Rica and exercises a dominance over

the nation which dwarfs the importance of other population centers.

Paralleling the geographical power which San Jose derives from its central

position in the nation is the political and economic power position

occupied by the political elite which has maintained control over all

important national institutions since the colonial period. This group

has managed to maintain its boundaries through selective marriage patterns

which vary from generalized endogamy to marriage alliances. The image of

Costa Rica and the political ideology which represents Costa Rica

disguise the elitist and exclusive nature of Costa Rican society and

politics. Power-is examined in many facets, including institutional

control, ideological manipulation, social interaction, geographical

position, and politics.

vii Chairman


To appreciate the chapters which follow, one must have some under-

standing of how this work came into being. By focusing on a city, we

depart from the usual subject matter of ethnographic research in anthro-

pology which generally centers upon so-called "tribal" peoples or

peasant communities. Urban studies are relatively new to anthropology

and the urban context presents problems which are either absent or

avoidable in small, homogeneous settlements. Size, in and of itself,

is a problem, especially when, as in this study, the research is

accomplished by one person. Since anthropology has traditionally been

committed to the study of entire communities, covering the gamut of

human thought and action, a city of some four hundred thousand persons

presents a monumental task. The people of even a small community pro-

vide an endless fund of relevant information; the city not only has more

people but also provides additional sources of information through the

written word. Urban institutions tend to be large and complex, with

infrastructures which are often obscure to the newcomer (and even to the

old-timer). Unraveling complexity is time-comsuming, but this is not the

greatest problem for the urban anthropologist.

Other social scientists have studied cities, or at least operated

within the context of modern urban societies. If anthropologists intend

to examine the meaning of urban life, we ought to approach this study with

new procedures and attitudes which can justify entering a field where


there are already many experienced hands. Anthropology has emphasized

holistic study of culture on the basis of field research through

participant-observation. Although sociologists also use participant-

observation as one type of research method, they are neither as devoted

to it nor as well-grounded in the method. In addition, sociologists

are commonly problem- or policy-oriented so that field research infre-

quently aims at total systems. Anthropologists often study more than

sociologists in the sense that "culture," including thoughts, perceptions,

and values, is a more encompassing concept than "society," which is the

concern of sociologists and often leads to a concentration on institu-

tions. Without intending to suggest that anthropologists have interests

opposed to other social scientists, it is possible, nonetheless, to

argue that the differing orientations of the different disciplines ought

to lead to different approaches and even different results. With some

cross-fertilization, all the disciplines involved in urban research could

advance in useful material as well as in the important intellectual pro-

vocation which different perspectives can bring.

Embarking upon urban field research, the anthropologist is faced

with the burden of offering something different, if not necessarily

revolutionary. To replicate what sociologists have done elsewhere is

not very satisfying, especially in the presence of scholastic chauvinism,

a characteristic of anthropologists. One begins with the intention of

demonstrating the inherent superiority of anthropology by providing a

better explanation of urban life. Unfortunately, the field researcher

is immediately confronted by basic methodological problems without ready

solutions. How, for instance, does one participate in the life of the

city? How does one observe thousands of lives? San Jose, Costa Rica,

a city of some 400,000 inhabitants, seemed a good choice for research

because of a relatively homogeneous population, sharing a single

language, a generalized racial stock, and a common tradition. It is

difficult, however, to get Josefinos ("those who live in San Jose")

to agree on any one matter--unanimity is rare even with a small sample.

In a great many matters, they express themselves freely, and are even

argumentative when provoked. This behavior may constitute a generally

shared Latin American characteristic of verbal facility and express-

iveness combined with an individualism based upon highly valued personal

dignity. For all their real and purported homogeneity, the Josefinos

display an endless diversity of opinion and outlook. This should serve

as a word of caution with regard to generalization encountered in the

following chapters--we cannot, in truth, say that all Josefinos "express

themselves freely." In initial field research many opinions, even

-apparently factual statements, which had been recorded, were cross-

checked with subsequent informants. The following interchange, which

investigated the alleged Costa Rican "hospitality," shows the type of

response which was repeated on numerous other occasions:

"Why-did you choose Costa Rica to study?"
"I felt that Costa Ricans were kind and hospitable and this
would be helpful in getting to know the people."
"Kind and hospitable? Just the opposite. If you went to
Mexico and you met a stranger on the street and he said,
'Come to my house,' he would take you to his house and intro-
duce you to his family and serve you a sumptuous dinner. A
Costa Rican would make the same invitation, but you would
never see the inside of his house."

With contradictory statements, it becomes impossible to generalize about

what Josefinos say about themselves, without arriving at the question of

what they think. One is led eventually to rely upon some statistical

measure, however crude it may be. The results of this approach are

discussed in Chapter VI, which examines, among other things, responses

to a questionnaire administered to university students. The question-

naire (Appendix H) was purposely subjective in order to require

respondents to put on paper categorizations of Josefinos and other Costa

Ricans to test the presence or absence of generalized attitudes toward

people. The questionnaire was based upon a few months' impressions

gained through interview and observation. The questionnaire aimed to

test these impressions as well as to clarify them. Many notions were

confirmed and additional facets of the Costa Rican character emerged. A

much greater consensus was achieved in the questionnaire than had been

achieved in interview. This was due in part to the increasing sophisti-

cation of the researcher, i.e., he was no longer asking many of the naive

or unproductive questions of the first few weeks. One unforeseen result

of-the questionnaire was help rendered in subsequent relations with the

Costa Ricans. Once armed with a general picture of the way Costa Ricans,

albeit university students, viewed themselves, the researcher was able

to respond to questions in a manner compatible with the notions of the

questioners. This was very important since statements which sound sus-

piciously Yanqui in point of view engender distrust and defensiveness.

On the other hand, statements which echo commonly held Costa Rican veiw-

points indicate an appreciation for things Costa Rican not commonly

encountered in American visitors. Henceforward, discussions with

acquaintances became more open and friendly and less argumentative. Dis-

agreement was still present and heterogeneity of opinion still expressed,

but the atmosphere in which discussion and argument took place was

noticeably changed. While such things may seem strangely unscientific

and subjective to other social scientists, they are comforting to the

anthropologist who must often deal with subjective impressions, validated

by whatever reasonable means are available to him. Cultural anthro-

pologists oriented towards linguistics have emphasized the importance of

native categorizations (see the articles reprinted in Tyler 1969:191-504).

Goodenough (1957) suggests that the grammar of a culture is similar to

that of a language, consisting of what one needs to know in order to

behave appropriately within the context of that culture. As a participant-

observer, the anthropologist examines the behavior of his subjects

(observation) and he tests his conclusions by predicting the outcome of

sequences of actions taken by others and often by his own actions

(participation). This procedure does not constitute formal hypothesis

testing, although it would be possible to graft such a method on to this

process. It is instead a process of growth for the field researcher in

which, when it runs according to plan, the final product is an individual

who can think and act like a native without forgetting that he is an

anthropologist. It is a form of voluntary schizophrenia with both good

and bad moments. It must happen as it did in Costa Rica, that many

fieldworkers find themselves beginning to behave in a fashion which

once appeared to them outrageous native custom (see Chagnon 1974:1-45).

Unfortunately, only the anthropologist and the natives he studies can

effectively judge the extent to which he has assimilated native ways.

We could accept his judgment with greater confidence if we could believe

his implicit assurances that he learned their ways.

One of the problems with participant-observation in the city is

the status of the participant. Learning to act like a rich Josefino

does not prepare one to associate with poor Josefinos on their terms.

Where should one live? In an affluent neighborhood? In a slum? A

workingclass neighborhood? Should one live according to the high living

standard appropriate for Americans or should one pretend poverty with

the risk that this hypocrisy will be transparent? Can one ask a member

of the upper class to a modest home or a poor man to a sumptuous one?

These questions were asked at the beginning of the field work and later

personal relations showed them to be pertinent questions. The participant-

observer who seeks to study the whole city and all its people may end

up acting like a native, but he is bound to be a very inconsistent

native. This is a problem of sorts in the city since, unlike the re-

searcher in a remote village, the anthropologist cannot even play the

role of the awkward and ignorant, but accepted, intruder. People met

each day are strangers who- will never become accustomed to the manner of

this foreigner and who will furnish him-the information he requests only

if it is to their liking to do so.

=n--. If participant-observation in the city is awkward, difficult, and

imperfect, it may be the sine qua non of urban anthropological field-

work, nonetheless.- Through the unpleasant and uncomfortable experiences

of wandering about the city and poking one's nose in places it was-not

meant to be, one comes to learn the city and its people beyond the

American Embassy, beyond knowing the especialite de la mason and how to

bargain in the marketplace. A moderately intrepid fieldworker comes to

know far more people and places in the city than any native. The anthro-

pologist can justify his interest in every aspect of the city and he can

go anywhere.1 Unlike local scholars, he need not remain permanently with

the people he may have offended in the country he may criticize. As a

foreigner, a certain amount of peculiar behavior is to be expected. Thus,

he can do more and see more than most natives. In the process of

experiencing the city, the fieldworker should arrive at insights which

can be obtained in no other way. Personal experience is unique, but

this tautological observation suggests that the knowledge to be gained

by experience is also unique.

There is an inclination on the part of anthropologists (and

sociologists abroad) who deal with the city to search for "street-

corner societies" and squatter settlements. Apparently these groups

resemble the peasant communities so much a part of anthropological research

in Latin America and appeal to the anthropologists' penchant for marginal

and exotic peoples. This inclination may be undesirable insofar as it

contradicts the holistic dogma which anthropologists have for many years

claimed as one of the essential ingredients in anthropological research

and theory. We may find ultimately that urban anthropologists and

sociologists are doing the same thing even though coming from different

intellectual backgrounds. Before coming to this conclusion, however,

we ought to consider the possibility that the two disciplines suggest

two different conceptions of urban research. The holistic concept in

anthropology is a major distinction between that discipline and sociology.

We may consider the city in its totality, whether or not we conceive of

it as a community. Wedded to participant-observation, with its personal

and subjective nature outlined above, we are faced with the problem:

Participant-observation has strong individualistic tendencies which make

it difficult for team research, the sort of research which would seem to

be required in the urban context. This is a reasonable argument in light

of what has already been stated above; participant-observation in the

city must always be partial and incomplete. In rebuttal, we argue that

all studies of human behavior are incomplete, only the degree of complete-

ness is here in question. Also, there is some doubt as to whether size

and complexity are proportionate. Only at the level of pure description

need there be a direct relation between size and scholarship. The

principles which underly a large community may be as simple or as complex

as those underlying a small community. These principles, whether they

be structural, systemic, processual, or ideological, are the concern of

serious scholars. The question is whether it is preferable to seek

these principles piecemeal or all at once. Anthropology has traditionally

argued the latter approach. Functional theory in anthropology has always

stressed the integration of parts within the whole, meaning that the

whole is not simply the sum of its parts. Structuralism has similarly

required broad-spectrum study in order to comprehend structural principles

within a society, even though there may be conceptually separable

structures susceptible of analysis.

San Jose was studied in this spirit. The nagging question of what

the city meant was let to nag. Parts, experiences, questions, and answers

were added in and not added up. The picture was never complete, but

slowly an explanation of the city began to grow which appeared to tie

together many of the loose ends. In the following chapters, relatively

few pages are devoted to direct accounts of participant-observation

although this method was the foundation upon which the ideas were built.

Most of the historical and genealogical work was accomplished subsequent

to the year of field work (1971-1972). The attempt in the last chapter

to present theoretical arguments thought to be pertinent to San Jose

and Costa Rica is based upon research following the field experience.

The theoretical assumptions carried to the field, namely, functionalism,

proved unserviceable and were abandoned only with growing awareness of

the operating force of the imbalance of power. This awareness was

brought to a head in a discussion of inherited power with Dr. Samuel Stone,

whose influence over subsequent development of theme can be noted in

Chapter III.

A physical description of San Jose will not be encountered until

Chapter V. Those unfamiliar with the fundamentals of Central American

geography are advised to read the first few pages of that chapter first

if guidebook data are desired. Elsewhere geography will be treated in a

schematic and abstract fashion. Geography is important because space

is important. Chapter I presents in spatial terms the principle theme

of our work: Power is organized about central cores of dense concentra-

tion. The principle operates on the levels of geography (Chapter I),

ideology (Chapter II), kinship (Chapter III), and formal institutions

(Chapter IV). Although the germinal principle can be derived from

geographical theory (Central Place Theory), it underlies the elite theories

of sociology and political science, which are somewhat older. Michels'

"Iron Law of Oligarchy" may be the most emphatic statement of this power

principle in the social sciences.

While our study concerns Costa Rica alone, the power principle is

neither Costa Rican, nor even Latin American. Major influences in the

development of our line of thought have been Italian, German, and American.

However, dominant schools in England and the United States have tended

to avoid elite theories and the study of elites. The reason for this may

well lie in the embarrassing but logical conclusion that the imbalance of

power at the international level has worked in favor of the United States

and England more than any other nations in modern times. Elites have

been discussed in Latin America (Lipset and Solari 1967), but they have

been distinguished as feudal, traditional, particularistic, Catholic,

and personalistic, i.e., by all those characteristics which English and

Americans choose not to call themselves. These characterizations and

their implications are currently coming into question, especially by

Latin American social scientists, one of whom (Stavenhagen 1971) has put

into serious question the entire foundation of American assessment of

Latin America. Our discussion of power distribution and the ideology it

encourages in Costa Rica may be read, mutatis mutandum, in terms of

American policy toward Latin America and the ideological supports which

American scholars have provided that policy. But that is not our pur-

pose here, although the logical extension of the holistic premise would

insist that we examine the whole international scene.

Another approach to elites has been to conceive of plural elites,

and this is the approach used in Lipset and Solari (1967). This usage

refers to "...those positions in society which are at the summits of key

social structures" (Lipset and Solari 1967:vii). Thus we may have a

labor elite, a managerial elite, a political elite, etc. Unfortunately,

the term "elite" in this context loses the sense in which we most fre-

quently use it. The elite is not simply an arbitrary apex of a social

pyramid, it is distinct from the rest of society. Costa Rica is a small

country with a small elite; it is possible that her society has not grown

to the complexity of nations with plural elites. It is also possible,

however, that the elites of other nations have remained hidden. Even

in Costa Rica talk of "the oligarchy" is commonly condemned as the ravings

of the lunatic fringe, namely, the Communists. Dr. Stone's work with

the genealogies of important political families in the history of Costa

Rica demonstrated an incredible nexus between family and political power

throughout Costa Rican history. We have attempted here (Chapter III)

to clarify some of the principles operating among these important families

which show that the elite may indeed be distinguished from the rest of

society on the basis of kinship. This should be of interest to anthro-

pologists since kinship has been an important part of the study of

primitive peoples. It remains an open question as to the extent of power

-relationships based on kinship in the most complex societies. It may

be that bonds exist which, as was true of Costa Rica until recently, are

-obscured through the absence of formal rules of the inheritance of

-power. It is also possible that the power principles discussed here may

:operate in areas other than kinship.

.Power relationships and the principles which guide their formation

wand-maintenance -were analytically derived. They are hidden, sometimes

:-intentionally, since powerful persons often wish to avoid exposure to

-the public eye. Thus, the fieldworker and the public in general may be

blithely ignorant of what is happening. Chapter VI presents a picture of

the perceptions which many Costa Ricans have of their society. This

picture varies in important respects from the picture of power represented

in other chapters. There are many possible reasons for the discrepancies.

The point we wish to make, however, is that the values which these per-

ceptions imply are values which inordinately benefit those in power.

Many values, rules, and laws are phrased and perhaps understood in

terms which do not discriminate among social categories and yet the

impact of these values, rules, and laws may be highly discriminatory.

For example, a rule which states that children must wear shoes in school

would be discriminatory in a nation of impoverished, barefoot people.

The discrimination inherent in values is often hidden. Chapter V pre-

sents the argument that perceptions and values in San Jose can be

demonstrated to be consistent with the picture of power painted in the

preceding chapters.

Rightly or wrongly, the chapters have been presented and the

material selected in an order which seemed most conducive to explicate

the major themes. The first four chapters are more closely related than

is the fifth chapter to the preceding four. The work concludes with

additional theoretical considerations.



iCosta Rican social scientists, including anthropologists, are
subject to significant social restraints relating to their sex, social
status, and professional standing as well as the ideological constraints
imposed by their nationality and the political tendencies of their
discipline (e.g., sociologists tended to be radical, anti-U.S., Marxists).


Centrality of Location and Size of Population

With a map of Costa Rica in hand, it would not be difficult to

"guess" the location of the capital city. San Jose not only occupies

a strategic central location within the nation, but the area which

it $ccupies suggests a city many times greater in population than any

other settlement in the country. These two features of centrality and

size are closely related to the natural concentration of power, hence

the correctness of the guess as to which Costa Rican settlement would

likely be the capital city. Exceptions to the rule do not refute it;

for every Washington there are likely to be several cities like Paris

or Rome which combine centrality and size. In fact, considering the

number of factors which may combine to influence the growth of any

given city, we must take note of the importance of the two features

mentioned above.

The relation between centrality and concentration of population

has long been recognized and has perhaps received its most important

formal expression in the so-called "Central-Place Theory" formulated

on an economic "marketing principle" by Christaller (1933) and

subsequently examined, tested, and modified in several directions by

many others.1

Horace Miner (1967) suggested a similar relationship between

differentiation of function in society, a hierarchy of power, and

the dominance of cities, and was the first, according to Wheatley

(1972:630), to give formal expression to a notion of the "city as a

centre of dominance." Recently, Trigger (1972) has elucidated this

phenomenon through an analysis of the determinants of urban growth in

preindustrial cities. Trigger enumerates four "premises" of urban

growth, which are reproduced below because of their special relevance

to San Jose, Costa Rica:

1. There is a tendency for human activities to be hierarchical
in character and for this to be reflected in spatial

...with increasing complexity, a hierarchy of locations
may develop with respect to any one kind of activity,
the higher or more specialized functions being performed
from a smaller number of centres.

2. With increasing complexity there is a tendency for
activities and social institutions to be more clearly
defined and for their personnel to be more highly
specialized. ...

3. Human activities tend to be focal in character in order
to take advantage of scale economics.

I- -- In order to increase efficiency, activities susceptible
to varying degrees of interrelationship tend to be
concentrated at a single point.... In accordance with
these rules, locations which serve one kind of function
frequently tend to serve another. In combination with
the hierarchical premise outlined above, such tendencies
give rise to a hierarchy of locations varying in terms
of accessibility and the size of the area they serve
S- and influence....

~t. The size of communities tends to vary with the number
of functions they perform [1972:578-579].

Without referring specifically to Central Place Theory and its spatio-

economic relations, Trigger describes a "hierarchy of locations" which

is parallel to the former theory without insisting upon either marketing

function or precise symmetrical distribution. It is clear that Trigger

is speaking of "cities" and not simply "places." Important in his

conception of a city are that (1) it "performs specialized functions

in relationship to a broader hinterland" and (2) "the specialized

functions of a city are not agricultural in nature" (Trigger 1972:577).

He also asserts that the special relation of agriculture to land tends

to concentrate similar specialties in one area while encouraging

dispersal of agricultural production (1972:577). Thus the functions

of urban and rural areas are to Trigger different in nature. If this

is true, this major distinction in Costa Rica between rural and

urban areas need not surprise us.

While the city tends to concentrate social and political functions

within its ambit, such a concentration may be viewed as "economic" in

the sense that efficiency encourages a concentration of specialized

functions at a center just as efficiency demands a concentration of

truly economic functions, such as markets, banks, and economic policy-

making. In light of this, absentee landlordism appears quite natural--

in order-to maintain identification with an elite upper class, members

of that group must maintain contact with the center of social activity,

whether it be San Jose, Lima, or Paris. Because of the interrelatedness

of social, political, and economic functions at these centers, a

residence in town not only insures the maintenance of social prestige

but also maintains vital political and economic networks.

While the efficient operation of specialized functions in a

complex society leads inevitably to the growth of urban centers which

concentrate political and-economic power in the hands of a minority,

we must also realize that the power thus acquired is commonly sustained

through the manipulation of the entire system by members of the elite

acting in concert. To locate oneself close to the center of power in

order to avail oneself of the benefits of power concentration entails

the active participation in power networks with mutual benefit to

network members, often to the detriment of those outside the network.2

Thus, while more-or-less "natural" forces encourage urban growth and

the concentration of powers, the individuals to be found in the upper

echelons of the various hierarchies are rarely unwilling partners.

If fate has thrown them together, they work to stay together.

San Josg, Capital City of Costa Rica

San Jose is more than simply the largest city of Costa Rica and

it is more than just the capital of the country. In many respects San

Jose is Costa Rica. While Costa Rica depends upon foreign markets and

is in a very real sense subject to the whim of international politics

without much of a voice for her own defense, the Costa Rica which lies

beyond the limits of San Jos6 is even more dependent upon the city

itself. San Jose is Costa Rica in two senses. First, it has a monopoly

over every important national activity; second, the middle-class

Josefino projects the image of the typical Costa Rican. There is

virtually no field in which any other city of Costa Rica can compete

successfully with San Jose, the only exception being religious ceremony

and display, which remain the monopoly of Cartago, the colonial capital

and the reputed center of religious and social conservatism. San Jose

may be classed as a "primate" city, that is, its dominance in national

affairs is so extensive that other Costa Rican cities seem by contrast

to be dwarfed in their growth. Primate cities are common in Spanish

America, quite possibly due to the dependent status and limited size

of many of these countries. Not only does one city control internal

national activities, but it also becomes the locus for international

exchange. All cities occupy relative power positions. The flow of

national and international resources through a city can be established

as an empirical fact. Where one city in a given country maintains a

monopoly over this flow of resources, that city has an inordinate

amount of power with respect to the surrounding country.

San Jose as National and International Representative of Costa Rica

To the world at large, Costa Rica is represented by San Jose.

The typical Costa Rican is represented by a middle-class Josefino (the

existence of a rural counterpart is also recognized), the climate which

is represented as Costa Rican is that of San Jose, the racial stock of

the Costa Rican is represented by that predominant in San Jose. An

important point to remember is that this representation refers not only

to the propaganda which is disseminated abroad (the analysis of any

travel brochure from Costa Rica reveals a description of Costa Rica in

terms of San Jose, unrelated to other areas of the country depicted in

the photographs) but more importantly the image of San Jose is that which

is presented to the Costa Rican people and consists of a shorthand

version of Costa Rica, thus misrepresenting the nature of the country,

the composition of its people, and its national problems.

Hand-in-hand with the economic and political power of San Jose

is a monopolistic power over the presentation of the Costa Rican

character; the residents of San Jose have the power to manage belief,

ideology, values, and law for the entire nation. The importance of

San Jose and its dominance in Costa Rica can hardly be exaggerated.

The city's Metropolitan Area contains 23 percent of the national

population, 395,401 persons out of 1,710,083 nationally (Anuario

Estadfstico 1971:16-17). In a country where, in 1963, 49 percent

of the work force was employed in agriculture and fishing (Denton

1971:14), this one city contains a majority of the urban population.

If San Jose continues to grow at its present pace, it will soon

incorporate, physically if not administratively, the three provincial

capitals of Heredia, Cartago, and Alajuela into one urban spread which

will include all secondary cities of the country with the exception of

the port cities of Puntarenas and Lim6n. In very general terms,

therefore, one can speak of a bipolarization of Costa Rica into

Metropolitan San Jose and the agricultural hinterland.

As of 1972, San Jose had Costa Rica's only university (Heredia

had a teacher's college and new universities and university extensions

were projected). All important political agencies are located in the

capital. All Costa Rican daily newspapers are published in San Jose.

Two-thirds of all Costa Rican physicians practice in San Jose. More

than two-thirds of Costa Rica's telephones are located in San Jose.

It is the only city linked to both Atlantic and Pacific ports by rail-

road. The only international airport is located 15 miles from San

Jose near Alajuela. It is virtually impossible to travel by land

between two distant points in Costa Rica without passing through San

Jose. The National Theater is in San Jose as are the National Library,

the National Museum and the National Stadium. Needless to say, all

national and international commercial enterprises have their head-

quarters in San Jose (there are, of course, a few enterprises, such

as the important banana industry, in which agricultural production and

exportation take place outside of the Central Valley). In short, San

Jose is the city, the national city, the Costa Rican city, the only

city which can properly claim to represent Costa Rica.

Implications of Urban-Rural Power Relationship for Anthropology

If we regard power as control over resources (including human re-

sources), San Jose, as a city, can be viewed as a manipulator of power.

The study of power on a grand scale, i.e., as it has been practiced

by great nation states, has, with rare exceptions (e.g., Adams 1970),

been neglected by anthropologists. This is regrettable for a number

of reasons. Anthropologists have been inclined to see power as an

extraneous element in the cultures they study, impinging upon those

cultures from without. They have tended to favor the isolation of the

people they study from the policies of those who will ultimately govern

them as emissaries of either economic imperialists or national governments.

Anthropologists have shown a reluctance to value power positively and an

inability to manipulate it to ends which they, as professionals, regard

as-ethical. This sort of attitude may not be particularly significant in

general practical consequences--few people expect anthropologists to have

& serious impact upon policy-making--but such an attitude does have an

impact upon the results of anthropological investigation.

The insularity of the content of anthropological investigation has

effectively obscured anthropological vision. Julian Steward (1956)

pointed out that anthropologists involved in community studies had

cavalierly disregarded the importance of the nation in the life of the

community. His point was well taken and led to at least one discussion

(Manners 1958; Arensberg 1958) of the meaning of the community study in

relation to the nation. While Steward emphasized, correctly, the need

for understanding the influence of the nation upon the community

studied, Aresnberg pointed out, also correctly, that all life is inter-

related and that we must therefore place logical and reasonable limits

to the field of empirical investigation. Robert Adams (1966) argues

that city and countryside are interrelated and influence each other,

although he stresses the superordinate position of the city in this

relationship. San Jose undoubtedly exerts an important practical impact

upon most local communities in Costa Rica. To describe a community in

Costa Rica in vacuo, as was the anthropological custom in the 30's and

40's and often still followed today, would be to distort the "real"


The problem raises a question often skirted by anthropologists:

What is the city? While it may be possible for the anthropologist to

discover a primitive community sufficiently isolated from a city as

to warrant treatment apart from a larger context, the city ultimately

depends upon the country for its sustenance. Whereas a small community

may take its form and structure in large part from the interplay of

environmental factors in the region and the organizational capacity of

the society for exploiting natural resources, the growth of a city, the

speed at which it grows, how and where it grows, and the many directions

its growth may take, depend to a large degree upon the power position

which it establishes with other communities related to it. While a city,

whatever definition we use, may also be a community under a number of

definitions, commonly the community which we may call a city takes its

form and its direction from the exploitative relationship which it

establishes with other communities. Whereas Steward warned that we

may misinterpret the local community by overlooking the pervasive

influence of the national, i.e., urban, culture, the opposite admonition

follows with equal force, namely, that the city may be fully understood

only when we recognize its exploitative position with regard to the


Anthropologists are accustomed to framing cultural context in

terms of culture contact, diffusion, superordinate tradition, etc.,

that is, in essentially communicative terms, assuming, perhaps correctly,

that valuable elements will spread through operating networks. However,

force is not simply an instrument of conquest but a fundamental process

of daily life. The city, especially when it has a monopoly over

legitimate, which is to say authoritative-legal force, as in the case

of the primate city, is in a position to concentrate wealth-producing

enterprises within its boundaries. A common result is the situation in

which the city appears to be flourishing quite by chance, while the

countryside is suffering. The cases are numerous: the United States,

Japan, Costa Rica. The bucolic idyll, the small farmer, the honest

country life may be positively valued while the depressed economic

situation of the peasant or small farmer is lamented by all even though

no one seems to know who is responsible. There can be no solution to

the "farm" problem as long as the needs of the city take precedence.

Town and Country in Costa Rica

The distinction between city and countryside is an important one in

the history of Costa Rica. A major portion of the Costa Rican political

ideology is symbolized in the notion that social differences during the

colonial period were virtually nonexistent. This idea is pertinent to

our major theme and will be summarized here, to be treated in greater

detail in later chapters. Although it is difficult at the present time

to substantiate history now well past, it is likely that the notion of

colonial social equality derives from a picture distorted by present

biases. It seems that one colonial governor in 1718 complained in a

letter to the Crown that he had to work in the fields like any peasant

(Fernandez 1889:317). This datum is not insignificant, but it does not

necessarily lead to the assumption, commonly cited by Costa Ricans, that

the colonial governor was of equal social and economic status with the ma-

jority of his fellow Costa Ricans. Historians of Costa Rica have stressed

isolation and poverty. Modern Costa Rican historians have suggested that the

poverty of colonial Costa Rica created a situation in which social class was

absent, leading ultimately to modern Costa Rican democracy. A few have noted

that it was the propagation of coffee which led to distinctions of social

class in Costa Rica in the late nineteenth century. This view distorts

important historical developments. First of all, the apparent social

equality reigning in Costa Rica at the time of Independence was in part

due to the failure of cacao as a profitable crop. This enterprise of the

well-to-do had suffered severely, primarily due to the depradations of

Zambo-Mosquito pirates and-raiders. Nevertheless, it was clear that

despite the poverty of the colony there were always a small few who

could venture land and capital toward new endeavors. Shortly after

Independence, Costa Rica was transformed into a prosperous coffee-

growing and -exporting nation. The argument, which seems to be fairly

well accepted in Costa Rica, that social class was practically non-

existent at the end of the colonial era but became a divisive factor

because of the coffee capitalists rests on shaky historical grounds.

It is possible that the failure of cacao reduced the rich to relative

poverty at the end of the colonial period so that differences of social

claps were not readily discernible. But colonial social equality cannot

explain the subsequent emergence of hereditary wealth and political

influence. Although the development of coffee as a profitable export

did involve a few successful resident foreigners, in general the pro-

duction of this new crop lay in the hands of the descendents of

important colonial families. The coffee boom simply reinforced social

differences of long standing (cf. Stone 1969).

- -Political ideology of present-day Costa Rica rests upon an uncertain

-foundation. Costa Ricans pride themselves on their stable antimilitary,

democratic electoral system. Historians have attributed the Costa Rican

-democratic spirit to, among other things, the social and racial equality

of the colonial era.in Costa Rica. There is serious doubt as to whether

social equality ever existed. Certainly the Spanish Crown showed little

egalitarian spirit in the New World with reference to its own interests.

Difference of social position existed in Costa Rica even where economic

position seems not to have reinforced it. The study of Costa Rican

genealogies leaves no doubt about the essentially endogamous creole

class which incorporated important foreigners but disdained alliances

with Costa Ricans of humbler rank. The most convincing evidence of

social distinction is the fact that the coffee-growers who first

responded to an opening world market were landowners belonging to the

allegedly impoverished families of illustrious career during the

colonial era. Costa Rican historians have insisted that social class

distinctions were introduced during the nineteenth century coffee boom.

This position could be tenable had we evidence of opportunist entre-

preneurs from this period, but the first great coffee-growers, except

for a few Germans, were the descendents of the most important colonial

families. It seems likely that the unforeseen coffee boom brought

unanticipated wealth to Costa Rica. Nevertheless, the profits from

this boom accrued only to important colonial families and a few

foreigners. A select, exclusive Costa Rican national elite may be

inferred from the following: (1) the first great coffee-growers were

descendents of the colonial rulers, (2) while the coffee boom evidenced

a few new loyalties, those who benefitted most from subsequent changes

were invariably connected with important political families of the past

(Stone 1971). Thus, social distinctions may have been heightened but

there is no evidence that these distinctions were made between persons

whoa had not previously been designated as privileged.. The flavor of

power may have changed with the shift of the capital from Cartago to

San-Jose but there was no corresponding change in family alliances.

Independence and coffee did have one important impact: San Jose

became the most important city. One important consideration ought to

be remembered in attempting to reconcile the supposed absence of social

class with the sudden upsurge in colonial lineages following Independence.

The rural-urban contrast is not noted in the statements of colonial

history. It is clear, nevertheless, that several cities were in

existence, all of which must have demonstrated cultural features unlike

those of the countryside. The contrast between rich and poor was

elusive because it was not a contrast between co-existing and interacting

subgroups of a single settlement. Rather, social class was marked by

different residential patterns, i.e., those who lived in the city were

of a different class from those who lived in the country. We sometimes

fail to realize that rural-urban social distinctions often transcend

cultural or racial distinctions. Josefinos today maintain an attitude

of urban superiority; there is no reason to doubt the existence of

similar sentiments in 1821.

Too often we view social class in terms of circumscribed areas so

that urban classes and rural classes are studied within their own con-

texts. The significance of social class may in many cases depend upon

the interrelation of geographically distinct groups, this being especially

true of the rural-urban relationship in preindustrial societies. The

Costa Rican economy is based upon agriculture. San Jose has a monopoly

over every commercial activity with the exception of the essential one,

production. San Jos6 has little claim to self-sufficiency. Unlike

truly industrial cities, San Jose cannot claim to be productive in its

own right. San Jose does not merely feed itself from rural products,

it thrives by controlling those products and their distribution. We can

argue from this that there is in Costa Rica an intimate relationship

between city and country in which the city enjoys a privileged position

by virtue of its superordinate status and the power it wields over the

position by virtue of its superordinate status and the power it wields

over the country. It is possible to conceive of the colonial era as

a period without distinctions of social class only if we separate the

city and the country.

The relationship described here has been termed "internal

colonialism" by Stavenhagen (1967). He sees the parasitic exploitation

of the rural hinterland as a consequence of the dependent international

status of Latin American nations wherein urban power holders sim the

scapt profits of agricultural production as representatives or brokers

for international purchasers. There has been too little discussion of

this phenomenon in the literature and we need further study and

clarification of the dynamics of the relationships involved.


iFor an overview of both the history and recent developments of
Central Place theory see Wheatley (1972:614-620). The theory deals with
the efficient utilization of energy in space:

Central-Place Theory postulates regular spatial patterns
of the differential distribution of activities related to the
production and distribution of goods and services. In theory
activity loci are so distributed that energy expended in
these activities is minimized. In practice it appears that
energy output minimization need not be assumed as necessary
for the appearance of spatial distribution predicted by
the theory [Johnson 1972:783].
This "detriment" may consist simply of unrealized gains, like tax
shelters, which do not actually take anything away from the public but
which reduce government revenues below what they would otherwise be.
Bogantes (1971:llff.) uses such an argument with regard to tariff
exemptions in Costa Rica, in which he asserts that less than one percent
of the possible import tariff revenues were realized because of exemptions.
The concerted action of the elite may also benefit the rest of
society. It is possible that Japan's remarkable post-war recovery was
in large part due to the reformation of the great industrial cartels,
which were able to increase production and develop world markets.


Power and Idelogy are Mutually Supportive

While power in the natural world may be said to be strategic,

based simply on accessibility and capability, power in society is

subject to various forms of cultural elaboration which modify what

we might consider to be "natural" power relationships. At the most

obvious level, this consists of man's technological exploitation of

resources, which allows him to utilize natural resources far beyond

innate biological capabilities. More important for individual man,

however, are the cultural elaborations which deal with social power.

Man has developed an incredible number of social, economic and

political institutions which provide organizational benefits comparable

to the material benefits provided by his technological advances. This

will be dealt with in later chapters. Here we will be concerned with

ideological power, which might also be called moral, ethical, or

psychological power. Within any society, the effectiveness of social

institutions depends at some point upon the public trust and trust is

based upon the acceptance of certain values. Values are elusive at best,

but we occasionally find, especially in literate societies, statements

of fundamental principles of the organization of a society. The cognitive

structure to be gleaned from such statements corresponds to an ideology

of society, a charter, a constitution from which may be derived an

elaborate system of law and morality. It may well be that the cultural


manifestation of such an ideology among many preliterate peoples lies

in the area of myth (cf. Malinowski 1955:96ff.). In the modern nation-

state we are accustomed to look for this ideological basis of society

within specific areas of the public law. Needless to say, the law rests

upon certain ethical and social premises, the acceptance of which is

largely a matter of faith. Faith in turn rests upon ineffable truths,

alluded to in myths which sanctify the social structure. The dynamics

of this process will be briefly discussed in the final chapter. For

the'moment we must concern ourselves with important ideological

premises in Costa Rica and the myths which support them.

While ideology furnishes power to a primitive society by directing

the will of the individual toward social goals in the collectivity, in

highly-organized, literate society, ideology comes to be concentrated

in the hands of a number of specialists, notably lawyers, priests, and

teachers, adept at ideological management. From this point, ideology

easily becomes an instrument of power through which such specialists

and their patrons may manipulate values and beliefs to their advantage.

We may anticipate that the ideology of society will embody the especial

perspective of ideological specialists, which, if they have been

sufficiently successful in manipulating ideology to their advantage, will

describe a society in which they legitimately occupy positions of high

status and exercise control over society and its institutions.1

Cityscape: Man at the Controls

The growth of San Jos6 to its present form has responded not simply

to the imperatives of geography or natural resources but also to those

of human history. The power held by the city is a product of the concerted

activities of generations of Josefinos. While the Josefino of today

acts in such a way as to maintain the national dominance of his city,

the power position was not his making but the result of the acts of

prior generations. As a city-dweller, the Josefino is presented with

an environment in which to live but which he had not part in creating,

much the way that primitive man is presented with a "natural," i.e.,

non-human environment. The difference is that the city is a human

creation; in fact, a striking feature of contemporary cities in many

parts of the world is an almost total dominance of human, as opposed

to non-human, elements. The difference is important since the city,

being a human creation, is also a social creation. The nature of a

specific city must ultimately have a decisive impact upon the nature

of the society which is associated with it. The city does not present

tapped and untapped natural resources which the native may exploit at

his will. By and large it presents the physical locations for social

institutions, and its use is governed by a vast array of social rules.

SEthnographers ordinarily attempt some discussion of the ecology

of the community studied. With primitive man and even with peasants,

this-discussion is likely to deal with the relationship between man

and his environment in terms of natural resources and the technological

means available for exploiting those resources. This approach continues

even in urban anthropology, where anthropologists show a preference for

studies of slums, which by virtue of their dependent social and power

positions, frequently consist of individual residents who must commonly

react to, adapt to and do their best to manipulate a hostile environment.

When cities and complex societies are looked at from a macroscopic

perspective, however, it becomes evident that the human environment

cannot be understood without studying power. Power over the natural

environment allows the possibility of using natural resources to pro-

vide energy supplies to human beings. Ecological studies must

inevitably deal with power. A special feature of human society, most

evident in the modern city, is that human beings have demonstrated a

very special capacity for discovering new energy sources. This capacity

includes human resources; human beings exploit members of their own

species, even those who share membership in their territorial group.

While parallels might be drawn with certain other species, man appears

to be unusual in his capacity for exploiting members of his own species.

Although this may occur through physical coercion, exploitation of

man, his fellow-man, occurs most frequently through social institutions;

the more complex a given society is, the more likely are opportunities

for exploitation through social institutions. When we reduce this

exploitation to "real" people, i.e., who is exploiting whom, we are

talking about power. In some sense exploitation is mutual--the person

in a superior power position ordinarily must respond to those exploited

with some favor or benefit. When personal relations are blatantly

exploitative, the exploited can be expected to resent existing relation-

ships. On-the other hand, exploitation commonly operates through social

institutions--one gains employment by acquiring the necessary credentials.

Thus it may appear that a person's low position in society is merely

a matter of misfortune and not personal exploitation. If exploitation

is recognized, it is called "the establishment," "the oligarchy," "the

power elite," or some such impersonal descriptive phrase since

exploitation is often indirect and impersonal. Even in such cases,

however, some concession is normally made to the less fortunate.

Absolute exploitation, or the total absence of reciprocity, must

indeed be a rare occurrence in human societies.

The meaning of a city will escape us if we give no thought to

power. Cities may owe their very existence to one of the most funda-

mental power relationships, exploitation of agricultural production

through the centralization of commercial enterprises in urban clusters

divorced from the rural centers of productions. While cities may

originate in order to provide services, including administration, to

the agricultural hinterland, centralization and specialization of

services rapidly convert to a power base which is manipulated by the

city-dwellers. Within the city itself there is differential access

to this power. This may be inevitable but it is not accidental. Power

provides energy which can be utilized to secure nearly anything a human

being could desire. Those who have little power seek to have more;

those who have great power attempt to keep it, for themselves and for

their posterity. The growth of San Jose, the history and politics of

Costa Rica make sense from this perspective.

Primacy of the Costa Rican Elite

Much of our discussion and description of power in San Jose" is

premised upon the existence of a ruling group which has today and which

has had throughout Costa Rican history an inordinate degree of power

when compared with the rest of the population. This ruling group

occupies this special position by design, not by chance. Members of

this group reap special rewards which are not simply greater than those

of the less fortunate but which are disproportionately greater, greater

than their wealth or position would suggest.

There is considerable evidence for the existence of a Costa Rican

ruling elite. Some of this evidence consists of genealogical data

concerning families which have shown a marked capacity for maintaining

wealth and political power from colonial times to the present (Stone

1969'1971). Such data will be used to suggest that the social and

political history of Costa Rica could be simplified to the following

proposition: The history of Costa Rica is the history of a few important

historical events that can best be understood by examining the kinship

relations existing among interested parties. There are two reasons for

making this extreme statement. First, the overriding importance of

kinship in Costa Rican history and politics is convincingly demonstrated

by a simple correlation between genealogical data and wealth and power.

This ought to be of special interest to anthropologists who have shown

the importance of studying kinship in primitive societies without

recognizing how important kinship may be in modern societies. Second,

the elitist nature of Costa Rican politics is not generally recognized

since Costa Rica enjoys an image which, in light of a realistic appraisal

bf-Tosta Rican politics, seems to be the result of successful management

of ideology by the ruling elite. We will argue here that a realistic

picture of Costa Rican politics reveals a situation which conforms well

to the stereotype by which Costa Ricans represent politics in other

Latin American countries, namely, national power concentrated in the

hands of a few aristocratic families.

History as Myth

Written histories are always suspect since the writers must

necessarily reduce history to selected examples. The historian quite

naturally selects for presentation those data which suit his purposes.

We are interested in two important aspects of Costa Rican history. We

would naturally like to know some of the important historical occur-

rences which might be helpful in understanding why San Jose assumed

the form and course of growth which resulted in the city of today, but

we are also interested in history as myth. People's beliefs about

history and people's interpretations of history reveal a great deal

about the way they think about their society and their political values.

This is difficult to investigate for several reasons. There is no

objective truth to history. We are left with relatively few reliable

statistics; objective "facts" are frequently less meaningful than the

subjective motivations which are instrumental elements of human history.

Historical myth is thus difficult to measure against what "really"

happened. An individual may base his interpretation of history upon

misrepresentations which he has little reason to question. An individual

may be expected to assume the line of argument which arrives at a con-

clusion which he favors. As a result, we can have little confidence

concerning the "sources" of historical folklore. If there were some

sort of reality against which we could measure native beliefs, we would

have valuable material since extreme distortions of the truth would

require some explanation. Ultimately we must be content with the notion

that myth is important in showing what people believe, regardless of

whether or not the myth represents the truth.

We now arrive at an intriguing intellectual question which cannot

be answered here but which ought to occupy the thoughts of some anthro-

pologists. Conceptually we separate history and myth. In our society

writers of fiction and writers of history are not to be confused. The

author of the "historical novel," regardless of extensive historical

research to provide authenticity, is rarely regarded as making a serious

contribution to historical knowledge. In pre-literate societies such

a distinction in trade is hardly possible. Since anthropologists

customarily deal with oral traditions, the problems of measuring

historical myth against historical fact rarely arise. For this reason

the anthropologist rarely faces a problem we are now facing, namely, to

what extent have Costa Rican historians and others who have reflected

upon Costa Rican history distorted historical fact and created

historical myth? The important corollary to this question would ask

to what extent has distortion been a conscious manipulation of fact

to-represent history in such a way as to enhance the position of the

history-tellers. (The corollary question is virtually impossible to

answer with certainty unless we were to find the "rewritten" history

text occasionally encountered with radical change of political regime.

What.is more likely than conscious manipulation is class bias--if the

history-tellers all come from a special segment of the population,

historical presentations will probably incorporate the historical

"beliefs" of that segment.) The problem we face has been obscured in

sociology and anthropology by notions like "collective representations,"

and other sociological concepts which suggest that the community

expresses itself through myth or functional belief systems, ingeniously

avoiding the possibility that belief is a tool of power. Yet it is quite

clear that belief is often coercively manipulated. A classic example of

this would be excommunication for heresy.

Throughout the world, hundreds of millions of persons are constantly

persuaded that their miserable conditions are the result of a fictional

cause unrelated to the political and social structure in which they live.

It is difficult to ascribe collective representation, folklore, value

systems, and cultural beliefs to some sort of natural social develop-

ment when our own society presents innumerable examples of belief

management imposed by incumbents of power positions upon those with

little power in order to preserve the existing power distribution. In

literate societies historical chronicles may differ from our usual

notion of "folklore" but nevertheless form an important part of the

shared cultural legend of a society.

Democracy and the Myth of the Costa Rican Past

In Costa Rica, as in many countries of the world, the word

"democracy" is rarely defined but thought to apply as a form of approval

for the established local regime. An interesting facet to the Costa

Rican situation consists in the explanation of Costa Rican democracy.

Where some societies might have need of attributing positive values to

the native type of democracy, let us say, where neighboring societies

have similar political forms, Costa Rica arrives easily at a democratic

self-evaluation since all other Central American countries have long

histories of rule by military officials. Costa Ricans feel generally

secure in the belief that theirs is a better form of government. Ideology,

rather than concerning itself with self-justification, dwells at length

upon the reasons for the "uniqueness" of Costa Rican democracy. Those

who have attempted to explain the existence of the relatively stable

electoral system, have done so by asserting special facts of Costa

Rican history. Costa Ricans believe that they have accidentally escaped

an unfortunately common Latin pattern.2

The history of Costa Rica is relevant to our concerns because

political and social ideology are explained in terms of historical

interpretations. Costa Rican democracy is viewed as a fortuitous result

of the Costa Rican national character which was forged by certain

peculiarities of Costa Rican history. The argument is interesting

since questionable inferences are drawn from questionable historical

assertions in order to explain the existence of a condition which is

never adequately demonstrated. This sort of argument may characterize

effective management of ideology; the political status quo is affirmed

without raising serious ideological questions because reference is made

to events for which there are no living witnesses. In essence the

argument runs "We are uniquely democratic because of the special circum-

stances of our historical situation." While the argument purports to

be an intelligent analysis of cause and effect, it consists of reasoning

by inference from unsubstantiated evidence.

The argument may be found in a number of respectable sources

(Barahona Jimenez 1970; Cordero 1964; Rodrfguez Vega 1953) as well as

on the street corner. To emphasize the extent to which this mythology

has penetrated, we will here discuss its presentation by a professor

of Philosophy of Law at the University of Costa Rica in the first

edition of one of Costa Rica's most respected scholarly journals,

the Revista de Ciencias Juridicas. The article presenting this version

of the political myth was entitled "Liberty, Law and Political Development:

Three Reflections concerning the First Article of the Political

Constitution of Costa Rica" (Gutierrez G. 1963:71-132). The First

Article of the Constitution states that "Costa Rica is a free, democratic

and independent republic." Guti6rrez concentrates on the word "democratic."

His argument for a democratic Costa Rica is not convincing but there

would be little purpose served here by engaging in a criticism of it.

The important point is that a strong inference of the high caliber of

Costa Rican democracy is presented by way of historical myth. Several

features of the Costa Rican past are presented, all of which are

commonly argued in Costa Rica to explain why Costa Rica is unique in

Latin America in having a stable democracy (like many Costa Ricans,

Gutierrez shows no reluctance in stereotyping the rest of Latin America).

Four basic reasons are given for the flowering of democracy in Costa

Rica. First, historical isolation: Costa Rica spent most of her

history, from colonial conquest to recent times, free of external inter-

ference. Early colonists and conquistadores discovered that Costa Rica

lacked gold and settled Indian communities of sufficient size to be

exploitable. Costa Rica was of little strategic importance to Spain

and was far from the administrative centers of Spanish Colonial America.

Thus, Costa Rica was forced to survive on its own without assistance or

interference from abroad. Second, racial homogeneity: Because there

were relatively few Indians in Costa Rica at the arrival of the Spanish,

Costa Rica failed to develop a class or caste system based upon racial

distinction, as occurred in Latin American colonies where large Indian

populations were incorporated into the Spanish Empire. This argument

is commonly heard in Costa Rica and is used to explain the absence of

social classes and the absence of racial and social prejudice. Here

ideological management operates as outlined above; instead of pro-

ducing evidence of lack of social bias, it is inferred from questionable

historical factors.

The Myth of Racial Homogenity

The racial homogeneity question in Costa Rica is an interesting

one' First of all, Costa Ricans insist upon the high proportion of

White blood among Costa Ricans. At present Costa Rica has a small

Indian population scattered mostly through the undeveloped mountain

region near the Panamanian border. All told, the Indian population

probably does not number as much as 10,000 bodies, although precise

figures are still difficult to obtain. Those classed as Indians are

persons who, with only recent exceptions, have maintained many of the

aspects of pre-Conquest culture, i.e., these persons who have tradi-

tionally avoided contact with white settlements and have not participated

in the national life or culture of Costa Rica. Yet serious doubts must

be raised concerning the racial purity of present-day Costa Ricans,

many of whom frankly admit that there is Indian blood in every Costa

Rican. To research the racial history of Costa Rica would be an

enormous task beyond the needs of the present discussion. We may,

nevertheless, make some inferences from historical Censuses which cast

serious doubt upon the conclusions drawn by Gutierrez and accepted

generally by Costa Ricans. Table I was tabulated by Stone (1971:107)

from Thiel (1902), the latter source cited by Gutierrez, whose figures

did not include the category "Mestizo," an important omission.

1522 AND 1801

Year Spanish Indians Negroes Mestizos Mulatos Total

1522 -- 27,200 -- --- -- 27,200
1569 113 17,166 30 -- 170 17,479
1611 330 14,908 25 25 250 15,538
1700 2,146 15,489 154 213 1,291 19,293
1720 3,059 13,269 168 748 2,193 19,437
1741 4,687 12,716 200 3,458 3,065 24,126
1751 7,807 10,109 62 3,057 2,987 24,022
1778 6,046 8,104 94 13,915 6,053 34,212
1801 4,942 8,281 30 30,413 8,925 52,591

Source: Stone (1971)

Several points may be drawn from Table I. First, the colonial census-

makers distinguished several racial categories, as was done throughout

Spanish America in the colonial period. Second, for the first two

centuries of the colonial period, Indians outnumbered all other racial

groups combined (we may assume that Indians living in less accessible

regions of Costa Rica were either not reported or inaccurately reported,

as is true today). Third, mixed-bloods, i.e., Mestizos and Mulatos,

show a consistent increase in numbers while the pure-bloods, i.e.,

Indians, Spanish, and Negroes, show a steady decrease in numbers from

a peak (1741-51 for Spanish/Negroes). Fourth, Spanish persons at no

time represented more than one-third of the population. Certain

inferences are warranted. First of all, census-takers seem not to have

been aware of the racial homogeneity attributed to the period. While

the number of Indians may seem small in comparison with certain other

Spanish territories, there seems always to have been many more Indians

than Spanish. The statistics suggest that present-day racial homogeneity

in Costa Rica is the result not of purity of blood nor the absence of

Indians but, rather, was the result of centuries of interbreeding among

Spanish, Indian, and Negro (this last contributing a relatively small

genetic component) to the extent that a generalized population of mixed-

bloods arose. Within this pattern, racial distinctions were no doubt

preserved in some instances. Since the small group of descendants of

the Spanish were in charge of most commercial and administrative

functions, it is probable that most of those of this racial stock lived

in or near the towns, especially Cartago, the colonial capital, while

Indian blood predominated in the countryside. As we will see shortly,

a small group of descendants of important Spanish colonials practised

class endogamy and were concentrated in the cities of Cartago and San

Jose. In addition to this group of Spanish ancestry, it has been

asserted that a number of Spaniards migrated to Costa Rica with the

sole purpose of becoming small farmers independent of feudal landlords

(Chac6n Trejos 1970). These persons were farmers and not adventurers,

being well aware of the poverty and isolation of the colony. If such

a migration did in fact take place, it could account for the rise of

a general class of rural Mestizo peasants, even though the urban

Spanish may have maintained a certain degree of genetic purity.

Even if the argument in favor of racial homogeneity could be

accepted, e.g., we might acknowledge a homogeneous mestizo character in

the contemporary Costa Rican population not true of the colonial period,

we would still have difficulty relating this to "democracy." This

so-called racial homogeneity has not made the Costa Rican free of social

and racial bias. The inhabitants of the Central Valley for a long time

effectively excluded various types of undesirables from the Central

Valley: "Immigration should consist of families of farmers, speakers

of our own language insofar as possible, according to regulation by the

law of 1906" (Saenz Maroto 1970:868). The Costa Rican government for

many years prohibited the Jamaican Blacks imported by United Fruit

Company to build a railroad to Lim6n from settling in the Central Valley.

Today Costa Ricans frequently make slighting remarks about Costa Rican

Blacks. The natives of the Province of Guanacaste who are generally

much darker than the residents of the Central Valley, are considered

racially inferior, "like the Nicaraguans."

The argument that Costa Rica is more democratic than other

Latin American countries because of the absence of Indians does not

bear careful scrutiny. Costa Rica does indeed present a contrast with

Guatemala, where a majority of the residents are classed as Indians, but

no other country in Central America records an Indian population

constituting more than ten percent of the total population (Kalijarvi

1962:27). Costa Ricans frequently refer to large numbers of Indians

in these countries without justification. Many other Central Americans

regard Costa Ricans as "racist."

The Myth of Egalitarian Society during the Colonial Period

Gutierrez gives as a third factor in the growth of Costa Rican

democracy the "poverty" of the colonial period. Visitors to the colony

and reports of the Spanish administrators suggest that Costa Rica was

one of the poorest of all the Spanish colonies. It does not necessarily

follow, however, that, "here there was neither an aristocracy nor any

difference in classes" (Gutierrez G. 1963:93). That Costa Rica was

poor there is little doubt. Unfortunately, that picture seems to be

exaggerated because much of our information concerning the colony

deals with the final period when the cultivation of cacao on the

Caribbean had become unprofitable, reducing the wealth of the agri-

cultural capitalists of Cartago. While some authors, including

Gutierrez, have argued for social equality during the colonial period

and for the gradual growth of social inequality with the coffee boom

of the nineteenth century, Stone (1971) argues that the colonial period

closed at a time when differences in wealth had diminished to an unusual

degree. He argues that those who grew rich from coffee belonged to the

families which had always held wealth and power. Toward the end of the

colonial period, the erosion of wealth brought social classes much

closer together. Economic leveling seems to have increased communication

even though class membership was maintained. It may well be that this

happening gave rise to much of the democratic legend. It lends authority

to the legend. Finally, we must also keep in mind that to dispute demo-

cratic mythology does not necessarily mean that Costa Rica is less

democratic than other nations.

The Myth of Equal Distribution of Land

The fourth and final historical factor given as an important element

in the growth of Costa Rican democracy is the alleged equal distribution

of property.

Thus it was that the system of landownership in the Plateau,
fragmented, family plots cultivated by the owner's own
efforts, came to have a decisive influence in the formation
of the Costa Rican national character and, therefore, in
Costa Rican political institutions [Gutierrez G. 1963:94].

Perhaps the vast majority of Costa Ricans during her history have been

small farmers dedicated to providing the essential requirements of their

families. Nevertheless, there have always been some who have attempted

to prosper through the exploitation of commercially profitable agri-

cultural products, especially cacao, tobacco, and coffee. These were

enterprises which required capital which the small farmers did not have

and which were subject to strict government regulation. The image of

Costa Rica as a country of small, independent farmers has been widely

accepted. Busey (1962) accepts the myth of equal distribution of land

even though the statistical evidence he presents clearly shows a very

inequitable pattern of land distribution. What Busey fails to realize

is that minifundismo, the situation in which land is divided into

numerous parcels of insufficient size to support a family, contributes

to peonage and latifundismo, or large landed estates. Busey demonstrates

the same blind faith in the historical myths discussed here and the same

untenable assertion of Costa Rican democracy that we have seen presented

by Gutierrez. Busey provides an excellent example of the management of

ideology. Any foreign scholar visiting Costa Rica is duly instructed

in the sources of Costa Rican democracy.4

The myth of the Costa Rican past has a number of corollaries, such

as-the-great Costa-Rican-middle- class; the anti-military sentiment of

the Costa Ricans; the simple happy, honest, hardworking peasant; free,

peaceful elections; etc. Each theme has some ring of truth to it, yet

each theme carefully disguises the simple truth that Costa Rica is a

country full of poor people who are controlled by a small group of

wealthy and powerful people. A few recent observers have been astute

enough to see this. Martz, for example, has written:

Costa Rica speaks of its peaceful, democratic existence. Yet
a major revolution within the last decade was bloodier than the
colonial battles of earlier centuries. At least three times
in the last fifteen years the government has been undemocratic
and unrepresentative to the point of dictatorship. Another
contradiction is the widely circulated boast that Costa Rica
has no army, and fewer soldiers than school teachers. While
the army was abolished in 1950, there is a police force of
some 1,250 plus 700 coast guardmen. Panama also has no army,
but its police force more than serves the purpose. Nicaragua
and Honduras can also boast of having more school teachers
than soldiers.... Contrary to declarations of bucolically
peaceful, constructive living, marauding bands roamed the
northern province of Guanacaste until very recently [Martz
1959:210-211]. 5

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this ideological management is

that it is based upon a stereotype of the malignant Latin American

country, the common case to which Costa Rica is the alleged exception.

Costa Rica in fact fits rather well the stereotype in many ways, which

may be the reason why the stereotype is so believable for the Costa

Ricans. On the other hand, it is not easy to understand how the Costa

Rican people accept the uniqueness of Costa Rica. To some extent

acceptance may be resignation. Since the public word is transmitted only

through media controlled by the ruling elite, the voice of dissent is

.rarely heard. The control of the ruling elite has never been broken,

never seriously challenged, as the evidence cited in the following

chapter attempts to demonstrate.

Ideology and the Common Man

It may well be that the man-in-the-street must inevitably accept a

model of his society which does not correspond to the behavior he observes.

Every model ultimately simplifies reality. It seems reasonable to expect

that most people would willingly choose a model of society that minimizes

indecision and frustration and maximizes expectations. The requisite for

faith in such a model is that experience, even if it cannot wholly confirm

the model, meet as few contradictions (to the model) as possible. Thus,

for instance, the Costa Rican may readily accept the "Switzerland of

Central America" characterization because his incomplete knowledge of

Switzerland furnishes no contradictions. Similarly, historical myths

are not demonstrably false on the basis of personal experience. Experi-

ence undoubtedly teaches that more may be accomplished with cooperation

than in its absence, and cooperation requires some minimum of shared


We will see in the next chapter the extent to which concentrated

and enduring cooperation can enhance the power of a group. To the extent

to which the ordinary Costa Rican recognizes this principle of power, he

will be induced to meet and cooperate with potential benefactors. Since

the common pattern of personalistic patronage rewards such behavior,

individuals seek this avenue of advancement. And the beneficiaries of

the social structure support a status quo ideology. Despite all this,

there are numerous ways in which ideology and the rules pertaining to it

may come into serious question. What is remarkable about Costa Rica is

that the discrepancy between myth and reality has revealed so little

evidence of consternation.



1Bohannon (1965) has made the cogent observation that legal
institutions differ from other social institutions in that they may
legitimately interfere in the operations of other institutions. While
Bohannon emphasizes the role of legal institutions in resolving con-
flict and disorder in other institutions (and this is probably the
area in which legal institutions exercise their legitimate authority),
it is clear that the superior position of legal institutions implies
a power position which permits dictatorial interference in other
It is difficult to say precisely to what degree Costa Ricans
see their present condition as fortuitous but such would seem to be
the case in light of the explanations which are offered for Costa Rica's
unique position. It is worth considering, nevertheless, that a fatalistic
view of the political system is probably more compatible to a Latin, as
opposed to an Anglo-American society. Perhaps because of their
economic and political preeminence in modern times, England and the
United States have given birth to many doctrines of racial and social
superiority which purport to explain the superiority of their political
systems, that is, success justifies a favorable representation of the
political system. For nations enjoying less success in international
competition, comparisons of political systems are not encouraged, nor
-can they be considered masters of their own destinies.

An interesting bit of evidence has been collected by Estrada
Molina (1965) who investigated documented descriptions of clothing of
-the final years of the colonial period. She concluded that the luxury
of the clothing described is not consistent with the picture of poverty
-for the period. She also presents evidence of important distinctions
in clothing between rich and poor.

The myth of even distribution of land was recently challenged by
-comparative studies of the Central American Republics:

The concentration of land [latifundismo] is a phenomenon
quite similar in all the countries of Central America ,
including Costa Rica, a country generally considered to have
a different situation in this regard [Instituto Universitario
Centroamericano 1963:3].

5Martz neglects to mention several private armies formed in the
last twenty-five years. While these are generally shrouded in mystery,
they represent unique threats to politicians whose goals challenge the
interests or ideologies of the leaders of the private armies.


The Nexus between the Natural and Social Orders

Power is at once social and natural. The control over resources

which power implies can refer to both human and non-human resources.

The channels by which power may be exercised can be social or natural.
Control of natural resources is commonly employed to exert pressure upon

human beings just as social institutions are employed to exploit natural

resources. And, of course, man is a biological as well as a social

creature. It is fitting, then, to consider the relationship between

natural and social orders. Power must involve relationships, of

resources to whatever or whoever controls them. The economics of the

maintenance and use of power may be a culturally-specific economics or

an economics whose prime motivating forces are external to a culture.

The particular model of power presented here describes a society in

which power is distributed unevenly to the extent that we may assert that

a small group of interrelated persons dominate the rest of the society.

The uneven distribution of human populations over the landscape bears

an important relation to the uneven distribution of power, or so it would

seem from the material about to be presented concerning Costa Rica. We

will attempt here to bridge the conceptual gap between economic causes

for concentration of population and the political consequences of that

concentration. Implicit in our discussion of the course of history in

Costa Rica is the notion that man seeks to exploit the resources available


to him. This he may do unconsciously, as evolutionary processes enhance

natural advantages, or consciously, as in the political calculations

which one man uses to advance his cause above others.

Relative size, concentration of population, and power are related

in nature and in society. Sexual reproduction requires some degree of

proximity for procreation, and the social behavior which has enabled

many species to make extraordinary adaptations to their surroundings

has encouraged population concentration in most instances. Socially

organized animals can accomplish feats impossible for the same number

of individuals working without that organization. In fact, concentrated

and organized atoms, i.e., molecules, appear to be qualitatively distinct

from the same atoms dispersed and unorganized. It should not be sur-

prising that human social organization should demonstrate a tendency

toward ever greater size and concentration wherever natural resources

permit. What we must note carefully, however, is that human societies

not only take advantage of the concentrations of natural resources (often

as a result concentrating human populations in order to exploit those

resources), but there seems also a distinct tendency within human

societies to take advantage of their own concentrated populations once

formed. It is as if the social organism increases from its own internal

energy. This, of course, is not so. Growing populations have in the

past demonstrated an ability to better utilize natural energy sources

and to discover new energy sources. Man's increased power comes at the

expense of other elements of the environment.

The Costa Ricans of today have more resources, greater and more

heavily populated settlements, and more power derived from both than at

any time in history. The present chapter attempts to examine these

relationships. We have already described the geography of power in the

relationship between San Jos6 and the rest of the country. Here we deal

with power in its social and political aspects. The distinction is made

for descriptive and analytical purposes only; natural and social forces

are interdependent.

Consonant with what has just been stated, the analogy between

natural and social orders may be represented schematically in a new form.

We are accustomed, in academic as well as popular circles, to view society

and its institutions in a generally linear form which takes a vertical

dimension connoting superordinate-subordinate relations of social,

political, and even moral, orders. Even when we graphically describe

evolutionary developments, whether sociocultural or biological, our

vertical drawings unconsciously suggest a superiority of man and

civilization. The graphic organization of space is subject to considerable

cultural variation. Structures and processes may be diagrammed in a

variety of ways. Before proceeding, let us consider social organization

in a.form appropriate to our discussion. While this may appear at first

an unnecessary diversion, it should help ultimately in freeing us from

the value judgment inherent in our own jargon. For example, the term

'ipper class" will be encountered occasionally in the following pages,

yet it will be noted that the directional image created by the word "upper"

belongs to the traditional diagramr and not that offered here. It is

contended here that, given our cultural biases regarding space, the

traditional graphic representations distort the Costa Rican situation,

suggesting (1) Costa Rican classes and cities are individually united

a. Traditional Three-Class
Vertical Diagram



I H f1nn

b. Population of Urban Centers
(Upper Class in Black)

M 0


c. Core and Periphery
Power Classes




d. Urban Centers with
Elite Cores

Figure 1

Schematic Diagrams of Population and Social Class



0 Liberia

O Punt arenas



San Jose



Cart ago

O = Population Center
0 = Elite Core

Figure 2

Centrality and Relative Power Positions of Costa Rican Cities

but collectively separable, and (2) Costa Rican classes are vertically,

which is to say, morally, ordered. This scheme is not far from the

perceptual categories with which many Josefinos classify their country

and her society. Nonetheless, we will soon note a unity and centrality

of the Costa Rican elite, providing a power position having little

relation to head counts. Similarly, San Jose occupies a central position

with regard to other Costa Rican cities which cannot be represented in

a linear diagram.

The two-dimensional diagram may combine easily the distribution of

population and social class (figure 1), a feat that is awkward at best

for the vertical diagram. Figure 2 describes graphically how the urban

elite of San Jose occupies the key position in the total national network.

Historical Research in Costa Rica

In addition to ideological representations of Costa Rican history,

such as that already discussed, there have been a number of interpretive

histories, more descriptive and less philosophical and ideological. In

general Costa Rican histories have concentrated upon colonial history

and the "National Campaign," the latter referring to Costa Rica's

successful fight against William Walker and a band of international

adventurers called the "Filibusterers." Costa Rica has generally been

fortunate in escaping foreign and domestic wars, the National Campaign

of the 1850's providing the only source of patriotic military history.

Costa Rican historians have also spent a great deal of effort discussing

Independence, i.e., the events of 1821 and the founding of the Republic.

More recent history has not been adequately reported. Monge Alfaro's

(1966) brief account of Costa Rican history is one of the few works which

covers most of the period since Independence and it is only a brief

sketch. There is no study of the modern period approaching Fernandez

Guardia's extensive coverage of the colonial period. Modern Costa Rican

history is generally treated in terms of political personalities. There

have been a number of monographs dealing with Costa Rican Presidents,

which tend toward romantic biographies rather than thoughtful histories.

Thus there is very little of what we might call "social" or "cultural"

history, one of the reasons why it has been possible to sell ideological

history unsupported by historical research.

While the definitive history of Costa Rica remains to be written,

in the past decade several works have been published which demonstrate

a tendency away from prior biographical studies toward social and

political analysis (Cordero 1964: Cerdas Cruz 1967, Garro 1971, Gamboa

Guzman 1971). Significantly, all of these authors, excepting

Cordero, employ a Marxist viewpoint. Needless to say, none of the new

histories are printed by the large Costa Rican publishing houses. We

may note that none of these authors are to be found in the genealogies

pf illustrious families which will be examined shortly, although older

historians, e.g. Manuel Argiello Mora, Hernan Peralta, Cleto Gonz.lez

Viquez, and Manuel de Jesus Jimenez belong to such families. Two of

Costa Rica's most important historians, Le6n Fernandez Bonilla and his

son Ricardo Fernandez Guardia held impressive pedigrees, married into

important political families (Le6n married the sister of President Tomas

Guardia, Ricardo married into the prominent Peralta family), and both

held many important posts in the government. In addition to his important

historical writings, Le6n Fernandez was the first man to establish and

head the National Archives, a position later held by his son Ricardo

Fernandez. These were important jobs since the person in charge has

access to the most important historical documents as well as being able

to control the direction of government-sponsored historical research.

It can be noted, for instance, that the Revista de los Archivos Nacionales

for years published many articles by Ricardo Fernandez Guardia and still

publishes the work of his two sons. We do not mean to impugn the

integrity of these historians nor deny the importance of their contri-

bution to our knowledge of Costa Rican history. We must recognize,

nevertheless, that their interests, perspectives, and understanding of

history were the product of the special place they occupied in Costa

Rican society.

Samuel Stone's Studies of the Costa Rican Elite

Two recent studies by Samuel Stone (1969, 1971) shed considerable

light upon the dynamics of Costa Rican political history and the forces

which still shape Costa Rican policy. As part of a general study of the

great Costa Rican coffee-growers of the nineteenth century, Stone examined

relevant genealogical materials in order to better understand inter-

relationships between the prominent figures of the period. As a result

of intensive genealogical research, Stone discovered that national politics

in Costa Rica from the time of Independence up to the present has been

dominated by the descendents of a few important colonial families. To

Stone the hereditary influence in Costa Rican politics appeared so strong

that he decided to refer to this group as a "political class." His study

of the first great coffee-growers (1969) yielded several important con-

clusions: The first great coffee-growers (1) intermarried; (2) held

important political posts both before and after coffee became profitable;

(3) were more often than not the direct descendents of a few important

colonial families; (h) had begun to acquire property and plant coffee

before a market had been established; (5) acquired their property pri-

marily through related coffee-growers; and (6) employed political influence

to advance the interests of the group. These conclusions suggest others.

First of all, there was an intimate connection between wealth and

political power. Stone argues that political power was instrumental for

the acquisition of wealth rather than the reverse. Since political

power is closely correlated with kinship networks in Costa Rica, we

arrive at the inescapable conclusion that the endogamous practices of

historically elite families operated to restrict power to the group and

limit opportunities for the acquisition of wealth to the group.

A second important point to be drawn from Stone's conclusions

concerns the "degree" of control exercised by the group under discussion.

Stone's discovery that members of the group were acquiring property to

plant coffee even before the foreign markets were developed suggests

that control was very great. Stone feels that the elite had suffered

economic disaster with the failure of cacao and was trying desperately

to regain the wealth lost. Yet the switch to coffee would seem to have

been an unreasonable gamble. In the first place, the acquisition of

property was necessary because the property already owned by this group

was cacao land in the Caribbean lowlands, unsuitable for coffee, neces-

sitating the purchase of land in the Central Valley. This would seem to

involve unreasonable risk in light of the fact that there was no

established market for Costa Rican coffee nor was it possible to measure

potential profits. Such a gamble was warranted because political control

was so great that all of the national resources could be utilized to aid

in the advancement of coffee. In short, the coffee-growers were not

subject to the competitive dangers of free enterprise. In fact, under

such a system it was better to operate in this way since the coffee-

growers were able to purchase land in the Central Valley before profits

from coffee forced land values up. Thus, this group effectively pre-

vented many others from cashing in on the coffee boom since by the time

the boom came little land was available, what was available was

expensive, and the early growers had already established producing trees,

controlled processing, and had access to the best markets. All this

could be accomplished if the group was related intimately enough to

take concerted action for the benefit of each member and the group had

enough political influence to minimize any risks and maximize any profits.1

That this group actually had the political power necessary to

accomplish their ends can be amply demonstrated by subsequent events.

As it turned out, coffee became immensely profitable in the second half

of the nineteenth century, and, of course, was most profitable to those

who had early gone into the crop on a large scale. Stone (1971:Sup. 11-13)

furnishes us with a "Partial list of the first great coffee-growers of

Costa-Rica," containing 102 individuals (Table II). Included in the list

are the following men: Manuel-Mora Fernandez, brother to Juan Mora

Pernandez, first Chief of State of Costa Rica (served two consecutive

terms, 1826 to 1833); Jose Rafael Gallegos Alvarado, Chief of State

1833-35, Braulio Carrillo Colina, Chief of State, 1835 to 1842, except

for a brief period in 1837-38 when another coffee-grower, Manuel Aguilar

Chac6n served as Chief of State; Francisco Maria Oreamuno Bonilla, elected

Chief of State by popular vote in 1844, resigning one month later; Jose


Acosta Lara, Calixto
Aguilar Chac6n, Manuel
Aguilar Cubero, Vicente
Alvarado, Francisco
ArgUello, Toribio
Arias, Felipe
Barroeta Baca, Rafael
Blanco, Julian
Bolandi Ulloa, Miguel
Bonilla Salmon-Pacheco,
Felix Jose
Bonilla Nava, Juan B.
Borb6n, Manuel
Calvo, Francisco
Cafas, Jose Maria
Carazo Bonilla, Manuel
Carranza Fernandez, Miguel
Carranza Ramirez, Domingo
Carrillo Colina, Braulio
Carrillo Morales, Rafaela
Casal, Luis-
Castella, Victor
Castro Madriz, Jose Maria
Castro Ramirez, Vicente
Castro Ramirez, Ram6n
Castro Hidalgo; Bartolo
Chac6n, Gil
Chamorro Gutierrez, Jose

Crespin, Julio
Delgado, Justo
de Vars de Martray, Leonce
Echandi, Espiritosanto
Escalante Nava, Alejandro
Escalante Nava, Juan Vicente
Escalante Nava, Gregorio
Espinach Gual, Buenaventura
Esquivel Salazar, Narciso
Esquivel, Manuel
F brega Arroche, Vicente
Fernandez Hidalgo, Pio J.
Fernandez Hidalgo, Santiago
Fernandez Ramirez,
Fernandez Ramirez, Gordiano
Fernandez Chac6n, Manuel
Fernandez Salazar, Juan F.
Gallegos Alvarado,
Jose Rafael
Gallegos, Juan de Dios
Gutierrez Peaamonje, Manuel
Gutierrez Penamonje,
Francisco de Paula
Gutierrez Penamonje, Marfa
Gutierrez PeEfamonje, Isabel
Gutierrez Penamonje,


Jimenez Carranza, Jose M.
Jimenez Zamora, Jose M.
Jimenez Zamora, Agapito
Jimenez, Bernardo
Lara Arias, Juan Jose
Lombardo Alvarado,
Jose Santos
L6pez, Manuel
Madrigal, Sebastian
Medina, Crisanto
Millet, Santiago
Molina, Felipe
Montealegre Bustamante,
Montealegre Fernandez,
Montealegre Fernandez,
Jose Maria
Montealegre Fernandez,
Mora Fernandez, Manuel
Mora Porras, Juan Rafael
Mora Porras, Miguel
Mora Porras, Jose Joaquin
Mora Ramirez, Felix
Mora, Jose Maria
Moya Murillo, Rafael
Otoya, Francisco
Oreamuno Bonilla, Francisco M.

Source: Stone (1971:Sup.11-13)

Pacheco, Marcelino
Peralta L6pez del Corral,
Jose Francisco
Quesada Arias, Cecilio
Quir6s, Jose Joaquin
Quir6s, Ram6n
Ramirez Hidalgo, Rafael
Rodriguez Castro, Eusebio
Rodriguez Mora, Sebastian
Rojas, Jer6nimo
Rojas, Joaquin
Saenz Ulloa, Nicolas
Saenz, Feliciano
Sancho Alvarado, Felix
Salazar Aguado, Juan
Salazar Aguado, Antonio
Steipel, Jorge
Tinoco L6pez, Saturnino
Toledo Murga, Nazario
Ulloa, Nicolas
Umaia Fallas, Cecilio
Valverde Porras, Jose Le6n
Wallerstein, Eduardo
Young, John
Zeled6n Mora, Pedro
Zeled6n Mora, Celedonio
Zeled6n Mora, Florentino
Zeled6n Masts, Hilario

Maria Castro Madriz, Chief of State 1847 to 1849; Juan Rafael Mora

Porras, President of Costa Rica from 1849 to 1859; Jose Maria Montealegre

Fernandez, President from 1859 to 1863; Jose Manuel and Agapito Jimenez

Zamora, brothers of Jesus Jimenez Zamora, President from 1863 to 1866;

Domingo Carranza Ramirez, brother of Bruno Carranza Ramirez, President

briefly in 1868. During the first forty years of the Republic, ten

out of twelve chiefs of state were either great coffee-growers or the

brothers of great coffee-growers.2

Stone notes that all of these men had occupied political posts

before the arrival of coffee, suggesting that it was not wealth in

coffee which granted political power. Neither should it be thought

that the coffee-growers formed a special interest group which conspired

to assume political control after independence.3 The chiefs of state

named above overthrew each other, exiled each other and even executed

each other. Many were involved in personal and family feuds with the

others. This was certainly not a politically cohesive group; their

policies and their political tactics took quite different forms with

but one consistent policy: the advancement of coffee. They had one

other feature in common--they were all affinal kin. President Bruno

Carranza- was the- brother-in-law of Braulio Carrillo Colina and Jose

Maria Montealegre Fernandez, the latter being also a brother-in-law of

Juan Rafael Mora Porras, who was the son-in-law of Manuel Aguilar Chac6n.

Elite Endogamy

The important element uniting the group was kinship. Examination

of genealogical materials reveals that, although coffee-growers and

their descendants occupied the important posts in the government, affinal

ties were of utmost importance. Those important coffee-growers who

did not establish close affinal ties with certain key families were

destined for political obscurity. Table III is a list of some of

these key families--Montealegre Fernandez, Mora Porras, Ferniandez,

Gutierrez Peiamonje, and Salazar Aguado.4 A cursory examination of

these lists shows (1) All the families were intermarried; (2) Each

family established several ties through marriage to different coffee-

growing families. Even with the few names on the list, we note that

six became presidents of Costa Rica (Jos6 Maria Montealegre Fernandez,

Juan Rafael Mora Porras, Bruno Carranza Ramirez, Manuel Aguilar Chac6n,

Rafael Gallegos Alvarado, Jose Maria Oreamuno Bonilla). Table III

demonstrates the close kin relations between many of the first great

coffee-growers. More than a third of the 102 names listed by Stone

(Table II) may be located in Table III. Since tables II and III do

not have generational depth, the extent of blood relationships is not


Recruitment of Foreigners into the Elite

-The families in Table III require some explanation. While Stone

makes a strong argument for an hereditary political class, he generally

disregards the influence of elite recruitment. He calls the elite group

"endogamous," arguing that there are few marriages outside of this class.

This statement needs elaboration. Two of the families in Table III were

newcomers to Costa Rica. Mariano Montealegre Bustamante and Juan

Salazar y Lacayo arrived from Nicaragua shortly after the beginning of

the nineteenth century and appear to have been friends in Nicaragua

(Hack-Prestinary 1965:31). Mariano Montealegre married into the



Mora Porras
Juan Rafael
Jose Joaquin


Marfa Rosa de
Jesus (may be
same as above,
second husband)
Ana Marfa


Montealegre Fernandez
Jose Maria


Gutierrez Pefamonje

Marfa Josefa


Fernandez Ramfrez*

Coffee-Growers among Affinal Kin

Aguilar Chac6n, Manuel (WiFa)
Gutierrez Pehamonje: Manuel (WiBr),
Francisco de Paula (WiBr), Maria J. (WiSi),
Isabel (WiSi), Trinidad (WiSi)
Gutierrez Pehamonje: Francisco de
Paula (HuBr), Manuel (HuBr), Maria J. (HuSi),
Isabel (HuSi), Trinidad (HuSi)
Salazar Aguado: Juan (HuBr), Antonio (HuBr)

Montealegre Bustamante, Mariano (HuFa)
Montealegre Fernandez: Mariano (HuBr),
Francisco (HuBr), Jose Marfa (Hu)
Argiello, Toribio (Hu)
Cafas, Jose Maria (Hu)
Chamorro Gutierrez, Jose (Hu)

Mora Porras: Juan Rafael (WiBr),
Jose Joaqufn (WiBr)
Gallegos Alvarado, Rafael (WiFa)
Gallegos Alvarado, Rafael (WiFa)
Carranza Fernandez, Miguel (HuFa)

Miguel (WiBr),

Mora Porras: Juan Rafael (WiBr), Miguel (WiBr),
Jose Joaquin (WiBr)
Chamorro Gutierrez, Jose (HuFa)
Barroeta Baca, Rafael (Hu)
Oreamuno Bonilla, Jose Marfa (Hu)
Bonilla Nava, Juan Bautista (Hu)
Bonilla Salm6n-Pacheco, Felix Jose (HuFa)
Mora Porras: Jose Joaquin (Hu), Miguel (HuBr),
Juan Rafael (HuBr)

Fernandez Hidalgo: Plo J. (WiBr), Santiago (WiBr)
Jimenez Carranza, Jose Maria (Hu)
Jimenez Carranza, Jose Maria (Hu)



Fernandez Hidalgo*
PTo J.


Fernandez Chac6n*

Salazar Aguado

Coffee-Growers among Affinal Kin

Salazar Aguado: Juan (WiBr), Antonio (WiBr)
Salazar Aguado: Juan (WiBr), Antonio (WiBr)
Fernandez Ramirez: Gordiano (Hu), Aureliano
Borb6n, Manuel (Hu)

Montealegre Bustamante, Mariano (Hu)

Gallegos Alvarado, Rafael (WiFa)
Aguilar Cubero, Vicente (Hu)
Fernandez Hidalgo: Pfo J. (Hu), Santiago (HuBr)
Fernandez Hidalgo: Santiago (Hu), Pio J. (HuBr)
Mora Porras: Juan Rafael, (WiBr), Miguel (WiBr)
Jose Joaqufn (WiBr)

*The Fernmndez Hidalgo and Fernandez Chac6n are half siblings, children
of Felix Fernandez Tenorio by two wives. Both families are first
cousins to the Fernandez Ramirez

Fernandez (-Val) family, which was the most powerful branch of the

families descended from Antonio de Acosta Ar6valo (Montealgre's wife

Jer6nima Fernandez Chac6n was the fourth generation from Acosta).

Mariano's children married Gallegos Sgenz and Mora Porras, direct

descendants of Conquistador Juan Vdzquez de Coronado, whose descen-

dants have always been the core of the ruling elite. The Salazar

Aguado siblings married into the same three families. Thus, while

later generations shared the blood of the traditional colonial elite,

.both Salazar and Montealegre were new to Costa Rica. This is con-

sonant with a pattern one notices clearly when researching the

genealogies--the old families are exclusive with regard to other Costa

Rican families but commonly recruit foreigners. This is not to say that

all classes of foreigners are suitable. In fact, the pattern involves

a basic pattern of Creole-Spanish marriage in which representatives of

the Crown sent to Costa Rica as administrators commonly married into the

upper class. Thus the newcomers simply represented the latest genera-

tion of that class of Spaniard which had originally formed the Costa

Rican elite. In addition, many of these foreigners arrived to assume

government posts. For instance, Mariano Montealegre went to Costa Rica

to assume management of the Tobacco Factory, an important position, con-

sidering that, at the time, tobacco was the only profitable cash crop in

Costa Rica. It is interesting that, despite his position with regard to

tobacco, Montealegre. early went into coffee and eventually became one

of the most important coffee-growers in Costa Rica.

Other notable families arrived in Costa Rica during the few decades

before Independence and married into the local elite, such as the Guardia,

Peralta, and Salazar families. Almost invariably these families were

important in other areas of Central America or in Spain. After

Independence the pattern changed because few new elite families were

arriving from Spain or the Latin countries. Instead, we observe a

marked tendency in elite marriages toward incorporating English, German,

and American families into the elite. Several German families were among

the first to establish large coffee plantations, and Germany was for a

long time one of the largest purchasers of Costa Rican coffee. The

English in general came as merchants; it was an English merchant ship

which first arranged to ship coffee abroad arranged by Santiago Fernandez

Hidalgo (Quijano 1939:455-456). The marriages with Americans are also

revealing. Although a number of names appear for which no data are

readily available, we must note that the most successful, the bankers,

Field and Bennett, and United Fruit Company founder, Minor Keith, all

married into the ruling elite (for Keith marriage, see Stewart 1964:

50-51). We must note, however, that very few of the Americans, English,

and Germans occupied political positions, nor did their descendants.

Despite this fact, Keith was one of the most powerful figures in Costa

Rica (Stewart 1964).

Marriage Strategies and Family Alliances

With the exception of such recruitment, the ruling elite proved to

be highly endogamous and tightly controlled. While extensive inter-

marriage could be explained by mutual association and a commonality of

interest, many marriages operated as excellent strategies for concen-

trating wealth and political power.

Material has already been presented which showed the intimate

relations among the first great coffee-growers. We have seen as well

that wealth in coffee was closely correlated with political power. The

families chosen for Table II5 were picked as "key" families in that

most of the siblings from these families married with persons rich in

coffee and political power. No key family lacked wealth and power it-

self, that is to say, it does not appear that advantageous marriage

strategies were possible for a family which did not itself occupy a

favorable position. Notice, for instance, that only a very special

branch of the prolific Fernandez family is at the heart of the inter-

marrying coffee-growers. This seems to indicate that .a good blood line

in itself does not insure a good position in the ruling elite.

Two practices suggest that marriage alliances served to concentrate

power. It has been common until very recently for well-to-do Costa

Ricans to have large families.6 While it is difficult to call this a

conscious strategy, it is clear that such a pattern is likely to in-

crease the power of a family in terms of numbers and possible marriage

alliances although it may also reduce the power position of an indi-

vidual since his share is proportionately less. The reduction of power

in this way is offset to a large extent through the management of the

family estate by a son chosen for this purpose. Thus, the coffee

-plantations -w-ere commonly run -for the benefit of the entire family; the

son in charge was responsible for establishing his brothers in their

own enterprises. This appears to be responsible for the fact that most

families had conservative and progressive factions, the conservative

element attached to the farms and the progressive element in San Jose

in business or the professions. In politics, however, family and per-

sonality commonly overrode ideological principles, to some extent

explaining the inconsistency between theory and practice in Costa Rican


Power was concentrated through marriage in two ways. First, there

was a common practice for siblings to marry siblings.8 In general the

pattern is for two brothers of one family to marry two sisters of

another family, although there are other variations. This scheme involves

the marriage of two members of one line with two members of another

line. A complete analysis of all the elite families would without

question furnish many cases of intermarriage between kindreds. This

simply reflects what has already been asserted--the upper class was

relatively small and endogamous. In those cases, which we will discuss

shortly, where two or three families demonstrate a definite tendency to

intermarry over a period of several generations, we may speak of an

"alliance," especially since similar frequencies are not to be found

among other families known to belong to the same intermarrying group.

On the other hand, what we will call "sibling exchange" would appear

to be a conscious strategy in forming alliances between families. It

is difficult to determine exactly how such alliances were planned, but

we do know that parents, specifically fathers, were responsible for

making marriage decisions until recently. A few persons claim that this

pattern is still true-for the Costa Rican upper class, i.e., the family

decides upon marriage partners when the children are still young. It

would be difficult to determine to what extent this pattern is gener-

alized. Suffice it to say that romantic love has made important inroads

and marriage decisions in Costa Rica are usually made by the marrying


The decision to marry two or three of one's children to another

family must indicate a closeness of relationship or a desire to rein-

force or establish a strong family relationship to an extent that it is

difficult to doubt a conscious strategy.10 If we look, for instance, at

the marriages within the group designated "first great coffee-growers,"

we see the following families involved in sibling exchange: Montealegre--

Gallegos, Fernandez Hidalgo--Salazar Aguado (Table III). These families

demonstrate in their histories a consistent ability to make marriages

with powerful persons.11 It is significant that sibling exchange to

occur usually near a locus of power. The similarity between "sibling

exchange" and "brother-sister exchange" is not accidental. The latter

type of marriage exchange has been suggested by Levi-Strauss (1969)

as a model from which we can derive prescriptive cousin marriage in

unilineal kinship systems. It is clear, at any rate, that an alliance

formed through brother-sister exchange (where two men marry each other's

sisters) may be continued in subsequent generations with the marriage

of cousins. While the model does not apply to Costa Rica, which follows

a bilateral kinship system, affinal alliances could occur in any kin-

ship system. Just as prescriptive cousin marriage may operate to

-preserve traditional ties of kinship within a unilineal system, multiple

marriages between bilateral families operate to form alliances which

concentrate power, having more force than those which ordinarily occur.

Not only does such sibling exchange create double obligation between

two families, it also concentrates family power in the sense that it

constitutes a refusal to extend relations to additional families. It

is difficult to say whether this type of marriage is common or uncommon

since there is no ready standard against which to measure whether its

frequency is more or less than what ought to be anticipated. There need

not be any such marriages, nor is there any particular reason why they

should not occur. In the final analysis, we can only say that such a

marriage distinctly favors a specific affinal alliance and reduces the

opportunity for extension that previously existed.

This type of marriage dates back to colonial times. In fact, it

seems to have been more common then than now which suggests that there

were fewer marriage partners to choose from. This could only have been

true, however, if there had been a small, endogamous group, since, from

the population figures provided above (Table I), there seem to have been

sufficient numbers of Mestizos and Indians to marry. In sampling the

marriages in the genealogies, we find that the descendants of Antonio de

Acosta Arevalo (Table IV, see also Appendices A and B) show a marked ten-

dency for this type of marriage.

A number of additional instances in other families could be listed

here; however, even exhaustive research of all the important genea-

logies available would not demonstrate that this occurs except in a

minority of cases. A similar phenomenon, though rarer, is the "sororate,"

that is, the marriage of a widower to his deceased wife's sister.

Although only three instances were collected in the process of genea-

logical study, all three are interesting. Two of the cases are closely

related -- Jose Maria Jimenez Carranza married, successively Juana and

Praxedes Fernandez Ramfrez; his son, Jose Maria Jimenez Fernandez, did

likewise, marrying successively Josefa and Teresa Rucavado Bonilla (cf.

Revollo Acosta 1960). This should be of some interest to us since the


Generation Acosta Descendant Spouse

I de Acosta Aguilar, Antonia Alvarado Azofeifa,
de Acosta Aguilar, Alvarado Azofeifa,
Francisca Lorenza Gregorio

III Fernandez UmaEa, Manuel de Alvarado Valverde,
Fernandez Umanfa, Juan Felipe de Alvarado Valverde,
Fernandez Umafia, Maria de Alvarado Valverde,

IV Fernandez Hidalgo, Joaquin Salazar Aguado, Carmen
Fernandez Hidalgo, Santiago Salazar Aguado, Guadalupe

V Montealegre Fernandez, Gallegos Saenz, Guadalupe
Montealegre Fernandez, Gallegos Saenz, Victoria

V Saenz Ulloa, Jose Nicolas Carazo Bonilla, Domitila
Saenz Ulloa, Diego Carazo Bonilla, Micaela

Jimenez-Fernandez marriage involved important coffee families as well as

links to the important politicians already named. More interestingly, if

perhaps a coincidence, is that the grandson of the Jimenez-Rucavado

marriages was none other than Mario Echandi Jimenez, President of Costa

Rica 1958-1962. The third "sororate" involved President (1901-1906)

Ascension Esquivel Ibarra, who married, successively, Adela and Cristina

Salazar Guardia. This should interest us since the two sisters were the

daughters of Jesus Salazar Aguado, and thus linked with the important

coffee-growere and politicians already mentioned (Tables II and III).

They were also daughters of Adela Guardia Bonilla, first cousin (FaBrDa)

to President Tomas and General Victor Guardia, as well as the niece

(SiDa) of Juan Bautista Bonilla Nava, another great coffee-grower.

Family Alliances and the Nature of Power

We are faced with an intriguing question: Why do these special cases

continually lead us back to the same families? The number of cases of

the "sororate" are statistically insignificant as are the cases of

"sibling exchange." It would seem highly significant, however, that these

cases so frequently involve persons at what we might call "nodes of power."

Where significant power is concentrated, an effort will be made to re-

strict its extension beyond those who are responsible for that power.

For example, if a father marries most of his children to the most power-

ful families of the country, the point may come when extension of his

network only detracts from his power position, that is, he does not wish

either to diminish the strength of existing relationships by adding an

additional set of relations, nor does he wish to increase his obliga-

tions.12 The relationship between centralization, concentration, and

power maintenance is clear. If we view power as emanating from a central

core rather than from a vertical hierarchy, we can better visualize the

importance of marriage strategies. Power is like a turntable, which,

when it moves, casts off those on its periphery; the closer one is. to

the core the easier it is to stay on. Energy which is not concentrated

is wasted or dissipated. Any alliance, whether through marriage or other-

wise, may serve to concentrate, that is, reaffirm and strengthen, an

existing alliance (an additional marriage within an already related

family); it may strengthen an alliance network (a marriage to a family

linked to previously allied families); it may expand an alliance network

(marriage to a family within the elite with common interests but not

heretofore closely related); it may constitute a loss of energy (a

marriage with a family of no consequence); and, finally, it may be a

dangerous liability (a marriage with a powerful family whose interests

diverge from the interests of the existing network).

We must remember that, although the members of the elite may be

said to have generalized common interests, each individual and each

sub-group, whether family, social network, or economic or political

interest group, can be expected to attempt to improve its relative

position and this is done primarily by aiming at the central core of

power. Any error of judgment, an inopportune investment, a political

blunder, a "wasted" marriage, can seriously weaken one's relative posi-

tion, making one less desirable as an ally. We encounter in the

genealogical data families which marry all their children to foreigners

or persons with inconsequential surnames and the family simply dis-

appears from the genealogical record (genealogists find no reason to

trace the line further since, with the exception of Sanabria, the

genealogies have been collected in order to trace either the genealogist

or his client to the bluebloods).

Preferential Marriage within Endogamy: Inbreeding

The second means by which the family network may be restricted rather

than extended is through inbreeding. The term "inbreeding" is used to

refer to a situation in which selectively preferential marriage takes

place within an endogamous group. Thus, while the members of an

endogamous group can be said generally to share the same set of genes,

there are some sub-groups whose genetic make-up is highly selective. To

arrive at this state of affairs requires selective intermarriage between

restricted subgroups over several generations. This process achieves a

genetic "concentration," perhaps a concentration of genetic power, which,

of course, is translated into social and cultural concentration. The

social and political consequences of inbreeding are similar to the bi-

ological consequences: When inbreeding is carried too far, the resultant

strain may be weakened by unfavorable genes, destroyed by lethal mutations,

or destroyed by specially adapted diseases or predators. While this

genetic strategy may prove highly adaptive to one environment, over-

sp4cialization may prove maladaptive once that environment changes.

Beyond being generally endogamous, the ruling elite often shows a

tendency toward forming small family cliques. This occurs when two or

three families intermarry as has been shown above, but this intermarriage

often repeats itself over several generations. Again, this appears to

be a strategy of family alliance, but unlike the sibling exchanges just

discussed, such alliances are for maintenance of power rather than its

creation. For example, the first Costa Rican generations of the Guardia

(Fernandez Peralta 1958), Montealegre (Table III), Salazar (Table III),

and Peralta (Fern6ndez Peralta 1964) families are married to a number of

important local families. In order to exhaust all possible connections

Vith the ruling elite, subsequent generations ought to have extended

marriage ties to the remaining important families. This did not happen.

Several reasons can be given. Logically, as argued earlier, once power

is maximized through marriage, additional increments through extension are

likely to weaken established relations. It is equally likely that per-

sonal networks can only expand within certain limits before they become

inefficient or unmanageable. Specifically, problems are reached in a

complex system of obligations since any increase in the network increases

the chance that newly created obligations will conflict with established

obligations. To clarify, let us suppose that the Sancho family is

closely related to ten other families. Any new addition is likely to

present a conflict with an established alliance, and, as the number of

families increases, the likelihood of conflict increases for any new

extension. This is most easily seen in relation to politics and power.

If two families each enjoy high positions within the power structure, a

marriage between the two puts both of them into an even better position.

Nevertheless, the point must come when a family, because of the power

it holds plus the amount of power which is held by families under obli-

gation to it, cannot make a marriage which will advance that family's

power position, i.e., the families with which it is not connected are

either so low in the power structure that a marriage would incur more

obligations than it would accrue benefits, or the other family might be

so powerful that the alliance would advance its position of that family

beyond the original family.13 In Costa Rican politics, for example,

lines are often drawn between powerful families, the most notable ex-

ample being that of the conflict between the Mora and Montealegre families

in the nineteenth century. One might suppose than an excellent strategy

in such a situation would be for the Montealegre to marry into families

supporting the Mora, thus neutralizing some of the Mora support. The

problem, however, is that the lines have been drawn for very important

reasons, and any attempt to recruit within the Mora ranks is very likely

to cause a conflict with established allies. Thus, Vicente Aguilar and

Manuel Jose Carazo, who support Montealegre, would be distressed to find

the Montealegre family making peace with the families of the opposition

by marrying into them.

If a particular power matrix arrives at the situation in which

marrying out of the alliance is threatening to other members or increases

the likelihood of power loss, inbreeding will occur.14 Unfortunately,

inbreeding is difficult to measure since it may appear superficially to

be endogamy, i.e., individuals tend to marry within a specific group,

but the term asserts that the marrying partners stand in a closer blood

relationship than they do to other marriageable persons. Since it is

argued here that this inbreeding takes place for reasons of power, the

marriages of closely related persons, such as first cousins, are not pre-

ferred nor prescribed marriages as part of a generalized pattern of the

society, or even of the "class," but occur when circumstances favor them.

Thus, like the sibling exchanges, they are statistically infrequent and

cannot be assimilated to kinship models of a given society. As we found

sibling exchange taking place within nodal families in the network of

persons-involved in politics and coffee plantations, we would anticipate

that inbreeding could be correlated to power requirements. To continue

within the context already presented, we find family alliances and con-

tihued intermarriage extended to the point that the term "inbreeding"

becomes appropriate and can be correlated to political events now part

of the historical record.

In the years following Independence, a rivalry grew up between the

Mora and the Montealegre. Once the Montealegre had overthrown and exiled

ex-President Mora Porras, dissension began within the ranks of those who

had stood against Mora. Ultimately Tomas Guardia took power and

established a different line of succession. Some lines of kinship rela-

tions are clear and direct. Guardia was succeeded as president by his

son-in-law, General Pr6spero Fernandez Oreamuno, who was in turn succeeded

by his own son-in-law, General Bernardo Soto Alfaro. Kin relations, how-

ever, run much deeper than this; they are, unfortunately, often difficult

to discover. Since affinal ties are important, a dissimilarity of surnames

frequently disguises close relationships. Costa Rican historians rarely

mention the kinship ties between allied political figures. We must try

briefly to reconstruct some of these alliance to emphasize the impor-

tance of kinship to political power.

Previously we mentioned the close relation between wealth in coffee,

political power, and kinship, showing that political control was exercised

within this group during the middle of the nineteenth century. Virtually

all political posts were held by members of this group and their relatives

by blood and marriage, i.e., power belonged to them exclusively. Within

the_group, relations were not always amicable; schisms developed and

sides were taken. As a general rule sides were taken in accordance with

kin alliances and subsequent marriages were arranged within the competing

cliques. Not all families took sides, e.g., the Jimenez and Oreamuno

families of Cartago, who married each other, continued to marry members

of competing groups and so operated as arbiters between groups, pre-

serving the group as a whole. This seems to be the reason that Francisco

Montealegre suggested Jesus Jimenez as a presidential candidate to Manuel

Argiello (brother-in-law to Mora Porras and leading survivor of the Morist

faction) as a compromise candidate to end the bitter factionalism

(Argiello Mora 1963:95). While the Jimenez managed to obtain two

presidencies, their political success can be measured in Congress, where

five generations of the Jimenez family dominated in numbers and influence

(Stone 1971:Sup.). Other families appear to have concentrated on the

presidency, but the Jimenez controlled Congress. Both Jimenez, presidents

were known as conciliators, although they had enemies as well. Ricardo

Jimenez proved to be the most important political figure of the twentieth


Intermarriage and inbreeding took place along lines which can be

demonstrated to follow political schisms. By inbreeding here is not

meant simply individual instances of, let us say, first cousin marriage,

although these occur with some frequency; third, fourth, and fifth

cousin marriages are equally important since these also represent rein-

forcement of the intermarrying group and the failure to use opportunities

to extend kin relations beyond the group. It is possible, then, to indi-

cate the degree of inbreeding and certainly intermarriage by studying the

statistical frequencies of surnames. To stress the point that these are

'ot chance occurrences, we will follow a particular family, showing how

its branches are interrelated. Although some Costa Rican surnames, e.g.,

Fernandez, Jimenez, do not all come from the same stock, during the period

in question, namely the nineteenth century, names such as Montealegre,

Salazar, Saenz, Ulloa, Carazo, Esquivel, Peralta, and Echavarria each

represent one stock. The custom of using both paternal and maternal sur-

names in Costa Rica helps us to recognize siblings, i.e., we can expect

that Manuel Jose Carazo Bonilla and Dolores Carazo Bonilla were brother

and sister. This would most certainly be true were it not for extensive

intermarriage. For example, two brothers Jim6nez Zamora married Oreamuno

women, producing a host of Jimenez Oreamuno children, eight of whom were

legislators (recall the statement above concerning the legislative

dominance of the.Jimenez family). For our purposes, it does not really

matter that these legislators were first cousins rather than all brothers;

the important point is that intermarriage seems to have resulted in con-

siderable political influence.

The Echavarria Alvarado: A Nodal Family (Appendix C)

To demonstrate the existence of inbreeding and its relation to poli-

tics, we start with the Montealegre family. We have already noted that

this family rose to political dominance within one generation after

arriving in Costa Rica. We also noted that the marriages of the children

created important alliances, which were later crossed by schisms, notably

with the Mora family. Manuel Arguello Mora (1963:86-89), at one time an

arch enemy of the Montealegre, notes the three most important Montealegre

supporters: Vicente Aguilar Cubero, Manuel Jose Carazo Bonilla, and

Aniceto Esquivel Saenz. Let us examine the relationships between these

individuals. Vicente Aguilar, a great coffee-grower, was married to

Dolores Salazar Aguado (recall that the Montealegre and Salazar were

friends from Nicaragua). Two Salazar Aguado sisters were married to two

Fernandez Hidalgo brothers (half brothers to founder Montealegre's wife),

important coffee-growers. Aguilar's daughter, Juana Aguilar Salazar, and

her first cousin (MoSiSo) Santiago Fernandez Salazar married two siblings,

Francisco and Maria Echavarria Alvarado. There were eight Echavarria

Alvarado children, several of whom are of interest to us because, like

the two mentioned above, they married the families we are about to trace.

We occasionally find instances of this sort, i.e., several intermarrying

families that are connected directly to the children of one family in one

generation. Maria Joaquina Echavarria Alvarado married Joaquin Oreamuno

Carazo, son of Lucia Carazo Peralta. Carlos Echavarria Alvarado married

Natalia Carazo Peralta, daughter of Manuel Jose Carazo Bonilla (mentioned

above as one of the important supporters of Montealegre), and Maria

Toribia Peralta Echavarria--Natalia was third cousin15 (FaMoBrDaDa) to

Carlos. Brigida Echavarria Alvarado married Luis Diego Saenz Carazo, son

of Nicolas Saenz Ulloa, of whom we shall learn more later, and Domitila

Carazo Bonilla, sister of Manuel Jose, so that Brigida married the first

cousin of her brother's wife (Carlos is not only brother to Brigida, but

also is her HuMoBrDaHu), while Luis Diego Saenz Carazo and Natalia Carazo

Peralta are not only first cousins, being the children of sisters, but

are also cunculos, an affinal relation denoting either spouse's sibling's

spouse or sibling's spouse's sibling.

Marta Echavarria Alvarado married Bernardino Peralta Alvarado, the

uncle (FaBr) of Maria Toribia Perlata, hence the granduncle (MoFaBr) of

Natalia Carazo, who was married to Bernardino's brother-in-law (WiBr),

Carlos. Remembering the complex interrelation is not important if we

recognize that several families are constantly involved. The persons

named are shown in Appendix C.

We are most interested in the names which are repeated here, since

we will see them again with the Saenz and Esquivel families. The name

Carazo is here the most frequent, with Peralta and Alvarado of somewhat

less importance. If we return to the three men named as important

supporters of the Montealegre family, we notice that two, Vicente Aguilar

and Manuel Jose Carazo are to be found in the preceding discussion. The

third, Aniceto Esquivel Saenz was married to Isaura Carazo Peralta. If

we investigate this relationship further, we will understand how it was

that this group of individuals came to be related to the Montealegre.

The S~enz Ulloa: A Pattern of Inbreeding (Appendix B)

In the Echavarria family we included Luis Diego Saenz Carazo, the

son of Diego Saenz Ulloa and Micaela Carazo Bonilla. The Saenz Ulloa

family and their descendants describe a pattern of intermarriage and in-

breeding, incorporating the families with which we are here concerned.

Manuel Saenz Alvarado and Maria Cayetana Ulloa Guzm~n had six children

(Saenz Ulloa) of interest to us because of their marriages and descendants.

In the first generation there was one "sibling exchange." Diego married

Micaela Carazo Bonilla and Jose Nicolds married Domitila Carazo Bonilla.

Another child, Maria Ignacia married the coffee-grower (later President)

Rafael Gallegos Alvarado. Three of their children (Gallego Saenz) married

Montealegre: the brothers Francisco and Mariano Montealegre Fernandez

married Victoria and Guadalupe Gallegos Saenz; a third brother, (President)

Jose Maria Montealegre was the father-in-law of Guadalupe and Victoria's

brother Rafael Gallegos Saenz. A fourth Saenz Ulloa, Maria Ursula,

married the coffee-grower Narciso Esquivel Salazar, producing several

Esquivel Saenz children, including aforementioned President Aniceto

Esquivel Saenz. Aniceto married Isaura Carazo Peralta, his first cousin

(MoBrDa). Two of Aniceto's brothers, Camilo and Jose Antonio Esquivel

Saenz also married their first cousins (MoBrDa), namely, Pacffica and

Salome Saenz Carazo. Another of Aniceto's brothers, Miguel Narciso

Esquivel Saenz, married the daughter of another first cousin (MoBrSoDa),

Rosa SMenz Sandoval, which brings us to the last Saenz Ulloa, Francisco.

Rosa was Francisco's granddaughter through his son, Andres Saenz Llorente

and Mercedes Sandoval Perez. Manuel de Jesus Esquivel Saenz married his

son, Maximino Esquivel Echandi, to Andres' other daughter, Julia Saenz

Sandoval, i.e., Maximino married his FaMoBrSoDa. Thus in the second

generation from the Saenz Ulloa match, ten descendants are directly linked

in cousin marriage (Table V) and another three have married into the

Montealegre family. The situation becomes even more complex in the

following generations.


Male Descendant Female Descendant Relationship
(from Male Ego)

Esquivel Saenz, Aniceto Carazo Peralta, Isaura MoBrDa
Esquivel Saenz, Camilo Saenz Carazo, Pacifica MoBrDa
Esquivel Saenz,
Jose Antonio Saenz Carazo, Salome MoBrDa
Esquivel Saenz,
Miguel Narciso Saenz Sandoval, Rosa MoBrSoDa
Esquivel Echandi,
Maximino Saenz Sandoval, Julia FaMoBrSoDa
Esquivel Carrillo,
Joaquin Esquivel Saenz, Oliva BrDa*
Peralta Esquivel,
Jose Joaquin Esquivel Bonilla, Adela MoFaDa

*Half brother--same father, different mother

Maximino Esquivel Echandi and Julia Saenz Sandoval married their

daughter, Oliva Esquivel Saenz to Jose Joaquin Esquivel Carrillot,

Maximino's half brother (FaSo by another wife). Finally, Aniceto

Esquivel Saenz' granddaughter (SoDa), Adela Esquivel Bonilla, married

his (Aniceto) brother's great grandson (BrSoDaSo), Jos6 Joaquin Peralta

Esquivel. This last marriage could be related by blood through Carazo,

Peralta and Echavarria as well, as could the marriage between Angela

Esquivel F.brega and Carlos Peralta Echavarria (see Appendix B).

The discussion above need be only superficially grasped to recognize

that the descendants of Nicolas Saenz, himself an important political

figure and a large coffee-grower, took great pains to avoid extending

kinship ties beyond a few families. We have seen that the Saenz-Esquivel-

Gallegos-Carazo marriages were peripherally related to the Montealegre

family. In relation to what has been said concerning the relation be-

tween kinship and power, it would seem that the Montealegre may have been

less powerful than the families with which they married. Mariano

Montealegre Bustamante, the founder of the Costa Rican family, married

-Jeronima Fernandez Chac6n. Jer6nima's brother, Manuel Fernandez Chac6n

was a President of Costa Rica, as was his son, Prospero Fernandez Oreamuno,

who married the sister of dictator Tomas Guardia, this last responsible

for the ultimate blow to Montealegre power. The Montealegre chose the

side that had the greatest solidarity but which proved the weaker in the

end.- -

The relationships between marriage partners in the Saenz Ulloa family

lCTableOLLs.uggesta,-mother'-s brother--sister's son- relationship to be

significant. The Quir6s data- (see Appendix F) suggest that father's

brother may be equally important (the three Quir6s males are first cousins,

sons of three Quiros Jimenez brothers). Without further extensive re-

search, it would be rash to assert that males acquire wives through their

parent's brothers, although this is a possibility. What is most impor-

tant, however, is a common tendency to superimpose affinal relations upon

consanguinal. relations. Costa Rican Spanish kin terminology recognizes

an affinal sibling relationship extending through two marriages called

concu0no. We note that in sibling exchange (Table IV) siblings also

stand in the concuno relationship. Appendix C also demonstrates the

concurio relation between close kinsmen, and Table VIII reveals first

cousins who are cuncunos. In these instances, the opportunity to extend

personal networks by way of affinity has been declined.

As a final note concerning endogamy and inbreeding, in view of what

has been said thus far, we arrive at a functional explanation of marriages

with foreigners. In terms of power, marriage to a foreigner is a logical

step under certain circumstances. When the individual concerned has

skills, wealth or foreign influence which can be useful to a Costa Rican

family, a marriage may enhance the family's power and wealth without

creating serious obligations. This is so because most foreigners,

especially Americans, do not bring their kindreds with them, that is to

say, the kin obligations rarely go beyond the individual involved. In

addition, the marriage is on Costa Rican ground, so that kin relations

&re based on Costa Rican rules. But most important is the fact that the

newcomer does not have any other Costa Rican kin obligations, nor enmities,

so that he does not threaten established alliances nor unduly extend

pligations through marriage.

Historical Roots of a "Political Class

-::- Samuel Stone (1971) traced the descendants of Juan Vazquez de Coronado,

Conquistador and first Adelantado of Costa Rica, recording those branches

of the family which numbered presidents or legislators among their descen-

dants in order to discover some measure of the political importance of the

family. The results are startling. Among the direct descendants and

their spouses, we find 29 out of 44 Costa Rican heads of state and 230

of Costa Rica's 1300 legislators during 150 years of republican govern-

ment. If we add.to this the descendants of colonial officials, Antonio

de Acosta Arevalo, Jorge de Alvarado, and Nicolas de Gonzalez y Oviedo,

we have 33 out of 44 heads of state and approximately half of Costa Rica's

legislators (cf. Stone 1971:114). The importance of these families has

been even greater than what is suggested by the figures above since the

legislators belonging to these families usually represented the Provinces

of San Jose and Cartago. Far from the geographical and political core

of power, legislators from other provinces had influence only within their

provinces and were never able, if indeed they were interested, to combine

against the important families of San Josg and Cartago (Stone 1971:112).

It must be emphasized that the relationships between those occupying

important political posts were not simply relatives, but close relatives.

Appendix G presents graphically the closeness of these relationships

between thirteen heads of state. Sixteen heads of state were related as

follows: President Juan Mora Porras was the son-in-law of President

Mahuel Aguilar Chac6n and the brother-in-law (WiBr) of President Jos6

Maria Montealegre Fernandez, who was the brother-in-law (WiBr) of President

Bruno Carranza Ramirez, the latter also being a brother-in-law (WiBr) of

hPesident-Braulio-Carrillo- Colina. The son of the aforementioned Jose

Maria Montealegre was a brother-in-law (SiHu) of President Rafael Iglesias

Castro, who was the son of President Demetrio Iglesias Llorente, great

uncle (MoMoBr) of President Federico Tinoco Granados and son-in-law of

President Jose Maria Castro Madriz, whose brother-in-law (WiBr), President

Pr6spero Fernandez Oreamuno, was also brother-in-law (WiBr) to President

Tomas Guardia Gutierrez, father-in-law to President Bernardo Soto Alfaro,

and the son of President Manuel Fernandez Chac6n, whose wife was the first

cousin (FaBrDa) of President Francisco Maria Oreamuno Bonilla, whose son-

in-law, President Jesus Jimenez Zamora, was the father of Ricardo Jimenez

Oreamuno.16 As the repetition of surnames, e.g., Oreamuno, Fernandez,

Chac6n, suggests, many of those related by marriage were more distantly

related by blood. The presidency of Costa Rica was occupied by those

named above for a total of 83 years during the 101-year period from 1835

to'1936. If Stone's figures are correct, 17 additional heads of state

were more distantly related to those named here.

Stone points out that recent history reveals ideological splits

within the "political class." This seems hardly a new development (cf.

Vega Carballo 1971:377-379), except perhaps that schisms in the past were

more personal than ideological, but, as we have seen, the ideology of con-

tending factions may be more important in words than actions. One must

wonder how important ideology is when power and social structures remain

the same, with the country run by a small aristocratic, endogamous,

political class. The following citation from Stone indicates the extent

to which the "political class" retains its power today:

... Since 1948, Costa Rica has witnessed two preponderant
political tendencies. One has been the National Liberation
--- ?Party, with a liberal ideological tendency, and closely linked
with the name of the current President, Jos5 Figueres Ferrer,
who, being of Spanish parentage, has few close kin relations
with the political class. Nevertheless, he counts on the
support of many of its members. The other current, that of
the Republican Party, is less liberal and is organized around
the person of Rafael Angel Calder6n Guardia. There have been
other important parties with a conservative orientation, one
directed by ex-president Otilio Ulate Blanco and the other
by ex-president Mario Echandi Jimenez. In the last decade a
coalition has been formed (the National Unification Party)
among all of the more or less conservative forces for the

purpose of presenting a united front against the National Liberation
Party. All this can be reduced to the two important political
tendencies in question, one of which we may call liberal
(liberacionista) and the other more conservative (unificacionista).

Thus, for example, in the twelfth generation [from Vazquez
de Coronado] appears the name of Mario Echandi Jimenez (today
unificacionista), who was elected President in 1958 against
the liberacionista Francisco Orlich Bolmarcich, of the six-
teenth generation. In the table we see groups which
ideologically support or supported (since some are dead) these
two candidates, whether or not they were candidates for the
National Assembly at the time. We have Jose Joaquin Perlata
Esquivel, Cristian Tattenbach Yglesias, and Ricardo Castro
Beeche, all unificacionistas. On the other side we have Alberto
Cafas Escalante, Alfonso Carro Zaniga, Daniel Oduber Quiros,
and Fernando Volio Jim6nez, liberacionistas. We also have
followers of ex-President Otilio Ulate Blanco, for example,
Alberto Oreamuno Flores, his vice-president. We also have
Francisco Jose Marshall Jim6nez and Ramiro Brenes Gutierrez,
who are "co-"brother-in-laws (concufos), and have organized
their own party. We can even note the name of Carlos Luis
Fallas Sibaja, who was the director of the Communist Party
[Stone 1971:124-125].

Stone describes the change from the nineteenth to the twentieth century

as a change from ownership of power to leadership of power, he does not,

however, see any united opposition to the leadership of the political

class (1971:128).

Statistical Analysis of Kinship Relations in the "Political Class"

In tracing the Vazquez de Coronado descendants only to presidents

and legislators, Stone has provided us the means to measure the statis- );t?

tical frequency of important Costa Rican surnames, i.e., since he does

not trace a family line farther than the last legislator, unproductive

lines are terminated with but few listings while the productive lines are

represented by many branches and names. In order to determine the most

important political families, Stone's listings were relisted by marriages,

i.e., rather than listing by individuals' surnames, such as Ricardo

Jimenez Oreamuno, a list was made of the 302 marriages shown, e.g.,


Jimenez Zamora was one listing representing the marriage of Ricardo

Jimenez Oreamuno and Beatriz Zamora. The purpose of this was to avoid

multiplication of surnames where several children of two parents are

found in the genealogies. For instance, in one generation are to be

found ten Jimenez Oreamuno from two families, being either siblings or

first cousins. There were, in fact, but two marriages here between

Jimenez and Oreamuno and not ten. By limiting the listings to the

marriages, we can determine not only "productivity," i.e., how often a

surname appears, but also its strategic importance by how desirable it

is to contract marriage with that family. This is best clarified by fur-

nishing some statistics. Since there were 302 marriages there were 604

surnames listed, or, if no surname had been repeated we would have found

604 different surnames. In fact, only 138 different surnames were to be

found among the 604 listed. Of these, 60 surnames appeared only once;

and have been classed as unproductive surnames. Another 26 appeared twice;

these also may be considered unproductive. Translated into productive sur-

names we will find the following statistics: 52 different surnames or 38

percent of the surnames (52 of 138), account for 82 percent of the 604

names listed. 15 different surnames or 11 percent of the 138 different

surnames, account for 51 percent of the listings. Finally, four surnames,

Jimenez, Oreamuno, Quir6s, and Echavarrla account for 22 percent of the

listings. The frequency with which surnames are repeated bears no re-

lation to the frequency of occurrence of the surnames in the general

population, confirming the assertion of an endogamous ruling elite. A

glance at Table VI, comparing the number of listings in Stone's

genealogical list and the number of listings in the 1972 Costa Rica

Telephone Directory, indicated the discrepancy between politically

important surnames and those which are not politically significant.



Surname No. Marriages within No. Listed in Tele-
Political Class* phone Directory**

Castro 17 391
Chavarria 28 166
Esquivel 21 126
Fernandez 16 294
(Yglesias) 13 33
Jimenez 48 406
Oreamuno 32 42.
Montealegre 14 37
Mora 15 339
Peralta 14 36
Quir6s 25 191
Saenz 19 130
Volio 11 23

Garc{a 5 178
G6mez -1 169
Gonzalez 2 -* 365
L6pez 1 161
Ramirez 2- 273
Rojas 2 369
Soto 3 -231
Vargas 1 502
Rodriguez 1 554

*from Stone (1971:Sup.)
!Costa Rica Telephone Directory (Directorio Telef6nico) 1971-1972

Since telephones are ordinarily owned by the well-to-do in Costa Rica,

the discrepancy between the figures in the two columns is even more sig-

nificant than appears at first glance. Some of the commonest Costa Rican

surnames, such as Rodriguez, Vargas, and Gonzalez would be classed as

"unproductive" in political terms. Important political names, such as

Oreamuno, Volio, and Peralta, are uncommon in the general population.

Some names which are common in Costa Rica, such as Arce, Hernandez, and

Arias, are not to be found in the marriages among the descendants of

Vazquez de Coronado.

The extent of inbreeding and endogamy can also be examined by studying

the marriages of the political class, using the descendants of Vazquez de

Coronado. Table VII presents marriage statistics concerning the 13 most

frequently occurring surnames in the Vazquez de Coronado genealogy. Many

of these surnames should already be familiar--Montealegre, Peralta,

Jimenez, Oreamuno--since they have been mentioned numerous times in our

discussion. In accordance with what has already been said here, we would

expect these surnames to represent not only the most commonly occurring

names but also to show a distinct tendency toward mutual association.

While the figures show this tendency, they also confirm another asser-

tation made earlier in this chapter, namely, that there are groups of

allying families.

-- We can derive a concept of nodal families or nodal individuals from

the figures. .Since the genealogies were reported by reference to polit-

ical position, i.e., lines were traced only as far as the last legislator

or president, repetition of family names in the genealogy reveals the

most productive political families. Nevertheless, since this is a bi-

lateral kinship system, we must consider the possible inheritance of

political power through females. Thus a surname may disappear from the

genealogies without signifying that direct descendants are no longer

included. This is best seen in the two important families of Juan Vazquez

de Coronado and Antonio de Acosta Arevalo. In both instances the first

generations were more productive of females than of males so that the

surnames Vazquez and Acosta were practically lost after the first few

generations and are not represented among the important political figures

who were descended from these two important founders. It should be noted

that the relations between important politicians, as evidenced by the

list of presidents above, are often affinal (see Appendix G).

In tabulating the figures in Table VII, both surnames were used, so

that there appear to be more marriages with, let us say, Castro than with

a list using the first surnames of a marriage, i.e., the Garcia-Vargas

marriage would not have been counted among the thirteen families in the

marriage statistics heretofore, but if the marriage were between Jose

Garcia Castro and Maria Vargas Fernandez, it would also be recorded here

under both Castro and Fernandez as a marriage between the two families.

The occurrences of the thirteen surnames varies from 12 persons named

Volio to 73 named Jimenez. Percentages on endogamous (within the 13

families) marriages vary from 32 percent for Iglesias to 74 percent for

Peralta.: Among the thirteen families, 45 percent of the marriages in-

volved two persons, each with at least one of the thirteen surnames,

indicating a high degree of endogamy. It is assumed that all those bearing

the.same surname are related by blood. While there may be exceptions to

this; none came to our attention. The Fernandez and Jimenez surnames are

common Costa Rican and Latin surnames and would be the surnames most

likely to include unrelated members. However, the large number of persons

with these two surnames is accounted for by the marriages into the

Vazquez de Coronado line early in the colonial period; and the relation-

ships within the two families are well recorded, so that it is unlikely that

those represented here are unrelated (because of these ancient marriages,


4 02

0 S N -1 C
Oj d w 0 4) r\ % t
0 M H ) W H 0P a) 0 % -r
O- 4 ,C) W 0 M O 0 G- > E o > P


Castro 29 1 1 0 2 1 3 2 1 1 0 3 0 0 15 52%

Chavarrfa h1 1 1 0 1 0 5 2 4 1 2 1 1 1 20 h9%

Esquivel 22 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 3 0 7 0 13 60%

Fernandez 39 2 1 0 1 1 3 1 1 3 0 2 5 0 20 51%

Iglesias 25 1 0 0 1 0 2 1 2 1 0 0 0 0 8 32%

Jimenez 73 3 5 1 3 2 2 2 0 8 3 1 1 3 34 45%

Montealegre 19 2 2 0 0 1 3 0 1 0 1 0 3 1 13 68%

0 -ora 30 i1 11 -2--0 -0 0 -0-o0 1 0 11 37%

Oreamno 52 1 1 0-3 1 8 -0 0 1 2 0 0 1 1& 35%

Peralta 19 0 2 3 0 0 3 1 0 -2 2 1 1 0 14 74%

Quir6s 27 3 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 4 0 0 12 44%

enz -to 0 ,5 0 1 5 i-31 1 0 4 22 57%

Volio a 1 0 0 0 3 0 0 T -0 0 1 1 06 50%



the two families are represented in the genealogy of Vazquez de Coronado

from their beginnings and the individuals with these surnames are nearly

all direct descendants and not persons marrying into the line). Most of

the other names, such as Montealegre, Volio, Oreamuno, and Esquivel, are

smaller families, most of whose descendants are directly related to the

ruling elite.17

While all except three of the surnames are found to have at least

one marriage in which both partners share a surname, only Quir6s and

Saenz have four such marriages, suggesting a tendency toward inbreeding.

For Quir6s this figure accounts for 15 percent of the marriages recorded

(see Appendix F). Among the Saenz, because of a greater number of total

marriages, only 10 percent had the same surname (see Table V and Appendix


._ Table VII presents some interesting differences between families.

Some families have intermarried with a wide range of the other families.18

.The Jim6nez surname is associated with all but one (Mora) other family,

Chavarria with all but two, and Fernandez with all but three. On the

-other hand, Volio, Esquivel, and Quir6s have intermarried with fewer than

.lalf of the other families. These three appear to have been exclusive and

S.pobably peripheral to the political group. For instance, the Quiros,

besides marrying Quir6s, only married three times outside of the Castro

and Fernandez families (10 percent); Volios married only twice outside of

the Jim'nez family (17 percent); Esquivels married three times (15 percent)

outside of the Peralta and Saenz families. These three families appear

to be poorly involved in the political network, dependent upon their

alliances with one or two families (Volio-Jimenez; Quiros-Castro;

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